The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople revealing questions, drawn from our fishbowl. The questions will be drawn at random and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves.
This week is Rachel Sutton, head of brand partnerships at Ocean Outdoor.
Rachel Sutton started her career as an account director at WPP’s out-of-home specialist agency Kinetic Worldwide, before moving client-side at H&M with the media and marketing team.
She joined Ocean Outdoor in 2014, working within both the sales and marketing teams before moving to her current role as head of brands partnerships, working with brands directly, specialising in the luxury sector.
**Peer question** What moment (or event) was the biggest turning point in your career?
I was working for Kinetic, an OOH specialist, when we pitched for the H&M business. It was the first time I had been involved in a pitch situation, but the short story is that we were successful and won the business.
However, it was the first post-win meeting with the client that was the most pivotal. There was a disagreement on strategy and we had a very awkward hour which saw some of the senior leadership team leaving the meeting to regroup.
We turned it around, and six months later I ended up client-side at H&M, so something I said in that meeting must have impressed as I moved into the marketing team for five years to run the ladies and kids wear concepts.
** Question from Sarah Goldman, director of advertising at UKTV.
How often are you in the office in a typical week?
It depends on the week and what meetings I have. I work four days a week, so I am typically in the London office two to three days a week; always a Monday as it starts the week off right for me, and then usually Tuesday and Thursday, but every week is completely different.
What podcast do you regularly listen to and why?
I don’t listen to podcasts that often. I live on Spotify and Mixcloud as I am really into house music, having taught myself to DJ in lockdown.
I always have a soundtrack to my day, whether it’s at home getting the kids ready for school, during my commute or in the office.
What keeps coming up in conversations with clients at the moment?
“Fewer, bigger, better” is a phrase I have heard a lot of brands talking about recently when discussing their media strategy.
Top of funnel metrics are back in vogue as clients question how they dial up brand fame, brand awareness and consideration, often after years of performance-led marketing.
I’m lucky that two of the most iconic OOH locations in the world are part of our portfolio — The Piccadilly Lights and the BFI IMAX — so we can offer solutions that help drive those brand-fame metrics.
We’re also seeing that when brands feature these locations within their own social posts, or are shared by influencers, there is an increase in brand familiarity, brand relevance as well as authenticity, as documented in our latest neuroscience study.
What was the last movie you saw at the cinema?
As a busy parent, I rarely go to the cinema unless it is with my kids. The last movie we saw was as animated film which shall remain nameless.
It wasn’t great, both sons and husband fell asleep during the show, and I was left holding the popcorn. We wouldn’t be rushing back there any time soon.
That said I do love going to the cinema when it’s an occasion, to see a must-watch blockbuster like Top Gun: Maverick, which was made for the big screen.
If you didn’t work in OOH, which other media sector could you see yourself working in?
When I worked client-side, I project managed a lot of bespoke partnerships which often incorporated print advertorials, digital content and in-store events, so I could see myself working in a partnership role offering bespoke client solutions.
**Peer question** Who are your role models?
There are lots of inspiring people who make fantastic role models but, for me, my female friends are my role models. Each has qualities I really admire and respect, and we’re a support network for one another.
Some work in the media industry, others in very different sectors; some run their own businesses, some run the household and they’re all incredible in their own way.
However, I’ve realised that is it impossible to have it all. No one has the balance just right and the grass is rarely greener.
However, the best role models help one another out, they are a support and an ally, and if all else fails they’re great at listening, often over with a good glass of red.
** Question from Davina Barker, sales director at DCM.
What’s your favourite ad of all-time?
It’s an old classic, but “Gorilla” by Dairy Milk has got to be up there.
**Peer question** What if anything is your business planning on doing differently in 2023?
We’re continually enhancing our proposition; whether it’s a one-stop creative solution for DeepScreen® Alive campaigns via Ocean Labs and Ocean Studio, or by adding new content partnerships to our roster.
In March, we announced a new partnership with Premiership Rugby to be the official OOH supplier for the next three seasons. This deal enhances our association with other top sporting bodies including our tri-partnership with Team GB, Paralympics GB and Special Olympics GB as well as the All-England Lawn Tennis Club.
These partnerships allow sponsors and advertisers to either extend an existing association or to align with these sports in an OOH environment.
** Question from Richard Bon, UK managing director and Europe commercial lead at Clear Channel.
What advice would you give yourself at the start of your career with the hindsight you have now?
I like to work with people who inspire me, and I can learn from, which means I’ve not had the most linear of careers – more of a squiggle — covering agency, client and now media owner.
I don’t regret the moves I’ve made during my career as each time it was to learn something new, so I would probably say to my younger self to always keep learning, even if that means you need to squiggle more!
** Question from Ben Walmsley, managing director of The Sun.
Read more Fishbowl interviews here and see what media’s top salespeople say about working in the industry and what concerns their clients. To suggest an interviewee, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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