10 questions with... Vivienne MacLaren, head of marketing, Ideagen

Vivienne McLaren

The media and marketing sector is ultimately about people. In this weekly series, The Drum speaks to professionals across the sector who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what little insights they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are answered by Ideagen's head of marketing, and the chair of Scottish Women's Football, Vivienne MacLaren.

What was your first ever job? 

Carrying two buckets of tasty treats to sell every Thursday night in my local neighbourhood, aged 16. Bacon and eggs in one, cheese and potato scones in the other! Made a mint at Christmas. During uni, I worked for Warner Bros Studio Stores in Glasgow (met ER star, Dr Benton) and my first real job straight from uni was marketing manager on the Scottish Power grad scheme – a brilliant first step on the job ladder,

Why did you get into marketing?

I went to see the advertising guy at our careers fair in fourth year at Hutchesons’ in Glasgow. Met the most inspiring guy who showed me TV ad concepts on kappa boards. I was blown away with the process from idea to execution and even in those days was obsessed with results of the campaigns. The advertising guy was David Shaw, owner of legendary agency, Shaw Advertising at the time. I ended up doing three honours elective in marketing at Glasgow Uni plus a dissertation on TV advertising as a re-positioning tool for brands – Irn Bru was one case study – they were launching into England for the first time.

My obsession with results meant that I fell in love with digital in 1998 and the rest is history! I used to get frustrated with lack of tangible results in some channels, so being able to track everything in the journey to conversion was a dream come true (sad I know).

What’s the most surprising thing you have learned about the creative sector since working within it?

There is so much talent in the sector, but for me, it always surprises me when you see work which clearly hasn’t considered the audience our the desired outcomes. Utterly bizarre campaigns which will clearly have no impact, but have had huge budgets invested. Sometimes the best work is produced on much lower budgets.

For me there is a constant educational task.

What campaign or work have you most enjoyed being a part of?  

Too many to mention! One of my best career moves was to Dowcarter (which became Altogether Digital and is now part of Engine Group) – true digital experts working for the likes of Honda, Carling, Apple, Edrington Group, Conran, Apple, ScottishPower - it was a superb agency.

For me, one of the most rewarding projects was for Scottish Power – working on the digital account four years after I left the business was great. We set up all of the online acquisition channels from scratch including PPC, affiliates, targeted display etc (in the days when comparison sites were just starting to build momentum), as well as a quote and application website which was the destination for our all of our campaigns. To see the new customer targets exceeded via online activity was really satisfying – especially at a time when many questioned the effectiveness of online channels. We were able to test and learn every month too – great client who allowed us to push boundaries.

What have you learned from any mistakes you’ve made in your career? 

That it’s okay to make mistakes, provided you take the learnings from them…and to stop getting too stressed over it,  always consider if it’s going to matter in six months’ time…or even a months’ time.

Best book you have ever read? 

I read a lot of crime books, which sometimes isn’t ideal when you are away with work, alone in a hotel room (one of my old colleagues had to pop in and check there were no serial killers in my wardrobes when away visiting a client in Malta, thanks to a scary read). Too many great ones, so easier to go with favourite authors – Karin Slaughter (by name and nature) and Val McDermid.

What is the most exciting thing about your job?

Seeing the positive impact that the marketing team has on global revenue. Everything we do is well tracked so, we can see the live impact of our campaigns on the bottom line. As Ideagen expands around the world, its exciting for everyone.

You’re stuck in a meeting that is dragging on and on and not going anywhere. What do you do? 

Sadly I can’t pull off the old ‘my waters have broken’ line (which one of my old clients did, and her waters had actually broken) – the actions came thick and fast as that meeting finished! I would jump in and round things up with my interpretation of the key actions, and then make a nice pot of coffee for everyone.

If you could ban one buzzword or piece of jargon what would it be? 

‘Let’s not boil the ocean’. When I first heard this, I thought, no one else could possibly coin this phrase in the same way. I was so wrong.

AND Working in silos…I hate how it sounds and what it stands for.

You want to take your team for a celebratory night out - what do you organise? 

Champagne and Indian food in Britain’s curry capital, Glasgow.

What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?  

Couple of pieces - learn to say no when you need to. Learn from mistakes and move on. Don’t dwell on negative experiences – always learn from them. I’m a ‘cup is half full’ kind of person, so my default is always to look for solutions.

10 Questions With... will return next week.

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