Category Archives: 4A’s Transformation Conference

4A’s Kicks Off with Keen Insights on Building Better Partnerships

It has been a busy month with numerous marketing and tech industry events taking place across the country, and this week is no exception. The DGC team is on the ground at the 4A’s Transformation conference in Beverly Hills with many of our wonderful clients, including the 4A’s itself. Not only have we already experienced an earthquake, but also we’ve gleaned some key insights into how collaboration, trust, transparency and talent can drive better business. Whether you’re on the client or agency side, here are three things to keep in mind to create better partnerships, and ultimately, garner better results: 

1. Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration: Always a hot topic, but even more so in today’s results-driven environment, collaboration was one of the most-talked about themes. Dana Anderson, SVP of marketing strategy and communications (and a seemingly part-time comedian) at Mondelēz, discussed the fact that successful collaboration is a two-way street, and that clients should endeavor to respect and support their agencies, with the goal of reaping better work. She stressed that the more direct and specific clients can be in their briefs; the more creative, strategic and cutting edge ideas agencies can derive. Offering her own ingredients for fruitful agency/client collaboration, Anderson said it is a lot like love: it requires trust, commitment and giving.

2. The Trust & Transparency Imperative: Definitely a hot-button issue as it relates to data and metrics, but also within the context of client/agency relationships, trust and transparency emerged as two non-negotiables for getting to good work. For PR practitioners, trust is the basis for successful results. Our relationships – with journalists as well as clients – are rooted in a common trust and mutual respect for one another. We can’t lead our clients and provide solid communications counsel unless they trust us enough to be open and transparent, and allow us the room to push back on them. John Hayes, CMO of American Express, went so far as to say that he loves it when one of his agency partners tells him he’s wrong. He said it tells him they are thinking about his business.

3. Talent Wars: When you get a group of 1,200 marketers together, where the majority of attendees either work or have worked inside an agency, you can bet the subject of talent is top of mind. With increasing competition from tech companies and start-ups, agencies are facing more challenges than ever in attracting and retaining their primary currency: rock-star talent. In a fireside chat, Andrew Benett, CEO of Havas Worldwide, told attendees that the CEO now needs to play the role of Chief Talent Officer, dedicating a significant portion of time to finding and nurturing talent. He also suggested aligning your best talent with recruiting efforts, saying that when you have your greatest stars leading talent and recruitment, they become the ambassadors of your brand and ultimately recruit more great talent.

Check out this video clip of DGC Founder + CEO Sam DiGennaro as she shares her initial observations on the key themes being discussed at this year’s 4A’s Transformation conference: 

4A’s CEO Nancy Hill Sits Down with Forbes CMO Network


Nancy Hill, President-CEO of the 4A’s since 2008, sat down with Jenny Rooney, Forbes CMO Network editor, to talk about her tenure leading the 96-year-old trade association. Hill was the first woman to hold the position but insists: “When I first took the job, all of the reporters wanted to make the story about the fact that I was the first woman. I had to really turn the reporters and get them to understand that no, it’s because I worked in Baltimore, St. Louis, Los Angeles, [and] San Francisco, in all manner and sizes of agencies… That’s why I got the job.”

Other highlights in the interview are as follows:

  • In the past two years, the 4A’s has been gaining members rather than losing them
  • The 4A’s successfully collaborates with the IAB and the ANA on the privacy initiative and the three associations built the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), which now serves 1.3 trillion impressions a week with a small icon, informing consumers about how particular web sites use information gathered from “cookies.” Hill says the icon has 34 percent awareness just a year after its launch
  • Diversity. Hill says agencies understand more and more that inclusion is good for business
  • Talent development. Many industry execs say advertising is not a destination career any longer, and Hill admits that “we have an awareness problem among young people” but adds that the talent issue is multi-faceted and not limited to advertising because young people are more attracted to tech start-ups.
  • Collaboration with client-side executives. The 4A’s conference, Transformation 2013: The Idea Effect, takes place in New Orleans in March and has more CMO speakers than ever before. Hill says marketers and their agencies have a stake in issues such as, the agency review process, procurement, compensation models, and patent assertions

Hill tells Rooney that a lot of work has been done around the patent issue, also known as “patent trolling,” and member agencies can expect to hear more from the 4A’s about how it is combating the problem.

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