My Soapbox: Jodi Schmidtgoesling, Possible

To call Jodi Schmidtgoesling a powerhouse is to do her an injustice. Largely credited with driving strategy and innovation at Possible Worldwide and leading the effort to redefine the agency’s future, Schmidtgoesling was recently promoted from president of the interactive agency’s Cincinnati and New York offices to the new global role of Chief Client Officer, Fast Moving Consumer Goods. That means, among other things, she is tasked with growing Possible’s portfolio of global clients that sell consumer packaged goods. The Cincinnati office’s clients already include Smuckers, ConAgra Foods and Procter & Gamble.

Tamy Harms replaced Schmidtgoesling as president of the firm’s 200-plus Cincinnati office.

Schmidtgoesling, 35, is deeply committed to developing Possible's culture as a fun, innovative and creative place to work. She leads the development committee, which works to improve women and minority diversity. For each of the last six years, Possible has been named as one of the Top 25 Best Places to Work in America by the Great Place to Work Institute

Schmidtgoesling, who lives in Harrsion with her 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, chatted with Soapbox about the ever-evolving world of marketing and advertising, the need for Cincinnati to champion itself as a leader in marketing and innovation and how she stays grounded.

Why the change?
"If you look at Possible’s portfolio in the CPG space, we are basically unparalleled with any agency out there. Between Nestle, ConAgra Foods, Smuckers, Procter & Gamble…we have some of the top names in the space, and I really felt like there was an opportunity to marry the expertise we have with some of the top clients we have and draw that further in brand building and acquire new clients."

Why is Cincinnati the right home for this new role for you and the agency?
"Globally, Cincinnati is the right place to work for brand building in the consumer packaged goods space. There is rich history of brand building here with some spectacular agencies—Landor, LPK, Rockfish and Possible. Frankly, it’s the best network to grow and build your skills, and I think it’s a think-tank for what’s happening in brand building in the CPG space."

Locals know Cincinnati is a branding mecca—do you find that others see us as such?
"I think a lot of folks are still head-scratching at the idea of Cincinnati. I think we suffer from a little bit of the Midwest 'nice, where we don’t brag and boast about our abilities,' and we really need to get that story out there both nationally and internationally about all the great thinking and work that has come out of this region. I started to see some change and I think the Consumer Brand Hub Initiative is going to help drive that, but I think it’s incumbent on all of us working in this space to help affect change in the region and help people understand the capabilities sitting right here in this market."

How do you foresee everyone doing that?
"For example, when Possible is pitching a new client in Geneva, we need to be talking about why Cincinnati is a great place for new thinking and all the work that is being done here. I think that if every client and every agency leader picks up the mantle, we will really push forward the effort."

Why does Cincinnati need to grow itself?
"It needs to do a better job of connecting in a more collaborative way. What I see across the city is that folks are fairly siloed. I think if you look at Silicon Valley and other places where folks are constantly connecting and sharing leads and ideas that benefit the whole region, I think Cincinnati can learn from that. More things like mentor-up programs [and] roundtables. I think also telling our story externally in such a way that is driving more talent back to the region and more companies to relocate here."

What does the future look like for advertising and marketing? 
"It’s a little bit back-to-the-future. I think what has happened is that we’ve forgotten the people in marketing; really what we are seeing is more back to that old community feel. What it comes back to is remembering there are people behind the technology and people have more power than ever. It’s less about what technology or medium we are working with; it’s more around what’s emotionally compelling and relevant with people. I’m not even calling them consumers, because that’s not the right way to think about it."

What does the future look like for brands?
"Mobile. They are not where they need to be in mobile connectivity and leveraging the mobile device and the power of it. And that is particularly true globally. We are pushing that really hard. The other thing is the idea of content and the fluidity and mobility of content. Where content is going and how brands play with that is another big trend that we are looking at in the next few years."

What made you a better leader?
"I think I became a much better leader once I had children. It reframes your focus; it makes you a bit more patient. I am cross-pollenating: The things I am learning as a mother, I am bringing back to the office. There was a time that I think every metaphor I brought to the office involved a Disney movie."

What is the one word you would use to describe yourself? 
"Tenacious. I never give up, and I’m always chewing on something."

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