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Spotlight: Kristi VandenBosch, CEO of Publicis & Hal Riney

New Publicis & Hal Riney CEO Kristi VandenBosch, formerly president of integrated agency Tequila, is excited to bring her digital and direct background to the traditional brand-focused agency

Q: How do you feel about your new role as CEO at Publicis & Hal Riney?

A: I’m tremendously excited about it. The opportunity to work with a brand as legendary as Riney is really the opportunity of a lifetime right off the bat. I see this as a much larger role to affect brands while still using the non-traditional tactics we practiced at Tequila. I’ve always worked for more integrated agencies – that was a big reason I was selected for the CEO role.

Q: What are your major goals as CEO?

A: I think part of it is just reclaiming the Riney legacy, which was a company that always knew how to get to the soul of a brand and tell its story in a really compelling way. What I can hopefully bring is an expansion of the ways we can tell that story.  

Q: How did you get started in the industry?

A: I started out as a creative director. For the first half of my career I grew up on that side of the house. But I was so attracted to strategy that when I got about halfway through I decided it was time to look at the other side of the house and really made that my passion since then.

Q: What do you enjoy about strategy?

A: It’s like engineering for people who can’t do math. There are an enormous number of moving components and you have the ability to work the dials and levers that can affect business. [Being able] to help a brand figure out how to navigate all those different channels is an exciting part of our business.

Q: Is that what excites you most about the advertising industry today?

A: Definitely — the ability to be able to affect every aspect of a client’s relationship with its consumers is what makes it so fun right now. There’s a much broader palette than you could use before. There’s the opening of the digital world to clients, the realm of things that involve commerce and communication and consumer conversations. They realize these are as much a part of the marketing mix than anything they ever ran in traditional media.  

Q: What keeps you up at night when it comes to the advertising business?

A: Certainly it’s a tough business climate these days but I believe clients are turning towards someone who can be a true partner advisor to them during this time. Having a non-traditional background, there is the recognition that it can be an answer to clients in this tumultuous time – which is more of a moment of opportunity than anything I’m too pessimistic about.

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