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Creative Series: Maeve Hagen, Taylor: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | May 21, 2024

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we continue our Creative Series with Maeve Hagen. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

  • Episode Summary & Player
  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
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Marketing Smarts: Creative Series: Maeve Hagen, Taylor

In this episode, we continue our Creative Series, focused on the issues facing creative agencies today and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. Our 7th special guest is Maeve Hagen, Managing Partner at Taylor. They’re a purpose-led marketing communications agency that shapes possibilities for the world’s leading brands. Hear why communications is so key, how to approach emerging technologies, what many brands get wrong about purpose-driven marketing, how to adapt to change, and some of her favorite Super Bowl campaigns. This episode covers everything from communications to purpose. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How has communications changed over the years?
  • Are Communications degrees still relevant?
  • How do you maintain your company culture when working remotely?
  • Has Maeve’s approach to marketing changed over the years?
  • How do you decide what solutions to go with?
  • What is a jump ball scenario?
  • How do you do a purpose-driven campaign?
  • Quick-Fire: What would Maeve’s walk-up song be?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Maeve Hagen 0:00
We’re always going to have to communicate the teachings, if you will, of you know how to communicate with one another how to communicate with the public are always going to be relevant. And I think it actually, an agency like ours, a communications agency, I think actually sits in a power position and that way.

Anne Candido 0:18
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it. Welcome to Marketing Smarts! I’m Anne Candido, and I am April martini, and today we’re continuing our Marketing Smarts miniseries on the topic of the issues facing creative agencies today, and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. This news brings together folks from both agency and corporate that all have different POVs on this topic, but all are experienced practitioners and thought leaders with decades of experience. Today we welcome a very special guest, Maeve Hagen, Managing Partner of Taylor, where her role focuses on brand marketing and integrated communications. She has worked with some of the top most well recognized brands in the world including Diageo. You know Diageo, more by its brands, probably like Guinness Tinder, a mere knockoffs, they’re not ice Captain Morgan, as well as other brands like Allstate Procter and Gamble, Capital One Nestle and Kleenex, in addition to his name to them, and 20 fours PR news top limited in the business entrepreneurs category. As with all of our guests in the series, she provides perspective from over two decades of experience in the brand and communication space. In this episode, specifically, we started from inside the organization, and what is needed as far as teams and employees go, the focus needs to be on hiring the right talent, people who are curious and adaptable because today’s landscape is anything but rigid. Then you need to make sure to intentionally cultivate talent through training, by also getting to know how each person likes to work, how they communicate, and most importantly, getting to know them as people. We talked about how comp agencies have a lot of street cred now as a landscape transitions to one that relies on storytelling and content creation, with the intent to generate more pool when traditional media has historically been more push. And that the best agencies are constantly evolving and innovating to find new seats at advance table. But at the heart of all of this are relationships. These relationships are forged from being entrenched in your clients business and knowing them as people. And probably my favorite part of the conversation was our discussion around purpose and how brands are leveraging purpose in order to drive emotional engagement. Now, some are succeeding and some are not. And we’re gonna talk why this is. So this episode is jam packed is super insightful. And with that, we will get into the issues facing creative agencies today and how they need to evolve to stay relevant.

April Martini 3:08
Maeve, so good to have you. Please introduce yourself and welcome to our show.

Maeve Hagen 3:12
Hi, thanks for having me. Mays Hagen. I’m a managing partner at Taylor, a marketing communications firm based in New York, but sort of existing all across the United States these days post pandemic days. We are the agency of record from a communication standpoint for a lot of the Diageo brands. So the brands that adults typically consume at home and at bars across the country, like Guinness, and Smirnoff, and Captain Morgan. But in addition to that, I’m doing a lot of sports and entertainment work for our brands in the P&G portfolio, Capital One, and quite a few others these days, though, I’m so happy to be here. Thanks. Awesome. Well,

April Martini 3:54
hopefully everyone knows now your role on the show with us today. And obviously, communications person and I came waiting for this time and has been waiting. That’s very true. All right. No pressure. A little imbalanced in April’s worlds. Yeah. So

Anne Candido 4:09
now April gets to play the third party on this one. Yes. Okay.

April Martini 4:13
So here we go. So, obviously, we’re here to talk about the creative industry. And I know, Maeve, we’ve connected a few times on the topic. And obviously, you and Anne have known each other for years. But as you know, we’re we’re addressing the change that is currently happening in the creative industry, and also just ultimately what to do about it or what needs to happen from each individual’s perspective as we roll through these interviews. So we’d love to have your perspective through the communications, rolling things. Feel free to speak to the history of where things have been to where they are now and just your observations and of course, we can’t help ourselves we will pipe in and interrupt I’m sure but you know, over to you for that.

Maeve Hagen 4:55
So I think you know where I come from. Taylor obviously as in is an agency can Applications agency. And so we sort of sit at an interesting intersection. We work on behalf of brands. But you know, I think there’s two things that come to mind when we think about the differences in the creative world and, you know, adjustments, perhaps that creative agencies, especially communications agencies, have to make, you know, in today’s landscape, and I think, sometimes we think so much about externally. So what are we offering our clients, what are we offering as a product or a service that, you know, the agency, you know, can provide, or a unique selling feature, but I think there’s also something to be said, at least from an agency standpoint, again, from where I sit about internally to think internally at an organization. You know, it’s not just about what we’re offering there, it’s really about what kind of environment or culture, you know, you’re asking people to be a part of, because that also leads to you know, your talent, retention, your talent, recruitment, and things like that, which is also a big piece of it. So, you know, when we think about it, twofold, both internally and externally, internally, I think there’s a couple factors at play. It’s, you know, collaborative collaboration and agile workflows. So as an organization, we’ve really tried to be as flexible as we can be in sort of this post pandemic world. I mentioned before, you know, we’re headquartered here in New York, but we are across the country, now we have folks in Boulder and in Texas, and in Florida, and in Chicago, and everywhere in between, and being agile about how we are working, and who we are working with the times that we’re working, all that good stuff, allows for us to be really intentional about who we’re hiring, and where we’re hiring. And it doesn’t have to, you know, just solely focus on do you have brick and mortar there, and, you know, getting the talent within X radius of of that brick and mortar. So I think, you know, collaboration and agile workflows, I think is really important internally. But then I mentioned before, you know, investment in talent and training, I think we have to stay ahead of the curve. And obviously, we have to invest in recruiting and retaining that top talent with diverse skill sets to ensure that we are able to, you know, on the flip side, offer those external things that are differentiators for an agency, an agency like ours, and then finally, on the internal piece, you know, the adaptability and the innovation, I think making sure that we are adapting to the landscape to the external factors that are pressure testing what we are offering externally, we try to stay too rigid in what we knew, or what we, you know, currently know, today, and don’t adapt to what could be happening tomorrow, what we need to know tomorrow, for our client partners, we’re not going to get very far we have to innovate, we have to have a spirit and a culture of curiosity, because, you know, we’re not going to innovate if we if we don’t have executives that are that are inherently curious about the world around them. What’s happening in the industry. So internally, that’s some things that, you know, I’ve got my eye on as it relates to making sure that we have a culture and environment that’s going to be conducive to you know, what’s to come next. But I don’t know if you guys have thoughts about internally, before I, I had to the external because the external is sort of endless, I’m sure you hear that often. As it relates to, you know, what you’re offering as a, as executives or as an agency or communication professionals, and, you know, what we’re offering externally is obviously going to be of utmost importance.

Anne Candido 8:36
Yeah, I’d love to talk the internal piece for a second, it’s usually kind of how we end the conversation. So I love how we’re starting to conversation, we’re flipping it a little bit, because I think you hit the nail on the head. And what I’m really curious about from a talent acquisition point is it I love the idea of being able to be flexible, but it does change the dynamic of what the internal culture looks like, because the internal culture is not the culture, then within the four walls of a building, the internal culture is what spreads then virtually across the country in this case, but it also changes potentially the mindset of what skills you’re looking for, especially in the communication world. And then we’re gonna get to the external point in a second, but I think people can at least conceptualize the fact that communications PR or whatever you’re going to call it has morphed totally, even in the last couple of years, was somebody who traditionally went to school to get a quote unquote, communications degree. I guess, the really big conversation is like, is that even relevant? Are those skills still even applicable? Or are you looking for different talent, different skills now that the whole world is evolved? And you’re also trying to build a semblance of internal connectivity even if it’s virtual? Certainly, we

Maeve Hagen 9:52
have to build that connectivity because if we can, you know, relate to one another as human beings first and foremost, we’re never going to be able Well to, you know, collaboratively work together on you know, something more professional in nature. I think on on your first point, it is of utmost importance. I’m never going to say that communications degrees are antiquated or anything like that. Let’s hope that never happens. Shout out Monmouth University Communications department. But you know, I think it’s just the way in which we’re building a team and integrated model and integrated agency that obviously has communicators and communication experts, because that’s always going to be of importance, especially an agency like ours, that it sort of has, you know, external comms as the backbone, whether that be through, you know, mostly through an urn, lens, social, traditional PR, whatever it is, but it’s also about, you know, what strategy professionals do we have, you know, in house, who are we tapping into, from a research standpoint, from an insight standpoint, and then creativity. So, you know, we are a communications agency, but it doesn’t mean that we just sit here and wait for a creative agency in quotes to come to us with an idea it is beholden to us as, as an organization, especially one that sits at a pretty big table. And when we think about the clients that we work for across Diageo, P&G, Capital One, we’d like to take up a lot of space at that in that seat at that table. And to do that, we have to have integrated professionals who understand the, the various ways in which, you know, consumers like to, you know, consume their media, whether it’s through the urn channels, the paid channels, or what have you. So, while our scope may be specific, in terms of how it’s externally going out there, we have to be knowledgeable and informed sort of in all aspects of the marketing mix to ensure that, you know, we are able to keep pace with the rest of those individuals and partners that might be sitting around the table with us. So to your point, and is really about, you know, communicators are always going to be important, we always have to, you know, to get our point across to clients or internally to colleagues or to the general public, or, you know, other stakeholders, or tastemakers, we have to, we’re always going to have to communicate, so the style or the the teachings, if you will, of you know how to communicate with one another how to communicate with the public are always going to be relevant. And I think it actually, in an agency like ours, a communications agency, I think actually sits in a power position and that way, because it is inherently what we have to do and who we have to be or the space that we take up, it’s important for that to be at the core. Yeah, I just, I don’t think it’s ever gonna go I don’t think it’s ever going to, you know, be downplayed in terms of importance. So long as those in that seat are, are taking up enough space are bringing their best selves are bringing, you know, that innovative thinking and approach to things

April Martini 13:01
were of the same mind. And even though I’m not technically a comms person, the communication aspect of things is so fundamental. And I think one of the things you said at the beginning around, you know, if we can’t relate to each other as people, there’s no way we’re going to be able to my words are like build a culture of intention that then actually the clients feel and then we can deliver our best work through the lens of that, because we always talk about the Inside Out approach to right. One of the things that has come up is obviously, during the pandemic, we all had to be at home. And now, there’s the option to be back. And so some of the comments that have come up, especially as it relates to creatively oriented work, is that there really is no substitute for being in person. Now, that is not said with the statement of we’re calling everybody back 40 hours a week, you have to physically be here, all of that. But I would love your thoughts on how do you keep a pulse on the culture? How do you make sure those human relationships are built? How do you really look at I guess that infrastructure for how you collaborate together? You know, one person said through the process of this whole thing around like, you know, sometimes there’s no substitute for the watercooler conversation, right, like now we’ve learned that bumping into each other in the kitchen and all of that, like, there is a certain just ease to that, but how do you make that happen when you are making the choice that you don’t all have to be together in the same space?

Maeve Hagen 14:33
It’s a it’s a great question, and it’s something that we talk about often especially among, you know, senior senior leadership at the agency because it’s true there’s very few substitutes for you know, that interpersonal relationship and the the hallway conversations and the you know, what you’re able to the relationship you’re able to build outside of our, our teeny little boxes here. And it’s certainly not an easy one. We are fortunate in that You know, we do have a home base here in New York. But we also, you know, we service our clients. And, you know, when we service our clients, there’s a lot of opportunity to get together in person, whether it’s at the client offices or at events or things like that. And I think, you know, we try to utilize those moments in time to connect, whether it’s the night before or the day after, there’s sort of bookends to, you know, Superbowl, if you will, let’s use that as the example. You know, we had upwards of almost 20 executives on site across all disciplines within the organization, on site in Las Vegas, and we made the intentional decision to, you know, block out a period of time where all 20 of those individuals could get together for a meal, you know, break bread, have a have a drink, have a coffee, whatever it was, and come together as humans knowing how fast paced and how crazy it was going to be. So we are fortunate in that way that our business or brings us together, oftentimes, but aside from that, you know, it is we have to be intentional about that, we have to find those moments to connect as, as human beings. So, you know, one thing I like to do is just, you know, finding out about people on how they like to work, because I think we make the assumption that, Oh, everybody must want to come back together, or Oh, everybody must want to be at home working. And I don’t think that’s true, and making that assumption that somebody does or doesn’t want to work in a certain way without asking them and dialoguing with them about how they like to communicate, how they like to be creative, and what sort of makes them tick, I think is an important factor. So if I know, person X doesn’t mind to have a brainstorm, virtually, then you know, we can continue to do that if I know that person, why thrives off of you know, human connection, or they make the you know, they have their best ideas when, you know, they’re sort of out at night, or whatever it might be then leaning into that and finding opportunities for that person, or those groups of people who might, you know, operate in that way. finding opportunities for them to come together, are important. And that takes investment on the agency’s part. And, you know, both in investment in time, but also financially, to ensure that we’re able to come together, it just, you have to be intentional about it, you can’t just sit back and think that obviously everybody wants to be at home. So this is why we’re hybrid, or obviously, you know, we can’t possibly do this, you know, with everybody at home. So everybody comes to the office, all things can be true, you know, multiple things can be true at the same time. So I think being open minded about how different people want to interact, or different teams want to interact, I think is important. Yeah,

Anne Candido 17:50
I love that response. Because I love the what you said the intentionality of it, but it’s also in making a choice. And I think that’s sometimes where a lot of the companies we’ve seen have just struggled to make a choice and agenda justify the choice. And so then your people are kind of left a little bit stranded, to some extent, because they’re trying maybe to accommodate too many situations without really making a choice about what’s best for the agency, because, in truth, they want to accommodate as many people as possible because they want to retain their talent. But you also have to think about the agency as a brand, and what what is the brand going to be able to accommodate and what it’d be able to serve its clients. And I think that also then leads to the external piece, which I’d love for you to talk a little bit more about, because that has changed dramatically. And I think the role of communications, and I’m not being biased here at all, has become even more paramount. Because in a world where there’s just so much to consume, the role of communications has always been to be a pool generator in pool versus the push. And I think that role is become even more paramount in order for customers to win share voice and everything that’s going on. So I don’t know if that’s where you want to take it. But maybe can you talk a little bit more about the external piece and how that has shifted and how that’s changed for you? Yeah,

Maeve Hagen 19:17
there’s, there’s quite a few things I think that like to think about when we’re thinking about external and there are some of the obvious ones, right? I’m sure you’ll, you’ll hear it a few times on this series, but obviously embracing the digital transformation, AI, VR, AR, emerging technologies. I mean, you can’t like turn around or read you know, something in the trades or even just in consumer media that doesn’t talk about, you know, the these emerging technologies and if you don’t embrace it in some capacity, shunning it is not going to do the job shutting it and ignoring it or scoffing at it. You’re not gonna find success in that. So embracing it, yes, but also finding you know, we’ve talked about this a little bit before Start with finding individuals who might have a propensity to be more digitally savvy or digitally native or, you know, people who might have a different background, you know, then than I do, or then some of my more traditional comms colleagues might, who have, you know, an interest in that emerging technology, I think is a way to be able to do that as an organization without completely Shifting gears to, you know, go completely AI or go completely, you know, into this sort of digital world or chasing technologies, there are skill sets of people who, who certainly do that, and they can bring that that level of, you know, experience and know how to the table. Beyond that, you know, another one that’s, you know, a little bit more obvious, or we hear about it all the time. I’ve, I’ve been in a conference for last few days, and I’ve heard it a million times the you know, said is really about, you know, content strategy and storytelling. So you know, making sure that as an organization, not only can you tell the story of your organization, but beyond that for your clients and for for your customers, and making sure that storytelling is core to what you are offering and what your your brand is offering, whether it be an agency like mine, or you know, the Guinness brand, for example, making sure that you’re able to tell a story that’s rooted in, you know, something of interest of the customer that you’re trying to attract. Another one is, you know, I think we’ve seen a bit of this rise of the purpose driven branding, I think we all know that consumers are really interested in, you know, seeking brands and buying brands that have sort of aligned values, sort of aligned belief systems. And so you know, creating a creative agency is really thinking about helping brands articulate and embody their purpose authentically, I think there’s a place for that, for sure, purpose means something different to every individual, but it also means something different to every brand. And, you know, we’ve, we’ve sort of faced that a little bit as an organization. And, you know, we don’t want brands to sort of go away thinking, gosh, like, we’re not living our purpose every day, or we’re not sort of, you know, doing the best for, for the world around us every single day. And I think not necessarily about just that it’s not necessarily about just being a purpose driven brand. But it’s about being intentional about, you know, what you’re talking about, if it is related to, you know, your purpose and what you stand for, as an organization to ensure that people know what it is that you stand for, as an organization. And this one won’t come as a surprise to you. But the apt adaption to sort of this changing media landscape to mean that consumers are absorbing things from any number of places, traditional media, I mean, you’d have to be living under a rock, I’ll say, to not notice, you know, layoffs in the traditional media landscape, and, you know, publications closing at a very rapid rate. Yeah,

Anne Candido 22:56
I wouldn’t be in a world where Sports Illustrated is no longer

Maeve Hagen 23:00
I know, but check it out this morning, they said, there’s a there’s a little bit of a resurgence, it sounds like but think they might have a safe state of execution. I don’t know if that’s the right terminology, but it sounds like they might be okay. I think at the end of the day, like, that’s not going to change because you know, the way that consumers are, are absorbing and to hear in their news is just going to continue to evolve. And, you know, when I started, I started at Taylor as an intern. So the things that I was doing as an intern, like running V roll tape and faxing SMT alerts to around the country. It’s like I’m speaking a different language to some of my young colleagues these days, because they are like, you know, I’m tweeting at or, you know, even tweeting anymore, I’m exiting, I don’t know what they call it, these reaching out to, you know, media members on social media, or I’m doing this to get their attention or whatever it might be, and I’m communicating in this way. And it just sounds. So while just to think only, you know, 15-20 years ago, things were so so different. But, you know, adapting to the changing landscape, I think is important. As an agency, it’s also I we have diversified even what we are doing and trying to put out there that, you know, we are not just a PR agency anymore, if you are just a PR is your if you are just a social agency, or you are just a quote unquote, creative agency, it doesn’t hold much water anymore, we have to be we have to adapt to what it is that our clients need, and how they’re trying to communicate to what they want to communicate, I should say to the public, and then finding the channels in which that makes sense based on the message that they’re trying to deliver. And so we have arguably, I think I’ve been pretty successful at evolving outside of just the traditional PR landscape and thinking about things like social media. So being a social AOR for you know, some Diageo brands in addition to Do you know the prlr, I think is an important piece to that evolution, because brands are starting to see that the communication externally is not so different when we’re thinking about PR versus, you know, social media there some days, they are certainly one in the same and how we’re trying to communicate. And then the last piece to pieces, if you’ll indulge me is really data driven creativity, you know, we are, we like to really lean into data, because I think if you have at the core of why you’re doing something, or why you’re communicating something, I think it’s gonna get a lot further, whether it’s through social media, whether it’s through the PR, you know, earn channels, whether it’s, you know, through a sky writer, or board or whatever, whatever method you you might want to try. But as long as it’s rooted in data and a real reason of why why does this make sense for somebody? And why would they want to consume this, that helps sort of answer that question on the front end, so that you don’t get it on the back end and are flat footed, trying to answer it. And then finally, and I think it’s, you know, coming from a, an agency, I think you’ll appreciate this AMA, at its core of what we do is really around client partnerships and relationships. And that really consultation approach. So, you know, we would never say, you know, we’re not order takers, we are consultants, we are, you know, we’re brainstorming together, we’re trying to really leverage our partnerships and our relationships to come up with the best solutions for our clients. And we’re not just sitting here waiting to take orders or waiting to, you know, take take direction from a client, we’re really in there with our clients, we’re really in there, developing those relationships so that we can solve problems together. Instead of, you know, waiting for a client to say, I really have a problem with X, you know, we’re dialoguing about it about it. And they trust us they trust the executives that are on the other end of the phone, or the zoom, or the the conference table, or whatever it is to come to the table with, you know, solutions, because they are entrenched in the business, they are ingrained in what in what they are doing. And they have sort of that in depth knowledge of, you know, the beverage alcohol space, or the sports space, or, you know, the entertainment space. So I think that that’s the last but maybe some of the some of the most important pieces to this externally, because it’s so, you know, if you are engaging surface level, with your client or with a specific category, without being sort of entrenched in it and loving it day in and day out, it’s going to show it’s certainly going to show

April Martini 27:49
well, you covered a lot there. And as you were talking, ticking off a lot of the themes and discussion points to what you said, you know, some of these aren’t going to surprise you, and then also getting your lens through them. But I think one of the big things, and we talked about communication from the very beginning, and part of what I think is the big tension right now is the what is happening through technology and tools, and where does the human piece live within it? And so we get questions all the time, which cracks me up where people are like, is AI ever gonna take your job? And I’m like, no, like, have you ever tried to say, hey, ChatGPT write a brand story on whatever, like, it doesn’t come out? Well, however, what we have found is that those tools can be really good starting points. And so I love what you said about everything from hiring people that have the curiosity, but also they’ve grown up in a different era than all of us have, right? So they’ve grown up with technology in a different way. So it’s normalized for them. So they have a better way to potentially use the tools, but then pairing that with the deep and intentional relationships with the clients, and then morphing from an agency perspective. But with that same intentionality, because one of the other things, as you were talking that we have been discussing is where agencies get in trouble. And that they rely on the relationship to be able to have the allowance to do all the things right, and you talk about the bigger seat at the table and all of that. But the payout has to happen on the other side of actually being able to do those things and doing them really well so that it does make sense that more of these things live under the same umbrella and at the same time being able to say, hey, we don’t do that if we don’t do that, right. And so, we’ve talked a lot about, you know, I think there’s a hangover from that bad behavior. And we did get away with it. I will admit as the agency person where we would pitch it and we will go back and we’d be like, we’ve never done this before, but we’re gonna figure out how to do it. There’s not an allowance for that anymore because there’s such a tech neurological aspect to a lot of this stuff. And there’s just so much of it. And so I think you did a great job of running through all the themes and all the discussion points and all of that. And I would just ask the question of like, it seems like you guys are very intentional. So how do you manage those conversations of everything from? Well, I love the question on my site of like, why can we just get our logo from Fiverr? Or, you know, and that’s a very oversimplified example. But it’s how do you manage and then bring along both the internal and external folks to be intentional about the things you will and won’t do?

Maeve Hagen 30:38
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s a great question. Because, listen, I think, you know, a lot of brands are trying to a lot of clients are trying to figure out, you know, that they’re facing the same rising costs of various things that, that we all are, and, you know, they’re trying to figure out ways to bring down the costs, but not sacrifice work product. At the same time, I think, you know, we we are similar, you know, the, we have to continue to evolve and innovate, to stay competitive and to, you know, find, find those new seats, if you will, we’re going to keep with that, that analogy. Find the new seats at the Yeah, at the new brand tables. It is it’s hard to do. And I think, you know, relationships obviously play a big part of it. But you know, beyond the relationship, it’s really just about being, I don’t know if this answers your question or not, but it’s really about being informed about the business so that we can have realistic and fruitful discussions about what it is that a client or brand might be trying to do. And maybe the answer, you know, or maybe the thought on the clients end, or brands end is I want to do X. And when we get into it, and we get into the dialogue, because we have the relationship in which I can ask you the questions, the tough questions, or I can ask you and poke in the right places, you know, we get into the dialogue. And it’s we kind of uncover that, you know, what, actually, we shouldn’t be doing X, we shouldn’t be doing y, because this is going to get us further or it’s going to be a bigger bang for our buck or, you know, just makes a little bit more sense to be over here. And I think whether or not the agency or the partner that you know, might be on the other side of that table, or that conversation can or can’t do, why I think it’s the the openness from that person, or that that representative to you know, be honest about what solution we’re trying to come up with, and being intentional about what they can offer and being okay, if it’s not something that they themselves can offer. I think that’s the other thing about the importance of we haven’t talked about it here at all. But the importance of the I T and the the interagency team, I know that’s a phrase that’s used a lot. And you know, what partnerships exist around the table? And are you sort of clear on the role that you can play and expanding that role a little bit and the role that you know, where somebody else in the partnership might start and stop with another agency, like an experiential agency in our case, or the ad agency in our case. So I think it’s having conviction in your space, but also being open minded enough to know that, you know, you’re not going, the solution might not sit in your camp, the solution might sit in someone else’s camp and being okay with that, and having the dialogue to you know, find out what that solution is? Yeah, I think it’s a tough question to ask, because at the end of the day, you know, we’re an agency, we were a for profit business, we are trying to make money. So if we are not the solution for a client, and they’re going somewhere else, you know, that hurts the bottom line at the end of the day. But I do think that clients and our client relationships, appreciate and value and respect if we are sitting across from them saying, you know, what, I’m not sure that this is the solution that I am the solution that you need, or that you’re looking for, in PR or in social, I actually think, you know, this might be an event based thing, or it might be an AR type thing that you know, this partner could do. My I trust that that openness and that transparency would come back to me and to us as an organization the next time that there’s an opportunity to do something, something else or something else impactful because they trust that we are going to have their best interests in mind. Not my bottom line in mind. Yeah,

April Martini 34:42
I mean, I think we’re similarly minded in the way that we so we always talk about that we solve business problems through the lens of brand and really what that’s getting at is the bigger picture thinking right and so exactly what you brought up on one side is, you know, really working to get to the right solutions and answer the right questions for the clients that are bigger than the execution of what we quote unquote, make. And I think you’re exactly right. I think it does, whether it earns you the exact seat at that table at that moment for the execution, I think it does have the long game in mind. And that relationship is strengthened in those situations where you might be saying, hey, let’s work together to find the right solve for this question or problem, knowing that it’s sort of almost agnostic of the teams and their expertise at the table. And so we see a similar thing, and then also leveraging the rate other partners, when you need to do that, and being honest about that to have, you know, we were having a conversation the other day about, we’re bringing multiple different teams to the table, because the ask is bigger than any one of these teams. And if you only hire one of us, at some point, it’s gonna fall apart, right? And so it’s all of that it’s relational in so many different ways. And I completely agree that if you’re willing to take that approach, which is why I asked you the question of the similar mindedness that we seem to have is that you’ll, you’ll get to the the bigger opportunities, and also the deeper opportunities and the longevity of the relationships over time versus chasing, like you said, your bottom line. Yeah, and it

Maeve Hagen 36:17
comes back to also all great points, it comes back to the scope or the relationship that you have with that brand, or that client as an agency. It’s also why, you know, we have client partners that have been around for, you know, 35+ years, because it’s important to us that, you know, we’re able to go deep with those clients, and that we’re not staying at a surface level from a project standpoint, because I think you get closer April to your point, like you get closer to making the decision that’s best for your agency, versus what’s best for the client, if it’s a transactional relationship, if it’s solely transactional, and project based, that’s where you’re going to get that if you have a relationship with that brand, or that executive that goes deeper that you trust them to come to you, when they have something that might make sense for you, and you, on the other side are making the best informed decision for what that brand challenges at the time, there’s some validity or some trust in that the relationship is gonna go both ways, and that it’s not transactional on one side or the other. But that takes time. And, you know, we don’t, I think if we, if we had the time to do that every single time, you know, maybe the world would be a different place. But that’s fair. Yeah. But I think it just goes to how important relationships are. And I think, you know, as a communications professional, my younger self, pitching via fax, and B roll tape drops, and things like that, I think we learned the value of relationships with the media, you know, 20 years ago, but also now, you know, from where I sit the relationships with my staff, or my teams, or my clients, and how important those are, to get to an end result that is, you know, the most productive, whatever that end result is communicating to that outside world, retaining and recruiting the best talent internally, all of those things.

Anne Candido 38:19
I love this discussion. But I want to rewind just a tad bit because I want to call a spade a spade a second, because I feel like when we were working together, and we were developing the space as a communications team, the thing that I felt like was the hardest to try to convey to others was our value. Right? Because some agencies, I still feel like there’s some mentality that’s and I and I’m gonna ask you a second to maybe if it’s shifted for you or not, or if you want to avoid that question altogether. I think that’s totally fair, in light of some of your other agency partners, but a lot of the agencies don’t feel like they need anybody else. And I think when we’re talking about trying to drive connectivity through teams, which is absolutely the right process, and absolutely what’s needed right now, because there’s just so many things, that it’s not just a traditional advertising play, it’s not just a traditional PR place, not a traditional social media play. It’s like you have to activate all of these things in order to have enough presence in order to actually break through. But I think and I’m hoping that the light that PR or communications played or in continues to play is really and how do you make an idea talkable and I think that is the heart of communications and the heart of what we always play which is why we could be flexible with whatever vehicle we are shooting it out through. I mean, we I remember the day we used to do press releases I was our pay piece, right? Like you did a press release, you put it on the wire and then you got 2 million billion impressions and most of them are on on Yahoo Finance. But that all being said it, the way that that we will continue to try to play is like, Okay, we get, we’re gonna do a Super Bowl spot, we’re gonna we’re gonna go do these things. How do we want to make it go further? How do we want to make it so that everybody’s talking about it, that’s not just the role of the creative agency is creating a TV spot that takes a mindset. And this is where I think communications plays so much value and uniquely sits. Because it’s the intersection of like what you said, which is what the client needs and what the client wants, and really understanding the business and understanding their consumer and their customer, which in a push world, you don’t even understand as much because you’re just going to take, um, no, I’m oversimplifying, we’re probably gonna, I’m gonna probably make a lot of creative agencies mad at me. But listen, this is communication spotlight right now, you have you have to take, you can take an advertisement, even on paid social, you could put it out there and you can just push the hell out of it, put paid behind it. And you can get some impressions on it or analytics on it that make you feel really good about it. But the art of communications is that earned media piece, whether it’s through a publication, whether it’s through just engagement with your consumer, your customer, whether they it looks like very different nowadays. But with all of those things, the stuff, the root of it is still the same, which is back to the storytelling, how do I tell a story that’s going to convince this person to like me? And how do I then generate that pool? So you can defer this question if you like, I’m wondering if the style of the way that you’re approaching the work, the process has changed in light of the fact that I’m hoping that creative agencies now see more of a prominent role that communications can play, because there are so many things, and at the heart of it is still the ability to tell a really good story that people want to hear. And that is a skill, like a prime skill that I think is like, I’m not gonna say it solely, but it is very highly prominent in communications and good communications agencies. And I would say that you guys were like the prime of who I worked with, and being able to go and deliver that.

Maeve Hagen 42:05
Yeah, thank you for saying that. And I wouldn’t be a good Tom’s professional, if I deferred the question, and I got a

Anne Candido 42:13
message track, and I’m Bridget to whatever you want to hit it. I

Maeve Hagen 42:16
gotta hit it head on, Bridget. No, I’m kidding. But it’s no, it’s a great question. I mean, listen, I would be lying if I said it had fundamentally changed, you know, from from our days of working together. I think what has changed, though, is the fact that I think, you know, PR has a lot of street cred. Now, like, we have a lot of cred. And I think, you know, there are executives on the other side of the table, who have sort of the I don’t want to date myself, or anybody on this podcast, but like, we’re dealing with, you know, executives on the other end that are also you know, some of them are Gen Z years. And some of them are folks who have who are digitally native or who are have grown up in this world. And I think they inherently are skeptical of some of those more traditional methods like TV, like traditional advertising. So it is not ingrained in some executives who are running these brands, it’s not ingrained in them that they should automatically go to a quote unquote, creative agency, read, you know, advertising agency to come up with their solution. They know that, you know, that might not be the right way forward, they know that, you know, they haven’t grown up in sort of this environment where the, the ad agency is king or queen, and everybody else fall in line. What we’re seeing a lot more these days is actually I affectionately but sometimes also dislike it, I call it, you know, this jump ball scenario. So you know, I see your face, you’re like, oh, yeah, we get into these years. Yeah, we get into these jump ball scenarios. And listen, I don’t want them because I think it sort of injects and onto Nessus necessary competitive environment between an interagency team that you’re going to turn around and ask to work together and hold hands and share the same pot of money to execute against the work that’s to be done. But on the flip side, what we have seen as as an agency, and I think it comes from our comms background, and the way that we approach brand challenges is that we’ve been pretty successful at those Jump ball scenarios, because we don’t try to think automatically TV first, or what’s the TV campaign for this? We think of it first and foremost as like, what is the solution? You know, what, what’s the solution to this problem? And then what’s the vehicle to get to that solution? And or what, what things? What executions should we be thinking about to, to get to those solutions. And I think it’s a fundamental shift in sort of how communications professionals think about those grand challenges, because we’re not wired, you know, and we’re not, like inherently wired to think TV first. And I think traditional ad agencies are still someone of that mind. And they’ve been slower to switch. I think PR agencies, again, in quotes, are some of the first to sort of identify that there are more solutions to a problem than a TV campaign. It may be a campaign, but the way that that campaign comes to life is, you know, in various ways, and because we sort of have a head start, I think, as it as an agency like ours, you know, we, we find more success at the end of the day, because we’re coming at it from that, that vantage point. So, you know, it’s not it hasn’t changed completely. But I do think if the field is leveled a bit more given that, you know, like I said, the executives are sort of, of this mind the the brand executives are of a mind that the solution doesn’t have to be rooted in TV or paid or whatever traditional methods it might be. But also, you know, the the agencies are, or the comms agencies, or some of those that are the best suited to, to come up with the solution, given their their background and how they’re inherently wired to come up with a creative solution.

Anne Candido 46:29
Yeah, I totally appreciate that. And just for everybody who may not know exactly what a jump ball assignment is, it’s exactly what it sounds like, is basically me, or somebody on the brand team. Yeah, well, I always fought for them, because it gave an opportunity to have a voice to somebody that was not a creative agency in the room, and it was really hard to get that voice. So basically, it would be assignment, everybody could pitch their ideas, and the best idea what is essentially one, quote, unquote, and everybody was supposed to activate against that idea. Beautiful on paper. And in actual working it out in real life, it had some hiccups, but it did give voice to others in the room, where we sometimes have this monopoly on who can be the quote, unquote, creative. And that was always the discussion. And I feel like that sounds like is starting to break down based on necessity. And that’s based on the tools, the environment, but also, I love what you said about the street cred, because I feel like that’s right on, because this is the world we’ve lived in for forever. And I feel like you guys specifically, were always on the front end, you did things before they were actually even cool, right? Because just to get in front of it, and try to really start integrating it being like, this is the way of the future, let’s start to think about it in this way. And I feel like that for thinking is so incredibly important versus continuing to stay entrenched in I feel like that also kind of gets people under the paradigm of this is how we’ve always done it. And this is how everybody else is doing it. And if I was going to pick on something else, I’d pick on purpose driven marketing, because I feel like that too, has become something that feels like, oh, that’s how we’re gonna get our talk value. So if we have a few minutes, I would love to get your just perspective, because I know this is a thing that a lot of people are coming back to the table with of like, alright, well, we don’t know what we’re going to talk about. So let’s just align ourselves with some like level of quote unquote, purpose, it’s getting some people into a lot of trouble, in that we’re seeing that reflected back in their brand and the folks that are responding back with feedback. So maybe you can speak to that a little bit with regards to how purpose is now showing up? How is it being leveraged in a way that is benefiting brands and how our brands? You don’t have to name any names here? How are some brands kind of getting it wrong? And then how are you guiding them in making that right choice? Yeah, I

Maeve Hagen 49:00
think where they’re getting it wrong is if they’re trying to sort of artificially come up with a purpose and that, you know, you don’t just come up with your purpose overnight. Your purpose has either been a part of your brand ethos for three years, or it’s one that you’re going to be really intentional about implementing and then talking about and committing to, I guess, at the end of the day, they cannot be artificially propped up in any way, shape or form. And honestly, if you are not, you know, there’s no harm in not doing a purpose driven campaign necessarily. And I think it’s also about you know, the difference between our hat we are defining purpose a, you know, is it inherently or does it have to be doing good for the world I guess at its basic level, or can purpose be, you know, a brand that is rooted in its values that you know, yes gives back to the community but uses You know, fresh ingredients or gives, you know, jobs to the community or gives back to, you know, around the holidays for X, Y, or Z thing? I think it’s it’s not, it doesn’t have to be one thing, purpose doesn’t have to be one thing. It’s not. And I love this brand. But it’s not just the toms model anymore. It’s not just about you know, giving shoes or, or those things it can be about, you know, are you? Are you living your brand ethos in a way that makes people want to engage with your brand? In some capacity? Are you doing good and doing right by the people that work for you, or the consumers that by you or the partners that you bring on or you know, any number of things. So I think if we expand our understanding and open mindedness about what purpose means, I think you’d sort of, you know, brands would be would do well to consider that so that they’re not trying to artificially back to that point artificially prop up a brand that has no business talking about, quote, unquote, purpose when all they’ve done is, you know, slings whatever product for X amount of years. And now, you know, in today’s day and age, they feel like they have to, you know, do good in the world, but it’s not part of their, their brand DNA. Yeah, I mean, I

April Martini 51:23
think it is an important distinction to make, because you mentioned purpose in a different light earlier in the conversation, but I think your points exactly right. And is it is it comes down to the authenticity of the brand. I mean, so often what we’re talking to clients about is like, do you actually have a reason to be at that table, if you don’t, then let’s take a big step back and relook at that. And I think that’s what we’re talking about here is making sure that it’s an authentic Thai. And I think that there’s some longevity to it, that it’s part of your DNA as a brand, like you said, if you were just selling whatever the thing is, for so many years, and suddenly you want to take on I don’t know world peace, like that’s not going to be an authentic thing to do, or where we see sometimes from a competitive standpoint, where somebody will be like, well, that brands doing it. So we should go do it. You know, there’s all kinds of reasons why but I think your points well taken on, you have to actually make sure that it is true to who you are. And then you can figure out the right vehicles, like we’ve been talking about in other parts in the conversation. But first, you have to stop and think about that strategic choice first. Yeah,

Maeve Hagen 52:28
exactly, I think, to name drop a brand. And not because it occupies a very special place in my heart. But the Guinness brand, the Guinness brand is an interesting one, because, you know, I’m not sure that you’re inherently associated with purpose driven marketing. But I think the way in which we talk about the brand and the authentic nature of it, it makes sense that, you know, at some points throughout the year, we’re talking about Guinness gives back, and it’s about the heritage and the legacy of Arthur Guinness, and what he did for the community, you know, in Dublin, when he, you know, found that the brand and all that good stuff. And so we’re able to storytelling against, you know, something that’s very real, but it doesn’t have to be and isn’t our soul, it’s not the thing that we are doing 100% of the time, it’s something that we talk about, and something that we lean on. And it’s a good activation point for us when it makes sense. But, you know, it’s not something that we sort of, you know, beat over the heads of our consumers, but it’s, it’s something that is important to us. And it’s something that we can draw on, you know, when when it makes sense to and when, you know, we want to continue to sort of lean on that community driven sort of mentality and give back mentality. And that’s the other thing is that, you know, a brand doesn’t have to be just one thing. I think consumers don’t expect a brand to be just one thing. It’s about how you sort of shape you know, entire the entirety around around the brand. We talked about this a lot on Guinness, it’s you know, we have St. Patrick’s Day. And so, you know, do people want to be like, do we want to beat people over the head about doing good and, you know, giving back to their communities and all of that on a day that is meant for revelry? Or is there a time and place to have the conversation about, you know, get us gives back in our moments and time throughout the year? That makes sense. But on the day of revelry and the moment of revelry we are, we’re, we’re celebrating where we’re out here. Yep, both things can be true about the brand, both things can be active in the marketplace, you know, at different times throughout the year or even at the same time in some instances without sort of indicating each other or, you know, anything like that. So I think you just have to do it well, though you have to. There has to be intention behind things that you’re doing. are also you do run the risk of sounding a bit scattered or a bit, you know, all over the place if you don’t have sort of that through line that makes sense for your brand’s robota at macro level,

April Martini 55:02
yeah, I think it’s a really good point.

Anne Candido 55:04
Such a good point.

April Martini 55:05
And a good point to end on.

We’ve talked about lots of different things today. And before we let you go, we do have a few quick fires where we are these are random, right? They’re not necessarily about any of the conversation today, but just so people can get to know you a little bit better. To the first one I’m going to ask because we’ve talked so much about PR and comms what would be your at bat song.

Maeve Hagen 55:25

good one. I’m big country music fan, Garth Brooks.

April Martini 55:31
Is is sort of core to to who I am.

Maeve Hagen 55:37
But if I was leaning towards, if you asked it a different way, Brolin, it was like, What’s your go to karaoke song? I would say, I would say to be with you, Mr. Big

Anne Candido 55:48
one. That was a great song.

Maeve Hagen 55:51
I love this song. I’m not sure though, you know, in the context of like, lockouts on No, I don’t know if I would choose that. But if you if we’re going out to karaoke, I’m absolutely choosing that all day, every day twice on Sunday. That’s

Anne Candido 56:06
such a good question.

April Martini 56:15
If you could do any job besides the one you’re doing, what would it be? Oh,

Maeve Hagen 56:19
well, a little known fact about me. My husband and I have a hobby farm outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. So maybe I would try my hand at like being a little bit better of a, of a farmer, or at least like a green thumb. Like, I can’t grow anything. So maybe I would try to like put a little bit of effort into figuring that out and making that work for me. But we have to have ambition to you know, have a small business one day, whether it’s campgrounds that glamping campground or a wedding venue or something of the sort. You know, we have ambition of that one day too. So maybe there’s still hope for me to do something different in my next life. Alright, and

April Martini 57:03
last one, what do I had I had a call you? Oh, all right. What up? Alright,

Anne Candido 57:07
so I know. Superbowl was just was still like a couple of months ago. But since you guys were so there. What was your favorite campaign? I’m not saying favorite Superbowl ad because we know now that you need to go bigger than just the ad. What was your favorite Superbowl campaign?

Maeve Hagen 57:23
Yeah, that’s a great question. I I’m not sure I would call it a campaign because I think that might be overstating it. However, some of my friends and colleagues at Hunter PR shout out DOM they did something really amazing with the Don Julio brands at Super Bowl where they turned the stratosphere the the landmark in Las Vegas that ironically, looks like wo 1942 bottle, they turned it into a Don Julio 1942 bottle and did some really fun things with media and others that included you know, helicopter rides around in showing it at night and just doing a really big moment in time for for that. So not a Diageo brand that we work on, but one that I certainly always had my eye on. And I thought that one was really, you know, simple, easy in quotes to execute, but eye catching and interesting, you know, in a in a city, very crowded, in an environment very crowded.

Anne Candido 58:27
That’s a great example. And then my final one was, who is your favorite client partner of all time?

Maeve Hagen 58:32
Oh, come on. Obviously, you

Anne Candido 58:39
double check is wanted to make sure on that. I just want to make sure I was still on the top left, you know, on the top five Taylor offices. Right.

April Martini 58:45
Okay. All right. Absolutely.

Maeve Hagen 58:47

Speaker 1 58:48
Well, thank you, Maeve. And with that, please tell people where they can find you give any final comments, you know, if they want to continue the conversation, where should they reach out all those good things? Yeah,

Maeve Hagen 59:00
I am. I’m trying to up my LinkedIn game. So please reach out to me on LinkedIn, Maeve Hagen. And if you want to check out the work that we’re doing Taylor,, you can check out a lot of our very relevant and up to date case studies and some of the really amazing work that we’re doing across a variety of different categories. This has

Anne Candido 59:25
been an exceptionally essential conversation and we want to thank me for being one of our experts in the murky summers creative series, the issues facing creative agencies today and how they need to evolve to stay relevant.

April Martini 59:35
We hope that coming out of this conversation all of you listeners take action on the insights we’ve discussed today to make your agency client partnerships stronger and more meaningful, as well as be honest with yourselves and clean up work cleanup as needed. We can all change the industry for the better this way. Be on the lookout or listen for other episodes in this series. And if you have particular thoughts or feedback, we’d love to hear from you as always, and with that, we will say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts! Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now, go show off your Marketing Smarts!