Personality counts in the ad business. It fuels the creativity upon which agency reputations stand. For the more than 13,000 U.S. agencies included in IBISWorld's 2013 count, their personalities serve as a calling card to attract clients. Nurturing the agency's creative capability and guiding the company profitably through consumer, economic and technology changes relies on its leadership: The president, the chief executive officer, or CEO, or both.
Agency presidents and CEOs devote considerable time to their clients. They cultivate client relationships through meetings and phone calls to understand their business, expectations and needs. Client management includes working with account teams to craft strategies, develop creative approaches and manage budgets. Depending on the size of the company, both may write copy and contribute campaign ideas. Potential clients and the new business they represent also get the attention of these two leaders.
The CEO has ultimate responsibility for the agency's future and sets short- and long-term goals and objectives. The president and the CEO collaborate in the planning process, with the president usually directing activities and tactics chosen to support strategies the board of directors adopted. Agencies must adapt their business models, revenue structures, talent acquisition and culture as technology makes traditional approaches obsolete and non-competitive. Their presidents and CEOs evaluate the potential of acquisitions, pursuing a new specialization -- mobile marketing, for example -- and establishing affiliations with agencies in other countries when re-engineering the agency for growth.
Copy writers, art directors, media planners and account managers work in client teams of eight to 12. The team approach encourages more experienced staff to mentor their newer team members and contributes to employee development and the agency's ability to attract top talent. Getting the right combination of skills and team dynamics is a critical concern for CEOs and presidents. In some agencies, the president approves new hires for key positions; in other agencies the CEO has the final say. The president grooms management candidates.
Operations and Performance
Although agency presidents direct business units such as entertainment, creative and account management, the CEOs answer to the board of directors on the financial performance of those business units. CEOs also have board responsibilities, such as leading shareholder meetings and serving on operating and management committees. Through membership and participation in industry associations and community organizations, they work as agency ambassadors to increase the company's brand awareness.