We’re at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity where we speak with Digge Zetterberg Odh, head of talent for The North Alliance. She explains how diversity in the creative industry will make advertising more effective.
We’re at the Cannes Lions Festival and we met up with Scott Goodson. We talked about the Gold Cannes Lion award for “Out The Monster” which is focusing on fighting the accidental addiction to opioids – an epidemic that is plaguing America.
Strawberryfrog is the first advertising agency dedicated to Movement Marketing.
For more than 30 years, seasoned executive Heidi Steiger has imbued honesty and integrity in the investment management and finance industry – along with a fresh, creative approach. Originally studying journalism – graduating summa cum laude from Boston College in 1975 – Heidi always dreamt of being a news anchor. However, after stumbling into the financial world, more or less by accident, she has found her niche in life – while her earlier training has held her in good stead for her public speaking and TV appearances. Before being the Eastern Region President of the Private Client Reserve of US Bank – the nation’s fifth largest bank – Heidi spent 18 years as Executive Vice President at Neuberger Berman in New York. During her tenure, she grew its wealth management business to 70% of the firm’s revenues, leading to the initial public offering of the company in 1999 and its subsequent sale to Lehman in 2003. I meet this super-achiever, soi-disant ‘risk-taker’, and creative visionary in the heart of New York’s financial district; her ‘home away from home’ which she shares with the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and, of course, Wall Street.
The business and arts worlds should work more closely together. I believe that the world of arts can bring progress to the world of business – by thinking, looking and acting outside-of-the box – Heidi Steiger
While in São Paulo, we were invited to the launch of the Brazilian chapter of the founders Carbon Network (fCN). It was there that we learnt that the fCN was established in the Netherlands in 2011 by a Dutch entrepreneur – Merlin Melles. Since then the fCN has slowly spread around the world, connecting entrepreneurs and ‘captains of industry’ – with the sole purpose of sharing contacts, knowledge and opportunities. Roberto, the founder of the Brazilian chapter, told us: ‘Merlin is a passionate businesswoman with an eye for opportunities and connections to realise those opportunities.’ We were intrigued. So a few weeks later we found ourselves in an impressive 19th-century building near the Vondelpark, navigating the steep staircase that leads up to Merlin’s stylish office. Inside, we met the networking wizard, seated in front of a wall filled with framed photos – everyone she has met over the past few years. And the interview began…
I connect for the sake of connecting. I give for the sake of giving. I share for the sake of sharing – Merlin Melles
What is the Founder Carbon Network?
The fCN is a unique high-end community of diverse business members with a passion for entrepreneurship combined with good moral values. All are at the top of their game and every sector is represented. Integral is its inherent mutual goodwill factor.
How many members?
We have 500 members – and no more than 500 members at any one time – because I want to be able to connect to everyone on a personal level. It’s also what makes it beautifully intimate and exclusive. It’s like one big business family.
Inside, we are welcomed by Karthik, the senior general manager of corporate brand management, who takes us to a conference room. We are soon joined by Anand, who enters with a purposeful stride and a big smile.
“We’re impressed by what we’ve read so far about the Mahindra brand,” I say as he warmly shakes our hands. “And curious to learn more!”
“Well, we are of course all very proud of our company and it is one of our daily challenges to keep it that way,” says Anand. His air is calm and relaxed, even though his words speak of great ambition.
“That’s exactly why we wanted to meet you,” I say. “To find out the secret of the success behind the Mahindra brand.”
“We are many companies,” Anand replies proudly. “We are more than 180,000 people in over 100 countries. Mahindra’s success lies in the way we do business. Of course there is professionalism and quality, but most of all we do business with a larger purpose. Actually, we always have,” he says with a smile. His tone is confident and modest at once.
“We read about that,” I say. “I am particularly interested in understanding how an Indian company, founded in the 1940s, was able to grow so big, even internationally, and still manage to hold on to its core purpose. Can you tell us about that?”
“Well,” says Anand. “When I took over as captain of the Mahindra ship, in the early 1990s, ‘good corporate citizenship’ was already part of our DNA. But I felt we had to reformulate it, to revive it and incorporate it into our daily operations.
“What I found was actually the same as our founders believed in: ‘India is second to none and we will prove them right’. This slogan dates back to the company’s founding in 1945 when India had little internationally known industry and there was a general feeling that we should prove that we could compete and hold our own.
“So what we did, was to take the purpose we had always had but which had been used more as a footnote, and turn it into a header.
“We worked hard and by the mid-2000s we had established a strong presence in India and started expanding our business internationally.
“And what happened to your purpose, which was very much focused on India?” I ask.
“Good question,” says Anand. “This growth and change of scope led us to question our purpose. We had created an international company, with people working with us all over the world. An India-focused purpose doesn’t appeal to Americans or Europeans, so we had to change. We decided to do an exercise to find our current purpose.”
“How did that work?” I ask.
“We started the exercise in 2008, a decisive year globally,” says Anand. “We involved different groups of stakeholders from all over the world to first find out what they find important. We found amazing similarities in different parts of the world. People realized that the world had changed, there was a trust deficit towards big companies, people wanted brands they could trust, brands that are good for consumers, brands that go beyond profit.”
“So you noticed that people wanted companies to be more stakeholder-value driven than shareholder-value driven?” I ask.
“That’s right: people are done with corporate greed and companies that just look at the next quarter’s financial results,” says Anand. “When we went back to the drawing board with the knowledge we had gathered, we found surprising similarities between what people want and what we, at Mahindra, are.”
“And this is how ‘Rise’ came about,” I say.
“Correct,” says Anand. “We want to drive positive change in the lives of our stakeholders and communities across the world, to empower and enable them to ‘Rise’.”
The fashion world fell in love with the natural Brazilian beauty Fernanda Tavares when her modelling career went international at the end of the 1990s. Ever since Mario Testino shot her for the French edition of Vogue, Fernanda’s face has graced the cover of all the usual suspects: Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar…
Throughout the Nineties, she fronted campaigns for Dolce&Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Versace. And for six years, held the coveted position of spokesperson for L’Oréal.
She’s walked the catwalk with some of the world’s greatest designers and been snapped by some of the world’s greatest photographers. But in 2007, at the height of a hugely successful modelling career, she stepped out to get married and have children. Now she’s back with a mission.
I catch up with Fernanda in the fancy library of the Nomad Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Warm, friendly, curious and smart, she knows what she wants and – more beautiful than ever – it seems somehow she never really went away.
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It’s important to step outside of existing ‘recipes’ that we can all become trapped in – Nando Marmo
Brazil-born Nando Marmo lives and works by the credo: ‘The past is perfect, the future is uncertain, the moment is now – you’ve got to grab it!’ The well-travelled interior designer boasts a diverse portfolio featuring everything from the homes of the rich and famous to chic restaurants and local eateries. Eschewing a signature style, Nando creates highly unique and individual designs which, instead, reflect the personality and aspirations of his clients.
Though each is not without Nando’s inimitable stamp. One recent high-profile project was Loi, the new restaurant and venture of Italian chef Salvatore Loi of Fasano fame (one of São Paulo’s most famous and awarded hotspots).
A life of interior design was never in Nando’s plans, however. Like his father, he studied to be a lawyer. And it was only after graduating that the then 21-year-old headed to New York for what would turn out to be a life-changing experience. One that also entirely changed the course of his career. I catch up with the idiosyncratic interior designer at his atelier in São Paulo…
From working-class Jersey kid to founder and chairman of the Luxury Marketing Council, Greg Furman is the ultimate non-corporate ‘people’s person’.
‘My purpose is to unite the worlds of business, academia, not-for-profit and the arts’
Charming and knowledgeable, Greg is genuinely interested in other people, his enthusiasm is infectious and – rare in business – he has the memory of an elephant when it comes to remembering people’s names. Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, would call him a ‘Connector’, while others would simply call him a mensch. A good guy. One with integrity and honour.
Greg cut his ‘business chops’ as head of public affairs and issues management for Sun Oil’s Canadian subsidiary, Suncor. This was followed by a four-year association with Bergdorf Goodman where he was responsible for, amongst other things, the store’s $30 million catologue business. But in November 1994, Greg decided to step out of the corporate world and spotted a gap in the market – a network for the luxury market – which was ‘hidden in plain sight’. With that, he founded The Luxury Marketing Council, a business-building revenue-generating global community of CEOs and CMOs. Today, the ‘by invitation only’ organisation is regarded as the leader in the field of luxury marketing. We meet Greg in the Flatiron district in Manhattan, New York and witness his warmth for ourselves.
I’m in Lagos, on my way to meet Clara Chinwe Okoro, the founder and chief operating officer of Brandworld Media, a media and branding company that has set out to show Africa the potentials of branding. Since 2008, she has received numerous awards and nominations for her work on branding and media engagement, including Big Ad’s Award 2008 and the Recognition Award, champion of the people’s cause SERA 2009.
I’ve known Clara for several years now – we’ve met several times in Lagos and at the Cannes Lions Festival – and have come to know her as a driven entrepreneur who is not afraid of making tough choices in order to pursue her passion. Upon graduation, she even turned down an opportunity to work with the American oil company Chevron in order to follow her dream to drive innovation in the field of African branding and media.
Clara has asked me to meet her at Casa Del Habano a trendy café on Victoria Island, where we find a quiet corner. After we order two café lattes, I ask her to tell me about her vision for Africa’s future and her aim to inspire African youths through branding.
“I believe that brands are the new wealth creator in any modern economy,” she tells me. “Brands are more powerful than governments these days and this means they have very huge potentials! This is also why I created Brandworld Media in 2003 to ‘preach the gospel of branding’ to Africa.”
“So you want to harness the power of brands to bring prosperity to Africa?” I ask.
“Right! We need to build brands for the future and to do this we need to involve the next generation,” says Clara. “I want to show Africa’s youth that they have incredible potentials; I want to show them that they could be the next African Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates. Once they can see what they are capable of and what the future could hold for them, it will start a quiet revolution. The combination of brands and youth could change the face of the continent for good.”
“It sounds exciting,” I say. “What media are you using to engage these youths?”
“I am working through various channels,” says Clara. “First of all I launched the first-ever brand-focused TV show in Nigeria, Brandworld TV 2003. The show has become a platform for brands to tell their stories beyond the standard sixty-seconds commercial and has been hugely successful.
“Secondly, I created ICE, a branding and marketing magazine that focuses on the connection between Nigerian youth and the brands they consume. ICE also hosts the first ever youth and brands connect famous ICEBERG event, a party where young people and the brands that target them get to party once a year.
“A real multimedia approach,” I say. “You really combine all aspects of media, how do you manage to juggle all these activities?”
Clara thinks for a moment and says: “Tenacity. I have always been extremely determined to make my vision reality and I have remained focused on that. But you also need persistence and patience to see the fruits of your work.”
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Today I am spending the morning at Tashkeel, a “hub for the creative” where artists and designers can come to work, exhibit and exchange views. Founded in 2008 by Sheikha Lateefa Bint Maktoum, the centre encourages cross-cultural dialogue and supports emerging artists who otherwise might not have a chance to develop their artistic vision.
I met Sheikha Lateefa a few weeks ago at Art Dubai and when she told me about Tashkeel, she also immediately invited me to come and visit. “That way you’ll really understand what we’re trying to achieve, and also what we already have achieved!” she said.
Sheikha Lateefa, a member of the Emirati royal family, is herself a visual artist and while her focus lies on the fine arts, she is increasingly moving towards photography and exploring photomontage and the digital manipulation of images.
“Art is an integral part of my life,” she tells me as we sit down in one of the meeting lounges. “It’s like breathing to me – I can’t live without it. That’s also why I chose art instead of design. I want to be free to develop my work as I choose and not be limited by a client’s requirements.”
“But at the same time you have a very pronounced vision of art and the role it can play in the community and between cultures,” I say.
“Yes, that’s right. I envisioned Tashkeel as a breeding ground for artists, but also as a place where artists could connect to each other. We bring together established and up-and-coming artists and we also encourage exchange between different disciplines: photographers and sculptors, painters and video artists. This often leads to fascinating results.”
“It’s an interesting period now for Emirati art. Do you also see this in the work being produced at Tashkeel?”
“Definitely,” says Sheikha Lateefa. “There is a strong oral tradition here, but this is changing. There is a massive shift across the whole Emirati art scene and change is really the common thread for all contemporary artists here in UAE. It’s an exciting time.”
“There’s also a strong intercultural dimension to Tashkeel’s mission. Can you tell me more about that?”
“We very much encourage dialogue between local artists and visiting artists from the West. Since last year we also have an artist-in-residence program, which allows a foreign artist to come and live and work in the Tashkeel studio spaces for a period of one year. So far this has been a great success.”
“It strikes me that a lot of what Tashkeel does is about breaking down barriers and empowerment.”
Sheikha Lateefa thinks for a moment and then says: “I guess that’s right. I have always wanted to give artists a voice and a space in which they can freely create. I love seeing people achieve and even surpass their goals – to become better at what they already excel at.
“That sounds selfless and as though I’m doing it all for others,” she adds, “but in fact it is a huge source of inspiration to me: watching other people getting inspired, inspires me.
“I strongly believe that you need to support each other to move forward and evolve, within the community, but also across cultures. That is how you really build strong cultural currents.”