Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Rebels, Misfits and Innovators: 50over50 – Mary Keane-Dawson

We think it’s time to recognise and celebrate the true talent in our industry, the creatives, technologists, founders and leaders that are really driving our industry and shaping society, who just happen to be over 50.

50over50 is a series of interviews, shortly to become a podcast, with our most influential and inspiring industry leaders aged 50 and over.  

While the digital, marketing and advertising industry remains in thrall to the cult of youth, continually celebrating young talent, accelerating generational shifts over the last three decades mean this focus is becoming dangerously short sighted.

Never mind that this shuns the consumers who are the true influencers when it comes to household spending –  78% of over 50s command the purse-strings in their households, with the age group accounting for half of all consumer spending in the UK — in the digital economy it means the industry in danger of losing out on the knowledge and experience of those who have built the digital industry from the ground up.

Mary Keane Dawson is one of our industry’s most experienced and respected figures. A digital evangelist, entrepreneur and advertising agency boss, she is the founder of How She Made It and is involved with industry organisations from BIMA to Tech London Advocates. Mary sits on multiple company boards and is the chair of Marketing Town*.     

What one thing are you proudest of in your career? 

Re-invention – the ability to learn from others, however difficult the challenge is from an intellectual perspective, shape-shift and still be at the top table advising and guiding the likes of Ford, British Airways, Apple, Nestle et al 32 years in.

What creative heights are you now capable of that you wouldn’t have been able to achieve at the early or mid-point of your career? 

I’m now far more collaborative than I was back then. I was too concerned with being top cat – now I want to use my experience and thinking to help realise the best work of my life. That means working with people who challenge constructively, embrace originality and are excited about the future.

What gives you the most satisfaction in your role today? 

Genuinely – it’s the people I meet and work with, and the change we can achieve together. 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career? 

Don’t be bullied by anyone. It will make you miserable and your life is so much more important! 

What advice would you give your 25-year old self? 

You’re so much better than you think you are. Stop wasting time doubting yourself. Stop listening to your inner assassin.

What is the biggest mistake companies — brands or the industry – are making in their attitude to age today? 

Honestly, I think it’s allowing the old guard in many of the big agencies to carry on making stupid politically-motivated mistakes. The gulf between those people and the ones that actually execute the work is still too wide.

What are you most excited about in your industry over the next 10 years? 

The revolution of the technically-savvy empowered consumer. Our industry and the relationship between brands and their customers will be radically different. It will be very exciting to be part of that adventure.

What is your biggest regret about the industry today? 

“Non, je ne regrette rien” However, if you push me, I would say the industry has become too technology dependent – frequently, needlessly disrupting our conversations with consumers in the constant chase to meet the financial number.

*Marketing Town is a Bluestripe Media client