ARF’s new CEO Gayle Fuguitt on the Future of her New Company

Gayle Fuguitt Headshot1 Gayle Fuguitt was just named President and CEO of The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), an open forum where the best and the brightest from every avenue of advertising can gather to exchange ideas and research strategies. Gayle is also a board member at Converseon and Pierrepont Hicks. The Makegood recently spoke with Gayle about her new position and future plans with ARF.

The Makegood: Earlier this year, you joined ARF as the new CEO, congratulations on your new position! Can you describe your new tasks and vision for ARF?

Reimagining research, rebooting our toolkits, and re-energizing our member companies with relevant, timely and objective insights about today’s consumer, media, measurement, values, and impact. These are times of dynamic change and change creates opportunity.  We will be focused on the most important cutting edge issues in measurement, including mobile and bring truths to simplify the complexity that big data creates.

The Makegood: After 32 years, you left General Mills and you are now at ARF. What inspired you to make that change?

The changes facing today’s consumers and marketers mean that the field of research–insights and measurement has never been more valuable than it is today. I saw the opportunity at the ARF to have real impact on the industry to not only create and curate leading edge, objective research, but to build tomorrow’s research leaders today, and to amplify the great work that our member companies create.  Finally, to be surrounded by an exceptional board of directors who represent the best in brightest in our industry to engage the marketing and business community in making better business decisions.

The Makegood: The ARF Industry Leader Forum is taking place in New York this October.  Can you give us a preview of what will be discussed?

This year’s ILF brings together the world’s biggest brand marketers and research leaders to tackle the topic of marketing mix models. At ILF, we’ll address the many challenges of modeling for growth, vs. “rear view mirror” reporting.  We’ll explore questions like:  how can we bring new media platforms to models for relevant, real-time decision-making? How can we catalyze industry collaboration to advance solutions that CEOs and CMOs will invest in? What’s the secret to navigating the complexities of cross-platform consumption and big data?  We think these topics will drive productive debates and inspire a meaningful agenda to bring forward to our Rethink Conference at the end of March.

The Makegood: The ARF made early bets on social media and neuro-research. Where is the trend going?

The ARF recognized early on that today’s consumers are more engaged and socially connected than ever before. These cultural movements will only get stronger over time, which is why it’s so important to understand the fundamentals of consumer behavior in this new environment. Why they engage, why they use certain channels and what images the respond to are at the heart of research and measurement.

Social media and neuro are just two important dimensions of this exciting field that we’re exploring with our members and partners.  Our Digital Field Guide will simplify the complex area of social media, and our Neuro work, conducted with others demonstrates that Neuro-tools can uncover emotional connections  before untapped by traditional testing techniques.   These are just a few of the examples of leading edge research that we are conducting.

The Makegood: You are a pioneer in applying digital technology to research and branding. How does that affect the industry and what’s next on your agenda?

Mobile, and not just in the US.   This is the fastest growing platform of consumer choice.  We hosted a mobile meetup with our board of directors and with our Young Pros, and are conducting leading edge research around the role of mobile, mobile as a research tool, all the way to creative on a mobile platform.  Research and branding must evolve alongside viewing and engagement patterns, so as research leaders we are leading at the bleeding edge and always on the forefront of measurement to predict and anticipate trends, and be prepared with the answers to questions before our management asks them.

The Makegood: Thank you, Gayle