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Executive Suite: Charlie MacLeod, Smithtown

Charlie MacLeod, chief executive SMM Advertising, in his

Charlie MacLeod, chief executive SMM Advertising, in his Smithtown offices. (Nov. 4, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

With mobile phones and social media, there's a change happening in advertising, says Charlie MacLeod, CEO of SMM Advertising in Smithtown. Content for cellphones and tablets must convey information seamlessly and instantly, with more images than text for the small screen.

Ad companies are becoming responsible for creating content that "humanizes," because "brands are really defined by the relationships they have with their consumers," said MacLeod. To do this, SMM creates content through social media, videos, white papers, and sometimes even comic books.

MacLeod, 58, started out as an engineer but headed into advertising 28 years ago to "get out of the cubicle and work collaboratively with more creative kinds of assignments." Today, his firm works with brands such as Traveler's Insurance, Mill-Max and Albrecht and won several national awards this year, including the ECHO Award from the Direct Marketing Association for campaign effectiveness and the Telly Award for best online commercial.


How do you judge a website's effectiveness?

In a campaign for the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, one of our objectives is to increase the [social media] "likes" on the page, and the other is to increase the number of website visits and the duration of each visit; that means [visitors] are engaged and moving from page to page.


How is a mobile-friendly website different?

It has to be much more simple, and yet it still has to give a positive experience. If someone is on a train [looking at your site], and your message is not coming up well, they won't have a positive experience with it. Campaigns must be visually driven. The consumers are getting messaging content fired at them six thousand times a day and can't read everything.


Why did you create a 3-D comic book to recruit firefighters?

To give out at recruitment fairs. The tagline is "Volunteer To Be Amazing" -- that's really what volunteering is about.


How's business?

I think clients are starting to invest more in marketing. Our clients didn't go away, but during the recession years they backed off. I'm starting to see a lot more new business opportunities regionally.


What's key to creating an effective corporate culture?

It's about creating a culture where people are No. 1; a culture of respect, where there's trust, where experimentation is welcome, innovation is welcome . . . If someone's made a mistake, it's OK, we can learn from it.


You have a room called "the Cloud." What do you do there?

We learn through surveys and research and discussions and bringing in outside consultants. It could reveal some trends, some insights. It's the old perception vs. reality scenario where we think one way but the reality is something different, and we hope our lab work results in insights that can result in something innovative.


Corporate snapshot


NAME: Charlie MacLeod, CEO of SMM Advertising in Smithtown.


WHAT IT DOES: Advertising and marketing for clients in a broad range of industries


EMPLOYEES: 15 full time; 3 part time


REVENUE: $5 million

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