August 14, 2009

Conversation With A CEO

CEO: Okay, why did you drag me down here?

TAC: I heard you're not happy with your advertising and I want to talk to you about it.

CEO: Advertising? I have important work to do...

TAC: Advertising is important. It's your public personality. What's more important than that?

CEO: Okay, maybe it's important...but I have a whole department...

TAC: Yeah, that's the problem.

CEO: Do you mean these people aren't doing their jobs?

TAC: No, I mean there are too many of them involved in advertising decisions. Inside the marketing department and outside. Right now, there are dozens of people who think they have a right to comment on your ads -- product people, operations people, finance people... This is death to creativity. You have no idea how many good ideas are twisted, crushed, and mutilated before they get to you.

CEO: So what do you want me to do?

TAC: Tell them to do their own jobs better and leave the advertising alone. If you have a CMO with good creative instincts, make it clear that she's in charge of advertising and tell everyone else to stay the hell away.

CEO: What if my CMO doesn't have good creative instincts?

TAC: Then take it away from her and give it to someone who does.

CEO: Isn’t that going to piss her off.

TAC: Yes, but it's necessary.

CEO: But I disagree with your premise. I don't think we have people meddling with the advertising...

TAC: Do yourself a favor. Call the head creatives at your agency and invite them to lunch. Buy them a glass of wine or two and get the truth out of them. You will likely find that there are way too many people at your company involved in the process and that they are killing the creative output. Maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt it.

CEO: Then what do I do about the agency?

TAC: First, you leave the agency alone. Get out of their way for a while. Give them the “you’re the experts” speech and see what they do. If they come up with something good, you know you’ve got a great partner. If not, you've got a problem. What you are currently getting has probably been diluted and disfigured by people inside your company. Give your agency a chance to do it their way.

CEO: What if they don't perform.

TAC: Like I said, then you've got a problem.

CEO: Anything else I should know?

TAC: That's it.

CEO: Okay, can you untie me now?

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