CMO50 2016: #20: Joe Pollard

  • Name Joe Pollard
  • Title Chief marketing officer and group executive, media
  • Company Telstra
  • Commenced role December 2014
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 300 staff
  • Industry Sector IT and telecommunications
  • 2015 ranking 12
  • Related

    Brand Post

    It’s been a big year for rebranding at Telstra.

    During an 18-month period, its chief marketing officer and group executive of media, Joe Pollard, spearheaded the development of and implemented a new strategic direction and holistic brand overhaul designed to move the company from telco brand to technology leader. Whether it is marketing materials for a consumer segment, international or business focus, the overarching objective is to empower people to connect, and demonstrate better ways for everyone to thrive in this connected world. And Pollard says it’s her proudest moment so far this year.

    “This activity has be integral in repositioning Telstra from a telco to a tech company and showcases the many better ways we help our consumer, business and enterprise customers to thrive,” she says, adding that brand consideration has taken a positive trajectory since Telstra launched Brand 3.0 in July 2016.

    The brand strategy is based on four factors: To create world-class products, services, experience and solutions built on the company’s best networks; to source and curate the best of the best networks, software, services, content and experiences; to help advise people on navigating the complex digital world safely and security; and to innovative and push boundaries.

    At time of submission, the campaign had been in field for a one month and was already exceeding targets, surpassing key metrics such as likeability, brand consideration, and digital reach.

    From the CMO50 submission:

    Empowered business thinking

    In addition to her role as CMO, Pollard heads up Telstra’s Media division and is responsible for the company’s strategy and portfolio of media content and platforms including subscription TV, SVOD, IPTV, music, mobile apps and all leading sport and news content.

    Strategically, Telstra aims to lead the industry in giving mobile and fixed customers exclusive access to the best entertainment brands. Pollard’s significant experience and leadership in the media industry helped Telstra crystallise its media strategy and use media as value driver for customers and a differentiator for its products, as highlighted by three recent achievements.

    The first is Telstra TV+. Following the successful launch of Telstra TV in October, there are now more than 300,000 households with Telstra TV across the country. The proposition has been strengthened through the launch of the Telstra TV+ app, providing consumers with a new way to access the offers available to Telstra customers on their mobile plans. Answering a common pain point for customers, the Telstra TV+ app also acts as a way to search and discover titles across a range of SVODs and BigPond Movies, with more features and functionality planned in the near future.

    The second media initiative was expanding the sports portfolio. From a content perspective, Pollard continues to lead the strategy for the AFL and NRL apps, which have both seen over 100 per cent growth in subscriber base year-on-year. More recently, she expanded the sports portfolio with the addition of digital rights to Australia’s leading women’s sport, Netball and the recently announced NBL deal.

    The third innovation has been becoming the only telco that offers the three major SVOD services - Netflix, Stan and Presto. These are offered to mobile and fixed customers on select plans as well as content offers exclusive to Telstra’s best-in-class partners.

    Data- and technology-led approach

    The Brand 3.0 work achieve this year was underpinned by significant data and insight. From strategy development, which commenced in October 2015, through to the launch in July 2016, more than 200 separate data and insights points contributed to strategy development.

    At its core, the insight program consisted of a digital panel of over 200 customers who provided rich ethnographic insight about the role of Telstra, communications and technology in their lives. This group of customers travelled the strategy development journey, providing real-time insight into ideas and potential territories as the brand honed its strategy.

    Accompanying this, Telstra undertook a range of one-on-one interviews to ensure the voice of staff was fed into the development process as it captured the views of our larger enterprise and overseas customers. The strategic territory was developed through insights and the crafted with input from the market.

    Now in the market, it is supported with a detailed measurement framework combining both the art and science of insights, including detail measurement of the return on marketing investment, using machine learning techniques to estimate the uplift of every dollar invested. In addition, a collection of brand health metrics, digital and social exposure to the campaign and qualitative tracking of the campaign are being employed.

    Customer-led approach

    Over the past 12 months, Pollard points to a demonstrable change in Telstra’s customer-led go-to-market strategy. Firstly, the way that media planning and creative process has come together to ensure media really amplifies the customer benefit in a much more contextual manner, she says.

    Secondly, work was undertaken with product and sales channel partners to refine the value proposition and execution in channel. Product, marketing and channel now interact in the one conversation and ensure the offers are customer, not product focused.

    “As a result, we have been able to build improved value propositions, improve our execution in channel and drive better returns from our media investments,” Pollard says.

    Finally, a four-level communications framework has been introduced that sees Telstra expand from a traditional product-led messaging platform. Level on presents the brand /positioning layer, level two focuses on the ‘why Telstra’, which showcases the key reasons a customer is with Telstra. The third tier focuses on the benefits that only Telstra can deliver, while the fourth level covers product and offer-led marketing. All work now needs to be categorised in to one of the four platforms.

    Fostering team capability

    In order to help drive insights to service tomorrow’s customer needs and to equip teams with the skills to build the brand, a joint venture between Telstra, IBM and the Australian Graduate School of Management led to the creation of the Future Marketers Program (FMP).

    Pollard says the program’s purpose is to focus new skillsets, mindsets, behaviours and practices leading to new ways of working, including building productivity and excellence through innovation and proficiency.

    FMP is a combination of classroom theory, experiential learning and project work over five days. Key modules of the program designed to fast-track team capability include optimisation of product and brand investments, differentiating offerings in a crowded marketplace, understanding how digital disruption is changing the landscape, how to leverage the strategic value of your portfolio, and utilising design thinking and integrated research to create value for the customer.

    It’s also emphasising applying methodologies for generating, testing and launching new offerings at speed, maximising return and minimise waste by refocusing resources, and understanding how to leverage data and insights to drive better, faster and more effective campaigns.

    More than 330 marketers across marketing, product and channel have completed this program. Version 2.0 is now being rolled out with the focus moving to continuous learning and embedding the FMP principles into the day-to-day activities of Telstra marketers.

    “As Telstra evolves from telco to technology company, project-based teams are emerging as an effective way of working,” Pollard continues. “This project based approach has been applied for the delivery of the evolved brand work, Telstra’s annual enterprise customer event in Singapore called ILKOS.”

    This agile approach to developing customer benefits and implementing with precision and speed was also prevalent in the development and execution of the Olympics of 7 app with Channel 7, she says. These projects have been identified as some of the most successful work to come out of Telstra marketing this year.

    This approach enables a cross-functional team to come together around a finite project and see it through form inception, strategic development to ideation and finally to execution and feedback, Pollard comments. It provides an ability to organise behind project requirements, competency and capacity rather than a more traditional silo or vertical approach.


    Pollard is firmly committed to world-class creative work driving all of Telstra's marketing.

    “At Telstra, we believe that great creative work drives better business outcomes and we have seen that in the early tracking results of our brand refresh across every channel,” she says. This includes its 90-second brand film for TV, pay TV and cinema, through to programmatic digital initiative or the experience in retail stores.

    There is also a belief that creativity doesn't just reside in the hands of the agencies or consultants, nor purely from the chief marketing office. Pollard says it’s incumbent on all Telstra employees who work across the various communication channels and extends to those who are direct customer facing.

    “It requires a company-wide approach for us to think creatively to solve problems and create experiences and solutions that satisfy our customers,” she says.

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