Outbrain’s Elise Bennett sits down with Jasmin Bedir, CEO of Innocean Australia to talk about talent, digital transformation and data science. Also on the agenda is her groundbreaking social enterprise, Fck The Cupcakes, which helps advertisers and marketers fight misogyny in the industry.
Tell me about your current role as CEO of Innocean Australia.
The simple answer is: I set the agenda for our agency’s future and empower a bunch of incredibly talented people to execute it.
The more complex answer is: I think about our business and our clients’ worries 24/7. At the end of the day I am accountable for our company’s performance, creative output and the people within it.
What are the biggest issues on your agenda at the moment?
The digital transformation of our clients as well as our own. We have been adding capability to the agency over the past 18 months, enabling us to deliver highly effective work. Meanwhile, our clients are going through similar processes and joining the dots between agencies and clients isn’t always easy.
The talent crisis is another one. I believe in our culture and empathic leadership, which will ultimately make it easier to retain great talent, but the lack of actual people that can do the job right now has reached scary levels.
You’ve spoken previously about the importance of having data scientists and strategists on your team. Why should advertising agencies invest in these skills?
Unless you don’t want to exist as a business in 10 years’ time, these skills and capabilities are imperative.
Improving customer lifetime value and working the entire customer journey
has never been more important. But successfully engaging with target consumers in a cookie-less world requires really excellent party data and people to utilise it.
You started a social enterprise business called Fck The Cupcakes. Tell us about its evolution so far.
Let’s be real, it’s not really a business (just yet). I only started this just under a year ago. But it has quickly developed into a group of like-minded communications professionals who believe that we can and should drive positive change for gender equality. We’re all doing this in our spare time at the moment while holding senior positions in the industry.
How do you strive to create an equal and misogyny-free workplace, and have there been any unexpected challenges?
Change is very slow, and that’s okay as long as it’s there. Personally, the key learning for me has been that the entire focus is on the wrong gender. We’ve been putting bandaids on the symptoms without addressing the real issue at hand. We’re still aiming to protect women instead of educating men.
Educating men is hard when there are only women in the room. We’re in our own echo chamber, and without getting men involved and actively engaged, we won’t succeed.
Our focus will be on men and getting them into the room in a safe way that doesn’t point the finger and gives them permission to be on our side. That’s a tough challenge, but I think it’s entirely doable.
Fighting misogyny is an uphill battle. How can advertising and marketing agencies ensure they’re going beyond just talk?
I don’t think it’s the agencies. It’s the people in leadership roles in those agencies that can and should rise beyond just talking. Listening to the women in the team, and accepting the privilege men currently hold, is always a great starting point.
Creating a culture where people can hold each other accountable is also essential.
Do you have a favourite podcast you can recommend?
The Blindboy podcast by Dermot Whelan. His lovely Limerick accent, paired with interesting perspectives on mental health and culture, is quite special and soothing.
Can you recommend us a good book too?
I’m currently reading To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara and I cannot put it down.
How about a good news publication?
My Saturday morning is usually The Saturday Paper by Schwartz Media. It’s long form journalism and I read it as hard copy (an actual paper!)
And lastly, can you recommend a groundbreaking marketing campaign that stands out for you?
The Boys Do Cry campaign is my favourite at the moment. Men’s mental health is a massive issue and I personally believe we need to create better role models for men, where it’s okay to show vulnerability. If we address this issue, we’ll probably fix a lot of problems for women (domestic violence most signficantly) along the way.