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The Inside Track: Maximising Resources for the Future of Marketing

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Catch the highlights from all the speakers at OLIVER’s premium in-housing and future of marketing two-day event, sponsored by Adobe

The Inside Track: Maximising Resources for the Future of Marketing

No agency is better qualified to orchestrate an in-housing event than OLIVER, “the home of in-house.” Teams across the board at the London-based advertising and marketing agency worked tirelessly on curating a programme that compiled their first-hand knowledge and experiences of award-winning creative, with wisdom, data and advice from a smattering of big hitters from the industry, culminating in two days of invaluable insight and tips for the fast-approaching future of marketing. 

The Inside Track was a first-of-its-kind event designed for modern marketers wanting to “super-charge their internal marketing ecosystems”. The two day marketing masterclass saw OLIVER take over The Roxy Hotel in New York and The Drum Labs in London’s Shoreditch. Streaming online or attending in person, audience members were treated to an array of expert advice, with more than 25 specially curated panel talks from a slew of marketers, media professionals and data specialists. 

Determined to quell any concerns and simplify the complexities, OLIVER recruited a stellar line up of experts to prove their belief: that in-housing is the future. The Inside Track line up was impressive, playing host to the likes of former creative chief of Facebook, Mark D’Arcy; Boots UK chief marketing officer, Pete Markey; chief marketing officer at Cadillac, Melissa Grady Dias; and Microsoft Business’ chief marketing officer, Mauricio Ferreira. Every speaker in attendance waxed lyrical about the benefits of in-housing matters, touching on topics such as how to win over the modern consumer, maximising creativity, the intersection of empathy and creative data, adapting for net zero and driving authentic change. 

Speaking to LBB, Rachel O’Rourke, head of marketing and PR at OLIVER, explained how the event was borne out of a distinct lack of depth and education of in-housing across the industry. “Up until now many businesses have been solely relying on external agencies, especially when it comes to the creative. What we’re seeing now though, is that 70% of brands are building their own in-house agencies, and this event should provide the stepping stone they need to get to where they need to go. Modern marketers are interested in in-housing but don't necessarily know how to go about it, how to build it, why it is necessary, or where to start – we felt it was very important to curate an event that could deep dive into all the various subjects related to in-housing.”


Day One: The Roxy Hotel, New York

The iconic Roxy Hotel played host to day one of The Inside Track, opening the doors of its plush cinema space to NYC’s marketing industry. Raring to go, OLIVER’s Peter Kuhn took to the stage to excitedly welcome everyone and inform all in attendance that today’s event was about the future and the “continued awakening” of inclusion and diversity.

Leading futurist Crystal Washington was first to speak on day one, discussing the importance of brand purpose and how to deliver an organisation’s goals authentically to consumers. “When we’re looking at many of the systems that have served us well for years, we’re seeing how many of them are broken,” she said, “And as marketers, this is an opportunity. We are living in a renaissance.” Three most important things we need are data, speed and empathy. “Brands need to act fast to keep up with digital consumers. By going in-house brands can better control their data as there is a shorter value chain. On top of that, in-housing can give brands greater flexibility and control as they navigate new digital/virtual worlds.”

Next on the bill was a long awaited appearance from Mark D’arcy, who cut his teeth as a copywriter and spent 10 years at Facebook working with creative teams. In his talk on ‘how future tech can support brands and their inside teams,’ the chief creative officer weighed in on building diverse pipelines and tech-led teams, “Curiosity is the number one thing I look for when I work with people. Those with a fusion of experiences under their belts are generally more resilient and curious. It’s critical to build teams that reflect the audiences we serve.” Asked about the modern relationship between creativity and technology, Mark replied, “It’s paint and canvas. Creativity is the thing that differentiates and unlocks value. Creatives use technology to build things in unexpected ways. We must ask what’s useful about this technology? What can we do with it? Then we learn how people want to use it and think about interesting ways to use it, all in the service of people.”

The next session was hosted by Microsoft’s LATAM marketing director, Mauricio Ferreira, who explored how businesses are taking a purpose-driven approach to data in order to evolve their tech-based marketing ecosystems and bring meaning to modern consumers. On the evolution of marketing, Mauricio explained that it’s about “finding the balance between invention and innovation. Modern advertising is about relevancy and audience connection.

You build this with meaningful creativity that uses data and tech as part of the brand’s very purpose for being.” In being meaningful, “companies can’t be ‘vanilla’ anymore. You have to find your values and make them consistent across your product, marketing, internal culture and so on, because advertising used to be about the product,but now it is about relevancy and building a connection with customers.” 

Bernado Andrada, OLIVER’s executive creative director for North America, led the following panel discussion with global creative director for Google, Xanthe Wells, and VP of creative at Lyft, Karin Onsager-Birch. Xanthe kicked things off by acknowledging ‘fast-vertising’ and the concept of creating at the speed of culture. “Sometimes there is such a focus on moving at pace that we forget that we have to make content with meaning. Moving at pace has to be high quality, the content has to be culturally relevant and have the potential to be shared for years to come.” Describing her experience of working in-house at Google, Xanthe explains how it feels like a more collaborative experience compared to agency work, as decisions are made “in partnership” with her team. While agreeing that Lyft has seen things be done better in-house, Karin explains the value of getting a fresh perspective “once in a while” from agencies who have finessed certain briefs – “we bring them in for a cocktail, not a whole meal.”

After this, we had Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, Melissa Grady Dias who spoke about the brand’s vision for a sustainable future. She shared that 43% of global consumers want to buy from organisations that benefit society. “This growing level of consciousness means higher customer expectations and the opportunity to build loyalty. As part of our zero-waste ambition, General Motors has pledged to redirect 90% of its global waste away from landfills and incinerators, and source 100% renewable electricity in the US by 2025. We have also launched a $50 million climate equity fund to make sure that people who are most affected by climate change are not left behind in the transition to an all-electric future.” Melissa revealed the three steps that every organisation can take to achieve results: 1. Have a defined purpose, 2. Focus on the areas where you can drive the biggest change, 3. Be truthful with yourself and your audience.

Right before the lunch break, Squarespace’s chief creative officer, David Lee, held a masterclass in “building a best in class in-house agency” packed full of tips and tricks for the lucky marketers in attendance. Using the hugely popular Zendaya Superbowl and Launch It ads to illustrate his point, David changed the messaging of the day somewhat, by insisting that in-housing is not for every brand. He explained how Squarespace chose to do their marketing in-house because “we are a DIY company”, but warned that “if you don’t have a DIY culture or a DIY product, don’t build an in-house agency.” He went on to explain that, in order to build a successful in-house agency, “the company has to be built on creativity. Design and creativity has to come from the top-down; it must be represented in the C-suite.”

After lunch came Kieran Donahue, chief marketing officer at IHOP who shared the secrets of how to build a modern marketing engine and modernise a brand at the same time. “The world is in a massive moment of change, change and more change,” he highlighted. “And the hardest thing to do is also the most important thing to do - and that is to define a vision.” But this cannot be done without action - “90% of having a vision is implementation” - and relevancy - “powerful brands are relevant brands.” 

Taking a pew at the front of the auditorium next was Christi Geary, vice president of omni marketing for Bayer Consumer Health, who was being interviewed by president for OLIVER US, Kristi Vandenbosch, on the subject of ‘Planning to Win: A Radical Re-imagination of Marketing.’ During the discussion, Christi was insistent, “We need to get brands to accept that they aren’t one-size-fits-all. It’s a hard concept to accept… From a creativity perspective, if you’re not bold right now, you don’t show up. There’s too much noise. It’s not about defining bold, but finding an approach that allows you to think differently.” As well as touching on the consumer journey and the importance of not making assumptions, she told Kristi, “The people who buy our products are humans, so we must get comfortable with saying ‘we’re going to invest in emotion and creating experiences.’” After sharing invaluable pointers with her audience, she left them with a few final words to live by: “Fail fast, learn, optimise, and feel excited about what you did.”

To discuss how to prioritise inclusivity within marketing, Cristina Costa, founder of Cristina Costa Coaching, marked our era as one of conscious consumerism. She shared that 70% of consumers believe it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social issues while

66% want brands to take a stand on social media because they believe brands can make real change. “Companies can engage in this by using social influence,” she said. “Because, when prompted by a brand, 61% of consumers will conduct further research into an issue. Your marketing should reflect diversity equitably. If you have two products that are the same, 34% of people will look up DE&I and see what the company supports in order to choose. A focus on DE&I makes for more effective marketing.”


Amir Guy, co-founder and GM of togetherr, was second to last on the bill on Wednesday, with a talk about the biggest challenge facing the marketing industry: sourcing creatives. This is a subject Amir knows a great deal about, having created a solution for sourcing creatives, by helping launch the global talent platform. Citing “the great resignation” plaguing the industry, he explained how the notable decrease in creative talent is in part due to concerns about ownership, as well as creatives’ ability to use modern tech to build their own brands or businesses. A way to remedy this predicament, he advised, was to work with independent creatives on a project-to-project basis, which can be “highly efficient and result in better outcomes, faster”. Other benefits to this approach include more diverse, specialised teams. “No agency can actually retain all the skills that are needed today for marketing purposes, you just can’t do it,” Amir explained. “You need so many experts and so many skills to do your best work – this is true for agencies as well as advertisers.” When it comes to finding these creatives, Amir implored marketers to seek out work that impresses them, scoping out creative individuals from credit lists on websites like LBB. “You used to know where to go [to find talent]. The problem that is developing now is that most creatives are leaving their companies and it’s very hard to find them.” 

Day one closed with economist and digital transformation leader, Lubomira Rochet, who was joined by OLIVER’s US president Kristi VandenBosch to discuss how marketing organisations can optimise their digital channels to help them gain efficiency, value, and innovation. “Digital changed the way that consumers try and buy products,” Lubomira said. “Along with this came the opportunity to connect with consumers better and the lowering of the barrier to entry for new brands to emerge.” For success in the digital world, Lubomira believes that you must have in-house strategy capabilities and strong internal talent that understands the accelerated change. On her tips for digital transformation, she said: “Speaking the business language is really important to bridge the gap between marketing / technology experts and brand leaders. And generously share what you know.”


Day Two: The Drum Labs, London

The overcast weather in east London wasn’t going to dampen the OLIVER team’s spirits. Stationed throughout the vast three-storey space, Rachel O’Rourke and her team welcomed attendees as they arrived for the second day of proceedings. While the sky outside began to fill up with ominous-looking clouds, The Drum Labs’ ground-floor studio began to fill up with excitement. There was a palpable buzz in anticipation for a day packed full of bright ideas, fresh insights and plans for growth. 

First to take to the stage to warmly welcome audience members was OLIVER founder Simon Martin, who was joined by the company’s chief strategy officer, Rachel Hatton. The pair kicked things off with a fitting discussion all about innovation and the future of marketing. When it came to discussing the ‘people side of things’ Simon touched on the seismic shift the industry is currently experiencing, addressing the fact modern influences and access to information is constantly changing – “there’s never been more opportunities to express creativity.” To encourage teams to engage their imagination, he reiterated the importance of ensuring talent is motivated to work with brands, in order to “liberate them from the drudgery and be able to creatively flourish.” After a round of questions from the audience, Simon signed off with sage advice about how to reframe your thinking to suit the most productive design of your organisation. 

Next to the stage was LBB editor in chief, Laura Swinton who hosted a panel on adapting for net-zero with Purpose Disruptors’ co-founder Rob McFaul and OLIVER’s UK sustainability lead Lucy Usher. Lucy noted that “as advertisers, we exist to amplify the messages of brands so the responsibility is on us too.” On the challenges we currently face, Rob pinpointed, “We need to normalise a net-zero lifestyle and part of that is in helping brands shift their business model to encourage consumers to start using their products in a different way.” And it’s not always about spending more, the panel highlighted. “I think there’s a bit of myth-busting to do,” Lucy stated. “Sustainability doesn’t have to cost a lot - and it’s not all about rewiring your business overnight. A lot of it is about doing more with less, coming up with smarter, more innovative solutions.” Wrapping up, Rob concluded, “We are not in this alone. Start the conversations and take it one step at a time.”

Event sponsors Adobe were presenting the next talk: The Future of Collaboration, Content and Agile Teams. Led by OLIVER’s global creative director, Alison Scorgie, the computer software company’s senior strategic development manager, Iona Walters opened up about embracing entrepreneurial and experimental attitudes when it comes to in-housing. Emphasising the importance of allowing space for creativity, Iona discussed the latest Adobe Creative Cloud applications, revealing why they make it easier for creatives to do their best work. She also revealed how the launch of Adobe’s Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) - a community of media and tech companies and NGOs such as Microsoft, BBC and Twitter - is helping establish an industry standard that will benefit the future of creative collaboration. In her final comments, Iona promised that Adobe is approaching AI in a way that “saves time.” 

To discuss how in-house marketing ecosystems can accelerate a brand’s growth, OLIVER’s deputy group CEO, Sharon Whale welcomed Barclays’ brand marketing communications director to the stage. For anyone considering in-housing, Paul said, “Make sure you get to know the in-house talent to ensure they are the right fit and understand that it will be a learning curve. Build that contingency into your thinking. With transparency, trust and adaptability, in-housing can be an invaluable add to a brand.”

Next on stage was OLIVER’s CEO of global clients Richard Stainer who led a panel with Specsavers’ head of creative operations Julia Arenson, The Barber Shop founder Dino Myers-Lamptey, and BBC Creative CD James Cross who discussed how some of the best creative teams are thriving in a world that’s more complex than ever. Julia kicked off by summarising “people, process and culture” as the three keys to maximising creativity as it “gives the freedom to focus on making powerful work.” Dino, who places great importance on assembling the right team for the job, added, “At the moment there is a detachment between media, data and technology - that needs to be the fuel that inspires creativity.” At BBC Creative, James says the focus is looking for work that is going to part of popular culture: “It has talkability and we craft work that goes beyond what is necessary or expected.”

Moving on to the topic of DE&I, Cephas Williams, founder of Black British Network and 56 Black Men, made a case for building relationships - not transactions - and connecting over our shared humanity. He emphasised that in order for organisations to improve, the leaders at the top need to understand people who come from a different background than them, not just hire those that remind them of themselves. On top of this, it is essential to create a work environment that feels inclusive to diverse talent.

Continuing the conversation was OLIVER’s head of inclusion, diversity and belonging EMEA, Sagina Shabaya who led a panel alongside vice president of brand at WorldRemit, Anna Koklanakis; co founder of Creative Salon, Sonoo Singh; and founder of The Brixton Finishing School, Ally Owen. To kick off, Sagina revealed that less than ⅕ of global consumers feel represented in advertising. Discussing the challenges and solutions, Anna shared that “it’s about finding the places that are the heart of different communities and sourcing authentic stories from there.” However, we cannot forget where we share these conversations too, as Ally pointed out: “Media can still be very binary.” Leaving the audience with their key takeaways, Sonoo stated that “diversity schemes are not just for minority groups, it is all of our responsibilities,” while Sagina summed it up as “thinking less about cultural fit and more about cultural add.”


What followed were back-to-back panels that put consumer engagement at the centre. The first was a discussion between OLIVER’s Yves Le Breton and founder of global women’s career network, AllBright, Viviane Paxinos. As specialists in the field, the pair combined their shared intel to weigh in on the necessary changes marketers must make to their e-commerce strategies in order to stay adept. One particularly memorable… 

For the next consumer-centric discussion, OLIVER’s group head of planning, Nick Myers was joined by chief marketing officer for Boots UK, Pete Markey and campaign planning and analytics leader for AON, Lynzi Ashworth. As a self-confessed CX-obsessed marketer, Lynzi takes the responsibility of keeping customers’ personal data safe very seriously. Asked about the role of the consumer, she said, “People now know the value of their data, and expect value exchange, whether that is in the form of offers, access or other personalisation.” Pete echoed this sentiment by explaining, “It's not necessarily about selling more, but building deeper customer relationships.” When Nick posed the question, “What can businesses do to prepare for a privacy-first era?”, the retail CMO encouraged marketers to work closely with the best agencies and creatives. “These are the people who can help you keep pace and challenge you,” he said. 

The penultimate panel of the day - ‘In-housing the Metaverse for Brands’ - was quite possibly the most controversial. A divisive topic, when conversation turns to matters of the Metaverse. On stage for the discussion was OLIVER’s head of innovation and tech, Adam Abu Nab, global marketing strategist for EA, Perla Bloom, and managing director of MORE production, Peter Van Jaarsveld. 

Perla and Peter, two very clued up and experienced marketers, answered Adam’s hard-hitting questions with aplomb, educating audience members on why it is important for brands to enter the space in the first place. When asked how to become Metaverse ready, Peter answered, “Have an open mindset. You must accept that everything is constantly shifting; what you think you know now will rapidly change. The Metaverse doesn’t exist yet, after all!” Perla doubled down on the importance of education and understanding, explaining, “If you don't admit what you don't know, you’ll never be able to fill in the gaps. It’s about getting ahead.” Despite Peter and Perla displaying a hopeful and upbeat attitude towards the Metaverse and its potential for brand co-creation - “it’s the brand experience of all brand experiences” -  the Q&A section invited spicy audience participation to the room. Those in attendance gave the marketers a grilling about the subject of safeguarding. The takeaway was that the Metaverse is not real yet and should not be speculated about, rather actively investigated in its current form.

The closing talk of the event came from LADBible’s director of data, intelligence and planning, Anna-Lee Bridgstock who shared fresh insights on how brands can use data to create content that people really want. She highlighted the importance of identifying what data is relevant to capture: “Collecting less means getting to insights that are useful more quickly.” She also advised that everyone should find ways of listening to their audiences. “Community groups give people a chance to be heard, give feedback and influence the content they’d like to see.” At the end of the day, it’s all about testing and improving. “Put lots of content out and try to find out why it worked or didn’t work. Once you know what it is that works, you can make big hero content from it. It’s about being open to going back and iterating.”

The final speaker to close off day two of The Inside Track was Sharon Whale, CEO of global markets and operations at OLIVER, who paid tribute to the hardworking teams that helped make the event possible. The charismatic CEO also thanked writer and podcaster Bruce Daisley, who had adopted the role of master of ceremonies for the second day of proceedings, and had done a great job of setting the pace. 

To sum up the day, Sharon finished by listing the myriad things she had learnt over the course of the event; “I’ve learnt that brands with purpose are gonna win out, I’ve learnt even if we can’t see the finish line we have to make a start, and I’ve learnt that the Metaverse doesn’t exist?! I’ve learnt today’s marketing in-house system must match the wants and the needs of tomorrow’s consumer, bringing brands, data, empathy, purpose and tech and creativity closer together at speed and quality – I think that's a fantastic way to end the day.” 

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OLIVER, Fri, 21 Oct 2022 07:56:00 GMT