Meet Hyundai's brand experience driving force

This year's Power 100 Next Generation includes a brand experience lead looking to create meaningful live moments.

Susannah Jacques has quite rightly bagged her spot in this year’s Power 100 Next Generation after delivering a slew of on-brand activations for Hyundai over the past 12 months.

The sponsorship and partnership marketing expert cut her teeth as a project manager for London 2012; brand and agency roles followed, focused on strategy development and integrated campaign delivery for some of the world’s biggest sporting events. These included the British and Irish Lions Tour to Australia 2013, World Equestrian Games 2014 and Rugby World Cup 2015, on behalf of Land Rover at sponsorship agency CSM Sport and Entertainment.

Since joining Hyundai Motor UK in 2016, Susannah has led its new Brand Experience team as senior manager – and has ownership of an annual budget of more than £4m. She oversees sponsorship, partnership and experiential marketing for the brand, managing an extended agency team of 20 across various projects.

Key highlights since joining the automotive brand include a challenging debut project – delivering the much-lauded Hyundai FanDome, a world-first 360° screening experience for UEFA Euro 2016 supported by an integrated campaign that achieved a unique reach of more than 38 million.

Jacques was also responsible for the management of the Hyundai Mercury Prize title sponsorship and its supporting campaign, which exceeded the Prize’s own social reach by more than 600%, plus Hyundai’s pioneering partnership with the annual Stand Up To Cancer campaign, which launched a fundraising first Contactless Car built to take donations via contactless devices and smartphones.

Powerful engagement

The successful social reach of the activations highlights Jacques' core belief that social is the most powerful media platform available to marketers when it comes to making connections.

"Connections go both ways and social-media platforms are first and foremost about engagement. They provide a forum for interaction," she explains. "A good marketing campaign should be a conversation-starter and inevitably this conversation lives on social media. From a sponsorship/partnership marketing perspective, my campaigns aim to engage with consumers around their passion points, so social media is always a core media platform and the foundation of any campaign plan."

The shift in allocating marketing budgets to digital channels to better engage consumers is not without its challenges, however, as Jacques describes the difficulty in assessing the impressive stats and distilling the huge numbers down to considered, meaningful impact. For example: "Did the customer intend to click through, or did our ad intrude into their browsing and they clicked out of the destination site within seconds?"

She adds: "Brands and agencies both have their parts to play in improving how we approach and measure success of digital channels. Agencies should not be afraid of suggesting new KPIs that, while lower in volume, might provide better scrutiny of the activity they are recommending. Likewise, brands shouldn’t be afraid to report back seemingly lower numbers if they show a clearer picture of what a campaign has actually achieved."

Increased scope

Jacques' new team of brand-experience specialists have a dynamic 2018 in the offing, with a bustling calendar of both continued partnerships and new activations in the pipeline. Some of the brand’s existing partnerships are under development – it is the third year of the Hyundai Mercury Prize, and the team will continue to develop the content for the audience and "make it more accessible through the Find Your Rhythm campaign".

Then there is the brand’s work with the NFL, kicking off with new content around February's Super Bowl and then resuming in October when the games come to London, with the Regent Street takeover and tailgate parties at the stadia. Jacques would have reason to be optimistic about a shift toward experiential marketing, as Hyundai has certainly introduced a vibrant calendar of brand experiences, and she is a keen advocate for the power of live.

"In my experience, experiential activity is [more] often considered to be focused around brand consideration than preference or awareness, which underplays its scope," she says. "Disruptive brand experiences can create huge PR moments. They get people talking on social and provide a forum that enables the consumer to interact with the brand on a much more personal and relevant level. In a crowded media market, a great brand experience can deliver meaningful connections, get a brand on consumers’ radars and, eventually, change behaviour. On some occasions that is still a hard sell."

Nonetheless, with new activations relating to Hyundai’s N sub-brand at the planning stage, designed to get consumers interacting with the new model through a programme of experiences, it is a sell that Jacques appears to be winning convincingly.

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