Industry Profile: MercerBell managing editor Gary Andrews

By AdNews | 12 April 2018
Gary Andrews

Our Industry Profile takes a look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

Meet this week's industry profile, MercerBell managing editor Gary Andrews.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

Nine months.

How would you describe what the company does?

MercerBell is a customer experience agency: essentially this means using our in house strategy, creative, technology and data insights team to drive great customer communications, across everything from eCRM to social, digital to print, or wherever the best channel is to get the best results.

What do you do day-to-day?

I’m fortunate in that my role combines elements of creative and strategy, which means no two days at the same. Typically, though, I’ll be working on editorial and social strategies for clients such as Toyota and Purina, while also overseeing the creative outputs from my team in an editorial capacity. This can be anything from in-depth editorial copy for clients through to social creative, both paid and always-on.

Define your job in one word:

Exhilarating.

I got into marketing because…

Of the potential for storytelling. Actually, it was somewhat of an accident, as I’d initially been working in journalism and PR, but had always had an interest in social media and online editorial and had dabbled in a number of side projects, like podcasting and blogging, out of curiosity.

When platforms like Twitter and Facebook started to become part of the comms mix, I was one of the few people in my team who really understood social and content in depth.

From there, it was a short step to moving into creative and strategy. The more I worked in this space, the more I loved it.

Here was an area that combined creative storytelling that also allowed you to immerse yourself in a subject, and ask some hard questions of your work.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Probably one of the biggest issues is challenging how the idea of content marketing is perceived as a discipline.

It can cover everything from SEO to eCRM right through to high spend brand awareness campaigns, so to really be effective you often have to have some difficult conversations around objectives and budget.

Good content marketing isn’t cheap, but it’s equally possible to spend a not insignificant amount of money in this space and not really know what you’ve achieved.

Those initial conversations where you try to ensure you’re speaking the same language and understand what you’re trying to achieve can be tough.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?

Despite all the talk of big data, I still think the industry has a long way to go. It’s all very well having reams of data, but data alone isn’t a panacea for your marketing challenges – for that you’ll need a good analyst or strategist who can understand how you can apply that data in a way that benefits you and your customers.

It’ll be fascinating to see how marketers evolve following the implementation of GDPR in Europe – for me, anything that encourages marketers to think customer first has to be a positive step.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:

Before MercerBell, I was head of social media for Direct Line Group in the UK. I’ve also worked in social and content for the BBC, ITV, insurer Hiscox, Tottenham Hotspur, entertainment directory Spotlight and PR agency Ruder Finn.

Who is/has been a great mentor to you and why?

In the UK, Frances Browning and Raluca Efford at Direct Line Group were a great support and pushed me into places I didn’t know I was capable of. In Australia, MercerBell’s managing director Julie Dormand is a real inspiration.

She helped me quickly get to grips with the local market but also encourages you to run with ideas and proposals. That we’ve grown our content offering so quickly is down to the support she’s given me.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?

Somebody once told me, “It’s my business to know my business,” and that’s an attitude you need to have in marketing. The digital space changes so quickly, you need to be completely across your area of specialism and continually curious as to where you can push boundaries.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:

A sports commentator. Getting paid to watch sport and travel the world watching cricket, rugby, soccer or the Olympics would be a great life.

My mantra / philosophy is:

Never think you’ve cracked a piece of work. The minute you start congratulating yourself is the minute you’ll stop looking for ways to improve.

My favourite advert is (and why):

I’m partial to a power ballad, so TAB’s use of Bon Jovi’s Always never fails to raise a smile even after hundreds of viewings.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?

For films and TV I have Netflix and Apple TV (although I really miss the BBC’s iPlayer), and for music it’s Spotify. I’m also heavily into podcasts. I walk into work so I must get through about three podcasts a day – in the morning it’ll be something like

Wired or The Economist, while the walk home is usually the Daily Football Show.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?

Lily Cole once took me for dinner.

In five years' time I'll be:

In a role that doesn’t exist today.

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