I like to think that we've come a long way since the days of Miss World being a cultural highlight of the year. And in many ways, we have. For starters, the politically (and in every other way) incorrect pageant is now webcast-only in its native Britain since it stopped showing on TV here in the 1980s, following a brief blip when Channel 5 gave it airtime.
Fast forward several decades from the birth of Miss World, and The First Women Awards in association with Lloyds Banking Group represents a huge, progressive milestone for women pioneering in their fields.
Yet elsewhere, the way in which society judges women seems to have ground to a halt in the 1960s. Within just a couple of weeks we've seen the results of Glamour magazine's '50 Best Dressed Women', FHM's '100 Sexiest Women' and People magazine's 'Most Beautiful Woman in the World' continuing to pigeonhole women as objects, bypassing their professional talents in the process.
Of course, how we present ourselves as women in our daily working lives has nothing to do with beauty pageants or red carpets. That said, appearance is a component of the professional toolkit. When you look smart, you feel smart. The power of personal impact is huge and how we present ourselves, whether male or female, is part of that.
To advance in our careers, ultimately we need to step in front of the work. Naturally the work has to be good, but as we become more senior this is the entry point, the assumption. It becomes much more about you and how you front it. People buy into people; how they deliver, convince, sell, perform. It's a package.
Looking smart and polished is part of that package. So it is surprising just how many hugely successful businesswomen are still reticent to admit they put effort into their appearance; "This old thing? I've had it ages..." Julia Hobsbawm, founder of global networking business Editorial Intelligence, former First Women Awards winner and a friend, confided in me that it took her until the age of 45 to feel "ok about dressing up."
Since when did female empowerment mean denying our femininity? The masculine shoulder pads that defined the 1980s working aesthetic in many ways smacked of women emulating men. As the eponymous Working Girl, Melanie Griffith took the step from stockbroker's secretary to executive only after trading her long curls for a bob and donning a sharp power suit.
Corporate life in the '80s was still essentially a man's world where women had to fight to climb the ladder. Once named the most powerful woman in advertising and the first female CEO at ad agency JWT, Charlotte Beers says that she carried a briefcase as her 'armoury' when she was starting out in her career! I don't do that, but I certainly think about how I look.
Women have long since hung up their Yves Saint Laurent power suits, yet the concept of power dressing -- using style to project an air of confidence and authority -- is still relevant.
Applying for my last job, I knew I was the only female among 20 candidates -- then in the last six. So, I accentuated the fact by being 'more female'. I had a blow dry and picked a smart dress over trousers. Was it a blow to feminism? No. Did it give me extra confidence to deliver? Yes. I make sure I look my best for every important meeting. And I do it for nobody but me.
Having joined the digital team at Maxus about three weeks ago it has become abundantly clear that mobile devices are very much the future in terms of usage, especially in the UK. As we know, gone are the days of a mobile phone being used only for calling and texting with people using their smartphones for everyday tasks such as shopping, banking to watching TV.
Never have I been more aware of the power of mobile technology than last week when two of my best chums and I commenced the often arduous and time-consuming activity of looking for a flat. This was our first experience of undertaking the challenge (yes, we still live with mum and dad) and we’d been warned it wouldn’t be a smooth ride by any means. So, we began our research online, searching for places in south-west London and organised a few viewings on a Saturday. Unfortunately our budget couldn’t stretch to a second floor flat overlooking Clapham Common, but we were expecting to be shown around a little more than the dilapidated places we were.
So, back to the drawing board. We commenced our search again during the week, sending each other links for flats from our mobile phone browsers at our desks and calling landlords at lunchtime, most of which would say the properties had gone within a matter of hours. We managed to organise a couple of viewings in the same area after work on Wednesday and there was another potential viewing lined up soon after at a lovely looking maisonette, well within our budget, that I’d spotted while browsing on my mobile, phoning the landlady as a consequence on the walk to the first viewing. We went to both the properties we’d arranged viewings for and, as we’d experienced a few days before, they weren’t to our liking. Then, I suddenly received a call from the landlady I’d spoken to earlier on…she was still at the property and waiting to show us round. Perfect! We got out Google Maps and followed the route, arriving there in less than five minutes. You can probably see where this is going, but the place was perfect and we made an offer there and then. I still can’t believe our luck!
I started to think what would have happened if we hadn’t had our trusty mobiles on us. I certainly wouldn’t have seen the house while browsing on the way to catch the train, let alone been able to contact the landlady for a viewing! This is a good example of our growing reliance on mobile technology and a recent study claims that 66% of the population suffer from Nomophobia, a term used to describe the fear of having no access to mobile technology, with sufferers reporting symptoms including the inability to ever turn their phones off, always worrying about running out of battery and many won’t even visit the bathroom without them. After last week’s experiences, I can now officially declare that I am also a sufferer of the condition.
As arguably the most famous female in the world’s London leg of her tour comes to an end, I started to think will we ever get bored of seeing Beyoncé, or the recently rebranded Mrs Carter, on countless advertising campaigns?
Now don’t get me wrong, I have been a Beyoncé fan since her Destiny’s Child days and was one of those people trying tirelessly to get tickets to her world tour but had to settle for her appearance at the Gucci Chime for change concert.
The first Beyoncé brand extension that I can remember was her fashion collection ‘House of Dereon’. This was originally pitched at the high-end high street market with concessions in Selfridges and House of Fraser, but did little to set the fashion world on fire. Perhaps the range would have gained more traction if she had partnered with the high-street as we have seen with the Kardashians and Rihanna. Post that, Beyoncé moved into an array of low cost mass market perfumes, like the majority of her pop star peers.
It’s the countless brand endorsements that are making me question if we will tire of the world’s pop royalty? Already an established face of L’Oreal, and Armani’s diamonds perfume, perhaps the point of overkill is upon us as both the Pepsi and H&M campaigns launched at roughly the same time.
Interestingly, the singer has used both opportunities to launch new singles, both rumoured to be on her forthcoming album; with Pepsi, ‘Grown Woman’ and with H&M, ‘Standing on the Sun’. Personally, I think it works for both the brands and the artist - both gain additional exposure and those who love Beyoncé are entertained with exclusive content. Fortunately, both brands are non-conflicting and this currently hasn’t been overdone. I wouldn’t suggest that Mrs Carter releases her whole album via advertising endorsements and should consider the believability of the brands she ties in with. In my opinion, a third single with another brand would be a step too far, but for now Beyoncé can be forgiven for bombarding our media channels.
Last week I attended the latest in the series of Think with Google events which was delivered with the usual dollop of 'Google-ness'. Great venue, easy to access WIFI, flash freebies, lots of techy toys to play with and generally flawless organisation…save maybe for the failed attempts at energisers - being asked to mime a tennis serve in a crowded, hot auditorium was more Henman than Federer!
However as much as I like a bit of free stash it was the content that really delivered. As you'd expect we heard from plenty of very smart Google people, including Dan Cobley, The UK and Ireland MD who gave us an overview of performance marketing in a constantly connected world. Dan started off by telling us that we were all World Champions…because the digital economy in the UK represents 8.3% of GDP which makes us number one globally! The rest of his talk was peppered with stats – on average we check our phones 150 times per day, 32% of total shopping budgets are spent online and we switch our attention between different screens 27 times a day to name a few – no ground breaking thoughts here but impressive figures that make you sit up and think! Marry Burris, Mobile Product Specialist at Google announced the launch of the Full Value of Mobile Calculator, particularly important given that 65% of user journeys that start on mobile finish on laptops.
We also heard from engineers, measurement specialists, performance specialists and more, all interesting stuff but it was the two guest speakers that really inspired.
Peter Hinssen, author of The New Normal and Co-Founder of Across Technology Group gave an incredibly entertaining and engaging talk on networks as the new markets and how he believes in S Curves rather than exponential growth. He argued that digital is half way through the S Curve and it’s here that the market flips and the new normal becomes increasingly volatile, meaning that for brands to survive they have to be incredibly versatile and act in near real time. He gave a great talk on the subject at TEDx Brussels, here’s the link :
The final talk of the morning was by Nate Silver, Google described him as a 'game changing forecaster and data journalist' which he certainly is, but he's also an author and the political forecaster for the New York Times. In fact in 2008 he correctly predicted the outcome of 49 of the 50 States in the Presidential election and the full 50 in 2012! Nate talked about big data causing big problems, which was a refreshing change from the usual love-in on the subject we're so used to hearing. He cited the recently hacked AP News tweet that said Obama had been injured by bombs in the White House, the tweet, despite being deleted almost immediately, gained so much traction that it wiped 1bn off the Stock Exchange. He continued by talking about a range of different forecast models and how the art of prediction can be hugely beneficial to businesses and brands. I won’t go into detail here but his book The Signal and the Noise looks like it’s definitely worth a read.
All in all it was a great event that provided lots of food for thought, I’m trying to lay my hands on some of the video footage and will share if and when I do!
I was heartened to hear news of Marin Alsop becoming the first ever female conductor of The Last Night of the Proms. I confess, I'm no classical music aficionado and I don't know much about Alsop's path to this accolade, but I appreciate the focus and single-mindedness required to achieve such a pivotal career milestone in any field.
Almost immediately upon hearing this news though, my thoughts turned to why it has taken over 100 years for a woman to wield the baton at this slightly odd but still momentous occasion in the British cultural calendar.
And I wondered if perhaps there are some parallels to be drawn between the worlds of orchestral music and media in terms of women's journeys to the helm.
A glance at the senior management at Maxus, where I work, reveals a meritocratic gender division, split almost straight down the middle. Yet at global agency network board level, the media industry remains steadfastly male dominated. Why should this high-level barrier to entry, this glass penthouse ceiling, still exist, I wonder, when evidence repeatedly suggests that women excel in senior roles? Just last month we learnt that companies with at least a third of women in senior managerial positions perform better than their male-dominated competitors.
I was lucky enough to meet the awe-inspiring (and worth allegedly $1.6bn) Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook last week and her new book Lean In is a brilliant read. In it she essentially moves from simply blaming sexism in the workplace, which does still exist, but instead asks women to focus on pushing themselves forward, speaking up and sitting at the table. Lots of actions, but simply put... 'manning up'!
And I agree.
Women do need to lean in to their careers. But they need support and self belief to get there in a world where traditional roles of mother/wife/care-giver/household shopper are still manifest. Recently, I was honoured to be shortlisted for a First Woman Awards in association with Lloyds Banking Group. How? A friend, a supporter suggested I do it and a good colleague nominated me. The supporter was female. The nominator male. So that's a good start! But a nomination such as did make me press the pause button, just for a moment, to reflect and take stock of my career and how it meets with long held ambitions.
I've worked in the media industry for nearly 20 years now, most recently joining Maxus as the global media agency's first female CEO.
Let me start by saying that I am fortunate to work in an industry populated by some incredibly smart and successful women. There can be no doubt that young women embarking on media careers have a wealth of trailblazing female role models in senior management positions to source inspiration from. Charlotte Beers, Stevie Spring, Carolyn McCall, Tess Alps and Nicola Mendelsohn to name but a few.
It's an exciting time to work in media, as channels converge to totally redefine the consumer experience. It's also a particularly exciting time to be a woman in this sector, something I sense strongly from the remarkably ambitious rising talent I mentor as part of the Nabs Fast Forward programme.
At these sessions, attendees often ask how I overcame the assumed challenges to women realising ambitious career goals. My advice is not to perceive a challenge as anything other than an opportunity. Keep your goal clearly in mind - show resolute single-mindedness in pursuing this goal - and you will achieve it. Forget you're a woman and lean into your career. Put your hand up. And yes, man up!
Coming back to the Proms story, whilst I wouldn't know the first thing to do with a baton, perhaps Marin and myself have something in common after all. It's not a man's world, nor a female's; it's simply a world of opportunity. Step up and into it. Armed with unwavering focus in pursuit of a single goal, anything is achievable.
Lindsay is shortlisted for the 2013 First Women Awards.
For further information click here.
Twitter did a great job of exciting the guests at the #twitter4brands event by providing huge amounts of free swag, food and drink – there was even a vending machine which gave you swag in exchange for a tweet! But I also learned some valuable pointers from the speakers, including Gary Lineker, and a guy who turned a pub in east London into a hilarious online Twitter account.
An important learning from the first speaker about Twitter is that it works really well being in sync with TV programmes – did you know that 60% of UK Twitter users are tweeting while watching TV, and over 90% of public online conversations about TV happen on Twitter? Some pretty powerful stats which I can’t help but agree with as I constantly tweet throughout Made in Chelsea.
We were also shown patterns of behaviour for certain TV shows, which revealed that tweeters will tweet heavily throughout, but also long after the finish for news programmes, only tweet at the beginning and end of films, and again tweet constantly, but mostly at important spikes of entertainment and reality TV shows (Made in Chelsea again…)
The main point to note about advertising here is that Twitter and TV drive each other in a complimentary cycle – a hashtag on air can lead to engagement on Twitter, and a TV related trend can lead to recognition and discovery. Good content which aligns between the two mediums can increase brand recall and improve acquisition. You can also tie this back into the graphs on user interaction on Twitter while watching TV – put your TV ad in the middle of a programme which gets people constantly tweeting, and people will be automatically focussed on that brand, and be more likely to engage on Twitter. Surf did this by sponsoring The Only Way is Essex, and saw that twitter users who saw the TV ad with #surf, were more engaged on Twitter but also demonstrated higher purchase intent.
The next big thing to talk about, was ‘marketing in the moment’ described as “relevance of advertising messages being enhanced by the sweet spot of timing”. What I took that to mean, is that content planners and advertisers need to be alert, and at the same time as forward planning for events we know are going to happen, also be ready to ‘ad-lib’ a little when it comes to writing and replying to content. You need to be ready to jump on good trends, and deal with the jokes and criticisms that are undoubtedly going to come from other users/brands. A really good example of this was from Lynx: Anybody who watched ‘the dogging tales’ on Channel 4 will remember that one of the ‘doggers’ liked to spray himself with Lynx. Hardly the best programme to be associated with, especially when one user decided to make an image of a new brand of Lynx – Dogging. Instead of trying hard to ignore the image or fight back, Lynx comically decided to become the official sponsor of dogging on Twitter, increasing their engagement and boosting their brand image.
Other than quick response content, a more general key to the success of content is positioning yourself appropriately within trends. You don’t want to tweet about absolutely everything, as David Levin said “you don’t win on Twitter by being loud, you win by being good”. We were told that when you tweet, the purpose should be two out of these three things; informative, helpful and funny. Funny is good, but brands need to remember that they don’t always need to be funny – the top reason users follow brands is to gain information about future products, and the top reason people retweet is to get freebies – neither of these things are usually funny (although no. 3 on the list for retweeting was a fun comment, so it certainly helps).
So after giving out all this advice, of course they had to mention their new advertising product – targeting users by keyword. To be fair I’m glad they did talk about it, as it sounds like a great product and tied in so well with all the content from the event. It’s especially going to work well with advertisers looking for words which tie in with their trends and campaigns, but more importantly signals of intent, as it allows you to target them at precise moments. Early tests from advertisers such as EE and GoPro showed users were significantly more likely to engage with promoted tweets because they are suddenly much more relevant to them at that moment in time. It’s still early days for this new targeting ability, so it will be interesting to see how many brands test it and take advantage of this feature – I’ll definitely be testing it!
I’m relieved. Honestly. Really, truly, wholly, relieved. I’ve got The Call. From the Dark Side, no less.
And this time, I can happily answer to it, even more, can completely embrace it and make it my own… thanks to the rise of the so-called brand journalism.
As described in www.brandjournalism.co.uk “Brand journalism is the creation of videos, blog posts, photos, charts, graphs, essays, ebooks, and other information that deliver value to your marketplace. Brand Journalism is not a product pitch. It is not an advertorial. It is not an egotistical spewing of gobbledygook-laden, stock-photo enhanced corporate drivel.”
This trend is becoming one of the big things for digital marketing in 2013, with data gathered by Nielsen pinpointing the kudos of these journals look-alike online content portals from big corporations.
On top of the usual suspects (brand awareness, sites to publish your content to, hassle-free relations with your company’s L&C teams…), brand journalism can help companies to regain their audiences’ trust and respect and to become thought leaders and the go-to place for knowledge within their respective trades.
Interestingly enough, main media players are starting to feel less uncomfortable to cross to the dark side (with AP and Forbes on the front foot), setting the path to better sleep for a good number of journos who – as myself – have been feeling the guilt for having embraced this very same call before it was politically correct within the trade.
As completely tuned in to the journalist mode, some quick answers to the 5Ws (Who, What, When, Why and hoW) to see some really cool examples of what big corporations are up to lately:
Financial services / banking
http://www.openforum.com/ (American Express), one of the first companies to give it a try to branded content portals
http://www.thefinancialist.com/ (Credit Suisse) employs from financial journalists to experts that guest-blog on behalf of the por tal’s owner own competitors
http://www.businesswithoutborde rs.com/ (HSBC) aimed to bait the inter national entrepreneurs and wealthy business gang out there
A case study on Imperial Sugar (US) http://www.webinknow.com/2009/07/imperial-sugar-company-newsroom-brand-journalism-creates-an-authoritative-voice.html
Tech / Energy
http://cmo.com/ (Adobe) The veteran, up and running for over 4 years with 400K+ articles
This question formed in my head following an event held earlier this week by the organisation Firestarters – a great initiative by Neil Perkin who is a Digital Strategist, Social Technologist and founder of the blog Only Dead Fish.
What quickly became clear was the two discussed issues of, what innovation actually means and whether agencies are innovative at all, are not easy to define within a 2 hour discussion or blog post.
Scouring the web for relevant research, I found myself reading through a Forbes’ article which analyses how innovative leaders maintain their edge and why some companies are able to create and sustain a high innovation premium while others don’t. A scheme mentioned was the 3 P’s which touched on the importance of leveraging people, process and philosophies in the right way in order to succeed. This would eliminate one very popular way of making an agency more “innovative” through employing a Chief Innovation Officer aka the Most Innovative Person in the agency and expecting everything to change simultaneously. A CIO’s role is to instil a culture of innovation; to draw attention to the essentials of truly innovative work and then create programmess and initiatives that get the agency producing that kind of work as quickly as possible. However this is only valuable with the right overall philosophy and employees “buying into” it.
Coming back to how to define innovation and taking in the above mentioned points, I like framing innovation as being about creating change, either through the production of something new or the evolution of something that exists.
I think it can be seen as trying to take small steps, optimising day to day business whilst seeking completely new ways to grow in the future. It’s about making this chosen change or innovation strategy a core facet of an agencies culture and structure, which at best leads to a business that can adapt faster in this fast paced industry.
Twitter have confirmed it has bought We Are Hunted, a music app which finds the most popular songs trending across the world. Users will be able to listen to clips of music from inside the app, using third-party services like iTunes and SoundCloud; they will also be able to watch music videos provided by Vevo, the music video service owned by Universal Music and Sony.
They have created a new page, music.twitter.com, with the company’s logo and #music displayed in the centre (it is not yet active). So far it is known that Ryan Seacrest (American TV presenter) has been given a preview of the new service and is already promoting it to his followers “lovin the app…shows what artists are trending, also has up and coming artists.”
Twitter at the moment have limited music abilities so it will be interesting to see if they will be able to compete with other social networking portals who have heavy music backgrounds such as Myspace. I think Twitter will create an even bigger following by releasing a music app, they needed something new to keep people on-board and with festival season looming, they couldn’t of chosen a better time.
If you were still doubting it, research from Forrester has confirmed that the British are one of the most connected populations in Europe!
75% of European adults connect to the Internet at least monthly, and more than half of them own two or more devices, making the Europeans more connected than ever, however differences exist between countries.
The UK is the leader in technology, volume of connected consumers, online shopping behaviour and interest in mobile activities; while Germany has the largest online audience in Europe but there’s room to develop online shopping on social media and mobile.
Italy and Spain both have a small connected audience but they are very active social media users. And France is behind the curve, showing lower figures to adopt multiple screening and are less likely to own a device (laptop, tablet, smartphone, or netbook).
Despite the fact than Europeans are getting more and more connected, the digital consumption is heterogeneous between countries and International brands need to consider these cultural differences.