A crowd of more than 1,000 came together today at the Waldorf Astoria in New York to fete this year's class of Women to Watch. The event was put on in partnership with Advertising Women of New York and was sponsored by Meredith and WeTV. The Braxton sisters, who are featured in WeTV's reality show "Braxton Family Values," dedicated a performance to "all the boss ladies" in the crowd. And, indeed, there were plenty of them. Together, this year's Women to Watch represent a broad swath of the industry, from Walmart, Levi's and Heineken to Ogilvy & Mather, CNN and Facebook and more.
"The companies these women represent are among the most prominent in the world," Judann Pollack, executive editor at Ad Age , said in her opening remarks. "So, it might be tempting to say that as a gender we have arrived. But in truth, we are only just starting, and that 's what this event is about."
Indeed, Ms. Pollack pointed out that the group of honorees are not just standing on their laurels but striving for more. Here, words of wisdom from Ad Age 's Women to Watch.
Be a teaching hospital. Borrowing a saying from David Ogilvy, her agency's founder, Lauren Crampsie, chief marketing officer, said the agency tries to act like a "teaching hospital." The agency is best, she said, when it's teaching, learning and focused on what it stands for. "We are brands, just like clients are brands, and it's impossible to build our clients' brands when we don't know what our own brand is ," she said in discussing the need for agencies to promote themselves.
Tell it like it is . "I get to wear Depend," deadpanned Melissa Sexton, director-integrated marketing planning for adult and feminine care at Kimberly-Clark Corp., in response to fellow honoree Rebecca Van Dyck's comment about getting to wear Levi's every day. (Ms. Van Dyck is the global CMO at Levi's.) Ms. Sexton admits that ads featuring Whoopi Goldberg for Poise or Kathy Griffin for Kotex might be considered unconventional or funny, but, more important, they take an honest approach and try to be "very open about a taboo subject."
Don't have regrets. It's the simplest of mandates, but put in the same situation as Nicola Mendelsohn, chairman-partner at Karmarama and president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, most people would have chickened out. Ms. Mendelsohn happened by Philip Green, one of the most successful retailers in the U.K., having a cigarette outside of his shop one afternoon. Knowing that Mr. Green had just called for an agency review, she presented her business card to his bodyguard and scored a meeting. Their relationship still continues today.
Let go of processes (once in a while). Entrepreneur Lisa Price, founder-president of Carol's Daughter, had this advice for large companies: "Have days where you let go of process for just a little while." Sometimes those processes can hinder an entrepreneurial mind, she said.
Embrace transparency. Asked why Walmart had decided to lift its decade-long ban on data sharing, Cindy Davis, exec-VP global customer insights, said that it's in the best interest of the retailers' customers and partners. Data syndicator Nielsen Co. and other research firms will now be able to receive and analyze scanner data both from Walmart and Sam's Club stores. "There's never been a more important time to have your finger on the ever-changing needs of customers," Ms. Davis said.