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Marketing Mavericks was a supplement in the latest mag, featuring some of Australia’s most daring and bold marketers. Today, we’re bringing you IAG’s chief marketing officer, Brent Smart.
Yodelling Liverpool Tragic
Brent Smart was once a bigwig ad-man. These days, he’s a marketing maverick. Across a 20-year advertising career, he’s spent time in senior positions at M&C Saatchi, Colenso BBDO and BBDO San Francisco. Before taking on the CMO role at IAG, Brent spent nearly five years abroad in the Big Apple, heading up at Saatchi & Saatchi as its chief exec. With a hard-to-top resume including working on Super Bowl spots and plenty of Cannes Lions winning work, it’s no wonder Brent’s new marketing career has been quick to take-off.
After 20 years in agencies, I was frustrated the marketers I worked with weren’t buying what I thought were the right ideas. So I thought, what if I could be the person that says yes to ideas? Maybe I could make more great work actually happen. That was my sole motivation and remains so today.
What makes me a marketing maverick is I always put the work first. Always. It’s the only thing that actually touches the customer, builds a brand and drives a sale. Not enough marketers do. I mean, just look at the state of marketing: most of it is pollution. So I guess that makes me different from most … and a bit of a maverick.
The most innovative campaign I’ve directed at IAG would be the idea that the homes of koalas need protecting, and planting a tree for every policy we sold to do just that. It doesn’t sound all that innovative, but it was an innovative way to talk about home insurance. When the bushfires hit, we doubled down on our commitment to koalas, and in just three days we created a partnership with the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and revised our creative. In a typical month, the whole insurance category gets about 40,000 actions (likes, shares, comments) on social media. We got 90,000 in 48 hours. I love it when we move at the speed of culture.
What always works in marketing? Great work. It can be emotional, it can be funny, it can be insightful, it can be beautiful, but it needs to be crafted and crafted some more. People can tell the difference, they can feel the craft, it stands out, it moves us, it stays with us. But it’s not easy, or everyone would be doing it. What doesn’t work is good enough. It’s good enough for the brief, for the category, for the budget, for the timeline, for me not to get in trouble with my boss. Because when customers see it, it’s not good enough for them to remember, talk about or care about.
Best day of your life that doesn’t involve soppy stuff?
Liverpool winning the Premier League. I’ve had to wait 30 years.
Any hidden talents?
Karaoke. Although people who work with me would say it’s not that hidden. And definitely not a talent.