I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Bamossy and Marisstella Marinkovic, Co-CEOs at Pitch, a full-service advertising agency based in Los Angeles, California.
With 15+ years of agency experience, strategy is kind of Sara’s thing. As Co-CEO and fearless strategic leader of Pitch, Sara brings a broad range of experience in categories spanning consumer goods, luxury, food & bev, pharma, and tech. She’s been consulted by publications like Ad Age, Business Insider, and Forbes for her point of view on topics such as innovation strategy, data and creativity, and consumer behavior. Her work has earned industry awards including Cannes Lion, Jay Chiat, and Effie, most recently, she’s been named one of The Internationalist’s Innovators of the Year.
As Pitch’s Co-CEO, Marisstella brings to the table over two-and-a-half decades of experience working on some of the world’s biggest brands. She’s an executive with a proven track record of developing effective, award-winning campaigns, innovative digital efforts, and retail solutions while providing business and creative solutions through passion and collaboration. Marisstella’s work with global brands such as Toyota, Hyundai, and Hankook has earned her numerous industry awards including Cannes Gold Lions, Effies, One Show Pencils, Clios, and New York Film Festival awards.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
SB: Before joining Pitch, I was at Saatchi & Saatchi for ten years, working in the LA, Sydney, London, and Paris offices with large global brands like Toyota, P&G, and Kraft. Then I had the dream opportunity to build the strategy discipline from the ground up at Pitch as Chief Strategy Officer. After a short stint as President & CSO, I moved into a new chapter of my career running the agency with the greatest partner in the world — Marisstella.
MM: Prior to PITCH, I was the SVP, Managing Director at Innocean USA. Before joining Innocean, I spend almost two decades at Saatchi & Saatchi LA, where I got the pleasure of partnering with Sara. Fast forward a decade or so, I get a call one night from Sara. She has the idea of Co-CEOing. How could I pass up working with the amazing woman and strategist? A month later we were back together again to take on the world.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
SB & MM: A big driver of the success of our approach at Pitch is that we develop strategies that are more upstream than a typical agency would ordinarily employ.
Our philosophy is Return on Creativity — we are focused on results and that means we are embedded in our client’s business with the ability to deliver insights and creative solutions beyond advertising.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
SB: I’ve been extremely fortunate to find some amazing mentors in my career. In particular, Mark Turner, Chief Strategy Officer at Saatchi. The best way I’ve found to thank him for years of patient advice and kind-hearted coaching is to pay it forward in a way that’s best tailored for the next generation (the same way he did).
MM: My mentor was my Father, who came to the US with $100, my mom & a little girl (me). He spent seven days a week working for his family and enabling me to live the American dream. His passion and dedication kept me pushing forward regardless of the challenges, regardless of how many times I had to prove myself and regardless of how many times I was passed up for a promotion. I am blessed to have him as my Father and a mentor.
How are you going to shake things up next?
SB & MM: Co-CEO-ing! A unique model for the agency world, partner CEOs. It’s about trust in each other, one that allows us the space to play to each other’s strengths and the almost telepathic powers to read each other’s minds and the room. And, to quite literally, be in two places at once.
Can you share the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey?
SB: “You create the weather” — As a leader it’s important to realize that you create atmosphere around yourself that impacts others (more than you may think). It’s hugely important to create ‘good weather’ and to be conscious of the contagious impact of your mood and mindset.
MM: “Do you” — In order to inspire your team and clients, you really need to be true to yourself. “Do you” is also inclusive of each role you play — the mom, the mentor, the wife, the boss, the woman — don’t be anyone else.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking?
SB: My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, which I discovered in an NPR Fresh Air podcast. It’s an amazing story about a Harvard brain scientist’s recovery from a stroke and her subsequent super ability to live in the present with clarity. Her story of resilience and advice on zooming out to what’s important in the moment is incredibly compelling and inspirational.
MM: Simon Sinek’s TED talk, Start with Why?, reignited my passion for brand building. I was at the point in my life and career where I spend my days as a client therapist, career counselor and overall problem fixer. After the TED talk, I was inspired to “find my why,” to inspire my team and consumers, and help brands find their why.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
SB: Tina Fey, JK Rowling, or Gwen Stefani. A power brunch with all three would be preferred!
MM: Madonna. Love her passion, her energy and her ability to reinvent herself over and over again.
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Originally published at medium.com