By Anthony Mendicino
Point Park students met with Tim deBoer, CEO of Ketchum, Netherlands, an international company that traces it roots back to Pittsburgh, where it was founded.
Ketchum has become one of the world’s most successful advertising agencies with locations around the globe. Ketchum is a part of Omnicom, an international holding company that manages the portfolio of various advertising companies.
Some of Ketchum’s clients include well-known companies like 3M, ConAgra, Kodak, and Starbucks.
Despite working with international companies and being one itself, Ketchum retains their small company feel throughout their office.
“In this particular industry everyone from the top to the bottom works together, “ deBoer said as he began his presentation.
From there deBoer elaborated on what makes Ketchum such a successful agency.
“A great strategy that doesn’t lend to the clients means nothing,” deBoer said.
“Every time you have a new client you have to research the world of that client. You have to know.”
He then went on to explain that an advertising agency is in charge of the client’s brand image in good times and bad.
“You have to be the custodian of the brand. You can’t do something bad over here and focus on something good over here,” deBoer said.
He also mentioned that the old cliché, “The customer is always right,” doesn’t apply to advertising. It’s much trickier than that.
“You never accuse the consumer even if there’s an element of truth to it,” deBoer said. But, you do have to find ways to educate the consumer without talking down on them.
“It’s very easy to say something like, ‘Hey, you’ve got to recycle,’” deBoer said. “You have to be aware, you have to give them a call to action.”
After educating students on how to handle clients, deBoer turned to tips on how to break into the advertising world and the culture that Ketchum has created.
“If you don’t know anything about our company, then I am never going to hire you,” he said.
Like the other firms students visited on their trip, deBoer made it clear that internships are one of the primary ways Ketchum hires.
“We always try to hire from our pool of interns. Which usually means you’re going to be a slave for two years,” he said with a chuckle.
DeBoer then turned to what the culture is like at Ketchum.
“I try to have a culture where everyone can contribute,” deBoer said. He made note to say that under his watch, employees work on both the agency side and company side of the firm.
No one was more of a clear example of deBoer’s “work everywhere” philosophy than recent hire Yuting Pan who works as business development coordinator. Even though Pan is new to the company, she still contributes to projects.
“I found it very exciting,” she said of working at Ketchum. “Here I can see where my thinking goes.”