ARF Taps Former General Mills Research Czar Fuguitt As New Chief, First Woman To Hold The Job

Gayle Fuguitt

Shortly after giving an important presentation at last year’s ARF Re:think conference in New York, Gayle Fuguitt stepped down as the head of research for General Mills, after a 32-year career studying consumers, advertising and media for the packaged goods giant. 

During the opening session of this year’s Re:think conference, Fuguitt will come out of retirement as the ARF’s new president-CEO, succeeding Bob Baroccci, who retires after nearly 10 years. Aside from being the first woman to run the ARF, Madison Avenue’s research authority, Fuguitt also is the first person to jump directly from a job as an advertiser to the post.

Not surprisingly, she tells MediaDailyNews that researching ads -- especially the impact of great creative content and messages -- will be one of the areas she expects to be most focused on in her new role.

“There’s kind of an inspiration gap. We need to figure out ways of coming up with better creative -- more engaging creative,” she explains, adding: “We’re all focused on metrics, but if the creative doesn’t work, then the metrics don’t matter.”

Fuguitt says this won’t necessarily be a repositioning of the ARF’s agenda, noting that the foundation has always held events and published content exploring “what inspires great creative.” She just believes it's more important than ever before, given the hyper-fragmentation of media and the fact that consumers seem to be more in control of the media content they consume.

She says she doesn’t expect to shift any of the ARF’s focus away from media, and noted that, if anything, understanding the role media play -- especially multiple forms of media -- in conveying great creative is also imperative.

While Fuguitt won’t officially begin her new role until April 15 when Barocci retires, she says she’s starting unofficially now by embarking on a “listening tour” to solicit suggestions and feedback from the ARF membership. “I’ll be listening to our leaders to understand how each of our four major stakeholders -- agencies, advertisers, media and research suppliers -- think it needs to be done, and then I’ll be taking that listening and translating it into what solutions we need to come up with at the ARF."

Mainly, she says it will be just a matter of “freshening things up” and “making them more contemporary for the researchers of today.”

 

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