CEOs Need To Participate In Ad Decisions

Bill-HagelsteinThere are some key voices missing in high-level discussions about advertising strategy -- the bosses of client companies, according to a panel of ad agency executives speaking at the 4A’s “Transformation” conference in Los Angeles. The unanimous verdict: CEOs need to take more responsibility for -and be more involved in -- marketing and advertising decision-making.

CEOs have been able to dodge ad discussions, in part by pushing these duties off on CMOs, who then become scapegoats when things don’t work out, according to Ty Montague, the co-CEO of co:collective.

“The reason so many CMOs are getting thrown under the bus is because fundamentally, story-telling is not just the purview of marketing. A lot of CEOs have abdicated the responsibility of understanding and telling the story of their businesses," he says. "It has to be embraced from the top.”



Bill Hagelstein, president and CEO of RPA, said the benefits of client CEO involvement extend to creative: “The work is so much better if you’re working with the decision-makers who are big believers in their brand.”

However, Tom Carroll, president and CEO of TBWA Worldwide, pointed to organizational impediments: “The results are always better when the CEO is involved… the question is, how you get that relationship?”

Asked what else “keeps them up at night,” several of the panelists mentioned structural issues within their agencies -- principally the composition and balance between permanent, full-time staff and outside collaborators.

Montague said his agency is built on the premise that teams can be assembled on an ad hoc basis, which means he puts a lot of thought into “who should be on staff to solve client problems, and who should we be working with ”from outside the agency. Hagelstein said he is also keenly aware of “the need collaborate to get the best thinking, [and] what should we be building inside our shops” versus outsourced.

1 comment about "CEOs Need To Participate In Ad Decisions".
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  1. Arthur Einstein from Loyalty Builders, March 29, 2012 at 12:30 p.m.

    Let's put this another way. No other line item in a corporate budget as large as advertising gets so little input from the corner office. It's because advertising is viewed as an expense not an investment. All of us who believe in the value of intangible assets like brands gape in amazement at the indifference.

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