Harris Diamond, the man at the helm of the advertising agency McCann, is far from your typical ad-man. He keeps a close eye on politics and has worked as an advisor for a governor in Texas. In 2012, he took the top job at McCann, leading a sector stalwart which has more than 100 years in the business. He was named Ad Age’s 2015 agency executive of the year.
Speaking to the Handelsblatt in an interview, he outlined his take on Donald Trump, explained the challenges facing advertisers – and assessed the quality of German TV spots.
Handelsblatt: In the TV series “Mad Men,” McCann is portrayed as a creativity-killing colossus. Don Draper, the show’s marketing genius, suffers as a result of working at your agency. How did your people react to that?
Mr. Diamond: My mother called me and said that she never expected that I would be doing such horrible things (laughs). But we all know that this series is a brilliant parody of the advertising world in the 50s and 60s. Nothing more and nothing less. I personally did have a problem with the sexism portrayed toward women by the marketers in this TV series. But in any event, the positive aspect is that the series showed how much McCann is a part of pop culture.
Speaking of pop culture, George Clooney stars in your Nespresso advert. How important are celebrities to your business?
Very important. The society we live in is obsessed with famous people. That’s why they work so well as ambassadors for many brands. The challenge is to find a celebrity endorser who is a perfect fit with your brand. Unfortunately, that’s where many businesses fall short.
More generally, how is your business doing these days?
It’s going well. Both globally and here in Germany, McCann Worldgroup has been doing very well over the last three years. And we are very optimistic that our revenue will continue to grow this year. Many companies today are using many different communications platforms as a matter of course—from blogs to Facebook and Twitter to traditional newspapers and TV—so we, as marketers, have a bigger playing field on which to be creative.
Any concrete numbers would help.
As a public company, we are restricted as to what we can disclose. But I can tell you that our growth globally last year came in stronger than we had anticipated at the beginning of the 2015 and that, percentage-wise, this revenue growth was in the high single digits, which included growth in Europe.