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M&M Global TV

IPG global CEO Michael Roth: ‘It’s important to stay ahead of the curve’

08 July 2015
IPG global CEO Michael Roth: ‘It’s important to stay ahead of the curve’

IPG global chief executive Michael Roth chats to Jeremy King about dealing with a constantly changing media landscape, and reveals his “secret sauce” for success.

In an exclusive interview with M&M Global, Roth said: “As the media world changes, it’s important for us to stay ahead of the curve in terms of meeting the needs of clients.

"And that means we have to be current in terms of what’s happening and be innovative in terms of fragmented media and solutions for our clients.”

Quizzed about why there so many pitches happening on a global scale, Roth is quick to dismiss any association with some of the less salubrious practices that have dogged media and advertising.

“Everyone is saying that there are all sorts of issues with transparency and rebates, and that that’s what’s driving these reviews,” he says, before insisting: “A lot of these reviews are normal reviews that just happen to come up at this time - that’s part of it.

“The other part of it is [clients are asking themselves] ‘If other people are looking at review right now, why aren’t we looking to see what’s going on?’

“But the bottom line is clients are looking to make sure that they’re spending the right amount of money in the right places, they’re getting the right return on investment and are [realising] cost opportunities, as well as testing the efficacy of what they’re doing.”

Watch the interview in full here:

For agencies though a key aspect of running a global business is balancing the efficacy of campaigns across myriad channels, with the constant call from clients for better deals.

“The secret sauce in this business in very simple" Roth says. "Be effective with what you do, have the right pricing and make it economic for our clients while we move the needle for them.

“That’s been the same for years in our business. The only difference now is there are so many different fragmented opportunities, there are so many different ways of communicating with the consumer, and whenever you have that type of confusion, the value that we bring to that environment is as someone who can understand and advise in a purely agnostic way.

“If you go to one particular vendor, they’re only going to have one solution, and that is, ‘Use me’. Our role is to help clients navigate through that.”

Navigating clients who are increasingly global in their outlook is another area that Roth touches upon, while admitting that campaigns can’t always tick the one-size-fits-all campaign box.

“Whenever you deal with multinational brands and clients, it’s hard to come up with the big idea that’s going to fit all on a global basis,” Roth admits.

“Nirvana would be if there was one type of campaign, one big idea such as ‘You’re worth it’ for L’Oreal or ‘Priceless’ for Mastercard. These are global ideas that work in whatever market you’re in, and we’re always looking for those types of idea.

“But sometimes you have to be local and to take that idea and expand it or change it to meet the local needs. That’s the benefit of dealing with a global network such as what we have. We bring local culture, local knowledge and the insights from a local point of view, and yet we have the global perspective on a global brand.”

Roth also discussed emerging markets, citing “good growth in the Middle East”, Africa, Turkey and “parts of South America”.

Of course, key to IPG’s continuing its success in playing its part on an increasingly complex global stage is good leadership. What, does Roth think, makes a good leader?

“Someone who provides and leadership and recognises they don’t have the answer to everything,” he says.

“They need to surround themselves with smart people and make sure that they’re being supportive, they provide capital if it’s necessary, make investments in what you need to grow the business, and provide an environment in which people can really show their true talents and not be micro-managed.

For many, good leadership is also knowing your limitations.

“We don’t have to be the biggest,” he says. “We just want to be best in class, we want to be the company that both people and clients want to deal with on an everyday basis, and frankly I think we’re doing that right now.”

M&M Global staff, London

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