MHB WEEKLY: By the students, for the world

Speaker Series: Kate Bristow | February 11, 2011

Each Friday, the MHB program hosts an industry pro with insight into career opportunities, marketplace trends and new ideas who engages students for two hours of class time. On February 4th, 2011, the speaker series featured Ms. Kate Bristow, currently the Chief Strategy Officer at M&C Saatchi, a global advertising agency with one of its international bases here in Los Angeles.

Showing great fervor for and knowledge of her industry, Ms. Bristow spoke about developing and implementing successful marketing campaigns. The title of her talk was “Brutally Simple Advertising” — the same philosophy that her company espouses. Ms. Bristow broke down the phases of her work into four questions: Where are we?; Where do we want to be?; How do we get there?; and Are we getting there? She stressed that advertisers should explore these questions in a circular — rather than linear — pattern, constantly testing the water and returning to a given phase as need be.

While Ms. Bristow has worked on campaigns for a range of products and places, she holds fast to the belief that simple branding statements are most effective: they are absorbed faster and retained longer than complicated ones. To this end, the complex combination of a product’s physical features, perceived benefits and intangible traits should be distilled down into a simple idea. When working on a marketing campaign for the tourism industry of New Zealand, for example, Ms. Bristow and her team merged a series of adjectives used to describe New Zealand in previous ads — including scenic, natural, friendly, vital, raw, and pristine — into one straight-forward concept: Pure. With the debut of M&C Saatchi’s New Zealand ads — which featured the tagline 100% Pure — New Zealand climbed from #36 to #8 on World Tourism Rankings’ most-desired countries to visit, even before Lord of the Rings was released.

Finally, Ms. Bristow emphasized the importance of obtaining insight into both a product and its target customer(s), as well as conducting well-rounded research that examines a wide variety of sources’ opinions about a product — including its competitors and “haters” — in order to find a fitting brand identity.

Continue reading for more about Ms. Bristow and her work.


You can find Ms. Bristow on Twitter and on LinkedIn, and you can check out examples of her company’s work at its website. And find a short bio here, where you can read that Ms. Bristow’s career in the ad industry spans three decades and three continents: she started in London, spent time in Singapore, and now calls Los Angeles home.

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    Established in 2009 at USC, the Master's of Science in Human Behavior is designed to equip students with knowledge of consumer psychology, social media and market analysis skills. This is our blog. Subscribe

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