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Ad execs: Businesses must rethink their models

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Naples, Fla.--In the face of a slow economy, ad agency executives gathered at the American Association of Advertising Agencies conference here agreed they have to rethink their organizations, services and business models in order to meet the challenge of serving clients with tighter ad budgets. Maurice Levy, chairman of Publicis Groupe SA, called for a new "holistic" approach to advertising that brings creativity to every process in the organization. Decrying the integrated marketing communications approach, Levy said ad agencies must start all over with brand development and new models of advertising to focus on the consumer, and not on a predetermined way of thinking about a brand. Lanny Baker, managing director of the equity research department at Salomon Smith Barney Inc., said advertisers must mix branding with data gathering and technology to deliver targeted advertising, and delve more into customer relationship management services. Agency executives and advertisers debated how they should be adjusting to the current economic slowdown, with most agreeing it is time to focus on hiring the best people, setting clear objectives and figuring out how to measure ROI. "The world now is a lot tougher place than it used to be," said Gary Rodkin, president-CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America. "Nothing is more important for clients and agencies than to face the fact the game has changed, and the spoils will go to those that adjust games appropriately."
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