To kick off Advertising Week New York, The AD Club of NY hosted its 13th annual Stars of Madison Avenue luncheon, which honored an elite group of brave brands including Harvey Nichols, Burger King, Equinox, Shiseido and Infinity from Comcast. Earlier this year, the AD Club’s International ANDY Awards Jury chose the Stars of Madison Avenue honorees based on their unparalleled dedication to and impact on marketing, commerce, culture and social responsibility through brave and creative work. We sat down with honoree Shadi Halliwell, Harvey Nichols Marketing and Creative Director, to see how she fosters creative and innovative thinking at her company, her advice for future leaders and more. Let’s see what she had to say…
How do you foster creative and innovative thinking in your organization?
The beauty about Harvey Nichols is that we can have a lot of fun with marketing campaigns. As a brand, we have never taken ourselves too seriously and that is the essence of who we are. This fosters a sense of creativity within our own team as well as our creative agency, adam&eveDDB, who we have been working with for over 14 years. I never think of agencies as external partners; they are extensions of the family, and that shows in the output and business successes. We constantly strive to think outside of the box and our teams turn to a wealth of sources from all sorts of categories to inspire innovative thinking. Teams are encouraged to research everything, meet people from all areas of industries, and to get out and about as much as possible – you never know what will inspire you and where a great idea may come from.
What are the most useful resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain perspective on becoming a better leader?
For me, it’s all about the team that you surround yourself with and those creative and business minds. Togetherness is much stronger than working independently and the capacity to learn from one another – even a bad idea can spark thought for the next big thing. Never pigeonhole yourself or your thinking to one business sector. It’s so important to keep up with what’s going on in as many industries as possible, from technology, airlines, restaurants, hotels – anything that’s consumer facing could spark an idea for your next great marketing initiative. My previous background was working in telecommunications and I switched to retail two year ago. I was able to bring my experience and insight to our business to launch Rewards by Harvey Nichols, our loyalty app. When we were researching how we should bring the programme to life, we looked at almost every platform that exists to see what’s out there and what actually works, and very few in retail inspired me. That is why we had to think of something new – what would be different and allow us to stand out. As a team we made that happen.
What one thing do you anticipate will affect your business or industry in the next two years that could have an impact on your marketing?
How we can best reward customers – a loyalty program that works is a game changer for any business. Customers are not loyal to any business unless under exceptional circumstances. We launched our loyalty app in May 2015, taking a customer-led approach to developing the program. Customer choice and personalisation were key guiding principles, and market research showed that the luxury shopper is more interested in receiving exceptional experiences than discounting. So we wanted to launch a range of relevant and personal rewards to our loyal customers, which means shoppers can choose their Reward – whether it’s a one-hour massage or dinner for two at OXO Tower Restaurant on London’s Southbank. Rewards by Harvey Nichols is the only program of its kind to offer a choice of Rewards every three months, rather than just once a year like many of our competitors. Again, we made this decision based on what we were told – customers don’t want to wait every six months or year, they want them more regularly.
What do you feel are the benefits of working in your industry that you would relay to young people coming in to your industry today?
Working in retail allows you to have a lot of fun. You can be cheeky and provocative, but you have to be flexible. I don’t think trends change in any industry as often as they change in fashion, beauty and hospitality, so you need to be reactive and not too one dimensional in your thinking. As I’ve said, inspiration can come from anywhere, not just the retail industry.