IPG Acxiom Global CEO Learned To Love Marketing From Rock Band KISS

Interpublic in late February appointed Chad Engelgau, global CEO of Acxiom, a data and technology subsidiary. He officially stepped into the role in March, taking the reins from Dennis Self, who plans to remain as an advisor through the transition.

This is Engelgau’s second stint at Acxiom. He worked in various roles during the early 2000s. He also spent time at Dell, where he worked in corporate strategies, and in product engineering and management.

Engelgau's love for marketing began with music and the way the band KISS has marketed the experience and entertainment it provides to fans.

Data & Programmatic Insider caught up with Engelgau to talk about marketing, data and his transition from CMO to CEO of a major company. Excerpts from the conversation follow.

Data & Programmatic Insider:  You left as a CMO and returned as CEO. How will the experience help you run the company?



Engelgau:  I’m a product person at heart. A company like Acxiom -- especially one inside a holding group -- must consistently innovate. I really appreciate that everyone I’ve met … is hyper focused in helping clients. Having that experience as a marketer and having partnered with a variety of major players in the ecosystem will help differentiate us.

D&PI:  As a kid, what type of profession did you want when you grew up?

Engelgau:  As a young boy in 1976, I thought KISS was the greatest band in the world. For a few years I thought I would be a rock star with makeup on my face. That turned into a love for marketing.

D&PI:  Did you really like their makeup, costumes, marketing strategy, or music?

Engelgau:  It started with the music, makeup and clothes. Then as I got older I realized their phenomenal ability to market their brand.

D&PI:  You left and came back to Acxiom after many years. What’s the biggest thing you missed?

Chad Engelgau:  Digging into how the media business operates. Acxiom and Media Brands had a three-year partnership prior to the acquisition.

We learned more about each other’s business and how the direct marketing they did for clients and customer experience helped to complement what they delivered. And now we’re learning how marketing and advertising work together for all clients rather than running in siloes.

D&PI:  It’s a crazy time now with COVID-19, but what will you focus on this year?

Engelgau:  Supporting clients with expanding legislation like implementation of CCPA and changing rules around GDPR, along with metadata management and general compliance.

We’re also seeing more brands bring their first-party data into second-party data exchanges. Acxiom has been providing a secure partner exchange for more than 10 years. We’re also working more closely with other agencies within the holding company to support data-driven creatives and customer journeys.  

D&PI:  What type of message should brands be sending consumers in their creatives?

Engelgau:  Clearly understanding and accepting that we are in unprecedented times and that they want to continue to help and serve their customers.

Brands in the automotive and retail industries are having to shut down their stores, but they can still make people aware they are open for business and open to answer questions and provide content and services. There is lots of brainstorming and there are lots of unique things going on.

D&PI:  Aside from television, what type of media are brands using more often during these times?

Engelgau:  Tailoring the dollars toward something more toward direct-to-consumer like email and direct mail is an approach I’m seeing.

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