The truth about being a game-changing creative leader in the midst of coronavirus
Creativity, Collaboration and Courage in Crisis are top of the agenda in the new Game Changers interview series.
The music industry has been at the sharp end of the coronavirus crisis, but collaboration and creativity remain top of the agenda.
The notion that we are ‘all in it together’ may well be one of the well-worn clichés of the coronavirus crisis. Yet for Lisa Lugo, Vice President of Marketing Solutions at Live Nation UK, this collaborative approach has been vital, not just for navigating the crisis, but in building her career in marketing. Overseeing the team responsible for developing programmes for brand partners across Live Nation’s festivals and venues, Lugo has worked on brand partnerships for businesses including Amazon Music, Carlsberg, Pepsi and Smirnoff. Last year she picked up the Change Maker Award (Brand) at the Global Women in Marketing Awards, a reflection of her impact, commitment and adaptability.
It’s an adaptability which has been vital in recent months. As she explains: “The global live music industry is navigating the impact of the pandemic together. We are taking it day by day, country by country and keeping our fans updated along the way.”
Yet this approach doesn’t equate to standing still and innovation has been at the forefront of Lugo’s agenda. As she says: “We’re finding ways to stay connected to fans, and it’s been really insightful to delve into our own global research to help us keep a finger on the pulse of how fans of live music are feeling and thinking right now.”
What is clear is that fans are experience-deprived and as Lugo explains, it's no surprise to see that fans are really craving real life connections and experiences. “It was great to see how eager everyone is to get back to live music when the time is right,” says Lugo. She adds that nearly 90% of fans say they are likely to return to live music events, and this remains consistent across all generations.
Brands that are able to facilitate a level of empathy in an honest, forthright way will garner positive consideration from the public and be rewarded with consumer loyalty.Lisa Lugo
While the past few months have not been without their challenges, they have also highlighted some significant opportunities and consumer insights. Significantly all those Zoom DJ sets have actually served to underline the power of live music; 72% of live music fans agreed that watching live streams has made them more excited to attend live music sets in the future. As Lugo explains: “Our research also shows that whilst this period has accelerated the adoption of livestreams, it is not a replacement for the energy and passion felt when experiencing live music.”
It’s an insight which underlines the fact that the shift towards virtual events does not automatically equate to a decline in the value of real-world connections. “Live music experiences transcend both real and virtual life. It’s a true platform for togetherness that people crave and as soon as it’s possible to put on festivals and shows again, it’s great to know the fans will want to be there,” Lugo adds.
This digital-first approach has also translated to a shift in Lugo’s own approach to work. She believes that the pause in live shows has provided the time and perspective to think about what is really important, both in her work and personal lives. She explains: “Since we started working from home, I’ve found leaning on personal values at work such as resilience and empathy has been helpful in terms of staying disciplined and focused, whilst also making sure my team is supported and connected.”
In the midst of this seismic shift at work, Lugo notes the most vital approach for leaders. As she says, “it’s really important to put people first and strike the right balance in terms of work and personal time. Leading our teams with empathy has been essential and I’d like that style of leadership and communication to stay with us in the future.”
She points to the unique experience of working within the live music industry as vital to navigating the current crisis. “Our day-to-day work is also our personal passion which means we’re often in a festival field or at a show together. Those experiences have facilitated strong personal relationships and communication which has served us really well through this time. We all appreciate that foundation and think our relationships and collaboration will be even stronger when we’re able to be together again,” she says.
There is also a significant opportunity afforded by this global reset moment. As Lugo notes, often the most disruptive and creative ideas surface during times of crisis. She continues: “It will be fascinating to watch how brands innovate and adapt to market themselves over the course of the next 18 months.”
This is a shift that she believes will extend beyond traditional cause marketing towards a more wholesale shift in the ways in which brands communicate and engage with people in such a fundamentally changed world. She explains: “I think we’ll see more transparency in terms of tone and more opportunities for two-way engagement between brands and consumers, where brands help facilitate contributions to communities such as volunteerism and philanthropy.”
Lugo believes that the social contract between brands and society has been shifting dramatically and the pandemic has shone a spotlight on what people expect from brands during a crisis. As she notes, “brands need to be walking the walk, not just talking the talk”.
“Moving forward, I think we’re going to continue seeing an increased focus on purpose, values and social causes from Gen Z and Millennials,” she explains. “Brands that are able to facilitate a level of empathy in an honest, forthright way will garner positive consideration from the public and be rewarded with consumer loyalty. Authenticity and brand purpose is key.”
Live music has always been at the forefront of social movements and has the power to shift perspective and drive change.Lisa Lugo
The pandemic, combined with the phenomenal impact of the Black Lives Matter movement, has heightened the focus on the need for diversity and inclusion, particularly within the creative industries which cannot possibly hope to shape culture if they don’t properly represent it within the makeup of their own organisations. So, are we on the cusp of a shift in marketing towards greater inclusivity? “There is so much work to be done, but we’re moving in the right direction,” says Lugo, who urges the need to remember that “we’re in the midst of a movement, not just a moment.” She believes that the more businesses and individuals commit to driving hard conversations and long-term change, the more progress we’ll see.
“As a Latina, I’m incredibly passionate about diversity and inclusion and the importance of driving transformation both internally at Live Nation and externally,” she continues. She believes that participating in organisations that fight for improvement in racial equality will be important not only for marketers, but for entire companies. As a clear example of walking the walk rather than just relying on talk Lugo is executive sponsor of EMBRACE Nation (Ethnic Minorities Broadening Racial Awareness and Cultural Exchange), Live Nation’s employee resource group celebrating the cultural diversity in the workplace. She explains its aim is to broaden racial awareness and promote cultural exchange to enhance professional and personal growth internally at the company. “When we share our diverse experiences with our networks, we create room for conversations about what long-term, systemic change looks like and how we can achieve it together,” she adds.
It's a change that is particularly vital for the music industry which has such a vital role in creating culture. As Lugo notes: “Live music has always been at the forefront of social movements and has the power to shift perspective and drive change.” Lugo is also committed to active listening and is a supporter of ‘Soundboard’ Live Nation’s exclusive global panel of live-music enthusiasts which ensures that brands remain in tune with the needs and expectations of fans.
“Many of the artists we work with, as well as our music fans, are at the epicentre of social causes, allowing festivals and shows to become platforms for inspiring community, change and the exchange of ideas. As a brand, those environments are the ideal place to build bonds with fans if they’re able to align around shared values,” explains Lugo. She believes that more brand partners will commit to movements such as diversity, sustainability and community. The pandemic may have put the live music industry on hold, but the passion of the community, embodied by Lugo, suggests that it has the power to come back stronger than ever. A shift which smart brands will put their money behind.
The story of the Women in Marketing Awards is one of building a movement and a network that is the antithesis of the ‘old boys network’, which has historically excluded women from key networking and profile building opportunities, so vital to building a career in the creative industries. To mark a decade of the Women in Marketing Awards, as we move towards the 2020 Awards, Creativebrief will be asking past winners of the Awards to open up about their experiences in the industry and give their advice to the marketing talent poised to enter and pick up the much-coveted awards in the future.
Q: Tell us what the most challenging moment of your career has been and how you got through it?
A: When I was getting started in my career, I didn’t have any connections to lean on. I relied on pure hustle and drive. I learned so many lessons in terms of what it means to put yourself out there with confidence and constantly reminded myself at a young age that I had something to offer. It was an incredibly formative time in my career and I often remind myself of the resilience I built during those years.
Being more comfortable with being uncomfortable is an ongoing journey. And we need to fight imposter syndrome when it creeps in. We all go through it and need to get out of our heads. That’s why industry organisations like Women in Marketing are so important. Having a resource and community like Women in Marketing that celebrates and empowers women to fulfil their potential is critical for breaking down barriers and progressing opportunity and equity.
Q: Tell us about the biggest high point of your career?
A: The highlight of my career was the transition to Live Nation UK. The UK is always at the forefront of music festival culture and with that comes really meaningful brand partnerships, which I had always admired from afar in NYC. I made the transition from Live Nation in NYC in 2015 and have since had the opportunity to build the entire UK integrated marketing practice from the ground up which has been hugely rewarding. The team has grown to encompass creative solutions, design, research, insights strategy and PR, creating award winning work for our brand partners in the UK.
Another major highlight was of course last year’s Women in Marketing recognition and being a part of the WiM community. More to come on that later on!
Q: Tell us about the impact of winning a Women in Marketing Award and being part of the WIM community?
A: I’m incredibly proud of last year’s Women in Marketing award recognition and am honoured to now be a part of the WiM global community. There is so much genuine support among the group of women (and men!) and I couldn’t be more appreciative of their spirit and hard work. It was also a joy to receive the award with my team in the room. One of my goals is to be a leader of leaders and having them there with me was really meaningful.
I also would like to extend a huge amount of appreciation and admiration to Ade Onilude, Founder of Women in Marketing. She is committed to making the industry better for women, leads with pure authenticity and shares an unparalleled desire to shine a light on women doing great work.
Q: What would be your advice to women starting out their career in marketing today?
A: Our global CEO extolls the virtues of having a short to do list which I’m a massive fan of. Your time is a precious resource; be intentional on how you spend it. Don’t get caught up a to do list of tasks. Focus and spend time on projects that matter and have impact. If those sorts of projects are not being assigned to you, ask, or find it via a side hustle! Sometimes you have to create your own opportunity.
Work may not fulfil all of your passions, especially at the beginning of your career when you’re figuring out what you’d like to focus on so it’s important to pursue outside projects that do. For example, in the beginning of my career I did a bit of freelance writing, I’ve mentored throughout my career, and I’m now helping friends who run lifestyle brand Latino Life UK. I highly recommend building your network across different industries and different backgrounds. The most interesting collaboration and insights can come from experiences different than your own.
Creativebrief and BITE are proud to be media partner to the Women in Marketing Awards. To find out more about the awards please click here: https://womeninmarketing.org.uk/awards/
Creativity, Collaboration and Courage in Crisis are top of the agenda in the new Game Changers interview series.
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James Hickman, Strategy Director at Walker on the importance of long-term strategic thinking at a corporate level when it comes to resetting the dial on authentic representation.
Nicola Kemp, Editorial Director at Creativebrief, explores the greatest threat to gender equality in our generation and the crisis of inclusion that is materialising, at AdWeek 2020.