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TBWA\Dublin Adds Luke Wilson as New Head of Digital, Social and Content


LBB’s Tará McKerr speaks to the new head of digital, social & content at TBWA\Dublin, delving into the benefits of multi-platform exposure, the prospect of expanding into paid social media, and how to stay ahead of the curve in an ever-evolving digital landscape

TBWA\Dublin Adds Luke Wilson as New Head of Digital, Social and Content

Luke Wilson is a man on a mission. As the new head of digital, social and content, his office chair is barely warm and yet he already has a clear plan for how he wants to shape his role. It helps that he has a track record of working with some of the biggest names in business, where he’s significantly grown their digital impact, all whilst directing strategy. He has come a long way in his career, but it all began in his formative years with an affinity for advertising jingles. 

The friendliness of his southern Irish accent is matched with a beaming grin, and an accompanying attitude. More than ever the industry needs genuine players — Luke’s nature and resolute purpose makes him one.

Differences In Landscapes

After graduating, Luke joined a marketing agency in his home county, Cork, where he cut his teeth in social media management, before moving to the Musgrave Group and spending time working with big Irish brands like Centra and SuperValu. At the time of joining, there was a huge opportunity to take the social offering to the next level. This was at a pivotal time when new channels and formats were coming on board, changing the ways audiences were engaged with. 

Fancying something further afield in 2019, Luke swapped capricious Irish weather for blue skies and sliders when he moved to Australia. It was there that he was able to spend time honing paid social skills and working with huge household names like Pizza Hut, Indeed and TEDx, amongst others.

It was upon his return to Ireland however that he found himself taken aback by the lack of diversity in the platforms relied upon by many Irish brands. He saw that Instagram and Facebook were still dominating the scene. “Thankfully, a lot of our (TBWA’s) clients are very forward thinking and open to our recommendations. For instance, in the next few weeks we are launching one on Reddit as well, so it’s about expanding our channel mix and future-proofing our brands.” Music to his ears given he has always been a vocal proponent of exploring new platforms; especially in Oz where he was able to broaden clients horizons on Spotify, Snapchat, Reddit and TikTok. 

In his view, the importance of having a presence across multiple platforms cannot be overstated. “You can get so tight, so set in your ways. But it’s important to have enough exposure to ensure you have immunity if certain platforms fail, or audiences shift in their consumption habits”. Of course, he explains, he would never recommend that brands avail of platforms for the sake of it, “I always get the question, ‘is it a right fit for our brand?’ And sometimes it isn’t, but sometimes it's just how you shape your content. You really need to understand the users of the channel and make a case for why you need to be there. But if there’s a proper case, if we decide it is the right avenue, then it is really important that we get the content out there.” It’s all about content optimisation creating maximum impact. For Luke, when a brand enters a new channel it creates such an exciting opportunity for testing and learning — “It’s amazing, because you get to have all these great ideas and try to get them out there. It’s definitely something that needs to be honed in on.”

When Luke was asked about a stand out campaign from his career so far, it made for some interesting listening. The ‘Pizza for Podiums’ campaign for Pizza Hut was a stroke of sneaky genius — working hard to ensure no legal toes were stepped on whilst promoting the product during the 2021 Olympics, given that they weren’t official backers. The campaign gave away thousands of free pizzas daily, and more when Australia won a medal; careful to avoid any direct associations with the Olympics. The campaign crawled outside of the box causing website traffic to increase by hundreds of percent, whilst rocketing brand revenue and awareness. It serves as a powerful example of the impact of applying creative thinking to marketing campaigns on a brand's revenue. 

The Importance of Being Plugged In

The rate of change that we are seeing facing digital platforms is enough to make you dizzy. We wanted to know how Luke not only stays afloat in the information avalanches, but ahead. He says, “One of the tactics that I always recommend to my team — and is actually something I live and breathe myself — is being on all of the social channels that we use. I’ve come across social media managers who say that when they go home they don’t go on socials. But it’s vital to be on there at the very least. We need to be asking: ‘Has anything changed in the way people are creating content? How are brands using the platforms? And What type of creatives are they using?’ They might discover that one platform is much more corporate, and another is more fun, or maybe irreverent. So having these platforms is a must.”

His second piece of advice is to sign up to newsletters, “they are a fantastic way to get the latest updates, especially from the platforms themselves” elaborating that often if you are clued in, you’ll be able to tell updates on platforms even before you receive the official email that something has changed.” 

This is a guy who has his ears and eyes open, ready to take in the world around him at all times, “my phone is full of screenshots of things I come across, I think it’s tough to switch off, but I guess that’s kind of the premise of social media.” The rate of change within the industry drives his alertness and curiosity; so despite the challenges of being constantly connected, he see’s being plugged in is one of the non-negotiables for success. 

Getting Excited 

When speaking about the future and his aspirations for the role, Luke speaks a little faster and sits upright, exhibiting all of the qualities of someone who is getting excited. Accelerated growth and ever-growing standards are two things on top of his priority list. “It’s important to set those bigger, long-term goals for the team but to also check in on the smaller levels to ensure that we are moving, steadily, even if slowly, in the right direction.” He tells us about the huge amount of resources available at present, with a front runner between TBWA’s own network. Access to this knowledge portal from offices all around the world is going to be a tool he keeps easily accessible in his belt. 

On the paid social media front, this is an area Luke is keen to expand over the next year and beyond. “We’ve had a couple of client wins over the past few weeks which is amazing. Paid social allows us to be quite strategic in our approach,” says Luke. Often brands have multiple stakeholders with different vested interests; paid social will allow them to be more specific with who they want to target. 

Luke expects that we are going to see a big shake up in terms of ad formats, noting that they have been almost static for some time: “TikTok has come in pretty strongly over the last couple of years with their growth, but in general, in terms of how the platforms look and the ways they serve you content — I think that there will be some sort of innovation from the platforms, maybe capabilities that allow us to create content quicker through AI. It’s exciting.”

But most of all, for Luke, it’s all about making sure your team really believes in what it is doing. “It’s vital to get them to really buy into and get excited about what they are doing. I’m all about that.” Ultimately, his approach to leadership seems to be focused on empowering his team to do their best work by creating a culture of excitement and passion, which will naturally result in success for everyone involved. 

In a world that so often feels like a never-ending rat race, leaders who prioritise having fun and fostering a positive work environment are a rare find, but TBWA have hit the nail on the head with this one.

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TBWA\Dublin, Thu, 27 Apr 2023 12:03:00 GMT