Emma Hazan

Global Head of Consumer, Hotwire

Izzy Ashton

Assistant Editor of BITE


Emma Hazan - Hotwire

Career to date:

2017, Global Head of Consumer, Hotwire
2016, Managing Director, Consumer, Hotwire
2012, Deputy Managing Director, UK, Hotwire
2007, Managing Director, Skywrite Communications
2005, Senior Programme Director, Hotwire
2004, Account Manager, Shine Communications
2001, Account Manager, Fox Parrach Hirsch
2000, Graduate, LEWIS PR

Creativebrief: As Global Head of Consumer at Hotwire, what’s your primary focus day to day and on a greater scale?

Emma Hazan: My role is to grow the consumer portfolio globally across all our markets, the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, US and Australia. I help grow our consumer clients into different markets and win new business across each of them. If there’s a big pitch, I get involved in it and I help lead the strategic and creative direction.

I want to grow our reputation as consumer experts by talking about the clients we have, the campaigns we do and a lot of Thought Leadership about where the industry’s going and looking at different trends. Plus, I make sure we’ve got the right consumer focused experts everywhere.

As I have a global role, I do travel a bit, usually for new business or to give creativity training. It’s quite fun but I don’t travel excessively because I’ve got two kids at home so it’s always working the balance.

Creativebrief: How did you end up in this role? Could you just outline your career to date?

Emma Hazan: I’ve been at Hotwire for 13 years. I’m literally a Hotwire lifer. I started out at an agency called Lewis where I did my grad training in 2000. Just as the dot com bubble burst, I started working for a tech PR agency. I learnt loads very quickly about the industry but also about business. Then I went to a small integrated agency called FPH. Even from the beginning, I always had a good grounding in bringing PR and advertising together, creating integrated campaigns.

I moved to Shine where I learnt amazing consumer experience and worked on brands like Heinz Salad Cream and Paramount Home Entertainment. Then I got headhunted by Hotwire to look after the BlackBerry account in the consumer team. Blackberry at the time was the coolest brand to work on. We put BlackBerry on the map and took it out of the boardroom and into the hands of consumers.

Hotwire then launched Skywrite, which was set up as its consumer arm and I ran that for about four years. It’s where we launched the first iPhone to hit the UK with O2 and rebranded the Millennium Dome as The O2, some truly awesome work. After a few years I went on maternity leave with my first daughter, came back, and when we looked at the business we saw all the reasons we launched Skywrite had kind of gone. With the explosion of digital media, Hotwire was no longer just a tech PR agency anymore. Quite naturally, Hotwire was becoming more consumer lifestyle as well as tech. We decided rather than having two separate agencies that almost competed, we’d bring it together.

I became the Deputy MD of a much bigger company overnight and ran the overall consumer team for a couple of years. I had my second maternity leave and decided I wanted a bigger piece of the action. I didn’t want to be Deputy MD anymore because it was becoming quite operational and I love New Business, working with clients, coming up with campaigns. We put our heads together, me and the COO, and said I would start doing a European Head of Consumer role, to earn my stripes. In July last year, I got promoted to Global Head of Consumer so now I’m overseeing the whole thing.

“There has to be a business case for what we're doing. It can still be whacky, but it has to create some emotional connection between the brand, the product and the consumer." 

Creativebrief: How did you find it coming back after having two kids? Did you find a difference from the first to the second?

Emma Hazan: After my first maternity leave, because I ran Skywrite, it was actually easier because you step straight back into the role that you had before. There’s no feelings of lacking confidence or insecurity. Whereas the second time I came back, I didn’t have an exact place to naturally fit back into. I saw that for the first time in years, I wasn’t having to cover somebody else’s job or step up to do a couple of roles. I remember the CEO at the time saying to me, this is your opportunity. Anything that you don’t love, don’t do anymore. I had the freedom to create my own role. I was lucky that Hotwire let me do that but also, I was in the right mindset that I felt challenged and excited.

I always say to people when they come back from maternity leave, things will change, nothing stays the same. But be open to lots of opportunities and excited by it. Don’t be insecure that people don’t want you. When I went on maternity leave the second time, I was worried about balancing work and looking after two kids. I convinced myself that I just wanted an easy life and didn’t think I could keep going up in my career with two kids. Then after a year, I realised that I did want to get promoted, I and I didn’t want an easy life. No one is looking after consumer globally and that’s what I want. Luckily Hotwire is the sort of agency that supports you when you change your mind and helps make stuff happen!

Creativebrief: What drew you to Hotwire and what do you think is unique about it?

Emma Hazan: We have always worked with brands who have innovation at their heart. It doesn’t mean you have to be in tech for example Travelex is a foreign exchange company that wanted to be seen as a digital travel brand. They launched a product called Supercard, a credit card you take abroad, and it makes the banks think you’re still in the UK, so you avoid roaming charges.

We’ve just won Hostelworld in the UK, Australia and the US. Hostelworld came in and totally disrupted the market with their accreditation system. They’re innovating in their sector but they’re not really a tech brand.

There has to be a business case for what we’re doing. It can still be whacky, but it has to create some emotional connection between the brand, the product and the consumer. I’d say that sets us apart. We’re not crazy, we’re not geeky and corporate either but we’re somewhere in between. We’re like well-oiled machines, we will get the job done and we’re transparent. For my whole career, PR has always had that reputation of smoke and mirrors and I’d say that people don’t have that when they work with us.

Creativebrief: What do you think’s been your best work in the last year?

Emma Hazan: I love the work we just did for Bic Shave Club. We are about to execute one of our pitch ideas for Valentine’s Day. I’m excited about them as a client. [For launch] we wanted to talk about the future of grooming and poke a bit of fun about the male routine. We created a hilarious piece of video content with this guy called the Chic Geek. We called him a ‘beardologist’ and came up with these crazy, new beards that people might have. The media loved it because they were like thank god, we don’t want another press release and some product.

Creativebrief: Industry wide, what work have you seen that you’ve really loved?

Emma Hazan: It’s not really PR, it’s more advertising but there’s such a blend now. Burger King Google Home of the Whopper is brilliant because it’s so simple. The execution was so simple, it was completely outrageous. Google must have absolutely hit the roof. A lot of people felt it was an invasion of privacy, and it was. It was a total abuse of technology in the most perfect marketing way.

“Everyone out there is capable of coming up with amazing ideas. There's so much work coming out of everywhere and I love that, because creativity should be nothing to do with whether English is your first language."

Creativebrief: What about work or agency outside the UK that you’ve seen?

Emma Hazan: The Man Boobs for Boobs campaign. It’s so brilliant because it’s funny, it’s outrageous. You start off by seeing a woman unbuttoning her shirt and it gets your attention straight away. Then it’s censored. It’s laughing at the stigmas we associate with women’s breasts not being allowed on television but it’s OK to see a man boob. Then actually using that to educate. It’s a powerful message.

I love that it came out of DAVID from Argentina because we have this attitude that great work comes from the UK or the US. Everyone out there is capable of coming up with amazing ideas. There’s so much work coming out of everywhere and I love that, because creativity should be nothing to do with whether English is your first language.

Creativebrief: How do you see the industry evolving over the next few years?

Emma Hazan: I’m obsessed with Netflix and Amazon Prime. One of the stats is that 1 in 3 households watch stuff by streaming and 1 in 2, 16 to 25-year olds are watching content through streaming.

We’re going to have to be more inventive about how we reach people. The big blockbuster TV ads might have to change. They make the adverts, they tend to break on YouTube, you tend to be watching it on social channels because it’s getting shared. That’s really where they’re getting that big oomph of people, online, not TV.

Advertising agencies will still want to push a big piece of content, but it will become less about the prime-time slot.

Travelex - Supercard
Travelex's Supercard

Creativebrief: What are your ambitions for Hotwire?

Emma Hazan: I want us to win bigger brands and win them globally. I would look to double the consumer team globally which is quite a big thing because we are a big company anyway. Also, being part of setting their [a brand’s] overall comms strategy, working closer with marketing because the kind of content that we’re doing now is of such a high quality.

We’ve have a Hotwire Digital Labs team and Hotwire Reels, which is our video team, so we can create. Why couldn’t we start doing that on a bigger scale? We’ve won lots of different awards, so we want to keep winning more campaign awards. And to have the best consumer talent knocking down our door to work with us because of the two things we’re already doing, delivering awesome work and treating our staff like family.

Creativebrief: Something that we talk a lot about at Creativebrief is the changing nature of the traditional pitch. What are your views on that?

Emma Hazan: I don’t think it’s changing enough. A common mistake that agencies make is that we pitch too much. We need to get better at qualifying what the opportunity really is. So much work goes into these pitches and we’ve got to be sure we’re really in with a chance. There are too many times where agencies go into a pitch that’s already been won before they’ve even gone through the door, because it’s a relationship the brand already has cultivated with someone else over time, not just one pitch meeting.

Creativebrief: Personally, outside of the industry, who or what are you inspired by?

Emma Hazan: I’m really inspired by my children who are 7 and 4 and all of their friends. They’ll think of things in a totally lateral way. It’s that part of your imagination that in some ways gets a bit stifled as you get older. That imagination comes from free thinking and not being given the constraints that you have, even when you’re working.

Topic of the moment

The theme for our event at the end of last year was From Insight to Action. Can you talk about a particular piece of insight that then you put into action?

Travelex asked us to help change the perception of the brand, moving it away from a financial services provider towards an innovative travel company. We researched Travelex’s existing and target audience and identified two key trends. One, that people love content as a source of travel inspiration and two, we’re increasingly conscious of how much we spend on holiday but still want a taste of luxury.

We created Luxury for Less, a travel inspiration search engine that acts as a single source of information, pulling together the cost of flights, hotels, exchange rates and the average spend of holiday goers. To ensure the visitor always got real time information, we partnered with Skyscanner.

To expand the Luxury for Less concept, we developed a mini-web series of five videos, exploring a different type of ‘savvy’ traveller. We achieved over 45,000 unique visits to LfL within six weeks of launch, against a target of 30,000. This campaign won a PRCA Award for Campaign Challenges too!

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