Thought Leadership

BITE’s top long reads of 2021

From EA Games’ game changing leader, to sonic branding and revolutionising the industry for working parents, 2021’s top reads reflect the myriad challenges of 2021.

Elle McCarthy

VP of Brand and Social Impact Electronic Arts


“I’ve made a habit of chasing the impossible problem."  When Elle McCarthy, Vice President of Brand at Electronic Arts, laid out the guiding force of her marketing career earlier this year her words reflected the marketing ecosystem of 2021. The last 12 months may not have delivered on expectations; while ‘impossible problems’ abound.

From ‘the Great Resignation’ to the resounding sense of ‘Groundhog day’ accompanying the latest restrictions and recriminations in the wake of the pandemic; challenges and frustrations are difficult to ignore. Yet it is equally true that 2021 was also the year where we faced up to the collective realisation that many of these collective problems could be addressed and tackled head on. From taking a creative approach to the talent crisis to embracing new direct to consumer models; many of these problems were impossible only in our mind. 

By looking at our problems through a new lens 2022 offers the opportunity not to just talk about change, but actually create change. As Jane Evans, the founder of the Univisibility project asked so eloquently: “What are you going to do about the generation you have lost? Find those pioneers, bring them back, give them space.”

It was this space that was perhaps all too hard to come by in 2021; yet nonetheless we persisted. In that spirit of persistence and progress here are the top 10 long reads from BITE in 2021: 

1. The Creative Industries need to understand how under threat we are

Elle McCarthy, Vice President of Brand at Electronic Arts on redefining creativity, getting comfortable with imposter syndrome and building diverse teams.

2. Why 2021 is the year for sonic branding

Paul Reynolds, Managing Director at MassiveMusic on the power of a brand’s sonic identity and why it is no longer just a nice-to-have. 

3. Saatchi & Saatchi set out to revolutionise the industry for working parents

Saatchi Family aims to support working parents and power the industry to build back better following the coronavirus crisis.

A deep-dive into this transformative strategy from Gemma Phillips, Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi, also topped the charts.

4.“What is expected of a CMO nowadays is verging on unfair” 

Rob Pierre, CEO of Jellyfish on why the future of marketing transformation requires marketers to recognise they don’t have all the answers. 

5. Adapt or die: How Gen Z are leading a revolution in physical retail

George Gottl, Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder of UXUS highlights the importance of blending both physical and digital experiences for the next generation of shoppers

6. Gaming’s bright future: An untapped opportunity for brands

Kris Jalowiecki and Martin Wolsgaard, Strategists at VIRTUE explore the untapped potential sitting at the intersection of gaming and education for brands.

7. Bodyform’s #wombstories cut a swathe through the shame surrounding women’s bodies

The groundbreaking 2020 campaign marks a step-change for the depiction of the lived-experience of women in advertising.

8. What creating a campaign about Black people taught me about representation in marketing

San Sharma, Creative Director at Wunderman Thompson UK and the creative lead on the launch campaign for Black Representation in Marketing shares what the campaign taught him about representation in marketing.

9. How can brands better capitalise on the growth of DTC routes in the long-term?

The growth of direct-to-consumer routes have created new opportunities for brands but long-term shifts in buying behaviours will be built on more than just necessity.

10. “What are you going to do about the generation you have lost?”

Jane Evans is opening the door for midlife women, teaming up with WPP and Brixton Finishing School to bring older women back into the industry.


Guest Author

Elle McCarthy

VP of Brand and Social Impact Electronic Arts


Elle McCarthy is the VP of Brand and Social Impact at Electronic Arts. In this role, she oversees brand marketing, management, identity and giving for the EA brand. Since 2020, Elle’s team has led the EA-wide response to Covid, launched new community standards and a pledge to open up EA’s accessibility patents and is leading major initiatives to bring more under-represented talent into STEAM. Previously Elle ascended as an agency-side strategic leader in both the UK and the US. Her work has won multiple accolades including IPA Effectiveness, Effie, Cannes Lions and Golden Arrows. Elle has also personally been named 40 under 40 and has given her Keynote “Choose your words” at The 3% mainstage. In 2022 Elle was inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Achievement in recognition of her extraordinary career in marketing and her persistent drive to do good and give back along the way.

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