Name: Marian Salzman
Title: Director, Department of the Future, TBWA Chiat/Day
Has Held Title For: 18 months
With Chiat/Day For: 5 years
Previous Title: Corporate Director, Consumer Insights and Emerging Media
Degree: BA, Sociology & Applied Economics; Graduate Studies in Sociology
Clients consult her as the woman with the Crystal ball. But she prefers a laptop and modem for communing with the material world. As director of the five-person Department of the Future, Marian Salzman (firstname.lastname@example.org) devotes her hours to cracking the code of youth culture. Her vision: a marketing strategy that not only understands kids but foresees what they'll buy when they reach their parent's age.
How do you conjure up the future?
If it's my own future, I go see my tarot card reader. For consumer buying patterns, I go online — four hours a day. In cyberspace, I'm able to find out things people would never tell me face to face. That's what advertising is all about: discovering what people actually desire vs. what they tell you they want.
What do you see when you look into your liquid crystal screen today?
The virtual vacation is hot — 10-minute yoga breaks during the workday.
Where will the Department of the Future be tomorrow?
Fully global. So I need to learn the idioms of other countries. Right now I'm looking at how we define love and lust compared to Europe.
What was your best prediction?
That white teenagers want to be black.
Biggest blind spot?
Change. We each have our own threshold. But I now understand that nothing is ever finite — things don't end, they evolve.
What is the best training for predicting the future:
Reading supermarket novels — I've read them daily since I turned 18. These essential human plots have given me uncanny intuition into possible future scenarios. Right now I'm reading "To Have and to Hold."
A version of this article appeared in the June/July 1996 issue of Fast Company magazine.