A moment of epiphany at the AIA Carnival

The Marketing Society’s signature bravery event last evening (16 January), co-organised with Asia Insight Circle, was certainly a great way to start 2020. In times of uncertainty, it is all the more important to be braver together.

Gemma Greaves, Chief Executive of The Marketing Society, flew in from London and led the brave conversation with Christy Kilmartin, VP Marketing, Kontoor Brands (Lee + Wrangler Asia Pacific), at the AIA Great European Carnival. Christy’s passion for sport and fashion has fueled a career that spans all corners of the globe, covering marketing, merchandising and product creation roles at market, regional and global levels for Nike, Adidas, Timberland and now Lee and Wrangler.

As Gemma said, the AIA Carnival is no doubt the coolest event venue for The Marketing Society. The decision to stage the carnival amid a challenging time in Hong Kong was an act of bravery in its own right.

The challenge for marketers these days is how to constantly stay ahead of the curve. And Gemma had some robust advice to offer, “It's only when you are your true self that you can be your best self.”  And three keywords on leadership from Christy: transparency, optimism and bravery.

Christy touched on many issues that sum up the opportunities and challenges that marketers are grappling with on a daily basis: working with agencies; the impact of corporate culture on marketing (including the level of risk acceptance); how to produce a piece of work or campaign that resonates with your audience; whether we should rely on gut instincts or market research; and in a world often filled with clichés, how to pursue originality relentlessly.

The silver lining is, there is really no final bell in marketing. We can always learn from misfiring campaigns and do better next time round.

Christy defines bravery as the awareness of risk and the consciousness to avoid or override it -- how to tread the fine line between recklessness and bravery. Bravery is like the tip of the iceberg. You need to be well grounded to be brave. If you don’t have that strong foundation, then it’s only recklessness.

One final tip: if you are struggling with a problem, try switching off, do something completely different (in Christy’s case, it’s running), and you may well find that moment of epiphany.



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