Communicator’s Corner: Mercedes Benz communicator, Olivia McLean


Olivia McLean, Advertising Manager, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

A country girl turned city slicker who is passionate about reducing climate change for future generations – starting with the easiest place, my actions at home and my workplace.

Professionally I specialise in marketing communications (client side) and ironically have worked in Automotive marketing for 8 years convincing people to buy cars! (But don’t start me on why Mercedes is better for the environment than you think).

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

Everyday is different but for example my Tuesdays consist of a morning at our creative agency Clemenger BBDO, discussing things from WIP jobs, marketing strategy, improving agency/client processes and reviewing new campaign creative and media plans.

Back to the office for the afternoon and I catch up with my staff on their latest projects providing thoughts and direction, work on presentations outlining campaign and budget updates for our German head office and of course all of that in-between the usual emails, phone calls and meetings covering a range of topics from dealer advertising and budgets to campaign planning and research!

When did you first know you wanted to work in communications?

Straight after my first lecture of the subject ‘Marketing 101’ as part of my Business degree.

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

I take my inspiration from those who have crossed my career including previous managers, colleagues, agency partners and of course good blogs, magazine articles and books.

Which tools can’t you live without?

  1. Microsoft excel – most underestimated tool marketers use!
  2. World Wide Web
  3. My Blackberry
  4. My old-school paper diary

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Simply ‘fitting it all in’ and the evolution from an exclusive premium brand to a broad ranged, volume luxury brand.

Tell us about the best campaign you’ve ever worked on?

The Mercedes-Benz 2009 retail campaign called ‘Let’s talk’.

It is relatively easy to launch a car and conduct a branding campaign for Mercedes. The challenge for our brand lies in being able to effectively retail our brand without damaging it.

‘Let’s talk’ was multi-faceted in the issues it needed to solve – it was the GFC, we had too much stock…and we can never scream sale. Furthermore the market was saturated with retail messages and we had to convince consumers to buy luxury in a time of inconspicuous consumption.

I liked it because it was a challenge, it linked sales and marketing objectives and it was one of the largest campaigns of 2009 from a channel integration perspective.

Here’s a tiny snippet about it.

Which campaign do you most admire?

Hmm, so many to choose from but this has to be my favourite at the moment – really creative thinking.

What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?

Web 2.0 and now 3.0

If you had to cut/keep something in your communication budget, what would it be?

Cut classifieds, keep online (over 80% of people are researching for their new vehicle purchase online).

What quality do you look for in your communication team members?

Willingness to challenge the status quo. Willingness to learn and a natural ambition to achieve.

What’s your favourite brand?

I have lots of favourite brands!

As an auto brand you really can’t go past Mercedes-Benz. Not just because I work for them, but as a 125 year old global brand they continue to re-invent themselves through leading innovations and new product and remain as one of the most successful brands in the world (number 12 in 2010).

It goes beyond the brand though; Mercedes fundamentally influences humanity and has real technology that saves lives. Because we share our patented technology, every car on the road has something invented by Mercedes and it most likely has to do with being able to help save your life!

What book/blog do you think every communicator should read?

We all need a bit of PowerPoint inspiration – everyone in communications should take note of this:

What tips do you wish you’d known starting out in communications?

It is never too early to find a mentor and seek to learn effective strategic influence skills – they are like gold in the business world whatever your role.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’ pointless unless it is effective, relevant and designed to achieve a specific objective.

One response »

  1. Pingback: A year of communicators « cellophane

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