Episode 4: "The Brandwagon Interviews" Podcast with Veronica Parker-Hahn of Effie Worldwide

Lisa Marinelli

Creative


From tactics to taglines, Wistia’s CEO, Chris Savage, chats marketing with the brains behind successful brands on our new video series, Brandwagon. Last week, Chris sat down with Dan Kenary, Co-Founder and CEO of Harpoon Brewery, to learn all about risk-taking and consistency with brand values across your business. Today, we’re excited to share our extended interview with this week’s guest, Veronica Parker-Hahn, SVP of Growth & Innovation at Effie Worldwide.

Check out the episode to hear Veronica share some nuggets of wisdom from 15 years of working with billion-dollar brands in the advertising world and why she believes strategic rigor is essential to building an effective brand.

Or listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher

Watch the actual Brandwagon episode here!

Overview

When Veronica first began her career in the advertising industry, she was an account manager who quickly learned creativity is only a fraction of what builds a strong brand. Building a strong brand and creating an effective campaign starts with a deliberate, well-thought-out strategy. As a champion of brand strategy, Veronica has worked with major brands like Mars (M&Ms), State Farm Insurance, DirecTV, Procter & Gamble, Reebok, and many more over the past 15 years.

Today, Veronica works at Effie Worldwide, an organization that celebrates effectiveness in marketing. Effie awards companies all over the world that produce successful campaigns, evaluated by their rigorous platform. In this episode, we hear all about the importance of brand strategy from Veronica and how identifying an insight leads to executing successful campaigns and strengthening your business.

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Key takeaways

“Even conversion is not enough. You need affinity. You need advocacy. You want those people to love your brand and tell their friends about it. Then it makes your dollars go so much further.” On this episode of The Brandwagon Interviews, Veronica highlights the importance of strategy when it comes to creating successful brands.

Here are some of the lessons learned throughout the episode:

  • Strategic rigor is essential for effective creative marketing and building a strong brand
  • Insight is often the missing piece preventing brands from communicating effectively
  • What your brand stands for should permeate everything you do

Notable moments

Short on time? Check out some of our favorite moments during this interview between Chris and Veronica.

3:29 – 15 Years in advertising

After some pleasantries about bears that steal grills and enjoy salsa music, Chris asks about Veronica’s career in advertising. Veronica talks about her experience as an account manager at different advertising agencies. For Parker-Hahn, really understanding the client and their business was essential to developing a creative strategy for their campaigns and initiatives.

6:12 – Moving the needle on M&Ms

Veronica shares how some of the biggest brands think about growing or maintaining market share. She talks about working on the M&Ms account as well as the challenges trying to grow a brand with existing broad awareness that people barely need to think about it. Their goal? Try to get consumers to buy one more bag of M&Ms a year. A story about working with State Farm follows.

10:15 – “If you just build to get people in the door and you don’t have a reason to keep them? You have a leaky bucket.”

Chris points out most marketing professionals or aspiring creatives have daydreamed about working for big brands, and how Veronica actually did! He asks how her experience shaped her marketing instincts. Parker-Hahn said she was surprised how much strategic rigor is required for a beautifully executed campaign. They dive into a conversation about strategy and building brand, the downsides of measuring performance alone, and they offer up some thoughts on why being the cheapest is rarely an effective brand play.

17:40 – Employee No. 11 at Oscar Health

Oscar Health insurance was founded in New York City in 2012. The idea was to create a health insurance company that was “more human.” Since most folks pretty much detest health insurance, Oscar hoped to challenge entrenched perceptions with a better, friendlier, more efficient and more transparent service. Parker-Hahn was among the first employees at the company and came on board as the VP of Marketing. She shares her beginnings at Oscar and what it was like building a brand from scratch as the only person in the marketing department. How do you spin a “boring” business like a health insurance company? Veronica reasons, with a good strategy and strong brand values, any business can have compelling marketing.

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24:14 – Oscar goes out of home

Oscar won two Effie awards — awards that recognize excellence in marketing effectiveness — for their out-of-home campaigns on the New York subway. Chris asks Veronica about the origins of this campaign, why she decided on an out-of-home strategy and how they measured a notoriously tough-to-measure tactic. Parker-Hahn talks about the power of polling your audience, how to be smart with a small budget, and the importance of constantly testing the effectiveness of your campaign.

30:59 – “There’s humanity behind everything that is involved in marketing, so we can’t forget that human side.”

If Oscar had gone with traditional, more performance-based marketing tactics at the start, would they have seen the same growth? Veronica says brand-building and performance-based tactics aren’t mutually exclusive. She talks about how, on the agency side and in her early days of marketing, she thought about building businesses more holistically. Today, she points out as roles have become more specialized. performance and brand have become siloed, and she wonders if businesses are losing sight of the humanity inherent to marketing.

36:26 – From serving the client to being the client

What’s the difference between making recommendations to clients compared with making decisions as a VP of marketing in-house? Veronica shares her experience and explains how sticking to your strategy can make it easier to make creative decisions.

41:02 – SVP Of Growth And Innovation at Effie

Today, Veronica works at Effie Worldwide. The organization highlights effectiveness in marketing through their Effie Awards and helps marketing professionals improve their skills through educational programs. The organization takes a look at brands who take on a challenge, and then evaluates campaigns based on the strength of their insights, ideas, execution, measurement. Parker-Hahn talks about Effie as an organization, shares how she came to work there and some of the things she’s learned by seeing 50 years-worth of marketing excellence in one place.

49:54 – Advice for startups

What advice does she have for startups given her experience working with the world’s top brands? Veronica says that bigger brands spend a lot more time on strategy, and she notices that startups tend to rush into tools that may be trendy but may not make strategic sense for that particular business. Savage and Parker-Hahn also discuss how bigger brands can learn from startups.

56:13 – Where are things headed?

Chris wants to know what Veronica thinks the future of marketing will look like. She considers aloud that marketing is cyclical, and that while tools continue to change, the art of storytelling and developing a strong strategy will always be important.

Lisa Marinelli

Creative

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