Silver Apples 2019

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Meet the DMCNY 2019 Silver Apple Honorees

By Claudia Conlon | 10.10.19

Each year the DMCNY presents its highly distinguished Silver Apple Awards to several professionals who have at least 25 years in marketing and who not only have excelled in their careers, but also have generously contributed their talents and time to the marketing industry. We'll be introducing you to the 2019 honorees over the next few weeks, in advance of DMCNY's annual Silver Apples gala on November 7 at Edison Ballroom in New York. 


Tony Hadley

SVP, Regulation & Public Policy


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There are few voices as powerful in articulating data-driven marketing issues to key players in Washington, DC as Tony Hadley’s. He’s served as an advocate for the responsible collection and use of data for more than two decades. During that time, Hadley has encouraged those in the industry — from associations, to organizations, to individual marketing professionals — to come together as responsible data citizens and to evangelize the benefits of data-driven insights to improve not only business performance, but also the customer experience. He has also encouraged those constituents to get involved in educating policymakers on how data transparency and consumer choice lead to both trust and innovation.

Hadley’s evangelism extends to his roles in myriad trade associations and government affairs initiatives advocating on behalf of data-driven marketers. 

In a conversation with MKTGinsight for DMCNY, Hadley shared some career history, advice, and insights. 

What drew you to marketing? 

I fell into it through my job at Experian. We’re involved in several different areas of information, but marketing is what caught my attention. It’s the combination of creativity and functionality … that intrigues me most.


Tell us about a particular career highlight or turning point.

The biggest turning point for me was when I was working on Capitol Hill. I discovered that there are people who have built a career out of being a liaison between a company and public policymakers as an advocate, and I thought it was something I would like to do. I thought, “I'd be good at that,” and then it dawned on me that there was actually a career in that area, as a lobbyist. So, I thought, "I'm going to do that."

They don't have programs in college to become a lobbyist. You just get into it. That's where I found that I was very successful, too. A lot of it is being ready to educate people at the right time. 

Communication can be difficult, but you have to gain somebody's attention enough to lead them to an educational moment, even if they're not ready to go there. If they didn't get the message the first time, don't give up; you go back again. It's a really interesting role.


What excites you most about marketing right now?

The marketing industry is at a point where data-driven marketers firmly understand that their future relies on using privacy-centric tools and models. Until recently, many marketers didn't put a lot of effort into privacy, but now they're thinking, "We can't succeed without being privacy-centric." 

We're employing these new tools — such as deidentification and anonymization of data — while still getting relevancy. So, we're going to soon surpass the notion that marketing is a privacy violation. I think we’re close now and I’m looking forward to moving ahead.


Share a treasured customer story.

A couple of years ago, I was talking to a candidate for the US Senate and he says, "I've run as a candidate many times in my
life — as a City Council member, as a state senator, as a member of Congress. And now I'm running for the Senate.” Then he adds, "You know what's different about this campaign?" It's data. I can send a message to one house and send another message to the house next door that's completely different.” 

That was almost an epiphany for me, that even a member of Congress could see the value in data. It showed me that the use of marketing data to deliver political messages is becoming more popular, even expected.


Tell us a favorite story about data.

I speak with a lot of experienced marketing clients and I'll never forget the time I was talking to a big client of ours, Sears. They were telling me about how they used marketing to improve the relevancy of their messages. It dawned on me how sometimes even simple elements of data can improve relevancy not only for the marketer, but also for the consumer. They said, “We're interested in knowing where a person lives because if they live in a single-family home, they get a lawnmower solicitation. If they live in a condominium, they don't.” 

It shows how many data-driven marketing decisions aren't all that mysterious. They're just plain common sense.


What’s your go-to marketing metric?

The metric I like is relevancy. It's like magic. 

Marketers are always attempting relevancy; they don’t want to impose on a consumer, but rather, serve that consumer at the right time with the right message, at the right price. It's all about relevancy.


What advice do you have for someone who's just starting out in marketing?

If you just listen to conventional wisdom, you're going to miss the boat because marketing is so dynamic. So, spend more time talking to experienced marketers focused on the future about what are they going to do tomorrow rather than what they did yesterday.


What was the piece of business advice that you’ve received?

Right out of college, I went to work for a newspaper. My boss told me, "Tony, always look to the future — in your life, your family, your career — whether things are going good or bad right now. Have a five-year plan and stick to it. Know what you're going to be doing in five years and work toward that goal." Ever since, I've always had a five-year goal that I've tried to meet.


Share an inspiring quote or personal motto that guides you.

I often go back to a quote from John Steinbeck's book Travels with Charlie. It's a great book where he documents his trips around the United States with his dog, Charlie. He was getting to know a lot of people and seeing different aspects of the country. So, he writes, "I've never known the difference between who and whom, and I don't like people who do." 

I like it because it tells you to just be yourself, don't try to be someone you're not — plain and simple; it’s the best way of communicating.


What's something surprising about you? 

I think the thing that people find most surprising about me is that I grew up in Montana, probably because most people have never met somebody that grew up there. To put it in perspective, places like Manhattan have neighborhoods with more people than the entire state of Montana.

One of the things about being from a wide-open place like Montana is that you grew up in a place where you have to depend on your neighbor. Those kinds of relationships are really important, and they've stuck with me all my life. 


What are some of your interests outside work?

I like to stay involved in and up on politics, which isn’t hard since I really enjoy reading. 

Other interests are cooking, gardening, and road trips. I especially like road trips; I'll get in the car and take a road trip every chance I get. I try to avoid the interstates and keep on the back roads; that's where I feel like I can get the most out of it and see how other people live, work, play — it makes life more interesting. 


What's your hidden skill? 

I'm a very good cook, which goes over well with my family and friends. They love it when I visit them, or they visit us, because we’ll get food and I’ll cook anywhere. As a matter of fact, I was recently visiting family in Montana, we went camping, and I cooked all of our food on a campfire. I even made a prime rib roast beef on the campfire.

It makes people feel good. It makes them happy. Then it makes me happy.

Meet the other 2019 DMCNY Silver Apple honorees:

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About the Author

Claudia Conlon is a sales operations associate at luxury aviation company Wheels Up; she also authors DMCNY's Silver Apple award profiles. Her wide-ranging work experience—from customer service to social marketing to event production—gives her a broad perspective on the interplay of consumers and businesses and how customer experience impacts the economy. This experience and her drive and desire to succeed makes her comfortable taking on new challenges.