Young Guns: LIDA Sydney strategist Sarah Elsmore

By AdNews | 8 June 2017
Sarah Elsmore

Our Young Guns profile takes a weekly look at some of the young talent across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles, people and companies across the buzzing industry.

For our last Young Gun, we spoke to MediaCom Melbourne digital manager and New Zealander Annalise Booker

This time we chat to LIDA (M&C Saatchi) Sydney strategist Sarah Elsmore.

How long have you been in the industry?

Four years.

Duration in current role/time at the company:

One year.

What were you doing before this job and how did you get this gig?

Working as a junior strategist whilst vigorously pursuing a move to London. After being introduced to Victoria Curro (LIDA managing director) I was teased off the travel ledge, a decision I would not regret.

Define your job in one word:


What were your real and cliché expectations of working in the industry?

Growing up with both parents in the industry, my expectations were very realistic. Fast-paced, hard work, sometimes frustrating, full-time, and ultimately a life takeover. Balanced with brilliant people, a touch of swearing, great parties and lots of laughter.

How does the reality match up?

Thanks mum and dad for telling the truth. The reality is that you’re constantly challenged - which is where the hard work comes in.

But ultimately, our job is to be creative, to be inspired, to challenge the status quo every day with the most talented people. We are basically big kids in an environment where we never have to grow up. And I can wear sneakers to work. It’s a superb reality.

How would you describe what the company does and what does your role involve?

LIDA is in the business of enabling brands to connect with their customers as individual people. My role involves making complex problems simple, whilst championing the individual at every turn.

Best thing about the industry you work in:

It’s progressive. The rate of change is exponential in both what we do and how we do it, making every day a new day. You have to be on your toes or risk being left behind. It keeps you hungry.

Any major hard learnings in the job so far?

Nirvana is unattainable. We know what it looks like, but the path to get there is full of obstacles and continuously shapeshifting beneath our feet. Clients and agencies really need to be in a collaborative partnership to make progress.

If you had to switch over to another department, which would it be and why?

I would be a copywriter. The best part of my job is keeping abreast of culture and understanding what makes people tick. This would be invaluable when connecting with customers through words.

What's exciting you about the industry right now?

I’m excited about making creative ideas that are smarter, intimate and more impactful tothe individual.

What concerns you about the industry and its future?

People are naturally resistant to change, but technology makes change inevitable. I see people who resist because they are fearful of what they can’t control, but it’s time to embrace the uncertainty.

Who's your right hand person/who guides you day to day?

Katie Morgan, senior account director. Partner in crime when it comes to cracking hard problems and never fails to leave the team in stitches from laughter. Her positivity is infectious.

And your almighty mentor that you hope to dethrone?

Victoria Curro – I’m coming for you. But first, I must master her ability to completely encapsulate a room with eloquence, intelligence and elegance. Practice makes perfect.

Career-wise, where do you see yourself in 2020 and how do you plan on getting there?

That’s not too far away. In 2020, I hope to be setting the foundations for LIDA Asia Pacific whilst continuing to firm our impact in the Australian market. Achieving this requires an injection of momentum in to both myself as a Strategist, and the LIDA business.

What is the elephant in the room? The thing that no one is talking about – but they should be.

As a society, our attitudes toward gender are broadening as headway is made in gender equality and diversity. But as an industry we’re falling behind. This is despite gender permeating everything that we do, from how we hire to how we remunerate, from how we understand customers to how we communicate to them. We’ve made headway, but there are many levels to this conversation and more change that we, as an industry, can influence. Change doesn’t happen over night so I’d like to open this conversation and keep it open.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

I never fail to be motivated by my super-talented best friends – an artist, a musician and a designer. Their creative pursuits are an endless source of inspiration.

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

It’s almost impossible to keep a secret in such a tight-knit team working together day in day out. If I tell you, I’d have to kill you.

Favourite advert is:

Honda The Cog. Genius creative.

What’s your personal motto?

You’ll never regret going to yoga.

I got into advertising because:

You can’t truly predict the future, but with technology and data we’re getting pretty close. I’m in this industry because I want to be as close to the future as humanly possible and therefore have a hand a creating it.

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

In theatre production for the creative challenge. Or stockbroking for the fierce competition

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