Let’s face it, it’s been a tough year and no one knows what the future holds. Advertising guru and Ogilvy UK Vice Chairman Rory Sutherland explores the challenges and the opportunities for marketers in today’s uncertain world in his podcast series, On Brand brought to you by ALF Insight. Read on for the insights as he invites fellow experts to the stage – and find out why they believe creativity is needed more now than ever.

Podcast: Being driven by creativity, not spreadsheets

Guests: Rak Patel, Head of Sales for the UK and Pan-EMEA at Spotify, and Ian McCulloch, the Managing Director for Silent Pool Distillers. 


Shake up the industry
Although music streaming and artisan gin represent different industries, Rory acknowledges both were met with “general terror” by companies in their respective fields due to their new, innovative approaches. “The failure of large incumbents to really innovate significantly is fairly stark,” he says. To stand out from the get-go, Silent Pool Distillers knew they needed an “iconic-looking bottle that looked very different,” for example. For Spotify, they refused to stagnate, instead fervently focusing on the “future of audio.” 
Start with the idea
“We’ve never started looking at a new idea with a spreadsheet, we always look at it creatively. You then reverse engineer – can we make any money out of it?” says Ian. Silent Pool Distillers, he says, intentionally “run counter to the perceived wisdoms.” Ultimately, just because a company, or an industry more widely, has done something a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean it’s the only way. 
Adapt – fast 
Rak emphasises how important it is for Spotify to be a “mirror to culture” and reflect and react to what’s happening across the world. For example, during lockdown, playlists related to being at home increased by 1000%. The insight that Spotify was being listened to more than ever before meant that a cosmetics brand ran audio ads on smart speakers where fans could request a sample. There was a “phenomenal response” to the ad, thanks to the “curiosity at brand level to try something different,” he says.  

Listen to the podcast here

Podcast: Creating a culture of innovative marketing

Guests: Nishma Robb, Marketing Director at Google, and Aron Gelbard, CEO and Co-Founder of Bloom & Wild.  


Be thoughtful
At Bloom & Wild, a company that sends flowers through the letterbox, Mother’s Day is one of busiest periods. Aware that it can be a difficult time for many, the team decided to ask customers whether they’d like to be removed from marketing communications during the period. Customers were so grateful that by year two, 17,000 people had opted out in one afternoon. As a result, they set up the Thoughtful Marketing Movement to bring about “real change” in the industry, and now work alongside 130 businesses eager to set a new precedent with how brands communicate with their customers. Marketing effectively is “understanding what really matters to people and being responsive to that and showing that you really care,” says Aron. 
Encourage collaboration
During a time when many are working remotely, the most successful businesses will adapt quickly and keep the company culture alive. Nishma explains that the increased use of video calls has led to a “democratization” of decision-making as technology allows for more heads to be in a room at once. For Bloom & Wild, they’ve created a Slack bot where anyone from the company can put forward ideas. 
Be helpful 
It’s always been vital for successful marketing, but especially in today’s climate. Nishma explains that at the beginning of the crisis, Google had to really focus its offering and “do what’s absolutely right to be helpful.” Small but important changes like placing more weight on localised searches during lockdown and switching the go-to directions from car to pedestrian routes ensured Google could offer the most relevant information quickly.  

Listen to the podcast here

During a year while many physical events are on hiatus, why are podcasts such a powerful tool for marketers today?

9.4 million In the UK every week – if you’re looking to set up your own, it’s a great way to get your message heard

72% Of podcast listeners listen to the whole episode – they’re engaged in the topics at hand

7.3 hours a week Is the average numbers of hours per week people spent listening to podcasts – there’s an appetite for content

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