Tencil Talks: Henry Steel

As the panic buying in our supermarkets begins to calm down, this week we have decided to catch up with a dedicated Media Planner from the retail industry.

Having previously worked at the likes of Cheil Worldwide and Havas Media, Henry Steel started as a Media Planner at Tesco in January 2020.

Today, we caught up with him. (Views are of his own and not of Tesco)

Q. Can you tell me what convinced you to study advertising at University?

HS: After leaving school, I knew I wanted to work in something related to the media, whether that be a screenwriter, news presenter or film producer. I was also really interested in psychology, so I was at a bit of a crossroads! After some thinking though, I didn’t fancy my chances of becoming successful at any of those jobs, so whilst I had an hour to spare at an open day at Bournemouth University, I decided to join an introduction talk for an advertising course.

HS: What I found fascinating about the talk was the fact that advertising encompassed three different specialisms – media, psychology and creativity. When you think of it, all advertising is essentially a mini film or image, setting out with the aim of moving people and changing behaviour. Advertising tapped into my ambition of working in media, both in terms of being creative and making things, as well as learning what moves people. I haven’t looked back since so am very glad I went to the talk!

Q. What is it that you love about digital marketing?

HS: I love that it’s so fast moving and ever evolving, and that you can test and learn new things at the drop of a hat. For example if you’re about to launch a new campaign but aren’t sure which creative to lead with, you can put two pieces of creative to 100,000 people within a day or two in a digital channel and instantly see the results of which one is the most impactful to those people, which you can then roll out even further.

HS: The digital marketing landscape is always changing too, with new channels, formats and opportunities being developed every day. This is super exciting as it offers new opportunities for brands to tap reach people and move them. If you love TikTok and are an expert at making videos on it, you’re invaluable to brands who want to learn both how people use the platform and how they can reach these users in a differentiated and meaningful way themselves.

Q. Would you say this period of time is the hardest/busiest time you have ever worked in?

HS: Definitely, particularly so within the first few weeks of lockdown. The main issue at first was getting used to the environment and ways of working from home, including setting up a suitable space to work and getting used to the new ‘commute’ as well as learning when to close my laptop and end the working day! The lines have very much been blurred in terms of work and leisure!

HS: On top of that, working for the UKs largest retailer at a time when the nation was (and is) relying on us to implement social distancing measures and provide for the vulnerable, it’s certainly been one of the busiest times I’ve experienced at work. Having said that, it’s been super rewarding working with such a great team and turning around media plans and creative in a matter of days and going live to the nation at this critical time.  

Q. Tell me about your favourite campaign you’ve worked on to date?  

HS: The favourite campaign I’ve worked on at Tesco was an integrated campaign early on after lockdown, which set out to encourage people to shop in our stores when they could, to ensure as many online delivery slots as possible were saved for vulnerable customers.

HS: Using digital (as well as other channels) we were able to target customers who were actively looking for online delivery slots, to serve ads to encourage them to ‘think before you click’. Using Google search, we were able to show up right at the most relevant moment in the customer journey to remind them to shop in store if they can.

HS: From this, we thankfully saw some age groups decreasing their online orders and others (who we assumed to be vulnerable) to be increasing their online orders. It was a great example of advertising for good and was an effective campaign that successfully changed behaviour.

Q. In the next 5 years – what would you like to see change in digital marketing?

HS: Less bombardment of advertising to people who may have been on your website once or twice. We all know how annoying it can be when, after you’ve bought a pair of sunglasses, to be constantly harassed around the internet with adverts for more sunglasses. Instead, I’d like digital marketing to be smart enough to be able to know or at least assume that after some time, the user has purchased sunglasses, and that that that person may in fact need a sunglass cleaner, or case for their sunglasses instead.

HS: I’d also like to see more use of contextually relevant advertising – advertising that’s served to relevant content and environments, as an alternative to this obsessive chasing of customers around the internet. For example, if you’re a chocolate brand it makes a lot more sense for me to see your advert next to a food article or during a cooking documentary, as opposed to before a piece of football content or workout video. Relevance is key!

Q. Most people we’ve interviewed have asked them what their favourite restaurant is. However, I know you like a meal deal, so what is your favourite meal deal and why?

HS: What a great question. Now I know I must tread carefully here as some people’s choices of meal deals have been ridiculed on certain Facebook groups, but for me it has to be a chicken, bacon and stuffing sandwich, pickled onion monster munch and a Naked smoothie. I really hope I don’t get judged for that.

Finally, we would like to thank Henry for sharing his own views on the digital marketing industry.

If you are interested in hearing more on opportunities that exist in the industry, feel free to reach out to Joel.Williams@tencil.co.uk

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