BOB GREENBERG, FOUNDER, CHAIRMAN/CEO, R/GA
Bob Greenberg has been a pioneer in the advertising and communications industry for nearly four decades. He leads the vision for R/GA, an agency that serves as the digital partner for Fortune 500 companies and world-renowned brands, including Nike, Beats by Dr. Dre, Unilever, L’Oréal Paris, Samsung, Google, and Johnson & Johnson.
R/GA is one of the world’s most influential agencies, emphasizing the importance of business transformation, product/service innovation, and breakthrough communications. The agency has offices in New York, Chicago, Austin, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, and internationally in London, Bucharest, Stockholm, São Paulo, Chile, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Singapore and Shanghai.
Bob, along with his brother Richard, founded R/Greenberg Associates (R/GA) in 1977 with the idea of creating a company that valued design but also focused on developing leading-edge motion graphics and live-action film and video production. The company created groundbreaking visual effects for movies such as Alien, Predator, Se7en and Zelig. To date, R/GA’s body of work spans 400 feature films and 4,000 television commercials.
Bob has evolved the company several times since its founding, transforming it from a world-class movie title shop to a digital studio, to a major digital advertising agency and today, to an all-in-one full-service agency, product and service innovator, and consultancy. Now in its fifth business model, R/GA has become one of the most successful integrated marketing services companies, creating everything from new products and digital services to social and mobile campaigns to broadcast commercials.
He serves on the boards of numerous schools and organizations, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Ad Council, the Tisch School of the Arts (Dean’s Council Advisory Board), NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, Parsons The New School for Design and the Berlin School of Creative Leadership. He is also a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Bob has won almost every industry award for creativity, including the Academy Award, D&AD, and Cannes Lions. Among his most notable awards are the Cannes Lions lifetime achievement Lion of St. Mark, Honorary Royal Designer for Industry (HonRDI) from the Royal Society for Arts, the ANDYs Bravery Award, the 2007 BDA Lifetime Achievement Award, Clio Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Communications in 2003, and the Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design. He was also the Cannes International Advertising Festival Cyber Jury President in 2004 and 2013, served as a member of the 2005 Titanium Jury, and President of the Titanium and Integrated Jury in 2010. Bob was also recently inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame and the Creative Hall of Fame.
JOHN HAYES, FORMER CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, AMERICAN EXPRESS
John Hayes is former chief marketing officer of American Express, which does business in over 120 countries. For more than 20 years, John oversaw American Express’s marketing efforts worldwide, shaping both the company and its brand.
In addition to overseeing marketing strategies and product development, he led the functions of global advertising, digital marketing, market research, corporate sponsorships, brand management and publishing organizations. He has been the force behind the business strategies that have resulted in iconic campaigns such as “My life. My card.” Under John’s leadership, American Express also created over 200 new product launches including the coveted Centurion black card, Blue and more recently Serve from American Express.
Giving back is a core value at American Express and the company is often credited as having launched the first cause-related marketing campaign in history. John has continued this tradition, helping to impact the lives of many through programs such as “Charge Against Hunger” providing food for those in need across the country, “Save The Music” supporting music programs in underprivileged schools in America, and most recently, “Members Project” which empowers the community of members in new ways to make a difference in the world in which we live.
In 2001, John brought American Express in as the founding sponsor of the Tribeca Film Festival, created to revitalize and bring business and energy back to lower Manhattan after the events of September 11, 2001, and in 2006 he was one of the creators of the (RED) campaign, a revolutionary marketing effort to address the AIDS emergency in Africa.
John served on the Yahoo Board of Directors and is a member of “The Well” at Charity Water and sits on the council for Save the Children – Newborn and Child Survival campaign. He has been recognized for his contribution to business and the community on numerous occasions, most recently receiving the “2010 Corporate Marketing Executive of the Year” by the Delaney Report, “2009 Global Leadership Award” from the UJA of NY and honored with the “2007 Distinguished Citizenship Award” from the John A. Reisenbach Foundation. His work also received an Emmy Award in 2007 from the Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences and numerous Cannes Lions including two Grand Prix awards in 2012.
John received a BA in communications from Seton Hall University and was the president of Lowe and Partners, prior to joining American Express.
AL RIES, MARKETING STRATEGIST AND AUTHOR
Al Ries is a legendary marketing strategist and the bestselling author of 11 books which have sold over three million copies worldwide, including Positioning, Marketing Warfare, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Focus and The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR.
In 1972, Al co-authored the now infamous three-part series of articles declaring the arrival of the “Positioning Era” in Advertising Age magazine. The concept of positioning revolutionized how people viewed advertising and marketing, which was traditionally thought of as communications. Positioning told marketers to forget communicating the benefits of a brand. Instead, you need to look inside the mind of the consumer to find a position you can own. Success depends on finding an open hole in the mind and then become the first to fill the hole with your brand name.
Positioning wasn’t the only big idea Al Ries contributed to marketing. In his six decades of work, Al has introduced many new ideas including focus, origin of brands, immutable laws of branding and the rise of PR. His latest book, War in the Boardroom, covers the battle between marketing and management over strategy.
As a marketing consultant, Al has worked with hundreds of companies around the world including Apple, Disney, Doritos, Frito-Lay, Ford, Microsoft, Monsanto, Georgia-Pacific, Great Wall Motors, P&G, Papa John’s Pizza, Samsung, Siemens and Unilever.
He started his career in the ad department of General Electric, and six years later joined Needham Louis & Broby and then Marsteller Inc. By 1963, he was ready to break out on his own and founded the Ries Cappeillo Colwell advertising agency. It was as successful as a B-to-B agency, but the launch of the positioning concept put them on the map and became the buzzword of the decade. The agency was renamed Trout & Ries Advertising in 1979, with Al serving as chairman, and in the long-awaited Positioning book was published in 1981. Al and Jack Trout went on to write four additional books together: Marketing Warfare, Bottom-up Marketing, Horse Sense and The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.
Al began the third act of his career in 1994 when he joined with his daughter Laura Ries, fresh out of Northwestern University and after a short stint at TBWA Advertising, to form Ries & Ries consulting.
In 1996, Al wrote his seminal classic book Focus. which continues to be his mantra for successful brand building and positioning. In 1997, the Ries duo relocated to Atlanta for the weather and access to the world’s busiest airport. Over the past 20 years, Al and Laura have written five books together including The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding, The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR, Origin of Brands and War in the Boardroom. Their latest marketing ideas are Visual Hammer and Battlecry, with Al writing the prefaces to these two books published by Laura.
Al turns 90 years old in 2016, but you would never know it. He continues to actively work full-time consulting with clients, writing his Advertising Age column and traveling the world giving speeches, going to Sri Lanka, Italy, Japan and China in the last year alone. The Ries & Ries China office has been particularly busy the past decade, educating and consulting with Chinese marketing professionals on the principles of positioning and focus.
Al has served as president of the Association of Industrial Advertisers (now the Business Marketing Association) and president of the Advertising Club of New York.