Friday, January 22, 2010

A Title Wave

This week, Advertising Age ran an article about how Alex Bogusky, of Crispin Porter Bogusky, would be expanding his role beyond his own agency and working with parent company MDC to improve the creative output of all its agencies.

The title Bogusky gave himself at MDC is "Chief Creative Insurgent."

While some in the trades have been having fun with this title, I quite like it. It clearly states his mission – to shake things up creatively – in a way that is inherently more creative than "MDC Executive Creative Director" or the like.

Way back in the last decade (13 months ago, to be exact), my partner Dorothy Wetzel and I named our new agency "Extrovertic" because we felt it accurately reflected who we are and what our business is all about.

Since our mission is to help companies become more extroverted in their customer engagement, "Extrovertic" just seemed like the perfect monicker for our firm. And when it came to giving titles to ourselves and our staff, it made sense to carry the theme down to a personal level.

Dorothy is our "Chief Marketing Extrovert." I am the "Chief Creative Extrovert." We have a "Chief RM Extrovert," a "Marketing Strategy Extrovert," a "Strategic Planning Extrovert," a "Client Services Extrovert," and so on. We even have an "Associate Extrovert" – our intern from York College.

I've had a couple of colleagues in the business tell me they're not sure about these titles. But most prospective clients, upon receiving our business cards, seem to find them refreshing and reflective of who they're meeting with for the first time. It really sets the tone for a more relaxed, unstuffy meeting.

Non-traditional titles seem to be gaining popularity all across the corporate landscape.

When I was at Ogilvy, we had a "Minister of Culture." The head of Aol's matchmaking service holds the title, "CEO of Love." Yahoo! has a "Yahoo! Evangelist."

Some companies refer to their receptionists or call center operators as "Directors of First Impressions."

Even a company as conservative as Berkshire Hathaway has a "Director of Chaos" (the person responsible for putting together its annual event-filled annual shareholder get-together).

And while Steve Jobs' official title at Apple is CEO, he prefers the title, Chief Know it All.

In today's business world, 9:00 to 5:00 has become 24/7 and the office has become anywhere you can pick up a WiFi signal. So why not rethink people's titles, too?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

– Mark

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