Lindsay Pattison: a fresh pair of (consumer) eyes

In November 2017, Lindsay was appointed as WPP’s first-ever global Chief Transformation Officer (CTO). In this role, Lindsay helps drive WPP’s horizontality strategy by overseeing the group’s 50 global client teams - ensuring all agencies are best connected to deliver the most effective and creative solutions for clients. She also performs the same role for GroupM.

Prior to GroupM, Lindsay served as Global CEO of Maxus (now merged with MEC to form Wavemaker) for 3 years. She joined Maxus in 2009 as UK CEO before taking on an additional role as Global Chief Strategy Officer for Maxus in 2012. Before this, Lindsay worked at PHD and client-side at Sony Ericsson, after starting out at Young & Rubicam in a full service agency environment.

Lindsay now sits on the Chime LTD board as a non-executive director, representing WPP. She served two terms on the WEF Global Agenda Council on the Future of Media and was named one of Cranfield’s FTSE Board Report’s 100 Women to Watch in 2015 and 2016. Lindsay was also named to Ad Age’s 2015 class of Women to Watch. As a passionate and vocal campaigner for gender equality, she launched ‘Walk the Talk’, an initiative to help senior women at Maxus to thrive and progress in their career – a program now adopted globally by WPP.

multimedia use

We often ask colleagues to look over our work with ‘a fresh pair of eyes’. In our industry, a fresh pair of eyes shouldn’t just mean checking over work to spot mistakes but looking at work through diverse and alternate lenses; some expert, some simply the lens of being a consumer. In this respect, industry experience can in fact be a hindrance. The more experience we garner in this industry, the more we must consciously make ourselves view our work through the eyes of those we want to engage with our communications and ultimately buy our products.

Working in the industry, it is natural (in fact impossible to stop!), when faced with a brand or piece of communication, to analyse the thinking and desired outcome of brand messages and creative. But the reality is that humans ‘think fast’. Numerous psychologists have demonstrated that more often than not, humans are impressionistic & instinctive, making decisions based on emotion, experiences and bias, not rationale. Communications that move our emotions are far more effective than those that try to persuade and convince us. To get into the minds of our consumers, we need to stop ‘over-thinking’. Analysis paralysis some call it…

First-hand experience is unparalleled in this. As an industry we are so lucky in that we all consume products, brands and services every day – we gain insight and experience first-hand (and observe second-hand), which we can use to improve our work.

We talk endlessly about seamless customer experience… it’s conducive to us delivering brilliant CX work for our clients if, as a consumer, we’ve had a particularly frustrating experience whilst trying to order our weekly shop or sign up for a new phone contract (every cloud has a silver lining!)

The same goes for personalisation and re-targeting. As marketers, we are excited by the prospect of ads being more relevant and engaging and thus delivering far better ROI than mass audience ads. But it’s our instinctive reaction when we are online after work and feel spooked by a personalised ad or by being repeatedly targeted by ads based on our search history, that roots us in the perspective of our consumers, encouraging us to embrace subtler, smarter approaches.

First-hand experience is equally vital in media consumption. We should all be on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, read newspapers (physical and online), watch TV (live, on catch-up and Netflix), go to the cinema, listen to podcasts and the radio and subscribe to Amazon Prime. I’d never hire anyone who wasn’t a voracious consumer of media and culture, and I disagree with anyone who says that they leave social media to their kids. We need to experience all these platforms and use this to the benefits of our clients.

So I encourage all of you to get your eyes (consumer) checked! Consume media prolifically, trust your instincts when you see commercial messages before analysing your feelings and force yourself to experience new brands and new sites, rather than sticking to your tried and tested.

Read other insights from Lindsay Pattison from her previous contributions to The Drum.

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