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What's keeping me up: Cathay Pacific's Edward Bell

What's keeping me up: Cathay Pacific's Edward Bell

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Creativity often makes a huge part of great marketing in the highly competitive business landscape. Some of us might agree with the fact that the more creative a campaign gets, the less the marketers need to spend to promote it.  

Similarly, Edward Bell (pictured), general manager of brand, insights and marketing communications of Cathay Pacific, said producing boring marketing is his biggest worry and he often starts his marketing plan with the question: “How does this marketing reward the time of the person looking at it?” 

He believes that any job requires a person to be interesting and have a point of view on any aspects or areas one is focusing on, that’s where the inspiration comes in and drives growth and success. 

In this episode, Bell shares with us his biggest worry during his time as a marketing leader and what keeps him going.  

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is the biggest thing you worry about?  

Producing boring marketing. There’s an old saying that ‘boring is expensive’ (because you need more media to push, or you waste your budget) so I always think that an unwritten job requirement is to always be interesting and have a point of view. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How do you deal with this worry?  

I like to ask myself ‘How does this marketing reward the time of the person looking at it’. If the answer is not clear, and it is not clearly worth somebody’s time, then perhaps we have more work to do. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: As a leader, how do you deal with it when your staff tells you the work is creating mental pressure and wellbeing issues?  

I like the quote from the ground-breaking American female tennis player Billie Jean King who once said that ‘pressure is a privilege’. To me this means that rather than complain about pressure, we should realise that all serious jobs come with expectations and that this is part of doing something that people care about.

If you are lucky enough to have a job where people care about the outcome you create, you should appreciate it and make the most of the opportunity. 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What keeps you going?  

There’s a lot of controversy around ‘purpose branding’ and I do agree that when a company’s purpose is just turned into communications, sometimes it isn’t that interesting and can feel ‘forced’. However, I have always found that a lot of my personal motivation comes from understanding and committing to the ‘higher purpose’ of the company I work with.

When I worked on the agency side, I was helping to use creativity to help clients find greater success for their products. Now, with the Cathay group, I really feel that travel makes the world a nicer place because it broadens our horizons.

We internally say that our purpose is to ‘move people forward in life’ and I think when we’re at our best we do enrich people’s lives.  

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How do you boost employee morale when facing obstacles/challenges? 

I try to make the experience of working together fun and enjoyable. I always find that there’s something to laugh about. The pressure to perform is always there, but saying that doesn’t make anyone try any harder or the ideas any better. I find that when people are enjoying the process of working together, our brains can relax and just focus on the challenge without worrying about what happens if we fail.    

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Anything else you would like to add? 

An ex-colleague of mine, Rory Sutherland recently wrote (or video recorded more precisely) that the discussions about AI in marketing are missing a very important point.

That is if we only think about marketing in terms of output, then the temptation is always to find cheaper and faster ways to get there.

But there is another benefit of articulating why somebody should consider you, remember you or buy your products – that is that in the process of doing this, you very often learn something new about the company or brand. Because marketing requires us to be focused to be effective, the process of prioritisation is very telling and usually doesn’t really happen until that last execution stage. We very often discount execution as the least important part, but I have found that this is where many truths and insights reveal themselves. 

Join us this coming 26 June for Content360 Hong Kong, a one-day-two-streams extravaganza under the theme of "Content that captivates". Get together with our fellow marketers to learn about AI in content creation, integration of content with commerce and cross-border targeting, and find the recipe for success within the content marketing world! 

Related articles:

What's keeping me up: McDonald's HK's Tina Chao
What's keeping me up: HSBC HK's Cheuk Shum
What's keeping me up: AXA HK and Macau's Angela Wong

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