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With a background in account directing and retail, VMLY&R UK head of commerce Tom Moore has built his career around understanding human behaviour and triggers to purchase. With strategic leadership, he has delivered behaviour changing initiatives that drive conversion, while helping brands and retailers upscale shopper marketing both regionally and globally.
Today, Tom is responsible for helping clients accelerate growth through brand and customer experience with commerce at the heart. He has led commerce transformation initiatives for global brands such as Evergreen, Viagra, Lycra and award-winning activations including Boots ‘Bootiques’ which landed Silver at Cannes in 2021.
In this interview, LBB speaks to Tom about the collapse of the traditional purchase and his two greatest passions - creativity and commerce.
LBB> You have held a long and impressive career in account directing and retail. But how did you find yourself on this path?
Tom> A happy accident. Brands and marketing intrigued me since the day ‘business’ hit my school agenda. I met an amazing tutor who had a marketing career, started their own business, which succeeded and then failed but where learnings were rich and interesting. It sounded like a fascinating world.
But agencies were unknown. Once through the door, I knew I’d found my home. I loved bringing creativity to solve problems and was lucky to be invited into agencies which encouraged entrepreneurial spirit and pushed me to work with brilliant talent and across disciplines. I’ll always be grateful.
Why retail? That’s easy – my mum always took me along for the Friday shop. She was and is probably the most impressive shopping guru I know. She would weigh up value and quality – explain the ingredients of meal planning – and turned what could have been a tantrum-throwing supermarket visit into education with fun.
Now I get to marry two great passions – creativity and commerce – with a brief to create unique connections that influence people at their moment of choice and conversion at the heart.
LBB> You moved from head of retail to head of commerce this year, helping clients accelerate growth through brand experience and customer experience with commerce at the heart. What excites you most about this role and what is your ambition for the company?
Tom> The sheer scale of opportunity for the agency, our people, and our clients. We call it the age of commerce revolution.
New generations are defining what brands stand for and using their considerable purchasing power to achieve this. Add to this the collapse of the traditional purchase funnel as shoppers go from discovery to purchase in just one click - spending money where it matters to them most. Over 50% of gen z and millennials are purchasing via social commerce. Technology has put unbelievable power into the hands of shoppers.
Manolo Arroyo, global CMO for The Coca-Cola Company, says it best: “Understanding the end-to-end dynamics that convert shoppers into buyers is a critical component to ensure that we move transactions into a value-generating purpose.”
As a result, commerce and creativity are colliding to create new places and spaces for brands to build salience, engagement and drive sales.
Excitingly, this is being recognised industry wide. Last year saw the first ever Cannes Creative Commerce Lions – pioneered in partnership with Beth Ann Kaminkow [VMLY&R Commerce global CEO] and Manuel Bordé [global chief creative officer, VMLY&R Commerce]. Today, creative commerce categories are across all global creative award shows.
A great example is Corona. Few football fans in Mexico took phones or wallets to the stadium on match day - wary of pickpockets. A major problem - people were less likely to buy beers in this high spend moment. So, why not sew RFID chips into the badges of fans’ team jerseys, turning the shirts into contactless payments. Problem solved, a fine example of creativity supported by tech and data – and new growth opportunities.
In my view, consumer connectivity to brands is increasingly made or lost in commerce interactions and brands are seeing this. It’s my ambition for us to continue to pioneer and lead in this space, helping build powerful brands through emotionally resonant creative commerce ideas.
LBB> You help brands unlock new growth opportunities through commerce by connecting creativity, strategy and digital together - why are these three elements key in conversion?
Tom> Strategy is the cornerstone of great creative commerce – whether that’s bringing a powerful cultural or behavioural insight to help unlock creativity. Or, using our commercial planning tools to understand where sources of growth come from.
of all shopping journeys start online, with retail media, social commerce and live streaming offering inspiration, purchase, and delivery on one device in just a couple of clicks.
Creativity brings breakthroughs. FACT! Connect these three with brand and customer experience and you have a winning formula. Take Nike. Whether it’s mobile commerce, digital integration in-store, activating the metaverse, or high-experience physical concepts like the new Jordan World of Flight stores, Nike never fails to push the boundaries of commerce and surprise and delight.
LBB> Tell us about some of your personal favourite projects you have worked on in your career so far.
Tom> Firstly, Boots Bootiques
. Part of a broader integrated Christmas campaign - we created data driven pop-up stores around sleep, wellbeing, and tweens. Each re-imagined the shopping experience, integrating the data with social and ecommerce. Creative concepts were strong, there was real craft in final executions, and the work has been recognised at big shows worldwide including Cannes Lions, for creative innovation, ingenuity, and effectiveness. I love creating real world experiences and seeing people interacting with them - I was literally sweeping up at each store the night before opening!
I’d also say Speedo. A brand activation that re-imagined swimming, to drive sport participation and brand sales. It was my first truly digitally centric project and a pioneer of user generated content. We invited the public to find and create swimming stories alongside successful Olympic swimmers and brought the stories to life through a digital platform that engaged people with each other and the Speedo brand. Sport is a real passion - so getting to work on sports brands is always a pleasure.
LBB> What are some big lessons or a piece of advice that has stayed with you in your career?
Tom> Early in life, a mentor said: “perception is reality”. The idea that what someone thinks of you/your business’ performance is the truth whether that’s the case or not. This has stuck with me – and in a service-based industry – I honestly think we should always be self-aware and self-critical. Being able to step back and recognise how you can do better has served me well in building and maintaining strong relationships with both clients and colleagues.
LBB> What evolution would you say brands need to look out for most in the world of commerce over the next year?
Tom> My colleague Jon Bird has said that commerce will only get more personal, more experiential, more social, more immersive, and with AI, more intuitive. I couldn’t agree more.
If I were to choose one hot topic of the moment it would be retail media – technology that allows more connected journeys and richer shopper experiences. Many brands are redeploying advertising spend into these channels because they’re closer to conversion.
LBB> What are you most excited to achieve in the next year or so?
Tom> Creative awards! Commerce is the next great canvas for creativity and clients are recognising how this delivers disproportional commercial and equitable gains for their brands. I’m looking forward to uplifting creative commerce recognition across the industry and attracting brilliant talent and new clients to our business.
LBB> Lastly, outside of work, what is inspiring you?
Tom> My kids – they are growing up fast and watching how they see the world and what they will do in their lives is a constant source of inspiration.