Creativity 50 2015

Creativity 50 2015: Amber Gadsby

Digital Marketing Director, Domino's

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Amber Gadsby
Amber Gadsby Credit: Courtesy Domino's

Text or tweet and that pizza will be on its way, thanks in large part to Amber Gadsby.

She helps find new and emerging ways customers might want to interact with Domino's. Along with a tech team and Crispin Porter & Bogusky's Boulder office, Ms. Gadsby's group brought the pie-in-the-sky idea of ordering by emoji to life in a matter of months.

Domino's and CP&B, which have worked together since 2008, have long stretched their digital muscle. By the end of 2014, months before emoji ordering, half of Domino's U.S. sales came from digital orders, with half of those sent from mobile devices. Ideas executed earlier in 2015 included a pizza tracker visible on Samsung Smart TVs and letting patrons place orders through smartwatches. With emoji use skyrocketing, the pizza was already a familiar part of the lexicon that was waiting for its moment.

At first, Ms. Gadsby recalled, an SMS vendor suggested it wouldn't work. She helped get around that "doesn't work" philosophy. "It's just really pushing on those opportunities when you're really feeling like yes, there is a solution, we just need to find it," she said.

One big leap was putting it out there in the very public forum of Twitter, where interactions were there for all to see. "That one was a bit higher risk for us because there's huge visibility and that's a very public conversation you're having," said Ms. Gadsby.

After tackling technology hurdles, it was time to get creative to promote the plan in a meaningful way. The "emoji takeover" campaign included tweets filled with nothing but pizza emoji, followed by "an emoji literacy" campaign.

The effort took home a Titanium Grand Prix at Cannes and a Grand Clio for social media.

Ad Age: How do you tackle creative challenges?

Amber Gadsby: The first time is sometimes just taking a break and letting things marinate for a little bit and looking at things from a new perspective. Certainly getting an outside point of view is always helpful. Sometimes you're in the middle of the forest and you can't really see the big picture on it. What's also important is making sure that there's a good culture that I create for my team and that leadership creates here as well. We're definitely strong believers in taking educated risks. Sometimes you might not have all the answers and you need to not let a good program or a good opportunity be paralyzed by always wanting to make it great. There's opportunities to launch things in beta form and learn live in the marketplace. Obviously, depending on the scale of that risk, that's a way. But I think being willing to move forward on things and evolve as they go rather than making sure everything is perfect from the beginning. You'll be paralyzed.

Ad Age: What was your biggest creative challenge of the past year, and how did you tackle it?

Ms. Gadsby: When we were initially really jazzed about the idea of launching emoji ordering, the piece of using the emoji and on Twitter were probably the most complicated. To really figure out how do you translate a tweet into a full ecommerce transaction and just understanding all the components under the hood to make that work and all of the things that also can go wrong in that process and troubleshooting your way through them. Obviously Twitter is an amazing company but they're also not outfitted for big enterprise ecommerce solutions. There's a little bit of finding your way to the right people in that organization to actually make sure that our data is flowing in a way that's consistent and when people are wanting to order pizza we can communicate back to them, and that collaboration between them and troubleshooting had a lot of stops and starts. A lot of technology hurdles to get through.

Ad Age: What's your definition of creativity?

Ms. Gadsby: I think understanding your audience, being able to capture their attention and fulfill on whatever it is on trying to deliver. Being able to follow through.

Ad Age: What's the best advice you've gotten when it comes to nurturing your creativity and taking chances?

Ms. Gadsby: Being able to identify a problem and creating a solution for it … (being) given the permission to take a risk knowing that there's opportunity for failure. Because if you're not going to swing for the fences you're never going to get that home run. There are certainly times where we've actually celebrated failures in some respects here, because it's a great learning opportunity and it demonstrates that you're pushing and innovating.

Ad Age: Is there anything else you do to get out of a slump or move on after a failure?

Ms. Gadsby: Sharing the learnings from those failures and understanding what could we do differently, what should we have done differently so that really informs us for the next time … Not so much to rehash or blame, but how do you demonstrate that in terms of using it as a motivator rather than a deterrent for future progress.

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