Today’s ‘Day in the Life’ features Richard Wilson – the CEO of creative production and marketing solutions company, Clickon.
Clickon’s core focus is sustainable advertising – the company delivers sustainable creative production for in-house brand studios, agencies, and production companies. Clickon has also made the commitment to become carbon neutral by 2025.
I spoke with Richard about the subject of sustainability within his industry, his advice for brands aiming to reduce their carbon footprint, and the importance of brand storytelling for a social-first audience.
Talk to me about sustainable advertising… how does it fit into Clickon’s wider business plan, and how do you deliver it to brands?
Sustainability is becoming the beating core of who we are and how we see ourselves in the industry. Production has historically been a high carbon producing part of the marketing ecosystem and unfortunately whether we like it or not – things will need to change.
Rather than just pay lip service to sustainability as a business we want to bring tangible technology solutions that can drive real change in how campaigns are created and delivered by global teams.
Our proprietary technology platform IQ is one such product – providing end-to-end production workflow in addition to enabling access to thousands of remote vetted content creators all around the world. If you fuse a sophisticated cloud-based workflow took with a global network of talent – you begin to see that creativity of the same level of quality can happen in a much more sustainable and faster way.
This approach has seen us deliver huge results for brands like Land Rover with a reduction carbon emissions of over 83% versus traditional campaigns.
What is the top action brands should take when it comes to offsetting their carbon footprint?
I think the first thing is to avoid rushing without doing some proper due diligence on what can be achieved. A lot of brands lead with sustainability messaging but when you dig a tiny bit deeper there is nothing there.
I think carbon offsetting is also something that needs to be thought about carefully. There is ample research surfacing showing that carbon offsetting and carbon credits are actually achieving very little in real world terms. This means we all need to take the next step and actually try to make real-world changes to how we operate even if it affects the bottom line.
Our most recent study showed that over 80% of brands believe that stainable advertising is considered important by their consumers. I think the sustainability movement is only just getting started and marketing, particularly around production can definitely play its part in helping to reduce carbon emissions.
How important is storytelling for brands today, and how is branded content evolving (along with consumer opinion)?
I think there are two factors that play a part in determining the importance of storytelling.
Consumers have more availability to information than ever before – and that means the story and the reason why becomes important. All of the new direct to consumer brands dominating the ecommerce markets generally have a phenomenal story to tell.
Secondly, we’re heading into an era where the phenomenal mass-scale targeting of consumers through cookies is drawing to an end. Whilst this has many consequences, the most prominent must be the increasing importance of the quality of the message.
As a business we call it the publisher mindset. Traditionally a brand would need to go to publishers to reach certain audiences. On the social platforms, brands can now become their own publishers – they just need to tell better stories.
We recently worked with a car-related brand in the UK – the audience who saw the long-form story driven part of the campaign we’re over three times more likely to remember the brand at purchase. We even had feedback from the client who had customers walking into showrooms talking about the campaign.
How has Covid-19 impacted Clickon? Any long-term changes?
For us it’s created huge opportunities but as for most, it’s also forced us to answer a lot of questions about our model, our position and how we fit into the next decade.
I think it’s fair to say the world will never go back to exactly how it was – whether that’s in relation to remote working from home or the way we all collaborate and communicate together in a work environment. For us there will be a hybrid working environment and I think global business will happen much more via zoom rather than a five-day trip to New York.
Where Covid has been interesting for us is not just the rapid digital transformation that’s been happening – but also how it’s brought ESG and sustainability immediately to the forefront of everybody’s minds. We’re seeing it every day.
As brands, in-house teams and agencies have been searching for new, faster and more sustainable ways of working in this new era – we see an incredible opportunity to service that void with our tech-enabled sustainable creative ecosystem. Marketing teams are asking for technology and tangible solutions to meet the sustainability goals of the future – not many are bringing solutions to the table so we see a big opportunity here.
Outside of Clickon, what are you passionate about?
I’m very passionate about business generally and work with a few start-ups in the technology space with a focus on disruption. You meet such fascinating and inspirational people with huge ambitions.
I’m a big sports fan and play golf and tennis when I can. I flirt between Leicester and Chelsea for football and a Patriots/ RedSox fan for our US contingent.
I love to travel and experience new places – my favourite being Africa where I work with charities working to preserve endangered wildlife in sub-Saharan Africa. They always say when you visit Africa it’s never your last time, which was plainly the case for me.
What advice would you give to a marketer in your industry right now?
I think this is an incredible moment to be in this industry. The speed of change is frightening but also exciting – as it constantly requires you re- calibrate what you thought you knew.
I think getting experience across digital is paramount. For many young people coming into the industry at such a strange time, I would encourage them to actually set up (or pretend) they were setting up an online ecommerce business. Everything they learn during that process will give them all they need to get ahead and succeed in this industry.
Things have been rocky through coronavirus – but as the global economy starts to march forward, marketing as a sector will be a beneficiary of that global growth and the opportunities that come with it.