Mendenhall ’84 discusses future of marketing

Digital Platforms Reshape Communication

Michael Mendenhall '84, HP SVP & CMO, shares his insight into the future of marketing.

Allison Teixeira

October 19, 2011

Michael Mendenhall ’84, president and chief operating officer of the major New York City-based advertising agency Lipman, told Emerson students that explosive population growth, unprecedented economic development, and exponential technological advancement are changing the world faster than ever before.  Students must understand those changes and how to utilize them to an organization’s advantage, he said.

His remarks, delivered to about 250 Marketing Communication students and faculty at the Paramount Mainstage on October 17, were part of the Irma Mann Stearns Distinguished Lecture Series. The series is funded by Emerson alumna and trustee emerita Irma Mann Stearns ’67, a leading figure in the Greater Boston marketing and public relations community.

Mendenhall showed a video that he produced about how digital platforms have reshaped communication. The video included statistics that illustrated the ways in which the world is changing and the speed at which those changes are taking place.

One of the most important ways to understand the transformations occurring in the world, he said, is to use the data that is available through new technology to inform business and marketing decisions.

Michael Mendenhall lecture
PIctured at the 2011 Irma Mann Stearns Distinguished Lecture are Marketing Communication Chair Donald Hurwitz (left), President Lee Pelton, Dean of School of Communication Janis Andersen, Irma Mann Streans '67, and Michael Mendenhall '84. Photo by Aja Neahring '14

“You’re going to need to know how to use your customer and financial data,” said Mendenhall. “You need to be comfortable with statistics and with mathematics….One of the biggest differentiations [between those who will succeed in the future and those who won’t] will be how you use the information you have.”

Mendenhall also discussed how, in the world of marketing, many companies and organizations operate in a way that is siloed by platform, with a team in charge of print media, a team in charge of new media, a team in charge of social media, etc. Integrating those areas so that they are all working together to create an overall “customer journey,” is of utmost importance, he said. Online strategy, especially, should be a part of everything a marketer does.

“I would argue that today the center of your campaign is on the web,” said Mendenhall. “Digital should be pervasive through every piece of your organization. It shouldn’t be sitting there as a separate department.”

Still, he said, storytelling is at the heart of marketing. The content—or the story—he said, is as important as the distribution—how you choose to tell it.

Mendenhall led marketing efforts for both Disney and Hewlett-Packard (HP) prior to his role at Lipman, where he worked with the likes of former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, former Apple CEO and Pixar head Steve Jobs, and former HP CEO Mark Hurd, who he said were all great mentors and helped him to become successful.

“If you’re thinking about jobs and your career, think about working for people who have great both great jobs and great vision,” he told the students. “You choose your bosses, too. Choose them wisely.”