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Leo Burnett Company, Limited
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Chicago

A.J. Hassan on Authenticity in the Social Media Age

A.J. Hassan knows a thing or two about leveraging social media to take a campaign’s message to the next level. The VP, creative director on the Always account helped create the “#LikeAGirl” campaign that took social media and award shows like the Emmys, Webbys and Cannes by storm.

With that in mind, we recently sat down with A.J., ahead of her appearance at this week’s &Then Conference, hosted by the Direct Marketing Association, to ask: How does a brand authentically approach the marriage of technology and creative content? What does it take to create that authenticity and connect with an audience? We also wanted to know what trends she’s got her eye on.

Watch her answer above and read the extended Q&A below.

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What trends are you currently watching to stay on the leading edge of the industry?

My eyes are locked on the social revolution. Industry wide, we’re seeing awesome creative and content delivery transformations happening at a mind-blowing pace to keep up with tech-connected audiences.

What opportunities do you believe are under-leveraged by marketers and why?

Creating for social by design, and particularly mobile, will lead the next generation of great marketing ideas. Right now, too many brands and marketers are still clutching to the comfort of the old-media formats and creative formulas. It’s time to stop sitting at the fork in the road. Embrace the unknown and drive ahead, fast.

What examples of best-in-class campaigns have you seen in the marketplace? What can we learn from these innovators?

Volvo “Epic Split,” Samsung “Safety Truck” and Apple “Shot on iPhone.” These are three that I love. Each is very different in execution, but share a key ingredient. Their stories are built from a unique yet authentic human insight—love of entertainment, a desire to feel safe and the joy of self-expression.

What risks or unknowns loom for marketers?

The biggest risk in my opinion for marketers is navigating today’s device-centric audiences. Be authentic or be dismissed. Millennials smell inauthenticity a mile away, and technology makes it easy to keep scrolling if your message isn’t relevant or interesting to me.