Consumers are proving they don’t want to be interrupted by traditional ads; they want to be engaged and entertained through media. For brands to meet their consumer’s expectations, it requires an innovative shift in strategy and how they execute, namely, the talent on their teams and how those teams work together.
Jeff Curry, VP of Marketing and Communications of Lucid Motors, a new luxury EV company, is disrupting the automotive industry by meeting tech-savvy customers primarily through digital doors. Jabari Hearn, SVP of Marketing and Entertainment at Westbrook, a media company founded by Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, is disrupting the old ways of advertising with branded content production. These two brands have established groundbreaking, future-focused marketing methods, exceeding everyone’s expectations.
Here is what they had to say on Visionaries and how it could influence your team, talent, and future.
- Foundations in Innovation
- New Strategy for a New Digital Age
- A New Way of Thinking About Media
- Marketing is a Team Sport
- Keys to Dynamic Leadership and Talent
- How to Think about Teams, Talent, and Skill Set Profiles
Foundations in Innovation
Jeff Curry: My team at Lucid is building an all-new direct-to-consumer luxury brand, and we are starting with what we believe is the world’s best luxury-class electric car: The Lucid Air.
What we are bringing to the market is a car without compromises. With Lucid Air, you don’t have to worry about range anxiety, you can have the speed and power of a sports car along with the interior of a nice luxury sedan, and it’s good for the environment. Luxury buyers know what they are looking for: sustainability, luxury, speed, cutting-edge technology, and quality. Our goal is to build their trust by organizing our team around all those principles.
Jabari Hearn: My team joined when Westbrook was Will and Jada Smith’s media company, and we have been expanding to a full-on studio ever since. Our team has a division where we launch and incubate consumer goods. Westbrook Media is doing a ton of marketing, from A-List blockbuster films to social content. We are working with great distributors and brands to release original series’, primarily because we believe entertainment should be a part of the marketer’s strategy.
New Strategy for a New Digital Age
Jeff Curry: As a direct-to-consumer brand, we set up our team to talk to consumers as closely as possible. Because most of our buyers are coming through our digital front door, we heavily focus on digital marketing. Our customers configure their cars, place reservations, do all their paperwork online, and sometimes never step foot into our Studio. They do the complete transaction online, and then the car will be delivered to their home, all on the consumer’s terms. To do that well, you must organize your team so you’re consistently delivering a digital customer journey with an understanding of who they are and what they want. You shouldn’t notice a difference between hearing from us on social media, our website, configurator, or visiting one of our studios; it should be a seamless customer journey.
Jabari Hearn: It’s hard to find media right now to buy ads; however, by marketing through entertainment, you create your own piece of entertainment and your own Intellectual Property (IP) to buy media around. You can leverage the media shoot (about eight hours of content), talent, and set for all your marketing materials. Once you have a great piece of IP, you should consider leveraging it across all mediums, like Web3, film, television, books, and more.
This new marketing model has been super successful for the brands we’ve worked with because it creates a different type of relationship with your customers. You’re not asking them for something or interrupting them with performance marketing; you’re creating an emotional connection with your brand, product, and consumer.
A New Way of Thinking About Media
Jabari Hearn: Westbrook Media recently launched a show with Samsung called Exposure, a competition series featuring content creators leveraging the Samsung Galaxy’s capabilities. Branded content has been around for a long time, and brands have been trying to create a ton of content, but in many cases, it is not entertaining for regular audiences.
In response, we have partnered with major streamers like Snap and Facebook Watch, and in this case, with YouTube and Hulu. To keep the content engaging, we start by packaging up creative entertainment considering what will work for the consumers on the channel, and then we partner with a brand to bring entertainment through the brand and brand proposition.
Jeff Curry: At Lucid, having entertaining branded media content is essential. We develop our creative content in-house and have launched two streaming series. We are in the second season of “Driving Ambition,” which is about the people of Lucid and their personal stories. Our newest series features our CEO, an engineer by training, and is called “Lucid Tech Talks.” This series gives the inside story of our products’ unique technology, so customers can understand what they’re getting with Lucid.
Having a series can be super powerful, especially if you’re a direct-to-consumer brand. Luxury buyers want to feel close to the brands they invest in, and we want to bring them inside to see what we’re doing, tell them the stories, and let our engineers and designers talk about what they have built. Transparency ultimately connects people to the brand and allows them to understand why we have the best product.
Marketing is a Team Sport
Jeff Curry: As a tech product company, our marketing and team structure has to be innovative for many reasons. Because we designed Lucid Motors from scratch, we started with a new team structure. At Lucid, we operate as one integrated unit, including public relations and communications, all the marketing functions including digital and social, and product marketing. This structure creates an excellent synergy amongst the various disciplines, which differs from most legacy car brands with many silos. It gives us an advantage because we can be fast, nimble, and scrappy, accomplishing a lot with a little.
Jabari Hearn: Even though I’ve transitioned from product marketing with Nike to entertainment marketing with Westbrook, the fundamentals of creating consumer connection remain. We believe marketing is a team sport, especially because we are in a new marketing era. We need people who are multi-hyphenate and carry multiple skills. We have creatives on our team who can write, direct, pick up a camera and shoot, or be in front of the camera and act. When I was thinking about building my team, I didn’t have enough budget or headcount to be able to hire these specific roles as I had at Nike, Lyft, or Google, so it’s important to have people on the team who can do many things because we are a small and agile start-up.
Keys to Dynamic Leadership and Talent
Jabari Hearn: I co-founded Monday Night Mentorship to bring together a community of leaders who love to mentor and give back their time. The sole purpose is to accelerate the careers of marketers of color, who were left behind during the pandemic. Talent and skills shouldn’t stop with executive leaders; we should take whatever we’ve learned from years of experience and give it to somebody at the beginning of their career so they can be exponentially better.
There are always new things, like Web3 and advertising technology tools, but marketing has been about people from the beginning of time and will continue to be moving forward; we need to focus on taking care of ourselves, our teams, and our consumers.
Jeff Curry: When it comes to developing our teams for the future of marketing, there’s no doubt it is tough finding the best talent, and it is a super competitive field. We are lucky to have a great product and unique company culture that attracts top talent to Lucid. My job as a leader is to help them succeed, develop their career path, and help them have a long career at Lucid. We’ve done a lot of team building within our organization to build a culture of marketing that binds us all together.
Having empathy for your teams and consumers and being aware of what is going on in their lives will lead you to understand the consumer, brand, and team dynamics that matter the most.
How to Think about Teams, Talent, and Skill Set Profiles
Jabari Hearn: When building my dream team, I look for talent that meets my “Fab-Five-C’s”: curious, creative, collaborative, competitive, and consistent. If the talent you are searching for can attest to all five of those things, it ultimately forms “The BIG C” culture, which wins over everything.
Jeff Curry: The main thing I look for in the hiring process is the mindset. Are you up for it? Are you in the game? Are you willing to work hard and help build something new? It doesn’t matter if you’re coming from different levels in your career; we have highly experienced team members who have been in traditional roles for 20-30 years but wanted to have the opportunity to work with a start-up company and apply their experience. We have people early in their careers who want to soak up experiences to shape their career paths. It all comes down to whether they have the right mindset.
Visionaries, hosted by Nadine Dietz, airs every Tuesday at 9 AM PT and is brought to you in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Each week, two new visionaries share their game plan and how that impacts today’s teams, talent, and hybrid work environment.
Jeff Curry, VP of Marketing and Communications, Lucid Motors: Jeff Curry has been the VP and Head of Marketing at Lucid, a new Luxury Electric Vehicle (EV) company, for the last two and a half years. His brand is in the market to build the world’s most advanced EVs, starting with the Lucid Air. Jeff has spent most of his career in the auto industry working with legacy brands, like Audi, Ferrari, Jaguar, and Land Rover, as well as with luxury, technology, and media brands. He is an award-winning marketer and entrepreneur and excels in leading brands during transformative periods to create maximum growth.
Jabari Hearn, SVP of Marketing and Entertainment, Westbrook: Jabari is a forward-thinking marketing executive who connects mission-driven brands with urban culture to reach the next generation of consumers. He is Westbrook’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Entertainment, serving Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s production company. Jabari has an extensive background in advertising, led global marketing for mobile hardware at Google, spent a decade at Nike, and co-founded Monday Night Mentorship, built to coach and mentor marketers of color.
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