Andrew Tindall: Global Creative & Media Partnerships Director

In feature 018, we spoke with Andrew Tindall, Global Creative & Media Partnerships Director at System1, a creative effectiveness platform.

From med school to marketing, Andrew shares with us how he began his career in the creative industry, his favourite ad he’s tested and why it’s impactful, what trends or consistent findings he notices in ads that receive a high creative effectiveness rating and so much more. 

1. Can you tell us about your background and how you got into the field of marketing? When did your marketing career begin, what is your current role(s) and what role(s) have you previously had in marketing?

I got into marketing as I needed cash whilst I was training to be a doctor at University College London. From the age of 18 I was working as a Student Brand Manager for FMCG brands including Innocent drinks. It involved running local partnerships and activations, and a bit of sales. From there, I really just fell into the FCMG drinks space. I loved it. It allowed me to be creative; my full self; spend time with a diverse range of people; make an impact on the world and use my analytical side. I got a biomedical engineering degree, left med school (sorry Mum), and went on to work in commercials and brand activation at Bacardi. And then innovation and brand management at Diageo.

1.a That change from med school to marketing, how did you manage that?

I hit a space in my career a few years ago where I started reading a lot of books and listening to even more podcasts from industry leaders. I would get increasingly annoyed by working with people that were just going with the status-quo and not really putting the WHY into what we were doing on brands. I didn’t want to be that person so I forced myself to go to business school evenings and weekends for 2 years whilst working, to get a marketing masters. I have since taken most courses you can think of including all of Mark Ritson’s Mini MBAs, James Hurman’s Master in Advertising Effectiveness, and ThinkBox’s TV Masters. I think that’s how I landed at System1, the pursuit of blending theory with practice.

2. Are you able to describe a typical day in your life as Global Director at System1?

I work with global media and creative agencies to give them a competitive advantage using our data, effectiveness tools and thought leadership. I spend about half my day doing “deep research”, building our latest thought leadership in different media channels. Like my recent publication “Listen Up!” on audio creative effectiveness. A lot of data, a lot of ads, a lot of fun. I then split my time between traveling to meet our partners, connect with potential news partners and amplifying our work at events, in the news and on LinkedIn.

Image ©Licensed to Ben Stevens Photography RadioCentre host Tuning In 2023 at The Picturehouse Central, London, UK. Photograph by Ben Stevens Tuesday 26th September 2023

3. You must have tested hundreds of ads in your time, what has been your favourite ad you’ve tested or found most impactful and why?

I honestly think I’ve watched thousands of ads in the past year alone, with our effectiveness data. I often think what that does to someone’s brain. I’m sure I’m the furthest away from a “consumer” a person can now possibly be. Which is refreshing, I have to rely truly on data and what real consumers feel towards ads to make any decisions. My favourite ad is “Well Earned”, The Woodsman Whisky. By Whyte and Mackay and their agency, Mr. President. Here it is, with our metrics:

I worked in whisky for years and this ad is the peak of creative effectiveness. It’s different to the entire category. Very right brained. Is the birth of a new fluent device. Is very well crafted. The strategy is also sound, it ladder a product truth into a human insight that they tie to a occasion (category entry point). I also love it because it shows that System1 testing works. I spotted it as a 5 Star in our database. It then went onto double their market share and be the only whisky brand this year to recruit none category buyers into whisky in the off trade. I’m forever going to champion this ad, it’s perfection.

4. In your own opinion, what trends or consistent findings do you see in ads that receive a high creative effectiveness rating?

There’s clear simple strategic thinking. You hear people say we can only see the execution and we shouldn’t/can’t judge strategy from a creative. That’s bullsh*t. If a well trained marketer can’t get a sense of the insight and strategy from an ad, then the strategy either doesn’t exist or it’s not simple enough – so won’t work. Then the trick is using creativity to execute the idea effectively:

– Novelty – is it new, especially for its category.

– Craft – it’s hard to measure but it’s essentially the difference between homemade, shop bought or a proper pâtissier pastry. Homemade is your mate shooting it on his camera, with a bunch of guys from the pub. Shopbought is AI crap. Pâtissier is the creators of Wallace and Gromit, Aardman, producing your ad. Craft amplifies everything.

Breadth – ads the use right-brain creative features (or simple call them broad-beam creative features) like story, character and sense of place. These appeal to more people and actually grow your brand.

5. What would be one piece of advice you would give marketers to improve the effectiveness of their advertising?

Create a fluent device. You’re not you when you’re hungry. Kevin the carrot. Go compare. The M&M’s characters. You know the types. Consistently used brand devices that trigger brand but can carry drama above and below the line, across the media mix. It’s the smartest thing a marketer can do. Get in touch if you want advice on making one.

6. Where can our audience follow and engage with yourself and System1 on social media?

I honestly feel blessed with my career. I’m still friends with everyone I’ve worked closely with. It never felt like work. It’s always interesting. If anyone ever wants advice on anything, just me drop a message on LinkedIn.

Follow System1 here.

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