Cracking The Glass Ceiling; Clever CEO Marcie Allen Creates Endless Opportunity With Her Company; MAC Presents

Marcie Allen
Marcie Allen

Lazy, entitled, spoiled, narcissistic, bratty and good for nothing. Ask most people what buzzwords they can come up with when describing millennials, and this is quite often what you will hear- especially when it comes from older employers in the workforce. But, ask wonder woman CEO Marcie Allen to describe the Y Generation, and what you will get is something more along the lines like passionate, enthusiastic, energetic, hard-workers, dreamers, and integral to success. So, how did the seriously smart executive crack the case on working with the most mystifying market? For her, it seems pretty darn easy.

As owner of MAC Presents, an experiential sponsorship agency that specializes in creating deep and authentic connections between artists and fans, as well as consumers and brands, Allen has become accustomed to working with millennials because they aren't only the most prominent people in her field- they're also the most important. The clever CEO quickly realized that they are the target demographic for who both music and consumption, and with that said, she knew she needed a way to reach them instead of tame them. Thus was born her extremely forward attitude of treating her employees as equals and giving them more responsibility as she learned that what millennials truly wanted was not to slack off, but to gain importance. Highly attune to their mindset, the marketing wiz immediately was able to discover what many researchers have failed to notice; this generation seeks more work, not less. And so, she gave it them, and thus 70% MAC presents is made up of millennials- all extremely happy with their jobs.

And Allen is happy to have them. With clients like The Foo Fighters and Ford and always trying to find a way to stay up to date while blending music and branding together, she knows she needs their insight. Especially since MAC Presents doesn't just help develop a strategy for their clients, they also help execute that strategy and plan how to measure their return on investment. They are truly a full service agency.

And millennials aren't the only community that the brilliant woman behind MAC Presents has figured out how to with. Once again defying all societal myths, Allen has laughed in the face of those that say women don't work well together as the modern feminist's company is made up of 75% women- all of whom are supportive and strengthen one another. Like any great boss, the Tennessee native never set out to hire mostly women- she just made a decision early on that she would always hire the best person for the job, regardless of gender- and that usually turned out to be women. With the ability to pivot well and give credit where it's due, she found other women to be quite splendid work associates- and like millennials, she loves treating them as her equals.

And clearly, Allen's captaining is very effective. As a small company that in her words is very "scrappy," MAC Presents still manages to compete with the largest firms in the business, boasting extreme devotion to their clients, precise strategy, and expert and up to date knowledge at all times. For more on what MAC Presents does and how Allen created such a fantastic empire, read below to see what the amazing woman in charge had to say!

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First off, why don't you give readers a brief overview of MAC Presents, and what your company does?

I created MAC Presents thirteen years ago in my dining room in Nashville Tennessee, really as a way to bridge the gap between corporate America and the music industry. And now, here I am thirteen years later and I've been in NYC for seven years, my office is located in Flatiron, and I have twenty employees, and we're a music experiential agency. So, what we do is work on behalf of brands such as Ford, Citi, Nielson, and AT&T- those are some of our largest clients, and we help develop their strategy as well as work for ways to execute that strategy. We help identify programs that we think will be beneficial for our brand clients, and then come to them say how they should execute that plan and measure their R.O.I- their return on investment. So, a lot of agencies just do strategy work, but we actually execute. And because of our deep relationships in the music industry- which I've been in for twenty-three years now- we get calls from the artist's managers saying things like; "Hey, I've got Foo Fighters, or Rolling Stones coming out." In one case it was Billy Joel who was going to become the next franchise at Madison Square Garden, so we were able to do a Citi sponsorship. We've done that for the past three years at Billy Joel's monthly concerts that he has at MSG- which is a part of their franchise over there. So, it's really interesting and every day is different, and I think what brands love about us is that we're a non-traditional agency in the sense that we're not on retainer. We work on projects- and that gives us the opportunity to really be creative and push the envelope to our current clients, as well as potential clients and sometimes say; "Hey, let's do this!" Sometimes they say yes, and sometimes they say no, but they understand that we are just trying to bring them the most creative ideas possible within the entertainment space.

Something that is really amazing about you is that you truly figured out the big want of millennials- it's not that they are lazy and entitled, but they actually want bigger tasks and more to do. They're dreamers and don't want to be stifled. Can you talk about tapping into that, and how you put them in more challenging roles to get them going?

I would love that. Not a lot of entertainment companies are going to want to say this, but, 75% of our team is women, and 70% are millennials. And there's been research on this, and this is my specific belief, that when it comes to millennials- they want a coach, not a boss. My team always says to me that when we are in meeting that it's really nice that I call them "Jessica my colleague" and not "Jessica who works for me." That's not what it's about. Even though I've been doing this longer than some of the people who work for me, I treat them as my equal and peer- and I think that's extremely important. One of the most important traits about millennials is that they want to continue to grow their careers and want to continue on in the industry. Title is very important to them. So, if someone comes in as an account coordinator, then they want to know when they can become an account manager, and then a director, then a VP, and so on, and so on. It's very important to them to know they can grow within a company, otherwise they leave if they feel they've hit a glass-ceiling. At heart, millennials are multi-tasking, tech-savvy, and love to collaborate with a team. We have an open loft here in flatiron, and they've named it the circuit- which I think is so funny. All of the desks face each other, and everyone acts as a team. Work-wise balance is very important as well, and that's one of the things that we set up with a company that comes in twice or three times a month and takes the team to spin class, or yoga. They come in and talk about eating healthy. It's very important to millennials to not only enjoy themselves in the workplace, but also outside with their friends, and family, and stay healthy.

And, as you just mentioned, 70% of your employees are millennials. Can you talk about working with the Y Generation and why they appeal to you?

I think it's the fact they're risk takers and they know risk can reap rewards. And they are also a driving force in the music industry- both from a conception and branding perspective. And if my goal at MAC Presents is to make my current and potential clients happy, I have to have the demographic they are going after alongside me. And if you look at what is the number one demographic that companies are going after, it is absolutely millennials. They make up over 1.3 trillion in overall consumer spending. I'm a Generation X-er, and my parents were boomers, and we're a thing of the past. [Laughs] We're not the one that companies are going after anymore. It's all about the millennials. So, it's not even important to me, it's a necessity to me as a company owner that I have this demographic that my clients are going after.

You're also a genius in spotting both talent within a millennial worker, and what the demographic’s interest may be. Can you tell us what are some of the current trends that you see approaching in music or branding that you know will make a huge dent in the culture?

Well, I think there are so many and everyday it's different. With all the technology, a lot of virtual reality has been introduced into experiential marketing in the past six months- we're seeing that everywhere. Content is extremely important to brand, and social media is probably one of the biggest ways that companies are measuring the success of a program. How many likes, views and shares. If we decided to pitch an artist to a brand, one of the biggest questions they have is what the social media reach they have across all their channels. I think that Facebook started to fade out a few years ago, but now with Facebook Live, and their purchasing of Instagram, it's back in a huge way. So, when I'm developing a brand, it's not just about the people we're going to touch on site, it's also about all the people we can reach across social media platforms for the artist as well as the brand, and how the brand can weave their messaging through the artists album or tour.

You are also a strongest advocate for women working well with other women, and 75% of your company is made up of women. In a world that celebrates mean girls, particularly in media, can you talk about the importance of showcasing that women work well with one another?

I'm so proud of this. And women really do work well together. I think this is particularly because of the way I was raised. One of my favorite quotes was by Madeleine Albright; "There is always a special place in hell for women who don't help out other women." I live by that- and that mantra will probably be on my tombstone one day- a day that is hopefully long from now. [Chuckles] But, having been raised by two very strong grandmothers, as well as attending an all girl school- Harpeth Hall in Nashville, Tennessee, it really taught me that when women lift one another up and support each other, they can achieve anything. It's really been the basis for when I started this company years ago. Not that I set out and said that I only wanted to hire women- no, I said I would hire the best person for the job. And one of the things that has been so fascinating in all my interviews is that predominantly women have risen to the top of the stacks of resumes. It's based on their willingness to adapt and be a chameleon, and in our world you have to be able to pivot quickly. Women are not set in their ways, and they are willing to give credit where it's due, and a lot of times you don't see that in men. So, I've been very honored and excited that a lot my team is women, as well as millennials, and now as a step-mom and having two young stepdaughters, I love that they recognize that not a lot of women are CEO's of companies. And they've called that out to me and said that it's really cool that their stepmom is a CEO. If you look right now, women are 17% of CEO positions- and that's just a fact. I'm not looking to be a feminist or take a stand, it's just a fact, and it's unfortunate. So, I wanted to make sure that every woman that walked into my office had the same opportunity that a man would have.

After reading this article, anyone who didn't know about your company before will certainly want to work for it now- male or female. What are the main traits you look for when selecting new employees?

Yes, we're an experiential agency, but we're also deeply rooted in the music industry- so, being in the music industry, I think the most important thing is to have thick skin. You have to be able to work under pressure, and you have to be able to pivot because you could be working on a gigantic deal, and the next minute it will all go away. Or, one of your brand clients will come and say that even though you've worked on something for two months, their strategy has shifted, and they need something new executed in a very short time. So, we have tight timelines under an immense amount of pressure. And it also comes down to being scrappy. We are a small agency who plays with the big boys, and in order to do that you need to be one step ahead of them- and that means knowing every deal before it's been announced, because that is what people call us for and that is the kind of expertise they can expect.

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And when it comes to expertise, Allen has it in spades- not just regarding the world of music, but also when it comes to creating the perfect work space for opportunity to flourish with MAC Presents.

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