S.04: E.07

Creating Culture

with Lindsay Stein

November 19, 2019 • 22:04 min


  | Creating Culture (w. Lindsay Stein )


Lindsay Stein is the US editor of Campaign, a publication that celebrates bold ideas at the intersection of brands, marketing, advertising, and technology. She sees journalism as a necessary component of the creative industry, both as a cheerleader to celebrate our wins and also as a coach to push the industry forward, from the work we produce to workplace policies and culture. Between breaking news, she pushes for positive change in the industry by reporting the facts. In this episode, we talk about which trends are coming and going, breakthrough moments, and the impacts of her team’s reporting.

To hear more from Lindsay, find her on:
Twitter: @Lindsay_Stein and @CampaignLiveUS
Instagram: @Lindsay_Stein
And stay tuned for the results of Campaign's Female Frontier Awards.

Written, hosted, and produced by Kenzie Haynes.

Kenzie: Welcome back to, It's Worth Doing Right, a collection of conversations about the creative side of strategy. I'm your host Kenzie Haynes. Today on the show we're talking to Lindsay Stein. She's the editor of Campaign U.S., a news publication that explores bold ideas at the intersection of marketing, brands, advertising, and technology. Through her reporting, Lindsay plays a critical role of illuminating the brilliant creativity pushing us forward, as well as the darker corners of our profession that need more of our attention. Let's dive in.

Kenzie: Lindsay welcome to the show. We're super excited to have you.

Lindsay: Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.

Kenzie: Where do you see your role as a journalist intersecting with the industry?

Lindsay: I like to see Campaign in general as part of the industry because we're the leading global trade publication for advertising, marketing, and creativity. So I can give some background about a Campaign in case anyone is not too familiar. We are more than 50 years old globally. We're in eight markets around the world, based in London. And then we have offices in Hong Kong and we have offices in the Middle East.

Lindsay: So we are there to hold up the industry and to celebrate it and celebrate all the great work it's doing, and the amazing creativity and those talented people that are making the work. But also call them out for things that they're not doing or that they should be doing or they should be doing differently. Whether it comes to things around female empowerment, or diversity and inclusion, or policies, or taking risks, telling them to be braver. So I like to say like we're a friendly part of the industry, but we're journalists, so we're going to call you out when we need to and we're going to hold you to a standard that we expect you to live up to.

Kenzie: What are you really excited about right now?

Lindsay: What I'm excited about for Campaign, coming from some of our competitors, is that when I came here, I got to kind of pick these four pillars that I really want to make sure we focus on. Of course we're still going to break news and we're going to focus, that's bread and butter, new stories, breaking news of course all the time. But I want to make sure we focus on female empowerment, diversity and inclusion, ageism, and purpose driven work. So that's been a really big core for Campaign in the U.S. and we focus our awards around that and we have events around that and a lot of our content too. So that's been exciting.

Kenzie: Do you see your role as kind of uplifting those pillars or kind of promoting them through the industry or just celebrating when people are embracing that or-

Lindsay: Well, okay. So what I always say is that I think that an industry is only as good as its trade. So for us, I want to hold the industry, the ad industry, creative marketing, accountable for things like making sure there are women in leadership positions and people of color in leadership and also that should representative in the creative work that they do.

Lindsay: And then in terms of things like, we did a big report on maternity and paternity policies across the board for all of the big U.S. agencies and the Indies too, came in with that. And that was amazing to see. And we did call out people who, or agencies or companies that wouldn't reveal their maternity and paternity policies. And we've got some amazing feedback from that from agencies saying, I saw this and decided we are going to have to make a change and we're not up to industry standard or we're not going to check talent this way.

Lindsay: I had another friend, industry friend, come to me and say, she used that report to go to her board to see if they could make changes for their policies too. So that type of stuff is really important. And then same with ageism, one person said to me recently is that it's not really about age either, it's about being in touch or out of touch. So he calls it out-of-touchism. He's like, you could be 20 and be out of touch or you could be 90 and be in touch or out of touch. So age isn't indicative of whether or not someone's qualified for a job, whether they're young or they're older.

Lindsay: And then purpose-driven work is the same thing. I don't think every brand necessarily needs to take a stand on a political issue or a sensitive issue. But I think that every brand should know their brand values and should make sure they understand their values and that it's represented in what they do internally and externally so that their own team can rally around that.

Kenzie: I wonder if there's anyone who has really surprised you this year, like they put out something that is really different for them or really kind of charting a new territory for their brand.

Lindsay: That's a good question. I think this brand is just kind of surprised me a bit because I think that they haven't been like this until this year is Absolute Vodka. And so I actually launched recently an initiative called Born Colorless to promote global unity and diversity in India. And it's the first time the brand has launched an India-led campaign. It is going to be global, it's going to roll out in 15 markets. But for them that's pretty bold.

Lindsay: And then recently they brought on Lizzo as the brand ambassador in the U.S. for this new line of products. And the reason why I like that is because, I mean she's very positive body image and I think that's amazing. And she's like body positivity after years of body shaming she's been open about. So in the spot, she's in a bikini and she's kind of swimming in this new delicious looking juicy product. So I like that they're being a little bold there too. It's not necessarily some thin model that you'd expect them to have plastered all over their ads, like sipping a cocktail.

Kenzie: That's awesome. To segue kind of into another question I'm really curious to hear from you about, and we've seen body positivity kind of coming to the fore. We've seen equality in the workplace and diversity in the workplace coming to the fore. What are sort the main trends you see either in the work that brands are putting out or even in the messaging or the core values that brand are adopting?

Lindsay: I think the rise of some out of home that I've seen. And then DTC I think has given a good rise to out of home, especially in New York and like the subway platforms or on the buses you see DTC brands using those spaces in really smart ways because you have cord cutting. I don't have cable TV. When you have people using ad blockers and this is a good way if you're stuck on the subway for 45 minutes getting downtown, they have these Casper puzzles, they're mind games and you look at them and it's just a fun way to use creative in a different way. So I think that's been one really interesting trend.

Lindsay: But then on the other side of that, experiential is definitely on the rise. Have to pull up the exact statistic. But we did a study recently and marketers are much more focused on experiential, especially in going into 2020 they're investing, they're moving their marketing dollars, more to experiences. But that makes sense if you think about it, right? Because you have people on their phones all the time. So why not create an event where you can now interact with your friends and family or your peers in an experience and also use your phone and take photos of that. So you get double play on that. So I think the rise-

Kenzie: When you say experiences, like what kind of experiences are these?

Lindsay: Like in New York we have a ton of like pop up shops, things like Twitter did a candy pop up last week and it was during fashion week. They said it wasn't on purpose, but they said it was Fashion Week and the U.S. Open. So there were a ton of people in New York. And we did a story, they sold like I think it was over a hundred and something pounds, or fifty pounds of candy. Not sold out. It was for free.

Lindsay: Had people line up, talked about Twitter, and it was kind of fun cause they used real tweets from people like to describe what Twitter is to them. So it was like Twitter is sweet like candy, or Twitter is this or that. And it's just a fun way to get their brand out there.

Kenzie: Do you think that Twitter needs to get their brand out there?

Lindsay: I think today I think all the platforms are kind of, they're all fighting for ad dollars, right? So whether it's Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram, I think all those social platforms are still kind of fighting for the same people to advertise on their sites.

Kenzie: So it is still relevant for a mega brand like Twitter or Apple or Google to still be spending on their marketing.

Lindsay: Yeah, if you look at the Apple, I think I won some can lines where there, I think it was two years ago. They basically have these things at the Apple stores where they bring artists in or they bring musicians and they just have people come in for free who live in that area and they learn from them or they talk and they teach classes, stuff like that. And that has done really well and they've even seen that have a positive impact on the bottom line, which is at the end of the day what it's all about.

Kenzie: I wonder what trends do you see kind of on the outs. What are you not seeing so much of or what's sort of fading out for you?

Lindsay: There used to be these really big pitches for big AOR, agency of record, relationships and you're seeing fewer of those and a lot more project based work. I don't think that's going to change any time soon.

Kenzie: Do you have any ideas on what's driving that change?

Lindsay: Yeah, I think the budgets are still being cut. Marketers are in housing more of the work. That's a trend I don't see going away either actually. The in-housing. I don't think you're going to see brand X making a big Superbowl commercial in-house necessarily, but I think you're going to see them bringing more pieces of media in house and then maybe more like production in-house, which will drive efficiency basically. So that was something actually I think will keep going.

Kenzie: Okay, so because you're an expert and you've seen the impact of marketing, I just have to say for people who are reticent to spend more ad dollars or people who don't really believe in the power of marketing, what would you say to them?

Lindsay: Oh man, it's so funny. I still to this day don't understand why. I mean I do understand why budgets are getting cut and I know you know you have to be careful of what you spend, but someone recently asked me who's in the industry. He was like, I just don't get why CMOs aren't investing more in creativity or advertising if they see that it can positively impact their sales. And I said, that is a question that I'll never understand too. And I know that they have to go to the board and they have to go to their CFO. And a lot of times maybe those people don't view it as the most critical part of the business. But yeah, I mean to me, if you don't invest in creativity, I mean creativity is what draws people into something and creativity in marketing and advertising, it creates culture. If you look back at Levi's back in the day when it launched, that created a whole new culture of fashion and jeans and the way people looked at that part of the business. And it can still do that today. So I would say you 100% have to invest more in marketing and advertising and creativity.

Kenzie: So is there any technology you're seeing being used really well right now? Like it's kind of in its heyday or are really coming into its own that brands are leveraging?

Lindsay: Oh it's kind of funny. I was not against TikTok but some people on my team who are a little younger than I am love TikTok and I honestly didn't even know what it was all about.

Kenzie: Okay. For those that still don't know what it's all about. Can you explain it?

Lindsay: To me it seems almost exactly like Vine, but it's not, people are assuring me. It's social media video app and it creates really short form mobile videos. But there's some slapstick things. There's funny things you can add music to it. It's almost like Vine meets Instagram and like Boomerang. They kind of integrate all of this stuff. A lot of music in it too. And I didn't think it would do well because Vine wasn't monetizeable, it's why it failed.

Lindsay: But then you see people like the NFL signed a partnership with them and Tom Brady did a TikTok video the other day. So I mean I assume someone's going to end up buying TikTok because I'm thinking it's still independent. So I don't know will it be Facebook or maybe even some holding company will. And actually going off of that One Space I think is really interesting and I would want to invest if I was a holding company and WPP already did. They invested in a company that's doing this is in game programmatic ad buys for video games.

Lindsay: So like specifically targeting very personalized ads. So if you're a 15 year old kid or 16 year old in Missouri and you're playing a specific game they can target, maybe that kid likes Fritos or whatever, in the background of the ad. If he's playing like Madden or whatever, then the ads are specifically served up during the end game experience. I think that's kind of going to be a future of where advertising is going to go. And I mean video games are on the rise. You see things like Twitch. I think I'm definitely going to see some advertising get into that space for sure.

Kenzie: eSports is something we talked about this season and I'm really excited to see how brands kind of leverage that space. I think it's going to be a big talking point in the next few years. So going back to the social movements, where we are as sort of a culture, you're talking about brands or they don't necessarily have to take a stance but they do need to be true to their core values. Where has a brand taking a stance really helped them?

Lindsay: Nike for sure as like, not to be that person and name drop Nike like everyone else probably does, but I mean Nike 100% knew their core demographic and their core consumer base. They knew that they would piss some people off, which is why you had back in the day, like when this initially happened with Kaepernick, they had people burning their Nike's or whatever. Sales improved something like 33%. So they knew what they were doing. This wasn't, I think like a thing, like we're going to take a stand. They just knew that the people who mattered the most, were going to stick with them and buy more shoes.

Kenzie: And this was after they adopted Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson?

Lindsay: Yep and I mean Nike's just been killing you with all these like female empowerment videos. We do Ad of the Week every week. They were putting out a few, almost every few weeks. And actually recently they put out another one and I turned to one of my coworkers and I said, I just don't think we could have Nike's Ad of the Week again cause we need to start spreading the love.

Kenzie: Why do you think they are so good?

Lindsay: Well I think Weiden is an amazing creative shop. I'm probably one of the best. And they've had a pretty long relationship with Weiden. And I know some of the people at Weiden, like Susan Hoffman and Colleen DeCourcy, they're really badass creatives. I don't think they're afraid to push the envelope a little bit and they probably helped push the client and the client has to be brave and so does the agency. So I would say that plus they must have some pretty good data on their core consumer base because they knew this was going to do well.

Kenzie: So kind of flipping the coin, where has taking a stance hurt a brand? And not just some people are mad or there's some ruffled feathers but it's actually negatively impacted the bottom line for that brand.

Lindsay: It's a tough one. This one it hurt the brand initially but then wound up bouncing back because it's a commoditized market like industry. But I think it was couple of years ago maybe two years ago, Delta cut its ties with the NRA, which I was happy about personally. But it pissed off a lot of Republicans or conservative people or people who are members of the NRA.

Lindsay: And initially their shares went down after that and people were saying we're not going to fly with Delta anymore. And then on the flip side of that, other people said you're only bandwagoning and doing it now because of all the shootings and you shouldn't have had a partnership with them anyways. Then you had people who were more liberal saying, we don't want to be part of your brand now because we didn't know you were supporting the NRA. Because it wasn't like a extremely public thing. So it was kind of like they were in a kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't position at that point. But I interviewed a bunch of experts and I did a story at the time and they were right. Like they did bounce back from that pretty quickly because I mean flying is flying, people have to fly. And a lot of times people will pick the best flight or the cheapest flight. So in the long run they wound up being okay from that.

Kenzie: Wow. So I can't imagine being in the executive room after that announcement and then getting all of those different inputs and kind of being at a brand paralysis, like where do we go from here. But their consumer experience really speaks for itself because like you said, they bounced back. I'm an avid Delta user because of their consumer experience. So I guess it goes to show you can't just have great marketing or brand values. You also have to have a solid consumer experience. So when brands and companies really understand themselves, they understand their consumers, how does that change the work?

Lindsay: Well, I think if you understand your consumer, then you understand what's going to resonate with them on a creative level and what's not. So every brand should have its own consumer data. Because like I said you're going to know what's going to resonate and you're also going to know what's going to click, whether you're talking to someone in their thirties in New York versus someone in their thirties in the Midwest or in a rural area versus urban, it's very different. So you should know who you're targeting and why, and what ads you're serving up.

Kenzie: Well I want to I want to kind of push back on that really quick and get your take on it because we are kind of seeing a blossoming of sentiment from consumers that maybe things are a bit too targeted that it's almost creepy. Are you listening to me and brand is saying, oh no, we just have really good data on you are not eavesdropping, we just really know you, but where is that kind of fine line? Where is that balance between hyper targeted and being really knowledgeable and self aware of your consumer base and just being creepy and maybe repelling your consumers?

Lindsay: That is such a good question and I think that is something that advertisers are grappling with so much right now because there are so many studies that say consumers want personalization, personalization is on the rise. They want brands to know them and they love customized emails and stuff like that. But you're right, they also now are pushing back. Like we don't want you to know everything about us. And-

Kenzie: Yeah. How did you know that?

Lindsay: Yeah. How did you know that? So that's also kind of a damned if you do damned if you don't, and I think you're going to see the Opt-in area a lot more now. Like opt into this, do you mind us having your data. Especially with all these like data security issues going forward. I know that's going to be a really important part, but there was this one really small, well small in comparison to Casper, like a DTC mattress company and I was with somebody who said to him, the guy who owned the company, I've never heard of your company before. And he goes, well, are you in the market for a new mattress? And he goes, no. And he's like, well good then I'm not wasting my targeting dollars on you. He's like my job is to only target people who, based on our data, are looking for mattresses. So that's another way it is more efficient like that.

Kenzie: I appreciate that.

Lindsay: Yes.

Kenzie: Okay. Then let me ask you the hardest question of all. What is your all time favorite campaign?

Lindsay: Oh man, that is such a good one. I'm really torn between two. Is that cheating?

Kenzie: Let's hear them. Let's hear them. We'll let the people decide.

Lindsay: One is the Snickers, You're Not You When You're Hungry campaign from BBDO because it's I think over 10 years running and it's global and it resonates around the world cause you're not you when you're hungry. And it's a funny way to, have a Snickers ad that makes you want a Snickers. At least in my opinion. And it's still going. And it's been successful for the brand, so that's one of my favorites.

Lindsay: And then the P&G, Thank You Mom campaign, which also I think launched, it might be about 10 years ago, maybe a little less than that actually. But that campaign I think launched during the Olympics and it's such powerful creative and it kind of makes you choke up a little bit or it brings a tear to your eye.

Kenzie: And what's the premise?

Lindsay: Oh, Thank You Mom. It's P&G, Procter and Gamble, launched this campaign to thank the moms of athletes during the Olympics and like we couldn't have gotten there without you. So it's showcasing the moms behind all of these amazing athletes and helping them when they were young, like helping them to learn how to ice skate. And they have done so many iterations of it over the year. They come out with almost a new one every year, but it's been a long time running too and it's just such a powerful, beautiful way to celebrate moms. So I just love that one.

Kenzie: I haven't even seen that and if I have, it's been a long time, but I'm feeling like a flush of emotion coming into my eyes. It must be really powerful to see it. Well Lindsay, thank you so much. It's been so fun talking to you.

Lindsay: Thank you. It's been great.

Kenzie: That's our show. If you'd like to learn more from the accomplice team, visit us at itsworthdoingright.com. Or drop us a line at podcast@itsworthdoingright.com. See you next time.