Susie Jacques

Senior Manager, Brand Experience, Hyundai

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


Susie Jacques - Hyundai

Career to date:

2016, Senior Manager, Brand Experience, Hyundai
2013, Senior Account Manager, Fast Track
2011, Senior Project Manager, ICON
2008, Sales Manager, Bay Media

Creativebrief: As Senior Manager, Brand Experience at Hyundai, what is your primary focus?

Susie Jacques: I manage brand experience which covers sponsorship, partnership, CSR, events and experiential. It’s a relatively new structure. When I started I was sponsorship and advertising manager and reported into the ATL lead. Our head of department saw an opportunity. There’s a lot of overlap between myself and the events manager so, brand experience was formed. What we’re trying to do, as marketing is changing in general, is be more experientially, less product or lead generation focussed.

Creativebrief: Could you outline your career to date?

Susie Jacques: As I think happens with a lot of people, complete accident. I always wanted to get into marketing so when I graduated, I got a joint sales, project management role for a small independent outdoor advertising company. After a couple of years, they happened to be part of a bid to work on the Olympics. I was seconded into CSM’s event business Icon who had the local contract for public artwork but also look and feel, dressing venues. If I’d graduated two years later, they wouldn’t have wanted to put me in that role.

I did a year and a half on the Olympics. I managed the design and planning for all the London look and feel and then did the same for other venue cities, Newcastle, Weymouth, Cardiff. That was project management focussed because it was banners, huge building vinyl’s, public art spaces. Each venue city was very different, with lots of very intricate project elements to deliver.

After the Olympics, Icon’s sister agency Fast Track had won some business with Jaguar Land Rover to activate Land Rover’s global sponsorships and [so I] moved internally to work on their rugby sponsorship. As a rugby fan and someone who loves sport, [I] just happened to nestle my way across the office onto that team. I did the Lions tour in 2013 in Australia, World Equestrian Games in France. But all of that was building up to the World Cup in 2015. I started as an account manager then got to SAM so for the World Cup had more of a senior role developing the campaign rather than just being boots on the ground.

We grew from a team of four [to] 18 that ended up working on that account, which was the biggest sponsorship Land Rover had done to date. We worked with their ATL team on the idents and TV sponsorship but also ran their employee engagement around the tournament. Land Rover is quite an easy brand to sell because they’ve got such a clear identity purpose. Everyone knows their product and people who engage with them really, really engage with them. The fit with rugby is so obvious that it was a wonderful thing to be able to work on.

Creativebrief: Why did you join Hyundai?

Susie Jacques: Partly timing again. I was looking to move on from Land Rover at the end of 2015 because I’d worked on one account for three years which was quite unusual, and they weren’t going to get bigger than the home rugby World Cup.

I honestly didn’t think I was experienced enough for brand side. I was nervous about my interview because I’d done my research, I knew about the brand, but didn’t really as a consumer have an idea of who Hyundai were and what they stood for. It transpired that the team at Hyundai was going through quite a big change and they were on a mission to tackle that exact issue. They were a small team, ambitious, very nimble so that attracted me. There was a real momentum to do things differently which I loved. Also, having gone from being one of a team working on one event to being one sponsorship person in a whole business was exciting.

“Marketing is...creative but also commercial and a bit strategic...Roles in marketing give you the opportunity to leverage those three different skills." 

Creativebrief: Why do you think you chose a career in marketing?

Susie Jacques: I did politics for my degree so there was no educational reason. I think because marketing is a mix of quite a few different ways of thinking. It’s creative but also commercial and a bit strategic. That mix has always interested me because I never wanted a purely creative role, but I also didn’t just want to be a more commercial person in sponsorship. Roles in marketing give you the opportunity to leverage those three different skills. And it’s fun, you get to work on some amazing projects.

Creativebrief: What Hyundai work over the last year have you been most proud of?

Susie Jacques: The Stand Up to Cancer partnership because, coming back to what attracted me about the role, that was a massive risk for us. We’ve never really done CSR properly, I’ve never really done CSR properly. I’ve done grass roots activity but always in line with another sponsorship.

When we were introduced to Cancer Research UK we saw, especially with Stand Up to Cancer, they’re trying to do things very differently. It’s in your face, quite disruptive and we were both excited about the idea of creating the contactless car. A fantastic idea, great project but like all world firsts, a challenge to deliver.

I was really proud of that, but I was more proud that as a business everybody got behind it. The feedback I’ve had and the feeling I saw last year was that that campaign really got people together. You had people from different teams doing fundraising activities and we beat our fundraising target by three or four times over.

Creativebrief: What about industry wide, what work has excited you over the last year?

Susie Jacques: I love the Nike Londoner campaign. That’s the best piece of content probably since Cadbury’s gorilla. What I love so much about that piece of work, and what we’re really trying to do, is it felt very authentic. If we tried to do something like that, we’re not there yet as a brand. The fact that Nike worked with real people, not just actors was really powerful.

“With the best will in the world, even if you see something great you won't necessarily remember who did it or where it's come from. You might remember the work but not the brand. Challenge one is to get noticed and then challenge two is to be remembered."

Creativebrief: What do you think makes a successful client/agency relationship?

Susie Jacques: Trust, because a lot of people talk a good game and say that agencies are an extension of the client team but often you see the opposite. Some of the bigger agencies can have quite an old-fashioned approach. But if you really trust your agency and their recommendation and if it’s a bold idea, then you get really good work out of it. But an agency needs to trust that sometimes the client does know best. [They] know the brand and the politics and people you’ve got to sell it into to get great work through, which is often the bigger challenge. Often the marketing team all love the idea, but you’ve got to sell it in.

Creativebrief: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing marketers?

Susie Jacques: Cut through, because there’s just content everywhere. With the best will in the world, even if you see something great you won’t necessarily remember who did it or where it’s come from. You might remember the work but not the brand. Challenge one is to get noticed and then challenge two is to be remembered. That’s something historically we have struggled with. The first one is a bit easier to do so now we’ve got to make sure that people remember Hyundai.

Creativebrief: How do you marry experiential with your longer-term sponsorship?

Susie Jacques: From an experiential point of view, we’re working on something at the moment which will support a wider ATL campaign for our new performance sub-brand N. We launched a motorsport team about four or five years ago and we compete in the WRC. The idea was to prove tech that could eventually go into the road models, with the longer-term ambition to launch a performance sub-brand.

That was to add a bit more emotion to our brand. We’re perceived as being a safe set of hands; we’ve got a reliable product, good warranty, good value for money, good tech but that’s not very inspiring. So much of car buying is an emotional decision. N’s supposed to bring that dynamic, emotional, exciting side to the brand.

“As a business our purpose is to be a lifetime partner for people beyond their vehicles, so it felt relevant to be involved in [Stand Up to Cancer] that would have an impact on people's lives...a real human-led initiative."

Creativebrief: When you sponsor events or institutions, like the football World Cup, the Tate Modern or Mercury Prize, does that come from Korea?

Susie Jacques: It really depends. Mercury was our choice, our decision, we manage it and we invest in it locally. But certainly, football is a global investment. We’ve been involved with FIFA and UEFA for 20-odd years. WRC, the motorsports team, is a global initiative. Stand Up to Cancer’s us.

As a business our purpose is to be a lifetime partner for people beyond their vehicles, so it felt relevant to be in something that would have an impact on people’s lives, something that is a real human-led initiative. Because although we’re committed to environmental issues and sustainability and our product line-up reflects that, I wanted us to be really people focused.

Creativebrief: What are your ambitions for Hyundai?

Susie Jacques: I would like us to be known for something more than a Korean value reliable brand. Since I’ve started you can see the brand metrics are shifting because when our new senior team came in place, their strategy was to talk about innovation and progress and new products. You can see perceptions shifting in terms of innovation, being progressive, new design. The next dial we want to shift is dynamic, this more emotional side.

Being known to be Korean is a good thing because it’s such an innovative country. We’ve missed a trick in the past by not being prouder of our Korean heritage and making more of that.

Creativebrief: Outside the industry, who or what are you inspired by?

Susie Jacques: I’m really into design in general. I’m obsessed with interiors, graphic design, fashion. I think that trickles down into my work because I’m really fussy on things like look and feel. I always want the work to have a nice design identity. Our corporate identity is nice but it’s quite corporate, quite flat. My personal interest in design outside of work is something I try and bring into campaigns a little bit.

I’m really into music as well. The Mercury Prize wasn’t on the table when I interviewed and by the time I started it was. It’s a unique property because it’s purely albums and it’s not genre specific; you can speculate all you want, you’re never going to know who the artists are. It’s fascinating.