The Shiny New Object Podcast: five things I learned from Harry's Vivian Lee

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Harry's will be hoping the Boots partnership expands its UK market share / Harry's

Interviewed in the latest installment of the Shiny New Object Podcast by Automated Creative’s Tom Ollerton is Vivian Lee, digital marketing executive at shaving company Harry’s. Lee was also one of The Drum's 50 Under 30 Women in Digital 2019. Here are five things Ollerton found out as a result of their conversation.

Don’t write off retail

Somewhat surprisingly for someone who works for a predominantly direct-to-consumer, online brand, Lee chose the return of retail as her shiny new object. Most brands are trying to up their game when it comes to digital marketing, and there’s a subscription service for almost anything you can imagine, from bacon to cheese to socks. But at the same time, Lee believes that the brand experience potential that a real-life retail presence offers is hard to beat. She cites Harry’s as an example - its razors are now available in Boots stores, something that’s been an extremely positive change for the business and allowed it to grow. Its razors now available literally on the shelf next to major competitors, adding credibility and driving purchase consideration. This increased brand awareness has come full circle and boosted online search mentions as well. Lee believes that as brands move along the adoption curve to the mass market, the widespread awareness that a physical presence offers is hugely beneficial.

Stumped? Get rubber ducking

Calm down, this isn’t a euphemism. Lee explains how her and her manager use this technique to solve problems that she can’t get her head around alone. It’s based on something that's been developed by coders, involving a programmer forcing themselves to explain a problem, line-by-line, to a toy rubber duck. The thinking is, you’ll come across a solution in the process of breaking down and explaining the problem. Lee credits it with helping her get over mental blocks, but disappointingly, she says she doesn't have an actual rubber duck to talk to.

Make culture fun

Workplace culture can sometimes be a bit of an eye-roller; tick box exercise or enforced fun. However, Lee’s approach is a refreshing one. Enter - the eating challenge. Lee organises competitive eating events in the office, the standout of which is the spicy noodle challenge. It’s a simple way to get everyone together, have a bit of a laugh without anyone taking themselves too seriously. She’s also done a load more ‘serious’ stuff, like implementing processes to make the business more efficient, running digital marketing training sessions for others in all areas of the company. Still, for me, the noodle challenge is hard to beat.

Any experience is good experience

Lee started her career in banking, but after a few months, made the move over to marketing. It was a leap of faith but one that’s turned out very well for her. She cites the benefits of work experience in her career so far, whether that was in economic development consultancies or working as a hotel receptionist. The importance of having anecdotes and proof of performance (of any kind) is a big part of the battle when job hunting. Lee says that although she was concerned about starting from scratch at Harry’s as her first marketing job, in fact the transferable skills she had were extremely important.

Be part of something bigger

Lee talks about "Project 84" - a campaign that Harry’s worked on with the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). It involved a collection of 84 sculptures standing on a skyscraper in London, each representing a man who takes his own life every week in the UK. While this took place before Lee joined Harry’s, it was part of what made the brand so appealing to her. Lee says it’s important for her to work for a business that is having a positive impact on the world and she aspires to one day lead something like Project 84. For her, work isn’t just about turning up - it’s about being proud to be a part of something that’s more than a business.

Listen to the podcast in full below.

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