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‘We need to be the change’: rising, veteran luminaries highlight Ad Club of NY People of the Year gala

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The Advertising Club of New York’s Ad People of the Year gala honored a group of esteemed industry icons while giving a nod to the young talent already making waves in advertising’s largest market.

The annual gala took place this year at Guastavino’s, nestled under the 59th Street Bridge in Manhattan, and acknowledged its rising star, startup, New Yorker, legend and marketer. The crowd of 200-plus was treated to roasts and toasts of the honorees, while those honored managed to draw a few laughs of their own.

First up, was an effusive Samantha Bort, newly-named director of global digital innovation for L’Oreal brand Redken. After a light ribbing from colleague Melaney Collett of Lancome of her ascent from superstar intern to head of the cosmetics brand’s high-end hair product line.

After giving props to her team and her parents, who were stationed front row for her daughter's latest achievements, Bort said: "High standards are contagious. You all have the power to put someone like me on this stage,” adding, “Thank you for honoring my achievements. And thank you for recognizing my potential."

Beth Comstock, former GE chief marketer and vice chair, came up to introduce the Ad People startup winner, Knotch founder and chief executive Anda Gansca. The Transylvania native had impressed the exec with her idea for the digital content analytics firm enough for General Electric to invest in it. Since then, the firm has worked with the likes of HP Enterprise, Unilever, JPMorgan Chase and eBay.

“She's a timeless leader, who's wise beyond her years,” Comstock said, adding, “Someone who Audrey Hepburn would play in a film.”

In accepting her honor, Gansca gave a nod to the divisive environment for immigrants like herself as well as other communities impacted by recent government policies in the US in recent years, . “I'm proud to be part of this industry,” she said. “We have the power and muscle to drive lasting impact on these larger issues."

Carol’s Daughter founder, Lisa Price was named New Yorker of the Year. After founding her hair and body product business in a Fort Greene, Brooklyn storefront in 1999, the company had experienced growth like few black-owned brands at the time, with partnerships with HSN and Target before joining the L’Oreal family in 2015. Price was not in attendance, but left a video tribute to the Ad Club community.

Chris Weil of Momentum introduced Horizon Media’s founder, president and chief Bill Koenigsberg on his contributions in over 40 years. “I knew this man was a legend from the moment he invited me onto his private jet,” Weil said during a Powerpoint presentation for his peer, one that included a poorly photoshopped Legend Airlines jet, and quotes from Vince Lombardi and his kids to describe Koenigsberg. Horizon, which was founded in New York in 1989 has been one of the largest independent media agencies in the industry, holding more than 2000 employees in its two locations.

Koenigsberg took the stage soon after, addressing the industry’s manifold problems as of late, including the encroachment of rival firms in the management consultancy space and in-house creative firms. He offered a thought on the matter, saying: “Transparency, trust and relationships have been the cornerstone of our industry. We need to bring that back.” He then asked those in attendance to strive for better.

“We not only need to embrace change,” he said. “We need to be the change.”

Last up, Diego Scotti, executive vice president and chief marketer for Verizon. Former American Express chief marketer John Hayes recalled Scotti’s internship with Amex, which coincided with the September 11 terrorist attack.

“He had to do marketing triage for the brand, reaching out to everyone who was impacted by the attack — he should have been marketer of the year in 2001,” Hayes noted.

Scotti, who since went on to lead Amex’s global advertising, and spent stints at Conde Nast and J Crew before joining Verizon in 2014, has also made his unique stamp on the Advertising Club with helping to found the organization’s Adfellows initiative. Every year, the club handpicks a group of high-achieving female professionals and immerses them in leadership trainings over the course of a year.

Addressing the laundry list of accomplishments he'd accumulated, and his commitment to driving advertising's push to be more inclusive, Scotti credited his willingness to take the risks most marketers may have been too nervous to take.

“For those of you that know me, nine out 10 times, if someone says not to do something, I say ‘That has to be done.’”

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10 questions with… Carter Murray, chief executive of FCB

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The Drum speaks to people across the global media and marketing sector who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what little insights they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are answered by FCB chief executive, Carter Murray.

What was your first ever job?

My first ever job was cleaning boats. My first proper, steady job, however, was as an assistant account executive at Leo Burnett Chicago.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?

“Guru” (as in “marketing guru”). Most people called gurus actually are not. And this misnomer often causes havoc within client organizations and the creative process more generally.

Who would you most love to share a coffee with?

My mother and father. I lost them both two years ago, within six months of each other, and still miss them terribly.

Highlight of your career (so far?)

The first was getting to work with Harry MacAuslan, THE gentleman of advertising (now retired) and the second was persuading Susan Credle to come to FCB and be my creative partner.

What piece of tech can you not live without?

Sadly (and my wife will very much attest to this) – it's my bloody telephone.

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?

Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay. I read it when I was thirteen and it absolutely got to me. I loved the boxing, wildlife, Africa and personal narratives, but most of all, the constant reminder to “think first with your head and then with your heart.”

What one question do you never want anyone to ask you?

Why are you so obsessed with dim sum?

Best advice you ever heard or received?

Shut up and listen.

What do you still want to achieve in your career?

Balance.

What industry event is most important to you to attend and why?

Cannes. It saves me multiple trips around the world, as everyone is centralized there, and I get to talk about our industry with some of the most groundbreaking work all around us, to inspire and push us to always do better. It’s always long and busy work hours, but it all happens in a ridiculously civilized setting.

Check out other interviews as part of the 10 Questions With… series.

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‘Bang for our buck’: how MSIG's first-ever CMO plans to reinvent insurance marketing

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As the first-ever person to hold the chief marketing officer role at MSIG Holdings (Asia), Rebecca Ang Lee believes her most immediate priorities is to ensure alignment of the insurer in the online space, develop a regional sustainability direction, and promote digital transformation through innovation within the company and industry to stay relevant.

MSIG, which is a part of the Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company within the MS&AD Insurance Group, promoted Lee, who oversaw brand and communications and business excellence across ASEAN, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand as senior vice-president, in October.

Lee has wasted no time in getting down to work, ensuring that MSIG customers can expect dynamic websites with better user experience across its markets in the region. MSIG Vietnam was the first to complete the revamp early this year, with Lee pushing for more markets to complete their respective websites in the next couple of months.

“The new website was built with the users’ experience in mind and I am looking forward to getting our customers’ feedback. Content on our social media channels are also progressively evolving to better serve our customers,” she explains. “A success story to quote is MSIG Indonesia – we started out with less than 1k followers and achieved a substantial leap to about 90k today just after a year of introducing refreshed content.”

“We hope to replicate this success in the other markets, taking local preferences and nuances into consideration. Ultimately, our goal is to engage our customers with useful content that can aid them in their insurance purchase journey.”

MSIG’s sustainability agenda is now managed by the brand and communications team, which is led by Lee, after the creation of the sustainability taskforce for Asia. She explains this means she can embed the key messages into the group’s internal and external communications, therefore strengthening its brand building efforts.

“The goal is to ensure MSIG’s medium-term management plan ‘Vision 2021’, which emphasizes sustainability as a key focus for the group, is carried on. “With the creation of the sustainability taskforce for Asia, we hope to complement our group’s initiatives and achieve greater impact together,” she says.

“As sustainability is becoming an issue of growing importance around the region, and in the world, we have a responsibility to support this agenda. We will need to build a sustainability mindset and culture from within the organization, and are looking to collaborate with partners to engage and educate all staff.”

Lee is also trying to promote innovation within the company and industry through partnerships to catch up with its rivals like NTUC Income, which ranked the highest in Singapore when it comes to being future ready for digital transformation, while MSIG came in 22nd. It has since signed a deal with start-up accelerator Plug and Play which will see it become a founding anchor partner of Plug and Play’s Insurtech platform.

The platform aims to invest in and help local and international fintech and Insurtech startups to grow through connecting them to major financial institutions and insurers. It will also allow MSIG to build relationships with start-ups that are developing new technologies and solutions.

According to Lee, this partnership will help MSIG innovate and explore revolutionary ideas as technology is changing at a pace where it is forcing the industry to undergo digital transformation especially in the more mature markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

“From the angle of internal communications, we explored different ways to engage our employees, creating thematic town halls that infuse the creative use of digital apps and tools to create a mindset change from within,” she says.
“The pace of technology also impacts the media channels and landscape. Digital no longer just means website and social media channels. While people are consuming news through social media, they are also getting their entertainment from Netflix, using more smart devices and creating smart homes to manage their lifestyle. This means that consumer digital touchpoints are increasing with new channels to reach out to them. However, budgets are always limited, and the challenge is deciding where to place them to reach out to our desired target audience.”

MSIG's marketing strategy and its relationship with its agencies

With limited budgets and facing the challenges of reaching out to its desired target audience even as they get more connected than ever before and expect seamless experiences when they interact with brands, MSIG wants to focus on its unique selling points of providing great service quality and offering a seamless claims experience for its customers.

Lee, who spent more than two years in total working at agencies like Leo Burnett, Dentsu and Y&R before joining MSIG, is keen to tap on her experience as a communicator and a leader having been on both sides of the fence, to ensure MSIG’s marketing strategy over the long term is relevant and that the company will continuously innovate to improve customer experience.

For example, in Singapore, she points out MSIG was the first to introduce straight-through claims payout using FAST bank transfer, eliminating the time to process cheques and in Thailand, it introduced MSIG SpeeDi, where motor insurance customers are able to get phone assistance within 60 seconds with the touch of a button, have their location triangulated by GPS and sent to a motor surveyor who will arrive on scene within 30 minutes. For Malaysia, MSIG optimized its processes to save claims processing time by over 98% so that customers can get their payment quickly.

“It’s about putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes and challenging the status quo. We have a few customer segments depending on the insurance need, and we target them through consumer insights, behavior and content marketing both offline and online,” she explains.

“The advantage of using online channels is that we’re able to measure our KPIs. However, it does not just stop there, the data needs to be analyzed with follow up action plans to improve on future communication and targeting of our products to customers.”

Lee is also keen to stress MSIG’s marketing strategy cannot succeed if it is not open and honest with its agencies, the key to forging a successful partnership, as they will help them understand the company’s challenges. MSIG’s creative agency is M&C Saatchi and its media agency is Wavemaker.

In addition, she also sees agencies as an extension of her own team and will take time to share information and insights in MSIG’s discussions with its agencies.

“When I joined MSIG two years ago, our branding efforts were only beginning. We were looking for partners who understood our starting point and were keen to grow with us. Two years on, we see both agencies as partners in this journey of brand building, supporting us in our vision to develop MSIG Asia as the centre of excellence,” Lee explains.

Cutting through the noise

Presently, the insurance industry is a saturated one with both life and general insurers vying for a share of voice. It also does not help when there is little differentiation between life and general insurance brands in the eyes of a consumer.

Moving forward, Lee says MSIG approach is to get a ‘bang for our buck’, to be more strategic and creative in its messaging, positioning and targeting. Digital is always a part of MSIG’s media mix as it enables the insurer to target its customers better and is a more cost-effective channel.

“However, we still try to adopt a holistic approach as our research has shown that a combination of traditional and digital media still works best for us to achieve high awareness for a campaign. Also, apart from advertising, it is important to integrate all other customer touch points in the entire buying cycle, from discovery to purchase to repeat customers,” she explains.

“It’s about the synergies of messaging through 360 marketing including in-store experience, PR and research. Pre- and post-campaign research is crucial in understanding the most effective media channel and the research results are always used to improve the media mix for the next campaign.”

There are daunting tasks facing Lee as she tries to future poof MSIG for the future, but moving Lee into the newly-created CMO role is the first step by the insurer to getting there.

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Marketing Day: Pinterest retailer partnerships, the smart speaker market, Facebook Ads

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Here’s our recap of what happened in online marketing today, as reported on Marketing Land and other places across the web.

From Marketing Land:

Recent Headlines From MarTech Today, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Marketing Technology:

Online Marketing News From Around The Web:

The post Marketing Day: Pinterest retailer partnerships, the smart speaker market, Facebook Ads appeared first on Marketing Land.

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