Michael Roth was grilled about Interpublic Group's stance on Google's ongoing brand safety issues at Advertising Week Europe today (see what he said here), but the holding company's chairman and CEO also talked about a few other things:
Regarding Trump-related issues including the attempted travel ban on citizens from Muslim countries, Mr. Roth said, "On the day of the initial travel ban, we had three individuals affected. I had our global travel group assure them we'd take care of them. And I put out a note, as many CEOs did, objecting."
Asked about European clients' reaction to Donald Trump's protectionist rhetoric, Mr. Roth said, "Like everyone else, they're very concerned about it. The global economy is based on the free flow of services."
He's in favor of changing the tax structure: "We have cash overseas we'd like to see repatriated. Our tax rates aren't competitive."
But what he really wanted to talk about was his agencies' track record on diversity, showing a video of "Fearless Girl," a defiant, bronze statue of a girl, commissioned by asset management firm State Street Global Advisors, to face down Wall Street's "Charging Bull" sculpture in New York's financial district. It marks State Street's initiative urging the 3,500-plus companies in which it invests for its clients to increase the number of women on their corporate boards. (Interpublic's board of directors is 40% female).
Mr. Roth said "Fearless Girl" was created by two young, female McCann New York creatives, and was intended as a short-term initiative around International Women's Day but has become such a global phenomenon since it debuted last week that there is talk of making the statue a permanent feature.
During the question-and-answer session that kept circling back to Google, he said about 70% of digital spending goes through Google and Facebook. "We need some competition." He said companies often come to Interpublic agencies saying they're the new Facebook or the new Google "and one of them will be."
Will it be Snapchat? "Right now Snapchat is utilized tremendously," he said. "It has to be more sophisticated about monetization of the product. It's one of the possible candidates, but it has a long way to go. Twitter, too, has to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. Twitter has an important role, but they have work to do to be recognized as a big player in the ad market."