Considered one of the world’s top five trendspotters, Marian Salzman is a visionary thought leader in public relations known for evolving her industry with changing social, cultural and business trends. Currently CEO of Havas Life PR and Havas PR North America, the ninth-ranked PR firm in the world, she has been recognized with more awards than any other female PR executive in North America.
Marian Salzman was born in 1959 in New York City and was raised in a northern New Jersey suburb along with her two younger sisters. Her mother worked for the Social Security Administration and her father managed the family’s printing business. Ready for adventure from an early age, Salzman organized a foreign exchange program for high school students and signed herself up for the program, living abroad each summer throughout her high school years.
After graduating from high school, Salzman worked her way through college in just three years, graduating with honors from Brown University with a degree in sociology in 1980. With two fellow students, she then founded Career Insights magazine where she served as editor until 1984 when she went to work for the American Management Association editing its Management Review. In 1985, she published her first book, Inside Management Training: The Career Guide to Training Programs for College Graduates, with Deidre A. Sullivan. The following year, she co-authored a second book, MBA Jobs! An Insider’s Guide to the Companies that Hire MBA’s, with Nancy Marx.
Salzman went on to work for several firms before co-founding her own company, CyberDialogue, with Jay Chiat and Tom Cohen in 1990. During her time at CyberDialogue, Salzman is credited with pioneering the use of online focus groups, leveraging instant messaging and AOL’s chat rooms to engage Internet users in social research. Some of her top clients included ABC television, Channel One, Kodak, Nike, Nintendo and Rolling Stone. Cyberdialogue ultimately became a subsidiary of Chiat/Day which merged with advertising TWBA Worldwide where Salzman served as Director of Emerging Media and Consumer Insights beginning in 1994.
In 1996, TBWA was looking for a volunteer to move to Amsterdam and Salzman saw it as an opportunity. She became Worldwide Director of the Department of the Future and managed the company’s Amsterdam-based futurology and consumer insights lab, overseeing markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Her 1994 trendspotting letter was published in Dutch in book form in 1998 and became an international bestseller, catapulting Salzman to the top of the new media world in Europe. During this time, she worked with clients including Apple, Samsonite and Novartis and also pioneered an instant feedback system through AOL to conduct real-time research with consumers and developed TBWA’s first agency-wide approach to new media strategies.
Salzman left TBWA for Young & Rubicam in 1997 when she took on the role of Managing Partner of the Intelligence Factory, a global think tank. Named President of Young & Rubicam in 2000, she soon took her talents to Euro RSCG Worldwide, a pre-cursor to Havas, in 2001 where she served in a series of positions from Global Strategy to Director to Executive Vice President. Here, her trendspotting talents created an international sensation as she popularized concepts including, “singletons,” “metrosexuals” (2003’s Word of the Year), “hyperlocalization,” and “millennials in the workplace.” In 2005, Salzman moved to JWT Worldwide where she became Executive Vice President before being named Chief Marketing Officer and finally Chief of Staff.
After a brief stint at Porter Novelli Worldwide in 2008-2009, Salzman landed back at Havas where she served as President of Havas PR North America. In 2011, she became CEO and, in 2013, was named Chairman, Global Collective, Havas PR Worldwide.
Marian Salzman has received top honors in the public relations field including PR Week’s 2011 PR Professional of the Year, PR People’s 2012 Hall of Fame Award and Havas PR Worldwide’s 2014 Global Professional of the Year Award. In addition to authoring or co-authoring 15 books, Salzman is active on the mentoring board of Brown University’s Women in Business and has been an outspoken advocate for diversity recruitment in the PR industry. She also spearheaded Connecticut’s Creative Corridor job-creation initiative for Fairfield County and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the Council of Public Relations Firms and Venture for America.
Marian Salzman lives in Norwalk, Conn., with her partner, Jim Diamond, and his children.
During This Time
1966 - Today: Struggle for Justice
Feminism in the late 1960s was aided by President Kennedy, who formed the President’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1961, and his successor, President Johnson, who backed passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, or religion. Difficulties in implementing the law through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) led a group of women in 1966 to create the National Organization for Women (NOW), demanding “action to bring American women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now.”
A younger group called for a more radical approach to social change than simply considering what was possible to achieve politically. “Women’s liberation” demanded freedom without limitation. Some took part in consciousness-raising groups, others demonstrated against the Miss America pageant, and many discussed their expectations of mutual enjoyment of sex. They established rape crisis centers, domestic shelters, and women’s studies programs. Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act also increased pressure on universities to hire more women faculty and expand the number of female college athletes. Activist protest among gays and lesbians, such as the Stonewall Riot, symbolized this group’s potential to resist oppression.
Under pressure, many states repealed legislation prohibiting abortion. In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized its availability to women in Roe v. Wade. Also in 1973, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the ERA, and states began its ratification.
Yet, dissension arose in the ranks of the movement, as it had earlier after passage of the 19th amendment. Feminists disagreed as to whether pornography should be banned or protected as a form of free speech, and whether lesbian identities should be kept secret or disclosed. Black women were more concerned with poverty and welfare in their communities than with personal career advancement; for them, sterilization abuse was more important than abortion, and they were deeply insulted by attacks on the African American family as matriarchal and dysfunctional.
A backlash was growing in the 1970s, along with a New Right in politics. The ERA was defeated and opposition to abortion increased. Conflicts between pro-life and pro-choice candidates have impacted every presidential campaign since then.
Still, gains have been made in many areas. From 1960 to 2000, increasing numbers of women sought entry to higher education, and bachelor’s degrees awarded to them increased from forty to sixty percent. Definitions of marriage have changed, as when courts gave full rights and responsibilities and the name of marriage to same-sex civil unions in Connecticut in 2008. The Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991 highlighted concern about sexual harassment on the job, and the number of sexual harassment cases filed with the EEOC have increased, as have judgments in favor of the women. Finally, in 2009, women crossed the fifty percent threshold and became the majority of the American workforce. Once largely confined to repetitive manual jobs, now they are running organizations that once treated them as second-class citizens.
The Women’s Movement has changed women’s lives, influenced the economy, and made debate about their roles, family life, and sexual conventions central to national politics and American history.
Special thanks to Barbara E. Lacey, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of History, St. Joseph's College (Hartford, CT) for preparing these historical summaries.