Marla Kaplowitz, named president and CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) on Friday, has made mending fences with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) a top priority.
Addressing the rift between the two organizations – and, more broadly, between marketers and agencies themselves – over agency transparency has “got to happen this year,” she said.
“The most important thing looking forward is to focus in on the common ground and make sure that everyone [is] aligned on trying to help clients grow their business and have strong client-agency partnerships,” she said.
Currently CEO of GroupM’s MEC, Kaplowitz will replace longtime 4As President Nancy Hill in early to mid-May. Before heading up MEC, Kaplowitz ran the Procter & Gamble (P&G) account at Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest for 12 years.
In her new role, Kaplowitz will once again work closely with P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, who became chairman of the ANA in October. Pritchard has given loud voice to marketer concerns about waste and inefficiency in the digital media supply chain, including some agency practices. At the same time, he has called for marketers to "turn the page" on their relationships with their beleaguered agency partners.
“Marc has been pretty clear [that] the negative narrative against agencies needs to stop,” Kaplowitz said. “I’m really looking forward to building those bridges and re-establishing that partnership.”
Kaplowitz said she will strive to help agency members gain maximum value from their 4As membership during a period of rapid change and uncertainty, and to capitalize on emerging growth opportunities in areas like measurement.
“Data and analytics is a great area of opportunity that’s growing for many of the agencies right now,” she said. “We need to ensure there’s a strong capability to help agencies through that.”
Marketers are often criticized by their agencies for paying them late and undervaluing their work. Kaplowitz said the 4As will let agencies address such grievances on a case-by-case basis as there’s no “silver bullet.”
“Clients and agencies have their own relationships,” she said. “It comes down to understanding that but recognizing on a broader scale what agencies are doing to help their clients grow.”
In addition to strengthening relationships with marketers, Kaplowitz said she will continue building on the 4As initiatives for ethnic and gender diversity in the industry.