The CMO’s Who Dares Wins

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Soon to be unemployed social marketing wunder40something, Nick Baker, reckons that “CMOs will rise to the level at which they become afraid”.

Speaking at ADMA’s Engage event yesterday the former CMO of Tourism Australia admitted that there was real risk in Tourism Australia’s latest foray into social media hyper-marketing, Restaurant Australia, and had things gone south, it might have been the end for him, his boss and a few of his direct reports. Not a pleasant way to bow out of a star studded seven year stint at TA.

And despite enormous planning, research and process logistics to make it all go off as planned, working with chefs and journalists (including the odd notorious one like AA Gill), who have no contractual obligations to be ‘nice’ and who are global media brands in themselves, is risky in anyone’s book.

But Baker and his cohorts had the big idea: that food and wine are the number one and two reasons people choose a destination, yet research had revealed that people didn’t rate Australian food and wine – and they knew that changing that perception would deliver in spades.

“You need big ideas, you need to change the set up,” he said.

As things stand, the success of the campaign, which used only 86 social influencers, mostly chefs and journalists, to garner some 410 million interactions with the campaign worldwide, probably cements Baker as one of the hottest CMOs for hire around town.

Baker told B&T that any CMOs who were comfortable in their jobs possibly weren’t doing the job, and might be limiting their careers. “Good CMOs are the ones who are pushing themselves and their organisations to the point where there is some fear.”

How does Baker deal with the fear? He says that you need to be a  control freak, have a passion for big and creative ideas, a great mind for process, the guts to have a go at some of the risky stuff and the common sense to employ great people who can do any of the above that you can’t do.

“I would never have taken the risk of Restaurant Australia if we hadn’t worked up to it through our previous campaigns. If you look back at our campaigns we learnt and built on that learning. They taught us a lot on how to handle more risk and complexity.”

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