Marshall Ross is chief creative officer with Cramer-Krasselt (C-K; www.c-k.com) where he’s been a part of the leadership team behind the agency’s rise to the second-largest independent agency in the United States, with nearly $1 billion in annual billings. An Ad Age “Agency to Watch” three of the past four years, C-K has grown by nearly 50 percent since 2005, bolstered by wins such as Porsche, Crocs, Zicam, Edward Jones, and Hilton Hotels Worldwide.
As chief creative officer, Ross has crafted award-winning campaigns for numerous clients, garnering everything from Effies to Webbys to Cannes Lions. Marshall’s creative passions are never ending. His ability to nurture cross-platform creativity— paired with the agency’s integrated structure and culture—has helped the agency consistently deliver innovative, “media neutral” ideas long before it became trendy to do so. Examples include Corona’s ownership of the beach via traditional and online media; CareerBuilder’s Monk-e-Mail viral sensation; Porsche’s first-ever, four-door sports car—the Panamera; and cheeky footwear-brand Crocs.
Before joining C-K, Marshall was a copywriter and creative supervisor at Foote, Cone & Belding. At the age of 27, he started a creative boutique, Mitchiner, Ross 2 Marshall Ross & Kahn, which after a successful run was acquired in 1992 by Campbell Mithun Esty, where Marshall assumed the post of executive creative director.
The following excerpt is from my interview with Marshall for Advertisers at Work.
Tuten: What about the sales piece, that growing up and having the sales
experience? Do you find yourself selling now?
Ross: I think that all successful marketing people are successful because
they understand how to link desire with solution, and so I think I do that.
Probably seventy percent of my work is figuring out what that linkage is or
articulating what that linkage is in a way that becomes really compelling.
Sometimes that’s helping writers and art directors or user experience people
or developers turn that linkage into experiences. And sometimes it’s
about helping an audience of marketing people recognize why the path
we’re heading down is the right one.
Tuten: Kristen Cavallo at Mullen says sales is a major part of her job because
you have to persuade someone to let you “run your idea with their
Ross: I think that’s a very nice, succinct way of saying that the art of persuasion
is to make sure that your idea is actually their need. That’s why I call it
“linkage.” I think sales is about connecting. The art of persuasion is making
that connection feel obvious, innate, and inarguable. If you’ve done a good
job of making their issue and your solution become indelibly connected,
their response is, “Well, what else would I do?”