Rapp Collins' New CEO Bullish On Customers

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Malcom Speed, Rapp Collins Worldwide's new chairman/CEO has no problem admitting that today's clients are unbelievably pressured by a challenging business environment that makes constant demands for short-term results. But he says first and foremost, marketers must keep the focus on their own customers no matter how many strategic or technological issues arise.

Speed, 47, officially joins RCW next month after six years of service at Bronner Slosberg Humphrey, Boston, where he headed up management leadership for the agency's General Motors, FedEx and IBM accounts.

He told DM News last week that "front and center it's obvious that clients today and the business climates they face are more demanding, and there are a number of new issues involved." He also acknowledges there are ongoing industry debates about how much a client should invest in any number of strategies versus new technology.

But in the long haul he said that customers are more demanding and have higher expectations. They are also less patient with service because they have more options to consider. Every customer interaction is an opportunity for enhancing a brand, but leveraging that opportunity requires the right combination of strategic capability, experience and creative execution."

Speed says that's something more agency clients are grappling with when it comes to finding the right mix between advertising versus customer service programs. However, he doesn't shrink from admitting that businesses everywhere also are facing a rapid sea change in the way their customers interact with them. And that puts increased demands on agencies to help clients perform in obvious new areas.

When it comes to revenues and profits, he said, clearly e-commerce is going to be central to most organizations. And because of that pressure, clients and agencies have all the more to gain by looking at each other as more than suppliers.

"Today, I think clients recognize more clearly that all the answers are not as likely to come internally. They are more willing to partner with a limited number of outside organizations [even though] there are a lot of energies and pressures being put into cost reductions, but staying focused on the customer is what clients expect from us."

At RCW's parent company, Omnicom Group Inc., Thomas L. Harrison, chairman/CEO of diversified agency services, said that Speed is a world-class executive that would raise the bar for RCW.

Speed succeeds G. Steven Dapper, who recently launched Hawkeye Communications, New York, as president/CEO.

Rapp Collins Worldwide employs 2,400 in 28 countries. The agency has capitalized billings in excess of $1.78 billion. It is owned by Omnicom Group Inc., which also owns BBDO Worldwide, DDB NeedhamWorldwide, TBWA/Chiat/Day and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

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