Effectiveness Hall of Fame - Alison Hoad
Q: Describe the high point and low point of your career in the communications industry to date.
There have been so many highs and lows and I think the truth of our business is that you can experience both in one day or even one morning!
The highs have revolved around seeing great work from its first embryonic shape to acclaim in the real work, landing dream jobs, winning great accounts, and hiring brilliant people. The lows the reverse.
But outside these events my extended highs have always been when I’m part of a really great team who believe in each other, spark one another and enjoy being together.
Behind every ‘purple patch’ has been a team I loved being a part of. And when it's been hard work and the work has shown that pain, it has been where I was dysfunctional within a dysfunctional team. Advertising is after all a team sport.
Q: In your work, who has had the biggest influence on your communications thinking and practice - and why?
I’m a magpie, so there’s several:
P&G, where I started out, was tough but fair, took people management seriously and made me very commercially focused.
Tim Duffy who inspired me to become a planner when I worked with him as a client.
Laurence Green who taught me to trust my intuition and emotional instincts – critical after four years at P&G.
John Lowery who could always be tough on the thinking without being tough on the thinker. (I’m still working on that.)
Susan Hoffman who inspired me to ‘let go’ of conventional planning and made my contributions more creative as a result.
Paul Hammersley who enlightened me to my true hybrid nature.
James Murphy - the man is the master class in how to pitch.
Mark Roalfe who made me think as much about the world a brand creates as the role it can play.
Q: What knowledge or skill do you have today that you wished you had possessed when you started out?
The ‘ sixth sense’ to know when something is really amiss but isn’t being directly called out, be that within the agency or within the client.
Q: What is the single, most important change you have seen in the industry since you started? Has it been a change for the better or worse?
For good, the fact we live in a digital world gives us so many more interesting ways to engage with audiences and allows agencies to create whole new ways for brands to add value, most famously Nike+ or Nike Fuel.
For bad, the separation out of media into different agencies and then the growth of digital outside ad agencies. I think had media not been separated out of ad agencies we would have seized the possibilities that digital offered quicker and with more zeal.
We do some wonderful digitally-led campaigns but as an industry still aren’t really delivering apps, content and utilities like the leading digital agencies. I believe its entirely feasible to bring these skills under one roof no matter which discipline you start in and hope one day we will achieve this, at our agency, and as an industry.
Alison Hoad is Vice-Chairman of RKCR and oversees M&S, BBC, Oxfam, and Government work. Alison didn’t start out in advertising, instead cutting her teeth in brand management at P&G.
Inspired by the planners she worked alongside, she moved into agency life in the early 1990s and was regularly described by Campaign as one of London’s best planners.
Alison was Head of Planning at Lowe Howard–Spink and Wieden+Kennedy before trying life at start up, CDD. Alison was Managing Director there for three years where she enjoyed the agency's specialism of luxury brands.
Alison has been the Convenor of Judges for the IPA Effectiveness Awards, is an IPA Fellow and is an external assessor of the BA Hons Advertising degree at the London College of Communication.
Alison is married and has three noisy children and an even noisier dog.
Last updated 15/10/2013