5 Questions for: John Sampogna of Wondersauce

We’re asking member-agency CEOs, creative leaders, strategists, media execs, futurists and new business gurus to answer the same five questions about the state of the ad industry in our 5 Questions for … series. Here John Sampogna, Co-CEO and founding partner of Wondersauce shares his thoughts.

John Sampogna, Co-CEO, Wondersauce​

What’s the biggest challenge or opportunity facing the ad industry right now?

For us the opportunity is that for the first time, mid-size agencies can become full service partners for massive brands. Technology plays a big part in this; for instance, it’s possible to pair world class digital infrastructure with content, campaigns, activation and contextualize it with efficient and targeted media. Owning the customer journey is something we’re fascinated by, being completely accountable for driving revenue and growth.

What is the single most significant change you need to make in your agency in the next 12 months?

We need to continue our investment in what we think of as “future benchmarks”, strategies and tactics that are emerging now and will achieve scale over the next few years. AI is probably the best example; such as voice-activated products like Google Home and Amazon Alexa or automated messenger bots. For us it’s about understanding the capabilities of each open-source library to determine how we can make our work smarter today.

What products, services and unique skills do ad agencies offer that guarantee the industry’s survival for another 100 years?

The beauty of the agency structure is that it allows for constant tinkering and modification to your core service offering and value proposition. Our value as agencies is to constantly monitor the market and evolve with it. Introducing new skillsets, processes and services is painful—but, completely necessary to remain relevant. It’s been an aspect of our business from day one and we enjoy doing it.

What attributes do you look for in your next generation of leaders and managers?

The non-negotiable core skills I look for are rooted in organization and communication. They’re the most important characteristics; without them it’s hard to really scale anyone into a leadership role. I also look for individuals who work well in uncomfortable or new situations. As an entrepreneur or leader in the advertising space, you need to be able to operate effectively in varying degrees of chaos and set an example for the team.

If you weren’t working in advertising, what would you be doing as a career?

Probably a professional athlete.