U.S. Ad Market Remains Alluring

NEW YORK The U.S. advertising market is big, daunting, process-orientated and at times alienating, said foreign-born ad executives at an industry panel discussion this afternoon.

Still, the allure of working in a country that produces so much internationally recognized work is strong and makes foreigners want to be part of it, panelists such as Leo Burnett’s Mark Tutssel and Grey’s Tim Mellors said.

Accents, cultural differences and a lack of common experience can be obstacles to succeeding in the U.S., said another panelist, Brett Gosper, president of TBWA’s New York Group. “So, you do an enormous amount of bluffing in situations,” he acknowledged. “Yeah, but at least you’ve got amazing teeth,” quipped Mellors, Grey’s president and chief creative officer for North America. “They’re perfect!”

With good humor, the panel, which also included Bartle Bogle Hegarty chief marketing officer Cindy Gallop, reflected on how the market has received them, the value of networking and the realization that, just like outside the U.S., there’s no substitute for hard work. As Mellors put it, “You have to work your nuts off all the time.” Still, Tutssel, who also has worked in London, noted: “It’s hard everywhere.”

Award-show juries, conferences and local councils of the American Association of Advertising Agencies are prime outlets for networking, the panelists said. Tutssel, who is based in Chicago, also reached out to leading creative chiefs on his own. And with the help of DDB’s Bob Scarpelli, for one, he started a Chicago ad club.

New York, in particular, can be difficult to break into because “it’s every agency for itself,” Gallop said. It’s enormously difficult to create a sense of community there, given the intense competition, she added. That stands in stark contrast to say, London, a more chummy market where rival executives comingle regularly over lunch at industry hot spots, Mellors said.

The 90-minute discussion, part of a weeklong celebration of advertising, took place at the Museum of Television & Radio.