“The moment when this business started on a wrong path was when conglomeritization began,” said Lazare. “It’s taken the attention off of what used to be everybody’s primary purpose — doing a sterling creative job. It’s a tragedy really.”
In regard to Chicago’s ad scene which in recent years has seen a significant dip in creative leadership he said “well I think a lot of things are going to have to happen for [Chicago's ad scene] to turn around. Right now we have one of our flagship shops, DDB, struggling mightily and I think we’re going to see more struggling there before things, if they can, turn around.” That agency’s plight, he went on, is shared by much of the industry there.
McGarry Bowen is doing better than most, though. “A lot of [McGarry Bowen's] momentum came from a number of those Kraft wins. They have very good ties to Kraft management ranks and I think that helped them,” he said. “Plus their creative department is run by two veterans who basically opened the shop. They had been long time Leo Burnett people who I think just wanted to get out and do their own thing. Ned Crowley and John Moore I’m referencing there. They have shown when they can run their own shop they know exactly what they need to do and they’ve been doing it.
And what of the sentiment that Lazare is a curmudgeon? “I don’t shy away from that criticism,” he said. Lazare said he’s not a cheerleader. “I try to show where the problems are,” he went on. “I simply can’t turn away from the fact that there are real problems here. And even the people who take me to task for being too curmudgeonly…privately they will admit that the situation has become bad and nobody wants to take responsibility for that in any sort of public way.”
Listen to the rest of this 15 minute conversation by clicking play.