Berger: Industry Must Sell Itself

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. Advertising leaders need to redouble their efforts to attract and nurture new talent, in part by touting the “highly charged, creative
atmosphere” in which they work, said Ron Berger on Friday in his opening speech as the new chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Berger, the CEO and chief creative officer at Havas’ Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners in New York, encouraged peers to become “more visible by trumpeting our tremendous story,” adding, “Let’s toot our horn about our industry’s contributions rather than continuing to have a few spokespersons who go on TV to showcase how smart they are versus how dumb the industry is. Let’s talk about how challenging careers in the industry are, and why that’s a good thing.”

Berger, who will serve a two-year term, said the ad business needs to market the unique qualities that set it apart from more corporate industries. “Sure, it can be tense, but tension is the dynamic force that drives genuine innovators among us to get up and think, experiment, create and innovate,” he said.

Berger further called upon attendees to be more boastful and proud of what they do and “cut the crap” of complaining unconstructively and disproportionately about the industry’s problems. “I do worry that the outside world, especially our clients and prospective recruits, tend to hear sour complaints, not our passion,” Berger said.

To further underscore his point that advertising can attract a younger generation if it markets itself better, Berger played a video of 15 young industry professionals reflecting on their jobs. In part, they said they have fun at what they do, feel like they’re breaking new ground and feel comfortable in a less corporate setting.

Berger’s remarks came at the start of the last day of the 4A’s 86th annual Management Conference, which drew 333 attendees this year, up 30 percent from last year’s total of 257, according to an association representative.