If we don’t represent the marketplace we are doing clients a disservice, says Interpublic CEO

Interpublic-GroupThe global CEO of the Interpublic holding group has told a forum of marketers and agencies in the US that agency groups, particularly in the creative space, that fail to promote women are doing their clients a disservice.

During question time at the ANA Advertising Financial Management Conference in Boca Raton, Florida, Michael Roth addressed the question of the lack of women in key creative roles across the industry globally.

Roth told the room: “It’s a great question. First off, 24,000 of our 50,000 people are female across the world and we are committed to increasing the female representation in the senior ranks of IPG. 

“How do we know that? Because diversity and inclusion is a critical part of the DNA of my company.

“Also, 40% of the board of IPG are female. In terms of the creative space, we have hired the likes of Susan Credle to be the chief creative officer globally for FCB.

“There a number of agency heads who are female. I won’t go through the whole list. . . but I hold our leaders financially responsible for diversity in our agencies.”

ANA Michael Roth

(LtoR): ANA CEO Bob Liodice and Michael Roth: “We have to represent the marketplace”

Roth went on to not there was a financial imperative behind why the agency needed to ensure strong diversity.

“We have to represent the marketplace,” he said. “Whether it is females, whether it is people of colour, it’s Hispanics.

“If we are not representing the marketplace we are doing our clients a disservice because they are and we have to do the same.

“It’s part of our DNA and frankly it’s financially irresponsible not to.”

His comments were quickly seized upon by prominent gender commentator Cindy Gallop, who tweeted: “If you don’t have gender-equal leadership/creatives, you don’t understand client’s female targeted business.

Cindy Gallop“Financially penalise/bonus your leaders based on their #diversity delivery.”

Gallop also tweeted a comment about the diversity in the audience at the ANA event writing: “Message to me from man at @anamarketers #anaafm today “A record 700+ attendees. Women underrepresented & only a handful of non-white peeps.”

Roth was also asked about the growing shift of consultancies such as Deloitte into the media agency/advisory space, but dismissed the risk to his agencies.

“We have talked about this but what we haven’t talked about is creative,” he said. “This isn’t pure technology, this is storytelling. This is relationships and you need creative people to think that out.

“If I was in the advertising business, and I love business, I would want to be with an advertising business not a technology company.”

The Interpublic CEO argued retaining talent would be consultancies’ major problem, because “They are myopic, and frankly unless you have that big idea you can put anything in the pipe but it’s not going to work.

“Our value add is on integrating, creative, technology, insights, buying media, executing, etc, all in one place; that’s our business.

“I suspect one of the biggest problems they are going to have is in retaining people,” he told the room.

Roth added that he thought the work and scope offered by agencies would always ensure they had a competitive advantage when it comes to competing for talent.

“These are talented individuals and they can go anywhere, and without the opportunity to deal with a broad spectrum of clients I think they will be bored.

“Frankly, our agency space reflects the talent in the industry. It’s really cool. I just don’t see these companies having the capability to retain the talent.”

Nic Christensen in Boca Raton 


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