Patrick McDougall

New ACA headPatrick McDougall, the new president and chief executive officer of the Association of Canadian Advertisers, has no fear of being bored in his new job.The increasing wariness and selectiveness of consumers in the slow-growth 1990s is challenging the marketing...

New ACA head

Patrick McDougall, the new president and chief executive officer of the Association of Canadian Advertisers, has no fear of being bored in his new job.

The increasing wariness and selectiveness of consumers in the slow-growth 1990s is challenging the marketing skills of the aca’s 200-plus members like never before.

Additionally, ad budgets are being slashed left and right, and company financial officers are demanding marketers make a strict accounting for every penny spent.

Throw into the mix the confusion caused by the emergence of powerful new marketing tools, such as database and high-tech interactive marketing, and McDougall says the aca is poised to take on a role of growing importance and value for its members.

But that role will not necessarily be thrust upon the 78-year-old organization, which has historically served as the voice of advertisers among government and other sectors of the marketing industry.

Rather, notes McDougall, who assumed his new position Oct. 18, the aca has to actively take the lead in helping advertisers perform better at their work.

‘The aca has to be on the leading edge of what is happening so we can be a positive influence on behalf of our members and create change,’ he says.

‘We’ve got to find ways of providing added value, of helping our members advertise more effectively and efficiently.’

McDougall, 42, says ‘the day of just reacting to what the members want, or reacting to an issue, is over.’

If the aca hopes to grapple successfully with the increasing array of complex issues facing its membership, it would only make sense that the organization would place a high value on experience in the selection of a new president.

There is no question McDougall, who is married with two children aged 11 and 14, brings experience to the table.

Varied experience

Born in Saskatchewan, McDougall grew up in Alberta and spent from 1968-71 as a member of Canada’s national ski team. (He was a spare in the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France.)

In 1971, he joined Head Ski Company, where he spent two years cutting his teeth in marketing and promotions.

Over the next several years, he worked in contract positions with Yamaha Canada and Spitzer Mills and Bates Advertising.

In 1977, McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada hired him in its marketing department, where he stayed until 1980, eventually rising to national marketing manager.

From there, he joined Vickers & Benson Advertising, which promptly lent him to the federal Liberals in 1981 to head the Canadian Unity Information Office, responsible for marketing, among other things, the Canadian Constitution.

With client, agency and government experience under his belt just 10 years into his career, McDougall next, in 1983, took on the sales and marketing vice-presidency with Canadian Satellite Communications, a position that gave him valuable insight, in the aca’s view, into the broadcast and cable industries.

Public relations

Most recently, McDougall rounded out his resume with public relations experience gained during a three-year stint as vice-president of corporate communications with Ontario Lottery.

Lowell Lunden, chairman of the aca’s board of directors, says McDougall’s broad range of industry-related experience was the key factor in his selection to replace out-going aca president John Foss.

Says Lunden: ‘I never cease to be amazed with [McDougall's] ability and knowledge in dealing with very different and difficult issues.’

The aca’s search for a new president and ceo began five months ago, shortly after Foss, who had served in that capacity for 14 years, announced his retirement.

Adrian Sark, vice-chair of the aca and vice-president of marketing with Hershey Canada, says the aca’s presidency was in need of new blood to shake up the organization, adding he believes McDougall has the qualifications for the job.

McDougall has proven himself throughout his career to be a ‘change agent,’ Sark says.

‘We believe we are in need of some revitalization to make sure that our members are getting the value they pay for in their annual dues,’ he says.

Terry O’Malley of Vickers & Benson Advertising was impressed with McDougall’s ‘tremendous energy and aggressiveness’ during the latter’s tenure with the agency.

‘He pushes all the time, he pushes the limits, he’s a guy who makes things happen,’ O’Malley says.

aca member Peter Beresford, who is vice-president, director of marketing with McDonald’s and a former co-worker of McDougall’s, says the aca has selected a ‘very able marketer’ as its new head.

Beresford recalls McDougall as an ‘energetic, fun person,’ adding, ‘as [film critics] Siskel & Ebert say, `Two thumbs up.’ ‘