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What 2020 taught the 4A’s Marla Kaplowitz: ‘There is no growth without change’

2020 has been an education for all of us. So as we approach the end of a year like no other, we're asking media and marketing luminaries to share with us their biggest work lesson of the last 12 months. Today Marla Kaplowitz, president and chief exec of the 4A's, shares what she's learned about agency relisience.

As we move into a new year, we can leverage the experiences and learnings from what was likely the most challenging year in our lifetime. Reflecting back on 2020, there’s one word that dominates for me: resilience. This year proved to be a test of both individual and organizational strength and conviction.

While Covid hit China and parts of Europe hard in the beginning of the year, the US seemed to be in denial until mid-March when we were forced to shift from the usual routine to a new way of living, working and connecting. And agencies did what they do best: they figured out how to adapt, evolve and grow - and quickly - as the velocity of change accelerated at a new speed. From rapid adoption of trends to embracing new ways of working with timelines including DIY production.

Here are my three key lessons from 2020:

Resiliency is a powerful muscle that can grow and flex

2020 tested us personally and professionally, forcing us to adapt and grow with each new challenge reframed as opportunity. Often, it felt like an extreme test of resiliency as agencies proved once again that the talented professionals who are passionate about our industry will always use creativity and ingenuity to figure out even the most complex business challenges. The crisis further served to strengthen the dynamic client/agency relationship reinforcing how agencies enable brands to take the right risks and act decisively..

Words only mean so much; actions go the distance

No more excuses. 2020 proved that not only can we change, but we must change. A health crisis led to the reckoning of a more systemic pandemic - racial injustice. The broader marketing industry is moving beyond talk and taking actions knowing that the future of creativity is only possible by ensuring all voices are represented and embracing meaningful actions to provide a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce and workplace. This requires continued self-assessment and commitment to improving BIPOC representation in agencies as well as the way we work to uncover and remove bias across all areas: research, briefs, creative, targets, media buys and measurement. It’s critical to have the unwavering commitment of every individual and organization to ensure we deliver this critical change.

Embrace technology and the power of automation

The year also brought lasting, transformational shifts to our industry from the way (and where) we work to the acceleration of marketplace trends like e-commerce and automation with technology as the core enabler of this change. Leaders have reimagined how their organizations work, with offices becoming more purposeful to drive collaboration with a new hybrid approach to work - in the office and remote - providing talent greater geographic flexibility as well as employee fulfillment. Investments in technology will further impact agencies providing an increase in workflow automation and people augmentation of capabilities.

2020 was a constant and ultimately welcome reminder that there is no growth without change.

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2020 has been an education for all of us. So as we approach the end of a year like no other, we're asking media and marketing luminaries to share with us their biggest work lesson of the last 12 months. Today Marla Kaplowitz, president and chief exec of the 4A's, shares what she's learned about agency relisience.

As we move into a new year, we can leverage the experiences and learnings from what was likely the most challenging year in our lifetime. Reflecting back on 2020, there’s one word that dominates for me: resilience. This year proved to be a test of both individual and organizational strength and conviction.

While Covid hit China and parts of Europe hard in the beginning of the year, the US seemed to be in denial until mid-March when we were forced to shift from the usual routine to a new way of living, working and connecting. And agencies did what they do best: they figured out how to adapt, evolve and grow - and quickly - as the velocity of change accelerated at a new speed. From rapid adoption of trends to embracing new ways of working with timelines including DIY production.

Here are my three key lessons from 2020:

Resiliency is a powerful muscle that can grow and flex

2020 tested us personally and professionally, forcing us to adapt and grow with each new challenge reframed as opportunity. Often, it felt like an extreme test of resiliency as agencies proved once again that the talented professionals who are passionate about our industry will always use creativity and ingenuity to figure out even the most complex business challenges. The crisis further served to strengthen the dynamic client/agency relationship reinforcing how agencies enable brands to take the right risks and act decisively..

Words only mean so much; actions go the distance

No more excuses. 2020 proved that not only can we change, but we must change. A health crisis led to the reckoning of a more systemic pandemic - racial injustice. The broader marketing industry is moving beyond talk and taking actions knowing that the future of creativity is only possible by ensuring all voices are represented and embracing meaningful actions to provide a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce and workplace. This requires continued self-assessment and commitment to improving BIPOC representation in agencies as well as the way we work to uncover and remove bias across all areas: research, briefs, creative, targets, media buys and measurement. It’s critical to have the unwavering commitment of every individual and organization to ensure we deliver this critical change.

Embrace technology and the power of automation

The year also brought lasting, transformational shifts to our industry from the way (and where) we work to the acceleration of marketplace trends like e-commerce and automation with technology as the core enabler of this change. Leaders have reimagined how their organizations work, with offices becoming more purposeful to drive collaboration with a new hybrid approach to work - in the office and remote - providing talent greater geographic flexibility as well as employee fulfillment. Investments in technology will further impact agencies providing an increase in workflow automation and people augmentation of capabilities.

2020 was a constant and ultimately welcome reminder that there is no growth without change.

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