Creative Leaders: an Interview with HSBC’s Andrea Newman

Posted March 19, 2015 at 4:49 pm in Digital, Features, Finance, Interviews, Marketing

Andrea Newman, the HSBC Global Head of Advertising & Marketing Communications, Andrea Newman HSBC, HSBC LondonAndrea Newman, the HSBC Global Head of Advertising & Marketing Communications

IN THE competitive world of financial services, it can be hard for firms to create a defined brand and marketing strategy that make a real impact on consumers. For one, one either forgets to think about banks or becomes used to reading bad news about them. These factors make the job of in-house financial services marketing and advertising teams more challenging and indubitably more interesting.

We recently had the chance to sit down with marketing ace Andrea Newman, the HSBC Global Head of Advertising & Marketing Communications, to learn more about the vicissitudes of financial services marketing and to find out more about the firm’s engaging and often highly original ad campaigns.

How did you get your start in marketing and advertising?
Purely by luck. I started temping in the advertising team at what was then HSBC James Capel and have never left. I was in the right place at the right time

What inspires you the most about your job?
The trust in the marketing department to steer our brand and invest in creativity – both with regards output and talented agency partners. Nurturing talent in my team and in turn watching my team be inspired and excited to come to work every day.

What defines the HSBC brand? How has it changed over time?
One thing that seems consistent throughout the bank’s 150-year history is the focus on the customer. The business model is built on long term relationships – some that span many generations – and our staff listen to their customers’ needs and take a long-term view for sustainable growth. The brand and our communications try to bring this to life by a real sense of humanity, emotion and understanding. As marketing techniques have evolved, so had our ability to better engage our customers.

What are the challenges/benefits of marketing an international bank these days?
They vary around the world. What is absolutely clear, however, is that the people in this organization are committed to helping our customers achieve their hopes and dreams. What role does an international bank have in the future? That is a huge, important question and that is an exciting journey to be bringing to life in marketing. It is our job to inspire our people and our customers alike.

How do you strategise brand marketing strategies by region (ie Europe v Asia, etc)? Do consumers demand different things or view banks differently across the globe?
Historically we haven’t – we have had a one size fits all approach but we are reviewing this at the moment as obviously our brand perception differs per market.  We would have the same brand strategy and positioning but are opening up to different channel and investment strategies per market.

HSBC is a regular feature at Heathrow when one exits airplanes. How did you pick airports as a major focus of your advertising strategy? Why target people in transit?
We’re not particularly targeting transit passengers, we are targeting consumers with an international mindset whether it be in their personal or corporate lives.

HSBC have run some very innovative and engaging campaigns recently such as #bringyourgame, Golf and Christmas day ones, how much input have you had into them? What was the aim behind them? How effective were they in your opinion?
My team leads the development of Advance, Premier, Sponsorship and our Brand marketing around the world – which is a large remit but we are actually a very small team – which helps keep us lean and nimble in our approach and decision making. Those campaigns are just some examples of global campaigns that touch down locally.

#Bringyourgame (#BYG) is a fun and engaging idea around our sponsorship of the Hong Kong Sevens and the Sevens World Series. It was designed to amplify, engage and make the most of our investment and association.

The Anyone’s Game work around golf is similarly focused but supportive of our topical and successful agenda to help grow the game across markets, ages and of course both genders! Our portfolio is proof of that point of view. The Christmas Advance work you mention is called Pink Ladies and in support of our Advance proposition which was developed around the insight that people’s support networks, which includes their bank, can help them achieve their ambitions. The campaign works on the belief that banks are there to support “the other things in people’s lives”, such as having children, starting a business or taking out a mortgage.

Have they been effective?
Social media engagement was very positive around #BYG, women have been just allowed to join the R&A and the business is performing very well indeed on Advance. So not a bad start – and do not underestimate the power of marketing to rally the troops internally and provide a strong narrative to staff behaviour and customer experience.

What are your priorities when it comes to digital engagement?
That it is brand appropriate and factors in how our consumers want to engage with their bank. We have seen people creating their own content, conversing around the campaign. Where we’ll judge that is in advocacy of the brand and recommendation. That is very important to us.

How important is social media to your marketing strategy?
As above, it is only important if it is relevant and useful to our consumers and in line with our brand tone and voice.  We have just launched our first social platform – Thank You to bring our Advance positioning to life. The platform enables you to make videos to thank people in your life who have helped you achieve your goals.  The platform also features video stories of people from around the world talking about the individuals in their life who have supported and helped get them to where they are now.  This has rolled out in 10 or so different markets and has had engagement figures and has even started to win some industry awards.

by Jessica Quillin

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