Hear from agency thought leaders in our 5 Questions for… article series. In this entry, Chris Perkins, Managing Director of independent Kansas City, MO-based Bernstein Rein, shares his thoughts on what’s happening in today’s ad industry. The veteran marketer has held leadership roles working at large, small and start-up agencies and also served as the first-ever CMO for Brand USA.
1) What’s the biggest challenge or opportunity facing the ad industry right now?
The biggest challenge for clients and agencies alike today is effectively connecting with the right people, in the right place at the right time, with the right message. This goal has become exponentially more difficult to achieve. People are suffering from ad fatigue at such extreme levels, they’re willing to spend time and money to avoid ads. And they’re getting damn good at it!
2) What is the single most significant change you need to make in your agency in the next 12 months?
We’re obsessed with honing our ability to guide clients toward smarter solutions that drive results by fully leveraging their business model and marketing. While an ad manager’s job is to ask the agency to do ads, ads alone are very often unable to deliver the results desired. The more we can partner with clients to create powerful ideas and experiences that people willingly consume and share, the greater the impact we’ll make together.
3) What products/services/unique skills do ad agencies offer that guarantees the industry’s survival for another 100 years?
All we have to do is look at the last 10 years to know that most agencies in business today won’t survive another 10 years, let alone 100! That said, a new crop of shops will pop up, because there will always be the need to connect people and brands. And it’s one of the few jobs that blends art and science and allows you to make a decent living while having fun, too!
4) What attributes do you look for in your next generation of leaders/managers?
The three criteria for all new talent that make it onto our team has been and will always be that they have to be smart (of course) and insanely curious and they have to have unique personalities. Aside from looking for specific experience or passion, these three things will always inform whom we add to our team. We don’t believe high potential leaders will think, act or look different in the future. The best are smart, students of their craft and maverick thinker-doers. That’s as true today as it will be tomorrow in our mind.
5) If you weren’t working in advertising, what would you be doing as a career?
That’s easy. I’d be running a marina or yacht club on Lake Michigan.