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Meet your marketing superhero: GSK’s Jerry Daykin on tackling ‘the stupid things'

"It’s that combination of a great career combined with being yourself and advocating for others"

Everyone has a hero – be it in the areas of sport, music or fashion - but what about the brilliant unsung marketing heroes that inspire us every day, using their craft and commitment to drive impactful results for their brands and their customers?

As part of a new three-part video series, in partnership with The Trade Desk, three brand marketers from the Marketing Innovation Lab (MIL) community have been given a chance to interview their superhero and learn about their journey so far through the lens of digital transformation, creativity and innovation, with free rein to discuss the topics that matter most to them.

Kicking off the first episode in the series at The Drum’s Creative Transformation Festival, Andrea Frankl Sanz, PR and communications manager at The Trade Desk introduced Xavier White, CSR & innovation marketing manager at Verizon, the first of these marketers to get the opportunity to interview his marketing superhero: Jerry Daykin, senior media director for EMEA, GlaxoSmithKline.

“You’ve got to have done something really cool to be a hero, but you can’t say someone is a hero if you don’t know what they stand for,” explained White. “As someone who is openly gay, Jerry’s work in diversity is inspiring; he’s done a great job and had a great career, but he’s always spoken out for minorities and been publicly and unapologetically himself. It’s that combination of a great career combined with being yourself and advocating for others that elevated him to hero status.”

A day in the life of GSK’s media spender

In this no holds barred conversation, viewers got a glimpse into the day in the life of Daykin – looking at everything from how he sets himself up for the day to his snacking habits and how he best makes use of his time, collaborating with his own team and agency, as well as the best investment he ever made, which turns out is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle arcade game.

But at the same time, Daykin revealed the pressing issues that keep him awake at night which, given that GSK sells products in 94 markets across EMEA, can be one of many things that can crop up from anywhere. But more broadly, Daykin gets “irrationally frustrated about stupid things in marketing” which stem from misinformation, driven by myths and rumors spread on social media.

“Brands are desperately trying to go viral and producing lots of organic content and for no good reason I like to wade into lots of Twitter threads and LinkedIn conversations about that topic because I think it’s important as an industry that we have established marketing science and that they are credible about what we’re trying to do and sell,” said Daykin. “Obviously we’re a creative industry so keep bringing the creativity, inspiration and out of the box thinking but do it understanding that gravity exists.”

“Just be yourself”

If Daykin had unlimited budget and the ability to place a billboard anywhere in the world with any message, he revealed he would be tempted to put it outside 10 Downing Street with a casual reminder to the government to remember that trans people matter. Equality for trans people and the wider LGBTQ+ community is one of many important issues in society today and while Daykin feels the marketing industry is making some good progress over the past year, there’s still a lot to be done.

“It’s not overstating it to say that marketing is not the most diverse industry – there are a lot of barriers to getting in, especially on the creative side,” said Daykin. “Quite a lot of that needs to be solved but marketing can play a mysterious role in some of that. What our ads say does matter. We need to pay attention to what we spend our money on and where.”

“It’s our jobs as marketers to understand, reflect and talk to diverse consumers. It’s our job to talk – although still a positive first step, it’s powerful to see. Be careful about using the rainbow flag, tread carefully, start simple and if it’s done in the right spirit, take small steps to go on a journey.”

White explained how by Daykin being a visible role model, someone who is out and proud, having this sort of mentor can make such a difference in highlighting the importance of diversity and inclusivity.

“Just be yourself” were the words of encouragement from Daykin towards young people who might be just starting out or early on in their career. “What we really want is different backgrounds and experience, different perspectives and attitudes – and that can be really powerful in your career,” he said. “Try and bring your full self to the office, if you can. In the creative industry, it’s a lot easier when you have different perspectives to be able to sense check and inputs around you – that's the right balance we need to get to in our industry.”

You can watch the full episode at CT Fest on-demand here.

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