Scott Davis 25th Anniversary Interview
Twenty-five years ago today, EVP Scott Davis started a job at Harmelin Media. Our president Mary Meder said it best: “Scott Davis was an engineering major at Cornell, but also an active participant with the university’s student-run radio station. All I can say is that I am thrilled he made the career choice to follow his extracurricular interests over his academic pursuits. He is one of the most strategic, thoughtful and smart advertising people I have ever met.”
What are some of the notable changes you have seen in the industry since you started at Harmelin? Other than ‘everything?’ As I look back on my early days at Harmelin, I chuckle because the job seemed so hard then – but by today’s standards, it was pretty simple. The fragmentation of the media landscape, the accessibility to data, and the accountability for performance have all complicated our lives immensely – but it is those same factors that make my job so exciting, because they create opportunities to perform and succeed today that simply didn’t exist back in the 1990s. We can make a more meaningful difference in our clients’ business than we could before – and now we can prove it!
What has been your greatest success at Harmelin? The first day I walked into Harmelin in September of 1992, I got to work on the Ford account. I am proud to say that I’ve worked on that account for my entire 25 years at Harmelin – something that is extremely rare in this (or any) industry. Ford has been a Harmelin client for 31 years now and it has been my honor to shepherd that relationship for so long. The auto business is extremely demanding, and making sure that our client’s needs have been consistently met over such a long period of time has been a great challenge and a great source of pride for me. Some of my deepest professional relationships are tied to Ford, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such great people for so long.
Where do you see the industry in the next one year, five years, and ten years? I don’t think there’s any way to accurately look out 10 years in our business – five is even a stretch. As for the changes I see in the near term – I suspect the pace of change will continue to increase, which will bring with it the need to both specialize more (since we will need a deeper ability to quickly capitalize on opportunities within a specific media channel) and generalize more (since we will need to understand how each media channel impacts the bigger picture). The industry will continue to be more data-driven and technical, with clients looking for more definitive answers to their queries. There will be more pressure on performance, and on better attribution across all media – offline and online. I see a massive opportunity in using location-based data more to improve how we do our jobs. Over time we will be able to demonstrate how ad exposure leads directly to store visitation, and how customers shop for things. We will be able to use this same data to improve planning – whether it is selecting a better billboard location, or honing in on TV programs that will drive the highest shopping lift.
What is the most unique trip you have ever taken? My wife and I went to Maui about 15 years ago, and it is still the most beautiful and peaceful place I’ve seen. I think the highlight was taking a pre-dawn bus ride to the top of Mount Haleakala and watching the sun rise from above the clouds – and then biking 40 miles down the side of the volcano. It is one of the more spiritual moments of my life.
If you were a brand, what would be your motto? I like “Strategy, Solutions, Success” – but I think that’s been taken!
What is your favorite song, movie or TV show and why? I’ve taken no small amount of grief for this, but I’m a lifelong Rush fan, and I proudly own it! I was first introduced to them at summer camp when I was around 12 – a pretty impressionable time in my life – and I was just captivated by the intricacies of their music. I saw them perform for the first time in 1984 and have not missed a tour since – I’ve seen them somewhere between 25 and 30 times. They are amazing musicians, and they write incredibly meaningful songs – some of their lyrics have made a very deep impression on me at various times in my life. The band members are in their mid-60s now and have stopped touring, so I’ll miss that, but I have plenty of memories (and some minor hearing damage) to fall back on.
VP Brad Bernard, who helped Scott develop and grow our digital offerings, praised their working experience: “Scott is much more than one of the best media minds that I’ve ever met, he is a gifted business strategist. He can take the most complex problems and diagnose them in a few seconds. More importantly, he is one of the most genuine and principled individuals with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure to work.”
Lyn Strickler, EVP/Managing Director, recalls that “Scott’s thoughtful approach to marketing and media challenges is unparalleled. When a group of people is stymied by a dilemma, Scott will inevitably be the one to come up with a creative solution that addresses the issues. He is well-respected by co-workers, clients and media partners alike. We are so lucky to have him on our team!”
Janine Cross, VP/Digital, has nothing but appreciation for Scott: “No matter your level, Scott is always willing to listen. Even in our first meeting (my interview!), I was impressed by how approachable an EVP could be. He cares deeply about the employees at Harmelin and tries to help wherever he can. One thoughtful thing he always did was send personal “Harmiversary” emails to each employee across the digital department celebrating their anniversary with the company. It was a great way to recognize people, and to make them feel good.”
Thanks Scott for 25 remarkable years, and we look forward too many more.