March is Women’s History Month – a time to celebrate women’s contributions and achievements across different careers and spheres of life.
Now more than ever, women are forging paths in a variety of once male-dominated fields, including ad tech. These trailblazers are sparking conversations around critical issues to the empowerment of women at work, including opening doors and access for women early in their careers so they can progress to C-suite, supporting women to choose and stay with STEM careers, and helping women achieve a work-life balance.
This month at Cadent, we’re profiling women who are leaders in their departments, asking about their career journeys, the importance of Women’s History Month, and what advice they would give to women entering the workforce.
Bonnie Fisher, VP, New York Sales Lead, has been with Cadent for over five years and has seen both the company and TV advertising industry through some major changes! A native New Yorker, after graduating from Brooklyn College, Bonnie jumped right into the world of TV. Her previous positions include roles at CNN, TV Guide Network, and NBCUniversal’s Syfy channel. Always ready to tackle a new challenge, Bonnie was recently promoted from a Senior Account Executive to her current role as a VP.
To learn more about Bonnie, check out our Q&A below.
The following interview has been lightly edited and condensed.
Tell us about your role.
I am in a new role on the sales team! I’m now leading New York sales and couldn’t be more excited to tackle my new priorities with the hardest working team I’ve ever come across.
Where can we find you when you’re not at work?
On the weekends, I am on the soccer field or basketball court, watching my kids play.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Women’s History Month is important to me because I can show my daughter all the amazing, fearless women who have paved the way for us to succeed, live in equality, and showcase our talents freely.
Are there any resources you have found valuable while building your career?
The resources I have found most helpful are my mentors and the ability to network. I am fortunate to have met incredibly generous people along the way who helped guide me through my career by giving me great advice and teaching me important life lessons. I highly recommend for everyone to network at every stage of their career – meeting people and learning from them provides perspective and helps us grow.
What advice do you have for women starting their careers?
My advice to anyone starting their career is to find your passion and stick with it. It’s important to follow your gut, trust your instincts, and stand up for what feels right. I’d also recommend learning the art of assertive communication, so your voice is heard in an impactful way.
Last week, Cadent Account Executive, Lauren Treinen hosted a panel with Christy Hedgpeth, COO, WNBA for NBA/WNBA, Kate Johnson, Director and Head of Global Sports & Entertainment Marketing Partnerships, Content and Media for Google, and Lisa Woodward, Director, Sponsorships for AB InBev as a part of the Brand Innovators’ Sports Marketing Upfronts livecast series. Their conversation focused on the growth of women’s basketball, the importance of women leaders in sports, and how their personal experiences shaped their professional journeys.
Leaders from across the world of sports marketing and sponsorships, Shawna Burtscher, Director, Experiential Marketing, Audi of America, Kerry Scalora, Director – Sports Marketing, Michelob Ultra, Anheuser-Busch, Bridget Sponsky, Executive Director – Brand, Sports & Sponsorship Marketing, Ally, Dana Dar, Director of Strategic Business Development, Intel Sports, Intel, and Marissa Weseloh, Director of Sponsorships, Verizon, joined Stacie Pearson, Account Executive, Cadent for a panel during Brand Innovators’ Sports Marketing Upfronts: Soccer. The executives shared their perspectives on what it means to be a woman in sports leadership and how the women’s sports landscape is changing.
Read our 5 key insights from their discussion below, including why there is still a long way to go for women’s equity in sports, as well as how today’s leaders can create change for tomorrow’s women advertisers and athletes.
The following has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
Build sponsorships with purpose.
Sports sponsorships are about so much more than brand awareness. It’s a critical opportunity to show consumers what matters most to your business stands. “Our values are the most important part of our company and they’re all rooted in doing what’s right. The customer is at the center of every single thing that we do, and we have this firm belief that the diversity of thought is critical to progression and success. In the end, we believe in deeds and not just words, and that values-based spirit is how we approach our alignments in sports,” Bridget explained. “We’re very purposeful with the sponsorships that we have in that they align with those values and that they have a voice in culture… How are we an ally to athletes, to fans, to the league, to the communities we serve?”
Offering her take, Kerry said, “Our brand purpose is to show consumers that living an active and balanced lifestyle doesn’t need to be stressful. […] In our ads, we want to show that these athletes aren’t just happy because they win – they win because they’re happy people. We’ve leaned into these big sporting moments and athletes to help us amplify our brand message and make it that much more relatable. Consumers are aspiring to be these athletes, so ultimately we hope our brand ethos and message is transferred on to them.”
Vote with your engagement & your wallet.
Touching on the subject of inequities between men and women athletes, Shawna called out, “We all can vote with our viewership and dollars – where we’re paying attention to content and who we follow. What’s happened over the past few years has made people a bit more vulnerable and more open to talking about [inequality].” She went on to highlight, “We’re also seeing more people support one another – not just the trailblazers who are willing to speak up – but being less afraid of the backlash that could come. […] When people see others leading with that kind of integrity, they feel empowered to do so too.”
Normalize women in sports leadership roles.
“I think they’re helping to change the conversation and debunk this myth that women are not qualified or don’t have the capabilities to take on these roles – that’s important and they’re inspiring the next generation,” Marissa said.
Yet despite the strides women have made in sports, we still have a long way to go. “I had an executive in a previous role say to me, ‘It’s great that we have a female on this sports account.’ And I remember thinking, I’m here because I’m qualified, but what is that statement implying? That it’s an exception that a female runs a sports account. So, the more we see the momentum of women taking these positions – which I’d love to continue to see – the more it’s changing the conversation, to where it becomes the norm. In the future, we’d get to the point where this panel doesn’t exist and it’s just about leadership in sports because there’s natural representation across the board.”
Watch a video of the session on demand now:
Use your platform to create opportunities.
A repeated theme of the discussion was women supporting women. As Dana noted, “All these amazing women athletes you mentioned have such a great platform, so when they voice something, it amplifies the message. But it is also up to us – those who are behind the scenes on the business side of sponsorship side within sports – to create that same conversation so that the next woman who’s up and coming doesn’t hear the same comment that Marissa just mentioned.”
This emphasis on using your voice and creating opportunities for one another drives home the importance of mentorship among women in sports, as well as other industries and professions.
Don’t be afraid to take risks!
The panelists also took a moment to reflect on their journeys and how they’ve found success as women in sports marketing.
“Not only was I a woman in sports, but a saleswoman in sports. That being said, I’ve always counted on myself to put in the work and make a name for myself. The gender bias in sports motivates me to work harder and stay on top of my game,” said Kerry.
Shawna explained, thinking back to the beginning of her career, “One day, I invited myself into an agency’s office because I knew they were hiring a new division, and it was the first time they were getting into sports marketing. At that time, I had worked extensively in motorsports, so I realized – they didn’t know anything! […] The reactions I was getting from people were like, ‘should I not know some of these things?’ Yet I was hired on the spot, in what was probably a more elevated role than had I just sent in a resume.”
Leaving us with a powerful piece of advice: “A lot of it was my naiveté and passion to be there, but I knew what I knew. I would say you should follow your intuition and don’t be afraid to take risks. If you’re an expert at something, don’t be afraid to showcase that you are.”
Two leaders in data-driven marketing, Andrea Brimmer, Chief Marketing and PR Officer, Ally Financial, and Jamie Power, COO of Advanced TV, Cadent, took part in a chat for Brand Innovators’ Women in Marketing livecast recently. The executives shared their takeaways on leading during challenging times, what CMOs should focus on now and how brand marketers can learn from the COVID-19 crisis.
Read seven insights from their fireside chat below, including why there are some crises you can’t fully prepare for and why humanity should always be at the center of marketing.
The following has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
1. Provide levity to customers at the right moments.
Ally’s tag phrase is “Do It Right,” driving the brand to do what’s right for their customers. With that in mind, Jamie said, how is Ally engaging with consumers differently, and how is the brand practicing being “customer obsessed?”
Andrea replied that the brand has increased its frequency of customer communications, emailing customers at least once a week with relevant information. Additionally, the brand has increased its velocity in social, and generally, Ally is taking advantage of new opportunities popping up. For instance, the brand is sponsoring Jimmie Johnson, a NASCAR driver, and as NASCAR pivots to virtual racing, Ally outfitted Jimmie’s entire iRig with Ally branding, including a hat and backdrop.
“We’re having some fun with it, where we actually are surprising and delighting some of our customers,” Andrea said. The brand has also partnered with Katie Couric on a series called “The Bright Side,” focusing on stories of “the heroes, the helpers, and the people who are finding joy” under these unprecedented circumstances.
2. With the right tone, brand-customer communications can be a salve.
Jamie asked Andrea how Ally is being brave with its marketing in light of the pandemic. “In a lot of ways,” Andrea said, “brands are like a warm chocolate chip cookie right now,” reminding people that everything will be ok.
Andrea said for Ally, being brave at this time means focusing less on short-term business implications, and thinking more in terms of being human beings and good corporate citizens as a brand. The brand has implemented a comprehensive relief package for its customers including suppressing all auto payments to customers for 120 days, suppressing all mortgage payments for 120 days and waiving all fees. Ally is also focusing on providing helpful information like what customers can do with their stimulus checks, how to think about FDIC insurance and the importance of it right now.
3. TV’s reach is as powerful as ever.
As the COO of Advanced TV at Cadent, Jamie said she’s a believer in the power of data to communicate at the household-level. So is now the right time to get more targeted or more broad with TV messaging?
Andrea responded, “I think people that draw a line in the sand and say it’s ‘either/or’ are really not looking at the full picture, and not giving themselves an opportunity to reach the number of people that they need to reach,” adding that in many regards, there’s still no better medium than television to gain mass appeal.
4. CMOs should dig into the details with their data right now.
Andrea generally is a big proponent of keeping an active learning agenda as a CMO, aiming to allocate a third of her time to learning.
Under the current circumstances, she said, CMOs should “ferociously read every piece of information that they can get their hands on right now,” adding that they need to be more involved than ever in the social listening process, and actually listening to what customers are saying, and how they’re feeling.” Andrea said recently, she’s closer to the creative process than ever before, meeting more frequently with Ally’s various agency teams in order to stay fluid and adjust on a weekly basis.
She added that CMOs shouldn’t be afraid to get into the details of customer feedback right now: “The people that pay attention to the details, are the ones that are going to make sure that they don’t do any harm to their brand, and they actually thrive coming out of this.”
5. Show your humanity.
Andrea said her team is finding ways to connect remotely, from virtual happy hours and fitness bootcamps to a game of Marco Polo, adding, “I’ve literally sent a Marco Polo video message to all 120 individually, and I’m keeping in touch with anybody that’s responding on a really regular basis.”
Jamie said right now is an important time to support Cadent’s brand and agency clients: “As a technology partner, we’re looking for ways to be supportive to our agency and brand clients in any way we can. We’re not necessarily selling right now; we’re looking for solutions.” To stay connected to her team, Jamie said she learned how to use TikTok to regularly share silly videos.
6. Lean into your brand, in the good and bad times.
During the last recession, the brands that went dark took nine times longer to recover, Andrea said, adding, “We also know that a large portion of brands that go completely dark, will lose at least 1X their brand measures, and we’ve worked too hard, particularly over the course of the last two years, to have dramatic brand acceleration.” Ally has accelerated its brand valuation, doubling it in each of the last two years, Andrea said.
7. Learn from times of crisis.
Jamie asked about Ally’s history of handling national crises; the brand launched during the financial crisis in 2007. Did her team take learnings from the previous crisis into this one? Andrea said that while there’s no playbook for a crisis like this, and no one would have imagined they’d have to live through a pandemic, Ally was born out of customer pain points. Now, as people flock to digital brands that help them adjust to the new normal, like Netflix and Zoom, customers are also flocking to Ally, a digital-only bank.
“We will use the lessons that we learned of solving for customer pain points and providing great digital utility to carry us through this,” Andrea said.
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