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Managing Marketing: How Marketers Can Get More From Their Agencies

Kate_Guaran

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Kate Guaran is a Senior Marketer, specialising in B2C, Digital, Innovation, Strategy, Customer Experience, Leadership and Insights. She shares her view on the role of marketing from her agency and advertiser perspective and highlights the insights and lessons she has learned and used along the way to engage and inspire her team and agencies to go above and beyond. As Kate says, the objective she has for anyone she works with is for them to scare her, in a good way. But please note, she doesn’t scare easily.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media, and advertising with industry thought leaders and practitioners.

Today, I’m sitting down with Kate Guaran, General Manager Marketing specialising in B2C digital, innovation, strategy, customer experience, leadership insights ─ my God, Kate, is there nothing you can’t do? Welcome, Kate.

Kate:

Thank you very much, Darren. What I can’t do is keep a straight face in a boring meeting.

Darren:

I have also been accused of that. In fact, I’ve been known to put my head down on the table as if I’m asleep when it gets too boring, but I’m sure you’ve managed to resist that.

Kate:

I’ve fake fainted, yes.

Darren:

Look, Kate, it’s great to sit down and talk to you, and I’m so glad you could make the time because you and I go back, well, a reasonable distance to a previous time when you and I worked in advertising agencies.

Kate:

We did, a kabillion years ago.

Darren:

You were an account director and you had clients that, if I remember rightly, were quite big corporate consumer packaged goods type clients.

Kate:

Yes.

Darren:

Whereas I was the retail bunny. I was doing all the retail and the local stuff. But I always remember sitting in my office in the creative department, and I could tell that you were down briefing one of the creative teams, because there’d be so much laughter coming from there. What was it ─ is it just your natural fun personality, or is this part of something that you identified that you bring to that role?

Kate:

One thing I learnt from agencies and carried through into corporate and the marketing side as well is really the ability to foster relationships because the way you got yourself prioritised in the agency was through good relationships. So, you would see me sitting beside the producers, just having a chat. And I wasn’t always briefing creative, I liked to go down and talk to them because there’s no more joy than working in an agency and dealing with the clever banter of creatives and trying to keep the hell up with it.

Darren:

Yeah. But I have to say that laughter was always part of my perception of you from those days. And do you see that as just part of your personality?

Kate:

It is. I only have the capacity to be me. So, it’s part of yeah, talking to people and understanding what they’re about. And then they relax and God, you spend too much time at work to not have some fun.

Darren:

So, you had your time in agency land, but what drew you across the fence to become a marketer? What was the opportunity or what was the insight that you had?

Kate:

It’s hard to put my finger on it, in fact, because I was from the eighties, I can recite every Mojo jingle. Like I always wanted to be in advertising and marketing. But it’s one of those things where I was actually working on a client and I could see that there’s a lot more going on on the client-side than there was different to the agency. There’s more breadth.

And the client actually called and actually headhunted me over and I’ve never said no to an opportunity. And off I went and I swear for the first six weeks, I sat in front of my Nielsen data at my FMCG desk and nearly cried, said I’m never ever going to understand this. Because in an agency, you sit there and you think about a client, “Oh, they’ve spent all their budget, what on earth are they doing all day?”

But the comms part, you’re lucky if it’s 10 to 15% of the job. So, what I started to really love is the breadth of marketing and the stimulus. It was a bit scary, but my God, you love it.

Darren:

I have to say, I’m impressed with the fact that you’re sitting there as an account director, you could see beyond the day-to-day interactions, that there was more going on on the other side. I mean, you’d already identified that before you made the move.

Kate:

Yeah. One of the things that I did and I think is lacking a lot is account management today, and I’ve tried to encourage it with the agencies. Like I would pay retainers so they would come and sit in our office.

I spent a lot of time in my client’s offices. I didn’t go in for meetings and then run skittering back in a taxi with my cab charge back to the agency. I used to walk around the halls and I knew the wider people in the clients. I knew the sales guys, I would sit in project teams. If you’re doing a whole big promotion, you may sit there and you might be just doing the commerce part of it, but there’s a whole thing in terms of the packaging, the R&D that is involved.

Sit in those project teams, but you understand the wider business. And that’s so key from an agency side and from a client-side to make sure your agency understand what are the bigger wider KPIs and you pick up an awful lot more work by just walking the halls and being nosy.

Darren:

That is true. I mean, it’s interesting in the last 20 years doing what we do at TrinityP3. The agencies that are the most successful in building relationships are the ones where the account management team does spend lots of time face-to-face.

Now, obviously, in the last 12 months with COVID, that’s much more difficult, but you know, this idea of just spending time and getting under the skin of what else is happening in the client’s business must be so important, as you say.

Kate:

Yeah, you will never become indispensable by just going to meetings.

Darren:

So, you’re across at the client, you’re looking at all this… well, it used to be called semi-data, warehouse extractions and Nielsen reports and all sorts of things, just staring at the screen. Has there been any point where you thought, “Oh my God, I’ve made a terrible mistake, I want to run back to the agencies?”

Kate:

No, I loved it because of what I did when I moved into marketing, I hope I brought a little bit of that agency vibe along with me. And on the marketing side, they’re not all as boring as you think they are when you’re in the agency. They are actually quite cool and funny, you still get that.

You do still miss a little bit of that really extreme banter that you get out of creatives that can sometimes be shut down in corporate. But one thing I can say on the corporate side of marketing is don’t make your lives boring. Like you’re in the best roles in the business, make yourself central to it, but God, have some fun. You get to be a bit creative still.

Darren:

And you didn’t just go to a corporate comms role or a marketing comms role, you actually went into some fairly heavy areas as far as new product development, product innovation. That must’ve been fascinating.

Kate:

Oh, yeah, it’s the old school FMCG where you’re actually managing a small business. Marketing is not just comms. And if you think it’s just comms, that’s actually degrading what you can actually add to a business.

It’s the insights of it, but it’s understanding the data and how you can actually deal with the trade. Like if you’re dealing with Coles and Woolworths, they’re just going to one of those meetings that give you a whole new education in how to operate. But also understanding the complexity of R&D, the engineers. And you’ve got certain personality types in marketing and agencies.

You’re dealing with very different personality types, very different ways they motivate themselves. So, after surviving agencies and you know how to keep motivated and surviving there to then go into corporate and dealing with the diversity of characters from finance and people who run the lines and do the planning in plants, it really makes you actually think about how you operate in a business.

Darren:

It’s funny, you should say that because I had the privilege of a client inviting me into a sort of marketing comms workshop, an away time. And they got someone in that did one of those personality quadrants. I can’t remember which one, but there’s a few of them. And the agency had done it and the marketing team.

And this consultant that did the quadrants laid out this huge cloth on the floor with the four quadrants. And then everyone had their results. And they said, “Right, now go!” And it was red and yellow and green and blue. And green and blue was like analytical and process and red and yellow, was people and emotions.

And everyone was in the red and yellow, like everyone in the organisation. Except there were two people standing over on the green and blue, and they were both the marketing procurement team. They were standing all alone going, “Are we the only ones that are analytical?” Yeah, it was fascinating to see.

Kate:

Yeah, it’s amazing you get the certain types who are the sales guys, more extrovert extreme, but also, they thrive on the deal but like to cut straight to the chase. Actually, the other exercise to do is put them all in one of those escape rooms and see how a marketer tries to escape the room versus a salesperson or someone in procurement or an engineer. That’s funny.

Darren:

So, from what you’ve said, it seems you have a fascination with people as well. You know, that you understand, you like to understand people and you like to find ways of engaging them and motivating them.

Kate:

Some of the teams I’ve worked with might disagree. They’ll have a laugh with that. But underneath, I’m conscious of what people are thinking and what motivates them always. And sometimes, perhaps to my detriment, it makes me sort of downplaying what I do to empower them. I’m never one to actually come over the top. You need to motivate people underneath you and say, “You can pass me.” That’s fine because otherwise, you know why are we all there?

Darren:

Well, it is a famous quote. I’m not sure if it’s Branson, but I think it is Richard Branson who said why hire people, good people and tell them what to do? What you want to do is hire good people and have them tell you what to do. And I think that’s such great insight.

Kate:

Oh, but that makes me feel better.

Darren:

Well, because one of the things that you see, and especially here, is marketers complaining about ─ especially to us; TrinityP3 puts us in a fairly unique position of people coming to you complaining about their agencies.

We don’t get a lot of clients phoning up and saying, “Oh my agency’s wonderful, and oh, by the way, we want to run a pitch.” It’s often we hear the complaints, and the complaint is that the agencies disengage, they’re sort of going through the motions, they’re fulfilling on the requirement, but there’s no proactivity, there’s no excitement, there’s no sense of a priority.

Kate:

There’d be two reasons for that. One of them would be potentially the fact that there might be something internal going on in the agency, or they’re not giving the head hours allocated to the client … if they’re not being built for the head hour, they’re not going to actually spend the time on your business. So, it becomes very transactional. Or secondly, it’s the way you’re dealing with the client.

Darren:

The client’s dealing with the agency.

Kate:

Yes. Sorry. Yes, it’s the way that the client’s dealing with the agency.

Darren:

Because I was wondering you’ve been a marketer in very senior roles, have you seen agencies underperform? The agencies that you’ve worked with, how much do you take responsibility for the performance of those relationships? Because a lot of marketers seem to think it’s up to the agency.

Kate:

No, I feel a lot of responsibility. One of my things when I always sit down with a new agency, I say two things: “It’s my job to motivate you to do better and more work on my business than any other client you’ve got.”

Darren:

That’s brilliant.

Kate:

That’s my job. And the second one is I turn to them and say, “Scare me. Just try and scare me.” No one’s scared me yet. Come back with creative where you just go, “Oh, oh, can I do that?” And then you go, “Oh yeah, hold on, yeah, I can.” Not stupid scare, but just push it because I think creatives, start to assume that the client is conservative and will have a boundary. And that’s where you just get ordinary. Just say, “Have one thing that really scares me.”

Darren:

That’s unbelievable because I think that is one of the problems, isn’t it? It’s risk aversion that is actually what makes agencies underperform. But let’s explore that idea of risk because you said not stupid risk. What are you talking about?

Kate:

That’s something you can’t do legally. It’s impractical to be able to execute.

Darren:

Yeah, or what about if it was strategically right and scary versus just scary for the sake of scary? I mean, there’s an old saying that if you want attention, I can do it by dropping my pants in the middle of the road. I’ll get attention, but is it the right sort of attention?

Kate:

How can I put it? I guess, when they presented, let’s go back to the AIDS Grim Reaper ad, that would have gone in front of the client, and it could have been done in a very corporate… this is what happens, but that got an emotional response.

Darren:

The Grim Reaper bowling the AIDS ball.

Kate:

Exactly. So, it’s just one of those things that you’re, is that going to … if you go back to the strategy, you go back to the one thing, which is the belief that is stopping the person to do what you want them to do, which comes from an insight ─ if it matches that, take your subjective opinion and your own personal subjectivity out of it. Just subjectiveness kills so much good creativity.

Darren:

Yeah, it’s the personal opinion or the, “Oh, I’ll just get my partner to have a look at it and I’ll get back to you.” So, the research of one.

Kate:

Yeah. We used to call it the cleaner test.

Darren:

That’s a good one.

Kate:

And this goes back to, I guess, what I learned in agencies and working with John Mescall and Simon Greed, and I learnt so much from just sitting, talking, and listening to them.

Number one, I knew what motivates a creative. So, as a marketer, you have your CV and whether you’ve done a good job or a terrible job, you still worked in that business for that period of time and can claim that experience.

As a creative, you’re hocking your folio, and basically, your soul up and down the street to try and get a job. That is your CV. You have to understand to motivate a creative, what they’re presenting to you is actually part of the steps on their career and what will get them the next or the biggest role.

So, if you actually understand the motivation, like if you’re not going to be the person who allows the creative to sing, you’re not going to get number one, the best creatives on your business, and you’re not going to get the best creative because they’ll spend time on the client and the passion for someone who is.

Darren:

It’s really interesting that you say that because the other observation I have made running pitches, is the number of times that marketers will say, “We want the best creative agency” as part of their brief to the type of agency. Only to then appoint the best creative agency and produce ordinary work.

You know, the metaphor I’d use is you buy a thoroughbred racehorse, and then you hitch it up to a cart to just drag the garbage around the streets. It just doesn’t seem right. And often they’ll come back and go, “Oh my God, this was supposed to be the best creative agency, but they’re doing ordinary work for us.” And I go, “Well, it’s funny because they’re doing great work for all their other clients.”

Kate:

Yeah, it’s one of those. And it’s also having the respect for giving them the time to work on the creative. And go back to the brief. And I always go back to a marketer shouldn’t start with a brief when it comes to comms ─ they’ve got a whole process before they actually write the brief.

So, if you’re sitting at your desk on your own to write a brief, that is going to be bang on boring. Hold it up to the light and the more white space, the better on the page. I know creatives used to cut briefs down to two words, two words with tension, and that’s what they’d work with. They’d read it all, but then they’d just work with those two words.

Put some passion and creativity into your brief. Make it one thing. Have an insight, not a fact.

Darren:

So, one of the things I’ve heard from a few marketers is they actually like to work collaboratively on the brief. As in they do all the business side of it, work at what they’re trying to achieve and define all of those parts of it, but actually, enjoy the part of sharing with the agency and getting the agencies input rather than just handing it over as a fait accompli.

Kate:

I’ve done both. When I was at Kraft Foods, we would sit with the agency ad nauseum and a brief could take months to get … you’d be polishing pyramids.

But absolutely, working together on the brief and the background leading into it, but still write your own brief as a marketing side of it. Never defer to an agency that joy that you get in writing a really good brief. So, work with them on it.

But it’s also the way you brief them. So, one of the greatest stories I ever heard was an account director was working on Selley’s Gap Filler putty. Did you ever hear the story?

Darren:

No, I haven’t heard the story.

Kate:

Gap Filler putty. And he had a brief … you know, how boring would that brief be? To go take into creative. This guy walked into the creative’s office, had a hammer, or it was a mallet, smashed a hole in the wall, put the putty on the desk, turned around and walked out.

That was the brief. Now, how do you make the brief come to life for people? So, when we’re at Canon, for example, if it’s launching a new product, we would get the guys out and we’d take all the agency people who would be working on it out on a photographic experience.

To actually pick up the cameras and feel the ergonomics that are put into the camera themselves, but also the joy of getting behind a camera and actually completely zoning out and being mindful of just that moment, and what you’re looking at through the lens.

Darren:

So, creating opportunities for an emotional experience because ultimately, that’s the source of great creativity, isn’t it?

Kate:

That emotional experience needs to come across in the creative and just emailing a document is not going to do it. Sitting in an office, and I know often time restricts… and you end up sitting in an office. But my God, if you’re going to do it, just brief it with some passion and make the insight come to life for them, and be open to questions.

Darren:

It’s interesting. I love the fact that you said that because James Webb Young who was a big name in the J. Walter Thompson world where we both worked, wrote a book called A Technique for Producing Ideas, a very small book.

But one of the things that he absolutely recommends for people producing ideas, creative people, is once you’ve got the brief and you’ve understood it, then experience as much as you can of the client’s business, of the consumer, of the way that the product works, the way the product makes you feel.

And he said that’s the time that it takes to actually immerse yourself completely in that particular brief, and then allow yourself time for your subconscious to then generate ideas. This is potentially months, but we now live in a world where there’s an expectation of turning out ideas almost like a machine, don’t we?

Kate:

Yes, but this is where creatives need to get out from behind their desks. And as a client, you need to invite them out from behind their desks, they should be involved enough and understand the business even before the brief arrives.

And that’s one of the frustrations I often find with the relationship between client and agency, is the creatives are kept … it’s like, do they need someone to actually help them cross the road? Like, do they have to have an account management person?

You’re not going to stab them to death with your boringness as a client. Let the creatives talk to the client. And if a creative ever said to me, “Look, I’d like a one-on-one.” Bang, I would make it happen.

Darren:

It’s funny, isn’t it? Because I remember feeling sometimes that you are the sideshow that was wheeled out for special occasions.

Kate:

Special needs creative, I suppose.

Darren:

And also, even more recently, I had a conversation, I said to an agency on a shoot, a television shoot. And there were five or six account management people going ─ I said, “Why are you sending so many account management people?” They said, “Well, there are five clients. We’ve got to match them one for one so that we can manage the clients because we don’t want them to get upset on the shoot or to upset the shoot.”

And I’m going, “My God, is there a mentality here that both the client and production people just can’t possibly be left alone in a room because it’ll either come to blows or destroy the relationship?”

Kate:

It’s ridiculous. Because in the end, for God’s sake, that’s what will make a relationship between a client and an agency.

One of my best friends is one of the best TV producers in the country. And I can hold a conversation and have a cup of tea and even like a drink with her. She doesn’t want to kill me. I have had the privilege of working at Kennedy’s where I have direct relationships with directors.

So, we got to make a lot of content without the agency, because we didn’t need to because they were the customers and the consumers that understood the product best. And if your agency culturally is building up barriers ─ well, number one, agencies need to address that because it will go one way.

And number two, find yourself an agency where you can collaborate because that’s the case. You have to be able to collaborate. Your agencies need to collaborate together and clients need to not hug their jobs and open the door.

Darren:

Okay. So, one of the things that we know from all the research on collaboration is that it’s built on/and requires mutual respect. So, do you have any advice on how to achieve that? Because I have seen situations where there’s been a toxic tension between the client and the agency, which of course, is never going to lead to a great outcome, is it?

How do you build respect? How do you build trust between yourself as the marketer and your agencies?

Kate:

How do you do it? Number one, be honest. So, as an agency, if you’re struggling to crack it, or if you’ve got shiploads of other things on, God, just ring the client and tell us. Don’t make lies around what’s going on. Just be honest.

Number two is, don’t be a dick. We talked about this earlier. Like respect each other’s opinions. An agency can only add value for what they actually understand. So, open the doors, help them understand the wider business KPIs and issues, and you never know whether they might be able to come back with something that’s proactive (Lord help us) and might actually crack a problem that you’ve been working away at on your own.

Darren:

Be willing to share.

Kate:

Be willing to share. Again, don’t job hug, which is the whole thing. Which is to share the wider business opportunities, ways to KPI agencies on our business goals. So, everyone in marketing was KPI-ed against the overall business goals, the same as sales, the same as finance. That was the key goal and the agencies that were putting their’s as well for their reviews.

Darren:

Yeah. And it’s amazing what can be achieved with trust because I remember being told about that great ad for Honda where the parts just sort of rolled and interacted. That apparently took months and months and months for the agency to crack it. And it was Wieden+Kennedy in the UK.

And on a regular basis, the client would be going, “Well, when am I going to see the creative for the brief?” “Oh, we’re working on it, we’re working on it.” First of all, the client trusting the agency that even though they kept pushing out a deadline, that it was going to be worthwhile. Secondly, the agency willing to back themselves and not going with something that was half done, but asking for and getting the time.

This is an incredibly dynamic relationship that produced a phenomenal outcome because I think that’s one of those ads that will be remembered forever.

Kate:

Forever. That’s the concept, that’s the relationship outside of the meetings that do that without fail. It’s the touch base going, “This is where we’re at” and just get constant feedback. “Well, we’ve sort of not quite cracked this,” but it’s constant back and forth, but actually help the client. If you’re taking longer with creative, they have to be able to sell it in internally. Depending on how significant a client, the dynamics internally, they have to be able to sell it in.

You have to actually help tell the story to management as to why it’s taking so long, and management has to trust it as well. So, the directors of the business have to be able to say, “You know what, if we’re going to spend the money, let’s spend it when we need it and spend it on what we need to spend it on and not on something half-assed.”

Darren:

Yeah. In that case, the Honda case, the panel or the creatives ultimately sat in the client’s office and started playing the game Mousetrap. And the client’s, “What about my ad?” “Well, this is it. This is the concept.”

So, what a great way of short-circuiting your point about selling it internally. I mean, they were presenting to the head of marketing, but what a great way of having almost a metaphor for describing the idea. That the Honda works so well that it’s just like Mousetrap. Every piece is designed to work with the next, which I think is what’s so good about it.

You said you always throw down the challenge to the agency to scare me. When you’re sitting there as a senior marketer and the agency’s presenting their response to the brief, what’s going through your mind? How do you get yourself into that place?

Because there’s also the fact, you’ve said marketing comms is 10% of your job. So, you’ve spent 90% of the day thinking about all the other challenges and the issues you’ve got and suddenly, the agency’s sitting there and they go, “We want to show you the creative for this brief.” How do you get your head into thinking about that judgement?

Kate:

Because you would have gone probably back-to-back meetings and at some stage, earlier you would have printed out that one-page brief. Not the reverse brief (can I reinforce) ─ do not measure your creative response on the reverse brief. I don’t know why they’re done, but that’s another thing.

Darren:

Okay. Before you go ahead, it’s always been explained to me that it’s proof that we actually understood your brief.

Kate:

For God’s sake.

Darren:

You know that part of communication; if you tell me something and I repeat it back to you.

Kate:

Yeah, you can do that verbally, and just have a chat.

So, you’ve gone back-to-back, but can I tell you, it is the highlight of a marketer’s week, their month when you get to go in and you’ve been waiting on this creative and you’ve got a little bit of adrenaline. And the last thing you want to do is be bored, but you’re excited is what it is.

So, you’ve switched over pretty quickly, but the best thing that you can do when you’re presenting back is just very briefly and not boringly reiterate the brief that’s come back to them. And then they go, “Oh, look, they’ve got it. Yes, that’s spot on. That’s good. Like we’re waiting for the creative.”

Darren:

We’re connected as far as-

Kate:

We’re connected. Like what’s happened to the good old brief intro and do it and don’t present back on PowerPoint with 20 pages before you get to the creative. You just want to cut to the chase because that’s when the gut kicks in, you go, “Yep!”

And it’s actually not that often that you will see creative and you go, “Oh my God, cracked it.” You know what I mean?” It’s just joy when that happens, as a client and the excitement, because the biggest barrier ─ Chiquita King always said the biggest barrier in creative is the walls of the client, is then selling it internally.

So, if you don’t have the passion to resell it … don’t try and sell the creative yourself often as a client; bring the damn creatives in to manage and to spend-

Darren:

Internally.

Kate:

Internally. Bring the creatives in when you’re selling it internally, make it come to life. And don’t get the account management to present it, sorry.

Darren:

Isn’t it also that when you do see a great piece of creative, there is almost always a shortcut to getting to the nub of the idea?

Kate:

Yeah.

Darren:

I always think if you’re explaining a piece of creative by reading through a script, then you really don’t have an idea. Like I said before, Honda, Mousetrap. There should be a way of short-circuiting that.

Kate:

Because that’s what an actual idea is. A creative presented, which was, “Oh, don’t worry, it’ll be beautiful.” I said, “What’s the idea of a woman running around in a dress made out of lettuce for salad dressing?” But it’ll be a beautiful dress. No, but there’s no idea in it.

Darren:

But what if it wilts?

Kate:

This is the ad that was never made, but should always have been made was the insight … when you eat salad, it’s like eating grass. So, picture a cow eating grass, and then it’s just eating grass and chewing. But another cow being absolutely ecstatic eating its grass. You go, “Oh God, got it. Yeah, because the bottle of salad dressing’s falling on the grass.” You know what I mean?

It’s just like you didn’t need to write the script.

Darren:

Yeah, this salad dressing makes everything taste right, got it.

Kate:

Exactly. So, it clicks really quickly.

Darren:

A great demonstration.

Kate:

And you don’t need 20 pages of full strategy, which is just regurgitating back what you’ve already told them.

Darren:

Or tens of thousands of dollars of concept-testing to justify making the ad or not making the ad.

Kate:

Oh, to justify making something, it then becomes average, because it becomes averaged out. You have to be brave, you have to know what an idea is. But without fail, that will always come from, for example, understanding your insight. And that’s when you talk about your agencies.

We might be talking about creative today or media agencies, but let’s not forget about the research agency. So, if you’ve done the research, go get them to come to creative to help brief them to really make it come to life because the research document does not make an insight come to life.

Darren:

Yeah. And that’s got me thinking about the other thing, which is I imagine that in some products that you’ve worked on, that you’ve been either the target market or could relate to the target market. What about in situations where your judging creative concept for a target market that is not you?

Because I think for human beings, it’s very natural to think “Do I like it on a personal level?” And yet you’re not the target audience. Have you had that problem or do you have a solution to it?

Kate:

Well, as a marketer, think about what it’s like presenting to sales and they go, “I don’t like it” and its objective. And the joy when you turn around and say, “Well, that’s perfect because you’re a 55-year-old white male and not a 25-year-old woman.” You know what I mean? You go, “So, that’s perfect that you don’t like it.”

So, it’s a matter of then you should have done the work before the brief to actually have empathy with the insight and the target market.

Darren:

Because do you remember Ants Pantz and the ad

Kate:

Yes, and the Echidna?

Darren:

Sic ’em rex. So, Jack Geddy was the account director at Campaign Palace. And he was handed that creative and told, go out to hole proof and sell it or don’t come back. And Jack’s sitting there going in those days, in less enlightened times, almost all of the senior marketing people and decision-makers were middle-aged men making underwear for women, but, hey, who are we to judge?

Kate:

Practically still are.

Darren:

So, he said he had to think about how do I get their mindsets into the target audience? And so, what he did was he took with him all of the Dolly Cleo Cosmos and laid those out. And he said, “I’m going to present a creative concept to you that’s not for you. It’s for the people that read these magazines. They’re your daughters, your nieces. They’re all of these other people. So, I want you to look at it from that perspective.”

And I thought that was a brilliant piece of framing to help the client, the marketers get their head to who is the target audience.

Kate:

How politically correct can we be in this?

Darren:

Incorrect.

Kate:

There’s a great story that my colleague and she probably won’t want me to name her ─ when she was like 25-years-old, she was working on impotency medication. And they’re all sitting there going, “How do we understand this?” Like they’ve never encountered it. And one of her bosses walked in and they said, “We don’t understand what it is and what it feels like. How does this relate to the audience?”

And he goes, “Okay, picture this, you’re trying to put an oyster into a parking meter.” And they went, “Right, got it!” So, it’s how you actually-

Darren:

Frame it. It’s called framing.

Kate:

It’s called framing.

Darren:

Let’s frame the problem in a way that everyone can relate to.

Kate:

Exactly. It’s the same as your audience. So, when you’re talking about mothers ─ so, there’s one ad which has a mother skipping in a puddle, and I find that actually offensive as a mother. Oh, like she hates what the kid’s looking at it because it’s a mum actually having fun.

Don’t define women, even mothers as being mothers. And don’t define women as being wives: “Oh, I’m trying to handle my family, my husband,” that sort of thing. No, define women as being women.

Darren:

Women and people.

Kate:

And people with quite probably a sense of humour that we’re not Victorian women, constrained anymore. You have to really understand the audience and how far you can take it. And it kills such great creative when people get their own personal subjectivity and their own fears and you can’t sell it on.

Darren:

Yeah. Look, this has been a great conversation, Kate, thank you. I’m sure there are hours more that we could talk about-

Kate:

Can I come back?

Darren:

Well, absolutely. There’s so much more that I wanted to talk to you about, but we’ve run out of time.

Just before we go, I’d just be really interested in throughout your career, what’s the piece of work or the campaign or the idea that you’re most proud of? I’d really love to know.

Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media, and commercial communications professionals, Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by Darren Woolley and special guests. Find all the episodes here

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    Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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