Year in Review: Cassie Roma, The Warehouse Group

Every year, StopPress asks players in the local industry for their reflections on the marketing year that was. Here’s what Cassie Roma, head of content marketing at The Warehouse Group, had to say.

1. Favourite campaign

This year has been quite a rollicking ride for all of us in AdLand hasn’t it? Whilst there has been a lot of cool, fun, and impactful work done in traditional arenas (ahem, TV) my two favourite campaigns of the year have been ones that’ve been activated beyond television.

For me, Starship’s Air Ambulance and Kiwibank’s I Am Hope campaigns stood apart from the rest because both helped to raise necessary awareness and funds for those in our society who need our help most.

I’m a wee bit biased when it comes to the Starship campaign (my wife really helped to bring it to life beautifully while she was working with the team there.) The heroes of the campaign were kids who survived against all odds – every last story tugged at my heartstrings. As an added bonus the musical track for the campaign’s anthem video was a song by my fave songbird and beautiful mate, Anika Moa.

Switching gears from Starship to a bank! This year Kiwibank’s I Am Hope brought the nation together to talk about and stand up for mental health and delivered all the happy feels to my sappy Cancerian heart. Moving beyond a simple iteration of a brand-centric campaign, Kiwibank leaned into partnering with Mike King and his strong, authentic voice to help create waves of action around #gumbootfriday and having necessary conversations about mental health.

Both of these campaigns stick out for me. They were both driven by a desire to do good by others. Isn’t it amazing how activating simple, yet powerful, conversations can shape the course of a narrative for a brand and a society?

This year, Kiwibank and The Starship Foundation helped all of us to put our money where our hearts are.

2. Favourite campaign that is yours

This year was a year-for-good when it came to being a part of activating some of the amazing work that was done at The Warehouse Group around being #HereForGood.

We sure have accomplished a lot as a group in a single trip around the sun! From becoming the 3rd large retailer in the world to go Carbon Neutral early in the year, to reinstating soft-plastic recycling in our Warehouse Stores, to promoting literacy for kids and ensuring thousands of kids get something special under the Xmas Tree this Silly Season, I’ve absolutely loved being a part of the #HereForGood journey at TWG in 2019.

3. Favourite international campaign 

For me, 2019 was the year of #empoweringwomen. In that vein, I loved anything and everything by Wildfang. If I could dream up a brand that is equal parts activism, kick ass products, and strong purpose-driven marketing, then it’d be Wildfang.

This year alone the brand took on issues such as Period Poverty, patriarchy, and championing small businesses during Black Friday (F*ck the mall, shop small).

With clever and impactful campaigns like “A Lady Should”, their “Wolf Pack” partnership with Abby Wambach and their strong push against apathetic world leaders “I really care, don’t you?” – they won my heart, drained my wallet, and filled my closet with amazing duds.

The humans who bring Wildfang to life literally gave me life this year when it comes to marketing, branding, building a followership around contextual cultural moments, and being unapologetically queer/female/activist/badass.

Honourable mentions for AMAZING international campaigns go to:

4. Least favourite campaign

I am a perennial optimist and think this year was a good year for advertising, so I might simply leave this link here and say that, for me, it missed every mark possible: Behold, the Goop Xmas ad – lol, but not.

5. Your own biggest success 

2019 was a year of blossoming for me. Better late than never, right? Sharing my voice instead of fearing it, stepping into my own sense of self, and injecting kindness into every single day (without fear of being painted as anything other than strong and able) is how I’d sum up my successes this year.

The cherry on top of it all was, of course, being recognised as Sage of The Year in front of some of my favourite humans in the world – my peers.

Yee haw, roll on 2020!

6. Most significant launch/innovation/thing of the year 

For me, it’s the Nike Hijab swimsuit. We live in a world where we’re inundated with terminology around diversity and inclusion, but very few brands actually live this ethos. Nike, regardless of how anyone sees them politically, leans waaaaaaay into the doing part when it comes to putting their money and their products where their activism is. For that, I salute them.

What should be un-invented?

One-size-fits all templates for pushing beige and banal ads at people.
We’re creatives! Let’s be, erm… creative.

In 2020 I’d love for the entire industry world-wide to harken back to the pioneering spirit that made us who we are when it comes to storytelling and suspension of disbelief. Human communication isn’t singular in approach for all contexts, why should we spend our advertising dollars like it is?

7. Lamest trend 

Denouncing new channels like TikTok (1 billion + humans on the platform is credence enough) because you don’t understand them. And, in the same vein, attempting to demystify Gen Z. We don’t need crystal balls to understand an entire generation of young people, we have data for that.

The beauty of understanding new platforms is that you don’t have to be a digital-native to understand new channels, you need only to act like/become a local. Immerse yourself, follow your curiosity when it comes to new platforms and enjoy the learning curve! If you do, you’ll be well ahead of the game.   

8. Best brands 

I’m one of those weird humans who loves to love brands (must be the American in me!) so here are my faves right now:

  • Wildfang (Yasssss!)
  • Nike (fight me)
  • Patagonia
  • IKEA
  • Kiwibank

9. Best stoush 

Facebook vs The World.

It’s been quite a year for The Zuck and his big blue brand. After the events of March 15th in Christchurch, the pressure on Facebook to ensure nothing like it never happened again was (and remains) huge.

I can only imagine 2020 will be another monster year for Facebook with the US Presidential Elections looming in November. Here’s hoping all of the big social media platforms work their butts off to ensure we’re not all duped by bad actors and timelines that we’re addicted to scrolling through. I for one will be watching very, very closely across all of the main players in the digital and social media sphere.

10. Heroes 

These gals, and this guy, are my heroes:

Emma McIlroy:
Emma’s someone I look up to for a lot of reasons. Firstly, she’s a bad-ass through and through. She’s also a CEO with grit, guts, heart, truthfulness and the ability to laugh at herself and the world around her. Emma’s a cool cat.
There’s always space at the table for her and women like her.
Lead on, leader!

Lizzo’s changed the entire world and stopped it on its axis a few times over the past 365 sleeps. She’s a force of nature who not only performs, but protests as well, every time she takes the stage or enters a room.
May we all be more like Lizzo in 2020.

When I was Greta’s age I was worried about whether or not there’d be crinkle-cut fries or chunky chips at the softball field on a Friday night.
Right now, Greta’s saving the world.
She’s making OUR world a better place for everyone now and in the future.
Status: HERO.

Jacinda Ardern:
The last time I spoke to Jacinda Ardern was a few years back, at the front of the Auckland Pride Parade as the procession was beginning. She was PM, pregnant and marching alongside all of us in our rainbow glory.

I was, as always, as awkward as hell and instead of saying something even slightly intelligent I complimented her on her Allbirds. Yes, folks. Her shoes. Footwear that keeps your feet cool when it’s warm out, and keeps them warm when it’s cool out. Gah. Shame. WHAT A NERD.

Anyhow, the next time I speak to Jacinda I hope the words that come out of my mouth are simply “Thank you.” The PM’s leadership this year has been monumentally empathetic, kind, and unwavering. For all of these reasons and more, she is a hero of mine in 2019.

Malcolm Gladwell:
One of the highlights of my year was when Malcolm responded to a Tweet of mine about Taco Bell. Yep, a big old BRIGHT highlight.

Why? The man is one of the only storytellers alive that grabs me by the imagination and the heart every time I hear him speak or read something he’s written.

Malcolm’s way of seeing the world helps me unpack my own views.

This my friends, is magic.

11. Villains 

There are a few villains out there, mostly though I’ll give mention to the fast-food loving orange dude with a fast-Twitter finger living in The White House. He’s so yuck.

Special mentions include Weinstein, Epstein, Prince Andrew and people of their ilk – (AKA privileged men who hurt others for their perverse pleasures.) 

And, looking ahead, any and all “bad actors” who will most likely be mucking around in the elections of 2020.

12. What died in 2019? 

My ability to stay quiet when I see injustice, overt meanness, or plain old rudeness. For a long time I toed invisible lines of tradition and feared speaking out against those with louder voices or bigger titles. Nah, not anymore.

We’ve all spent far too long being nice to people who aren’t nice back. So, in 2019, I spoke up. I called people out on inappropriate behaviour. And I started to trust my instincts instead of push them away.

Wow! What a liberating move it is stepping into our own potency.

I can highly recommend doing so to any and all of us.

Kindness isn’t meek.
It’s clarity and it’s confidence.
I wish for this type of liberation for everyone in 2020.  

13. What’s the biggest mistake marketers will make in 2020? 

Taking themselves too seriously and not thinking beyond their wee sliver of the world.

It’s so important to look up and outside of your own product and brand and silo to truly see and understand the world around us.

I love it when my colleagues get super-duper curious about humanity, culture, activism and sustainability – then apply it to their professional lives in any way they can!

When you care about the world around you and truly love humanity (we’re such fun, quirky, and nuanced beings!), it shows in your work. When you’re only after awards that sit and gather dust on mantlepieces and all the while forget about the true power of putting great communications into the world, that also shows in your work.

Let’s all have a bit of fun and do good shit together in 2020!

14. If there were no laws for 24 hours, what would you do?

Eek! I’ve always been a good little global citizen so the thought of 24 hours of lawlessness scare the $hit out of me! If the no laws rule applied to EVERYONE, I’d find a safe place with my family to hunker down for a day and simply enjoy each other whilst the world enjoyed bigger moment of manic frenzy than usual.

If it was only me who had no laws to abide to I’d probably be boring and live exactly the same way as I already do. Not to say I’m lawless or pay no heed to the rules of society right now, but I’m a free-spirit who wheels and deals in kindness.

So, laws are okay with me – especially the ones we can bend a bit when the need arises.

Year in Review is brought to you by oOh!media.

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