Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Mars Global Partnership Director on unlocking value at the intersection of media and content

Every week, Automated Creative founder Tom Ollerton interviews advertising industry leaders about their experiences, views on technology and innovation and the future of marketing in the Shiny New Object podcast. This week, he spoke to Heather Stuckey, Global Partnership Director at Mars. Here’s what he learned from the conversation.

It’s ok to not have all the answers 

There’s a lot of pressure on people to succeed, but Heather believes we need to remember that there are some things that we’ll figure out as we go: “start with what you know, know how to fail fast and don’t beat the drum when something isn’t working”.

This also applies to your career – it’s ok not to know what you want to do. Out of college, Heather was on track to becoming  an investment banker but her curiosity about the ad industry ultimately led her on a different path.

She started her advertising career at a small promotional agency, learned on the job by getting involved in as many different areas of the business as possible, which led to her landing a job at one of the world’s biggest ad agencies. She argues that while a lot of career advice tells you to follow your passion, it’s not always that straightforward, particularly for younger people who may have no idea yet what they’re passionate about.

For her, it’s about being curious and eventually you’ll discover what makes you tick. And you’ll have more fun on the way: “life is more interesting when it’s challenging”.

Unlock value at the intersection of media and content 

“Unlocking value at the intersection of media and content” is Heather’s Shiny New Object.. As she points out, people love a story. Mars is known for its iconic brands and powerful stories and Heather’s aim is to make content that’s meaningful, whether it makes people laugh, cry or is in some way useful.

There are a number of questions she asks herself to do this: How do we move at the speed of emerging media? How do we continue to be as effective telling these stories across a number of different platforms, and drive value with our consumers?

She tells the fascinating story of rapper Lil Nas X’s rise to fame by using all these factors to his advantage on social media. He took off on TikTok then, with various twists and turns along the way, broke records and won grammys. As she explains, “he knew what he needed to do, the type of content he needed to create to appeal to his audience”. He marketed his song in a way that fit with his audience’s life – this is what Mars looks to do with its content. 

Be led by consumer behaviour 

The conversation naturally led to talking about behaviors on various platforms and how brands can tap into these. Heather gives the example of Dreamies Cat Treats and how Mars marketed these in an unusual way. Noticing that pet owners were uploading content of themselves shaking bags of cat treats and filming their cats going wild for them on TikTok, they launched an influencer focused campaign which tapped into this behaviour, with Dreamies at the centre.

This allowed them to seamlessly integrate the content, without looking like a traditional ad. Heather believes it’s everyone’s – brand or agency – responsibility to figure out how a brand can play an authentic role in a consumers’ environment, for her it’s about “being curious about exploring these new platforms and being curious about how behavior and consumption of media is changing.”

Listen to the podcast in full here: