CE's chief Barbara Yolles Talks Detroit, Agency Growth and Fast Cars | Adweek
Advertisement

Campbell Ewald's Chief Marketer Can't Talk About Cadillac

But she loves Detroit


Specs
Who Barbara Yolles
New gig CMO, Campbell Ewald
Old gig chief growth officer, North America, McCann
Age 46

What has been your impact on Campbell Ewald since you started last year?
Whenever client prospects or journalists come into CE, they’re stunned by the depth and breadth of the resources. It’s an amazing agency that just needed to gain awareness. All I’ve done is crafted a narrative to reposition the agency, given it a new look, tone, feel, and infected it with my obsession with fashion and shoes.

Why CMO and not say, growth officer?
An agency needs to be a marketer and a brand, too. That’s why we combined two departments into one. Growth and Marketing/Communications. My job is to grow the CE brand to drive reputation and develop our business. In this role, I can have impact internally and externally.

Let’s get this out of the way­—what can you tell us about the Cadillac review?
Any questions you have about Cadillac, you’ll have to call Cadillac.

OK, then, tell us about some wins.
I can share that we won Zipcar, Edward Jones, FDA anti-tobacco, University of Michigan global brand, Dow Chemical and had huge organic growth on several accounts. The rest are in contract, and I’m not able to share at this time.

What is the biggest misperception about Detroit?
People focus on it being an automotive town with blight. In reality, it’s a thriving, sophisticated, cultural, creative hotbed. Forbes called it the best place to start a new business. Art Basel called it one of the four next art meccas of the world. It’s a town that has creativity and invention at its core with amazing resilience and determination. It’s like no other city I’ve ever worked in.

How is that reflected in CE?
The inventiveness of the agency. We were first to do click to video via mobile. CE also created one of the first branded YouTube channels for the Navy, and today it is ranked in the top 15-20 channels. And we were the first to turn a coffee tumbler into a Starbucks gift card. That’s how we think.

What has the agency been up to in the social space?
We created Navy for Moms. It’s a great example of how to leverage a strong insight and bringing people together to achieve a business goal—in this case, meeting recruitment goals—in the social space. The No. 1 barrier for a recruit to the Navy is mom. We started with 72 moms who had kids in the Navy to talk to other moms whose kids are contemplating joining the Navy. Today we have over 80,000 moms talking to one another, and a new mom joins every 30 minutes.

What is the industry buzzword you are most sick of hearing?
I’d say “digital” We hear clients saying they want digital all the time, but I’m not sure what that really means. Is it mobile? Social? Advertising? Websites? And there are hundreds of layers beneath each one of those. Have you ever Googled “digital advertising”? If you do, you’ll get 2.2 billion hits. If you Google “advertising,” which you’d think would be bigger, you only get 700 million hits.

Are you a car person?
Well, I’ve gotten four speeding tickets in the last year. And that’s driving my soccer-Mom SUV. I’d rather be driving a hot coupe.

So if you could drive any car for a day, what would it be?
If I could drive any car from the past, it would be a split-window ‘63 Vette or Gullwing Mercedes.

Advertisement