Ms. Lazarus found her life transformed by two events while in graduate school. First, she took an internship at General Foods Corp., where she worked in the Maxwell House division on the introduction of Maxim. Second, she found a required marketing course enjoyable.
After graduating from Columbia, Ms. Lazarus joined haircare products marketer Clairol Inc. as an assistant product manager. In 1971, she was approached by a recruiter for Ogilvy & Mather, which was looking to add an account exec to its haircare products team. Ms. Lazarus planned to spend only two years in advertising before moving on, but she joined the agency while founder David Ogilvy was still an active presence in the company, and she has credited Mr. Ogilvy's dedication to big ideas and creativity as a guiding influence on her own career and business philosophies. She chose to stay.
As an account manager, Ms. Lazarus handled Ogilvy's high-profile accounts, including American Express Co., Lever Bros. and AT&T Corp., earning a reputation as a business strategist who worked hard to build relationships with senior clients.
One of her earliest victories came in 1992, when she helped regain the then-$60 million American Express account after the financial-services marketer had moved its business to Chiat/Day. Ms. Lazarus, who by then had spent six years as group account director on the American Express business, was in charge of the team sent to retake the account.
She leveraged her relationships with American Express President Lou Gerstner and his marketing chief, Abby Kohnstamm, as well as utilizing new research and creative work by Ogilvy. With that win firmly under her belt, Ms. Lazarus was rewarded with a promotion in 1989 to president of O&M Direct U.S., Ogilvy's direct marketing division. In 1991, she moved to president of Ogilvy's New York office.
The relationships that Ms. Lazarus had built over the years with Mr. Gerstner and Ms. Kohnstamm paid off again in 1994, when those executives moved to IBM Corp. and handed Ogilvy the $500 million IBM global advertising business; IBM's choice of Ogilvy represented the single biggest account switch in advertising history at that time. The move helped propel Ms. Lazarus in 1995 to the position of president-chief operating officer of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. She succeeded Charlotte Beers as CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in 1996, and in 1997 she became chairman.
As chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Ms. Lazarus has been a steadfast advocate of the agency's concept of "brand stewardship," introduced by Ms. Beers in 1992, in which the agency sets out to build a brand over its lifetime, and its newer incarnation, "360 degree branding," introduced by Ms. Lazarus to help the agency uncover the emotional subtleties that consumers perceive as characterizing attributes of a brand. Ms. Lazarus has served on Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide's board as well as on its executive committee since 1991. In 2000, she served as the chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
Ms. Lazarus has been recognized for her leadership role by the Advertising Women of New York, which named her its "Advertising Woman of the Year" in 1994. She also was a recipient of the Women in Communications' Matrix Award and was named "Business Woman of the Year" by the New York City Partnership. Since 1998, she has been listed among the top 10 women in Fortune's annual ranking of the "50 Most Powerful Women in American Business."
Born in New York, Sept. 1, 1947; graduated from Smith College, 1968; M.B.A., Columbia University, 1970; joined Clairol Inc. as an assistant product manager, 1970; moved to Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, as account exec, 1971; named president of Ogilvy's direct marketing business, 1989; named president of Ogilvy's New York office, 1991; named president of Ogilvy & Mather North America, 1994; named president-chief operating officer, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, 1995; added title CEO, 1996; promoted to chairman, 1997.