Bell steps in for Reilly at council

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David Bell becomes chairman of the Advertising Council next month. He came into advertising during the mid-1960s in Minneapolis when he joined the Knox Reeves agency. He's held leadership positions at Bozell & Jacobs and True North Communications and currently is vice chairman at Interpublic Group of Cos.

Advertising Age: What is your particular agenda for the coming year? How would you like to move the Council's work ahead, starting in May?

Mr. Bell: We want to continue our focus on raising the bar on the quality of the creative product overall, which we've done under the leadership of Andy Langer [chair of the creative committee].

And we want to focus on the generation of even stronger partnerships with our media members and friends to obtain the maximum amount of visibility possible for our initiatives. Our media partners have understood the unique mission of the Council and stepped forward not only with personal involvement but with space, time, Web space, etc., to help us make a difference to America. We need to make certain that the "Campaign for Freedom" initiatives achieve their objectives in our work with the White House and U.S. government.

You bring to your chairmanship the power of Interpublic. Does this bring any additional influence to bear on the power of the Council to get its messages into the media?

Mr. Bell: I don't think the Advertising Council has ever built on somebody's influence or power as much as it's been built by people who want to do good work ... It's not a power or influence issue; it's a good works and volunteerism issue.

You said you wanted to continue the Council's existing work; but is there any fresh path you would like to open?

Mr. Bell: We have an advisory group that has a number of very senior people who are always looking for areas where we believe our unique brand of volunteerism can make a difference, and we'll respond to their leadership and their direction as well as that of the board.

Ed Reilly, 2001-02 Chairman

Edward Reilly became involved in Advertising Council work about 10 years ago when, then president of McGraw-Hill Broadcasting, he was serving on the board of the National Association of Broadcasters. In 1992 he was asked to represent the NAB to the Ad Council. He also works with the non-profit American Management Association.

Talk about your experience as Ad Council chair.

Mr. Reilly: Each chairperson brings their own particular prescriptive. The way we have this organized, we have people from all three disciplines represented on the Council board: the media side, the ad agency side and the advertiser side. I suspect that each of these people tends to look at this from their own perspective.

How did you want to use your year as chairman?

Mr. Reilly: One things I've been particularly concerned about has been advancing the amount and breadth of media and the coordination of media that we've been concerned with. The thing I've been most interested in doing during my chairmanship has been trying to relate my experience in local advertising, both in newspaper and TV, to what has always been primarily a national medium.

We have many spots now cut for 25 seconds as well as 30 seconds so that local stations can associate themselves with our campaigns in ways that make them much more likely to be carried in local markets and be effective. We've also greatly expanded the outreach program to local stations.

Your term as chairman came in an extraordinary year, of course. How did the attack on Manhattan affect your time and work with the Council?

Mr. Reilly: Certainly for a time it became more active because the Council was immediately involved in a number of unexpected activities. Mostly, of course, it was the staff that undertook this. But we built consensus within the board, and they did some very useful things.

We immediately broke our normal tradition and distributed public services campaigns and spots for groups that we were not working with. This was quite unusual.

And we produced spots of our own as well in conjunction with this freedom effort, "I am an American," which was quite well received. We did a couple of messages with President Bush and the First Lady that we got on the air. And we are engaged in an effort right now that will undoubtedly culminate in some very interesting spots dealing with the future education of the country on matters from patriotism to terrorism.

Was it difficult to mobilize campaigns?

Mr. Reilly: No, I don't think there was any struggle at all to find our bearings and our mission. I will admit that we have spent a lot of time trying to develop and refine messages. And we are certainly not the only font of wisdom on that. But we've reached out to a great many very smart people in the ad business and on our advisory council to help begin to think about crafting messages that will be appropriate in the long haul in the fight against terror.

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