Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The Shiny New Object Podcast: Tom Ollerton talks to Katherine Freeley of Colgate-Palmolive

Interviewed in the latest instalment of the Shiny New Object Podcast by Automated Creative’s Tom Ollerton is Katherine Freeley, Global Marketing, IMC Associate Director at Colgate-Palmolive. Here are five things Ollerton found out as a result of the conversation.

To prepare for an AI-led world, be more human 

My conversation with Freeley started and finished on the same theme – humanity and our defining qualities. A big believer in AI as the future of marketing, Freeley says that in order to survive, we must embrace our distinctive attributes as people that machines can’t replicate, like compassion and empathy. She recommends the decade-old book Love is the Killer App – a short read that highlights the importance of connections, and how to stand out in a cluttered environment. Despite being old (in marketing terms), these lessons stand truer than ever today. 

Be agile, not perfect 

Freeley believes that perfect can be the enemy of good – in pursuit of perfection, we can end up getting stuck in a rut, whether that’s with products or campaigns. She says that for her, agility is more important, that marketers need to follow the 80:20 rule and allow for the fact that bosses or even consumers are going to have feedback that will allow us to optimise as we go. I asked her when you know you’ve done enough – she says it’s when the story hits on all the main objectives that you need to deliver. Then prepare to accept constructive criticism; don’t become too in love with your idea that you won’t then be flexible enough to change it. 

Embrace the creative power of conflict 

The most valuable thing Freeley has ever paid for with her own money is a bit of a whopper – a PhD – a doctorate of management. While pricey, she says it’s been of huge value in her career. Her dissertation looked at conflict management and how to harness power of conflict and she’s learned how to use this in the workplace. Whether that’s empowering people to express their opinions, creating an open working environment or making sure there’s healthy debate – she believes that different points of view is what fuels great creativity. 

Machines are amazing – but we have emotional intelligence 

Freeley believes that most people would be surprised at how good AI currently is. Whether it’s creative, or targeting – machines can often be better at many of the tasks that people in agencies are currently picking up. But there’s still a role for people to work alongside AI, discovering the human truths that we need to make an impact, using the emotion-driven knowledge that is unique to us. Harnessing this sense of emotional intelligence is something we have to build on more and more as we go into a world led by technology.

Find your creative power hour 

An interesting tip for those who struggle to focus – Freeley said that over the last couple of years, she changed her commute so she could travel with her daughter, who started a new school. As an unintended by-product of this, she’s now in the office at 8am instead of 9am, and she’s found that this hour is often her most productive and focused time of the day. She concedes that this isn’t the case for everyone – some people may favour working late than early – but it’s worth playing around with your daily schedule to see if you can find that hidden hour of the day when you’re at your best. 

Listen to the podcast in full here. 

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