Advertising Week Blog: Mad Men (and Women) 3.0 - A Snapshot of Some of 2015’s Ad Leaders And Up-And-Comers

Congratulations to Cindy Gustafson, who's been named one of Advertising Week's Mad Men (and Women) 3.0 - a selection of 10 standout leaders in the ad industry. In the piece below, Gustafson and the nine other honorees talk about what they've learned from their mentors and share their advice for leaders.

"I’ve been lucky to have a number of mentors throughout my career, both on the client side and the agency side," says Gustafson. "One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from some of them is this: take the time every week (and if possible, more often) to suspend reality."

"Here’s what I mean: We work in an industry that has been around for decades. And even with the frenetic proliferation of media channels and platforms, we’re often still constrained by norms. Doing something or thinking something because of legacy. We do it. Clients do it. Media partners do it. While this legacy provides critical learnings, we cannot be constrained by it. We must keep pushing - operationally and strategically - on what is expected."

"So take the time to ideate, and use data and insights to dream up what could be done. Not just improving upon what has been done. Think big."

Read on for more from the article below.


By Heather Taylor

They’re the ones who are in charge of thinking of things before people know they need them. They know that success has temporary effects and that if you don’t like what’s being said, it’s time to change the conversation.

While everything mentioned in the opening paragraph can be attributed as a quote from one of the characters on Mad Men, the sentiments still ring true in 2015’s digital advertising era. Today, we’re putting the spotlight on 10 standout leaders who are highly accomplished individuals in the advertising industry. Much like Don Draper once said, they recognize that change is neither good or bad, it simply is. These leaders are not afraid of change or a challenge – they know how to charge straight into it to create lasting effects in their industry’s landscape.

Pete Krainik
Founder and CEO, The CMO Club

Krainik has a triple threat background of work in marketing, sales, and IT. With 28 years in the industry, including 15 years at M&M/Mars, two at Siebel Systems, two at DoubleClick (now known as Google), two at Avaya, and seven as the Founder of The CMO Club, Krainik’s resume is the stuff ad legends are made of. Of all his accomplishments though, he is most proud of starting The CMO Club. Considered the first fraternity for CMOs to help one another and build trusted relationships, there are now over 800 CMOs in the club, with over 60 leading local chapters and national events.

Whos my mentor? Paul Michaels who was the CMO at M&M/Mars and formerly ran Mars, Inc. worldwide. He taught me the most successful and high impact programs you ever do will come with the highest level of anxiety and risk. Playing it safe will not help you leave a legacy and truly change the industry.

The next CMO superstars are Beth Comstock from GE who continues to lead a focus on innovation that is second to none. Stephen Quinn at Walmart impresses me with his ability to understand what he can learn from smaller brands. Phil Clement from Aon does an amazing job of leading his brand beyond the marketing department and is viewed by thousands of employees as working with them, not directing them.

How do leaders stay on the right path? Leaders never lose sight of the power of peer based relationships and learning. No one knows more about your challenges than your peers. Building meaningful relationships is critical for career and personal success.

When the going gets tough I put myself in my customer’s shoes and do right by them.

Cindy Gustafson
Managing Director, Invention Studio, Mindshare North America

Responsible for creating the Invention Studio at Mindshare North America, Gustafson’s focus during her 14 years in the industry has been primarily on strategic planning across online and offline channels. A big part of the Invention Studio’s work has been creating Planning for Agility. This sets a brand’s adaptive marketing approach using a process called “culture mapping” to look at the landscape and identify fluid moments in culture and how and where they align with the brand’s DNA. A strategy is then planned out so that the brand is ready to act with lightning speed in order to capture that moment’s cultural relevance and impact with consumers. Truly a labor of love, as Gustafson describes it.

The biggest lesson my mentor taught me Take the time every week to suspend reality. Take the time to ideate, and use data and insights to dream up what could be done. Not just improving upon what has been done. Think big.

All great leaders have these three attributes in common. They don’t take “no” for an answer, they understand the importance of media and creative working together, and they know how to cultivate curiosity, honesty, and straight-talk with their teams.

An industry leader to watch out for. Stacy Minero at Twitter. I had the pleasure of working with her back when she was handling the content strategy practice at Mindshare, and I continue to be impressed by how she’s leading the content practice at Twitter. She has a lethal understanding of the power of content in marketing plans today, and the dynamics that are shaping the future.

When the going gets tough Let’s be honest – it’s never easy. But when you have a great team, it makes the really tough times much easier to handle and fix.

See the full list of 10 leaders on Advertising Week's Social Club: