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March 19, 2014
Prepare for the Red Phone Scenario
After a 32-year career at General Mills and, now, alongside my colleagues at the Advertising Research Foundation, I have seen time and time again that the era of big data has given both creatives and analysts a common challenge — the red phone scenario. With the explosion of big data, the leader of the future must be agile and have great navigational skills. The red phone scenario is not a crisis call, but it is that call that the rising executive will receive when his or her supervisor, CEO, client, or peer is looking for an analytical mind that can translate data into creative ideas. If that's you, are you ready for the challenge?

Soon, rising stars will not appear as “buttoned up” as they've traditionally been, but they will be able to make decisions quickly, based on their fast analysis of a wide breadth of data. Every company needs to evaluate their ability to make fast, strategic, and client-specific plans that are individual to the company. One size fits all has never been less appropriate than it is in our current climate of information overload.

So how does one build the ability to meet this challenge? You cannot afford to wait for the red phone to ring — you must forge, explore, experiment, and network to keep pace with the consumer. This will take new and enhanced skills, such as agility and the ability, to examine the landscape in non-traditional areas for insights. With all the talk about programmatic buying, solutions still must translate into creative, consumer-friendly engagements. Today’s best advertising combines both art and science. Rising talent must learn how to bring “big data” to life by making creative applications and emotional connections to their audiences — consumers.

Understanding current business climate and strategy is so integral to advertising today, so I was particularly excited about working on behalf of the foundation and its members as we created the Re:Think 2014 program, a conference (or, what I like to call a conversation), to brainstorm the strategies that will ensure the researcher and analytical mind represents the consumers’ voice within — and to — the C-suite. Personally, I look forward to networking with many of the 800 young pros at ARF. I have to say, it's exhilarating to pick the brains of young execs who are so technologically savvy and such sophisticated networkers, ready to make a difference and change the world. 

Seniority offers us the invaluable wisdom of experience. Today's young execs make fast leaps in their careers because they recognize the value of truth and objectivity, can lead research complemented by real-time insights, have the ability to connect multiple pieces of work, and most of all, can bring their thinking to the table even before that red phone rings.

What's your company's blueprint for answering that call?

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Gayle Fuguitt is the Chief Executive Officer and President of the ARF. Before her tenure at the ARF, she served General Mills as Vice President of Global Consumer Insights, culminating her 32 year career there. ARF is sponsor of Re:Think 2014.
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