As the average creative account win shrinks and clients across the brand spectrum move more work in-house, media continues to be the most important part of the global agency equation. In 2018, bold leadership and creative thinking in media is critical for any marketer looking to reach the right customer with the right message in the most effective place and time. For those reasons and more, this year’s All-Stars will lead the industry forward. Our Executive of the Year, John Moore, helped transform MullenLowe’s Mediahub from an upstart into a contender with innovative solutions to the business needs of breakthrough clients like Netflix. And Rising Star Alexis Toney of Laundry Service is a proud cord-cutter untethered to the “traditional” media model. Taken together, this diverse array of All-Star talent represents a transformative way of working. —Patrick Coffee
When Mullen and Lowe merged in 2015, Alex Leikikh—who had been named global CEO of the combined creative entities—had to think strategically about what to do with the new network’s media assets, Mullen’s Mediahub and Lowe’s Profero.
Leikikh wanted the two shops to integrate and expand globally, and he appointed John Moore, then chief media officer of Mediahub, to execute on that vision. Moore, who is now global president of Mediahub, a unit of MullenLowe, had prior experience running most of the media shop’s offices, including its Boston headquarters; he also led the launch of its Los Angeles division.
Now, it was time to truly put his skill set to the test.
Moore admits that the simultaneous tasks of bringing Profero under the Mediahub umbrella and building the agency into a formidable global player with an identity distinct from its creative parent while working to expand in the U.S. “sounded like a daunting challenge.”
“There were some supporters and some naysayers,” he says—but since the merger, Mediahub has scored some of the industry’s most coveted accounts including Netflix, Ulta Beauty, Royal Caribbean, Chipotle and Lenovo. It also picked up its first Cannes award in the form of a silver Lion celebrating a Netflix campaign. During the same period, the network further developed capabilities like proprietary research tool Scout and creative hub Radical + Disruptive (R+D) Lab.
In February, when Adweek named Mediahub its U.S. Media Agency of the Year, Moore said the shop’s next goal was to bolster its New York and London offices.
In April, Mediahub announced it had reached its expansion goals in New York. And while there’s still work yet to be done in London, Moore says Mediahub is now being recognized and invited to just as many pitches in the U.K. as in America. And now he’s onto his next goal: opening offices in Spain, France and Germany by the end of 2019.
“Being the only group of people to build a best-in-class media shop within a full-service creative agency is pretty fucking hard, and I’m pretty goddamn proud of it, and the best is yet to come,” Moore says.
So how does he do it? Moore, who considers himself a “right-brain” thinker leaning heavily on creative in media, says it’s “pretty simple.”
“It’s hard work,” Moore says. “I’m not the smartest person in the room, but nobody will outwork me.”
Shelley Haus, svp of brand marketing at Ulta Beauty, says she’s always impressed by the level of expertise Moore and his team bring to the table.
“He has the ability to build great teams which, as easy as that sounds, Haus says, “is a really hard thing to do. His team thinks about media in a nontraditional way. They think of ideas that go all the way to in-store [design] and execution.”
To Haus’s point, Moore says there’s one piece of advice he got from MullenLowe chairman emeritus and former CEO Joe Grimaldi that he will always take to heart.
“When I got this job [as global president], Joe said: ‘John, you will be fired by clients. And I won’t be upset with you because it happens. But if you’re ever surprised that you got fired, that’s when I’ll be upset with you,’” Moore recalls.
Now, he schedules meetings with clients at least twice a year to address their concerns.
“I don’t know anyone more dedicated and passionate about the business,” says Steve Calder, senior director of media and digital marketing at HP. When Moore first joined Mullen in 1997, Calder, then the agency’s chief media officer, was his manager.
Moore says his career has remained interesting for more than 20 years thanks to various opportunities to climb the ladder, and he likes to think his staff members have the same kinds of chances.
“I tell younger employees all the time, never run away from something, always run to something,” Moore says.
As for the future, don’t expect Moore to take a backseat anytime soon.
“Anyone who knows me knows I would do this job for free,” Moore says. “I look forward to Monday through Friday as much as I look forward to Saturday and Sunday. What a gift.” —Lindsay Rittenhouse
“Whatever you see on TV or on the internet, I play a part in it.” That’s how Alexis Toney describes what she does all day to her parents.
Yet, the two-year veteran of digital-first agency Laundry Service also reveals that she, like so many in her generation, is a dedicated cord-cutter. “The last time I paid for cable was when I lived at home,” she adds.
Who better, then, to help guide brands through the new media ecosystem?
“The most interesting part of my job is being able to play with stories,” says Toney, countering the idea that media work isn’t creative. As an example, she cites Papa John’s, which recently consolidated its media and creative accounts with Laundry Service after several years with Grey. She adds that such an “everything rolled up into one” relationship “makes the story much more seamless” and allows her to play with numbers in the interest of helping the client develop a truly cross-channel approach.
On that note, one of Toney’s key goals at Laundry Service involves bringing the agency’s disparate and sometimes competing practices together. “A lot of the time, we find that media and creative work in silos—and I myself have been working to close that gap,” she says. Luckily, the creative team is right across the hall.
The Ogilvy and KSL Media veteran joined Laundry Service in 2016 and was promoted to director of media strategy in January 2017, just as the Wasserman-owned shop went on a hot streak. Last fall, it picked up creative for Lincoln and became the first non-WPP agency to join Ford’s roster in years right after winning the Papa John’s business.
Citing the agency’s “friendly, competitive nature,” she adds, “I leave here every day knowing something I didn’t the day prior. We are all trying to do really cool things, so we tend to push each other a lot.”
Even during her still somewhat brief time in the agency world, Toney has witnessed a sea change in consumer behavior. But the reason she opted to go into advertising in the first place was the simple power of a classic McDonald’s broadcast campaign. “I was fascinated to see something on TV that could make me hungry instantly, and I wanted to be part of that,” she says.
Now, she comes into work each day with the goal of learning how to help clients better reach someone exactly like herself. —Patrick Coffee
Early in his career, Damian Areyan helped organizations like the Tiger Woods Foundation and the Los Angeles Kings to navigate the complexities of sports marketing.
Now he’s a fan of data, drawing on his expertise to create branded experiences such as a Los Angeles Clippers culinary experience at trendy L.A. restaurants or a contest giving participants the chance to watch an away game from the Chicago Bulls locker room.
“I’m a big believer in data-driven analysis,” says Areyan, who oversees an experiential practice that includes over 40 employees across six North American offices and works with such clients as Dacor, HSBC and Lexus. “You have to look holistically [at] what the data is telling you about consumers” in order to “understand their habits,” he says.
For example, Team One’s recent work for Lexus included strategic analysis leading to a “three-year map” of its target demographic in the luxury automotive space.
As a result of insights gleaned from the “road map,” the automaker decided to hit “travel and wellness in one spot” this year by adding three new hotel partners to its roster while aiming to get the brand more actively involved in on-site wellness programs like yoga retreats.
“Damian has created a team that is much more strategic in nature and collaborative in their approach toward meeting our objectives,” says Lexus national marketing manager Steve Jett.
“We are seeing the results we want from our lifestyle efforts,” he notes, pointing to the purchase consideration in excess of 75 percent at driving events and brand favorability numbers “often between 80 [to] 90 percent.”
Areyan believes the industry is “on the edge of something really dynamic” as data and social media engagement increases its ability to understand and listen to consumers.
“The consumer has never had a stronger voice than they do today,” he says. —Erik Oster
After spending nearly two decades in the media business, Jared Belsky has grown to know its ins and outs as well as any executive. Now, 360i’s newly promoted CEO has been tasked with leading Adweek’s 2017 Breakthrough Media Agency of the Year (and its clients) into the future.
“To some, we’re not as well-known for media,” says Belsky, noting that many still see his shop as a digital or social media-focused operation. But brands know better.
Looking back, Belsky now believes the 360i team was ahead of the curve when it came to developing a truly comprehensive offering. “Our vision for this, which progressive CMOs are now hungry for, was made entirely possible by the deep bench at 360i,” he says. “The strategists, code developers, data engineers, creative technologists, product developers, acquisition marketers, planners, creators, API experts and even voice specialists who took it upon themselves to think creatively about some really cumbersome media challenges.”
Those capabilities have allowed the agency to sell itself as a flexible partner while sticking to what Belsky calls a “client-centric” approach. In one such example, he called for a new transparency model in 2014 as programmatic technology began to dominate media buying.
Some big-name clients are all in.
“We think their adaptability works whether buying on TV, Facebook or YouTube,” says Chili’s CMO Steve Provost, who expanded his company’s relationship with 360i last year. “They are tremendously willing to move to plan B if plan A isn’t working two weeks into a promotion, which comes in handy in a competitive and fast-moving category.”
Like many media executives, Belsky looks to position his agency’s services as a source for truly creative solutions to the challenges they face in the marketplace rather than a simple transactional relationship.
“We are looking for brands who see marketing as a vehicle for growth, not just as a vehicle for cost-cutting,” he says. —P.C.
When you hire 500 people in a single year, how do you deploy and maintain a menu of benefits that will keep both new and existing employees satisfied with a company and its culture? The task would prove daunting for most, but Horizon Media’s evp, chief talent officer Eileen Benwitt not only rose to the challenge but also continued to find unique ways to keep employees happy and healthy.
At the start of the year, Horizon, under Benwitt’s leadership, opened an on-site health clinic with the aim of creating a healthier workforce, leading to increased productivity and the need for fewer days off for things like doctor appointments. The clinic comes complete with a nurse practitioner and a medical assistant to “support the medical and health coaching needs of our employees,” Benwitt says. For instance, employees can visit the health center to discuss preventative care and chronic conditions or simply get a flu shot.
“[Benwitt] came to me with the whole idea, the benefits, what the financial model was and how it would operate,” says Bill Koenigsberg, president, CEO and founder of Horizon Media. “As she does with everything, she came to me with a nice business case into how this fits in our corporate culture and why we should do it.”
Benwitt also injected a dose of mindfulness to Horizon’s culture with the addition of an office gym and yoga studio, along with classes dedicated to mediation and breathing and an employee relaxation room. These initiatives have not only made Horizon employees happy but have also scored the agency numerous spots on the Best Places to Work in Advertising and Media list as well as five nods on Crain’s Best Places to Work list. —Katie Richards
As head of GroupM’s Multicultural Marketing Analytics unit, Mebrulin Francisco says her chief goal is to help connect consumers who are often “misrepresented, mislabeled and undervalued” to her clients—a list that includes Target, NBCUniversal and Chevron.
Franciso’s vision of inclusion has proven to be a winning strategy. Her five-person team, comprised of female data strategists drawn from diverse backgrounds, is among the largest multicultural media agencies in the U.S. And its revenue reportedly increased by 62 percent between 2013 and 2016.
“She always understood what we wanted to achieve,” says Gonzalo Del Fa, president of GroupM Multicultural, “and she also added this layer of how to make these things business-driven, but easy for people to understand. There’s nobody with more passion and more heart for this business, but always with this rigor and discipline on how analytics should be done the right way.”
Growing up in the Bronx, N.Y., as a first-generation immigrant, Francisco says she didn’t have any role models in marketing and couldn’t imagine herself in the industry. Despite graduating in the top 5 percent of her class, she says she thought the height of her professional accomplishments would be a receptionist job. With her high school guidance counselor’s encouragement, however, Francisco earned her bachelor’s degree from the Lubin School of Business at Pace University. And in 2005, a professor helped her land a job in market research at MEC.
“In business, we’re always talking about profits,” she says. “And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s important to put the people back in the equation and find our brands’ long-term success and ways to connect with their audience in meaningful ways.” —Sara Jerde
Evan Hanlon graduated from Harvard in 2008 after studying filmmaking, but in 2011 he was working as a marketing and brand communications strategist and, as he says, still figuring out what he really wanted to do. His sister, playing the role of career matchmaker, introduced him to someone in her book club who turned out to be Christina Beaumier, then vp of client services at Xaxis. After that fortuitous connection, Hanlon says, “everything sort of fell into place.”
That same year, Hanlon went to work at the WPP ad targeting company and later worked his way up to vp of strategy and investment. In 2016, he joined media network GroupM as a director of strategy and platforms, quickly gaining a reputation for his ability to reimagine and reengineer how the firm could integrate data and technology into all areas of its business, from development and activation to client collaborations and media buys.
Two years later, he was named president of GroupM’s [m]Platform U.S.
Among Hanlon’s major projects was to lead and launch the [m]Platform, an integrated audience intelligence tool designed to help GroupM clients around the world reach key audiences by bringing together data analytics and digital services including mobile, search and programmatic buying.
Currently, he oversees all data and technology functions in the U.S., including all relevant subject matter experts as well as the [m]Platform leads at every GroupM agency.
“Evan is one of the architects of a new way of thinking and working in GroupM,” says global CEO Kelly Clark. “He’s a spiky connector: He has sharp points of view that are grounded in fact and experience, and he brings together clients, media owners, data providers and technology partners to solve problems collaboratively.” —S.J.
When billings at Horizon Media jumped $5 billion over five years from 2012 to 2017, the agency didn’t have to look far to discover the driving force behind its massive growth: Eva Kantrowitz, a 10-year vet of the shop and its evp, managing partner. In recognition, last year Horizon created an entirely new role for her as chief strategy officer, brand development.
In three years, Kantrowitz helped the agency land 60 new pitches. The wins include Popeyes, LG, Chobani and one of the biggest for the agency, the $700 million Sprint account, which Horizon clinched in 2017.
For Kantrowitz, the work hardly stops after new account wins. She recently implemented a multilevel process within the agency for integrating new clients, with an eye toward making the transition process as seamless as possible for everyone involved. This includes creating separate teams for logistics and operations, thereby allowing strategy teams to “dive right into the business.”
“By first understanding a client’s data and reporting needs, Eva engineered a process that streamlines the onboarding experience and minimized human error,” says evp, chief client officer Stan Fields.
A key part of Kantrowitz’s job centers on digging for data. That includes “looking at our data platforms, building new ones and really looking more at our data in general,” she says. “We’re not just talking about digital or programmatic, we are talking about using first-party data or other sources that really feed into the entire process, from strategy to then measuring the results for clients.”
Kantrowitz’s influence within the agency goes well beyond new business; she was one of the five founding members of Limitless, an in-house platform designed to unite and uplift the women of Horizon Media through a series of workshops, speaker series and classes. —Katie Richards
Brian Krick arrived at Essence in 2013 as head of search and biddable for North America, armed with an extensive background in search engine marketing at major agencies including Razorfish. One year later, he was overseeing a team of over 100 across 18 global offices, and in 2017, the agency promoted him to evp of planning.
Since then, Essence has allowed Krick to “reinvent” its planning department “with a platform specialist’s point of view.” For instance, recent work for Google included helping the search giant “road test” its tools for measuring audiences and platforms.
“There are few and far between who understand performance media this exceptionally,” says Kevin Murakami, Google’s global lead for paid search and biddable media, noting Krick’s keen ability to understand the specifics of direct response.
Under Krick’s leadership, the agency’s team services clients including Bayer, NBCUniversal and Target by deploying “data-led and algorithmically optimized media plans.”
Today, consumers’ access to information has given them more power than ever—and Krick views this as an opportunity to help “clients woo customers” while navigating an increasingly complex and risky media landscape. This shift toward greater transparency, Krick says, requires “hard conversations” that “reveal where [clients’] true beliefs are” on issues like brand safety. —E.O.
It’s perhaps fitting that Andy Littlewood, who describes himself as “part self-taught psychology junkie and part statistics machine,” now holds the “head of knowledge” title at MediaCom North America.
Tasked with helping provide agency teams and clients faster access to the systems and services that are available through MediaCom and GroupM, Littlewood says, “My job is to continually scan the market and secure the right data, tools, systems and empirical knowledge to fuel our clients’ business plans.”
To that end, Littlewood identified new sources of geographic data for one national retail client that fueled hyper-local planning for existing locations and new store launches.
Among the clients that Littlewood has provided with simple, integrated data-driven solutions are Bose, MetLife, Sony, Uber, Uniqlo and Whole Foods.
“Andy has laid the very foundation of our paid media strategy,” says Whole Foods global vp of marketing Sonya Gafsi Oblisk. “He and the team have delivered more than a 220 percent increase in year-over-year e-store revenue that’s attributable to paid media support.”
A native of Scotland, Littlewood began his career as an assistant at MediaCom’s Edinburgh office, where he cut small ads out of newspapers. This inauspicious start eventually led him to such roles as a communications planner at Aegis, and then head of analytics and direct at PHD in Australia.
In 2011, MediaCom’s current global COO, Toby Jenner, who was then CEO of MediaCom Australia, brought him back to the fold and named him MediaCom Australia’s chief of data, ROI and direct response. Three years ago, MediaCom USA CEO Sasha Savic lured Littlewood to the U.S., hiring him as the shop’s first ever “head of knowledge.”
“Andy is a unicorn in the agency world,” offers Savic. “Time and time again, he’ll stand in front of a client or prospect and translate a deep understanding of media planning science, consumer psychology, economics and brand behavior into client-specific ideas and solutions that no one else could deliver. Then he’ll smile and ask the client, ‘Is this clear? Are we OK?’ with his charming Scottish accent. That’s Andy.” —A.J. Katz
Sargi Mann wants to prove that understanding the complexities and sophistication of digital advertising is about more than buying Facebook or Snapchat ads. Instead, she wants agencies to think like business analysts who have the strategic chops to examine a brand’s broader business objectives.
Mann joined Havas Media last year after working at shops like Vizeum and Carat and has been instrumental to a string of recent wins, including a chunk of French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi’s reported $1 billion global media spend, as well as Orbitz and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
“When we talk about digital strategy, it quickly defaults to a media execution,” she says. “Our approach and thinking around that has been very different—when we look at any project, we look at how does digital as a capability deliver more meaningful business value.”
For example, her team is working with Sanofi to build content by using data to better understand how people buy over-the-counter medicine. “When it comes to digital, she lives in a world of possibility and sees that there’s so much opportunity from a digital standpoint to drive our business,” says Gwen Conley, director of North American media at Sanofi’s Chattem. “Her enthusiasm and passion are contagious, and it gets everybody excited about the role of [how] digital beyond paid media can play in our mix.”
To navigate the switch from one-off paid media campaigns to consultant-like work, Mann leans on a team of staffers with diverse backgrounds who are able to apply their skills outside of their specialized areas. A mobile strategist, for instance, also works on omnichannel experiences, while performance marketers pull double duty by focusing on insights within data sets.
“I always say to the team that it will be a win for us that we are considered a partner versus an agency,” Mann says. —Lauren Johnson
When Greg March launched his independent media agency, Noble People, in 2011, he did so with a singular purpose: to challenge the status quo. March, along with partners Lindsay Lustberg and Todd Alchin, wanted to demonstrate that media companies could do well by doing “good” work, combining transparency and creative thinking.
The pivotal moment arrived, says March, when Noble People began working with PayPal in 2014. The partnership, which came at a time when the agency consisted of “a handful of people,” proved “transformative” in helping March and his team gain a reputation as “good for disruptive companies.”
Greg Fisher, vp of global marketing at PayPal, describes March as “someone who asks the right questions to distill the conversation into a simple human truth.”
The executive, who spent seven years in Wieden + Kennedy’s media department, notes that his agency has racked up a considerable client roster that includes Zappos, Puma, Dunkin’ Donuts, Slack and Honest Tea. Last year, the agency hit $14 million in revenue, up 40 percent from 2016. It expects to reach $18 million this year.
According to March, the agency is about creative ideas exemplified by a recent initiative promoting Viceland’s “Weed Week” that invited people to “Smoke Weed With Jeff Sessions.”
Regarding that particular project’s combination of strategic placements and timely content, he says, “Sometimes media ideas help inspire creative ideas.”
In another example, Noble People’s insight that “all the cool stuff with Venmo happens late at night” and its decision to focus media placements between 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. helped shape creative agency Preacher’s activations in a campaign for the payment app.
March says his agency “can fly a flag for all [media specialists] who fell in love with the intersection of creativity, commerce and culture.”
“Over here that stuff matters more than making money,” he adds. “Hopefully we make money doing that, but that’s what matters first.” —E.O.
Assembly CEO Martin Cass knew his long and frustrating search for a managing director to lead Midwest operations was over the minute he had breakfast with Kendra Mazey.
“In walked this force of nature with the enthusiasm and toughness I wanted,” Cass said in a statement. “After an hour I had not eaten. If my attention was that captured, imagine how great she’d be with clients.”
He didn’t have to imagine for long.
Even before Mazey’s first day, she began preparing to pitch Red Robin. She and her team won the offline account, and 12 months later Red Robin consolidated all of its media duties at Assembly without a review.
According to Red Robin’s fourth-quarter earnings statement, the company’s 2017 performance was its “best in over 5 years,” with Q4 2017 marking “six consecutive quarters” outpacing competition and stealing market share.
It was Assembly’s focus on data and technology, coupled with its transparent model allowing clients to audit their media spend, that enticed Mazey to make the leap after 15 years with Campbell Ewald. “To be able to dive into that and knowing that’s where the future of media is was very exciting,” she says.
“The whole notion of not overcharging rates or markups is huge,” she adds. “At the end of the day, it really benefits our clients.”
Since joining Assembly in 2016, Mazey has literally transformed the office. (Goodbye silos, hello open floor plan.)
She’s added to the bottom line, too. On Mazey’s watch, Cox Automotive expanded its relationship with Assembly, which now handles both offline and online media duties for Autotrader.
Yana Kershteyn, Cox Automotive’s senior director of consumer marketing, calls Mazey “a natural leader” and “a champion for her team and for their clients.” —E.O.
When Omnicom-owned Hearts & Science became AT&T’s media agency of record in 2016, the win was both an evolution of the telecom’s longstanding relationship with the world’s second-largest holding company and a huge $3 billion bet. Instead of spreading its media budget across a variety of agencies, AT&T was now placing its massive ad spend in just one place.
“It was kind of a referendum,” says Hearts & Science president Ralph Pardo. “On the agency model and even holding companies overall. You have a large company that said: ‘What I have now is not working.’”
Pardo’s vision for managing the account was to go experimental, placing a premium on hiring people with more technical backgrounds within the agency and balancing them with strategists that have a more “ambidextrous skill set.” Not only has his team assisted in the creation and placement of TV spots—sometimes using data to optimize and adjust the spots as often as every three to four weeks—they’ve also improved the quality of data by cutting out extraneous sources to make ad targeting more efficient and effective. (An ongoing audit of AT&T’s data providers helped Hearts & Science learn that some audiences were “quite redundant.”)
An Omnicom vet who previously led the Time Warner business, Pardo was hired in 2016 to lead Hearts & Science’s new cross-agency team made up of media, creative, strategy and analytics professionals, many of whom were plucked from sibling agencies. The team is now comprised of some 500 members while the shop has expanded from two offices in New York to locations in Mexico, the U.K., Germany, Dubai and Japan.
“Hearts & Science is all about pioneering the future of how brands and people connect,” says Hearts & Science CEO Scott Hagedorn, “which also means pioneering a new way that marketing disciplines work together to build those connections. Ralph excels in managing and advancing both sides of this two-front revolution to drive business results for our clients.” —Marty Swant
After noticing that more brands were turning to social media stars and influencers to pitch their products and create campaigns, Kerry Perse saw an opportunity to create a data-backed score that could grade influencers on their effectiveness with marketers.
In December, Perse and her 22-person team unveiled the OMD I-Score. The tool helps marketers dig through profiles to find the right influencers to work with based on the type of content that they create. According to Perse, I-Score is akin to Hollywood’s Q Score that ranks the popularity of celebrities. OMD says some 15 clients now use I-Score, which has led to a 40 percent increase in influencer revenue.
Three factors are used to discern credible influencers: a rating from the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) that checks brand safety; a breakdown of the user’s followers parsing real accounts from fake ones; and an analysis of the creator’s engagement rate. After establishing these ratings, OMD then works directly with creators to give them products, oversee content and negotiate the rights for content distribution.
The idea is “to develop proprietary tools that use data to help modernize the influencer marketing approach as well as hold [influencers] more accountable for results,” she says.
Perse’s bet on influencer marketing comes at a tough time for the genre, given the rise of popular personalities such as Logan Paul and PewDiePie that also dovetails with a spike in controversial content and its attendant negative press. That’s why agency involvement in picking influencers is so important, according to Perse. “In the selection process, we’re very careful to take a look at the rating of their content, but then we go through and do a deep manual review of all the content that they’ve posted, and we guide the process very closely,” she says. —L.J.
In March, when Erica Schmidt was promoted to become Cadreon’s first female global CEO, a great weight was suddenly placed on her shoulders.
She says, “I feel pressure from eyes looking down on me [saying], ‘OK, you’re the first woman CEO. What are you going to do?’”
Luckily for Schmidt, she’s always been one step ahead of everyone else.
At 6 years old, she taught herself basic computer programming. When she entered the advertising industry in the late 1990s at a Boston shop that placed help-wanted ads in newspapers, she was told not to encourage clients to put them online “because they hadn’t figured out the business model for that.” So, she left to join a digital agency and never looked back.
“I remember thinking at the time: ‘Gosh that seems very shortsighted,” Schmidt says—and 20 years later, “it’s been nothing short of exciting” to see how the internet has evolved.
While serving as evp and managing director of IPG Mediabrands’ ad-tech specialist unit Cadreon, Schmidt helped the organization weather every media storm, from transparency to brand safety and the current hot-button issue: privacy.
“Consumers are understanding more about their data and how it’s being used,” Schmidt explains, and Cadreon seeks to leverage data in the most ethical way while under her direction. “It’s about what’s right for consumers and what’s right for history,” Schmidt says.
Her other mission involves what’s right for the industry. That means improving diversity by leading Cadreon’s Impact Group and creating a “mission, vision and charter” for inclusion.
“My goal is for Cadreon to be known as a company that champions diversity of backgrounds, experiences and thoughts,” she notes. “As a female CEO in a largely male-dominated industry, I want girls around the world to feel empowered and to pursue their dreams—and I will do everything in my power to help them reach their goals.” —L.R.
Just over six years after splashing onto the media agency scene, Deidre Smalls-Landau has already created tidal waves.
She spent most of her career on the creative side after starting as an account executive at FCB, where she worked on Nabisco and AT&T.
As media grew “sexier,” she decided to take a leap into the evp, managing director role at IPG Mediabrands’ multicultural shop Identity in 2011. Last June, Smalls-Landau was elevated to evp and global chief cross-cultural officer at UM Worldwide while retaining her Identity role.
“When I was growing up in advertising, everything was focused more on quantified, less creative solutions,” Smalls-Landau says. “I came on [to IPG] during the full data explosion and with a great organization that’s committed to data and creativity.”
She says her role within IPG Mediabrands is twofold: half the time she’s focused on driving the marketplace forward, and the other half she’s elevating the workplace for employees.
Diversity drives her approach in both cases.
In the marketplace, she’s committed to honing media plans and leveraging data to unlock a deeper understanding of the multicultural audiences clients crave.
Those insights appear to have resonated with brands, because after winning Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson in 2016, UM went on to score media work for Spotify and Accenture last year.
Still, Smalls-Landau says acting as “a beacon of hope for other people of color” is most important to her.
In the workplace, Smalls-Landau has spearheaded UM’s diversity efforts; one major shift involved moving related language from a place of “inclusion” to one of “belonging.”
“Inclusion is when you’ve been hired because you represent a number,” she explains.
Her goal is to one day see an agency employee of color as one of “200”—not just two or three. —L.R.