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LONDON - I've always been a fan of a capsule wardrobe. Black linen trousers, white tees, and leather staples provide a timeless uniform for both summer and winter. This minimalist approach resonated on a new frequency when I sat down with Lindsay Bennett. Like me, Bennett appreciates the clarity and focus a curated closet can bring, setting the stage for our in-depth discussion. When we last caught up, Bennett was at the helm of Marketing and New Business at DDB Australia. In that conversation, she was candid: "I’d like to see agencies practice what they preach and invest more in marketing themselves as part of their New Business strategy." She pointed out the industry irony—"Few agencies in Australia have any formal Marketing or PR plan and most have no New Business Lead at all." Her words, then, were a stark reminder that "New business is the lifeblood of an agency. If you’re not winning, you’re losing."
Today, the scene has shifted dramatically. Bennett has navigated a whirlwind of career leaps and life changes and finds herself in New York City, redefining the intersection of storytelling and business strategy as the VP of Marketing & Communications at GALE, a modern agency setting trends from New York to Bengaluru.
For those navigating the often solitary waters of leadership in marketing and growth, Bennett's trajectory serves as a beacon. She credits networking and mentorship as career accelerations, especially crucial after her transcontinental move. "Having landed in New York with a significantly smaller network than in Australia, I was laser-focused on connecting with people I admired," she shares.
In this feature, we delve deeper into Bennett's philosophy and how it aligns with the ever-changing marketing landscape. From embracing TikTok to acknowledging the transformative potential of AI in agency operations—her insights offer a blueprint for modern marketers. Metrics, Bennett insists, still matter. The key takeaway? Adaptability is the currency of modern marketing. So, grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and enjoy the read. Whether it's your first time hearing from Lindsay Bennett or a welcome refresher, her story offers lessons we all need to pay attention to.
Since we last chatted, I was promoted to a global position, moved countries, changed jobs, and got married. So, you could say it’s been a busy few years. When we last spoke, I ran Marketing and New Business for DDB Australia and was based out of Sydney. In 2021, I was promoted to Global Head of Marketing for the DDB Network and moved to New York to take on a new challenge - and a new country.
Being in New York has been an incredible career accelerant and last year, I welcomed the latest opportunity; to become Vice President of Marketing & Communications at GALE. As an agency that was founded in 2014, GALE’s progressive model and modern approach have given me a new perspective on the industry.
I started my career writing about the recoupling of media and creative as a journalist at AdNews in Australia. Today, I’m experiencing this recoupling firsthand at GALE with our integrated offering bringing together the power of creative and media and a suite of other services from PR to social to technology. Core to my career progression has been networking and mentoring. Having landed in New York with a significantly smaller network than in Australia, I was laser-focused on connecting with people I admired and in similar roles. From there, I’ve found great mentors and friends who help provide a new perspective. Often, it’s through these conversations and communities that I learn the most.
One of the biggest ironies in advertising is that agencies aren’t great at building their own brand. That has been particularly true for how agencies approach their social media channels. It’s been encouraging to see agencies embrace social media in a more meaningful way, specifically TikTok. I love that agency brands are carving out space on TikTok to play with the edges of their brand and insert themselves into industry conversations.
The other obvious area is artificial intelligence, which has huge potential to help with the RFI response process. What’s not to love about that?!
Joining GALE was a huge leap of faith and outside my comfort zone. I went from a traditional, established global network to an agency I hadn’t heard much about. Ultimately, the jump paid off and we’ve achieved immense industry recognition within the year. It’s been incredible to be part of ‘lifting the lid’ on GALE to the rest of the industry.
GALE has broadened my education beyond traditional advertising to new areas from data and technology to loyalty and CRM. I love being part of a modern agency challenging the status quo and redefining what a winning agency looks like today. At GALE, the work is never done. Every week, we’re brewing a new partnership, practice or product to stay ahead of the modern marketers' needs.
AI might be the final push the industry needs to shift away from a head hours-based remuneration model. The head-hours approach has long been a flaw of the agency model and AI only exacerbates the problem as it allows us to make things happen in less time. I hope that agencies recognise this quickly and pivot to more progressive remuneration models.
I admire the strong values of Gen Z and their ability to set boundaries. They inspire me to strive for greater work/life balance. For new business directors looking to advance their career? Track your impact and results. Even if your company isn’t setting clear KPIs, it’s important to understand the value you’re bringing to the company. I’ve always advocated for my worth within a business and have been maniacal about tracking where I am adding value and finding the right way to communicate them to senior leaders.
If, as an industry, we continue to chase awards, celebrate creativity without effectiveness and undercut each other on price with clients, I worry about where we stand in half a decade. If agencies focus on driving business growth for their clients, we will have a bright future.
I embraced the capsule wardrobe trend a few years ago and invested in classic pieces that will last me a few years. Anine Bing, COS and Massimo Dutti are a few US brands I love, but Australian labels will always have my heart – Bec & Bridge, Sir The Label, AJE. In terms of skincare and makeup, I can’t do without: COSRX Snail Mucin (yes, really), Saie Dew Blush and my beloved Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler.
My latest escape was to Puglia, Italy, where my husband and I road-tripped for nine days down the coast. It was perfection. South Africa has been on my wish list and hopefully will be my next trip. For luggage, I’m a big fan of AWAY.
A lot has changed for the industry in the space of three years. Some things have improved, and some have thrived. Lindsay Bennett falls squarely into the latter category. As she navigates the frenetic world of marketing and business development, her philosophy remains as timeless as her capsule wardrobe. From her keen eye for the transformative potential of AI to her unflinching advocacy for progressive remuneration models, Bennett continually adapts without losing her foundational principles. It's a balance many strive for.
Much like her enlightening road trip through Puglia, a journey that took her beyond well-trodden routes to discover hidden gems, Bennett's career trajectory and insights offer a similar adventure into unexplored possibilities—challenging norms, breaking barriers, and redefining what success looks like in today's marketing landscape. And, any brand fortunate enough to collaborate with Lindsay Bennett and her aesthetic along with the team at GALE, is in for a treat.