Empower your team and give them a voice to be your best brand ambassadors. When RedPeg rebranded a little over a year ago, we overhauled our website to feature every person who works for the agency, not just the senior team. At the same time, we launched Women of RedPeg, our Mentorship Program, a PR strategy that actively tries to find opportunities for as many people as possible across the agency to comment or contribute to an article and our most recent initiative, RedPeg People of Color. We’re incredibly fortunate that the agency believes in the team as much as it believes in the work we do and the clients for whom we work. Ultimately, we are the best brand builders out there and if we feel supported, encouraged and invested in, our agency will flourish, and shine and we’ll attract more great talent to help keep that momentum going and growing.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Fredda Hurwitz, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer at RedPeg. Originally from Boston, MA, Fredda moved to Paris for eight years after completing her studies at the University of California Berkeley and then London for the next 22 before returning to the states in 2018 to join RedPeg as the Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer. She has worked client side (eg Disney Consumer Products EMEA, the NFL and NHL International) and agency side across a diverse group of brands including American Express, Bacardi, Barclays, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, Eurostar, FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, MINI, the NBA, Nestle, Yahoo! amongst others, and has worked on large-scale international programs, brand experiences and integrated marketing campaigns from World Cups to music tours to fashion weeks to the Olympics and everything in between and beyond.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
At the tender age of 23, when I was doing everything I thought I wanted to be doing (i.e. working as an up and coming foreign correspondent in Paris for the then bureau chief of AP), he crushed my dreams and my world in one sentence: “You’re a great writer, you’ll just never be a great journalist.” Ouch. I’ll let you fill in your own expletives and times that to the power of a zillion to understand how I was feeling. Without necessarily knowing what the effect of his words would be, he ended up permanently altering my future. Rather unsurprisingly, fear and anger are great motivators to find a job and my determination to prove him wrong became the stepping stone to my first big job at the Paris-based European HQ for Disney where my professional career truly began.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know if it’s funny, but it’s connected to my first job at Disney and it tickled me pink at the time. I kept calling this number I was given but the secretary refused to put me through. Eventually my youthful exuberance, tenacity and just plain “I won’t take no for an answer” approach wore her down and the gentleman I was hoping to speak with took the call. I explained who I was, that we had a common friend back in Boston (where I grew up) and that I was hoping to get some advice from him so that I could continue to live and work in Paris. He very matter-of-factly told me that he wasn’t who I was after, it was his brother I meant to call. Again, youthful bravado had me saying, “well then who are you?” He rather calmly told me that he was the President of Disney Consumer Products EMEA. He then said, “who are you young lady?” Suffice it to say, I felt like a total idiot. Bless him though, he told me he liked my chutzpah and set up an interview for me the following day. But that’s another story for another article…
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I believe there are a number of things that make RedPeg stand out. In no particular order, a few include:
The endless supply of optimism, determination, and “can-do” attitude for ourselves and our client partners that our founder possesses and infuses into the rest of us — the likes of which I’ve rarely encountered;
An extremely strong ethos around diversity, inclusion, and relevant support — our culture is off the charts and was one of the many reasons I decided to join the team;
The ability to get things done without having to consider layer after layer of stakeholders’ points of view — if an idea or approach feels like it has legs, there is nothing holding the team back from giving it a shot. Being independent certainly has its advantages. An example of this point in particular.
Before joining RedPeg full time 1.5 years ago (I was previously living and working in London and consulting at this point), I was asked to assess the agency as a brand: what was working, what wasn’t, what was our competition saying/doing etc. At the end of this project, I shared my findings along with a vision that demonstrated where and how RedPeg could evolve. After joining full time nearly six months later, the work I had undertaken as a consultant was approved and I set out to turbo charge our brand into what it is today. Although not an objective, we won a Platinum MarCom Award for best brand refresh. Why this story? Because for me it encapsulates how we are as a team: if it feels right and there’s rationale as to why we believe our approach should be considered, we have the support and encouragement to try it out.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are, but unfortunately we’re not allowed to share them publicly at this point.
In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?
We define what we do as brand engagement. We don’t create ads or book media — we create experiences on behalf of brands that are intended to enhance peoples’ lives at a point in time when they’re already doing something they care about (i.e. attending a music festival, sporting event, esports tournament, food tasting, car dealership — the list goes on). When we get it right, our brand partners receive brand attribution for their value add and the way they’ve made a person feel. We’re not trying to get our message across in 30 seconds or entice someone to read about us, we simply want to demonstrate that we care about people’s passion points and hopefully, elicit positive feelings of consideration for these brands post experience.
Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?
Once upon a time we were limited to a few brands that on the whole, people trusted. Advertising hadn’t fully hit its stride and although we had choices, it was inconceivable that one day there would be no less than 12 types of milk to choose from. Twelve!!!??? Given the plethora of options available and the research that people do ahead of their purchase (from word of mouth to reviews to advertising both on and offline) it’s essential that brands both show what their product does and increasingly of greater importance, what they stand for. If brand x does exactly the same thing as brand y with no discernible difference other than the fact that brand y donates profits to a cause that I care about, then bingo, that’s where I’m going to put my money. That brand took the time to help me understand its purpose and that can only come from brand building over time not just messaging.
Can you share 5 strategies that a small company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.
I believe these strategies can be used across large or small and have answered accordingly.
1.Practice what you preach
Pair Eyewear is a fabulous little start up, founded by two recent Stanford grads. They gave up their ambition of becoming doctors and mechanical engineers because they stumbled across an insight and a truth: the experience of buying glasses for children is terrible and hasn’t really changed much over the years. It’s expensive, limited in options, not fun or friendly. They developed a try-at-home system (a la Warby Parker) that allows for each child to have customizable, fun, inexpensive glasses that reflect a child’s mood and style (each set comes with six different snap on frames). It has transformed how children and others see them while also boosting their confidence. And of course the owners wear their products too! Very cute, very real and very needed.
2. Be transparent
Patagonia is like our moral compass, forever making us take pause when they proudly show us how they act, what they care about, and what they’re doing to try and improve this world. When the Trump Administration initiated a corporate tax cut that “threatened (these) services at the expense of our plant”, Patagonia’s CEO Rose Marcario announced that the brand would be donating its $10mm tax cut to groups committed to “protecting air, land and water and finding solutions to the climate crisis.” It doesn’t matter whether a company is large or small — this honest and transparent approach is a lesson for all brands.
3. Partner with like-minded products, brands or individuals (not paid-for influencers) that have similar beliefs
It’s not just brands that are partnering with causes or individuals, increasingly independent agencies are creating collectives and gathering complementary skill sets to add value to their clients with less overhead, more diverse backgrounds, experience and a highly personalized feel. This provides a refreshing option for brands and far greater flexibility than the constraints of a holding group.
4. Hire people who reflect the beliefs the company holds so that your narrative is honest inside and out
BeautyCounter is a great example of a company whose purpose is at the heart of what it does. They hire people who hold the same values as what the owner set out to achieve with chemical-free beauty products brought to life by consultants who aren’t incentivized by a salary alone. They’re their own boss, are given a personalized website that allows them to fully claim each of their sales and amongst many tailored touches are also given the opportunity to go to DC to lobby for causes they care about.
5. Empower your team and give them a voice to be your best brand ambassadors
When RedPeg rebranded a little over a year ago, we overhauled our website to feature every person who works for the agency, not just the senior team. At the same time, we launched Women of RedPeg, our Mentorship Program, a PR strategy that actively tries to find opportunities for as many people as possible across the agency to comment or contribute to an article and our most recent initiative, RedPeg People of Color. We’re incredibly fortunate that the agency believes in the team as much as it believes in the work we do and the clients for whom we work. Ultimately, we are the best brand builders out there and if we feel supported, encouraged and invested in, our agency will flourish, and shine and we’ll attract more great talent to help keep that momentum going and growing.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
Lego is a great example of a company that has found its niche in being relevant, inclusive, playful, light hearted and endearing. Their products appeal to adults and children alike. There is a multi-generational appreciation of Lego that beautifully allows adults to happily share their love of Lego and create new worlds on their own or with kids, with no fear of being ridiculed. Lego allows every one of us to indulge our inner kid and other brands want to co-create with them because it’s good, clean fun that makes sense and yes, helps sell products. A win-win for all involved. Replicating their success would be hard to achieve given the category they operate in, but some take outs include:
▪ being relevant
▪ clarity of purpose
▪ evolving appropriately
In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?
This wholly depends on the objectives one has set out to achieve.Measurement and success don’t necessarily equate to the same thing.A brand could get minimal likes on a post and yet be selling its product hand over fist.The number of opportunities to see (OTS) is still considered an acceptable metric but if an ad isn’t seen by the audience a brand is looking to engage with and if that ad doesn’t reflect something that I can see myself in, is that a success if the views aren’t relevant? Further, one can’t always equate a sale to a specific ad — there are a multitude of touchpoints along the way that have probably contributed to that sale, not least of which is the amount of research or recommendations a person has undertaken/received to help them make their decision. At its most basic, a brand building campaign could be measured by the number of mentions or articles written about it, the amount of people talking about it, awards nominations or wins…it all goes back to the objectives that each brand sets out. It’s not an exact science and even with the most carefully executed plan, a brand may still not be “successful.”
What role does social media play in your branding efforts?
Social plays a huge part in our branding efforts. Everything we did when we rebranded (and still do) was done through our social and digital channels, which resulted in PR, an award win, an extremely proud staff that was more inclined to share what we were posting because they felt part of it and conversation with everyone we interacted with, from friends and family to clients and prospects. Social helped and continues to help us “up” the level of awareness of RedPeg, what we stand for and who the people are behind the brand name.
What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
It’s easier said than done but try not to sweat the small stuff. Shit’s going to happen, you’ll end up disagreeing with people, you may miss deadlines, you may drop the ball, you may know you’re right beyond a shadow of a doubt and someone else may block you from achieving that goal. In the end though, we won’t be remembered for the deadlines that we hit or the beautiful campaigns that we helped birth, but rather for how we are as people: how we treat others, if we’re present when people are speaking to us, if our purpose is a positive one, if we care. Take time to stop, breath, go for a walk, take the team for an unexpected drink, be aware of how others are feeling and what’s happening in their lives. Colleagues, clients, vendors, the barista…it doesn’t matter who they are in your life, the fact is that we encounter loads of people. Make them feel that they matter.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“A real leader is someone who gives a damn about you, even after you leave.” This one means a lot to me. I’ve spent the last 30 years living and working in Europe and only moved back to the states 1.5 years ago. I’ve had the pleasure of working with and for fabulous people in some great companies and have been fortunate that so many people have trusted me to help them think through their brand strategies locally, regionally, globally. I’ve also been entrusted to hire people from the beginning of their careers as interns to CEO roles. I’m proud to say that I’m still in touch with many of the people I’ve hired and mentored over the years and recently received a mind-blowing compliment from a freelancer I hired and worked with for at best six months about 15 years ago. When I posted this quote on LinkedIn she called me out: “This is how I feel about you Fredda. Super lucky to have worked with you…” WOW. I swear I was teary eyed after that. Why? Because I don’t believe people fully recognize the impact we have on others’ lives and the responsibility we have. I want to know how people are doing. I want to know if they made the right choices for them. I want to know if I’ve positively contributed to or detracted from their goals. And most of all, I want know them to know that I care.
Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
— Barack and Michele Obama, her mom and their children Sasha and Malia. If you can sort that out…
How can our readers follow you on social media?
From a RedPeg perspective:
@RedPegMarketing — Twitter
@RedPeg — LI and FB
@redpegmarketing — Instagram
For me personally:
@FreddaHurwitz (views are my own) — Twitter
@FreddaHurwitz — LI
Thank you for all of these great insights!