Alex Hamilton works at Isobar, a global agency that forms part of the Dentsu Aegis Network.
Hamilton admits that explaining what he does can be difficult, so we asked him to do exactly that.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Alex Hamilton: My job title is head of innovation at Isobar UK. However, the way my role is broken down is slightly different than your typical innovation role. My responsibilities fall into three key areas: traditional “innovation”, content creation, and sales support.
As well as ensuring that we are consistently delivering for clients, a core part of my job is to help unlock future growth opportunities for their business. This is done via Isobar’s innovation proposition – ‘NowLab’. It’s an exciting part of my role, as I work with our creative and technology specialists, and clients, to explore the use of emerging technologies – from voice interfaces to mixed reality and artificial intelligence – to create strategically sound prototypes.
I’m also responsible for overseeing and implementing Isobar’s marketing content strategy. This includes developing a thought leadership pipeline to generate engagement with our clients and wider business audience across multiple platforms – both owned, earned and paid.
Finally, I help bring our proposition to life by ensuring we are speaking at the right conferences and to the right decision makers. Part of this, is also ensuring that we are discussing the aspect of innovation that is most relevant to them and their growth agenda.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Alex Hamilton: I report into the sales and marketing function. Most of my work feeds into differentiating us in the marketplace and getting us in front of the right decision makers.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Alex Hamilton: To be successful in my role, you absolutely need to be a people-person first and foremost. You also need to be able to join the dots between disparate strands of thought, in order to get to the innovation solution – and then be able to articulate it!
Lastly, you need to be a good project manager. At the end of the day, our innovation solutions are deliverable to clients against certain timelines and budgets. If we want their continued investment, we need to demonstrate how we can deliver against those factors to unlock growth for them.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Alex Hamilton: This morning, my day began meeting a counterpart from another Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) agency to discuss an innovation project we’re looking to launch early next year. From there, I moved onto a client meeting with a large CPG brand to discuss an augmented reality prototype we’re developing for them, and feedback on how it’s taking shape so far.
After lunch, I’m heading along to the London College of Fashion to give a talk on the changes underway in emerging technological interfaces, and how that might impact the fashion and retail industry.
At the end of the day, I’m doing a bit of venue hopping. First, I’m heading to the DAN Christmas party venue to discuss how we can launch a bespoke Snapchat lens, before heading over to this month’s FashMash event. FashMash is a global community of innovators from across fashion, tech and digital, and Isobar sponsor its monthly talks with leaders from across those fields.
In moments snatched between dashing from pillar to post, I’m also likely to have grabbed a few minutes to review and proof Isobar’s latest Headless Commerce report. This explores how brands can adopt a “headless” approach to commerce to speed up the time between inspiration and transaction. You’ll have to read it when it comes out to find out more…
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Alex Hamilton: Variety. The ability to connect the dots across the network to drive innovation, benefiting not just Isobar, but our sister agencies and their clients too. Seeing the real-world impact of our innovation proposition is always rewarding. After all, it’s only blue-sky thinking if it doesn’t have a tangible impact to the business.
The thing I like least however, is that “innovation” can be quite hard to quantify around a dinner party table. Hopefully, by continuing to strive towards that real-world impact, it will only get easier to explain!
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Alex Hamilton: The most useful metrics for measuring success are the health of the new business pipeline, enquiries, and sales – anything that drives revenue essentially. If I create a great augmented reality tool, but no one buys it, my role becomes redundant pretty quickly.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Alex Hamilton: I always make sure I have a notepad with me. It’s not purely to jot down notes from meetings but also to scribble down any doodles or thoughts that might help form a new and innovative idea further down the line. Podcasts are another tool that I use to keep the creative synapses firing – the Joe Rogan Experience is somewhat of a bible for me.
How did you end up at Isobar?
Alex Hamilton: Isobar was actually a client of mine when I was an in-house content creator at Retail Week. It was in this capacity that I joined the agency, but I quickly moved into the innovation space. This allowed me to combine my experience in creating engaging propositions with the sales side of leveraging innovation to drive growth for clients.
What retailers do you admire?
Alex Hamilton: Adidas, for turning themselves from a sports brand into a lifestyle brand. George at ASDA, for the work we’ve done to transform them into the fastest retail website in the UK. Finally, I admire both Rapha and Barry’s Bootcamp for building their brands from a community – essential in an age where people don’t buy brands, they join them.
Do you have any advice for newbies who want to work at an agency?
Alex Hamilton: It depends what you want to do, but for an innovation role, the more variety you can pack into your CV the better. You never know what you’ll have to turn your hand to next, so it pays to be prepared.