Cindy Gallop

Cindy Gallop (Foto von ioulex)

Manche sprechen von ihr als Guru, andere als Urgestein: Cindy Gallop begann ihre Karriere in der Werbebranche 1985 bei Ted Bates. Ein Literaturstudium in Oxford hatte sie da bereits hinter sich, erste Erfahrungen im Marketing ebenfalls.

Schon 1989 kam sie zu dem Unternehmen, mit dem man sie noch heute sofort in Verbindung bringt: Bartle Bogle Hegarty. In London betreute sie namhaftes Klientel wie Coca-Cola und Polaroid. Nach einem Intermezzo in Singapur – um dort den asiatischen Zweig von BBH zu gründen – kam sie 1998 schließlich nach New York.

Sie war gerade einmal sechs Jahre in den USA, da wählte man sie zur „Advertising Woman of the Year“. Die Nische, die Gallop besetzt habe, bestehe darin, ihre Kunden auf einer emotionalen Ebene zu binden und dabei immer eine Alternative zum Mainstream zu bieten, sagte einst der Guardian in einem Portrait über sie. Mit „Gallop-Time“ ritt sie das Unternehmen noch bis zum Jahr 2005 in den Erfolg, um ihren Job bei BBH US nach 16 Jahren abzugeben.

Gallop schaffte den Schnitt und engagiert sich seither mit Social Entrepreneurship-Projekten wie  ifwerantheworld.com, das kürzlich auch bei Wired.com und von Craig Newmark in der Huffington Post porträtiert wurde. Wer sich für das Projekt interessiert, kann auch schon mal im Feature des City Magazines tolle Impressionen gewinnen. Am 8. Oktober 2009 wird Cindy Gallop sonst auch Speaker auf dem ADC Brands and Ideas Congress (BIC) in Berlin sein. Vorab stand sie Gründerszene schon mal in einem Text-Interview Rede und Antwort zu den spannenden Themen, die ihr Leben zurzeit ausfüllen:

Cindy, you are supposed to be a marketing veteran as you have been the global marketing chief and U.S. chairman for BBH that did brand campaigns for Levi’s, Axe Body Spray and other brands. What lead the way to your current undertaking ifwerantheworld.com, a platform that shall foster online activism in order to help others?

I am someone who is extremely action-oriented. I’m all about making things happen; I believe in ‘Be the change you want to see’; and I have a low tolerance level for people who complain about things but never do anything to change them. Which led me to thinking that the single biggest pool of untapped natural resource in this world is human good intentions that never translate into action.

And coming out of my 24 years‘ experience in marketing and advertising, I know that there is another, equally large, untapped pool of resource – corporate good intentions. The intentions of companies who know that in order to earn the right to do business in the world today you have to be, quote, ‘corporately social responsible’, and who often have substantial budgets dedicated to CSR; employ whole teams of people whose purpose is to find effective ways to spend those budgets; but  all too often waste them doing things like taking out full page ads in the paper saying ‘Look how green we are’ that nobody reads – and at the same time miss the opportunity to integrate social responsibility with day to day business objectives, in a way that proves you can do good and make money simultaneously.

I decided I wanted to find a way to bring those two things together – human good intentions and corporate good intentions – and to activate them collectively into shared action, against shared objectives, that would produce shared and mutually ownable results. That’s what led to ifwerantheworld.com.

Your assumption is that the whole social sector turns from a top down approach to bottom up instead. Why is that and how do you plan to translate human good intentions into action?

Actually, that is something that is true of every single sector in the world right now.  The old, top-down model is broken – the model that says we need hierarchies and structures and organizations to make things happen. Taking its place is the new bottom-up model – one of people power, collaboration, collective action, democratization. You can see this happening everywhere. I am tapping into this, to use the power of crowdsourcing and the ease of small increments to translate good intentions into action.  Just as Kiva pioneered microfinance and Twitter pioneered microblogging, I would like more people to feel that whatever their situation and capabilities, everybody undertaking Micro-actions really does have the potential to make cumulative, significant impacts.

You are about to combine company efforts and human good intentions: How might this look exactly? Do you see ifwerantheworld.com more as a presentation platform or as a catalyst?

IfWeRanTheWorld is a ‚web meets world‘ play – an extremely simple, crowdsourced, collective-action-generating platform that is designed to make it easy to make things happen in the real world and be able to see the results. As such, IfWeRanTheWorld is not a destination in itself, nor a conventional online social network – it is a web tool designed to do one thing only, which is turn intention into action.  So in that context, a catalyst.

IfWeRanTheWorld will use a combination of crowdsourcing and algorithms to reduce any answer to the question ‘If you ran the world, what would you do?’ to tangible, achievable goals composed of a series of Micro-actions. The Micro-action is the ‘atomic unit’ of IfWeRanTheWorld in the same way that the tweet is the atomic unit of Twitter. In fact, it’s the action equivalent of ‘140 characters or less’ –  a Micro-action is an incredibly small, simple action that is so easy to do, why wouldn’t you do it? Micro-actions can be generated, matched with and picked up by anyone, and sent out to friends, colleagues, brands, businesses, consumers and celebrities as targeted Invitations to act. The platform is designed to self-propagate as its own ‘viral action feedback loop.’  Brands can invite consumers to pick up Micro-actions, and vice versa.

User profiles can’t be faked or crafted, but are automatically generated by completed Micro-actions, so that users self-identify and self-express  as the sum of their actions. Literally, ‘You are what you do.’ This results in Action Branding: personal Action Branding for individuals and corporate Action Branding for brands and businesses.

Your personal claim says “Why walk when you can gallop?”. Do you see the internet galloping as well? Will we have a user dominated information universe soon or will George Orwell be right after all? Or rather something in between these extremes?

I should tell you that my ex-boss John Hegarty wrote that tagline for me! And yes, these days disruption is the new normal, so in that sense I do see the internet galloping as well, and short-circuiting many things in very interesting ways. The answer to your second question is ‚both‘. The internet empowers everyone in extraordinary ways, while enabling all sorts of entities to collect, store and analyze all sorts of extraordinary data about everyone that was never available before. It raises all sorts of new and interesting questions about ethics, acceptability and principles of approach.

Since you are an expert for brand reputation: What has changed in this field since the internet came up? Are there new tools or just old strategies in a new medium?

The internet is responsible for the fact that today the new marketing reality is complete transparency. Everything a brand does today is in the public domain. It’s no longer possible to hide behind paid-for messaging or to craft a ‘brand image.’ Today’s marketing programs need to be designed to both allow for and to leverage real-time consumer response, organic development and constant disruption. The good news is there’s a very simple solution – total brand honesty. Know what you stand for, be what you stand for, and act on it, and you will build a positive image and impact. That’s why I believe what I call Action Branding is so important. New tools demand and place even more of a premium on, not old strategies, but what have always been the right, most effective, most enduring strategies – brand integrity, honesty, social responsibility, social benefit.

On your website you write “radical, groundbreaking, transformative”: Which concepts deserve these attributes nowadays? Are these concepts found online or rather offline?

The most radical, groundbreaking, transformative concepts change the way we live for the better. The internet has the power to change the way we do everything – to the extent that the term ‚internet-enabled‘ is as redundant as ‚electricity-enabled‘; these days it’s part of the fabric of life. As such, you can’t differentiate between online and offline. eBay provided an online mechanism to make auctioning and purchasing anything easier;  Etsy makes craft cottage industries viable businesses; Match.com helps people fall in love and settle down together. They’re all real-world effects powered by the digital age.

Your background shapes you as a person that is about getting things done. So what is your advice, then, for young people that are interested in entrepreneurship? How might they get things done?

The single most important thing is that you don’t set out to ‚be an entrepreneur‘ – but rather that you have an idea, a concept, the fulfilment of a social need, that you feel passionately about and passionately want to make happen. One of my favorite quotes is ‚The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.‘ That’s one of the biggest drivers of success – because passion will communicate itself, to the people you need to help you and to the audience and the customers you want to reach.

And then, I would say, when we’re operational, use IfWeRanTheWorld! We designed it as a platform that anyone can use to make anything happen – so young entrepreneurs looking to start up a venture could use it to crowdsource Micro-actions to help them achieve their goals, as much as anyone else!

Cindy, thanks a lot for these interesting insights and all the best for IfWeRanTheWorld!