It’s not every day that someone makes an amazing show about marketing. That’s why it’s a little bittersweet for Adobe to see Mad Men come to an end. To celebrate the final season of a show that’s touched us and marketers around the world, each Thursday Adobe will be releasing a retro style Adobe Marketing Cloud ad with #AdThrowback. We hope that other brands will join us. Thank you Don, Peggy and everyone else. We’re sorry we never got a chance to do your analytics.
They’re the ones who are in charge of thinking of things before people know they need them. They know that success has temporary effects and that if you don’t like what’s being said, it’s time to change the conversation.
While everything mentioned in the opening paragraph can be attributed as a quote from one of the characters on Mad Men, the sentiments still ring true in 2015’s digital advertising era. Today, we’re putting the spotlight on 10 standout leaders who are highly accomplished individuals in the advertising industry. Much like Don Draper once said, they recognize that change is neither good or bad, it simply is. These leaders are not afraid of change or a challenge – they know how to charge straight into it to create lasting effects in their industry’s landscape.
Krainik has a triple threat background of work in marketing, sales, and IT. With 28 years in the industry, including 15 years at M&M/Mars, two at Siebel Systems, two at DoubleClick (now known as Google), two at Avaya, and seven as the Founder of The CMO Club, Krainik’s resume is the stuff ad legends are made of. Of all his accomplishments though, he is most proud of starting The CMO Club. Considered the first fraternity for CMOs to help one another and build trusted relationships, there are now over 800 CMOs in the club, with over 60 leading local chapters and national events.
Who’s my mentor? Paul Michaels who was the CMO at M&M/Mars and formerly ran Mars, Inc. worldwide. He taught me the most successful and high impact programs you ever do will come with the highest level of anxiety and risk. Playing it safe will not help you leave a legacy and truly change the industry.
The next CMO superstars are… Beth Comstock from GE who continues to lead a focus on innovation that is second to none. Stephen Quinn at Walmart impresses me with his ability to understand what he can learn from smaller brands. Phil Clement from Aon does an amazing job of leading his brand beyond the marketing department and is viewed by thousands of employees as working with them, not directing them.
How do leaders stay on the right path? Leaders never lose sight of the power of peer based relationships and learning. No one knows more about your challenges than your peers. Building meaningful relationships is critical for career and personal success.
When the going gets tough… I put myself in my customer’s shoes and do right by them.
Responsible for creating the Invention Studio at Mindshare North America, Gustafson’s focus during her 14 years in the industry has been primarily on strategic planning across online and offline channels. A big part of the Invention Studio’s work has been creating Planning for Agility. This sets a brand’s adaptive marketing approach using a process called “culture mapping” to look at the landscape and identify fluid moments in culture and how and where they align with the brand’s DNA. A strategy is then planned out so that the brand is ready to act with lightning speed in order to capture that moment’s cultural relevance and impact with consumers. Truly a labor of love, as Gustafson describes it.
The biggest lesson my mentor taught me… Take the time every week to suspend reality. Take the time to ideate, and use data and insights to dream up what could be done. Not just improving upon what has been done. Think big.
All great leaders have these three attributes in common. They don’t take “no” for an answer, they understand the importance of media and creative working together, and they know how to cultivate curiosity, honesty, and straight-talk with their teams.
An industry leader to watch out for. Stacy Minero at Twitter. I had the pleasure of working with her back when she was handling the content strategy practice at Mindshare, and I continue to be impressed by how she’s leading the content practice at Twitter. She has a lethal understanding of the power of content in marketing plans today, and the dynamics that are shaping the future.
When the going gets tough… Let’s be honest – it’s never easy. But when you have a great team, it makes the really tough times much easier to handle and fix.
In the ad industry, Tenny believes in using his powers for good. Over 30 years ago, Tenny got his start as a copywriter before moving into account services. For the past 20 years, he has been in strategic planning and agency management. He considers nothing to be as satisfying as the launch of something or changing the course of a product or business. Tenny cites the work he did with the Ad Council with regard to the formation of the National Council for Organ & Tissue Donation as his greatest accomplishment. It was a campaign that saved lives and where he was able to raise awareness for the need to include loved ones in the decision to donate organs.
My father, my mentor. My first job in advertising was working for my father. He owned an agency called E.T. Howard that did some great work for Minolta Cameras, J&B Scotch and even Penthouse Magazine. I think what I learned from my Dad was the importance of out-working the competition. You won’t always be smarter than them. You won’t always have more dollars or resources, but if you are willing to put in the hours and out-work them, you will go pretty far.
The two agencies that exhibit true leadership are… R/GA and The Martin Agency. They lead when it comes to ideas and don’t get tangled up in the form those ideas will take.
Leaders don’t lose sight of what they’re in business for. We are in the business of selling products and ideas. Everything we do must be measured with sales as a yardstick. All the best people in the industry have always known that. And that certainly won’t change.
When the going gets tough… I’m energized by difficult circumstances. I think the challenges you face in the advertising business are the fun of it.
It was a summer internship in 1992 that would introduce Gillis to the world of advertising, or more specifically, making mobile his career. Gillis moved to the wireless data business at Bell Mobility in 1999 and began leading deals with mobile websites that wanted their sites to be discovered on the Bell Mobility career walled garden portal. Professionally, he counts his greatest achievement as building one of the earliest leading mobile video game companies in Mobile Games 1.0 and the acquisition of that company by one of his favorite childhood video game publishers, Capcom.
What my first boss (and mentor) taught me. Bob Lavelle taught me that I should heavily invest in two things – relationships and reputation. In your career, you will do everything you can to set yourself up for things to go as planned. When they don’t, you will need both the relationships you have built and a reputable standing within your organization and industry to get you through some of the more challenging times. Bob passed away about 5 years ago, and every day I am reminded of the lessons I learned from him.
In order to be a leader, you need to travel. Think beyond the confines of your own upbringing and surroundings. You get to experience new cultures and see what’s going on outside of the familiarity of your neighborhood.
What company continues to amaze me? Tesla. They are reinventing decades of old industries and blurring the lines of automotive, energy, design and technology.
When the going gets tough… Hire amazing people. You will need a rock solid team to get you through the fire.
For 15 years, Kargas has been in the advertising industry, dabbling in everything from public relations to social media and digital marketing. A recent campaign he’s proud of has been #PayEd for Kingsford Charcoal in partnership with The Clorox Company’s PR agency, Current. A funny campaign that supported the rights of a publicity lawsuit of former basketball star Ed O’Bannon, Kargas says it was not standard practice for a brand to insert itself into a controversial issue. Rather than stay silent, they made a strong argument that made sense and convinced people to take a chance – and it paid off.
My best mentor never dumbed it down. I learned a ton from Kevin DiLorenzo, formerly of Olson. He had a special knack for being responsive and accommodating to his clients and colleagues without dumbing down a big idea. He could bring people along with his vision.
The industry’s next biggest leader is going to be… Mary O’Connell. I came to work at Clorox because of her vision. She’s been championing a world where marketing is more engaging and externally focused. I think we are seeing her vision come true every day.
What company continues to stay fresh with its audience? Lay’s Potato Chips. The potato chip has been around since the dawn of time, yet Lay’s keeps coming up with very creative ways to stay relevant to younger people. It’s not easy and they do it very well.
When the going gets tough… I have an old wooden baseball bat in my office that I somehow acquired in my first agency job. It’s come along with me ever since. I keep it under my desk. When things are going wrong, I close my office door, push my table and chairs to the side, take a few practice swings and pretend I was something more than a below average high school infielder.
The summer after her freshman year at college, Unger interned at McCann Erickson and heard strategic planner John Kottman speak about the psychological origins of MasterCard’s Priceless campaign. In that moment, she knew strategic planning was her calling. Unger sits within Ketchum Global Research & Analytics – the largest research group within a PR agency – and has been fortunate to have a hand in creating and rolling out the latest iteration of their strategic planning process.
Looking up to the “North Star” of mentors. My dad, who leads brand strategy and design at MasterCard, has been my “North Star” of career advice, and I’m lucky to have that resource.
The “je ne sais quoi” that all great leaders have includes… A passion for possibility, an unwavering commitment to prioritization, and above all, empathy with a focus on the human experience and connection with others.
Who will emerge as a true leader in this industry? Allison Mooney at Google, who heads Trends and Insights, has the unique ability to transform an amazing wealth of data into insights that actually help advertisers and marketers change consumers’ lives. Same with Jonah Peretti and Buzzfeed’s unique ability to create meaningful content that they scientifically know consumers are interested in.
When the going gets tough… The power of a brief five-minute meditation and re-set is immense.
Since 1999, Zawadzki has been at the intersection of marketing, technology, and quantitative analysis. As an entrepreneur, his first company was Poindexter Systems, which became x+1. Zawadzki started MediaMath in the fall of 2007 and has been the CEO there ever since, immensely proud of having built an organization that attracts a high caliber of smart, talented, passionate, and principled people.
My two biggest mentors. In 2001 (or so), Beth Wallace discovered my first company and taught me the practice of data driven marketing from first principles. For many years, she provided the sandbox for an incredibly innovative product roadmap in support of her goals as head of acquisition and CRM for AOL.
Nigel Morris is my “CEO” mentor. He was founder and COO of Capital One, now leading QED, an investment fund focused on disruptive technologies in marketing and finance. He’s got a gift where with a few probing questions can understand the shape and nature of almost any problem and has a ready library of experience and intellect to help navigate to a solution.
Leaders are by nature disruptors. We see the discipline of marketing and that it’s in a desperate need of an overhaul with software and math. Disrupters tend to work through bursts of innovation, and usually in relative isolation as challengers to the status quo. Leaders exhibit true leadership by acknowledging that technology is no longer the constraint.
If you plan on being a leader, you need to… Stay humble. This market is moving at blistering clip. Listen to the new kids and their crazy ideas. Remember this is a long road and act accordingly.
When the going gets tough… I am usually blissfully oblivious, but I’ve the benefit of an amazing team that smooths over choppy water very quickly.
Chief Creative Officer and Partner, HLK
Celebrating his 25th year in advertising, with a background spent as a Copywriter or Creative Director, Leahy considers his greatest accomplishment to date building the creative department at HLK. This department, he says, has brought together an incredible group of whip-smart problem solvers who, alongside equally talented and passionate people throughout the agency, have done the kind of inspired work that fuels growth.
I learned the most from someone I didn’t like. The greatest lesson I learned was from watching someone that I would never admit was a mentor. This person was an off-the-charts success, and for no reason other than the fact that he worked harder than everyone else. I believe talent matters, as does intelligence. But if you work hard, really hard, you will not fail.
What company do I admire the leadership behind? Warby Parker, a brand where cause marketing is not a strategy or tactic, it’s core to who they are. WP is building a fashion brand that’s accessible rather than exclusive – designer eyewear at a revolutionary price. What do you call it when a brand challenges the status quo of an entire category? There’s your leadership.
Leaders never lose sight of the importance of an idea. Technology is not an idea; it’s an idea enabler.
When the going gets tough… Having a “you’re not going to believe this” session with your peers can be incredibly helpful. Creative departments are part idea factory, part playground, part gossip mill and, if need be, part group therapy session. But be warned: If you’re having a good run, they’ve been known to knock you down, too. (All in good fun of course.)
Partner, Liberty Blue
Stack has spent over 20 years in media planning, HR, and talent acquisition roles. While leaving the world of media planning behind in favor of reinventing her career in an HR/TA capacity wasn’t easy, it is one of Stack’s biggest accomplishments. As a partner at an executive search firm, she works daily with people in the communications space to help them find their next great role. It’s an outlet that enables her to do what she loves the most professionally as well as personally, with flexible hours so Stack can spend quality time with her family.
What kinds of leaders are agencies looking for? Leaders have to be faster and more entrepreneurial in their pursuit of success. We’ve found that agencies hire leaders with fresh ideas that can adapt to fast, flexible and agile demands of marketers and impart this wisdom throughout their entire staff are those that will succeed in what we at Liberty Blue call “The Agility Era.”
What are the dangers of “not being creative enough” as a leader? When you’re not creative enough, you’ll see more agency talent leave for tech companies and startups. To keep everyone on the right track, promote growth and improvement by embracing the creative values this business was built on.
When the going gets tough… I take a deep breath and take a walk around the block. Getting fresh air reinvigorates me and resets my path.
Professionally, Stafford has been shaking up the ad industry for nine years, but “technically” he’s been in the business for 22 years, if you count the years his dad, a Creative Director, would cross-dress him as a little girl and take him to Y&R Detroit for “Take Your Daughter to Work Day.” A writer with a penchant for digital, Stafford is incredibly proud of the Madden GIFERATOR, a real-time content engine that the team at Heat developed for EA SPORTS. A tool that scanned live NFL data and fired out trash-talking GIF highlights to fans within seconds of the big plays going down, Madden enjoyed one of the most successful years in franchise history due to the GIFERATOR. To date, there have been 500k GIFs made and the GIFERATOR was the #4 most searched GIF on Google in 2014 – right behind Disney’s Frozen.
His mentors didn’t monkey around. One of my favorite pieces of advice I ever received came from Andy Sandoz and Ben Mooge, my Creative Directors over at Havas Work Club in London: “If you’re going to try and sell the idea with the monkey, be sure to wear a suit.”
They taught me how to fire proof my ideas, no matter how inane, with a strong strategic foundation. They also taught me how to awkwardly ride a mechanical bull at an office party in tiny hot pants and still keep some integrity intact.
How does a leader stay on the right path? As you level up, don’t lose the stupid and don’t go anywhere just for the money.
Great leaders come out of Heat. If Lebowski and Rich Silverstein could have magically procreated somehow, our Co-Founder and Creative head honcho Steve Stone would be their bundle of joy. Stoney’s charismatic and easygoing with a killer creative instinct and vision for what he wants his agency to be known for. He’s a humble dude who revels in seeing his younger creatives share the spotlight over himself. Which is ideal for megalomaniac glory hogs like me.
When the going gets tough… I shackle myself in a room full of clever people, a decent soundtrack and power through.