Top Women Execs Weigh In on Biggest Issues in Marketing

MSN's Gayle Troberman and Others Talk Innovation, Talent Retention and Thinking Big

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NEW YORK ( -- Restraint. Innovation. Erasing the line.
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VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Women to Watch 2007
11th Annual Luncheon Honors 30 Industry Executives

These are the biggest issues facing marketing today, according to Advertising Age's 2007 Women to Watch honorees.

Nearly 800 people came to celebrate 30 of the industry's brightest female executives at a luncheon Aug. 8 at the Hilton Hotel in New York. Jonah Bloom, editor of Advertising Age, asked the honorees to weigh in on the biggest issues in marketing. Here are some of their thoughts:

Gayle Troberman, global general manager-branded entertainment, MSN
"The biggest issue facing marketing today ... is restraint. I've looked at the technological innovations and the things we can do now on the web and on phones ... and you know what we're doing? We're throwing a lot of junk at it and we are getting in the way. We are creating over-the-page and invasive things and you know I can't wait to get more spam on my phone. I think it's up to us in the industry to figure out when to use and how to use these new technologies in ways that respect consumers, that add value for our consumers and make their lives better. It's going to take a lot of willpower and restraint on our parts to do less marketing and better marketing that actually makes consumers smile, makes them feel good and actually adds something to their lives instead of just getting in the way."

Carole Irgang, senior VP–integrated marketing communications, Kraft Foods
"The issue we face as marketers is the distinctions that we all make every day between traditional and nontraditional, emerging and alternative, digital, online, offline, above the line, below the line, and I am making a plea today to all you in the industry: Let's erase the line and work together as agency partners and media partners for the greater good, which is to engage our consumers and make them brand advocates and grow our business, because if our businesses grow, all of your businesses will grow. So let's erase the line."

Laura Lang, CEO, Digitas USA
"I come back to one thing that is particularly important for me ... which is, how do we find the next generation of talent? It's really important because today it's more like guerilla war and we are not using the right tactics. We need people that understand the medium that it revolving. Winning in marketing is a combination of ideas, media creativity and technology. Where do we find the people who can drive the industry? We have to really think about going different places. Maybe we need to hire people who are performance artists or environmental scientists or journalists or behavioral scientists or people who just have a passion for embracing change. We need to have totally open minds."

Ann Mukherjee, VP-marketing, Frito-Lay
"In a world of fragmentation, where media is being fragmented and consumers are being fragmented, and we read about the Long Tail, I think everyone's instinct is to figure out how to market to the niche ... and what I ask people to do is exactly the opposite of that instinct, which is, instead, go up. It's not about consumer insight, it's about consumer passion and what is that passion that is timeless, that unites those fragmented groups. Think big, not small."

Julie Rieger, exec VP-managing director, ZenithOptimedia West Coast
"I think what we are facing in the media industry, specifically agencies, is we're kind of an accidental career path. We're the one [area] that nobody really wanted to be in. ... We're the ones who really wanted to be an account executive but didn't have a nice enough suit, and it's not something that is mentored to these students. When I look at folks who are looking for jobs now, I feel like I am begging them to want to work in media. I think it's incumbent on us [to make] advertising in general more interesting for the classes coming up.

Elizabeth Ross, president, Tribal DDB West
"[The biggest issue facing marketing today is] innovation. I think it's no longer possible as marketers to talk about brand stories that we don't live. So I don't know how many people in the room use Facebook or have played the [Nintendo] Wii or gone onto Second Life -- even though I'm convinced everyone on Second Life are marketers -- but there really is an opportunity to experience and really live what we talk about. The second part of innovation is being willing to fail and being able to try things that are not always going to succeed, they're not always going to blow the doors off, but every now and again, you're going to hit one. So it's not about a doing a better banner, it's not about creating a better e-mail, it's about trying and innovating from the inside out and really living it."
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