The newly appointed North America CEO of iProspect speaks to LBB’s Addison Capper about shaping the recently formed role and cutting her teeth at Leo Burnett
Danielle Gonzales joined iProspect as its first ever North America CEO in October - and at a bit of a transformative moment for the business, having recently launched as a global full-service media agency.
She joins iProspect from Publicis Groupe, where she was recently elevated to president and chief client officer of Publicis Media North America. Before that she was president and chief client officer at Starcom, where she led North America and global client partnerships for Kraft Heinz, McDonald’s and Beam Suntory across its media, communications, data, and tech teams. With over 25 years of industry experience, Danielle has helped transform clients’ marketing and communications connections from siloed to complete consumer experiences. Before her leadership positions at Starcom, she led the largest multicultural media agency Tapestry for more than a decade where she successfully grew the business by double digits for five consecutive years.
Keen to hear more about her plans for this newly formed role, LBB's Addison Capper chatted with Danielle.
LBB> Congrats on the new job! What was it about iProspect that tempted you over?
Danielle> There were two sirens at iProspect that called me. The first was the tremendously kind, warm, and hard-working people at dentsu. There is a compassionate aura that dentsu teammates radiate, and over the years, I kept finding myself gravitating to people who called dentsu home. The second siren was iProspect’s cutting-edge brand+performance offering. iProspect builds brands with a performance mindset and has the discipline to be fully accountable.
Modern marketers need to accelerate growth, and to have a team, the tools, tech, and approaches to solve it are incredible.
LBB> North America CEO is a brand new role for the agency - what opportunities and challenges come with fulfilling a role that's never existed before?
Danielle> I have the great fortune of being the first North American CEO for the new iProspect. In this new role, I can create and define a next-gen organisation that is not bound by geographic limits, an org with vibrant learning ability, and teams that dream loudly. Because there is no specific hardened form to my new role, I have the freedom to lead in my way, which is absolutely liberating.
LBB> It's also a bit of a transformative time for iProspect - can you tell us a bit more about that and how it is influencing your plans as CEO for North America?
Danielle> iProspect is at the forefront of marketing transformation, and we continue to evolve. My team will tell you no one is sitting still-- we are moving, learning, and growing. My job is to find the balance of rapid transformation without leaving any teammates behind. I try to stay connected with all levels with constant listening and communication. This way, I can assess if we can keep moving fast or need a brief break to catch our breaths.
LBB> How did you wind up in this industry in the first place? Was it a planned thing or more a happy accident?
Danielle> I started working at an early age to help pay my way in life, but I discovered I loved working. My husband jokes that if I won the lottery, I would still work; it might be true as I find my friends at work and great satisfaction in creating new things and beating records.
I found advertising at the university where I applied for an internship at Leo Burnett, the most magical agency in my view. Even though I got turned down the first time, I applied again, and by a stroke of fate, I landed a summer gig in the media department. And so advertising for me started with a love for one man and the agency he built.
LBB> What are some of the biggest trends impacting the media business in the US right now?
Danielle> One of the most significant shifts, I would not call a trend as it will last, is the commerce evolution. Many brands offer DTC options to manage consumer experience and collect consented data. In addition, brands are recognising consumers are fluidly moving from product interest and engagement to purchase with retailers. As a result, the whole dynamic of commerce and what is needed in this space has radically changed and will continue to evolve.
LBB> On the digital media front, the industry is seeing a lot of changes (the loss of third party cookies etc.), and a lot of issues like pressure to regulate platforms and ad fraud drag on... what sort of issues or questions are clients coming to you with on that front and how are you keeping on top of it all?
Danielle> Our clients are pretty sophisticated in the digital space, and most are well versed in developing strategies for today’s digital environment. So yes, they are asking about cookie pools and alternatives to retargeting so as not to lose this effective tactic, but they are to ID based marketing and contextual plays. We find ourselves spending more time discussing measurement due to the changing environment as MTA can be wonky now. With the understanding our line of sight will continue to be limited, what solutions can we provide to measurement in a robust and timely manner. Luckily, I have some of the world’s best measurement scientists on my team creating custom plans for each of our clients.
LBB> In your appointment press release, you said: “The next evolution of marketing involves improving performance at every bend of the consumer journey." Can you elaborate on that and how you believe iProspect can play its part in that?
Danielle> iProspect accelerates growth and builds brands by applying a performance mindset to all that we do. Some of our brands are on a relationship elevation mission, and some need immediate sales. Others are worried about the long-term care of customers. Our team approaches our plans and activations with an accountable and outcome-based mindset, no matter the task. We set our goals at either a brand (equity, health), engagement (time spent, action), and/or sales level. We then rigorously track performance against these goals to consistently deliver improvement across the consumer journey.
LBB> I think this is your first CEO role but you've been in leadership positions for some time. What experience or moment gave you your biggest lesson in leadership?
Danielle> My biggest lessons on leadership came from when I ran Tapestry, the largest multicultural media unit in the US. Our team was often on the side and an afterthought for many clients and general market teams. However, multicultural marketing was emerging, and our team needed to educate multicultural consumers, build plans that delivered them and advocate for a budget with limited return on ad spend data points. I learned how to leverage the strengths of each team member, how to balance chemistry for a brand team and motivate a team with skills that were not known to the greater population. It was super hard work but the most enjoyable work I have ever done. My team felt like we were a part of a movement and part of a family.
LBB> In terms of leadership and openness, what’s your approach there? Do you think it’s important to be as transparent as possible in the service of being authentic? Or is there a value in being careful and considered? And how do you need to deal with this when starting at a new company?
Danielle> I believe in leading from the frontline, getting involved in the work, and understanding each teammate's contribution. I enjoy meeting with my teammates across disciplines and levels, listening, and discussing. As I believe my team is good and will do the right thing, I can speak transparently about all topics. I trust each of my team members, allowing me to be myself and be very open.
LBB> What do you get up to when you're not working? Do you have any quirks or hobbies to tell us about?
Danielle> My number one hobby is my family of five kids and husband. We have a tonne of fun together, and everyone wants time with mom. I love being a working parent, I often merge my worlds, but I have found balance and prioritised the important things to me. One of my favourite things to do, but I rarely find time, is making clothes. I learned to sew when I was young and enjoy creating things with my hands.