One-On-One With Toyota Australia CMO Wayne Gabriel

One-On-One With Toyota Australia CMO Wayne Gabriel

Ask any ad agency for their dream list of clients and you won’t have to wait long for Toyota to be mentioned. The man behind the campaigns from the country’s biggest car company, which is set to launch its new Corolla in August, is Wayne Gabriel. B&T caught up with him to learn a little more…

What part of your professional life is keeping you up at the moment?

Prioritisation. How do I determine what are the immediate priorities for my team to focus on? It’s my role to shield the staff from the noise and distraction so they can fulfil their potential and do great work.

There are a number of challenges facing our industry moving forward, but if we aren’t prioritising appropriately, the secondary problem and not the primary problem can become the focus.

We are operating under a tremendous and exciting amount of change at the moment and dealing with big step shifts – just think of digital disruption, AI, media fragmentation, autonomous driving, electrification of cars, dealership disruption, and sustainability of automotive – that’s just a few of the big topics we’re dealing with. Prioritising the right ones to focus on is what keeps me up.

In that case, what’s the top of your ‘to do’ list at the moment?

Driving accountability is a big thing for me at the moment – ensuring staff and agency partners are more accountable and then holding them to it. To do that I need to ensure that they have a clear line of sight so they can understand their contribution to success. I think if we can shift the responsibility and ownership of success down closer to the working level, then we’ll be able to be more agile and responsive.

How has your role changed in the last few years?

Simple, the complexity has scaled massively. You need to be a jack of all trades nowadays – fragmentation, legislation and globalisation were not things a CMO used to be overly concerned with. Now they are.

What is the biggest opportunity for Toyota?

Trust. It’s such a hot topic at the moment. There’s Brexit, Trump, Facebook and other examples within automotive where the public’s trust has been broken.

Edelmen’s Trust Barometer show’s that Australia is in the bottom six countries globally in terms of trust. Toyota meanwhile is one of the most trusted and admired brands in Australia. The opportunity here is tremendous.

AI and automation is on everyone’s lips. What do they mean for you?

It provides a huge opportunity, but I think what AI can’t do is add that emotional factor. Nearly 30 per cent of all people make belief-led purchase decisions, and as much as 50 per cent of all Millennials make their purchases based on beliefs.

How do you juggle work and home?

I don’t do it very well. It’s work in progress.

What’s the one thing nobody at work would know about you?

I love superhero and animation movies. My daughter and I watch them together on the quiet.

What do you do to blow off steam?

Easy – drive. I love driving.

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