By Emily Raleigh (GSB ’16)
On February 26, BBDO CEO and President John Osborn got to the heart of the matter in his lecture sponsored by the Center for Positive Marketing.
As the CEO at one of the world’s leading ad agencies, Osborn is incredibly passionate about leading BBDO toward purposeful advertising, saying that is where the company will find the soul of selling. He shared examples of BBDO campaigns that have featured such endeavors, from the GE “What My Mother Does” commercial to the Guinness basketball commercial.
Osborn explained what he calls the formula to the perfect advertising campaign: head + heart + soul. “Being successful means doing well, while doing good,” he said. Osborn is known to do good both inside of BBDO—leading partnerships with companies such as Sheryl Sandberg’s nonprofit Lean In, an organization rooted in women leadership and empowerment—and out in the New York community. He is president of the board of directors of the Police Athletic League of New York, and serves as a board member of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and the New York Chapter of the American Red Cross.
“At BBDO, we look through the lens of purpose,” Osborn said. Eighty-seven percent of global consumers want companies to place equal value on society’s needs and business needs. Ninety-one percent of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause among companies offering comparable price and quality. Osborn does not take these statistics lightly, he said, and has ensured that BBDO be a catalyst for purposeful business. “We want to sell a philosophy that inspire people. Advertising when done right can be very powerful for our clients. Doing the right thing is nonnegotiable at BBDO.”
Following his presentation, Osborn met with 15 select GSB and graduate students to further discuss advertising, BBDO and careers in the marketing industry.
He explained that when considering a career in marketing, everyone must examine how they are wired. The industry is changing, and big data and analytical skills are more important than ever. There is also more to securing clients. “It isn’t about buying the client lunch anymore. It is about helping the client be as successful as he or she can be.”
Students asked questions from how BBDO is adapting to the digital age to what it takes to make it in the advertising industry. It all came back to positive marketing and the soul of selling.
What it boils down to, Osborn said, is passion and finding a brand’s purpose. “Find out what their story is and how you can amplify their voice to make a positive impact. Advertising has that kind of power and that’s why positive marketing is such a great opportunity to make a change in the world.”