Interpublic Group’s chairman emeritus David Bell grew up expecting to become a litigator, but when he decided at the last minute not to go to law school and turned his sights to advertising, he got lucky with admission to Leo Burnett’s training program.
“I was the only one of 19 that didn’t have an MBA, so I must have faked a passion for advertising pretty good, but it was a great lucky stroke,” says Bell in an interview with Beet.TV.
From 2003 to 2005, Bell was CEO of IPG, which had acquired True North, where he had the top job, and he’s seen adland undergo a great deal of consolidation and other transformations during a career that spans five decades.
Bell started his career on the media side, and that involved “spreadsheets, cranking numbers and super menial tasks like hand collation of presentation decks,” he says. But a few short years later, at 27, he wound up an agency CEO after his boss died.
He considers his greatest career accomplishment the shift “from thinking of myself as an individual performer with talent to an igniter of people’s talents.”
This segment is part of Beet.TV’s “Media Revolutionaries,” a 50-part series of interviews with key innovators and leaders in the media, technology and advertising industries, sponsored by Xaxis and AOL. Xaxis is a unit of WPP.
Bell was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital.