Mindshare's Cindy Giller, Managing Director and Atlanta Office Lead, has always had an interest in consumer behavior, culture and psychology. "Media and advertising proved to be a nice fit for that," she says. A seasoned industry veteran, her first foray into media was working with tech brands in Silicon Valley, which enabled her to get experience bringing never-before-available products to market. "It was edgy, fast-moving and unconventional," she recalls. After working across agencies such as Young & Rubicam, Publicis and MEC, she moved to Atlanta to run JWT's media group, which then merged with Mindshare. Today she heads up Mindshare's growing Atlanta office, working across clients such as Jiffy Lube, John Deere, Orkin, Falcons, the U.S. Marine Corps and more. I recently talked with Cindy about her career, creative thinkers, mentorship and being a mom.
Charlene Weisler: How have you applied your experience working at a creative agency to your role at Mindshare?
Cindy Giller: I love interacting with creative thinkers whether they're in the creative agency or the media agency -- the more diverse the better. Creative agencies tend to focus on the brand first, whereas we start with the consumer insights and behaviors. Having that experience has helped me see the bigger picture from a user experience and activation perspective, making sure that we're got a holistic outlook on the brand and consumer journeys.
Charlene: There appears to be increasing connectivity between media and creativity. Can you speak to that?
Cindy: Everything is media. Today you're not looking at just the media buy or the ways that you can introduce a message to consumers. Instead, we must pay attention to the signals that we're getting from our audiences so that our stories can be told in the right voice and introduced in a relevant way. Our data and insights teams play a crucial role there.
Charlene: This has evolved from when you first started in the agency business.
Cindy: Tremendously. It's no longer as siloed as it used to be, which is a very good thing. The real-time data that we collect -- whether it's a reaction to an ad, a new rising search trend, a look at what competitors are doing -- allows us to adapt as we go.
Charlene: What is the connection between earned, bought and owned media?
Cindy: Are you familiar with The Loop at Mindshare?
Charlene: No. Can you tell me about it?
Cindy: Yes. It's our adaptive marketing operating system, occupying a physical space in our offices across the globe. Eight or more screens revealing real-time data that's customized to a client, brand and/or category. Our Loop sessions are organized around paid, earned, owned and cultural context. We're constantly looking for insights through news, patterns and data correlation that help us tell a unique story. These are insights that we can make actionable; data and insights that we leverage for media investment decisions across channels (not just digital). To look at paid, earned and owned separately doesn't make sense anymore.
Instead, we use the data to challenge our thinking, to find outliers that could drive an interesting strategy or approach. For example, working with a client we saw a change in seasonal patterns for keywords of a product they sold. A competitor was making content adjustments in a similar direction. The client never saw these patterns in their own data "because we weren't looking for it." But we moved quickly to adjust our timing strategy and new content was created.
Charlene: Can you talk to me about mentorship?
Cindy: Mentorship is a big picture experience for both the mentor and the mentee. Earlier in my career, I was a member of the Women's Tech Cluster out in San Francisco. What I learned from that experience was that it is important to have the right pairings for the right reasons. Today, we do speed mentoring twice a year in our Atlanta office. It's a relaxed and fun way for our junior people to have a one-on-one sit down with all the senior people in the company. They can ask questions and probe for career advice. And then afterwards, if there's a particular mentor or pairing that really resonated, something where people felt a connection, they're given the opportunity to follow up and form one-on-one mentor relationships. This approach results in regular, active mentor pairings in the office.
Charlene: How do you achieve work/life balance?
Cindy: I get asked this a lot. Over the years, I've learned to reconcile that balance means I'm actually off balance much of the time. I had to be okay with that, and find ways to take advantage by turning it into a positive. Even though I get a lot of energy and joy from my job -- I love what I do -- taking time off always refreshes me, refreshes my ideas and my thinking and how I approach problem solving. So I do make time to travel and to have new experiences as well as general family time. And being a Mom has made me a more perceptive media person -- there's a lot that I've learned over the years from my daughter and seeing how her media consumption habits have changed. It's had a real impact. It's also really important to have a supportive partner -- to have a partnership where you understand one another and you're there to help each other when things get tough. I have a great husband who has never made me feel guilty in my career ambition.
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