Beyond the Brief:
We’ve partnered with The Drum to present “Beyond the Brief” – an exclusive series, delivering funny, insightful and poignant personal reflections about life in advertising from a cross-section of individuals at 4A’s member agencies.
Back in her late 20s, a chance business meeting caused Christine Fruechte, CEO of Colle+McVoy in Minneapolis, to take a huge personal (and professional) leap of faith, moving her family all the way to Honolulu to lead client services at DDB affiliate MVNP.
It was a short stint, but an impactful one that opened her eyes to diversity, international business and tourism.Upon returning to Minneapolis, it became clear that her risk paid off. Her newly-found international expertise has helped Colle+McVoy land brands such as 3M and The Hershey Company — while companies like her hometown Target and legendary Indian Motorcycles also call Colle+McVoy their creative home.
Fruechte is all about the people — and she walks the talk around diversity and inclusion in a big way, most notably as chairwoman of The Brandlab, an organization that pairs high school and college students of color with local ad agencies. Her own workplace also reflects her commitment: 12% of Colle+McVoy is non-white, double the percentage of people of color working in Minneapolis ad agencies. This is just one of many stories and examples of how Fruechte leads by example, kindness and care.
A lover of fine wine and travel, Fruechte is an executive who goes decidedly no-frills at work, with a cubicle that sits with the rest of the agency’s 240 employees. Fruechte is deservedly one of the Twin Cities’ most loved CEOs (and one of our industry’s as well), and is a great example of example of living beyond the brief.
What makes you excited about going to work each day?
I get out of bed each day excited to make a difference. A difference in the lives of my colleagues and partners. A difference for the brands we represent. A difference for the world in which we live. Collaborating with people who have shared values makes all the difference in the world. As someone once said, you can go fast alone. But, you can go farther together. If you are a part of a diverse, unified team, anything is possible.
What was your most embarrassing career moment?
I have many embarrassing moments. One that stands out happened during Advertising Week. I was part of a panel discussion on the main stage at The Times Center. I was so engrossed in the debate I forgot to uncross my legs for 45 minutes. For anyone who hasn’t uncrossed your legs for 45 minutes you know what happened next. At the end of the session when I stood up, “down went Frazier.” Luckily, I was on a panel with four gentlemen who politely leaped to catch me so I didn’t fall off the stage.
What is a guilty pleasure/vice that you cannot live without?
A glass of nice wine.
What was the most spontaneous thing you’ve done lately — or ever?
My decision to move halfway around the world to work in Hawaii started after an hour-long conversation with a business owner in a bar. Little did I know it would turn into an incredible opportunity to learn about the power of diversity and to strengthen my experience in international marketing and tourism.
Is work too personal or not personal enough at times? Why is that?
Work is extremely personal. People can pretend it’s not, but it is. In my role as CEO at Colle+McVoy, I am very conscious of my personal responsibility to our clients’ brands and the careers we are building. Moreover, there is tremendous accountability to make the tough decisions when you are responsible for the livelihood of more than 240 families of our employees.
To celebrate its 100th Anniversary, the 4A’s has partnered with us at The Drum to pull back the curtain and look at an industry full of problem solvers, creative types and analytical minds. But what keeps them going once the briefs are written, the campaigns executed, and the pitches won (or lost)? We’re interviewing 100 people at 4A’s member agencies — across all disciplines, levels, regions, and agency types — to get a glimpse into what drives them at work and what fuels them in life.
To pitch someone from a 4A’s member agency for Beyond the Brief, please complete this linked form.