Ogilvy & Mather Chairman Shelly Lazarus will step down and move into the role of chairman emeritus, effective July 1.
The agency announced the news today at its board meeting today in Sao Paulo, adding that Ogilvy CEO Miles Young will take on the role of chairman.
Ms. Lazarus discussed the move in an internal memo obtained by Ad Age .
"I have spent 40 years of my life at Ogilvy & Mather, and I have enjoyed a glorious career. From the moment I arrived in September of 1971, I have been stimulated, pushed, challenged, made to think and to laugh almost every day. I have made extraordinary friendships and have had experiences that will never be forgotten," she wrote. "I look forward to having more freedom and more leisure. But I plan to continue involvement with Ogilvy's clients and with our own people for as long as I can add value."
In mid-2008 Mr. Young was announced as Ms. Lazarus's successor in the CEO job; he officially took over the post January 1, 2009.
Ms. Lazarus began her career in account-management roles on key clients such as American Express and Unilever, before becoming general manager of Ogilvy & Mather Direct in the U.S. She moved back to the ad side in the early '90s, taking on increasing responsibility as president of the New York office, then North America, and chief operating officer-president of Ogilvy Worldwide in 1995. A year later, she was named CEO, and another year later, chairman.
Ad Age has reported that as head of Ogilvy, she helped the company grow internationally and pushed for investment in what were formerly known as below-the-line disciplines, like direct marketing. She also worked closely with clients and honed relationships at blue-chip companies like American Express and IBM.
In his own internal memo announcing the chairman change, Mr. Young stated, "She has spent 40 years of her life at Ogilvy & Mather; 15 of those years guiding the agency of David Ogilvy perfectly to the letter and the spirit of the founder. She has contributed so much to this company, unstintingly and unreservedly."
He added that he's grateful that "Shelly will, going forward, serve as chairman emeritus, and she will still be coming to the office and will still be contributing to many of our clients' businesses."
As part of the changes, the agency elected two new directors to its board: Steve Harding, global CEO of OgilvyAction, and Thomas Strerath, CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Germany.