Editor’s Letter: Breaking Through

Adweek celebrates great marketers, the vision of a leader and our own efforts to take our brand into a bright future

Headshot of James Cooper

These are indeed uncertain times, and for the media economy, nothing causes more angst, paranoia and agita than not having a handle on the near term.

In a dead heat, the presidential election will mean big changes no matter who wins. The general economy is directionless as job creation remains elusive and concern mounts about massive debt issues in Europe, instability in the Middle East and Chinese ambition.

We also have our own industry-specific insecurities. Just how flawed is the Web advertising model? Has media fragmentation diluted the marketing power and reach of prime-time television? Does Big Data really mean Big Brother? What impact will the release of Windows 8 have on digital advertising? The list of things to spin about while lying awake at 4 a.m. seems endless.

Still, there are anchors—quality content, innovation and brands—that will always hold fast even in the face of change. In this issue and at our Brand Genius gala Nov. 28, we celebrate the power of the brand and 10 marketing executives who have been exceptional stewards of activation and success even as the media, marketing, technology and economic climates roiled with transformation. The brands range from Oreo to Chrysler, and while diverse in product and scope, they all had a lightbulb moment during the year that crystallized their messages and tightened their connections with customers.

For Chrysler, it was “Imported From Detroit,” already an iconic piece of ad copy. Ritz-Carlton focused on memories with the “Let Us Stay With You” theme. Oreo warmly invited everyone to its 100th birthday party.

As a much younger reporter, my first real, long-form media feature was on Bloomberg’s expansion into television. I was able to get some time with Michael Bloomberg (he wasn’t the mayor yet) and was prepared to be ushered into a sequestered and shimmering glass corner office for the interview, but instead found myself sitting almost on top of him at his tiny cubicle in the middle of the newsroom. He was engaged and unrushed in fielding my questions, some of which he fine-tuned for me before answering.

The feature became a clip for me, but the takeaway from the exchange was much more lasting. It was clear that he loved the company he had built so much so that he wanted to sit at its very heart. To feel its growth and energy thrum around him. To be captain and cog.

That passion drives good marketing and, if one can hold on to it, creates vision that sees through the fog of uncertainty that stymies small ambitions. That’s the thinking behind the creation of the new Brand Visionary Award with which Adweek honors Mayor Bloomberg.

I would be very much remiss in not thanking staff writer Robert Klara, Adweek’s own Brand Genius, who is the smarts and energy behind the research, reporting and writing of the Brand Genius franchise, as well as special reports editor Tony Case, who oversaw the editing of this project. I also had the chance to film short video segments with each of the honorees and would like to thank Adweek video director Stevan Keane and online producer John Tejada for their dedication in making video a central focus of Brand Genius and all our coverage.

Finally, it is not an accident that among this august marketing company we launch the most ambitious brand initiative in Adweek’s 34-year history: our iPad edition.

With roots in traditional print, it has been crucial for us to reinvent and redeploy everywhere our audience looks for information, insight and inspiration. Adweek.com is drawing increasingly large views, and our social media profile via Facebook and Twitter grows by the hour. Now we step firmly into the mobile and tablet world with our iPad app.

Our editorial team, led by managing editor Lisa Granatstein and creative director Nick Mrozowski, tackled this assignment with impressive energy and creative verve. It was hard work that had to be done expeditiously, and we had to throw out old thinking, deadline structures and habits. It was our Panama Canal, and I’m proud that we’ve blasted through to link our brand’s great tradition with its future opportunities. Look for us on the tablet.

Look for Adweek everywhere.

@jcoopernyc james.cooper@adweek.com James Cooper is editorial director of Adweek.