Take risks, go with your gut, and support each other.
This was the foundation of Promax’s Game Changers event on Tuesday, Feb. 26, which brought a panelist discussion with three influential women in entertainment marketing to Promax’s Los Angeles office.
The trio, comprising Disney/ABC’s Vicky Free, Hasbro’s Jenny Whitlock, and FX’s Stephanie Gibbons, discussed their ideas, decisions and experiences that led them to succeed in their careers and guide successful campaigns. But in the end, attendees gained insight from the marketing experts who take pride in creating and leading innovators.
“I don’t see myself as a game changer—that’s a high bar—but I do see myself as a wavemaker,” said Vicky Free, senior vice president of marketing for Disney/ABC home entertainment and television distribution. “I am agitating the environment to make people think, look at the product, and approach the process differently.”
Revising the process requires risk-taking and encouraging others to do the same. If you feel too comfortable about an idea—if it doesn’t make you excited or nervous—then it might not be as creative as you think.
“Risk-taking allows you to land on something that you never saw coming, leading to brilliant ideas,” said Whitlock, vice president of global brand strategy and marketing, Hasbro.
And in order to reach those innovative ideas, it’s important to lead by example and make your team feel supported. There’s a balance involved, but it’s all about staying by their side as you inspire and support creativity.
“Creating things is like birth, it’s pretty horrible and requires a lot of stamina,” Gibbons said. “But it’s a very high and low experience where one minute you’re like ‘Oh my God, we have an idea, this is gonna be great.’ And the next minute, someone smashes it. So when working on teams that experience that, you have to have heart, soul and really be there for them.”
The discussion also touched on the topic of creating content in a data-driven world—one where many companies make decisions solely on what numbers are telling them. But for Gibbons, Free and Whitlock, it’s important to balance your heart and head, humanize data, and use it to help guide your decision, not make the decision for you.
“I always try to distinguish data from facts,” said Free.“But ... [y]ou can’t just follow the data without understanding the ‘why.’”
“It’s absolutely important to know it, but just as important to know when to disregard it or what to take from it,” Gibbons said. “It’s human curation, using your head. Like if you have a car, please drive it even if it’s self-driving.”
The three came together to encourage marketers, especially women early in their career, to be confident in what they do. You have to put yourself out there, command your space, and support other women by allowing them to have a voice, Free says.
But regardless of project, gender, or professional level, let your creative work speak for you and lead you to success.
“The work is always the most important thing, because great work is impossible to deny,” Gibbons said. “Know that everyone is as scared as you, and stepping up, whether you are a man or a woman, is hard work.”
“Believe what you can do, believe that you have that voice, and have that confidence,” Whitlock said.
Promax Game Changers was hosted in collaboration with CSM LeadDog, a leader in global sport and entertainment marketing. The event marked Promax’s second Game Changer event after hosting its first in New York last November.