CMO50 #25: Amanda McGregor, SBS

  • Name Amanda McGregor
  • Title Director of marketing
  • Company SBS
  • Commenced role August 2014
  • Reporting Line Chief content officer
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 85 staff, 6 direct reports
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    Increasingly, SBS’s marketing leader, Amanda McGregor, see the role of CMO as a facilitator and as a voice of the audience.

    “We have a vital role to play in providing an emotional connection to brand and inspiring audience engagement and advocacy,” she says. “In my view, it has never been a more exciting time to be in marketing. We’ve experienced an explosion in consumer channels and associated data; and at the same time we’ve seen a resurgence in, and refocus on the power of brand and innovation.”

    McGregor was appointed director of marketing last August following Helen Kellie’s promotion to the newly created role of chief content officer. McGregor, a former ITV executive and most recently its head of marketing for drama, returned from the UK to take up the post at SBS. She previously worked at BBC locally and in the UK in a variety of brand, marketing and commercial roles.

    Empowered and long-term thinking

    From a leadership perspective in the media space, the only constant executives can now rely on is accelerating change, McGregor said in her CMO50 submission.

    “The central aim and functions of the CMO will be about facilitating inspired business responses to trends and this market change,” she said. “We must continue to focus on driving growth, but increasingly, the whole organisation needs to be acting as brand champions; so setting a strong direction over which everyone feels ownership and is empowered to deliver is vital.

    “Thought leadership and nurturing a culture of collaboration and involvement of all business areas continues to be paramount.”

    From the CMO50 submission

    Business contribution and innovation

    When McGregor joined SBS in August 2014, the executive team had instituted plans to recalibrate its content strategy based on increasing resourcing and market pressures. As a new member of the team, McGregor also believed it was time to revisit the master brand and use this as a catalyst to drive organisational change, as well as a core pillar of the TV channel’s new strategic direction.

    The brand project required cross-business collaboration, stakeholder consultation from the executive team down, and extensive audience insight interrogation led by marketing, McGregor said in her CMO50 submission. Taking its cues from the SBS Charter, the cross-network brand identity encompasses all viewer touchpoints and products to deliver on its promise of ‘inspired entertainment’.

    “The resulting organisational journey, integrated content and brand strategy and refresh rollout was transformational in the business and helped refocus the hearts and minds of employees and audiences alike,” McGregor said.

    “The result is an accessible, purposeful and distinctive brand positioning and tone of voice that underpins and informs the whole SBS portfolio, helping to connect and navigate audiences to key content and services across platforms.”

    Though early days, viewership post-refresh is encouraging, McGregor said, with ratings up 16 per cent for the four weeks’ post relaunch, according to Oztam.

    Modern marketing and customer engagement thinking and effectiveness

    A major multicultural initiative SBS played a pivotal role in this year was negotiating Australia’s performance in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. To rally viewers behind Australia’s first entry, Guy Sebastian, McGregor said she and her team developed a high-impact, fully integrated marketing and publicity campaign based on the creative concept, “Watch out Europe, the Aussies are coming!”

    The campaign represented a key acquisition opportunity for the network to attract a broad audience demographic of occasional SBS viewers, McGregor said. Among the many elements of the program were an owned and earned media campaign, digital and out-of-home placements across retail centres in key metro markets, and an experiential activation that allowed consumers to star in their own Eurovision video featuring Guy Sebastian. Personalised and shareable clips were then sent directly to them via SMS.

    In addition, bespoke real-time assets were developed for social media and publicity to optimise key milestones and build awareness and anticipation, McGregor said.

    The result was SBS’s most successful Eurovision of all time, with 4.2 million viewers reached across the three-night broadcast.

    Data and/or technology driven approach

    According to McGregor, SBS has a number of technology and data-led projects in-train at any one time and marketing is one of various major stakeholders or contributors. One of these is the ‘connected audience project’, led by the technology team but with representation from across the business including marketing, content and media sales. The project is aimed at providing connected experiences to viewers across all platforms.

    McGregor said 2015 Eurovision was an example of this cross-divisional collaborative effort, and noted the marketing campaign included high-impact national digital placements, display ads and pre-roll videos running on SBS’s on-demand network, contextual ad targeting, and numerous versions and specific messaging, all of which required technical support to be successful.

    Social media was also used throughout, while activities such as Periscope streams of pre-show events and performances by Guy, real-time commentary from hosts, Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang, a Twitter Q&A with the Australian jury featuring Richard Wilkins, and a robust content strategy tapped into various technology capabilities. In addition, Australians were able to rate each country’s performance through a second screen app, and results were shown live, along with Twitter commentary.

    McGregor said the social campaign delivered 747,000 social actions and reached millions on Facebook, trending at #1 nationally during the broadcasts and at #1 worldwide on Twitter during Sebastian’s performance.


    “Creativity is the lifeblood of SBS marketing and inspired thinking comes from all corners of the division,” McGregor said in her submission.

    “We know our audiences like to be taken on a journey, and SBS does that every day by presenting surprising perspectives in entertaining ways. Just like our content, our creative is designed to act as a catalyst to inspire people to acknowledge a bigger picture; to connect different views, stimulate curiosity, and even spark a conversation.”

    Beyond the core brand work and investment into content, McGregor said a focus on trialling new tailored formats has resulted in creative solutions that engage audiences with the right type of message at the right time.

    “Whether it be a first to market series of Instagram videos showcasing recipes from up and coming programmes like Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook Melbourne, or dynamic digital creative for our SBS OnDemand service, which changes depending on the weather to drive viewing on a rainy day, like our brand promise, we strive to deliver inspired entertainment in all that we do,” she added.

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