As the U.S. president of experiential marketing agency Jack Morton Worldwide, Laura Shuler sometimes feels like the ringmaster of a high-stakes circus.
|Laura Shuler, chief strategy officer-president, U.S., Jack Morton Worldwide|
Ms. Shuler's team of 375 is constantly executing complex live-marketing extravaganzas not just in the U.S. but around the world. There's no lack of variety: Campaigns have ranged from producing the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, to unleashing 150 people on bikes for a Subway Restaurants guerrilla-marketing campaign, to organizing the product launch of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Vista.
"I've always been able to remain calm in the midst of chaos, and I love solving problems," says Ms. Shuler, 46.
But it's Ms. Shuler's role as Morton's global chief strategy adviser, which she added to her duties last year, that excites her most.
"We started out as a below-the-line supplier of event-marketing services that didn't get the respect of Madison Avenue agencies, but now we are becoming a next-wave agency," she says. "We have the big ideas, and we can execute them worldwide in any media including live events. We are the 360-degree agency everyone says they want to be."
After an internship at a TV station led her to decide against a newscasting career, Ms. Shuler worked for three years in video production at JC Penney Corp. She joined Jack Morton Productions in 1988, when Penney relocated from New York to Dallas. At that time, the agency's focus was business-to-business meetings and events.
Ms. Shuler's creative and organizational skills got the attention of agency founder Jack Morton, who put her in charge of the New York office before she turned 30.
"In the mid-1990s we saw that clients needed one-on-one marketing tools, so we added experiential and consumer-targeted marketing to our services and began expanding," Ms. Shuler says.
Interpublic Group of Cos. acquired the Morton agency in 1998, and in 2000 it was renamed and completed its repositioning as an experiential-marketing shop.
"Laura is an impresario of sorts. ... She inspires people to bring new and innovative thoughts, ideas and solutions even if they are controversial," says Bob Greenberg, chairman, CEO and chief creative officer of cutting-edge interactive agency and Interpublic sibling R/GA. He often collaborates with Ms. Shuler on projects.
Ms. Shuler and her husband, Steve Mochel, a senior account director at Morton, have four children and enjoy downhill skiing.
But how does she navigate the course at work?
"I compartmentalize," Ms. Shuler says. "First I do long-term planning, then I step back into the present and don't worry about the future."