- My digital hero is Steel’s old Creative director, Nick Bennett. Not only did he and i see ourselves as digital pioneers as far back as the early ’90’s, but he made sure that everything we did lived up to that mantra. Thats said, it wasn’t just whizzy for whizzy sake with Nick, and still isn’t. it was always user centric and commercial by nature.
2. I could list at least 10 innovative pieces of work that Nick has been the architect of, such as the groundbreaking AOL/Discuss campaign, that used social media as a major advertising channel, a year before facebook launched, but to me his biggest stand out was Greggs Superstar doughnuts. Using purely social media alone to launch a major new product range for the UK’s pride of Britain Food-on-the-Go brand was both brave and a stroke of genius. Result; 1.5 million new style doughnuts sold in the first month and massive PR success, with stories in The Sun and The Times, as well as on Breakfast TV.
3. Nick’s fearlessly creative. He doesn’t see barriers, he purely sees opportunity. When he believes, he makes the world believe, be that working with ground breaking global social start-ups, such as Starcom, for which he won a Dadi, or his latest venture as co-founder, Fika, The Mental Fitness Platform, aimed specifically at university students.
4. The biggest challenges in digital to overcome in my opinion to is to get back to understanding what ‘real’ engagement is in a sea of automation. Let’s get back to meaningful engagement beyond the measurable statistic. We talk about striving toward a single customer view as a benchmark aim, but does anybody really understand what that is?
5. My most heroic personal achievement in digital would be as the user champion for audience-first marketing. Following on from my answer to question 4, by re-engineering any brief to position it stand in the user’s shoes then we bring relevance to the top of our priorities in creating digital communication solutions. We did that back in 2004 with AOL/Discuss and we broke new ground, while also hugely leveraging the brand performance. The fact that I’m still talking about something that was revolutionary all those years ago isn’t so much a bit sad, in my eyes, but shows how ‘safe’ and predictable digital marketing has become these days. I’ll carry on waving my flag for creative, audience-first digital thinking, while desperately trying to stop it being called ‘digital’. It’s not digital, it’s building brand and audience connections, wherever that may be.