Dara Treseder, CMO, Carbon, is chairing the jury for the Effective Use of Tech category at the 2020 WARC Media Awards. Here she talks to WARC’s Lucy Aitken about Carbon using 3D printing to produce PPE, pivoting to 100% digital and the growing importance of owned channels.

Describe your role and what it entails

I lead all marketing and comms for Carbon. Due to the pandemic, I’ve completely adjusted our marketing strategy to 100% digital given we’re no longer able to have a physical presence at events and trade shows; additionally, our focus has shifted in light of the changing needs of our customers and how we can support them

Our customers are experiencing a new reality from what they were expecting and having to adapt to changing behaviours. One shift I’ve helped lead alongside our customers and partners is helping drive awareness to how we’re collectively using Carbon’s 3D-printing technology to fill the gaps with the medical supply shortage, especially face shields for protecting healthcare workers and swabs for increasing testing capacity for COVID-19.

Tell us more about your marketing strategy going 100% digital

One of the main challenges is to keep things fresh and interesting. When we think about some of the more experiential stuff, there are different formats that deliver different experiences. For example, immersive experiences are entirely different from a trade show or a keynote speech. When you consume content in this version of virtual events, they all feel a bit the same, so we need to reimagine what these should look like and how we connect. We need to connect with customers and really reimagine what that experience looks like in a deep way. That’s an important part of the work that we’re doing.

Interactivity is so important because otherwise it looks like a one-way conversation and people get tired and bored and eventually switch off. The prep work is so much more important if you want to deliver a strong virtual experience.

What do you think will change post-lockdown?

I saw pictures from just after the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and people were wearing face masks. When they were going back to life, they were interacting in a different way. Social distancing might not go away for a while, so we have to figure out what that means. It might mean producing creative content in a different way: Robert Pattinson recently photographing himself for the GQ cover feature is one recent example that comes to mind.

People are also becoming more comfortable being filmed, so we may see more people filming themselves and then merging it altogether.

We will approach things in a different way because the world is evolving and it’s never going back to what it was like before. For instance, remote working is going to become more of a reality – if your job doesn’t require you to be in a physical location, maybe you’ll continue to work remotely. The reality of managing fully or mostly distributed teams is going to become more common.

We’re also going to be navigating a world where people are skeptical about events and large gatherings, so we’ll be looking at how to leverage technology to connect more deeply with the people, places, and things we love. When digital channels are the only ones available, the challenge is how you differentiate your content to capture attention. There will be more emphasis placed on owned channels than ever before to help develop a sustained following.

What have been the most useful new platforms to emerge in the past five years from a brand-building point of view?

It’s been interesting to see Zoom’s journey: it’s already becoming a verb that people use, even if people aren’t using Zoom but another video conferencing service. You arrive as a company and a brand when you become a verb.

Do you think that, in the comms industry, there is a fear that marketers and agencies are not innovating quickly enough?

Agencies have a unique role – one of the wonderful things about them is that they have a broader perspective. Especially in times like this, when you can inadvertently make a mistake by not considering multiple points of view, it’s going to be important to engage agencies on this journey.

What would you like to see from the papers submitted to the Effective Use of Tech category?

I’d like to see creativity matched with effectiveness. I think you’re most effective when you’re creative, and that’s how you cut through the noise. Creativity shouldn’t be an end in itself; it should be a means. I’d like to see that magic – and the merging of creativity as well as performance to drive results.

The 2020 WARC Media Awards are now open for entries. You can find more details here.