Nancy Hill Remakes the 4A’s into a Community Driven Organization

Nancy Hill is the President and CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the national trade association founded in 1917. Next week the 4A’s holds Transformation LA, the annual event that covers key topics including talent recruitment and retention, regulatory updates, creativity, social media, mobility and growth. We spoke to Nancy recently about her priorities and ongoing efforts to modernize the association, including the association’s new headquarters overlooking Bryant Park in New York City.

The Makegood: Nancy, you made your career in advertising, having spent nearly three decades working at major agencies including TBWA Chiat Day and BBDO. What motivated you to move over to the 4A’s?

I had been one of those loud voices out there chanting that the 4A’s had to change, that it had become old and dusty and was in danger of becoming irrelevant. When this opportunity was presented to me, it felt like a challenge, but one that I was willing to take to “put my money where my mouth was” and do something about it.

The Makegood: As President-CEO of the 4A’s, what is on your list as a top priority currently?

Talent. Talent. Talent.  How to recruit and retain the best possible people to this business and not lose them to other industries!

The Makegood: As part of the 4A’s initiative to actively to encourage the industry to work together more collaboratively, your offices have recently moved from the Chrysler Building to Avenue of the Americas, close to Bryant Park. Can you tell us about the new office space?

We felt that it was very important to move into a more modern work environment. As beautiful as the Chrysler building is, its physical structure made it practically impossible to create the open environment we needed. Finding a “side core” building (one with the elevator banks and facilities on the side rather than in the middle) became a top priority as we began our search. We lucked out on the timing of the market and found a beautiful building across the street from Bryant Park.

Everything in this space is designed to foster collaboration both internally amongst the staff and externally with members and partners. Fully 1/3 of the space is completely flexible and can be configured in any number of ways: classroom style, lecture style, lounge style, etc. The goal is to have more of our events here rather than having to rent space and for our members to have a space that they enjoy spending time in too.

The Makegood: Advertising is changing rapidly due to the evolving media landscape, with new digital formats and devices changing the way in which people consume content. Recently, the 4A’s took part in helping the industry to self regulate with initiatives including the Comprehensive Principles for Online Collection of Web Data and Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program. How does the 4A’s actively identify and prioritize which areas in this changing digital landscape are in need of standards and regulations?

Some people would say that I’m a bit of digital geek so I try hard myself to stay up on technology as part of my personal life. But really identifying and prioritizing which issues we address comes from constant communication with our members; asking them what’s keeping them up at night and what we can do to help. They are the ones who make sure we know what’s important and how quickly we need to get on an issue.

The Makegood: What can the advertising community expect to see coming from the 4A’s in 2012?

More opportunities to connect with us and the rest of the community. We have spent the past four years turning the 4A’s into a highly tuned community-based organization that most wouldn’t recognize from just a short time ago. It’s time to get that message out there and continue to support our members in any way we can.

The Makegood: Thanks, Nancy.