Part One: “We should see ourselves as business leaders”: Andrew Geoghegan on mature media use, effectiveness culture and diversity

Andrew Geoghegan

“I see a theme in the work of shifting from chasing the next big exciting thing to a desire to do the right thing for the long term and think in a more media agnostic way,” Andrew Geoghegan, global head of consumer planning at Diageo, says when reflecting on the entries for the 2019 Effie Awards.

Geoghegan was the international judge on the panel this year and brought with him experience and learnings from his career which spans agency and client side. The last 12 years have been with Diageo, a global premium drinks company.

His take on New Zealand’s advertising is there’s a desire and respect for long-term thinking when it comes to marketing and being bold in doing that, with some placing the importance on driving emotional connection at scale.

This evolution is supported by a reduction in the use of digital as a fashion statement, as he says marketers are no longer using digital for the sake of using digital.

“I am seeing a more channel agnostic view in which they are thinking ‘what’s the right mix of channels in order to get my message across given who my target audience is?’ What the channels are good for?”

“It feels like there’s a real maturity in how people are thinking about channels and how to reach their consumers.”

No better is this demonstrated than in this year’s Grand Effie winner, the Stickman campaign for Pak’nSave/Foodstuffs NZ by FCB.

Geoghegan calls the campaign “media neutral” because Stickman has become a recognisable character across all media in the past 12 years and Geoghegan says there isn’t a channel it doesn’t belong.

And no matter if you are watching, scrolling or driving past when you see Stickman, the character is distinctive and recognisable, which is very “smart long-term work” Geoghegan says.

Almost more important to the campaign being media neutral is the way its design aesthetic so clearly reflect the values of the Pak’nSave brand.

The supermarket promotes itself as having New Zealand’s lowest food prices so fittingly is represented by the low price, no-frills stickman character.

Helping the campaign play up the ‘proudly Kiwi’ quality is the way in which it’s on the pulse of what’s going on and has been responsive to topical issues and current moments.

An example of this was Pak’nSave’s celebration of Emirates Team New Zealand’s triumph in the 2017 America’s Cup.

Just after the race, a video was released of Stickman and his companion racing their trolleys down an aisle with the action unfolding in the same way as the race.

It’s this ability to quickly reach an audience that makes digital channels attractive and while Geoghegan says these can be beneficial, he again cautions it should only be done if strategically relevant.

“For some brands it feels right, for others it’s like bad dad dancing – so take it case-by-case.”

An area Geoghegan sees great use of social media in New Zealand is in the charity space. He says they’re cleaver at not using it for the sake of it, but rather using it to carefully target the specific social groups.

In the Charity/Not for Profit category at the Effies, Pet Refuge NZ’s ‘Rescue a Pet, Rescue a Family’ campaign by DDB won gold, while The Movember Foundation’s ‘Men, You’re Not Talking, So Try Ticking’ campaign by BC&F Dentsu won silver and Testicular Cancer NZ’s ‘A Conversation Starter for Cancer’ campaign by FCB won bronze.

He’s also impressed by the level of creativity displayed in New Zealand’s charity and public service work and gives a shout out to work for NZTA, New Zealand Police, Quitline and Pet Refuge.

“A real strength in New Zealand is its socially-minded work. Some of it is backed by national and smaller budgets yet it’s creatively interesting and is tackling behavioural change.”

Areas of improvement

Although judging the Effies has seen Geoghegan celebrate the best of New Zealand’s advertising, that process has given him insights into areas that can be improved.

When asked for his advice, he says it’s to be to be consistent with smart, long-term thinking.

“I had some real heart for the campaigns that were really bold and really embraced growth for the long term so I would really encourage people to stick with it and not chop and change.”

His other piece of advice is to show humility and learning.

He says the best work showed this and he encourages all to be transparent about what they learn along the way because it can be an important tool in unlocking what to do in the future.

“In the real world, we typically make lots of mistakes and they are powerful opportunities for us to learn.”

Effectiveness culture

That openness to learning is a key ingredient to what Geoghegan calls “effectiveness culture”.

Explaining the term, he says “effectiveness culture is one where marketing is transparent and clear about how it is facilitating and delivering growth”.

While there is often evidence of effectiveness, marketing culture doesn’t always encourage every pound, dollar or rupee to be spent in service of growth and to remedy this, marketers need to see themselves as leaders.

“We should see ourselves as business leaders because driving outcomes from our work is what we strive for and that gives us credibility.

“That means speaking the language of the finance manager and the general manager. It means being literate in influencing these people through their eyes and what matters to them as well as what matters to us.”

In saying this, he points out the importance of marketing – saying it’s not the colouring in department of an organisation. Rather, it’s the engine driving growth for business.

“Marketing creates demand and helps navigate the external environment to ensure business is set up to deliver.”

With this in mind, he advises marketers to be open-minded and willing to learn in order to drive results, which means understanding and using the right data and KPIs to see what is really going on.

Be bold, make the case, be a business leader who focused on clearly constructive and objective measurement, and have a real learning mindset in everything you do. That’s my advice.”

Using this year’s Effie entries as an example, he says the best work was clear on its objectives, with clear KPIs and transparency so everyone could see the outcomes of their contribution.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for creativity in marketing.

The problem, is some marketers over focus on it, but it should be a tool in their arsenal in their role as a credible business leader.

“Creativity is hugely important but it’s in service to driving growth and competitive advantage,” he says.

“I believe really passionately that marketers are business leaders first and foremost.”

“If we are not inspiring everyone from marketers to general managers and so on with a real deep understanding of consumers, shoppers, cultures that are translated into ideas that will drive growth then there’s no point turning up.”

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