Industry Profile: Carat Melbourne strategy lead Bethanie Blanchard

2 February 2021

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

This week we speak to Carat Melbourne strategy lead Bethanie Blanchard.

Time in current role/time at the company:
At Carat for over two and a half years and Melbourne strategy lead a few months now.

How would you describe what the company does?
We build brands through media by putting people (not segments or datasets) at the heart of what we do: understanding them in all their tensions and contradictions in order to drive measurable outcomes for clients.

What do you do day-to-day?
I’m lucky to have an incredible team of strategists and planners. I support them in delivering best in class strategy for our clients. It’s all about defining the real client challenge, looking at how content moves through culture, and connecting people with brands.

Define your job in one word:

I got into advertising because:
I find the art of persuasion fascinating.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Arguing for the deeply powerful role media plays in building brands. Sadly, there is still an industry perception that the media agency is simply there to effectively and efficiently target creative. That is important yes, but that’s the minimum of our jobs. I’m passionate about the fact that media integration imprints on culture and builds things of real value – some of the most powerful brands aren’t just built from brand codes and creative, they use media to create impactful / iconic assets too.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
It’s our job to make agencies a lot more representative. We’ve made good progress as an industry on gender and LGBTQ+ (though more can be done), we now need to focus on racial and socio-economic representation too. Agency floors should look a lot more like the people who buy the products our brands sell. It’s as simple as that.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
Bauer Media, News Corp Australia, and before that freelance editorial at The Australian, The Monthly and The Guardian.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
Danni Wright. I’m incredibly lucky to have worked with amazing leaders throughout my career who have shaped me as both a strategic thinker and leader, and Danni (national head of strategy and connections planning at Carat) is someone who I feel so lucky every single day to work with. She has taught and supported me more than she could know.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
Strategy is a strange job: you need to be confident enough to stand in a room and sell in an approach, but humble enough to constantly question whether there can be a better way. Humility is key – always push yourself to learn more, think again and approach the challenge in a new way.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
I’ll say political strategist. My inner politics nerd would love the war-gaming of election campaigns.

My mantra is:
“Curiouser and curiouser.” I like the idea in strategy of being like Alice – testing, exploring and falling down rabbit holes learning new things.

My favourite advert is:
This question tends to make people name their favourite piece of creative. (For me in the current era that’s Nike's incredible Colin Kaepernick ad or as far back as I can remember Schweppes’ ‘Burst’. Two ads which, for very different reasons, affect me no matter how many times I re-watch them).

But I wouldn’t be flying the flag for media and my craft if I didn’t pick a clever media campaign as my favourite. So I’m going to say Spotify’s annual ‘Wrapped’ campaigns. These are the perfect example of building a brand through media properties and experiences: they imprint on culture, they give something of real value back to their customers by turning data into stories, and they’re effective – adding a sh*tload of new customers to Spotify’s base.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
The ever-increasing state of my monthly bills will tell you I am on literally everything – to the point where I even use a VPN to watch the latest seasons of Great British Bake off in the UK. Help!

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
That I don’t *always* wear black.

In five years' time I'll be:
Still learning.

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