Meet a Member: Michelle Clark, E.J. Gallo Winery

Meet IHAF member, Michelle Clark—Director of Creative Services at E.J. Gallo Winery, the leading provider of California wines in select markets around the world. Having led their 20-person account management group for a little over a year, Michelle talks servicing over one hundred brands of wine, overcoming team challenges and even offers some valuable advice.  

When I caught up with Michelle, she was eager to share what her team has been focused on lately, including their integrated campaign efforts. “Our in-house agency provides a variety of services for Gallo’s 100+ wine brands. Historically, those services operated independently but there is more and more need to work together to produce integrated campaigns. My team is anchored in our creative group, but we’re supporting efforts to bring all of our services together for the benefit of consumers and our brands.”

Michelle has been in the creative/advertising industry for quite some time, starting as a marketing analyst at the Los Angeles Times. “That was back in the 90s when newspapers were still relevant, and the L.A. Times was a media powerhouse,” she recalls. “It was my job to distill syndicated data into stories our sales team could use to sell advertising. It helped me establish a data-driven mindset.” What a fantastic first job! Michelle also credits her position at the L.A Times with helping her realize that she was more passionate about B2C marketing than B2B—hence why her focus today.

Having managed people early in her career, Michelle gained valuable perspective. “I had no training and didn’t understand the fundamental truth of management—it’s about helping the people you manage be successful and not the other way around. I was so busy trying to prove myself that I missed a lot of opportunities to help others.”

Today, Michelle leads with that mindset—which includes supporting her internal clients. “As a bill back organization, we were hearing that our costs were too high compared to external agencies,” she explained. “In response, we changed the way we write cost proposals, so our clients have more visibility to the activities that drive costs. This has resulted in better alignment before projects begin.”

In addition to increased clarity around cost, Michelle is focused on clarity regarding the performance of her team, by benchmarking them against others in the industry. “IHAF has been really helpful as we try to measure the performance of our creative group and strive for continuous improvement. It’s fun to talk shop and swap stories with others in similar organizations—we can all benefit by sharing information!”

Thank you, Michelle, for giving us the inside scoop on you and your team. Do you have a tale to tell about your background or your in-house agency? Get in touch. We’re always interested in hearing from the people and personalities that comprise our community of members.

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