Featuring Katie Jackson
Katie Jackson is the Managing Director of TBWA\London. She’s also been described as Mary Poppins on steroids and is great fun to interview.
On publishing day, I realised I hadn’t given this episode a great / cheesy name, so it became The Episode With No Name – creative, right?
In TEWNN, we talk about:
- Being Mary Poppins on steroids
- Disruption and TBWA’s approach to it
- Why ‘brand’ isn’t a fluffy term
- T shaped v I shaped marketers
- How the government has communicated it’s COVID messaging
- Why creative is essential
- Media and messaging being best mates
- Formal education v learning on the job
- Hun wines
- The power of oops (or when things go wrong)
- The power of being yourself
- A T.O.P.T.I.P for everyone
Katie was brilliant to interview and shares some fantastic insights into marketing, campaigns and brands which will resonate with everyone.
Listen / Download
Watch on YouTube
Don’t forget to subscribe while you’re there
Links to stuff we talked about on the show
‘Humaning’ my thoughts on Mondelēz’s mess
Hun Wines launch campaign
All the different COVID comms from the government
Sound the excuse TBWA\London’s campaign
Katie’s Book Recommendations
Why Did the Policeman Cross the Road?: How to solve problems before they arise by Stevyn Colgan
Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson
Katie has experience setting up and running complex, high volume accounts with multiple agencies and stakeholders, having led Grey London’s flagship £40m Retail business for Marks & Spencer whilst heading up their 85 strong Account Leadership department.
Katie started agency life at Leagas Delaney working on Nationwide, IHG and Amnesty International. She has also been a Client – Head of Marketing for luxury womenswear brand ME+EM – and had stints at RKCR/Y&R and Brothers & Sisters, where she led the award-winning Center Parcs ‘Bears’ campaign and ran the Carphone Warehouse business.
Find Katie here:
If you have any questions or want to talk about anything that was discussed in the show, the best place to get me is on Twitter or LinkedIn.
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Andi Jarvis, Eximo Marketing.
This transcript has been done automagically using Happy Scribe and hasn’t been checked by a real person, so there may be some hilarious mistakes where the AI can’t work out our accents – I’m sure they’re trained on just the American accent.
Eyup my name is Andi Jarvis, and thank you for joining me again on the strategy sessions with Episode 13 on, I am super excited about my guest today. When you read somebody’s bio and it finishes with this line, you know, you’re going to be in for a treat for the next 45 minutes, it says. “A staunch feminist, Katie has previously been described as Mary Poppins on steroids”. I’m joined by Katie Jackson, the M.D. of TBWA.
Katie, thank you for joining us. Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me.
What an introduction.
Hey, listen, Mary Poppins on steroids. You’re going to have to explain that. That’s amazing.
I know it’s it’s a pretty catchy description, isn’t it? I mean, to be honest, the truth behind it is that when I was in my previous agency, our chief creative officer and I worked together across a number of different businesses. And I think she kept on describing me as being stern but kind stern, the kind, you know, full of humour, very good hearted, but still able to be firm. And then one day she just turned round to me and said, oh, my God, I know who you remind me of. You’re like Mary Poppins. But on steroids, I still don’t know whether it’s a compliment, but we’ll go with it for now.
I mean, everybody loves Mary Poppins. So, you know, let’s take that. And I imagine that you must be great on road trips as well if you’ve got a handbag where everything can just keep coming out of it.
Right. I’m an account person by trade. We have to be prepared for anything. We have to be prepared for anything.
So Mary Poppins on steroids is with us today from London. You’re joining us in at home as everybody else’s. And I a love on the TBWA website. You are now WFA as everybody is at the moment.
So give us a little bit of a feeling for TBWA If people are listening, they’re going who are TBWA?
What tell us about the agency, TBWA celebrating our fiftieth anniversary this year. So it’s a big year for us. We are a creative agency or indeed a creative collective across the world. Really? Yes. We have offices in most countries around the world, and I am lucky enough to be the MD of the London office. And a lot of the time you’ll see us describe ourselves as the disruption company. And I know on previous episodes there has been a lot of conversation around disruption itself and new buzz word, et cetera.
But disruption function is going to go off. Hold on quick. It is there, it is collapse. And so we describe ourselves as disruption company. We’ve been using the disruption methodology really for the last twenty five of those 50 years. And and we should come on to talk about that, because it’s something I really, really believe in. And it’s something of unique value to TBWA in terms of the application of that methodology. But we solve business problems for all of our clients in the most creative ways possible, and that certainly isn’t limited to commerce.
So we cover a whole raft of creative solutions across the board for all of our clients and we have a crack in good time doing it. So it’s a good place to be. Excellent.
And when lockdown isn’t making everybody work from home, whereabouts is the office in London?
So we are in the lovely towers of Bankside over in Southwark. We are actually owned by Omnicom on the commercial holding company. And most Omnicom agencies in the UK or certainly in London anyway, should I say, are based in the Bankside Towers in Southwark. So not too far from where I am in Brixton. Brilliant stuff.
Look, let’s let’s dive straight into disruption because there’s a few words in business and especially in marketing, the overused to the point of being pointless and strategy is one of them. Strategy sessions, podcast and disruption is another one. And, you know, disruption has just become the buzzword. Whatever. We’re doing something slightly different, we’re disrupting an industry.
So what does disruption mean to you?
You’ve been at this twenty five years before anybody said disruption. So what’s your take on it?
It’s a really good question. And there’s a wonderful document that does the rounds occasionally across TBWA, which charts the birth of the disruption methodology for TBWA and it uses some really lovely language, which is, you know, ultimately the world is in constant turbulence and never has that been more true than 20/20. The world is in constant turbulence. And within the client businesses, brands need to identify how they can protect and nurture and grow a larger share of the future.
And what that means is you need to understand what conventions, if certain categories are at play in order to continue to find ways to break them iteratively. So the key to disruption is that it is a continuous and ongoing process. Right. You kind of. Disrupt categories, you can disrupt markets, you can disrupt in many, many different ways, and that is exactly the point. What TBWA are really, really interested in doing and continue to do on an ongoing basis for all of its clients is convention hunt.
And I love this phrase because it’s so active. We go convention hunting every day, every hour, every minute.
That’s a phrase you have to be very careful saying as well as it was a convention. It’s just a few anyway. It doesn’t matter anyway, carry on.
Nobody said so. You know, we do we do try.
And we’ve got lots and lots of tools and processes within TBWA to allow us to mind for those conventions constantly. And that might be, you know, for a period of weeks. There are a number of conventions that we identify in the social space or influence the space in the news or in wherever it may be. So for all brands, can we look at framing those and disrupting them and doing the opposite so that we can create that larger share of the tension within culture for all that for our clients, but also build a much larger share of the future, as I said.
So it’s a really wonderful methodology when you start to get under the skin of it. And I don’t know whether you’ve seen all diagrammatic way of representing it. You know, we have convention hunting where we always try and identify the convention that we are looking at as a square. Then we identify the vision that should come off of that convention. So where we want to be heading, which is our circle and then our famous triangle destruction triangle, is the disruption that breaks the barriers for for those clients as a result.
So it’s not just about being different for the sake of being different, which I think is where some people, when they use disruption, they mean difference. And actually what you’re talking about is understanding the norms of an industry or category or sector and then finding ways to subvert them, change them, alter them.
So your clients stand out as being a little bit different in that market. That seems to be what you’re saying.
Yeah, and I think the key, I think, is a good way of expressing it. And the key to that really is you shouldn’t be doing things differently for the sake of doing things differently, because you need to understand what the codes or conventions of a certain way of being are before you decide which ones you’re going to break.
And the decision for breaking those conventions needs to be rooted in a very clear vision and strategy rather than just for the sake of because any any personal business can go, hey, when you zig zag, in fact, to famous agency, a soul, somebody from Google talking about Google heavy into self-driving cars for a while, haven’t heard them talk about it for a bit.
But in some of their early iterations, they had self-driving cars with no steering wheels and no pedals, full self-driving cars. And when they started to do testing with with people, what do you think? It spooked them? So putting a steering wheel back in and pedals back in the car, even just as domain’s improved, how people reported their thoughts and feelings of the car because they were conventions that they didn’t want disrupting. They felt that they needed that.
So the car self-driving was enough of a disruption.
You didn’t have to change everything. And is there a little bit of that in what you do is that you actually need to get disruption, right? So if you go too far, you actually make it difficult for people understanding what you are or what you’re trying to say. You need to sort of stay close to the convention, but just far enough away to be different rather than trying to invent something entirely new because people don’t quite understand what that is, unless you are spending big enough to make them understand.
Absolutely. At the end of the day, know you think about tropes of certain categories when it comes to communications, and you’ll tend to find that a lot of perfume communications will look the same, haircare communications will look the same. Flag campaigns a lot of the time will say if you move too far away from those people will not understand what you’re trying to sell. Because what we can’t mistake here is that our job is still to try and drive consumerism ultimately.
Right. We still have products to sell and brands to build for our clients. So we absolutely have to adhere to some selected conventions in order to make sure that we are not losing any base equity within those categories or tropes that we need to hold onto. But our job is to find new and different and disruptive ways around those to drive greater relevance, to drive a greater share of attention and culture for our fans.
Now, you mentioned brand building there as well, which is something I want to get into because I spend I sort of started doing traditional marketing, moved into digital ten years ago. I see myself as a marketer who who understands digital rather than the digital marketing. Slight difference. I think maybe it’s semantics. Who cares? But what I find with a lot of. Digital marketing is that they have been told or they believe that brand building is just nonsense.
It’s just a waste of money because there’s no Rabois measure, there’s no clicks to sales measurement and things like that. And I think partly that’s because what passes is brand building is often bullshit. And also, what are you talking about with brand building for your clients and what do you look at as measurements? And, you know, the big picture brand building that you’re looking at?
I wonder if there might be two questions in that, because I think the first part of it is do we feel like those people or individuals who describe themselves as digital marketers have forgotten or underestimated the importance of brand or creative storytelling within what they do? And I think the answer is, don’t hate me for saying this. The answer is a little bit yes and a little bit now. And to be honest, it depends on that person’s background. If you have a digital marketer who’s grown up and trained in a very specialist area, this is a T-shirt that says I shape individuals here.
Right. If you have a specialist eye expert in a certain field within digital who hasn’t necessarily ever experienced a broader grounding in marketing and its codes and patterns and tropes and conventions, then I think, yes, of course I will underestimate the impact of creativity and what they’re doing. However, if you have a T shaped marketer who becomes trained and experienced in a specific part of the digital landscape, then that individual or that team will always understand the power and value of brand building and storytelling.
Because I think the second part then, if what you ask is about the value of brands and the value of brand, I think is really, really simple, which is you look at a balance sheet and you look at intangible assets. That’s your brand. That’s the power of your brand.
It affords you the opportunity to go.
Yes, my product is made with 100 percent cotton and that person’s product is maybe 100 percent cotton. But you’re going to pay three times more for mine because I have created a story and built a world around this product that is so compelling you will overlook anything else and that is really, really, really powerful. And building brands is all around building stories. And what’s become fascinating, I think almost tiptoeing back into what you were saying with conventions and being careful around how much you disrupt in those conventions is if 20, 20.
I won’t say it because I know you’re going to stand for it. But in 2020, if that’s taught us anything, it’s a retreat into the familiar and the comfortable. We’ve seen a massive retrenchment to brands that have very, very high legacy trust schools. You know, people have gone in times of scariness and uncertainty out there. I need things that I know and actually as marketers as well, we have to be mindful of that, because if we go too far and we break too many boundaries, people aren’t comfortable with that right now.
Yeah, that and I think you look at networks across lots of sectors and the BBC and I think The Guardian released some figures in the early lockdown where I think the top 10 per day of page impressions on the top 10 stories had the C word competition.
And you said it, not me. You said it. And we are going to talk about covid a bit more in a minute.
But you’re right, people went to places that they know. Now, I didn’t say scary stuff about news that Facebook is the third biggest news organization in the UK, news source in the UK, which is really interesting and equal parts petrify and given some of the other garbage that manages to unmoderated, find its way on there. But there’s a whole other podcast about what should Facebook be doing about that? What might be park that for Christmas special or something.
But look, it’s a TBWA do you communicate with you look at how clients communicate with the public is maybe a simplistic way of boiling down what you do. And as we mentioned, as you didn’t mention covid, but I did.
I want to put you on the spot a little bit with a slightly political question about the government’s response to covid, not what did they do right and what did they do wrong.
But there was a lot of discussion and debate about whether they communicated their message. Right now, in the early days, they seemed to jump through a couple of slogans and then Stocco and I think it was stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives, and then spiraled into various other bits. They control the virus, save lives of the things, other things, and then no hands free space just as a professional in the industry.
So not after. What do you think of the politicians response, but what do you think of the communication of the message under the covid?
I love that question and I’m trying to think about the number of different slogans that the government went through in order to illustrate my answer. I think you had stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.
I shouldn’t be laughing about the. Stay alert, protect and save lives. Stay alert. Control the virus, save lives, because you can’t control the virus.
Wash your hands. Cover face may expose it out to help out. We can’t forget all six hands face face. Maybe there were some other ones. I don’t know. So, look, there are, what, six or seven individual calls to action slogan, strap lines, whatever you want to describe them over the course of less than six months.
And in my opinion, the best pieces of communication are bulls eye single minded and very, very specific and simplistic in what they are setting out to describe or setting out to ask people to do so.
In that respect, I think we can all agree, and I think there is some consensus around the lack of simplicity in what the government’s communications have come out to do. That said, I think it’s difficult to do that completely because the situation was I will not to use that new word, but the situation was was really unlike any other situation that the government had faced before. And therefore, there was a need to iterate a little bit so I can understand why things happened in the way that they did.
But from my perspective, to not have a singular rallying cry for the nation to galvanize the nation and bring them all together around is a real mess.
I mean, I’m not not just court record. I’m not going to ask you how old you are of a certain vintage of which I am. One will remember government communication campaigns like click every trip is something I haven’t heard on TV or on the radio, probably since I was about six or seven.
Yeah, but still.
No, no. You know, every time I put my seatbelt on and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, going ask your granddad. Right. But if you click every trip, put your seatbelt on.
Yes. That was a singular message for a single target. And I do appreciate that. But covid in the research in the science was a moving target for the government all times. But lack of simplicity driven from policy sometimes as well. But it just seemed to undermine that message of we just need to get this across and had a platform to millions of people every single day by the the podium addresses from the prime minister or senior ministers, plus the millions I spent on advertising as well, seemed to just Coquille to an extent.
Look, words in your mouth.
Do you think I lost my love? The technical term cock up is a great because yeah. Rodford so.
Yeah, yeah. I mean I think that’s fair.
I think it’s so difficult because they had to move at such pace. I think what’s fascinating is, you know, the, the campaign you were describing around road safety and making sure that you put your seatbelt on follows along that rhythm of three very short punctuated phrases. And a lot of what the government needed to do with that campaign was instructional. And the messaging had to be quite rational. Right. But again, I think there is a missed opportunity to consider one central platform off of which you can then deliver specific targeted messaging in a way that any good comms plan would work for any individual campaign.
What is on the lead message? And then how are we supporting the individual tactical and phase messages underneath that? And that, I think, is where they failed because they just kept replacing the overarching take out and the overarching message.
I have some a little bit of hope that handsfree space will stick. I, I personally think it could work really, really well.
And if you look at the way they’ve executed that and some of their TV ads and digital age, you know, I wash my hands to protect my non and yeah, you might say some of it’s a bit cheesy, but if you look at how the initial messaging changed and evolved, they were trying to move the target for a space feels like whether the virus is getting better or worse, whether they was going up or down, is something that could become a central plank.
Maybe it’s by accident, I don’t know. But they do have some tremendous comms people working for the government who must be going bold in and go. It must be a thankless task, let’s put it that way.
Yeah, I think so. And I think it’s interesting that you say that about hands, face to face, because it’s probably one of the only slogans that I’ve seen be so heavily what is it what’s the right term for this? Been so heavily copied and mocked, shall I say? Certainly across social media, there’s a whole load of names that have been doing the rounds on that in various different ways. And actually, you know, in my world, the more conversation there is about something, the better.
So in some sense. I think that’s kind of interesting that it started to penetrate culture in that way, that people are wanting to engage with it and make their own creations off the back of it. So you might be right.
Yeah, it looks a bit like the Burger King model at Burger King on it’s a client. Whether you like to talk about Burger King, that’s fine.
But it seems that their model of advertising at the minute is based around getting as much free eyeballs looking at their campaign as possible. Moldy whoppers going by a McDonald’s, whatever it is, seems to be the number one metric they’re after. I have no inside knowledge of this. This is a complete guess, but it seems that the ad spend of minimal reach of maximum and seems that’s what they’re aiming for.
If you’re getting a slogan Huntsberry Space or whatever, mocked and it’s being taken on in places and it has a simplicity to it, then maybe it’s not a bad thing.
Yeah, and I think that’s kind of inevitable. And I think more and more brands adopt that approach. Ever since the the balance of power shifted away from brands to consumers. You know, with the advent of so many different new channels, the proliferation of channels that consumers are showing up in, more of which are appearing day by day, week by week, especially actually during lockdown, which has accelerated it. It’s inevitable that whatever activity a brand puts out into the world needs to be part of that conversation and drive conversation by the consumer rather than by the brand.
So I think Burger King is a fantastic example. And I think the CMO that Fernando Mitchard has done an excellent job in shifting the focus and attention away from more traditional communication frameworks into something that goes I want to create something that gets talked about holding up a favorite campaign of the last few years. You know, it’s I know it’s very polarizing, but I think it’s as a result sets out what’s it needed to do. Absolutely.
Fernando, if you’re listening, give us a call on the Strategy Session. So I really would like to interview muchly, because the key thing I always think about that campaign is it may be moving all the metrics.
I can’t wait for the award submission at the end of the year or next year over where they have where they talk about how many more burgers, the DL. The key thing I’m waiting to find out. Did it drive footfall up on football? Because I thought you said, you know, that’s what I’m looking for. How does it all connect together? So, Fernando, you can be up next episode of shows.
So let’s stop talking about the government and start talking about some of the stuff you’re involved in. And tell us about a campaign that you guys have done at TBWA Uttam that’s got your fingerprints all over it, that has worked really well and kind of deconstruct it for us because I want to know what makes a great campaign.
That’s the what I really want to get to. So tell us that story through the eyes of something you’ve been involved in.
Yeah, it’s a really good question and something that we could now talk about forever, because this is why we do what we do is for the work, really. I think we are lucky enough to have worked on a campaign that I think featured on the strategy sessions when we talked about it with the homework that we did for one of our clients, unwinds wines, which is a real young start up brand wine in a can. What’s not to love, folks?
What’s not to love? And we delivered a campaign for them early this year and around the time that it was an absolute delight for a whole host of reasons. And we’ve spoken at length about this on a number of other and a number of other partners. But they came to us with very, very little budget. There is sort of inevitably with very, very little budget. And they said somehow we need something that makes a splash. And they cited brands like Braddock as a as a really good inspiration for them.
And just doing something a little bit more provocative, shall we say, to catch the attention of their target audience, which was much younger, 18 to 24.
You know, they wanted to they had originally set out to speak to that audience through the summer of festivals. That, of course, didn’t happen. So they needed something to make a splash, to make up for all of that stuff that they were sitting on that they had ready for launch. And we had several conversations with them. And, you know, interesting fact here.
We actually only ever met them in person once before. We then constructed the whole rest of the campaign and the thinking and the the selling and the production and delivery all virtually so true testament to our times.
That’s a full twenty twenty five, isn’t it.
Yeah, right. I know, but it’s weird, right. Because you’re getting, you’re getting these clients to take a punt on something when you’ve only ever been this far away from their face. Well this is kind of strange.
And so we, we had a little mall about the right way to drive the kind of fame and PR that we wanted to. And we looked at the conventions. You know, let’s go back to our methodology here. What are the. Inventions in the alcohol category is a heavily regulated category as it is, but what are the conventions and how is a brand with this little budget going to be able to stand out? And the only way we felt we were going to be able to stand out was to show the brand up where you wouldn’t expect it to be, because that’s really what it was doing from a product perspective.
Right? Wine shouldn’t be an account that has gone away. It’s not feels like a new proposition within the category. So we generated and delivered a campaign for them, which really poked fun at the use of out of home during a time when no one was out of their homes. And it sounds completely bonkers to tell someone to invest their money in something like that. But, you know, the team came up with some brilliant copy lines and we looked at a number of different ways into it, including our advertising agency recommended that we advertise in our home panels.
Now they’re no longer our advertising agency. There’s a line that we generated because why not? And it was really, really super successful. And I think within just a month of having launched that campaign, they saw over a thousand percent increase in people visiting their website. They saw a huge bump in Instagram followers because we replicated a lot of that work on their Instagram channel. They saw a huge I mean, I think something like 500 percent increase in sessions on their site leading to conversion.
So all in. All right. Through from PR buzz editorial coverage, but down to where the money matters, which is pure hard ahli that campaign really delivers. And I think it delivered for some really simple reasons. And the first is it was simple. It was very, very simplistic. We kept the messaging very singular and focused. And I use that word a lot. Probably used it five times already just in the course of this of this conversation.
It’s a very singular strategy. We show up where you wouldn’t expect us to surprise. And from that, you can iterate and iterate and iterate and iterate.
And we are so pumped and pleased with the way that campaign turned out. Watch this space is all I’m going to say in the show.
Notes there’s a link to the company campaign so you can have a look at what they’ve done. Some of the outdoor is truly amazing.
And to go back to the digital marketers argument here, I go to a lot of digital conferences and speak at various digital conferences. A number of times I hear people standing on stage slugging out of home, particularly probably the after printing press that gets the most abuse. It’s just been utterly waste of money. You know, why would you do this? Whole campaign was built around some great out-of-home placements and an outperform, I’m guessing at the time with peanuts, wasn’t it?
Because nobody wanted out of home. So you must have got huge reach for a fraction of the budget you expect? Yeah, we did. We really did.
But also, I think what people are perhaps a little shortsighted about when describing out of home as being a forgotten channel from a media perspective, is out of home now doubles as a social channel, because if you pull out of home messaging in those sites, that is compelling enough to create a conversation for people to go up and take a snap of it on their phone and post it to their Instagram. You double you triple or quadruple your reach anyway. So it’s not limited to outside of home.
It’s not limited to the hundred thousand and footfall that you’re going to see walking past the site. And I think people forget that sometimes.
So I think that was a really good example of something simple and effective that, you know, we shouldn’t be shying away from recommending to our to our clients anymore.
I think also in my world, in communications, creative industry world, there is an old adage and an old hangover from the good old fifties and sixties Mad Men days, which is if you can’t get a nice post from the back and if you can’t land an idea in a post a headline, it’s not clear enough. It’s not simple enough. And loads and loads and loads of people forget about that.
Now, if you can’t articulate an idea in forty characters or a single headline on a false poster, then I don’t understand what that idea is and how that’s going to land, because you shouldn’t have to take longer than that to explain it to me, because we all know now we have what a small new attention span of a goldfish was it. So you’re expecting a lot of customers if they need to spend longer than that, trying to understand what you’re saying.
Now, the goldfish thing is a particular irritation. I’ve got a presentation of the research behind it, which turned out to be awesome. Shit.
Oh, wow. So. Well, I take the point is the same, whether you driving past a post the site, you know, people who do creative their own brands think everybody cares about.
Your advertising as much as you do, and it’s great that we all in the industry love what we do and love and care about what we do, but the customers don’t give a shit. They just want something that will do the thing they need it to do. So just can you communicate that really quickly? So, you know, I love the approach. Keep it simple. If you can’t get it in a headline, don’t worry about it.
What’s the. What’s the relationship between placement and creative? So in some you know, some places and some people will tell you just get the placement right and everything’s fine. Others will tell you to create it. Got to be right. Obviously, the answer is probably it’s a bit of both.
But how do you work that tension and do you design for certain media first or do you up the idea and then spread it around?
A media and message are inextricably linked and there are lots of brilliant examples of where that has worked really, really well. Again, back to good old days of just consecutive media buys where you might have two quarter pages facing each other. Now I am showing my age you might have to go to pages facing each other in the same way that you have, you know, proximity six sheets outside big retailers now and you can run specific messages. I think the best kind of idea and the best kind of executions always blend media and message expertly.
And I think also it’s important to talk about, you know, I’m on the agency side here, but that’s what clients need more of. And creative agencies working hand in hand in hand, hand in glove, all of the above with media partners, with publishing platforms, with as many different partners as the client can afford. Frankly, in one room with a joint response against any brief is the only way forward. And sadly, I think that sometimes it’s a struggle for that to happen for a lot of agencies simply because our world is becoming harder and harder.
Right. There’s a lot of there’s a lot of land grabbing that’s going on as a challenge always around keeping that new business coming through your door. But my philosophy is always, you know, keep everyone in this together because it’s the only way ultimately we can get to the best work. And that is what is at stake here for us as agency partners. But most importantly, our clients, they just want to get to the best. What, the most effective work?
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that’s the key thing. Sometimes when you work in multiagency approach is all the different teams in different places, even sometimes when you work, when I’ve worked on projects with bigger agencies have been involved and they maybe have a siloed approach watching the internal fighting, something like you work for the same place.
So when the client just wants the work to be great, yeah. So you must have some great creatives at your place and trying to find a way of using the line. I’m just going to use.
Anyway, one of my favorite quotes is David Abberline, about how important creativity is even in the digital world, which is shit that arrives at the speed of light is still shit, which I love, which is some sort of Segway and off into.
Let’s talk about creative’s.
What do you do when you’re recruiting creatives? What do you look for other than smart boots, turned turn jeans and one of those little sort of fisherman hats? Because that’s what all creatives wearing in jackets. But what do you look for in creatives other than the right uniform?
You’re love because you’ve got at least half a dozen of those to stereotype, if ever I heard one on these issues. But there’s a reason why that stereotype.
Yeah, I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know what you mean. I mean, I think it’s really just about ingenuity and coming at things in a really fresh and different way. And I don’t know whether you’ve seen this, but just in the last few days, there’s been a a team who have been featured now in Little Black Book and in Adweek and in Adelaide, etc. They tweeted a lot of the big agencies in London. So they tweeted us, they tweeted TBWA, they tweeted a whole raft of other agencies saying, we’ve held your Tick-Tock accounts hostage and will only let them go if you give us a placement.
And the industry is ablaze with absolute delight at this innovative and fresh approach from I don’t even know what the names are from this very, very young creative team looking to make their mark in the industry. That’s kind of you get hired. That is a phenomenal and very different and may I say, very disruptive approach to showing off how creative you can be in a modern, progressive, relevant find our way. Those guys, I guarantee you, will now work for the rest of their lives as a result of having done that.
I can see already just across Twitter that they’ve had multiple job offers in the last 24 hours. So, you know, speaks for itself. Right.
And what does that make you with that sort of innovative approach? How do you view formal traditional education? As I say, in most episodes, there’s a lot younger market to listen to. There’s some sort of graduates and things like that. What’s your view, the traditional approach to education? Is it still worth having or is it just about being smart and funny and and highjacking tick tock a. I think there is there’s always merit in the same way that we say you need to understand the codes and the patterns of something if we can break them.
Right. There’s always merit in learning and understanding the foundations to getting to a great creative idea. And they really don’t want to be misinterpreted here in saying that that’s not necessary because there are some brilliant, brilliant creative schools, SCA and Finishing School Watford. There’s so many wonderful creative courses that are absolutely exceptional at instilling a real sense of how do you break down the brief?
How do you then define what the idea is in response to that brief? How do you stretch and pull that idea in multiple different ways? And can you, at the end of the day, distinguish from execution an idea? Because sometimes if you don’t go through that process, there may be some gold that comes out in your responses and you may have a fantastically entrepreneurial way of thinking about things.
But again, the clients pay their agencies to solve their beliefs, to solve for their business problems. This isn’t just about doing fun, wacky stuff. For the sake of it, there is merit in understanding the process that you need to go through in order to do that. I love that, I love that, and I talk to people sometimes like what what sort of marketing do you do?
Like boring marketing to me by I was like process structure. Like, I thought you do strategies and that’s cool.
It’s like really just boring stuff and ask me questions most of the time. But understanding those elements, you’ve got to understand that first before you can jump off and start doing stuff so we to say no, no.
And I think one of the things I love about TBWA London is we talk about ourselves a lot as far as being pirates. So one of TBWA old founding clients is Apple. And there’s a very famous quote that people can’t decide whether or not they should attribute to Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs a clown, which is why be in the Navy if you can be a pirate. And that really that really sums up and represents that pirate spirit, that disruptiveness that we like to bring to specific challenges.
But a lot of the time, as we’ve discussed, that can be hard and inappropriate in some instances, depending on what the nature of the client brief is. At TBWA London, we have something that we call pirate projects, which are pro bono, proactive, creative projects that we as an agency really believe in, and they aren’t attached to paying clients.
And I think that’s really compelling for creative teams especially that work with us and for us, because it allows them the opportunity to really, really play around and learn and develop in ways that sometimes are more difficult and challenging on client briefs. And a great example of that is a really a really wonderful idea to a team came to our chief creative officer and I and a number of other people with around the fact that over the last 12 months or nine months, a lot of us have been using video calls a lot more.
And that’s been incredibly exhausting and difficult and energy sapping for people. So they develop this platform called Sound The Excuse, which is designed to it’s a series of mini sounds where if you just can’t bear to be on a call any longer, we pre-recorded lots of little funny. Sounds like your flatmate being stuck in the loo or like your cat being sick or in a Kado delivery. It’s genius.
You got to check it out. And we made it and we invested in it ourselves as an agency and we launched it in time for World Mental Health Day last month. And I love that we’ve done that because it gives us still the opportunity to flex our creative chops and muscle on things that we love and things that we’re really, really passionate about, as well as, of course, to predict what problems.
There’ll be a link to that in the show. Notes again. So please do check. Check this out and use it whenever you need to to to get an excuse to get some calls.
Or people could be forgiven listening to us chatting today to think that an agency under the sun always shines. It’s rosy in the garden all the time.
And that’s all we do is learn and everything goes really, really well. The problem’s over and it’s wonderful. Clients pay obscene amounts of money in the mail, TPIMs or whatever is at the end of the day. Is it something like that? Right. It’s not quite the case. Well, talk to us about when stuff goes wrong, because you learn a lot of lessons when something goes wrong of you being involved in any disasters, any mistakes, any funny stories about when stuff’s gone wrong.
I wish the clients paid us loads of money and we all drank Pimms. Not be nice, wouldn’t it? Like PIMS. But if somebody broke fingers, you can’t drink Penman’s if you can Broadfoot.
It’s just it’s absolutely when has gone wrong. I mean I made a really I made a really catastrophic mistake.
I was wondering whether or not to share this. But I will because nobody, nobody, nobody’s ever so and it was in, I’ve worked in a few agencies in my time and it was in an agency that shall remain unknown and a big retail client running a promotion for a certain percentage of knickers and socks or something that one of those weekend deals and it was a two week long promotion.
So week one was going to be 25 percent off. And then that was going to move up week to to 40 percent off. And all muggins here supplied them the wrong way round.
So so we so we we had it was print ads again back in the day. So we were getting all of the proofs through to supply to all of the papers, and we just supplied the wrong one. And I remember the client was going rightly absolutely ballistic because of course, if you advertise that you’re running a 40 percent off promotion, then you have to honor it if someone takes that install. So that was a real disaster. And I think I cried for a couple of days thinking I’m probably never going to work again.
This is going to follow me around. My reputation is total and utter dust. I better go and move to somewhere very remote. So no complaining. So that was that that was pretty rubbish. But again, we’re all human. We all make mistakes. And I’m my boss at the time, said to me, said to me, Katie, you just need to learn the power of oops. I said, sorry. She went, you just have to learn the power of groups because you’re not a robot.
We’re all fallible. We all make mistakes. And yes, there will be a little bit of a fall out on this. But the power of groups is something that no matter what you do, who you are, as evidenced by the political situation in the US, I we is sometimes it’s really just gets you over the line on things. So there you go.
Now, tell me as well, because obviously everybody wants to be a copywriter at some point in the life. What was the headline on these five percent of ads? Knickers are down.
Oh no. But here’s something for free. One of our creatives I remember and we didn’t run with this line and I don’t think we presented it to the client, came up with a nine nikka drop of glory.
You hit it first. Very good understanding decline before you pitch that, though, right?
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Not one to take four, but thank you very much.
Brilliant. We are coming up. We’re running out of time because you have important things to do in your role as managing director of a big agency. But before we go, I’ve got a few questions I need to ask you. And I also need to sing for you as well. So ask you in a minute for a top tip, which we can share with with anyone who’s just sort of tell us who it’s for and what it is before we do the books, tell us about books that you read or where do you go to keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry?
Oh, I love this question. And I’m actually a big fiction reader rather than a rather than a nonfiction reader. But there are a couple of things that I think are worth calling out. The first one is why did the policeman cross the road by Stephen Colgin, which you may or may not know. Stephen’s a guy who worked for the Met actually for thirty years or something, but he worked in that Problem-Solving unit. And when you read this book, it will blow your mind in terms of the creative solutions that that problem solving unit came up with to address certain issues that were going on in the community or whatever it was.
You know, for instance, I think that was, you know, some of the caption reads, Can lollypops reduce anti-social behaviour? Yes, they can. Can defeat bus stops, protect pensioners. Yes, they do. And there’s all these wonderful examples of where there are certain problems in a community that I’ll take into the police to solve. And the problem solving unit would go. There’s a totally different way of diagnosing this problem and coming at it.
And I love that.
So that’s a really, really a good one to read the second one, because it’s super topical and because obviously you share the same name is eleven raised by Phil Jackson. I mean, who hasn’t watched the last dance on Netflix about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls? Phil Jackson, coach of the Chicago Bulls. It’s an amazing leadership book, you know, and I don’t think it’s Mark. Nothing specific necessarily, but it’s just a really good leadership book.
And then one final thing, which isn’t a book, but is a newsletter that I really recommend any strategists and anyone trying to learn more about the tech landscape and various different things line up to, which is the Benedict Evans newsletter. So Benedict Evans used to work for a VC firm called Arneson Horowitz, also known as A16 Z, and his newsletter is exceptional.
So sign yourselves up to that brilliance, the brilliance of yet less than absolutely loved it.
And I didn’t warm to Michael Jordan watching it. He just came across as a bit of a prick.
But he got it right.
I mean, my first first proper marketing job was working in professional sport, Durham County Cricket Club. And it is a common trait in top level, the very best because they’re so driven. Yeah. They have to be to get to the level that they’re not they’re just blinkered. And those make them hard to be around sometimes and just real assholes a lot of the time. That’s why you’re so driven and so good.
But so anyway, it’s time for a song.
Are you ready? Are you ready for what comes after this show we’ve all been waiting for? It’s time for a T Opti IP. Yeah.
So nice to hear that line. And I sort of want to sing it back to you now, but I’m not going to mind if you want.
You can like the click.
OK, I think. Hey. Oh God. So I think my top tip is and it sounds a little bit throwaway really is please remember to be yourself.
There’s so much rhetoric and so much conversation and chat about what great marketing is, what great leaders, what great strategists should look like and should be. And I think I probably pay too much attention to that when I was younger. And I think that’s really stressful and it’s too much anxiety that comes down on you. So I’d say it’s a more general sense to just be yourself. And if you like to sing to make your point, if you like to wear whatever you want to wear, if you like to work on you, right.
Whatever it is that’s you, bring yourself to work and you’ll fly.
Really, absolutely love. It was Oscar Wilde. But yourself, everyone else is taken. That’s exactly right. Yeah, I love that. Absolutely love it.
Right. We always finish the show with the same question. So this is a flood, but it’s finished and we can let you go. What one question did you expect me to ask that I haven’t?
Oh, uh, I think, uh, I was expecting you to ask what would I be doing if I wasn’t doing this?
Oh, I’m. What’s the answer?
What would you be doing if you were and what would I be doing if I wasn’t ready to be like I think this year actually has really opened my eyes to the need for much greater sense of social change. So I think probably something in the charity sector or CSR sector to really start to drive grassroots social change because no one’s doing it well enough at the moment. And I think there’s a big opportunity to make some changes.
And on that note, we shall leave it. Katie Jackson, managing director of TBWA, thank you for your time. It’s been eye opening. It’s been enjoyable. It’s been fun. If you are young marketer. There’s been loads in this for you. If you’re an established marketer, there’s a lot there as well. Please do let us know what you think. Get in touch on Twitter where Katie is.
@K_Jackson_01. There you go, and I’m @AndiJarvis, Andi, with an i.
Both of those, by the way, are in the show notes on whatever you’re watching, listening to this on. So do get in touch. Let us know what you think. Thank you very much. And come back in two weeks for the next episode. Thank you.
Thanks for having me. Andi, thank you.