Why the 4A’s Chose MEC North America CEO Marla Kaplowitz as Its Next Leader

And what she hopes to accomplish

The 4A's has announced its next president and CEO.
Sources: Leslie Parrott, 4As

On Friday the 4A’s announced Marla Kaplowitz, CEO of MEC North America, would replace Nancy Hill as the new president and CEO of the organization. Kaplowitz will officially take over for Hill in early or mid-May, although an exact date has not yet been disclosed.

A 10-person selection committee, led by 4A’s board chair and Horizon Media president, CEO and founder Bill Koenigsberg, unanimously selected Kaplowitz. When current 4A’s chairman and CEO Nancy Hill announced in July that after nine years she planned to step down from her role, Koenigsberg and his team got to work looking for someone to take over for Hill.

"I think the 4A's has done a tremendous job with diversity and I want to make sure that continues to grow."
-Marla Kaplowitz

The first thing Koenigsberg and his team did was enlist MediaLink to help conduct a “research study among a cross section of our membership,” he said. “It gave our members an opportunity to voice how they saw the future, what a future leader might look like, what they were looking for in terms of guidance and what the 4A’s should stand for.”

From there, the team created a job description and set out to look for the next CEO. Overall, the committee looked at somewhere between 70 and 80 candidates until finally narrowing it down to four. Kaplowitz proved to the committee that she could use her previous experience, which includes 12 years at Mediavest as the head of Procter & Gamble’s communications planning assignment for North America, to do a number of things for the trade organization.

The committee wanted someone who checked a few different boxes. The next CEO needed to be highly respected in the industry, a great leader and someone who could inspire and lead internally and outwardly to the industry as a whole. Koenigsberg and his team also wanted someone who could “deal with a very diverse membership,” including small shops, holding company agencies and big media agencies. Finally, the new CEO’s vision had to align with that of the organization and all of its members.

“Marla personified all of those in her ability to show us that she had what it took to navigate all of those different swim lanes, [which] led us to a unanimous decision that we are very lucky to have her,” Koenigsberg added.

"Agencies need to once again be valued for the partnership that they deliver."
-Marla Kaplowitz

As soon as Kaplowitz steps into her new role sometime in May, she said there are a few things she hopes to tackle. The biggest being to mend the relationship between the 4A’s and the Association of National Advertisers. The two organizations have, in the past year or so, publicly debated the issue of media transparency. While the 4A’s and ANA had formed a joint task force in April 2015 to investigate allegations of pervasive kickbacks among media agencies, the 4A’s eventually released its own set of transparency guidelines nine months later without the support of the ANA.

“Agencies need to once again be valued for the partnership that they deliver and the work because it’s about growing their business,” she said. “My goal is to make sure that I work and partner closely with the ANA and Bob Liodice and hope to be very connected to them moving forward,” Kaplowitz added.

A few other issues Kaplowitz plans to tackle as CEO of the 4A’s include making sure all members understand and take advantage of what the organization has to offer to help agencies grow their businesses and continuing Nancy Hill’s work on diversity within the industry.

“I think the 4A’s has done a tremendous job with diversity and I want to make sure that continues to grow, not just through the foundation but through the work that’s being done with diversity of all types, whether that’s gender diversity or ethnic diversity, and really leveraging the training that’s happening here,” Kaplowitz added.