Laurel Cutler

Laurel Cutler

As comfortable in blue jeans as she is in a fur coat, 73-year-old native Manhattanite Laurel Cutler is still spotting trends and working deftly behind the scenes. Inherited by Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, when it merged with Leber Katz Partners in 1986, she rose up the FCB ranks to become director of global marketing planning for parent True North. “Rudely healthy” as she puts it, and an admitted failure at retirement, Cutler left the True North board of directors to join the board of Fallon McElligott two years ago. Shortly after, she quietly guided Fallon into the arms of Maurice Levy’s Publicis empire. Last summer, she advised Fallon in the successful bid for Citibank. Lately, she’s also peered into the future as a consultant for Kraft, Colgate, Ford and United Airlines. Plus, there’s her work for personal causes: Smithsonian Institution and the March of Dimes. Through it all, she keeps her finger on pop culture, staying abreast of youthful trends. While young people excel at creative work, she maintains strategy is a discipline reserved for veterans. Based on the timeless aspects of human nature, wisdom and experience are key. Between projects, visits to Europe, reading biographies and enjoying grandkids, Cutler hopes to take a train trip across Africa this year. Her cure for her industry’s problems? “Holistic solutions,” she says. “Everything has become so specialized. We have too much of everything but trees and hills. We have too many kinds of mustard.” MatrixCPI