CANNES, FRANCE — During the festivities in the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, adobo magazine scored an exclusive with McCann Worldgroup Global President & Global Chief Strategy Officer Suzanne Powers. She talked strongly about agency culture, attracting talent, and McCann Worldgroup’s efforts on diversity and inclusivity.
“Our values as a company are generosity, bravery, and integrity. That’s very intentional,” she told adobo Magazine Editor-in-Chief Angel Guerrero, putting a particular emphasis on generosity. “In a global organization, if you do not have generosity, the work does not travel, talent does not have mobility and opportunities.“
Enabling talent is only one of Powers’ responsibilities in the global agency. Her career is built on cultivating best-in-class work while driving cultural and business transformation. Since joining McCann in 2013, she has won multiple Effies, Lions, and Pencils. In 2016, she was recognized by Advertising Women of New York with its “Changing the Game” award as one of the industry’s “true catalysts of innovation.”
Powers shared that their vision at McCann is “to be the irrefutable leader in the business of creativity.” But to reach that goal, vision is not enough, it needs to manifest. “The way we do that is [by helping] clients earn a meaningful role in people’s lives.”
As a strategist by trade, Powers’ capabilities, skills, and tools naturally came into play when it comes to leading the company. She has held her post since October 2020. “Being in the business of creativity is a broader play. It does affect our model, it does affect our offerings; it affects how we go to market. It affects our structure, it affects how we look at regions and expertise.”
On attracting new talent, Powers said that salary and packages alone will not suffice in this climate: “There’s work that people want to be a part of. The client list alone, the work we do, the humans being here.”
But for her, the greatest asset that McCann has is its people.
When asked about conscious inclusion, Powers shared that they have no shortage of initiatives to achieve it.
“Every year, we shut the company down for a day and we do ‘A Day for Meaning’ which is an entire day dedicated to creating the conditions where conscious inclusion is a matter of fact,” she said. “We start with a shared knowledge of what’s happening in the world, how human beings feel about diversity, the definitions of diversity,” which she shared varies from market to market.
Being a woman leader who started out when the industry was highly male-dominated, she also took it upon herself to create conditions where women would thrive. “Women have an innate sense of understanding of people in the world. For me, that unlocks creativity.”
While the festival went on a hiatus, the agencies and the work remained relentless. For McCann, it pressured them to evolve their agency model and their clients’ too.
“The strategic capabilities get more pronounced from us,” Powers said, adding that the pandemic has put them in a consultative model where clients would approach them for their expert opinion on things such as employee relations or management change.
“Any time we have managed through crisis, and in particular financial, so recession, it has really sparked opportunity,” she added.
Known for its positioning of “Truth well told,” McCann Worldgroup also has its very own Truth Central, a dynamic database of perspectives, in-depth studies and expert opinions. Its latest undertaking is the Crisis Tracker developed over the Covid-19 onslaught to help them understand human sentiment. “We really like to use facts and evidence to form decisions.”
Wrapping up the interview, Powers made a point by stating that purpose still wins the day. In her terms, the fastest way to turn off the audience is to remove it from the very thing you do. And the best way to define purpose is to align one’s goals. “What is your goal? Are you a catalyst? Are you a champion? What business are you truly in? Are you a connector? What is the role of your brand? When we get to that clear definition, the purpose comes out of that.”
Founded in 1954, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is the home of great ideas. For over 68 years, Cannes Lions has served as a convening force for the global creative community. The Lions, the industry’s most prestigious, coveted creative accolade, receive thousands of entries every year. The work is judged by over 400 authoritative, respected creative leaders before the winners are showcased and awarded at the nightly awards shows.
The winners of the Lions will be announced at evening Award Shows taking place throughout the Festival, from June 20-24, 2022. Further information on how to be a part of the Cannes Lions can be found on the official website.