6 lessons in marketing leadership from Three UK’s CMO

Chief marketing officer and entrepreneur shares how having a great boss, failure, customer insight and more have helped her build professional credibility

Shadi Halliwell
Shadi Halliwell


Having a great boss that challenges and supports you, being brave enough to see risky ideas through, capitalising on customer insights and failing are just some of the lessons CMO of Three UK, Shadi Halliwell, has learnt over the course of her marketing career.

Taking the opening slot at today’s AANA Reset conference in Sydney, the experienced marketing leader, who has worked across O2, Harvey Nicols and also runs her own pet treats business, shared some of wins and failures she’s had over the course of her career and what it really takes to be a modern marketing success.

As a starting point, Halliwell warned attendees against the dangers of putting communications over a clear customer value proposition.

“People think comms is be all and end all. Sure, the way you communicate is important, but if you don’t get a proposition right you shouldn’t be going out to market talking about it,” he said. “Don’t just throw things out to market.”

Halliwell then outlined six lessons over the course of her presentation. The first is the importance of having a great boss.

“Most will tell you to have a great team – that goes without saying. But if you don’t have a great boss it makes your job very difficult indeed,” she said. “A good boss challenges you; makes you work much harder to get budget.”  

Halliwell pointed to her former boss at O2 as a case in point, who hated but allowed the marketing team to go to market with its advertising campaign, ‘Be more dog’, featuring a cat striving to be more like a dog. The ad became one of the most successful campaigns the UK, running for three years and prompting consumers to send thousands of letters to the brand about how they were ‘being more dog’.

“In this case, it’s about who challenges you but implicitly trusts you as a marketer to put the right messages in the market and really embrace what customers are feeling so your brand can become more valuable,” Halliwell said.  

The second lesson was “being brave”. As an example, Halliwell pointed to her work at the O2 to start selling priority tickets to concerts at its branded UK venue, The O2. The idea was to create an asset that benefitted its customers while also reducing the stiff marketing costs artists face when promoting their shows.  

The first task was selling 2000 tickets pre-sale to the Rolling Stones, who hadn’t been on tour for many years. The telco promoted tickets to 5 million customers, sold the lot, and kicked off a new business situation that drove customer engagement and bottom-line growth. It also saw O2 becomes the second largest ticket seller after Ticketmaster.

“In this case, it was about understanding the models where everyone can win, where no one is one-upping somebody,” Halliwell said. “The lesson here is be brave, and then be brave again. You have to keep pushing it. Don’t give up.”

Every good marketer should also “be scared, but also prepared”. Halliwell’s example was approaching Apple to try and win O2 exclusive rights to launch the first iPhone device in the UK. After securing the deal, Halliwell fought to ensure half of all shared marketing collateral was on O2 branding, a stance that saw her making her case directly to Steve Jobs himself.

She called it one of the most daunting moments in her career, but also one that proved a huge success.

“You have to just go for it, you’ve got nothing to lose,” she said.  

Failure is another good thing in every career, Halliwell said. “I have made bags of mistakes in my career, as have we all. Failing is a really good thing for us, and it needs to be celebrated. Fail, but get back up again.”  

Another lesson for Halliwell has been that “money doesn’t buy great work”. Marketers should be able to prove themselves great marketers on no money, she said.  As an example, she noted a digital campaign for Harvey Nicols’ loyalty program that tapped CCTV footage of people stealing in its stores in order to make a point about getting things legitimately for free. The ad campaign, called ‘Love freebies? Get them legally’, won a Cannes Grand Prix and went viral.

Equally, everything you do must be rooted in insight, Halliwell said. This was what drove Harvey Nicols to use 100-year old model and fashion lover, Bo, as part of a Vogue advertising campaign.

“What we did is broke the story about people loving fashion,” she said. “That’s the insight: When you do things are insightful and are what customers want to see, it carries through.

As a final note, Halliwell said all work and no play “makes you a really dull person”, and noted her recent decision to take up skiing and becoming a jockey as a way of balancing work and play.

“Companies now ask you to have variety in your life,” she added. “Then it’s about being efficient. And enjoy it as you’re doing it.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

Read more: Amaysim marketing and commercial chief joins property tech investment startup

 

 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Putting the ‘human element’ back in marketing

During the recent CMO Momentum conference, Paul Mitchell shared how marketing leaders can create cultures that deliver

Paul Mitchell

Managing director, The Human Enterprise

The rise and rise of voice search

In 1982, an AT&T employee by the name of Plotzke predicted the rise of voice: “In fact, it has been predicted that, by 1990, well over half the communications dollars spent by businesses will be for products and services that include voice technologies.

Michael Jenkins

Founder and director, Shout agency

Is design thinking the answer for the next generation of marketing?

The speed and pace of change will never be slower than we’re experiencing today. So in this era of unprecedented change, how can brands meet soaring consumer expectations, stay relevant and deliver differentiated and connected experiences?

Merryn Olifent

Senior consultant, G2 Innovation

https://uploads.disquscdn.c... [magic school bus] KID: where are we going today MS. FRIZZLE: the zoo KID: but last week we went to SPACE ...

Germain3161

Sephora Asia details its journey to data-driven decision making

Read more

DP Apparel bietet große Auswahl Audi Rennbekleidung in Deutschland zu den besten Angeboten. Das Geschäft bietet auch qualitativ hochwerti...

DP apparel

Audi Australia gets a new CMO

Read more

this is a really great news

Vincent Mouton

Mobile-first banking startup showcases fresh brand identity

Read more

Prozac is the brand name of fluoxetine, a prescription drug used to treat depression obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder. B...

jenson smith

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 19 July 2018

Read more

I have been suffering from (HERPES) disease for the last two years and had constant pain, especially in my knees. During the first year, ...

Steven Kizzy

KPMG Australia appoints ex-Publicis leader as head of brand strategy

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in