Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants
mobile-logo
Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Top

Managing Marketing: The Path from Trade Journalist to Global Head of Marketing

Lindsay_Bennett

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.

Lindsay Bennett is the Global Head of Marketing for DDB out of New York City. But six years earlier, she was a recent graduate and starting as a cadet journalist at industry trade media AdNews. Lindsay shares the path she has taken from those days at AdNews and her transition to the agency world, first in Corporate Comms and then as Marketing and New Business Director at DDB Group Australia and to her new role at DDB as the Global Head of Marketing. She shares the lessons she has learned transitioning from cadet journalist to global head of marketing for an agency brand she is clearly passionate about.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Follow Managing Marketing on SoundcloudPodbean, Google Podcasts, TuneInStitcher, Spotify, Apple Podcast and Amazon Podcasts (the USA, UK, Germany & Japan only)

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 Lindsay Bennett, Global Head of Marketing at DDB. Welcome, Lindsay.

Lindsay:

Hi, thanks, Darren.

Darren:

And congratulations. You know, this is a new appointment in its early days, but I really appreciate you taking the time because I’m fascinated and admire the journey that it’s taken to get to this point.

So, let’s just start with, you’ve graduated from university and you’re looking for a job. Because I imagine like most people, you’ve done all the hard work. What was that like for you?

Lindsay:

Yeah, and thanks for having me. It’s actually funny because you’ve been on the journey with me really because I met you in the early, early days at my first job at AdNews.

So, yes, studied journalism, always wanted to be a journalist from the very early days and was studying — and I’ll never forget a professor said, “Half of this class would not get jobs, more than half of this class would not get jobs.” And that really stuck with me at that time. And we were writing about the demise of our industry, which we were going into.

So, it was this really strange time to be considering being a journalist. And it still is — it’s only gotten worse really, but we were on the brink of magazines closing that I’d read my whole life. And I actually, wanted to go into women’s magazines and did a few internships, and quickly realised it wasn’t for me.

There was a moment where I was writing this article “foods to eat to have an orgasm” and the research was purely Googling. And I just realised that that wasn’t going to be substantial enough for me and started to look at business journalism and was really lucky that AdNews came my way, and the lovely Rosie Baker who I know you know well, and is now at GroupM.

But she was the editor at the time, brought me on as a cadet and the rest is sort of history. I mean, I’d had to do a task around getting headlines on social which was a really interesting way to get the job compared to actually writing a piece, and kind of was a baptism by fire.

I mean, I worked my way up very quickly at AdNews. It was a very small team, a very tough environment, very fast-paced job, but it was just the most incredible exposure to the industry, which now, I’ve realised is probably what I love a little bit more than journalism.

Darren:

It’s interesting you share that about Rosie’s test for you because in many ways, I guess you could assume that someone has passed a university course on journalism, and has the motivation to want to work in the industry — that demonstrates your ability to create content.

And I know it’s an advertising term (content), journalists don’t necessarily talk about content. But creating content that actually engages an audience is a really great test, isn’t it?

Lindsay:

Yeah, it’s so interesting. Actually, going back to my degree, which feels like a very, very long time ago, we were tasked to build websites, to create podcasts, to create social content. And I thought it was an absolute joke; rolled my eyes and thought I would never use it. And actually, that’s the stuff that I use the most today.

And I actually, in my new role, I’m hiring a social media manager at the moment because I’ve been doing it for the last few years and realise it’s time to get a specialist.

But all of those skills that I learned at university and then through that task, are actually really what I’ve used at DDB. Being a great writer gets you so far, but actually, you learn that writing and journalism is one part of a very big kind of content studio that you can have.

Darren:

Yeah, well, there’s a larger pallet than ever before, isn’t there? And I remember one of the reasons at the time at AdNews that I saw you progress rapidly, was that you always came across as having an attitude of giving it a go.

I mean, if I remember rightly, you were also, you were doing video pieces, you were doing pieces to camera, you were doing interviews on stage and on video. This was stuff that was still relatively new for trade journalism.

I mean, some people were doing it, but you’re fresh out of university, fresh into the industry, and you were giving it a go. Do you think that’s part of it, is just always being willing to have a go?

Lindsay:

You have to always give it a go. You have to always be trying something new, trying something different. It’s funny going down … just hearing what you said, I don’t think about that very often. But of course, we did a partnership with Twitter on creating video, we were doing events. We were trying to approach everything from different angles and different ways of creating content. And that is exactly what I do today.

And I think it’s really easy to rely on the written word or the way things were done, but I’ve always challenged the way things were done and don’t believe just because it was done, we should, and because we haven’t, we shouldn’t try a different way.

So, yeah, definitely. AdNews had so many great assets to use in terms of events, in terms of its platform. But when we came in, it was still very traditional, and we definitely moved it forward. I think it’s still hard to innovate in journalism because there’s not a huge amount of money.

But I’m pretty proud of what we achieved there and the different things we tried. They didn’t all work. And some of the video content was a bit awkward, but yeah, we gave it a go. And I think one of my things that I often say is a Jack of all trades, master of none. But the actual saying is Jack of all trades, master of none is still better than one. And I totally agree with that.

I am a Jack of all trades and we can definitely hire specialists and I tap into specialists all the time. But being able to create podcasts, create content right, create social content has definitely helped me get where I am today. And yeah, it’s the skill set you need sadly.

Darren:

Because well, I think it’s also the fact that people are starting to wake up to the belief that generalist people … they talk about the T of experience. And across the top of the T is that breadth of experience and trying lots of different things. And then there’s the vertical on the T, which is the depth in a particular area.

Now, in some ways, your training and your early jobs as a journalist created that depth. And I think that’s around things like being able to see an idea or see a story and then the skillset to be able to communicate it.

What’s across the top is the way you communicate it because as you say, I think AdNews was one or still does produce a printed magazine, whereas almost all the rest of the trade journals or media have dropped that and have gone completely online. So, there is a tradition there of writing and putting the ink on the paper, but you also expanded that across the T with video and podcasts and all sorts of other things that you were doing.

So, look, I think, as I said earlier, it was great to watch someone just sort of go for it … because you ended up as a digital editor within the space of two years. I mean, that’s phenomenal, but justified in many ways.

Lindsay:

Yeah, lots of title changes. Every time a review came up, I think the word “tenacity” was always thrown around, which is often thrown around at my reviews. But that trajectory was supported by amazing people like Rosie and Pippa Chambers who was there at the time as well, who recognised I was hungry and I wanted to move quickly.

And I, I wanted to add extra resource and extra capabilities. It’s interesting you say we were doing print and we were doing online and we were doing video, we were doing social. Now, I do so much more involved in HR initiatives, events — involved in cultural kind of initiatives within DDB.

The breadth has only continued which has been great to be honest, every day is different.

Darren:

Yeah, because I saw you’re involved with the Omnicom D&I initiatives, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Going back, you said you sort of landed in business journalism. Did you have an appreciation at the time of the size and scale? You know this is a $16 billion category and there’s a lot of influence and a lot of power and a lot of egos.

Did you really appreciate that when you landed or was that part of the education that you got on the job?

Lindsay:

Oh, I had no idea. And I remember taking the job at AdNews because they had written quite a lot about social platforms and I thought, I can write about social platforms and I can write about magazine houses. So, Bauer and PacMags, of course, existing in different forms these days.

But they were writing about the Cosmos, the Cleos, the strategy behind their portfolios. And I thought, okay, I can do that because I had an understanding of that fraction of the industry. And they’re writing about Snapchat and Instagram — okay, I can probably fudge my way through.

And actually, probably my lack of understanding helped me in the early days (helped and hindered) — but helped because I wasn’t intimidated from sitting down with the CEO of Omnicom or any of the bigwigs that today, I probably would be more intimidated.

I just saw them as regular people that we were just going to have a chat and see how we go. So, in a lot of ways, I had this confidence because I just did not understand how important these people were or how important perhaps, they consider themselves.

So, it was definitely a huge learning curve. And one that I stumbled through, I made massive mistakes, don’t get me wrong. And interviews with CEOs and CMOs that probably knew I didn’t know what I was talking about. But the growth happened quickly and the industry was so interesting to me.

And I found myself so drawn towards particularly creative agencies and spent so much time becoming an expert in that space. And it was yeah, the best years ever. Don’t get me wrong, the best job I’ve ever done, but also the hardest, most challenging toughest. And one that I was very ready to walk away from after just a few years, because journalism, it is a tough gig.

Darren:

Yeah, absolutely. And working in a company that there was the print deadline, there was the daily online deadline, there was the event component — it’s so many layers and so demanding on so many levels.

But this interest in creative agencies, is that what drew you to make the leap from journalism and join an agency?

Lindsay:

Yeah, definitely. So, I guess there are two things. The first is journalism is really tough. It is incredibly fast-paced. It’s not hugely well-resourced, it’s sadly a declining industry in terms of revenue and most teams are shrinking, especially through the pandemic, which has been really sad to see.

So, I think I was facing a little bit of burnout after the three years, and I made such amazing connections that some of the local agency leaders had suggested to me that I should come on board and do comms, which I rolled my eyes at and said, I wouldn’t be any good at it, and I don’t think so. And I’d never considered that.

Darren:

See how wrong you were?

Lindsay:

I know, I know. They could see something in me potentially that I couldn’t see in myself, which is quite nice. And I am now a believer that kind of your career comes to you in a lot of ways if you are proactive and put yourself out there.

And so, I’d been speaking to a few different businesses and then I went, okay, a few people have suggested it to me now; it’s a pretty commonly done switch up. So, a lot of my former colleagues are comms people now at different agencies or some of the media owners.

Darren:

Well, as you said, Rosie has gone to GroupM. I know at Mumbrella, they’ve lost two of their journalists to agencies.

Lindsay:

We hired one.

Darren:

So, it seems to be becoming more and more a career path and an acceptable career path. But I’m not sure every person that’s worked in trade journalism is necessarily set up to work in a comms role in an agency. Because I also know with the experience of over 20 years watching this, the number of people that have done that, and then sort of fallen out the other side and never been heard of again.

So, what do you think are the skill sets or the mindset that allows you to make that change? Because in many ways, journalism has a set of disciplines around finding a story, making it stand up and telling it. And then comms is a different one, which is being given a story or having a story and needing to find a way of packaging it, so it’s of interest to journalists, isn’t it?

Lindsay:

Yeah, there’s a lot of transferable skillsets. So, all the obvious things; you can write a good story, so you can probably sell a good story. You know how to create a narrative; you know how to create content. There’s a lot of transferable skills.

Thinking back to my early days at DDB, I think it’s very humbling to go from a journalist where you have a bit of a name and you are meeting with lots of CEOs and CMOs who want your time — not your time, but they want the reporter’s time, which is a very important distinction that you need to learn before you go to comms side and half your contacts stop speaking to you.

It’s very humbling, humbling to become one of 300 compared to one of five, which was my old team size and then the business of DDB. And it’s not about you anymore. It never really was, but you do have a bit of an independent brand.

Darren:

Well, I just want to challenge you on that. Because as a journalist, while there is some sort of rules and framework around telling the narrative; you need the facts, you need to … what do they call it? Stand the story out, make sure that it’s got enough truth to it, to be told.

Lindsay:

Have three sources.

Darren:

Yeah, and all that … they’re the rules of journalism, but it’s still you telling the story. So, in many ways it comes down to your experiential context, your way of writing. Because you can learn different styles, but you would bring a certain perspective or personality.

And I know you might say, well, you can do that on the comms side, except that you’re telling someone else’s story. Because as a journalist, you found the story or the story is given to you, you get to tell it.

Lindsay:

Yeah. And at the end of the day, if your CEO wants a story out there that you don’t potentially agree with, which hasn’t happened to me much, luckily — but if they are keen on an angle that you’re not, it’s not really your decision anymore.

So, in a comms role, you do a lot of … you’re high and you’re low at the same time. One day, I’m on a leadership meeting with the DDB global leadership and the next minute I’m making gift bags and unpacking chairs for an event that we’re doing in the Sydney office.

So, there’s a healthy sense of becoming humble with the shift to comms. There’s the complexity of going from a very, very small team to a big business with lots of stakeholders, with lots of different teams. And it’s a big role with a lot of opinions.

So, being really, really good with people, which sounds obvious, but potentially not everyone is, and not every journalist is. There are some that are confined to a closet and they just bang out loads and loads of articles. You know, advertising is even more of a human-based industry than journalism, which kind of sounds a bit crazy.

Darren:

No, not at all. I mean, I think advertising is so much about relationships and the way people interact, whereas, as you said, there were journalists that just immerse themselves in research and analysing the story, and then bashing it out.

And it made me realise as you were talking, that personalities play such a big role because there would literally be agencies that would be sizing up the different journalists at a particular trade brand and going, “Oh, we’ll try and get this to this person” because they bring a much more perhaps positive perspective to the industry, as opposed to someone that has a more cynical approach.

So, they would be playing off personality.

Lindsay:

A hundred percent. Even recently, there’s been a few agencies that I have remained close with, and they’re trying to create, I guess the same success as DDB has had, which is very, very flattering and also higher from the trade press.

And they’re saying to me here’s the three that we think and it’s all personality-based. This person has this personal strength, this person — and asking me my opinion, my personal opinion on their personalities.

So, it’s definitely a personality decision because look, if you’ve been a journalist for a few years, you should be pretty decent. If you’re in the trade press, you are usually pretty decent because it’s a small team and there’s not a huge area for mistakes.

So, yeah, it’s one of those things, I guess, where everything in advertising come backs to relationships and you’ve got to prioritise them.

Darren:

It’s a people business, they say it all the time.

Lindsay:

It’s a people business. Yeah, and I found that actually difficult to harsh for a word, but just different. When you’re a journalist, you are so busy that you don’t spend time getting coffee with people and apart from your sources. But I mean, your team members; you’re in the trenches, you’re bonding over the sheer massive work and the number of things you have to get done. And then you’re going to an event at 6:00 PM and having a few drinks.

Well, when I first started at DDB, I had my head down, I was really keen to prove myself. And what I realised was I needed to take time out in my day to build relationships with — if we’ve got 300 people, at least a hundred people need to be on my side. And I rely on a lot of the internal resources to make shit happen within DDB.

So, I needed a lot of people to want to help me. And that was a learning, it carved me, and a massive thing that I had to do. I had to put the time in my calendar to do laps and go and talk to people, which seems obvious. But for me, it wasn’t because of journalism, there’s no time to talk to anyone until 7:00 PM and you’re going to a News Corp event and having a few … it’s very different.

Darren:

Yeah. And then usually not actually building relationships, you’re trading gossip and information. Because that’s part of preparing for the next day.

I just want to go back a step; you mentioned a minute ago that a few people had suggested you come across. So, in some ways you had a choice and without going into who you didn’t choose, I’m just wondering what was your selection criteria and why DDB. This is your opportunity to sing the praises of the company you work for.

But I’m thinking more from a personal point of view because there were small agencies which would have been easier to fit in and more like where you’d come from. You’ve chosen a big agency; you’ve chosen one that’s got a long-term presence and has been fairly quiet. You know, they’ve just sort of been the quiet achiever that got on with it. What was it for you or was it just simply the money?

Lindsay:

No, no, no, no. So, you said yourself, they were the quiet achiever. So, DDB was always the quiet achiever, the sleeping giant that had the clients, the work, the people, but had no idea how to tell their story or weren’t prioritising it in a big way.

So, going back, I spoke to a few independents. I think for me, I wanted a bit of security and most of the independents had never had the role before. And I thought it’s going to be pretty challenging to not have the buy-in already and then have to prove yourself and have to build the processes.

Darren:

And justify your value every week.

Lindsay:

Exactly. So, that was that. And then when it came to holding companies, I knew I wanted to work for Omnicom. I see Omnicom as the gold star because they actually invest in their brands. So, DDB is a brand, BBDO is a brand, TBWA is a brand, and I felt safe. When I joined, it was when everyone was going through their mergers and you had VMLY&R, ABCD — all the different agency names were being taken away.

And I loved that Omnicom was committed to investing in those brands. And then from that selection, DDB, I just thought had the most opportunity. It was quiet. We have very, very big clients in Australia. We have very, very good work and really good leaders. There’s my pitch.

Darren:

Yeah, so it is interesting because they’ve also had incredible stability in leadership. And a lot of agency networks. So, independents have stability because it’s usually the management team that owns the agency. That’s what gives them stability.

A lot of networks suffer from this constant churn of senior management. Every three to five years someone goes out and someone else comes in, which, to your point about looking for some stability or certainty … and I can completely understand that, having worked three years, your first real job from graduating. That it’d be good to get that sort of stability so that you could really focus.

It also becomes a good platform because one of the things you did very quickly when you landed in that role at DDB, was it was suddenly like someone had turned on the lights and there was just stories coming out left, right and centre into the industry. That must’ve been when you landed.

We both said they were quiet achievers. There must have been so many things that you saw as a journalist within DDB that you thought, “Why aren’t they telling people?”

Lindsay:

Yeah. And that’s exactly right. And thank you for saying that there was an out-pour of content because that’s what it felt like. And there was.

Darren:

Yeah, literally it went from never reading anything about DDB, to virtually week in, week out, it was, “Oh, and this and this” and they’re all good stories, and they all stood the test of is this interesting and worthwhile.

Lindsay:

Yeah. And I mean, that comes back … I was very lucky to understand how the trade press worked. I was very lucky to have some colleagues still in the trade press. And I knew the people, so I was able to understand how to sell them a story. But also, everything was there at DDB. Everything was just ready to go, but no one was amplifying it.

So, my work … the first few months while I was learning a lot were kind of easy. It’s gotten harder to be honest because there’s only so much you can keep telling the same story. And you’re never going to get the same figures as they did in that first year. I think our PR exposure was up 407% year on year. It’s kind of hard to beat that every year.

Darren:

From the low base.

Lindsay:

Yeah, from the low base. But they had had the role before, don’t get me wrong, which was good because management was bought into the function and they could see how it worked. And yeah, I mean, overall, there was a lot to work with. And I’m very grateful for that because they made my job easy.

Darren:

It reminds me of something sort of like gold mining. You walk into an area and there are just nuggets everywhere. And then suddenly, you look around and you’ve cleaned up all those nuggets. Now, you’ve got to start the hard work and get digging for the stories.

Lindsay:

Well, then I kind of got a little bit bored for lack of a better word, don’t get me wrong. You know, my job today is still as interesting as ever, but there’s only so much you can put out in the world and there’s only so much networking you can do with eight journalists that write about advertising.

And then I added a new business to the mix and asked if I could start looking after new business. I think after a few conversations with you actually, and getting some advice from you. And that for me, was the perfect mix. Because I can tell the story and then I can actually show the results.

So, started tracking on new business. The first year of PR definitely impacted our new business success in 2020. We onboarded $20 million worth of new business nationally, and big, big clients as well. And that’s a little bit of the hunt that you miss if you go into comms.

Journalism, you’re gossiping, you’re on the phone to the pitch consultants, trying to figure out what’s going on. And without that kind of industry connection — comms, you don’t get that same industry connection. Whereas new business, allowed me to kind of tap back into all those contacts and have the ear to the ground and find out who’s moving and what agencies are doing well and not well. And they call it hunters for a reason.

Darren:

And again, a lot of people misinterpret new business because I’ve had other comms people say to me, “Oh, no, I couldn’t do new business, I’m not a salesperson.” But it’s actually not sales, is it? It’s more like relationship building, storytelling about telling the agency’s story that’s relevant to your prospect or your target, and also bringing a certain discipline to the agency, teaching them how to package and tell their story in a pitch.

Because one of the things I’ve noticed over the years is agencies are particularly bad at actually telling their own story. They’re so busy sort of ticking all the boxes and listing all their features that they actually forget that they need to engage the prospect, the client in a conversation that the client wants to be engaged in.

Lindsay:

Yeah, and I think the biggest irony out in our industry is that agencies aren’t good at branding themselves or marketing themselves. And my global CCO uses the expression, the cobbler’s shoes and the mechanic’s car — where just, if only we treated ourselves the way that we treat clients and gave ourselves that much love into our own brand, but that’s a whole other discussion. And one that I rightfully preach a lot.

Darren:

Sorry to cut you off — it’s such a lazy statement, isn’t it? Because ultimately, if you were choosing an architect, you’d want to see what they’ve designed for themselves and others. If you were choosing an interior designer decorator, and they turned up dressed like trash in a beaten-up car, you’d be going you don’t know how to present yourself. Agencies should be.

Lindsay:

The best at branding themselves.

Darren:

Exactly.

Lindsay:

A hundred percent, couldn’t agree with you more. I think it’s a point I bring up all the time when in budget discussions, they’re saying, “Oh, no, we can’t commit that much money.” And I’m saying, “Well, we would tell our clients to do it, so …”

Darren:

You’re a multi-billion-dollar business globally, you should be spending the same sort of money you tell your clients to.

Lindsay:

Exactly. Our new global CEO, Marty O’Halloran recognises that, and he is, for that reason, investing a lot in the global marketing team. And we can get to that later.

But when you find leaders that believe in it, it is a game-changer and it can be a revenue driver as it has been in Sydney with new business coming in. And you’re completely right. I’ve never been a salesperson.

I feel that you can do new business in whatever way that your skillset allows you to do it. For me, that was building relationships and calling people. And I called marketers through COVID and said, I just want to interview you about your experiences over the last six months.

So, new business, some people might approach it in a sales way (I know agencies that do). But for me, it was just networking on jobs, basically. That next level of networking which I was so used to doing in AdNews.

And you told me actually, that new business is a long-term game. So, you’re not going to sell someone with $10 million to spend on the phone. It’s all about long-term priming and things that I started priming two years ago, have only just reached out now and they’re smaller ops, let alone bigger accounts. They take years and years and years of working and proving yourself.

Darren:

Because it’s been phenomenal. I mean, you joined, you did all the PR, and I’m not saying you are wholly responsible because DDB, it’s an excellent business. It’s full of talented people. But in some ways, the right time, right attitude, right approach to really reveal what was there. And then the payoff was about two years later that suddenly, there was a time when it was, “Oh, DDB’s won this, and DDB’s won that.”

You went through that process of having success. I’m just wondering whether there’s that great saying, which is success has many mothers, failure only two; one is you and one is me, and I’m not sure about you.

Now, is it the same thing? Is that part of the downside of new business in comms that while you’re not a hundred percent, when there’s a success, are you overlooked or are you included in there?

Lindsay:

I would say that kudos to Priya, our MD in Sydney and Andrew, the CEO of Australia. They have rightfully recognised the success that comes specifically from PR marketing and redoing our new business process.

I feel recognised. It’s funny, journalism, I’ve never been yelled at so much in my life. Not by anyone on my team or the people outside of my team, in the industry — I won’t name names.

Darren:

That’s for the book.

Lindsay:

That’s for the book that I know you want me to publish; one day, I will. But it’s a thankless job. That hasn’t been my experience at DDB. I feel that I’ve been really appreciated there, which is, is very, very nice. And they do a good job, at least in my experience of recognising their staff.

That said, when it is a new business … when I was having a conversation with someone that’s taking on a new business role in another agency, and they were saying how they’re renumerated on the win. They’re renumerated if they win the account.

And following the advice you gave me, I said you can’t. You have to be renumerated on bringing in a warm lead and it going through to the pitch process. But the actual result of the win or fail-

Darren:

You have no control.

Lindsay:

You have no control. Like 50% of the time, it’s the idea, the other 30% chemistry, and the other 20%, God knows what you did wrong.

So, that is one area that I think when we lost a pitch, I would try and figure out what I did wrong. And it’s hard. You’ve just worked on something for a few months and given it your all, and if you didn’t win, it’s really disappointing. But I learned not to take it personally … there’s lots and lots of factors and reasons.

Darren:

It was one of the things that got me into setting up this business, was being a creative director and working on new business. The number of times clients would come back and the feedback was the creative idea wasn’t good enough.

And so, everyone would walk down and point fingers at the creatives, it wasn’t good enough. What I’ve discovered in the last 20 years is that’s the most convenient excuse-

Lindsay:

They just say that 100%.

Darren:

To point to … because you’re off the hook; “I don’t really have to tell you or want to tell you why you didn’t win it, but hey, your creative wasn’t good enough, so that’ll do.”

The reason I asked about getting acknowledgement was that last year, in the depths of the COVID pandemic, I suddenly became aware of quite a few new business people in agencies that were suddenly looking for work on LinkedIn.

And I set up this sort of informal monthly get-together and chat for people because I think it can be, and I’m glad it’s not for you. But I think it can be a really thankless task that it’s often a role that gets cut too quickly if things are tough.

I mean, my own experience was there was a terrific person at the agency I was working at that brought in lots of clients. It’s just the agency didn’t convert them. So, they fired the rainmaker because they didn’t make enough rain.

Lindsay:

Yeah, I think I asked about my job at the beginning of COVID, so there you go. There was some anxiety there because at the end of the day, it isn’t a revenue-driving role. There’s not a job number attached to it.

I do believe it’s a revenue-driving role, but if you look at a balance sheet, it’s not, but it is. So, it’s one of those kinds of difficult conversations to have. And I think that’s why I did move into new business to be honest because comms can be seen as a little bit surface level-

Darren:

Nice to have.

Lindsay:

Nice to have, whereas new business-

Darren:

Is essential.

Lindsay:

I can show you how much … well, it wasn’t just me, of course. And there was a lot of people, but I can show you the money we bought in, and I can make a case study for the link of how I impacted that cycle. So, yeah, there’s still definitely the stigma of both roles; comms and new business being nice to have.

I’m very lucky in the fact that I proved myself quickly, over-communicated the success. All my leadership get a monthly report from me on our PR and our new biz contacts that we’ve had and things like that.

And I’m in a business that makes good money. It’s a very successful commercial business and they believe in marketing themselves. So, I know that isn’t the case. I’ve heard the same stories you have, you know.

Darren:

Okay. So, look, I’m just aware of the time, but it was probably about this time in 2019 that you were telling the story how DDB has gone back to Doyle Dane and Bernbach and are rediscovering or refocusing on the roots and transferring those. This was when Wendy Clark was the global CEO.

And the way you told it really resonated this idea that a lot of the wisdom that we associate with Bill Bernbach could be reinterpreted. But now, in your new role as a Global Head of Marketing, you’ve just launched a new campaign with now, a new global CEO, Marty O’Halloran, which is Unexpected Works. What’s been the reaction so far from your own staff and the marketplace.

Lindsay:

Yeah. So, Unexpected Works is a bit different to what we did a few years ago. It’s an evolved brand positioning, which we’ve never had. BBDO has the work, the work, the work. TBWA is the disruption agency. We never had something that was an easy memorable positioning that we could speak to.

So, that was my first brief in my first week in my new role. And I was slightly terrified. The first brief was to create a conference for 10,000 staff of which we’re going to reveal … well, I think someone first had a rebrand initially, and I think I almost fell on the floor dead because I so believe in keeping brands around. Thankfully, it was just-

Darren:

A repositioning.

Lindsay:

An evolved positioning. So, we did the conference and that was just such an incredible experience, especially stepping into a new role, getting exposure to all the leaders around the world. So, we launched that the week before that you would have seen Unexpected Works. And the staff reaction has been amazing.

I mean, I feel that DDB has such a strong legacy brand. That said, do we have the coolest most modern agency brand around and the most modern visual expression of our identity? No, I don’t think we have.

So, now, with Unexpected Works, we have this amazing look and feel that we can use. So, yeah, the reaction has been good so far.

Darren:

Is the double entendre deliberate, the double meaning? Because I read it as the unexpected will work and it does work, and that you do unexpected works.

Lindsay:

Yeah, both. Yeah, so, we’ve been using in sentences, is this Unexpected Works which I’m not quite right with the X, it’s not grammatically correct, but it’ll be okay. But yeah, the reaction has been strong and I think-

Darren:

Sorry, I’m trying to control myself from laughing because it’s such a journalist, a grammar pedant that wants to correct the grammar when copywriting and advertising generally plays very loose with things like grammar and even spelling.

Lindsay:

I did learn that. I did learn that I’ve had many run-ins with lovely copywriters over the years because I wasn’t understanding why commas were in sentences and things like that.

But yeah, so Unexpected Works, it’s something that kind of marks a different era for DDB. I think Marty is very focused on bringing us together. If you look at the hires globally, we’ve made some serious, big hires about 10 of them in the global leadership team and across North America. So, it’s kind of a point in time for the network.

And we got really good press coverage as well, which was nice. There wasn’t any negativity towards it. And yeah, I mean, it was a big first project to be part of, but one that was really cool.

We put a billboard up in New Zealand in a sheep paddock — what other advertising agencies have you seen advertise themselves recently? And there are plans to do that a few times a year. Our next activation, we’re thinking will be at Cannes. And I actually love that we’re investing in our own brand publicly. I think it sends a really good message.

Darren:

Yeah, well, if you’re not investing in your own brand, why should your clients listen to you about investing in there’s?

Lindsay:

Exactly, yeah.

Darren:

Look, it’s been a terrific conversation. I’m sure this is a story that will continue because clearly, you’re about to make the big leap to the US and I’d love to catch up and continue that. So, thank you, Lindsay, for taking the time to sit down and have the conversation.

Lindsay:

Thanks, Darren. Could have kept talking all day, but it was lovely to chat.

Darren:

Just have one last question to finish up. And that is from AdNews to global marketing or head of marketing in five years, what have the next five years got in store for Lindsay Bennett?

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

Want more articles like this? Subscribe to our newsletter:



    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

    We're Listening

    Have something to say about this article?
    Share it with us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn

    Tweet
    Share
    Share
    Buffer
    Pin