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THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Woman of Excellence: Kristin Issler

27 Sep 2023

This month, Kristin Issler, EVP, Client Leadership at The Mars Agency, was named a winner in the Business Excellence category of the Path to Purchase Institute’s 8th annual Women of Excellence competition. The following is a profile of the qualities and characteristics that earned her the award.

In the last few years, Kristin Issler has become The Mars Agency’s undisputed Client Whisperer.

Her remarkable abilities to win and nurture new client businesses were first proven in 2020 when, during the height of the global pandemic, she was instrumental in The Mars Agency’s successful pitch for the expansive Mars, Inc. business, which spans Mars Wrigley, Mars Petcare, Mars Food and the Mars Wrigley ice cream brands.

Taking charge of the new account, Kristin set up a bespoke agency support model capable of operating the complex business, which included hiring 100 new team members and seamlessly transitioning the client’s portfolio from the previous agency partner. She immediately gained the trust and respect of her clients at Mars, which led to a swift expansion of the original scope of work into Canada geographically and ecommerce functionally. 

In 2023, Kristin has basically repeated those same steps to agency success, this time leading a pitch team that secured Anheuser-Busch’s shopper marketing business, building out a still-growing support team of 25 positions, and impressing the client so quickly that our scope of work will soon extend into aspects of Anheuser-Busch’s trade promotion activity.

Kristin’s overall portfolio (which also includes the BlueTriton business) now represents approximately 30% of The Mars Agency’s total business. Her responsibilities overseeing an equal percentage of “Martians” undoubtedly helped foster the cultural environment that recently earned the agency “Best Places to Work” honors from both Ad Age and Inc.

However, her contributions don’t end with those direct reports. For one, she actively contributes to our work with Mars Wrigley globally in conjunction with the international team.

What’s more, as a valuable member of the Global Executive Leadership Team, she has been instrumental in helping guide our overall strategic direction. Kristin has, in fact, come to personify all of The Mars Agency’s standards and best practices, not only in client leadership but in scoping, financial management, reporting, and internal relationship-building. Her passion for the business is almost unrivaled.

Since joining the agency as SVP, Client Leadership in 2017, Kristin has consistently excelled at everything in which she’s been involved. Before joining The Mars Agency, she already was a veteran account leader with more than 15 years of experience working in brand management, shopper marketing and retailer collaboration with complex, multi-brand CPG clients.

Kristin constantly looks for ways to deepen our client relationships by proposing innovative ideas that broaden our scope of work while improving their business results. She’s also a driving force in product campaigns, new product launches and consumer outreach programs.

Admired for her collaborative spirit, Kristin empowers her internal teams to own their business, giving them the right balance of independence and mentorship to succeed. She leads with integrity on a platform of transparency and trust, and she works tirelessly to foster an inclusive culture. 

Her guidance extends to her clients as well. Kristin serves as a faithful ally and advocate, helping clients gain recognition within their organizations by providing them with the knowledge, tools — and, of course, the business success — needed to elevate their status.

Despite so many ongoing responsibilities, Kristin is always among the first to raise her hand for new assignments that will benefit our community. She recently took on responsibility for WeLead, a new initiative dedicated to growing and developing talent and leadership skills across the entire agency, with a particular focus on women and DEI.

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