This month we interviewed Chris Pocock, Commtractor and Marketing Professional. Our expert, Chris, was Cannes Lion’s award winning senior marketer in 2019, with experience of managing marketing teams and functions at global brands such as eBay, PayPal, and Fox Sports. Keep reading to find out more about him.
1. What are you famous for?
I might be famous in a very small microcosm of San Francisco! Last year I was invited by Google to speak at their Google Cloud Next conference that was attended by approximately 50,000 people from across the globe. I presented a campaign I ran utilising artificial intelligence to predict when a future wicket would occur in Cricket matches. It being in the US, I had to slightly alter my presentation to suit an American audience….starting with explaining what Cricket actually is! For the remainder of the week I had various people shouting “hey, it’s the cricket guy” from across the street. A small level of fame that lasted a couple of days amongst techies in San Francisco!!
2. What interesting skills and experience do you bring to the table as a contractor
I’ve been lucky enough to work for some great companies such as PayPal, eBay and Fox Sports, in a variety of different roles, so I’d say my best attribute is an understanding of the full marketing mix from awareness through consideration to purchase. Generally, the marketing principles, of right message to right person at right time, apply regardless of industry so I can apply my learnings and experience to any of my clients’ requirements.
3. I got into marketing because….
I’m fascinated by human behaviour – what makes us tick, what thought process and behaviours we display in making or not making a decision. Addressing things like the “status quo bias”, where we as humans generally take the path of least resistance. And mostly, that is to continue doing what we’ve always done. We don’t really like change. Consumers don’t necessarily have brand loyalty for Coles over Woolworths, for example, but Coles is convenient to them and it’s where they’ve always shopped. One of the challenges as a marketer (and in that example, if we were a Woolworths marketer) is how can we encourage a change in that behaviour through convincing consumers of a value exchange that is worth their effort in changing habits.
Another example is the “choice paradox”. We often think we like choice, but too much choice and we can be overwhelmed into not making any decision. A challenge here is to find that sweet spot of choice, and making any decision making and user journey as simple as possible.
4. What have been your favourite projects/engagements/roles/clients?
My absolute favourite is the cricket predictor campaign I alluded to above. “Monty” was the brainchild of some very smart AI folks at Google that I attempted to (with a degree of success) take to the mainstream. We used Artificial Intelligence to learn the game of cricket and recognise complex statistical patterns that showed a high probability of an upcoming wicket.
I served this to Fox Sports customers through App Push notifications, digital Outdoor Ads, and YouTube pre-rolls, alerting cricket fans to switch onto the cricket because “Monty” thought there was a high chance of a wicket. “Monty” explains what exactly ‘he’ is and what he did here.
It was a novel way to connect with fans, and one which delivered great commercial results for the business as well as a really high brand awareness & ad recall. It’s gone on to win multiple awards, including a Cannes Lion, and was recognised at WARC Media 100’s most awarded marketing campaign of 2019, globally.
5. Any wise words to share with other professionals in contracting?
Be patient. Be resilient. As a contractor there may be dry spells, but you shouldn’t start doubting yourself. Imposter syndrome can creep in, but keep going back into the arena. The more knocks you take but get up from, the more resilient and confident you’ll get. Trust in yourself, your knowledge and your experience.
6. You have been in the industry for over a decade, what are some of the major changes you have witnessed throughout the years, and how did you adapt to them?
Digital transformation is a horrible buzzword, but the digitisation of businesses is definitely a thing. They didn’t even teach digital marketing when I was at Uni! Nowadays technology has really democratised marketing. Anyone with a business can now connect with millions if not billions of people across the globe through channels such as Facebook and Google, options that didn’t really exist for them 20 years ago.
While I do think the base marketing principles are the same as they were decades ago, what’s really changed is the means in which we can connect with consumers, and for that we need to continue to learn and evolve as technology progresses. Right, now I need to go and learn how TikTok works…..
7. How should businesses approach marketing during times of crisis (e.g. bushfires, droughts and pandemics)?
Edelman (a global comms firm) recently released a brand trust report which surveyed a sample of over 2000 people from across the globe. They had some interesting findings which could be useful for any business looking for marketing continuity through a crisis.
Consumers hold brands highly accountable. Over 70% agreed that brands perceived as putting profit over people in a crisis will lose trust permanently. Humorous or light-hearted marketing in times of crisis can be walking a tight rope with 57% feeling this is in bad taste. And I think, most importantly, the takeaway here is that the way a brand handles itself during a crisis will have a significant impact on consumers’ likelihood of purchasing from them in future.
8. How important do you think contract roles will be in the future given the changes that are likely to happen in the economy.
Well, if my LinkedIn feed is indicative of the broader economy then we’ve already got a lot more freelancers available, at least for the short-term. The term ‘standing down’ is a new one to me, but it seems a fair few companies in some industries aren’t necessarily making employees redundant, rather standing them down for a few months until (hopefully) business returns back to some normality. This means that in the short to medium term we have a lot more experts in the market available for contract roles.
In the long run, once the dust has settled, I expect there will be more companies that might not be able to afford full time employees or build/re-build whole marketing departments, which is where freelancers can be a highly valuable asset, coming in for short-term projects and/or a days/hours per week as required. I think there will be a lot more of this going forward.
At Commtract, we have a wide range of experts across marketing, communications, advertising, writing, public affairs and design. Choose from more than 4000 talented communicators, when you post a project here.
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