Rachel McDonald

Managing Director, Dentsu Aegis Network North


Investing in building a brand is not a ‘nice to do’ but a matter of strategic importance in an age of digital disruption was just one of the key takeaways from our annual gathering of the industry’s brightest marketing minds in Manchester.

Now in its third year Make Disruption Pay 2019 was our biggest and best to date. On the key theme, Striking the Balance,it seems that you can have your cake and eat it.  But to balance brand and performance requires a clear vision of what you stand for and the ability to cut through red tape by empowering employees to be agile and act quickly.

I’ve picked out six key takeaways from a though provoking day where experts from across the industry wrestled with the dilemma of marketing spend that delivers instant results, versus investment that builds brand loyalty over the long term:

Indifference is the enemy

Nick Hewat, Commercial Director of The Guardian, spoke of how the brand turned a financial loss into profit by focussing on their key strength – their relationship with readers who now help fund the title’s journalism with voluntary contributions.

You need to be unique

Mick McCoy, CEO of Vizeum, defined the perfect campaign: “Something that is sticky with real people and captures their imaginations, that covers more than one channel and changes the fortune of the brand.”

Invest in the why

Dan Hagen, Global Chief Strategy Officer, iProspect, said 70 per cent of CMOs think long-term relationships is key to driving business.

We need to significantly increase the investment in the why – what is effective and what is not effective – bridging the gap between the short-term and long term.”

We are all influencers

Dara Nasr, Managing Director of Twitter UK, said brands that listened to their consumers and had a purpose would win in the end.  

Nike trainers were burned in public after they stood up for sports star Colin Kaeprenick’s protest over civil liberties in their Believe In Somethingcampaign. Yet consumers loved it and their market value went up $6billion. Nasr said: “We all have the ability to influence what’s going in the world.”

Meet your customers

Phillip Lockwood-Holmes, Managing Director, Whitespace, said brands who created and delivered experiences for consumers can cut through the noise.  But he said to truly win them over you had to get to know them. 

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Simon Daglish, Deputy Managing Director Commercial at ITV, said it was OK to disrupt markets but fatal to swim against the tide of cultural phenomena such as Love Island. 

“Too many of us are involved with the science but that is not why people buy things. They buy with the emotional side of their brain.

“Brands need to part of people’s lives if they want to be relevant. If they are irrelevant, brands become commodities.”