Tag Archives: csuite

Gender, LGBT+ and BAME Diversity in Comms – review of csuite podcast 51

Show 51 of the csuite podcast discussed three important areas of diversity – Gender, LGBT+ and BAME.  My guests were therefore invited on to the show to be able to talk from their own experience or as ambassadors of one of those specific areas and included:

Gender Equity and Balance + Confidence

A lot of Lisa blogs that she shares on her LinkedIn profile are about giving confidence to young girls and women in business too.  One of those posts was about the annual Girls 20 Summit that she recently attended in Munich, where the organisation is committed to cultivating the next generation of female leaders, through education, training and by providing global experience to increase female labour force participation.

It was held in advance of the main G20 summit and was attended by women aged 18-23, from 20+ countries including Russia, Lebanon and India where women’s rights are challenged. However, Lisa wrote in one of her blogs that even though it was the attendees were accomplished female delegates, most of the women still felt that they didn’t know how to network, or how to engage in a conversation about the best way to discuss their projects, and how to ask for their support in getting them off the ground and so she said that to witness their uneasiness and lack confidence was really disheartening to her. She therefore believes it extremely important to discuss both the cultural and structural barriers that exist for women to be successful in pursuing what it is that hey aspire to, but also for women who hold senior leadership positions to engage in this conversation and serve as role models to young women.

Iain added that he recently sat on a conference panel that Cicero hosted, at the time of International Women’s Day, and he believes that you can’t have a conversation about women without men, nor can you have a conversation about men without women, as it’s important to be balanced.  However, he felt it would have been wrong for him to chair the conversation because he feels that if men are always chairing the conversation, men inevitably want to talk about what men want to talk about!  But what did strike him at the time was that one of the delegates there, a high powered women who had been in the workplace for around 20-25 years, said that ‘girls put their hands up a lot more in the workplace about 20-25 years ago and that a lot of women have not wanted to put their hands up for those confidence reasons’.

This issue of confidence was a common theme.  For example, Sarah said that one of the reasons there is such a lack of ethnic diversity in PR is because they are not aspiring to work in the industry and she said it’s something the Foundation thinks about in terms of who is there to aspire to be – if you can’t see someone that looks like you, how can you aspire to be like that? Therefore to have a level of success, Sarah said you need the motivation to join an industry where you may not be represented and to do that takes a certain level of confidence.

Toni agreed with the role models example although she does feel it depends on background as she was able to gain her confidence quite early but generally, she thinks that anyone would feel uncomfortable in a room where people that don’t necessarily look like them or are talking about issues that they are not engaged with.

Edelman’s Global Women’s Executive Network (GWEN)

Lisa explained that GWEN was set up in 2011 with the objective is to increase the presence of women at the most senior level within Edelman, whilst also creating an environment where women are encouraged to lead and be successful. In 2011, 68% of the company’s employees were women, yet only 33% of the most senior positions were held by women – this has now risen 41% as of July 2017, although their goal is to reach a 50:50 gender split.

Edelman are focussing on three measurable areas to achieve this aim:

  1. Building a pipeline for executive recruitment
  2. Addressing unconscious bias that may exist through training
  3. Advancing their approach to senior level succession planning and career development

Whilst they are closing in on their 50% target, they originally wanted to achieve it within five years.  However, Lisa said it’s key to understand two things:

  1. What drives women to move up and stay at Edelman
  2. What impacts leaders to unconsciously select men over women

Lisa said it’s therefore important that they create an inclusive culture that allows for women, but also all employees, to successfully navigate their careers at the company.  She added that they also know from their employee data that often, many women in the middle of their careers, make a conscious decision to have more family time and so at Edelman they don’t want it to be an either/or proposition between their career and their family, which is why they are starting to adapting their HR policies accordingly, for example, by extending maternity leave time, offering more flexible working options and allowing women to work from home.

Women in Finance Charter

The issue of Gender Diversity and Inclusion is also high on Cicero’s agenda too and in fact, at the time of recording, they were the only comms company in the City of London to have signed up to the Women in Finance Charter, which commits companies to supporting the progression of women into senior roles.  Iain believes that companies should be held to a more public test as to whether or not companies are doing what they aspire to be doing and said that it’s important to him to ensure that women have more of a voice ‘at the table’.


In Iain’s new role is as an ambassador for Stonewall, he was recently quoted in an article in the Telegraph that was reporting on a 2016 study by Credit Suisse that said that 72% of US LGBTQ senior executives have not come out at the office, yet over six years, those companies that had an inclusive approach to staff outperformed their rivals by 3%, where Iain said “Start-ups and established SMEs are often better able to create dynamic and open atmospheres than their larger counterparts. They tend to be younger, with less ‘old’ traditional entrenched views and cultures to weed out”. However, Iain added a further worrying statistic that two thirds of people that come out at university, go back in closet for their first job. He explained that it’s easier for bosses at SMEs to set the tone that at larger older organisations.

Lisa added there is so much data that supports the fact that those companies who are diverse and inclusive actually deliver stronger business results. She said that following the launch of GWEN, Edelman have also established some employee networks that represent all groups focussed on LGBTQ, Black and Latino communities as well as for Veterans and their families.  She also added that they are seeing a trend where a number of their global clients, such as HP and Unilever, are recognising the important of diversity inclusion and are expecting their agency partners to be diverse in their composition so as to better reflect their customers and who they are ultimately targeting, so that Edelman are bringing forward communications marketing programming that is reflective of their customer base.


Sarah explained that the Taylor Bennett Foundation was set up in 2007 and is best known for the programme that Toni graduated from, which is a 10-week programme that takes six black and ethnic graduates and gives them the skills, knowledge, experience and social capital they need to succeed in a career in the comms industry. Toni actually explained that it’s an intense programme and that if you are not self-motivated and driven, it will be very hard for you to get through the ten weeks.

Sarah added that by the end of 2017, they would have had 170 graduates go through the programme and over 70% of those now work in the communications industry.  She also said that there is a strong business case for ethnic diversity.  She referred to a 2015 McKinsey ‘Why diversity matters’ report, which talked about companies that are more gender diverse being 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians and that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to do the same. But she also asked how PR agencies can talk to a range of audiences when it’s not represented in their workforce.


Iain said that 5 years ago he would have said no to quotas in business and that people should get a role on merit before anything else.  However, he has seen the boardroom debate, and how Government has put pressure on corporates to do something beyond talking about it and he has now changed his mind! He feels there is real demand for diversity – for example, if he puts on a panel that is not sufficiently diverse to generate a conversation, people are voting with their feet. He feels that quotas are therefore needed for a while to help push through the balance.

Lisa whole heartedly agreed. She said that given lack of progress in diversity in the workplace, quotas need to be established and that in Canada, where no legislation exists, 46% of the companies that are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange have no women sitting on their boards.  Therefore, she feels that if companies are not addressing the lack of women on their boards on their own, then government intervention is needed.

Sarah recommended listeners read the CIPR’s ‘Impact of quotas and targets on diversity’ report and one by Ruby Macgregor-Smith on ‘Race in the workplace’, where the recommendations were that companies should have aspirational targets on diversity over five years, that are measured each year and she fully supports this. However, she feels that there is resistance in UK amongst the HR community against quotas.

Whilst Toni agreed to what was said, at the same time, she didn’t like to be seen as just a number. She feels that the business case for diversity should be strong enough for companies to integrate different recruitment techniques and training and perhaps helping some of those white straight men within the company to understand that they might have certain cultural biases and why that might be the reason the workforce is not diverse.

International Business

A real challenge for businesses is when they are working with international clients and have to visit their offices for a meeting or a pitch in a country that doesn’t share quite the same values as we do when it comes to gender, sexuality or ethnicity, and this is something Iain wants to get involved in with Stonewall but he said if we’re honest with ourselves, in certain territories, the client and money comes before the issues like those he cares passionately about, i.e., LGBTQ,  but he does see reason for hope as companies are being advised not to do business in those territories as it will do them damage.  He therefore thinks investor power will move some of these issues on really quickly.

Lisa added that as a global business, Edelman also have a responsibility to speak up about diversity and inclusion and so if they are presented with an opportunity with a prospect whose values are not aligned with their own, they will evaluate it, and if there is a misalignment they will not pursue the work.

Campaign Links

We finished off by offering each of my guests to plug the campaigns they are working on:

Sarah – It’s the Taylor Bennett Foundation’s 10th anniversary and they hope to raise £50K by the end of year. This will allow them to expand out of London.  Donations can be given via their website or JustGiving.

Iain – He was proud to have recently become a mentor for OUTStanding, told us to look out for some fresh campaigning from Stonewall, and wants to see more communications firms to sign up to Women in Finance.

Lisa – She said that according to a study by EgonZehnder, only 54% of women have access to female leaders who can act as mentors or informal sponsors of their careers, so Edelman have launched Opportunity Talks, an internal programme as part of GWEN that allows junior female employees to learn from the senior women at Edelman.

Final Word

I left the final word to Toni who offered listeners some advice if they are starting out in their careers. She felt that it is most important to have a good support system when starting out and a good mentor. She said to stay connected and build your social capital as it is important to remember there is value in the people around you and finally, to read, stay curious and be engaged in things that are happening around you as it’s important and a huge advantage to have an understanding of the fact that you are not the only one living this life and that there are other people in different parts of the world who are dealing with different things.

Thanks to Broadcast Specialists markettiers for hosting us, recording the show and patching Lisa in from Toronto

Thanks also to global media intelligence provider CARMA for supporting the show too – please visit carma.com to find out more about how they can help you deliver actionable insights through media monitoring and PR measurement.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunesTuneIn and Stitcher.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on iTunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

The Authenticity Gap – review of the csuite podcast Show 50

My 50th episode of the csuite podcast was sponsored by FleishmanHillard Fishburn as we discussed the UK findings in the latest release of their Authenticity Gap Report, the third time they had carried out the study since 2013.

I started the show by chatting with FHF’s CEO for UK & Middle East, Jim Donaldson who introduced the report.

Chatting with FHF's CEO for UK & Middle East, Jim Donaldson

With FHF’s CEO for UK & Middle East, Jim Donaldson

Jim explained that to create the report, consumers were asked what their experience is of dealing with a brand as well as what their expectations are. The respondents are what FHF class as engaged consumers, so they are not necessarily the same people being asked all the questions across all sectors – they have to have been users of those services in question.  Their expectations are then measured against their experiences across nine drivers of reputation, which can be split into three areas:

Management Behaviours

  1. Doing right
  2. Consistence performance
  3. Credible communications

Customer Benefits

  1. Better value
  2. Customer care
  3. Innovation

Society Outcomes

  1. Employee care
  2. Community impact
  3. Care of the environment

The results were plotted at both industry level and company level and the Authenticity Gap is the difference between experience and expectation. FHF have carried out the research in the US, Canada, China, Germany and the UK.

Jim said that the main aim for any client is to understand what the customer is looking for and whether they are meeting those expectations, but also where communications fits in. He used the example of the Automotive sector, where he said that expectation of how car companies care for environment massively outweighs what the sector is doing and so whilst those organisations may feel they are communicating about those issues, they are not meeting the expectation of their customers.  They therefore need to rethink what they are doing in that space.

The aim for those companies reading the report is to not only know if they are meeting customer expectations but also how they can then differentiate themselves.  They can use the data to see where the gaps are and how they can improve and put together a more comprehensive communications package.

The report also looks into the credibility of the people delivering the corporate messages and Jim is passionate about using employees as a message carrier, something he feels is underutilised. Companies are beginning to ensure their workforce represent them well, ensuring they are engaged, but Jim says this can be taken a step further, by making those people real ambassadors for your brand, adding that how companies look after their employees is an important driver of reputation.

For the main part of the podcast, I was joined by FHF’s EMEA Reputation Management Lead, Nick Andrews and Steph Bailey, Managing Director, Corporate Communications as well as Simon English, Senior City Correspondent of the London Evening Standard.

L-R: Steph Bailey, me, Nick Andrews and Simon English

L-R: Steph Bailey, me, Nick Andrews and Simon English

We kicked off the discussion by asking what companies need to do to convince journalists like Simon that they are authentic and trustworthy.  Simon response was simple – they need to take it seriously.  He used the example of BT’s pension deficit problems as he felt that BT were not authentic when this was first reported, that they were just trying to ‘shove things through’, and hadn’t thought about the fact that some journalists would have known what the company had said in the past. Simon added that BT got ‘bashed’ by the media because, in his opinion, they simply didn’t tell the truth about the fact that they have a very serious problem or in explaining what are they going to do about it.    His impression is that companies have internal meetings about the messages they are going to put out, but do not think enough about who is recieveing it.  Naturally, Nick’s response was that this doesn’t happen if those companies are well advised, but Simon said his job as a journalist is to remember what big companies, like BT, would rather we’d forgotten!

In reviewing the report, Steph said that of the nine drivers, Credible Communications scored very low – people  either don’t believe what companies are saying or fundamentally do not think they are being authentic. She also picked up on the the fact that value is still an important driver for people too and whilst that is obviously about feeling the product you get is worth the money you invest in it, the driver is also about what the company is doing around that value, i.e., their investment in the local community or the fact that they are investing in their employees. However, Steph said that there is an overwhelming sense of disappointment – despite what businesses are saying externally, customers are still seeing the bad behaviours coming through, which could be big companies not investing in their employees, or having a lack of attention to purpose and community

Nick explained that different sectors have different key drivers, for example in the Tech industry innovation is the key driver – there is a huge expectation for innovation but no companies meet this.

Example page from FHF's Authenticity Gap Report

Example page from FHF’s Authenticity Gap Report

However, despite the disappointments in the expectations, the results in the report didn’t surprise Simon. He questioned why companies over promise as he feels it’s surely better to under promise and over deliver. Simon believes that by over promising, it seems that businesses are setting themselves up to fail. In fact, Steph said that she is often advising companies to dial down some of their communications where it is not authentic to what they can actually deliver, as she believes it is better to be honest and say what you are doing well. With The Authenticity Gap, Steph can go to a company and tell them which of the drivers are most important to their customers. This way, their message should become about those specific drivers.

Simon would just like to see companies keep it short and tell us the truth but Nick thinks the reason companies try and over claim is because they are desperately trying to differentiate themselves in places where differentiation is increasingly difficult.

In trying to see where some sectors could learn from others, we compared the Banking sector, which the report suggested has little care for customers, with the Hotel sector, that scored highly for experience.

Nick said that the hotel industry has had to go down the customer care route as there is a lot of competition – the barriers to entry in the industry is reasonably low, whereas the barriers to entry in retail banking is quite high – you don’t get many new retail banks.  He therefore thinks there is complaceny in banking in relationship to the customer.  He added that you are three times more likely to leave your partner than you are to change bank, which is why they spend so much money trying to get you in early, as if they do that, there is a good chance they have you for life!

Simon added to this as he said that he has recently been staying at Premier Inn Hotels, and has found that the hotels now know his pattern of behaviour, what he likes and dislikes etc. But his bank, that he has been with for 25 years, acts like each time he contacts them is the first time, that they don’t seem to know him, even though they 25 years of data about him.

Hotels were in fact the best performing sector in terms of Customer Care, but there was still a big Authenticity Gap, so perhaps expectations set too high.

In explaining how expectations can impact a brand, Nick and Steph gave the example of Ryan Air, that Steph believes does so well because it promises so little, compared to British Airways, that she said is struggling because the expectations are higher.  Nick believes a customer could have the same experience on both airlines, but the expectations are higher for BA, so they will not score as well.

It’s not all doom and gloom though as it is possible for customers to have high expectations that are met!  For example, Simon feels that Amazon and Charles Tyrwhitt always deliver what they promise.

Nick highlighted the fact that what companies need to look at from this report is why, in a crowded market, why people should pick them over the alternative, He therefore recommended looking at the three sets of drivers, which he explained that they are not weighted equally.  For example, Customer Benefits are weighter higher but are always less than half the weighting, so the other six combined are always greater in terms of their impact.  Therefore you may be spending most of your marketing budget saying what fantastic customer benefits you bring, but there are six other drivers that are often largely ignored, yet those, according to Nick, are aften the ways in which you can be understood to be different.

Another sector that we looked at was the Energy industry, which has a huge Authenticity Gap within the Care of Environment section, which Nick believes is because the industry doesn’t talk about itself in ways people can relate too. He said that opening up the energy market, meaning that consumers can get their energy from many places, created an advertising war, but that’s meant that all the messaging has been around providing a service and managing how you use your energy, to the detriment of talking about what energy companies are for, how they make their money and the difficulties in achieve that.  Relating it back to what Simon discussed about BT not talking about the nature of the problem they had regarding their pension deficit, Nick said that companies dont like to talk about the fact that business is often quite hard, that there are hard choices to be made and are often wrestling with some quite serious problems.  He said that they dont like to talk about it because somehow that suggests weakness and difficulty. However, his view is that often, if you don’t explain to people why things are hard, then you get no credit for overcoming them when you do, because people just assume it was easy.

Simon’s advice to companies is to simply talk about themselves more succinctly and not over complicate their message. He used Waitrose as an example as he said they tried to say that they could be as cheap as Asda, but questioned why they would say it and fight that battle.  IN his opinion, Waitrose is where you when you can afford it, ro for snob value or as a treat because you want some nice food and so he couldn’t understand why they were complicating their message.   He believes they should concentrate on a different message such as the fact that the company is owned by its employees.

To sum up, I asked my three guests for one bit of advice based on what we’d been discussing:

Simon: “When he goes on lunches and has a glass of wine with a company leader, he often thinks they are ok people!  So he said they should be more like that when representing their companies – not stiff and awkward but more real and authentic.”

Nick: “Companies need to take the time to understand their reputation.  Look at the nine drivers and see how your company is doing against them.”

Steph: “Companies need to look beyond the executive leadership, allow the employees to tell the story becuase they are more likely to be believed and interesting.”

The Executive Summary of FleishmanHillard Fishburn’s UK Authenticity Gap report is now available, and you can request a copy of the full report, which includes industry data as well as the full list of companies surveyed by emailing authenticitygap@fhflondon.co.uk

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes, TuneIn and Stitcher.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

LATAM to Europe + Fearless Girl – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with President of McCann Worldgroup Europe

Interview starts at 20:49

In my final csuitepodcast interview from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Pablo Walker, President of McCann Worldgroup Europe where we talked about the culture differences he’d experienced since moving from Latin America to Europe, plus his thoughts on the 3 x Cannes Lions Grand Prix winning campaign, ‘Fearless Girl’.

Chatting with Pablo Walker , President of McCann Worldgroup

Chatting with Pablo Walker , President of McCann Worldgroup

Pablo has been at McCann for about 25 years, with much of his career in Latin America but moved to Europe a few years ago.

In terms of cultural differences between the two markets, for Pablo, the obvious one in terms of the consumer is language, as in Latin American there are two main languages – Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese and as both are similar, he said that if you speak one, you can understand the other.  However, by contrast in Europe there are more than 30 languages. Therefore, he thinks that in Latin America, there is a lot of cultural activities, such as music, TV and literature that works everywhere in the same way, so there is a regional culture there, but in Europe it is country by country culture, and so he thinks that this makes it much harder to have regional level impact in Europe with the same kind of communications.

From a business perspective though, Pablo cited labour flexibility as a key difference, as he said that in many countries in Europe, it is very inflexible and so in today’s market, where you need to reshape your business very quickly because it may be changing in a very dynamic way, you need flexibility to adapt your structures and he thinks that, compared to Latin America where it is easier to do, he thinks it is very difficult to do this in Europe as it’s slow and very expensive, making it harder for companies to invest, meaning it’s not good for employees either and therefore he believes that this is a dangerous situation.

One thing that is the same across the markets, however, is that the clients are looking for the same everywhere – they all want to improve their top line and want ideas that have an impact in their market that can be measured, whether that market is developed or emerging.

From a creativity perspective though, Pablo said that both regions can learn a lot form each other.  He feels it is more comfortable in Europe, possibly due to the wealth of the region, but in Latin America, you may be able to develop ideas that are more difficult to be acquired in Europe, but then you can implement them more easily in Europe as it may be more difficult to do so in Latin America due to cost. Overall though, he feels that Multiculturalism is an asset in the industry and so believes we need people from different nationalities and gender as his business is one of ideas and those come from everbody.

It was great timing to be speaking with Pablo given McCann had picked up multiple awards at Cannes Lions for their Fearless Girl campaign, including 3 Grand Prix awards and naturally, Pablo was extremely proud and happy with the recognition it was getting.

Fearless Girl (image via Wikipedia)

Fearless Girl (image via Wikipedia)

Fearless Girl was created for McCann’s client, State Street Global Advisors, a New York investment firm, and involved the commissioning of a statue of girl of around 12 years old, that was placed directly opposite Wall Street’s Charging Bull sculpture.  The aim of the campaign was to promoting gender diversity, whilst raising awareness of State Street’s ‘SHE’ fund, which invests in businesses with female executives, among financial communities and was launched to tie in with International Women’s Day, which took place in March.  Pablo said that whilst the initial idea was to place the statue in Wall Street for just one week, due to it being so popular, the aim now was to now keep it there for at least one year.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Content Marketing and all things Barbie – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Mattel

Interview starts at 11:56

In the second part of my final csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Catherine Balsam Schwabar, Chief Content Officer at Mattel, on the topic of Branded Content, plus and all things Barbie!

with Mattel's Catherine Balsam Schwabar

with Mattel’s Catherine Balsam Schwabar

Catherine talked about how content is an expression of the brand in a different format and how brands are now looking at different ways to connect to consumers through the stories the brands have to tell.  She felt that Mattel were in a very fortunate position in that their brands are story driven and much of their narrative is around characters, which allows them to connect with both children and parents and a very content led environment, which works extremely well for them.

Catherine explained that Mattel has always led from a narrative driven standpoint and in fact were among the first companies to advertise to children on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with Disney. But they have been producing content for a long time, when you consider the likes Thomas the Tank Engine or the movies that have featured Barbie in the past.

In fact, Catherine said that the narrative around Barbie’s character continues to evolve.  Barbie now has two new TV series coming out:

‘Dreamtopia’, which is actually about Chelsea, her younger sister:

Launching later this year, ‘Barbie’s Dream House Adventures’, which will be about Barbie and her sisters and puppies and the adventures they have.

Mattel think of Barbie as a person – she is now YouTube vlogger with Twitter and Instagram accounts, and in fact is very active on social media, plus she is now a fashion icon.

Whilst there has been some controversy recently around body image, Catherine said that within the Fashionistas line, Barbie has a celebration of diversity with different ethnicities and body shapes, which has been taken forward with Ken too, with the launch of a new selection of diverse dolls. She added that Mattel tries to think about diversity in all its products and that no matter who you are, you should be able to find yourself in the characters that Mattel is giving you to help you imagine what you can be in the future.   She said that this can be seen in BBDO’s ‘Imagine the possibilities’ campaign where the diverse dolls are seen front and centre in not only how the brand expresses itself to the consumer but also how the girls are expressing themselves back to the brand via social media.

Content is very effective for Mattel.  Catherine said that they recently teamed up with Hudson Media and ABC in the US to make a show call ‘The Toy Box’ where inventors bring their new toys to the show to be judged by kids.  She said it was very successful and the winning toy [ArtsplashTM], launched in May, sold out in many markets, and then appeared on eBay for four times the original price! A second season of The Toy Box is now in production.

They have a similar measurement around content they produce on YouTube for Thomas the Tank Engine and Hot Wheels, where they see a correlation between the connection their consumers have with that content and rising sales.

Catherine said that as long as the company is connecting authentically, on the right platform, reaching the right audience at the right time, it works for the business.  However, their biggest challenge is in keeping up with the rapidly changing relationship that consumers have with their screens.  Therefore, when thinking about narrative marketing, Mattel need to write for all different screens simultaneously and on a global scale.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Robotics: Can Data Make You Funnier – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Dr Heather Knight & DigitasLBi

In the first part of my final csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with Social Roboticist, Dr Heather Knight and DigitasLBi’s Chief Creative Officer International, Chris Clarke.  My two guests had presented together at the Festival’s Inspiration Stage alongside Heather’s comedian robot sidekick, Ginger, in a session entitled ‘Can Data Make You Funnier?’, which aimed to look at how data and technology can act as catalysts and enablers for creativity.

Chatting with Chris Clarke and Dr Heather Knight

Chatting with Chris Clarke and Dr Heather Knight

Heather explained that the key theme of their presentation was that technology should be more than functional and Chris added that it was quite timely given we see so many headlines about the dangers of the Robot Future, with the idea that robots will replace humans.  Whilst it’s therefore understandable that many people get concerned that robots will put them out of a job, Heather said that this is referring to old fashioned robotics, which is simply about automation, whereas she is interested in more innovative use of technology where robots can work alongside people.

Chris said that the questions they were therefore asking was whether or not it is possible to code for kindness or generate empathy with a robot, which is what he believes Ginger demonstrates.  He feels that companies tend to prioritise efficiency in the use of technology, but he questioned whether this was the best goal.

As to why build a comedian robot, Heather said that she is trying to solve the complex problem of how you model people, which of course is not a single line of code!  She has therefore been looking at acting training and dance, because when you look at human performers, they have a lot of insight in how you craft characters and relationships over time.  She wanted an excuse to work with people who were in that format and wondered what could a robot do on stage by itself, and eventually decided on stand-up comedy because she thought that if technology could apologise sometimes, or make fun of itself, then we would be happier people.

Heather said humour is mostly about surprise so when she started, she thought it would be as simple as just teaching the robot a good joke.  But she soon realised that’s not quite true as a lot of comedy is about storytelling, the audience listens and is drawn in, so she had to ensure that the voice came from the robot.  It therefore makes sense for a robot to be telling jokes about its sensors or audience perception!

She started with a database of jokes that Ginger would randomly cue them and look for feedback, but as she’s learned more about the structure of comedy and storytelling, it’s become more planned, but with moments of serendipity.

Ginger The Robot

Ginger The Robot

Heather said that once on stage, the comedian is the ringleader who puts the audience in their place – particularly to hecklers for example. She said when she spoke to comedians in her research, they said that the audience is not in charge.  Chris added that even some of the most famously spontaneous comedians like Eddie Izzard, if you see their show in five different cities, it’s the same show and even the responses to the hecklers are often the same.  This is why he thinks this area is relevant to brands as they know they have to form relationships with customers, which they do through CRM, but it comes across very ‘robotic’, in the pejorative sense – something Heather hopes will one day be a complement.  Chris therefore believes that brands can therefore learn from Ginger, as he said it is possible to have an automated programme that feels human, that is self-deprecating and charming, it is not just about pure efficiency and moves away from doing tasks for people and is more towards having a real relationship.

I mentioned that when I was at the Globalisation & Localisation Association’s annual conference that took place in Amsterdam a few months earlier, their opening keynote speaker, Thimon de Jong talked about how robots could be used in roles such as on reception or as a concierge in a hotel.  Heather agreed and added that they could also be used for room service, but warned customers that they need to remember the robots will still have a camera, so guests shouldn’t thinkin they can remain naked when the robots bring the food or drink to their room!!

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!


Conversation2Commerce – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with MLSGroup and Coty

Interview starts at 24:41

In the final part of my third csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke to Guillaume Herbette, Global CEO of MSLGroup and Marie-Pierre Stark-Flora, Global SVP of Philosophy at Coty about Augmented Influence and Purpose Driven Marketing.

Chatting with MSL's Guillaume Herbette and Marie-Pierre Stark-Flora, of Coty

Chatting with MSL’s Guillaume Herbette and Marie-Pierre Stark-Flora, of Coty

MSL describe Conversation2Commerce (C2C) as a global influence-to-impact performance platform and a new way of driving sales.  Guillaume said it’s about taking a piece of media or content such as an article, blog or video, and transforming it into an ad unit, through the use of the platform, which can then be put in front of the right target [audience] at the right time and in the right place, which enables you to measure the impact, either in terms of reputation, brand lifting or sales. MSL launched the platform in September 2016 and Guillaume said that since that time have been testing it across world with amazing results. He explained that it is data driven, with the right data, something he didn’t think traditional PR companies had much access to, and why MSL had a partnership with Publicis Media and in particular one of their group companies, Performics that deals with performance marketing.

Marie-Pierre commented that the partnership has worked well.  She said that Coty were an early adopter of the platform and for her, it is a holy grail for the brand. She believes this for a number of reasons as it:

  • closes the loop from earned media and influence to purchase
  • improves ROI and monetises earned media
  • is a genuine non-branded message that doesn’t look like the brand is pushing information of sales in the direction of the consumer – she said that consumers respond less and less when brands are openly trying to influence their purchase pattern
  • accelerates the number steps to purchase, bringing consumers to purchase faster

Guillaume believes that influence has never been more important.  He said that in the past, the brand marketers didn’t think highly of traditional PR campaigns as they felt that they have a short shelf life and it was difficult to know who was reading the newspaper and it was impossible to measure the impact of a PR campaign. However, the power of influence is changing with use of data, enabling us to measure its impact very precisely. He added that due to a recent test, the retail investment of influence is now 7 to 10 times higher and so they now define the use of influence of data, technology and measurement as Augmented Influence.

Talking through a recent small test of MSL’s C2C platform, Marie-Pierre said that in four US states, the earned media ad units were more efficient than traditional online media, with a 36% higher CTR than the benchmark.  However, they also saw the campaign drive 42,000 women to offline stores in three weeks, which she said for a small scale test was amazing. Therefore the cost per visit was 2.5 to 4.5 times lower than their benchmark, allowing them to bring so many more women to the Coty brand for much less budget.

Finally, Marie-Pierre also talked about emotional influence and the fact that Coty have three infuences on women’s life:

  • make them look good with their products
  • feel good with the philosophies that are written on the packaging to lift their spirits and self worth
  • do good, as 1% of their purchases goes to the company’s ‘Hope and Grace’ initiative, which supports women’s mental health.

In fact, Philosophy recently launched PSA called ‘How are you really’ to tie in with National Mental Health month and help create a conversation between those living with mental health issues and those who want to support them.

More information on this initiative can be found at the Hope & Grace website

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Young Lions PR – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with the Judges and Bronze Winners

Interview starts at 14:35

In part two of my third csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with the three judges of the Young Lions PR Competition, Blair Metcalfe from MSLGroup, Candace Kuss of H+K Strategies and James Hacking from BlueCurrent, plus the winners of the Bronze award, Estefani Solorzano and Christian Gomez of Comunidad CR [the competition’s Gold was won by the Hungarian team of Luca Hadnagy and Paloma Madina from HPS Experience].

L-R: Blair, Russ, Candace, Estefani, James and Christian

L-R: Blair, Russ, Candace, Estefani, James and Christian

James said that in total, this year’s Young Lions competition attracted 468 entries from 69 counties across 7 categories.

Teams of two from different agencies who had previously won their individual country rounds are given just 24 hours to answer a brief set by a non-profit organisation, and they have to come back and pitch their ideas to the judges.  The PR category was supported by The International Communications Consultancy Organisation, and had entries from 24 countries.

Candace said that it was amazing that the teams who had won their country rounds had come to Cannes from around the world, some as far as China, to compete against each other, and that being on the jury was very insightful because as judges, they learned a lot from the finalists as well as the finalists learning from the experience.

This year’s brief had come in from the British Red Cross.  It’s aim was to raise attention for ‘silent emergencies’, things that happen every day that, for whatever reason, are not necessarily picked up by the mainstream media like a natural disaster or a famine might, yet they account for about 9 out of 10 issues.  James said that judging was very challenging as the quality was extremely high and once they had narrowed it down, they had difficulty placing the winners.

Bronze winners, Estefani and Christian, had made the trip to Cannes Lions from their agency in Costa Rica and they said it was a huge honour to be there, adding that the experience of winning was overwhelming and that they are still trying to get used to it.

Explaining their idea, Christian said that their campaign started by discussing why people did not help with silent emergencies and that people are not able to respond to things they do not hear about.  From here, they decided to invent the idea of a simple hearing test, like the standard test you are given, where you tap when you hear the sound frequency, but for this campaign, when the noise passed below the 20 Hz human listening barrier, instead of not being able to hear anything, you started to hear the stories of those people who experienced silent emergences – the idea being now that you can hear them, you can help them.

This was the first year that the PR category for the Young Lions competition had been included in Costa Rica and so Estefani and Christian felt very proud to have won bronze, plus it gave hem the reassurance that they are on the right career path. Christian said that the entire process does put pressure on you but part of that pressure means that at some point you must believe in your idea and go with it, even with the language barrier, where when he speaks in English a fundamental part of what he is trying to say may not come across, as you just hope it will be as understood across the world.

Candace said that the top five of six entries were the ones that got the judges ‘in the gut’!  They were the most memorable. Many were visual, simple and impactful ideas that paid attention to the target audience well.

For Blair, the benefits of the competition are obvious.  He said that it means that your agency’s young talent is not only showcased at Cannes but also can improve and be supported.  He added that it is great coming together and sharing creative ideas with like-minded individuals but it also helps the competition entrants understand the PR world a little better and that it’s therefore a great benefit for their personal progress, their career progress but also great for their agencies too.

Finally, Christian and Estefani explained that the PR industry in Costa Rica is in its early stages and coming to Cannes is like a glimpse into the future for them. They want to harness what they have learnt and are looking forward to the next project.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Data & Creativity – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Microsoft & H+K Strategies

In part one of my third csuitepodcast from Cannes Lions, I spoke with two previous guests of the show, Scott Allen, CMO of Microsoft UK and Vikki Chowney, ‎Director of Content & Publishing Strategies, H+K Strategies about Data & Creativity.

Chatting with Scott Allen and Vikki Chowney

Chatting with Scott Allen and Vikki Chowney

Scott had been part of a panel session at the Festival with other CMOs from Pinterest, Dropbox and Hilton Hotels in a session entitled ‘Clash of the Titans – Where data clashes with creativity’.  He explained that it was to see how CMOs can best use the wealth of data available to them, as they tend to be rich in data but poor on insight.  Within his panel, Scott said they discussed whether or not companies are too data focused at the expense of creativity within your marketing plan, or visa versa, hiring for a modern marketing organisation if you are thinking about data and having more technical proficient people in your team, how we make data more meaningful and whether there is a need for both global and local content anymore as the data is so specific and so does the word ‘glocal’ go away now.  It was therefore a number of those topics that I wanted to therefore expand on during our podcast interview.

Vikki said that one aspect of this area that excited her was audience mapping, explain that from a PR perspective, you are now able to get great and very granular audience insights, something that is no longer cost prohibitive, which if used appropriately, can inform creative ideas.

In terms of hiring, Scott had previously said on the show that I produced in association with MOI Global, that he would like to hire people who are part creative and part scientist, but he added that it’s not a skillset that is easy to find. However, he said he looks to employ people who are business savvy, i.e., those who look at business objectives first rather than marketing tactics first, but he also wants them to have an analytical and data interpreter’s mind set. He added that whilst there is a growing use of AI technology, without the human intervention and interpretation, it doesn’t become that meaningful for you. Finally, Scott feels that the ideal people need to be comfortable integrating into the creative side of the marketing team, so the data team and creative team can lead the campaign strategy and planning together.

This all aligned with the profile of people that Vikki said H+K Strategies are recruiting too, which has changed from people with classic traditional agency experience. She said that her agency are now hiring from publishers and digital agencies, plus people who build things, so that they can work with data creatively, giving them very specific roles built on those outputs and expertise, rather than broad/brushstroke agency titles.  She said that the key to making it work is to ensure that everyone collaborates and doesn’t work in silos.

When it comes to data and creativity working together, Vikki gave an example from a recent Intel project where, using audience mapping, they looked at where people spent their time and what they were interested in. The project was in partnership with the RSC, during the showing of the Tempest at the Globe Theatre in London. She explained that by using data, they saw that the audience Intel were trying to reach about the project were high users of Snapchat, and so as a result, they came up with the idea to run a Snapchat filter – a nice simple way to use a platform already being used by the audience in a cool way.

Finally, Scott explained that data can also help you decide what not to do. As an example, he said that instead of doing something you’ve always done because you thought it was successful, data allows you to be even more uber-targeted.  He gave an example of instead of running a generic event on a particular date, you could use data to say, we need to do an event, in Manchester, on this date, with this audience and this profile, because we’ve done some propensity modelling, and these customers are likely to want to purchase from us so that you bring the right people to the venue at the right time, which will make the event more successful. Scott always tells his team to look 90% forward and 10% backwards and he said that this is a good example of how they do that.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

The Anatomy of a Trend – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with WGSN

Interview starts at 31:15

Chatting with WGSN’s Carla Buzasi

Chatting with WGSN’s Carla Buzasi

In the final part of the second csuitepodcast that I recorded in Cannes Lions, I spoke with Carla Buzasi, Global Chief Content Officer at trend forecasters WGSN, who had earlier been presenting at the festival about how to predict and dissect the anatomy of a trend.

Carla explained that at WGSN she has a huge team of journalists, data analysts, consultants and product experts who go out and look for tiny bubble-up trends. These are then all brought together twice a year at the company’s Trends Days, where they then look for common themes, which they then use to predict two years ahead, what will become the big macro trends on how we will live our lives. Carla said that there is a difference between fads, trends and movements. She believes that, whilst some trends do die off, most of them are constantly evolving.

In the past year alone, members of the team at WSGN have been to 95 different countries, visited 89 music festivals and 2755 catwalk shows, looking for trends where people are, or where people are doing interesting things. Some of those places that her team have visited include Coachella, the World Retail Congress and Primavera Sound, plus she had colleagues at Cannes Lions in a reporting capacity too. Alongside these events, Carla said they also monitor hundreds of blogs and social media influencers and that to be a trend forecaster, you must have a very broad and open mind.

Carla said that businesses use the information that WGSN provide according to their customer base, so if a business is targeting someone who is cool and edgy to buy their clothes or stay in their hotel, then they need the early trend predictions.  However, mass market retailers or bigger supermarkets tend to want more established trends. For example quinoa is now on all supermarket shelves, but it would not have worked five years ago – the trend needed to be established.  So one very new trend they are saying to look out for is Rosemary water.

One trend that is very important to Carla is the improvement in diversity in the industry and she said that we’re at the stage where the influence is there because there are some amazing women at the top of the industry who are very visible, on stage in Cannes, are reported in the newspapers and write books. However, she doesn’t feel that we are at the stage of mass adaption and so whilst people love to talk about women in leadership roles, she doesn’t think enough companies are making that happen.  She therefore thinks that the industry is on an upward curve, and whilst she remains very optimistic, she said that there is still more work to be done.

Another trend we spoke about was wearable technology and Carla said that in the future, your fitbit will be built within the fabric of your clothes and you won’t even have to input what you have eaten as the calories can be counted through your sweat! There will also be wearable technology that will be able to detect STDs. Carla said that the CEO of fitbit would like the wearable tech to become like wearing a seatbelt in that you won’t leave home without being able to collect data on all aspects of your life – we are obsessed with data, so Carla sees a bright future for wearable technology.

As for the trends that Carla noticed at the Festival, she said she was going to say Goat Yoga [seriously!] but she hadn’t seen so much of that in Cannes.  Instead, she said that in her presentation, she had used the catchphrase ‘bored is the new black’ and so people need to embrace boredom more than they do at the moment – we never pause, we are always looking at our phones.  However, she said that it’s really important to give your brain time to recharge and reboot, adding that people often say they have their best ideas in the shower, which is probably because there is nothing there to distract them.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Brands and Music Artists + Era of the Engineer – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast with Young Guru and Jerald Cooper

Interview starts at 19:07

Chatting with Young Guru (left) and Jerald Cooper (right)

Chatting with Young Guru (left) and Jerald Cooper (right)

Part three of the second csuitepodcast that I recorded in Cannes Lions was probably my favourite interview this year at Cannes, as I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with two truly inspiration gentlemen – Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer, Young Guru, and talent manager and entrepreneur Jerald Cooper.  Guru is best known as Jay-Z’s personal music engineer and has been described by The Wall Street Journal as ‘the most influential man in hip hop that you have never heard of’.  He had just taken part in a panel discussion organised by FleishmanHillard titled ‘Talking Tunes and Human Truths’ that took place in the ICCO House of PR, where they discussed how music effects people and how to become and remain authentic to what you are doing – he feels that authenticity is a huge part of advertising, PR and marketing.  He also said they talked about the challenges of choices you have to make when dealing with PR in terms of issues you may want to represent and how you can best do that, as well as how agencies can work with the creatives [music artists] they want to use.  We therefore continued that discussion in our podcast interview, but also got on to chat about their own project called ‘Era of the Engineer’.

In terms of how brands are working with musicians, Guru explained that it’s very different now – it’s no longer about assuming if you align your product with an artist, then the artist’s fan base will move to that product.  Instead, the fan base needs a reason to like the product and so the product has to fit into the life of who those people are. It’s therefore not about choosing the biggest artist to fit with your brand but the most effective.

Guru said that now is an important time for artists to be working with brands, particularly as the music industry has changed, with album sales that artists used to rely on not as large anymore due to the internet.  However, he said the artist has taken the album out of the centre of the circle and replaced it with themselves as the brand.  He therefore believes connecting with companies that can represent or support your brand as an artist is great, but those companies still have to coincide with the ethos of what you are as an artist.

When discussing how Young Guru works with brands himself, Jerald added that one of the key aspects in choosing who you work with is ‘purpose’, both on the brand and artist side.  In fact, he sees it as a trend where he feels that in the next three years, there won’t be a marketing campaign without purpose, which lead nicely onto the subject of Guru and Jerald’s own pet project, ‘Era of the Engineer’.

As a young black male growing up, Guru said that he was into engineering, wanting to know how things were built and constructed, but it was hard to get his friends involved as it was something that was seen as uncool and nerdy. His plan, therefore, with ‘Era of the Engineer’ is to make tall types of engineering cool – not just musical engineering and the draw of working with the highest paid artists, but the understanding that everything has been engineered.

He gave examples, that, as he described, may not be seen as sexy, but running the sound at the McDonalds Drive Through has to be engineered and it’s a job that pays! Therefore, whilst he can draw kids in through his involvement in the music industry, he can then show them all types of engineering. He said that at the moment, coding is the biggest thing and that everyone wants to invent an app, sell it and be the next Mark Zuckerberg, yet there are countries that need infrastructure. and that we will need people who know how to build roads and maintain them. He feels that whilst coding is important and is the language of the future, we need all other types of engineers – we live in a physical world, so we need people who know how to build the physical things, be that roads or the spaceship that’s going to go to Mars.  He added that it is all very nice to make the next app that is sold for millions of dollars but it is rare to achieve that, just like only 10% of people make it as professional sports people.

Jerald added that it will be hard for anyone to try and identify something that has not been engineered and so entering into engineering via sports or any part of culture makes it cool.

Guru and Jerald therefore want to change the culture – they want it to be important to know the facts, to get to the stage where your friends will think you are weird if you don’t know this information. For example, even if you are into fashion, the machines that make the clothes have been engineered, and if you think into the future, you’ll need engineering to make the 3d printers that can make shirts or sneakers.

You can find out more information about Young Guru and Jerald Coopers’ project on the website – eraoftheengineer.com.

The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.

Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!