Advice Free For The Asking

WSAAA Touts Underutilized McKinney Committee
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif.–A rock climber and a founder of an Internet startup firm were among those offering insights into the ad business at the Western States Advertising Agencies Association’s annual meeting here last week.
The conference, themed “Inspiration. Passion. Adventure,” featured a variety of speakers, including rock climber Todd Skinner, Operation Hope founder John Bryant and Joe Kraus, co-founder of Internet company Excite. “They didn’t have the name recognition [of previous speakers], but they were phenomenal,” said Carol Golden, executive director of the WSAAA.
The WSAAA also took the opportunity to remind the record 220 attendees about the nearly 2-year-old McKinney Committee. One of WSAAA’s potentially most valuable creations, the committee is comprised of such retired advertising luminaries as Jay Chiat and Jean Craig and offers the association’s 100-plus member shops free, confidential consulting.
The brainchild of Cliff Scott, principal of consulting firm The Scott Group in Agoura Hills, Calif., the committee was founded to honor the memory of Los Angeles adman Monty McKinney. In addition to Chiat and Craig, it includes Guy Day, Jim Helin, Cochran Chase, Phil Joanou, Paul Keye, Bob Kresser, Felix Kent, Peggy Lancaster, Miles Turpin, Alan Pando, Hank Antosz, Dick Fried, Si Kornblitt, Si Lam, John Marin, Mac McDonald, Ron Reilly and Richard Victor.
Since its inception, however, it has only received about 10 requests for confidential meetings, said Golden, who serves as the program’s matchmaker and “gatekeeper.” “We don’t understand it,” she said. “Cliff Scott is banging his head against a wall.”
Scott, now a special counsel to WSAAA, called the lack of interest “mind-boggling.” “When I first came up with the idea, I thought it would be really easy to get agency principals to use the program and really hard to get people to volunteer for it,” he said. “Exactly the opposite has happened.”
Caryn Wiley, president of Wiley & Associates in Westlake Village, Calif., told meeting attendees how McKinney members Craig and Day advised her on various topics, including agency positioning with clients and the press and the virtual office concept. Asked why more members haven’t used the program, Wiley said, “Why don’t men stop and ask for directions when they’re driving?”
Helin, former managing partner of D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles’ Los Angeles office, said various executives have chosen to approach him outside the auspices of the WSAAA for confidential help with subjects such as staffing and new business. “It’s one of those things that make the Los Angeles ad community unique,” he said.
First-time attendee Jeremy Skiver, an account supervisor at Bates USA West in Irvine, Calif., singled out a presentation by DDB Needham Chicago vice chairman and chief creative officer Bob Scarpelli as a highlight of the meeting. Scarpelli outlined his agency’s cash rewards for employees who find new business.
New WSAAA president John Crosson said he is “fired up” about the group’s upcoming events, including a career day for students Nov. 6.