A former student recently returned to The University of Hull to educate, inspire and motivate.
Alastair Cotterill, now Global Head of Creative and Brand Strategy at Pinterest, started his career studying Business Management at the campus in the early 2000s. Hull University Business School invited him back to present a lecture on how he went from learning in Ferens Hall, to influencing the marketing strategy of social media giants such as Facebook, Instagram and now Pinterest.
We sent our Digital Content Creator and recent Hull graduate, Courtney Farrow, to absorb insight and ideas on digital marketing and social media strategy.
“Creativity has always been at the heart of what I do,” enthused Alastair as he began his talk. This is in reference to setting up and running digital creative at a large marketing company before entering the world of social media. It was at this time that he managed a team of strategists, analysts, producers and creatives to deliver for a range of well-known brands, including Ford, Nike, HSBC and Unilever.
Marketing has clearly come a long way since Alastair graduated in 2000, and he recognises this fact as he chuckles about how different it was a couple of decades ago: “In the 1990s, brands would just tell their customers over and over again about how and why they were so good.”
Using Porsche as an example, the brand specialist remembers how they were the car to own throughout the 1980s, but by the time the 90s rolled around their sales had fallen. Porsche struggled to see why their fast cars were not selling in a world of grunge that smelt like teen spirit.
“You need to recognise the role that the brand plays in society, rather than shouting about how good it is,” he explains. “It’s all about putting the right message in front of the right person at the right time.”
Moving onto the power of social media in our increasingly digital and mobile age, Alastair told the attentive students and graduates why it’s important to really appreciate audience behaviour: “It’s all about understanding how people use their phones, and the content has got to feel as if it belongs there.”
For example, creating a video that effectively conveys its message in silence is perfect for sites like Facebook, where videos auto-play without sound as you scroll through your newsfeed. Meanwhile, the popularity of portrait videos and photos has risen as a direct result of more companies realising which way people hold their phones.
“Understanding the nuance of the platform is key to digital marketing,” adds Alastair, which we couldn’t agree with more.
If you need help with your marketing strategy and implementation but can’t peg down the Global Head of Creative and Brand Strategy at Pinterest, give The Penguins a shout.
From Ferens Hall to Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest was part of the Inspired in Hull alumni lecture series. See what else is coming up at The University of Hull.