#AOTYAwards 2021 spills: Edelman DxI talks trust in the workplace and with clients

#AOTYAwards 2021 spills: Edelman DxI talks trust in the workplace and with clients

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Edelman Data & Intelligence (DxI) uses data and intelligence to help businesses and organisations build trusting relationships with people; making communications more authentic, engagement more exciting and connections more meaningful. Among the list of brands the agency has worked with include Adobe, Asics, lululemon, and Microsoft. It recently won Silver for Analytics Agency of the Year and Market Research Agency of the Year, and Bronze for Agency Team of the Year at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Agency of the Year Awards 2021.

Thibault Moreau (pictured), executive VP - head of Southeast Asia at Edelman DxI, told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that its wins are testament that trust can drive growth in a business. He also shared how building trust with clients was a challenge during the start of the year as Singaporeans believed business leaders are purposely trying to mislead them by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners' and finalists’ interview series for AOTY Awards 2021. To find out more about the awards, click here.

Tell us what these achievements mean for you?

Moreau: Winning awards for Market Research, Analytics, and Team Agency of the Year is a testament to our team attitude. I am proud to have won these awards. But what I am most proud of is how my team has continuously applied themselves to push boundaries, learn from their mistakes, and operate within a cycle of improvement.

As an agency, we place trust at the core of our relationships with our clients and colleagues. These awards demonstrate that trust truly does drive growth. That is growth in the work our clients are doing, growth in our team’s ability to deliver client-centric solutions, and growth in each team member. 

As an agency, we have been investing in multidisciplinary teams capable of bridging the insights from all sorts of methodologies. Over the past year, we continued to invest in our predictive analytics, behavioural science, and performance marketing capabilities. Being recognised as a multidisciplinary research, analytics, and data consultancy in the region shows that our strategy is working. We are now positioned better than ever as an ideal partner for clients who prioritise quality, agility, and scalability.

What makes you proudest about being part of your agency?

Moreau: Definitely the people and the culture. Over the past year, most of the team have transitioned to working remotely full time. It’s not surprising that this came with its challenges, but it didn’t change the team’s relentless pursuit for excellence. I have continuously been overwhelmed by the team bringing their best to work, finding new ways to collaborate with teammates and continuing to build strong relationships with clients. We encourage all of our staff to be constantly curious. And with the solutions and approaches we’ve developed, it’s obvious our team is working hard to be a trusted and resilient partner for clients, communities, and colleagues.

Part of our strong culture is due to our diverse team. We value and celebrate our diversity in culture, background, experience, and thought – in fact, it is needed to develop inclusive campaigns. In our Singapore team of 15, we have more than 10 different nationalities and different academic backgrounds.

We also support our team in their efforts to diversify their skills and experiences. Beyond the wide range of training, we also offer exciting career paths that bridge between crafts and geographies. I have had the opportunity to participate in the development of three regions, working with our teams in Paris, New York, and now Singapore. I would not have dreamt of such an incredible experience when I walked into our office 10 years ago, and I am excited to help others in the team achieve their goals.

What are some of the initiatives you have in place to ensure your staff feel proud to be associated with your agency?

Moreau: The agency is our people and we invest in our people to help them achieve their goals, both individually and as a team. People are proud of being a part of Edelman Data & Intelligence because we focus on doing great work, pushing boundaries, and working collaboratively.

We also celebrate great work, whether that be work that earns industry recognition through awards or positive client feedback, or work that drives tangible and meaningful results for clients. Sharing the work of others helps foster a sense of pride and community among team members who don’t always have the opportunity to work together.

We have a system where people can collaborate across geographies and seniorities for work and non-work initiatives. We regularly invite people to share their projects or things they’ve learned on APAC calls, inspiring others and building better connections across the region.

Our commitment to positively impact society also contributes to pride within the team. We have worked with several NGOs on projects that our team is passionate about. A great example of this is our partnership with Stop the Traffik, where we used data to identify trafficking hotspots. Our research helped the team focus their campaign on the locations where awareness of human trafficking needed to be raised the most. Working together on projects like this – that make a difference in society – drives pride while providing our team with new opportunities to learn different skills or work with different colleagues.

How are you attracting talent to your agency?

Moreau: All agencies are competing to attract talent with career opportunities and benefits, but one thing I believe puts us ahead of others is Trust. We are known for The Edelman Trust Barometer, which we have conducted for more than 20 years. Trust has never been more important than today, and people are eager to participate in purposeful work like this.

As we look to grow the team, our priority is not only finding the right skillsets, but also the right fit for both parties. Trusted relationships require authenticity, honesty, openness, and kindness. We understand people want to join a team. They want to work with people rather than for a corporation. To help with this part of the process we have potential employees meet with several team members across various levels and expertise. In a pandemic world, this might mean virtual meetups, but when possible, we invite the potential hire into the office or have the team members take them out for coffee for an informal chat. 

We also have a strong referral program, where existing staff members are encouraged to recommend people they think might be a good fit. Again, this comes back to the sense of pride; if people love the work they do and the team they are a part of, that positivity will resonate with their friends and potential candidates.

What are your hopes for the Singapore advertising scene in 2021?

Moreau: It’s no secret that with the pandemic, we have faced unforeseen challenges as an industry. One of these is a lack of trust. Last year, The Edelman Trust Barometer found that 53% of Singaporeans believe business leaders are purposely trying to mislead them by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations. Combating disinformation and building trust are areas that I hope not only the advertising space focuses on, but the entire communication and marketing industries.

Helping fight disinformation, negative narratives, and conspiracy theories are of the utmost importance. As revealed in our last Trust Barometer, we must make increased efforts at an individual level. In fact, only 18% of Singaporeans have good information hygiene, which we define as behaviours matching at least 3 of the 4 following conditions: staying regularly informed, seeking differing points of view, verifying information, and avoiding spreading misinformation.

Beyond individual efforts, the entire advertising and communication industry must play its part to fight disinformation. At DxI we have created a product called Disinformation Shield, a holistic offering that combines advanced data-driven tools, technology, behavioural science theories, and a disciplined approach to crisis and corporate reputation management to uncover and combat disinformation before it erodes trust. 

In essence, my hope for the Singapore communication and marketing scene is to continue being a unifying force, capable of building trusted and mutually beneficial relationships between institutions and people.

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