Year in Review 2023: Fee Cortis

Each year, StopPress asks a group of talented professionals in the local industry for their reflections on the year that was. This year, we speak to individuals who made their mark on 2023 and brought us truly impactful work.

Fee Cortis is Head of Marketing at BLUNT, which last year underwent an award-winning rebrand and announced it was looking to expand its product offering beyond its popular umbrellas. She reflects on 2023, and what she would like to see in 2024.

If 2023 were a brand, what would its slogan be?

2023… no rain, no rainbows.

How would you sum up your professional year in three words?

HUGE, transformative, elevated.

A personal achievement I’m most proud of in 2023 is…

The BLUNT rebrand. I am so privileged to work on one of New Zealand’s most iconic brands, and so undertaking a rebrand had to be done with so much love and respect, but where we’ve landed is really genuine, respectful and authentic but also sets the brand up so well for the future. The brand is now befitting of the incredible product we make. I’ve also been lucky enough to be a key note speaker at some events recently and have been able to share the rebrand journey with an audience and it just makes me feel so proud. I know we’ve handled this rebrand with care and so much love and I think the business should be incredibly proud.

What was the best innovation/launch/invention of 2023?

I mean, can I be biased and say it was the BLUNT rebrand launch? We picked up 10 pins and the DINZ Best Awards which hopefully is a testament to all the work and effort from the whole team this year.

From a media perspective, what were the biggest lessons brands learnt this year?

I’ve always subscribed to the theory of the “long and the short of it” but this year was the first year we were able to broadcast our TOF brand building film (previously the brand was very BOF conversion focused) and we’ve still seen huge amounts of growth in both revenue and also brand awareness, consideration and preference metrics, proving that sacrificing short term for long term is absolutely the right thing to do. If you have a brand with an amazing product offering and a brand that people love, your short term results won’t suffer.

I will remember 2023 as the year…

Of transformation. It’s been such a massive year, but I’m so proud to see our new brand, logo, positioning, our first piece of brand film, our new website, packaging and in-store furniture out in the wild and the feedback and initial sales data is already indicating that the work we’ve done is paying off.

What technology made the most impact on your day-to-day work this year?

I think the Shopify theme upgrade to 2.0 which we undertook as part of our website refresh. The data at our fingertips, in real time for all our international markets is just incredible. We have these running live on screens in our office, next to live weather screens so that we can correlate sales spikes with rainfall in major global cities and it’s pretty cool to watch. I am dialled in to Shopify every day through both the mobile and desktop apps and it’s so rich in consumer data, there’s so much insight to be gleaned.

Who inspired you in 2023 and why?

This might sound brown-nosey but honestly my Marketing team. We’ve had such a massive year with the rebrand and we’re showing up looking more premium and more cohesive, our new website is incredible, we’ve completely transformed, owned and largely automated our email marketing strategy, we have a solid owned and paid social strategy, our global PR strategy is being rolled out across all four counties and we’ve achieved some of the most successful limited edition and collaboration releases we’ve ever had from our design team. I am humbled by how clever my team is and I couldn’t have done it without Emma, Cynatra, Jeni, Callan, Ruby and Sascha. Girl Power!

What are you most looking forward to in 2024?

Apart from hopefully a long hot summer, watching this incredible brand grow, cementing our refreshed brand positioning “Engineering Joy” through all our touchpoints and seeing the brand continue to grow in our Australian, US and UK markets. I’m also really looking forward to getting into the international markets I look after to more deeply understand our consumers and retail environments – it’s so wonderful to be able to travel and get out into the world again after the last few years.

Quick fire 10:

Most impactful local campaign of 2023:

I absolutely love the latest work from Boring Oat Milk – Quit the Tit. It’s got cut-through, humor and it’s really clever. I love it.

Most underrated international campaign of the year:

I think the print campaign for Sea Shepherd is incredibly beautifully art directed and shot, but also incredibly emotionally moving. I wish these confronting images had gone far and wide to bring awareness to the impact of ocean plastics and to hopefully bring about some beaviour change.

A campaign I wish I worked on:

Fire & Emergency campaign by Motion Sickness “You’re Cooked” this was bloody brilliant, risky but brilliant.

A news event that didn’t get the attention it deserved:

I think the ongoing toll that the floods had on our Kiwi’s – particularly our farmers. Some of our team were sadly personally impacted not only by the initial floods, but ongoing well after the actual floods and it doesn’t seem to have been covered in our local news. It’s truly heart-breaking.

Most listened to artist of 2023:

Aussie artist Ziggy Alberts – I’ve been playing Simple Things (The Ocean Song) on repeat.

A 2023 trend you’re ready to bid farewell to:

Controversial, but the oversized men’s blazer on women…

Most innovative use of social media in a campaign this year:

I was recently introduced to British bank Monzo and I think they are nailing socials to completely disrupt what is often a boring industry – they are super GenY focused and relevant.

Most bingeable TV series of 2023:

Below Deck Mediterranean – obsessed.

Biggest flop of 2023:

Twitter’s rebrand to X… although I hope to be proven wrong.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given:

It has to be a three yes decision – head, heart and gut. If one of those is saying no, then it’s probably not right and you should listen closely and explore why you’re having that feeling.

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