Jamming brand and partnerships
SCOTT OXFORD: 00:01.843 Good day. I'm Scott Oxford, and welcome again to Brand Jam, the podcast where we jam about brand because brand is our jam. You can probably tell, I'm somewhat of a brand evangelist. My day job is head of strategy and creative for New Word Order, an Australian brand and creative agency. So I live and breathe brand every day. And talking to people who own, manage, or empower brands is my happy place. Today's guest is all about empowering brands. I'm jamming with Adam Furness, APAC managing director for Impact, a company dedicated to transforming the way brands and enterprises manage and optimise all types of partnerships, tapping into the potential of the varied partnerships economy including affiliates, influencers, strategic business partners, mobile apps, publishers, and more.
SCOTT OXFORD: 00:57.041 A business operations and development expert, Adam has 20-plus years of experience in the APAC market and has a true passion for technology-based startups. Prior to joining Impact, Adam spent 4 years at RhythmOne, formerly RadiumOne, where his most recent role was managing director Asia-Pacific. He's also held senior leadership roles in sales, strategy, cross platform, and business development at Southern Cross Austereo, Macquarie Radio Network, and Mi9, formerly Ninemsn. Adam's passion about giving back to the industry and community. A current active board member of UnLtd, spelt UnLtd, a social purpose organisation connecting the media, marketing, and creative industries with charities helping children and young people at risk and is a founding member of their precursor, Mayday. He is big proponent of internal brand too, having implemented an employee coaching program and leading a range of employee initiatives like a Friday all hands, internal podcasts, community program with OzHarvest and UnLtd to hashtag create impact and an extensive diversity and inclusion or DEI program. He's the APAC DEI lead, sits on the DEI council globally and personally drives the ideation across APAC, most recently through a Walk for Black History Month and charity fundraising for Women's History Month and Pride Week. As you can tell from that intro, he's a super busy guy, so I'm so thankful he's made time to talk connection through partnerships with me today. Adam, welcome to Brand Jam.
ADAM FURNESS: 02:26.808 Thanks, Scott. What an intro, man. Thank you very much. So good to be here.
SCOTT OXFORD: 02:32.019 So I mentioned connection, and we're going to get to partnerships because that's really what you're all about. But I want to start by asking you, what does connection mean to you?
ADAM FURNESS: 02:42.996 I think it's why we exist, being human. I think it is all about-- it is all about connection, so it's really important to me. I did a process a little while ago of working out what I truly care about, Scott. And the three things that I truly care about, one is evolving, so being less of a dickhead: a better father, a better husband, a better human. The second is connecting people together, so personally, professionally, they can help each other out and build value. And then the third is teaching or sharing based on my many values and a few wins along the way. So to me, it's core to who I am and what I really care about.
SCOTT OXFORD: 03:26.778 Yeah. we talk a lot about failure as not only being a fact of life but being actually absolutely essential to success. And, yeah, so that certainly comes into play when you're building a business. But when it comes to sort of building connection between people, I always say brand has to work hardest before a person's dealing with a person, and then it sort of lives in the relationship between those people. So between that customer and the brand. So how do you guys define a customer and a brand-building connection?
ADAM FURNESS: 04:03.768 Yeah. So look, from an impact perspective I guess, I actually think about customers-- I think my people are our customers, so our team are my customers. I think there's customers which are internal stakeholders. I think customers are our business partners. And kind of the community around us, I kind of think of them more as our customers. And I think brand is built by authenticity. It's built by transparency. It's built by vulnerability, as well as actually showing up in the world and saying, "Hey, these are some things that we're great at, but we're working on these things. Hey, we might've failed here, but this is what we're doing. Hey, we made a mistake there, and we're working on it." And I think building your brand is the way that you connect with all of those various sort of stakeholders or customers. And from my perspective, there's so many different types of customers, and the brand is just, whether that's a personal brand or the brand of impact, if we're talking about the brand of impact, is being true all the way through each of those conversations with each of those different stakeholders and various parties.
SCOTT OXFORD: 05:22.852 Yeah. I really love that idea of defining our customers as not just being the people that buy products or that we sell to, but our customers are the people who have interaction and ownership. And our first and foremost potentially customers are the people that work for us and within us. And so seeing them as internal customers is a real shift for a lot of business leaders I know. Do you find it's prevalent out there in the marketplace, that people see their own people internally as customers?
ADAM FURNESS: 05:55.359 I'm not sure, actually Scott. I'm really not sure. I think for me, it was just sort of-- I was trying to work out what I should focus on, because I get quite scattered. You mentioned sort of in my intro, there's a fair bit that's kind of going on. So what I try to do, is I try to come back to, what is it that I truly care about, and what's kind of the single kind of focus? And when I went through that process, where I landed was, if I was to focus on one thing, that would be to recruit, retain and inspire top customers. And then I thought to myself, "Who are my customers?" And that's kind of the process that I went through. So I would say that a lot of leaders would do similar types of things when you've got so much on, and you're not quite sure what to focus on. Some people are really good at that kind of focusing and being operationally focused day in, day out. I find I need to plan. I find I need to lock in time in my diary. And there was a time that I locked in that I really just spent that couple of hours trying to get to the core, trying to get to-- if there was one thing that I could do, that could make a big difference in our business, what would that be? And that's where I sort of landed.
SCOTT OXFORD: 07:09.712 Yeah. So you're pretty connected to your own people and to creating opportunities and by your own admission, deeply human and extremely busy in the process, and that's hard work. Because you have a whole lot of customers outside as well, and they're the people who pay your organisation money to provide your service to them, and it's a pretty interesting service. And that's where I want to dive into this whole idea of partnerships, and partnerships that build connection. So you're in the business of helping organisations to work together in a partnership, in order to build greater connection with their audiences?
ADAM FURNESS: 07:51.871 Yeah. I mean, absolutely. So we provide this technology that allows any business and business or business and person, so that’s an influencer, kind of work together where there's a value exchange. So the technology allows a business to discover other businesses or people they'd like to work with, kind of report on how it's working, make payments, do the tracking, and do that at scale. But it takes the heavy lifting out of sort of the back end of the partnership so they can have that human connection and develop that deep trust where all parties win. So the business that is licensing our technology needs to win. Typically that's via a sale. So they will partner with someone else who is driving them a sale or a lead or some kind of business outcome. So for them, that's a sale, lead a business outcome. That referring partner, if you like, gets paid based on driving that lead or that sale, and who they're actually attracting to drive that lead or sale is their audience. So their audience needs to receive some kind of value to be driven to buy something as well. So maybe's that's a discount, or maybe that's some exclusive content, but it's trust. And in order for each party to win, they really need to care about each other and make sure they're doing the right thing by each other, and that's where this trust is super important in the partnership, and community is built around that, and connection is built throughout that as well. So we're like the infrastructure bringing it all together and allowing businesses to form any types of partnership and do it at scale. I guess what they're trading on there is trust in convention and where all parties have to kind of win for it to work.
SCOTT OXFORD: 09:47.175 Yeah. So it sounds like not just a win-win, but a triple win as in the customer--
ADAM FURNESS: 09:50.129 Win-win-win [laughter].
SCOTT OXFORD: 09:50.985 Yeah, yeah.
ADAM FURNESS: 09:51.966 That's it, Scott.
SCOTT OXFORD: 09:53.015 Yeah, which is an excellent outcome for everybody. And as you say, trust is absolutely at the centre because if you're going to join forces with another business that has its own business goals, you are essentially taking some risks. You're going to rely on them to do the right thing, to keep their reputation clean, to live up to their side of the bargain. So trust is at the very centre of the relationship, and trust is something that you earn, but clearly, if you are creating linkages between organisations, there must be some real fit there, and there must be some methods of understanding who's going to work with who and exactly what's likely to give them the success that they are all looking for.
ADAM FURNESS: 10:46.900 Totally. So I think there's a book out actually. It's called Measure What Matters. Part of this ecosystem is the ability to kind of measure what you say and what you're kind of expecting is going to happen. So the results of-- let me give you a couple of examples to bring this to life. So someone that licenses our technology is, let's say Ticketmaster. So Ticketmaster licensed our technology. They have various types of partnerships. One of those partnerships is with Spotify where you go into Spotify, you're listening to your favourite artist, and then that artist may have a concert coming up. So then a link gets surfaced via Spotify. You click on that link and then you through to buy a ticket at Ticketmaster. So that is a partnership. That's a native integration between Ticketmaster and Spotify where Spotify is being paid based on driving sales to Ticketmaster. Now Spotify could say, "We've driven you 100,000 sales Ticketmaster, and you owe us $500,000." Now what our system does is ensure that is actually the case. So being the system of record and saying, "Well, here we go. Here's the data which shows how many sales are being driven, you've got a contract via our system so there's an agreement, it becomes a system of record and everyone sort of trusts it. So that kind of builds trust in that eco-system, being a system of record third party which has great sort of, tracking and functionality around it. So that's what we kind of provide is that single source of the truth, if you like Scott, that system of record between all of these various partners, and do that at scale.
SCOTT OXFORD: 12:29.709 And that essentially makes you an agent of trust. You are facilitating, not just a connection, not just technology, but you're actually putting the expectations in place, putting the boundaries in place, that help everybody understand what those expectations are, and give them some security to know that they're not just relying on another reputable organisation to do the right thing, but there's actually an extra check and balance in place.
ADAM FURNESS: 12:57.267 Man, I love that. Agent of trust. I'm going to use it.
SCOTT OXFORD: 13:01.704 Go for it. I do write for a living, I probably should charge you for that, you know? That's in return for kindly guesting on today. But, yeah it is, I do a lot of work in brand every day and this concept of trust where we do see big brands that do betray our trust. And I listened to a great podcast yesterday, an interview with a founder of a massive, massive platform that had some reporting that there was some problems in their ratings system, and it was front-page of newspapers all over Australia. And suddenly there was this sense that maybe they weren't as trustworthy as they once were. It turns out it was not intentional, that there was a small glitch infecting 3% of the reviews on their site and they rectified it and they were able to sort of fix that. But it's not always an intentional act of distrust when a large organisation-- because large organisations are full of people, aren't they? They're full of people, and things fall down. So this--
ADAM FURNESS: 14:17.992 Can I ask you on that Scott? Because this is-- it's kind of interesting, is-- How did they respond to it? Can you remember how they responded to it?
SCOTT OXFORD: 14:25.954 Yeah. They responded by really, sort of coming out, and actually coming very, very clean on exactly what had happened. They got to the bottom of it. Because it was such a small problem, I mean it was considered a big problem, but it affected such a small amount of their massive database, that as soon as they noticed it they were able to fix it and rectify it. but they pretty much came out and fessed up. And I'm sure all large organisations use crisis comms in these times to message well, but they came out and said, "Trust is important. Trust is everything." And as a result of that, whether there was sort of, damage done these things happen in life, but I think there's nothing better at rebuilding trust than actually coming clean and coming out and saying, "Here's what happened, here's why it happened." And again you just, you need to rely on your customers to leverage some of that trust that you've built with them in the time that you've been working with them in order to restore that and be able to move forward. But I don't think there's many organisations-- one of the questions I ask is lot is, "Is there a brand that's broken trust with you?" And in some cases, some of the big guys have been named, such as Volkswagen in the emissions scandal and the like. Other times guests choose to not mention a name but mention a situation, and sometimes it's intentional and sometimes it's not, but again, that's got to be something that you, as an organisation, in your role, in terms of positively keeping two parties accountable, it is a role that you'd have to play in helping people, customers, manage that trust as well. So is there a brand that's broken trust with you?
ADAM FURNESS: 16:28.934 Look, I'm not going to name a brand but there was a headphone brand that I purchased and it said it was going to map itself to my ear and all this sort of stuff. I don't want try to give it away too much but anyway, so it said it would map itself to your ear, you'd get personalised listening, and then I was so excited about it. It was an Australian brand. I think they'd received some funding. And I got it, I received it. It didn't really map itself to my ear and I put it in my ear and it felt uncomfortable. It kind of felt heavy. All the reviews were saying, oh, no, it's good. And then I was really disappointed and I tried. I really wanted to like this brand and love this brand. So I wouldn't say it betrayed my trust but it was just a disappointment. There was kind of a deep disappointment there in what I expected the product to be and the brand to be, and just the delivery of the product experience and kind of the brand. I sent it back and I got my money back which was good but--
SCOTT OXFORD: 17:40.097 So they were an honourable organisation because I'm guessing you couldn't try it before you bought it. You needed to buy it in order to try it.
ADAM FURNESS: 17:47.684 I do think there was a 30 or 90 day money back, so that was a good thing but it was more about the disappointment. The kind of brand story and the product story led to it being something that it wasn't and that was kind of the big thing for me.
SCOTT OXFORD: 18:06.005 Yeah, well, that's brand promise, isn't it? That's where promise to be one thing and that's another pretty important aspect of trust, isn't it, when brand tells a story and falls short of fulfilling the promise that they made to you.
ADAM FURNESS: 18:23.265 100%. It's a expectation thing and you may ask on the other side, is there kind of a brand that delivers all the time, and this is where the disappointment, I guess, came because Apple is the brand that I think of, for me, that it's a brand that I really do trust and I just love it. It just works for me. I love the design, things kind of connect together, I feel good kind of wearing it, and what I did there is when those headphones didn't work for me, I just went back and got the ones that I'm kind of wearing now which are the Apple sort of pods or buds, and it's just been a great experience.
SCOTT OXFORD: 19:03.932 Yeah. It's consistency. And Apple's been accused of not necessarily innovating as much but I've got a pair of those same air pods that you're wearing and Saturday I had to dash into a fast-flowing creek to rescue my stupid dog [laughter] from drowning and my AirPod Pros were in my pocket, and I kind of came out dripping went and I was like, "No, that's it. They're dead." And they're fine. They're actually absolutely fine. And I find that Apple continues to surprise and amaze me. Not that I want to sound like a fanboy, although I think we're both sounding a little bit like that right now, but it continues to do innovative things in ways that surprise me, not just in sort of new products and the like. And again, that consistency, the fact that it just works all the time and never lets you down. That's a pretty important one. And the interesting thing about Apple, too, is that they never actually came out and promised that. They just built a sense in us, didn't they, that they kind of earnt that trust over time. And it's a good segue into some of the type of partnerships that you guys facilitate as well because I noticed that you sort of work with influencers, and influencers, I think, is an area where we're all consistently intrigued. We're certainly familiar with the more extreme influencers, the potentially - these are my words - highly-narcissistic extreme-looking influencers who use their social media platforms and obviously are able to sell lots of product off the back of that, but what are some of the more lesser-known types of influencers that, say, you've worked with?
ADAM FURNESS: 21:03.776 Yeah, all different types of influencers. I think the ones where is a question mark around the trust there, Scott-- so there's celebrity influencers, your Kim Kardashians of the world [laughter], and those that want to be like your Kim Kardashians of the world. There is some question marks around the celebrity sort of influencers, but where we find there's a lot of trust and in buyer sort of partnerships is more your nano or micro influencers that have authentic sort of connections with their own audiences and there's that personal relationship to a certain extent. And they may be mummy bloggers, they may be people like you and I, podcasters that are big. I put podcasters into that influencer kind of category as well where there is that trust, there is a relationship with the audience. You can probably email these people or even find them on LinkedIn or DM them and they'll send a message back to you and they have that relationship with their audience. So maybe they have 5,000 people, 10,000 people, maybe they have 100,000 but it's probably under that, and then a brand wants to actually leverage those influencers in their audiences. So in order for them to do that at scale-- so if you could imagine, if you've got one celebrity influencer that may have a questionable sort of trust, that's okay, because they might have millions and millions of followers, but if you want to get the same kind of scale across a bunch of different nano or micro influencers, you need some kind of technology to be able to manage that and that's where the impact kind of tech plays in is that we help brands be able to have millions of influencers that they work with and be able to manage them at scale and then leverage those influencers that have 5,000, 10,000, maybe 100,000 audiences but they have a relationship with those audiences where there's trust and there's authenticity and be able to leverage them at scale. So call them nano, call them micro, call them authentic, different types of influencers from--
SCOTT OXFORD: 23:02.367 And any one of them on their own wouldn't be enough. They wouldn't sort of deliver, but it's the multiples. It's the cumulative of them, lots of these very, very specialty trusting relationships, and it's the volume of it that actually delivers.
ADAM FURNESS: 23:18.700 Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Multiple deeper connected relationships at scale is how a brand can kind of benefit from that multitude. But maybe they'd only need one of you, though, Scott, from your audience grab though. Right? Just one friend, Scott Oxford. That's all you need [laughter]. Just one Brand Jam podcast.
SCOTT OXFORD: 23:44.853 Sign me up, Adam. Put me on your books, hey? Go find me. I do it from the kindness of my heart, Adam. We actually make no money out of this podcast. We do it because we're giving back but it is always in the back of the mind that, "What if we went viral?" What if--
ADAM FURNESS: 24:05.953 Oh, there's a high level trust and value that builds the rest of the business, right? So it's all, yeah you do it for the right reason but ultimately, that value exchange, that trust, the content that you're kind of building gets returned by someone going, "Hey, this guy's pretty good. Maybe we can get him working on our brand."
SCOTT OXFORD: 24:25.397 Yeah, exactly. Well, I have great example that comes to mind. There's a lot of supplements out there. I'm into health and fitness. I'm interested in supplements that support me. I also know that there's a lot out there that you could be taking a placebo. And there was probably a nano influencer who was promoting it and physically, everything about how he looks suggested that he was putting his reputation behind it. But much more interestingly, he did his blood's beforehand and afterwards and actually published the results and was showing tangible proof. He was building absolute trust and putting not just his reputation. But he wasn't just trading on a good body - looking fit - because that doesn't come from a supplement, but certain metabolic changes, for example, that you might be chasing. And I think that's really interesting in terms of-- and yeah I laid down my money for that, and I'm pretty selective about how I do that. And so that's a classic example of a partnership in action whereby, yeah, he alone would not have an audience big enough to make this product sell enough. But many of him, multiples of him linked together and that's what you're going to do.
ADAM FURNESS: 25:47.485 Yeah. So imagine like a referral army, if you like, of individuals that are out there working for brands. We trust the word of mouth, we listen to what our friends say and our family say, and we're kind of moving away from-- well, trust in advertising is at an all-time low. Advertising dollars' going to the duopoly, If you like. The world where we were followed around on the internet by that pair of shoes until you kind of bought them. But there's been this trust sort of--
SCOTT OXFORD: 26:23.606 Harassment [laughter].
ADAM FURNESS: 26:25.587 It's been harassment. And there's been this breakdown in trust and brands are like, "Well, in this world where consumers don't really like advertising or marketing online because there's this sort of fear," they're like, "how do we leverage trust? How do we leverage relationships? How do we leverage this authenticity to grow our brands, to drive our business?" and that's where this whole world of partnership and kind of connection comes into play, and we feel that there's no better time than now with what's happening around the world. You've got deprecation of cookies and inability to sort of track. And then this movement away from trusting advertising and particularly the duopoly. It's like there's this thing that's happening where businesses and brands are going, "What's next?" Question marks around celebrity influencers, they're like, "Okay, well, maybe we can partner with other brands that are like us that we care about, that they have a trusted audience that makes sense. Maybe we partner with thousands of influencers that have smaller audiences. And maybe we can part with charities, and maybe we can part with anyone that we want. But we make the decision on the type of business that we partner with." And that's the space that Impact is sort of playing in and providing technology so these businesses can scale their organisation. So it's a really sort of interesting time, Scott.
SCOTT OXFORD: 27:56.260 Yeah, and what's overarching about that is its relationships that are leveraging. Leveraging is not a dirty word you know. Relationships are a point of connection and it used to be that back in simpler times when we might have trusted advertising to tell us the truth, if that was ever the case, but there was a time, I think, where we connected in that way. And now we want more. We've kind of lost that innocence, I think, as a general public and we have, I think, a natural distrust now. So rather than so prone to trust and then sort of until proven untrustworthy, we've learned. We've been burnt and we're actually much more discerning and much more careful about it. And probably much more demanding as well in terms of we know what we want, we know what we can expect, and it has to deliver on that. And if somebody I trust is going to put their reputation against a particular product or a service, then I am inclined to also trust.
ADAM FURNESS: 29:20.113 100%. I've got two daughters. I've got a 13-year-old and a 10-year-old. And they are the smartest little humans that [laughter]-- much smarter than I ever was, I think. And they're coming into this world and they question everything and they want to know sort of why. But then also, they're not only questioning brands and advertising. They're questioning organisations that they're thinking about working for. And if you look at all that's happening, they're empowered, they're empowered by technology. They have a deeper sense of kind of social responsibility. They want to know that brands that they are buying are actually doing good stuff. They want to know that brands or businesses that they may end up working-- I mean, they're only 10 and 13, but they're thinking about this, and I have conversations with them about them, is they want to know that these businesses are actually doing good things as well. And they're empowered by technology to be able to research and find these things out which is just-- it's really interesting that they're coming through and these audiences, and once again, they're 10 and 13. So it's people that are a little bit older than them, the millennials, that are coming through and they're like, "I don't know about this advertising thing. I don't know whether this is-- I trust it." And so I just see more and more of this is coming through, consumers being empowered, really wanting to buy brands that are doing good, work for organisations that are doing good, feel good about what they're doing. They listen to their friends. They follow certain individuals that they feel like they trust. And it's just a groundswell that isn't going to go away.
SCOTT OXFORD: 31:06.021 Yeah, it sounds to me like you're envisaging the world, not without advertising, but where advertising is about brand awareness, and it is the work that you're doing and similar to it that is actually where the real transaction kind of happens. Because we need to know a brand exists, but it's actually where we feel that we can sort of trust it. I also wanted to say, too, the interesting thing-- I also have a 13-year-old daughter, and these kids are very discerning about the use of their time. And one of the things about-- because everything you told me before about Ticketmaster and Spotify is there's-- it's really not only a natural fit, it's actually really convenient. You're actually skipping four or five steps there. I don't have to go searching for that. I don't have to-- you're actually delivering-- of course, I'm interested in a concert if I'm listening to the music. And suddenly, you're fast-tracking that, saving me a whole lot of time, saving me a whole lot of steps, doing all of these things, and that, I think, is also considered highly valuable, not just by 13-year-olds, but, I think, by all of us in terms of cut to the chase, get to the relevance. We've seen Google do that in the whole way they sort of reworked Search in order to focus on delivering not what businesses and customers need, although businesses and customers actually pay their fees, but it's actually those of us who are searching, it's delivering what we want which is more relevance, more quickly, more focus. So I'm spending less time searching for it and more time in the business of it.
ADAM FURNESS: 32:52.683 Yeah. 100%. And there's a positive pay-off for the brand. So the brand, Spotify, has actually delivered that to me as the audience. I feel good about that. I feel good that Spotify has actually done that. How good is that, that I've got this value? And so there's that positive kind of halo effect for the brand that's delivering it.
SCOTT OXFORD: 33:14.956 Yeah. And both consciously and unconsciously as well because it is that subliminal association which is every time I go there, in the same way that Spotify or Apple Music earn more and more of my time by delivering better and better quality recommendations, and it's exactly the same sort of model of what you're talking about which is they're delivering me things that I didn't even realise I wanted, and that's what I think sort of advertising these days when it's at its best and its most powerful is, delivering me things I need and want but don't quite realise that I want or need.
ADAM FURNESS: 33:55.425 Yeah, totally. Totally.
SCOTT OXFORD: 33:57.402 My online purchases throughout COVID are evidence to the fact that I have turned into the kind of person who can be influenced by things that I never wanted [laughter] before and may not actually need, but that's another story.
ADAM FURNESS: 34:14.459 Oh, hang on. We have to just extend this. Just quickly, during that period, what was the one thing that you bought that has sort of stood out in your mind as that's an interesting purchase?
SCOTT OXFORD: 34:29.684 Really interesting question. I love when people turn the tables on me. It's an unusual story. It was an ad served up by Instagram through a museum store that I had no association with, offering me up this little set of figurines that were all little green army men, but they were all in yoga poses. And it completely set me off on a whole path of thinking about the lessons for business that actually come from yoga and life, and this one sort of odd little purchase has actually been quite transformative in helping me consciously apply the lessons in the yoga room over to life and business. And bet you weren't expecting that kind of answer [laughter].
ADAM FURNESS: 35:34.286 Man, I wasn't. And I love that. I love that. Yeah, I'm pleased I asked the question.
SCOTT OXFORD: 35:37.959 I'm thinking about writing a book about it [laughter].
ADAM FURNESS: 35:42.238 Man, it's really interesting.
SCOTT OXFORD: 35:43.909 I know. And these are the strange connections that happen. I mean, who knew that serving me something up-- I think I had little green army men when I was a kid and--
ADAM FURNESS: 35:53.418 Yes, I definitely did.
SCOTT OXFORD: 35:53.667 --everyone who's seen Toy Story, they brought to life, and when we went to Florida, took the kids to Florida, there was a full-size model of-- so there's something kind of intriguing that takes you kind of back to childhood about the little green army guys and then seeing them all in these perfect poses-- there's a much better down-dog than I do, but it tapped into something from my childhood, but also something from my present as well and then just led me on this sort of interesting path to finding a greater sense of peace. And not just peace. It's actually real productivity. A key lesson about the yoga room versus every other sport and everything else I do is you bring your best on the day but what you bring on the day is what you bring on the day, and it's actually helped me in business to cut myself some slack and know when to call call it and say, "Tomorrow's another day, come back and smash it tomorrow." Every single time. That took me nearly 50 years of age for yoga to teach me this lesson, and what a powerful thing to then take into business. So that's it. What about you? What did you buy during COVID that--?
ADAM FURNESS: 37:12.470 I've bought a bunch of stuff. And I'm in Sydney, we're in lockdown again. But I'm really bad, I just buy stuff, and it turns up, and my wife goes, "Hey you've got a delivery." I think my favourite thing, I bought these skewers. They were Turkish skewer that-- they're stainless steel and when you put them on the barbecue, and you put chicken on they cook the meat unbelievably well. I think they're my favourite purchase. I've used them so many times now. And when I do it, I'm trying to perfect the technique of how I marinate the chicken and what I actually put on the skewers and how long they go on. And I get really competitive with anyone else that tries to use them or has done it. But I reckon they're my favourite purchase. And I've just had so much value out of them. Just these eight stainless steel Turkish skewers, perfect for the barbecue. I'd say that's been my favourite purchase so far.
SCOTT OXFORD: 38:14.656 Did you know that you needed them before you got served up the ad?
ADAM FURNESS: 38:18.674 No, there was no way I needed them. There was no way I needed them. Well, it's an interesting story. I didn't get served up the ad in this one. I went over to my brother-in-law's place, and he had some that his father had bought back from Turkey. And I was like, "Hey." And he said, "They're so good." So this is where the referral thing comes in and trust. He's going these are so good. So I didn't get served up an ad, it came from someone that I trusted, and I went, "Okay." And then I just bought them. Yeah, so there you go. He was an influencer. He's a nano influencer. He's got like three followers.
SCOTT OXFORD: 38:55.362 Micro, micro, micro. Yeah. I think anyone listening and probably me as well, it's just my mind is spinning a little bit on this and suddenly seeing everything through a different lens. So I think it's pretty interesting, and I'm sure our little stories then have only further added to that. But I mentioned those army guys in childhood. What about a brand for you from childhood? Is there something when you first kind of became aware and connected in with the story of a product or something when you were a kid that you remember?
ADAM FURNESS: 39:39.021 Look, McDonald's is a brand that I remember. I'm originally from Brisbane, and we had friends and family in Sydney and every Christmas they'd either come up or we'd go down. And every road trip, there's two things that I distinctly remember from our road trips. One is I-spy which just-- I-spy with the family which just felt like it never ended. I don't know maybe 150 games of I-spy on the way from Brisbane to Sydney and Sydney to Brisbane on that road-trip. And then the other is stopping off at Maccas and getting in there, getting your Happy Meals in at McDonald's. And I just remember the feeling, I just really enjoyed it and it kind of encompasses this whole-- this childhood experience at Christmas, going between Sydney and Melbourne road-trip, I-spy. And McDonald's brought out this ad, maybe it was 10 years ago, maybe it wasn't that long ago, maybe 8 years ago, which was the inner child ad. I'm not sure whether you remember that? They had this ad where the children would come out of adults like their stomachs would open and this child would come out and they really narrowed in on this inner child concept. And I thought, "That is so brilliant" because when I thought about something from my childhood, it was those road trips, and a big part of that was McDonald's. So there you go. So McDonald's. I must admit I don't eat it as much now [laughter]. But it is a brand that is close to my heart.
SCOTT OXFORD: 41:17.724 Yeah. Nice story. I like it. So brand. I know we talked about Apple being a brand that you trust. Is there a brand in your life that you would say you love?
ADAM FURNESS: 41:31.993 I love Audi, not the shopping centre, the car brand.
SCOTT OXFORD: 41:37.647 Why do you love Audi?
ADAM FURNESS: 41:38.987 I just-- I think it's really good quality and I think it's a little understated. I kind of feel good when I'm in an Audi and I'm driving an Audi. And I don't feel like I'm-- personally, I don't feel like I'm sort of showing off. I feel the brand's understated, but it's really good quality, and I feel it just delivers on all the promises. So that's a brand that I really love and I'm a little embarrassed to say this, but I just feel like a better person when I'm driving it.
SCOTT OXFORD: 42:12.965 I love that a car-- I mean, as a bloke, in particular-- and plenty of women that I know too, but as a bloke, in particular, I can totally relate to that idea of what a car and the right car can do for you. But try and dig into that. What do you reckon it is about it? Is it the way it drives, the way it looks? Is it the whole package? Is it the bigger brand story? Is it the fact that it has all the good stuff that a Merc or a BMW has without the particular associations people have with those two brands?
ADAM FURNESS: 42:51.231 Yeah. Look, it's probably all of that. I think, on a deeper level, it is definitely how I feel when I'm driving it. So why do I feel that way? I feel that way because you hop in a seat and it feels kind of comfortable. When you shut the door, it feels solid. It doesn't make that tinny kind of sound [crosstalk].
SCOTT OXFORD: 43:11.394 The thunk. They call it a thunk, I think.
ADAM FURNESS: 43:14.652 Yeah, the thunk.
SCOTT OXFORD: 43:15.655 The thunk.
ADAM FURNESS: 43:15.997 Funk?
SCOTT OXFORD: 43:18.498 The thunk. T-H-U-N-K. Like the German thunk.
ADAM FURNESS: 43:22.924 Okay. Thunk, not funk. Funk is something different. Okay. That's not for this podcast. So it's, yeah, the thunk. Look I just think it's the whole thing. So it's the way it feels. So what does that mean? It's an experience. The experience is how I expected it to be, so it's delivering on the promise, and I also think there's a-- I don't know, a feeling that that brand and me as a person, I feel kind of aligned to it like it--
SCOTT OXFORD: 43:52.648 You fit.
ADAM FURNESS: 43:53.552 Yeah, it just feels like a good fit, so it's all of those things.
SCOTT OXFORD: 43:56.952 Yeah. I totally get that. Absolutely. Is there a big piece of brand advice that you sort of consider to be something that you kind of live and die by? Something that you've either-- a mistake you've seen made regularly around it that you'd do differently, or an approach to that. Because we've talked a lot today about the importance of trust around fit, around relationship, around promise, around fulfilment of all of those things. So when a brand gets those things wrong, it can do damage. So what would your big advice be around brand?
ADAM FURNESS: 44:41.905 Yeah. That you don't have to be perfect. And if you've made a mistake, own up to it. And there's been plenty of brands that have got it wrong, plenty of brands that have done a really good job. I think let's look at a brand that's done a really good job. It was a few years ago now. Remember, was it in the UK that KFC ran out of chicken? Do you remember that?
SCOTT OXFORD: 45:06.473 Yeah.
ADAM FURNESS: 45:06.725 They kind of ran out of chicken. And you're thinking, "How could a restaurant that's all about selling chicken run out of chicken?" And they respond in a way that I thought was really, really cool. They put out an ad, instead of having a page ad in the-- it was the British newspapers, instead of having KFC in their ad, on their bucket, they had FCK. So they had FCK instead of KFC, which is humorous, but then they had a really sincere apology around that, and it was written out. So you read that FCK and it distinctly kind of stands in your head as it's missing a "U", and that was kind of funny, humorous, and then they had a really sincere apology written out underneath it. And I just thought, "That's a really good way to respond to something that could be dire for their business." They're a business that sells chicken and they ran out of chicken. How does that even happen? But they explained it, and they said they're going to get on top of it. And I think that would have done some great things for their brand. So that's an example of a brand that's admitted it, and then they've used a little bit of humour, but then there's sincerity in their apology. And then there's brands on the other side, and I'm trying to think of an example. I saw this movie - actually, this is probably not a bad example - Deepwater Horizon - Deepwater Horizon I think it was called - which was the oil spill that went down. So it was BP. It was BP. I think it was in the US. And it was about this oil spill that went down, and this really had a negative impact on the brand. When the CEO, Tony - I can't remember his last name - he did this apology and it was a bit insincere. And then at the end of kind of the apology, he just said, "I'd just like to get my life back." And it was like, "What? This isn't about you." And I think that was a tact of-- that just did not work. So BP is an example of someone that didn't get it right, because they weren't really sincere in their apology, but didn't realise that. The CEO that fronted the camera was like, "I'd like to get my life back." He used the apology to kind of focus on himself, not focus on the people and those affected and be sincere in the way that he was apologising. So that's a way to get it wrong. Because no one cares about him. No one cares about him.
SCOTT OXFORD: 47:28.975 And he's paid the big bucks to keep that stuff to himself, and to stay awake for as long it takes, really, so.
ADAM FURNESS: 47:36.536 100%. Take ownership of it, take full accountability of it, and just wear it on the chin and be sincere. If you can use humour but then show sincerity in a very balanced way, I think you've got to be very careful in how you do that, but I think the KFC example is a good one there of how they used a bit of humour, and a bit of humour and being human as well, but then were really sincere.
SCOTT OXFORD: 48:04.798 And it just shows that, that big takeout there is, making mistakes doesn't necessarily break trust, making mistakes makes us human, it's in how we respond. And those are a perfect opportunity, actually, to build some deeper relationship and some deeper trust in the way that you respond, if you're authentic, if you're real, and if you can go about the right way.
ADAM FURNESS: 48:27.668 And I think that's the big thing there, Scott, is the difference between an average brand and an exceptional brand is how you respond in situations of adversity or when something goes wrong. That really does differentiate the difference in brands, yes. So, yes, totally agree with you there.
SCOTT OXFORD: 48:46.076 Yeah. I'm dealing with an organisation that has a set of values that serve them very well when everything's going rosy, but when something got difficult is when you're tested on your values. And they were tested and found wanting. It just didn't hold up. It didn't stack up. And in the way that they've responded it's actually permanently damaged my trust in the organisation. And that was an organisation I should have been involved with for quite a while longer, but it's irreparable now because the way they went about it just didn't stack up.
SCOTT OXFORD: 49:32.898 And so I want to circle this also back to where we started, which is talking about connection, talking about partnerships and the way sort of organisations can find fit and can really work together. And I think that's a really dynamic and interesting concept that obviously your business is facilitating. But this idea that we can actually step a little bit outside of our castles and shake hands with somebody who has different business goals and a different shareholder base or ownership base and actually find a way together to be stronger than we are apart. And I think that's quite a beautiful way of looking at where brands can actually be bigger than themselves. And particularly when it comes to a commercial organisation and say not for profit working together. Have you got a good example of one of those where there was sort of a win-win both ways for them?
ADAM FURNESS: 50:36.664 Yeah. I mean, there's a bunch of businesses that have worked across our platform that work with not for profits. Look, one that comes to mind, I guess, is Woolies, Woolworth's Insurance, had a pet insurance product. They worked with a pet rescue place as well. So that pet rescue place could send out EDMs or could send out to their database around kind of pet insurance. And they could get paid based on actually selling that pet insurance. So that's a nice kind of-- they're a charitable organisation. That's a way for them to benefit. Another example - actually this one's from the US - is it's BarkBox. Now BarkBox, they sell boxes, I guess, of products for dogs. And they've partnered with, I think it was like a pet shelter organisation as well. So another pet example. But where every time they sold some-- or actually the BarkBoxes, those boxes were sold through pet shelters. And any time they sold one of those boxes, they would actually be paid for doing that as well. So the pet shelters become distributions points, in that case for the BarkBox, and then they would be remunerated on doing that. So it's a way to kind of leverage an audience of a charity and then they be paid based on actually selling a product as well. So there's a few of those type examples across our platform. But more and more, businesses are wanting to partner with charities in a way that makes sense, in a way that they can kind of add value and help them even, those charities, get a new line of revenue. So yeah, we've seen those more and more.
SCOTT OXFORD: 52:32.308 Reminds me a bit of the old chocolate box that would be put in your office. For me, back in the '90s, there's a chocolate box there, and every time you sort of bought a chocolate, a contribution would go to the social fund or something like that. It's sort of that on a much grander, more altruistic, kind of scale, I I guess, where we can actually support the organisations, there's a good chance we're going to buy. If we're going to-- if we're going to buy pet insurance, we might as well buy it from the one that's actually going to benefit the organisation that we support. So again, natural fit, win-win. Nobody's forcing you to buy the pet insurance--
ADAM FURNESS: 53:09.996 Exactly.
SCOTT OXFORD: 53:10.515 --but if you do. But, yeah, certainly, it comes to buying boxes of things for dogs, yeah, my wife's good at that. And so--
ADAM FURNESS: 53:19.685 And so is mine.
SCOTT OXFORD: 53:20.077 --I'm sure it'd be nice to know that a portion of the profits were going to support. And that's what I love about Who Gives A Crap, a guest of mine on this podcast last year. I love-- very happily buy that box every month knowing that the product's good, but also knowing that a portion of what I'm spending is actually going to provide dignity for people in need around the world. And that's a natural fit there. So it's good.
ADAM FURNESS: 53:51.079 Absolutely. And I think this whole profit for purpose - I mean, we could do a whole other podcast on profit for purpose - is we're okay with organisations making money if they're doing good stuff, and being authentic about it and being upfront that some of the money they're making, they're making profit, but they also are doing good things that make sense for those organisations as well. I think we're going to see more and more of profit-for-purpose organisations. A move away from your tin-rattling charity type organisations. And I think we're okay with that. We're okay with that.
SCOTT OXFORD: 54:31.745 I actually think we're going to probably-- it's going to be a price of entry at a certain point, where if you're not doing that, then I'll go somewhere else. There will be options for everything that enable us to support the things that matter to us in almost every purchase. Adam, we've run out of time, but I do have my last question I ask everyone, which is, clearly, you're fairly solidly employed so you're not looking for a job, but if there was a dream brand to either work for or work on, where would you want to go and get a job? Or who would you like-- who would be your dream client?
ADAM FURNESS: 55:15.743 That's a great question. I actually think, for me, I don't know if there is any brand. I'd love to create my own thing, to be honest. So I've got an idea. I've got an idea of something that I want to do at some stage. And look, it's all about-- I've called it TOM, TOM Network, Transformation of Men. And it's all about just helping blokes get better, is kind of the essence of it, so coaching, training, development, blokes being better blokes, less dickheads. So I would actually like to go in that direction. So it might not have been the answer that you were expecting [crosstalk]--
SCOTT OXFORD: 55:58.500 No. I love it.
ADAM FURNESS: 55:59.763 --it's kind of building my own thing would be where I would be going.
SCOTT OXFORD: 56:05.250 Yeah. Create your own brand. It doesn't sound like you need to create it, it sounds like it already exists, you've just got to build it.
ADAM FURNESS: 56:12.466 Yes. This is true.
SCOTT OXFORD: 56:15.072 Yeah. Adam, I've loved hearing all about partnerships today. Like I said, it's got my mind thinking in a whole set of new ways, which is, I think, particularly around this whole area of partnerships and influencers and the way businesses work together, that's not a new concept. You guys didn't invent that concept, but the way you're talking about it, and particularly that ability to scale, I think's really fascinating. So I just want to thank you for joining me today, and it was great fun jamming together.
ADAM FURNESS: 56:50.872 Scott, I loved it, man. Thank you so much for having me on your podcast.
SCOTT OXFORD: 56:53.818 Pleasure. [music] So you can follow us by subscribing to podcasts, connecting with me, Scott Oxford, on LinkedIn or follow brandjam_podcast on Instagram. You can also read about all my guests at brandjam.co. Drop me a line there or connect me up with the person you want to hear interviewed by me. And to finish, a quote for today, a quote from Scott Cook the co-founder of Intuit. He says, "A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is, it is what consumers tell each other it is." I'm Scott Oxford. Thanks for joining Adam and myself today on Brand Jam. [music]