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6 months ago by Mark Scully

Spotlight: Will Egan | Irish Digital Marketing Leaders

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Today we're excited to keep off a new series of interviews with digital marketing leaders in Ireland where we’ll pick the brains of those tasked with building cutting edge customer experiences and give you an inside look at the current state of marketing in Ireland - and where it’s heading next.

Starting off the series is Will Egan, Senior Digital Planner at Ogilvy Dublin where he is responsible for strategy and planning. He spent 10 years client side with Europcar, Ryanair and Kellogg’s & Pringles before joining eightytwenty as engagement strategist and now works at Ogilvy Dublin.

Introduce yourself - tell us a little about you :)  

Very inquisitive, I always wondered how things worked and the logic behind them. It was this desire for logic that attracted me to ICT in college which gave me a grounding in coding, web design, circuits, robotics & databases. While I liked it, it wasn’t the area for me so after my MSc in Marketing I moved into digital marketing. I then progressed through various digital & traditional media roles in Europcar, Ryanair (just as “Always Getting Better” program kicked off) and the iconic Kellogg & Pringles before jumping to agency side with eightytwenty as engagement strategist and now to Ogilvy in planning & strategy. Always staying true to my digital roots!

As a marketer, what motivates you?

What motivates me most is how we can look at things differently. I love that famous Ford quote, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” So hacking and redefining platform usage, being controversial, thinking outside the box. A lot of buzz words but essentially being creative without being able to draw or write copy.

How do you encourage creative thinking from your team and company?

Getting the brief right! So many briefs are a litany of facts which can stifle creativity. Creative people love to be challenged and at Ogilvy, we have a mantra that every idea matters, from small budgets to huge productions. The brief is there to set the challenge and motivate the creatives. If the brief isn’t right, then how can they be creative?

What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

It is not my advice, but Simon Sinek said that leaders eat last. Leaders take the blame when others screw up and own decisions that are difficult. The best leaders don’t take themselves too seriously and are comfortable taking a back seat when credit comes to the team.

Where do you see the marketing field heading in the future?

There have been three stages of advertising. We started with symbols or logos and then grew into brand stories. We are now at a stage thanks to social media and influencers where we have brand systems. Brands need to collaborate with consumers now. All touchpoints, all brand interactions are important for a brand’s popularity. Every social post matters!

What company is an example of great marketing today? Who do you admire?

We have lots in the Ogilvy stable, but the one killing it at the moment digitally is Burger King internationally. They have embraced the new digital landscape and the notion that not all communications have to try and sell you something. They consistently deliver impact through earned media. It’s not rocket science. It’s making content people want to see, not what you want to show them.

Did you have a mentor or a person you learnt the most from? What was a key lesson?

I have had a few actually, old bosses who I stay in touch with. A key lesson one taught me was the value of understanding that every problem an employee has is the most important problem to them. So while no doubt he had larger commercial issues to spend his time on, he always had time to listen to me and as a team, I know it made us work harder for him.

What is your marketing superpower, the most important skill that makes you a great marketer?

Being a big kid maybe? I am just naturally curious. If you tell me a fact or a stat I instantly think, ‘But why?’ By always trying to understand the why you can help mould the right answer. Advertising is always about solving needs, even those you don’t realise you have.

What interesting book have you read recently?

Currently, I am reading ‘Alchemy’ by Rory Sutherland, one of our Ogilvy family. Behavioural science is fascinating, and it is again appealing to my sense of why. Highly recommend anything by Rory or some of the Seth Godin books.

What new, modern tactic, tool, or aspect of marketing should marketers pay more attention to?

Collaboration. We know as a market that overall, budgets are small. You can’t have in house doing one thing, agency doing another and the finance team not knowing the point of either. So, working together and aligning on message means the budget goes further and you are able to create bigger, better ideas by just picking up the phone every now or then.

What aspects of basic marketing have marketers neglected in recent years?

Definitely long-term planning. Everything has to be so instantaneous in today’s market. This month, this quarter. What gets lost is the role the brand plays in the longer term, maintaining relevance for consumers. The best brands combine all time horizon thinking to deliver their message.

What skills will marketers need in the future? How do you stay sharp?

Curiosity I think is enough, opinions should be strongly felt but loosely held so as sharp as you are on a topic today, tomorrow new information comes out that makes you rethink your approach and that is ok. That is what makes marketing different and always interesting.

How do you increase marketing’s relevance and influence in the organization?

Marketing as a concept has not changed importance or role within brand building. The stakeholders who control budgets have and it is our job to adjust to that new scenario. If we need to show more measurability and more accountability, then that is our job.

What blog or learning resources would you recommend? 

There are too many to list but, there are certain people I follow like Matt Navarra who is on top of every social media release before it happens. In a more general marketing sense, Mark Ritson always has something interesting to say. I think digital folk fall into the trap of just focussing too much on the digital realm. Digital Out of Home, Digital Radio and even TV through AdSmart have evolving digital applications that are important to understand.