5 Questions for: Rick Eiserman of Engine Group

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 Rick Eiserman, North American CEO of global marketing services network Engine Group shares his views.

Rick Eiserman, CEO, The Engine Group

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

The blurring of lines: Many agencies now claim they can do everything. While on the outset this may seem like a positive; it actually creates confusion in the marketplace, missed opportunities for clients and—in extreme cases—corruption, in terms of bidding and how things are charged. Overcoming this is the industry’s single biggest challenge. If we can’t, as an industry, package our services in a way that clients can buy, we’re out of business. We must create clarity around the mix of services clients really need, so it’s well defined and measurable.

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

One of our biggest goals for 2017 is to boost our profile in the U.S., as a network that helps clients transform or reimagine their businesses. Increasingly, companies today want business partners, rather than branding partners. We provide our clients with metrics-based counsel on how to transform the way they work, the way they go to market and even reimagine the business they’re in through new product lines or new ways of thinking about their offering. We want to continue to grow this consultative part of our business over the next 12 months.

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

Creativity and innovation will always be the backbone of the advertising industry. Regardless of the advances made to media and technology, it come back to the craft of creativity and the art of innovation. But, what will ensure our survival; especially as more players encroach in our space and take a strategic approach through the lens of navigation and curation? We must navigate the new world to find what will work best for clients and resonate with consumers. We must be able to curate creative thinking and be a source of idea generation. More than anything, this will ultimately help drive the businesses of our clients and guarantee we have a rightful place next to CMOs.

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

Entrepreneurial talent is the foremost attribute I look for in leaders—and our next generation of leaders. This means choosing talent that is self-driven, self-motivated and forever curious. Some of Engine’s best leaders have run their own businesses or worked at startups. They have, what I call, “hybrid talent.” They’re able to look at things from any point of view, whether it’s creative, operational or financial. Entrepreneurial talent also has the distinction of a “what’s next” mentality. These are the type of leaders that will take us into the future.

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

I would have loved to have been an illustrator or artist. Luckily, I get to share in the exhilaration of what Engine’s amazing talent creates every day.