Advertising Week


Advertising Week 10th Anniversary Official Guide

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Advertising Week: In honor of the 4A's 100th Anniversary celebration, what was a moment in advertising history that stood out and has stuck with you throughout your career? Why? Marla Kaplowitz: For me, it was the first time I saw an Absolut print ad. The juxtaposition of the bottle's design along- side aspects of culture and locales was surprising and clever. I especially loved the special promotional items (like the gloves) distributed in magazines and anything else that were limited expressions of the brand capturing moments in time. They were aspects of social currency that preceded social media. AW: What aspect of the 4A's mission statement holds particular weight in the industry today? What's unique about the 4A's today that may not have been so, say, 100 years ago? MK: The 4A's has an enduring commit- ment to providing leadership, advocacy and training that empowers agencies to innovate, evolve and grow. The mission 100 years ago did not include a critical, current focus to fuel a robust diversity pipeline of talent for our members and the marketing and media industry at large. Helping to foster the next generation of leaders has become central to what we do. When the 4A's first began its search to replace longtime President-CEO Nancy Hill earlier this year, its search didn't last long. After conducting research and surveying its mem- bers, the trade association, which represents the advertising agency business throughout the U.S., quickly set its sights on longtime industry veteran and former CEO of MEC North America, Marla Kaplowitz. Known and respected throughout the industry for her ability to lead and inspire, Kaplowitz officially stepped into the role earlier in May. Now, with less than four months under her belt, Kaplowitz offers a look at her big plans for the future of the association, her predictions for what's to come for the industry at large, and what 100 years of the 4A's looks like at a glance. AW: Much of what is said to have gone into naming the new leader of the 4A's was considering what the 4A's should stand for moving forward. As you step into this new role, what do you believe the 4A's stands for? MK: The 4A's has always existed to ensure the advocacy of its member agencies as well as the broader industry. That will continue to be the overriding mission empowering our members. The shift is how we deliver on that recognizing the evolving, dynamic forces shaping creativity, commerce and culture. AW: There's a lot of discussion about "advancing the industry"—in what direction do you imagine the industry moving in, and in what ways do you imagine the industry changing the most in the next few years? MK: This has always been a dynamic industry and part of what makes it so exciting is the pace of change. That has definitely accelerated in the past few years and will not slow down. Advancements in technology particularly with AI as well as AR and VR will impact messaging and cre- ativity. Voice communication will provide new creative expressions. AW: Another big conversation happening today is focused on effective leadership. What do you believe makes someone a respected leader? What are the qualities that you believe drive employees to want to follow your lead? MK: To me, the characteristics of a strong leader come from three essential traits: curiosity, a belief that anything is possible, and generosity of spirit. Those traits are all exhibited through actions regardless of title. For people to follow your lead, a leader needs to follow through on commit- ments through actions. AW: You've also previously had extensive experience working for MEC. What experi- ences will you take with you from that role and utilize in your new position as CEO of the 4A's? MK: My leadership role at MEC provided rich experiences that will continue to serve me in this role and into the future. My team identified a new approach and positioning for the organization that needed to be leveraged to influence and inspire people to be part of the transfor- mation. That learning is incredibly valuable as the 4A's embarks on its next chapter and addresses the evolving needs of our members as they look to best position themselves for the future. AW: You've been a big champion of talent management and diversity initiatives throughout your career — how do you hope to advance those efforts through your new platform at the 4A's? MK: The 4A's has a legacy of focusing on talent engagement and inclusion address- ing the needs of an ever-growing diverse population. I will continue to support, ex- pand and champion these efforts to ensure that more future agency leaders mirror the diverse cultures of our country. AW: Considering the state of the political, societal, environmental and economic climates in the US and around the world today, what are some new challenges and/ or opportunities for the advertising and creative industries, and therefore the 4A's, to rise to the occasion and make an impact? MK: Most industries are experiencing disruption and advertising and marketing is no exception. This creates an opportunity to elevate the industry and for the 4A's to provide tools, guidance and approaches to our member agencies so they can deliver the highest level of creativity. •

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