Always Learning from Donna Sturgess

This week, Jen and I saw GlaxoSmithKline’s Donna Sturgess in action, giving a terrific talk about emotional branding at an Advertising Women of New York breakfast. Full disclosure, Donna is a client and a friend, but from the audience’s reaction, we weren’t alone in our applause.

There were two areas she covered relevant to women, in particular. First was the importance of knowing ‘what’s her emotional starting place?’ When a woman approaches a category or product, she’s not a clean slate. She can be weary of overpromise (weight loss) or fearful of failure (smoking cessation). The marketer’s job is to connect with it and uniquely move her forward with a brand proposition.

It made me think of how marketers often portray consumers as emotionally static (she’s optimistic, she’s worried), when really women can be on an emotional rollercoaster. She’s just not confessing that to you. Ask yourself…Where is she already and what can I do about it?

Donna also suggested that the way to ‘sell in’ emotional branding to rational brand folks is by providing rational proof of emotional truth. She measures everything from brainwaves to eye motion and expression and adds it all up to a compelling number to convince even the emotionally-averse, good advice for today’s boardrooms where fear may be on the agenda.

Donna Sturgess is a renegade of innovation. From Aquafresh to alli, she’s a hard driving advocate for new products that break with traditional, rationally based marketing. Cool that it all begins with understanding the softer side.

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May 27, 2022
by Mary Lou Quinlan

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