A Digital Team Dedicated to Empathy
Lisbon, September 27th, 2016
ComOn Agency is anything but common. Based in Lisbon, Portugal, much more than a by-the-book digital team, the diverse group at ComOn Agency calls themselves a “user marketing agency”. Digitial runs deep in their blood, but they place extra emphasis on truly understanding the users who consume their digital content. Over the past 15 years, ComOn has grown to become a leading voice in this specialized area. A collection of professionals from different backgrounds, ComOn Agency focuses on these six major areas of digital: Strategy, Content, Technology, Social, Media and Intelligence. At its core, empathy runs deep in everything they do. The crew at ComOn truly cares about understanding people. Digging deep into core human traits allows them to create winning campaigns that strike chords with people’s thoughts and motivations.
One of the agency’s most devout advocates of this concept of empathy is Filipe Macedo, ComOn’s CMO and Head of Social. While Filipe is in charge of social and strategy, his skills extend to all realms of the digital world and his diverse background working in the fields of computer engineering and DJ-ing make him incredibly versatile. Filipe refers to himself as “The MADvertiser” — a nickname that cleverly represents his skills. Across his presence on social media, Filipe labels himself as having MAD skills— (M)arketing, (A)dvertising, and (D)igital. The acronym also calls attention to his abilities to create (M)eaningful, (A)mazing and (D)isruptive things. It doesn’t take long to see that Filipe is mad good at what he does. Leading by example, Filipe is active across all social platforms and has a deep understanding of the elements needed in a successful campaign. To learn more about the agency’s empathy-focused user marketing strategy, we chatted with Filipe to learn his story and opinions on all things digital.
Does the agency primarily work with clients in Portugal, Europe, or all over the world?
Mostly Portuguese clients, but some of those clients also have operations abroad. We’ve also done some work for some UK clients.
Describe ComOn agency in 3 adjectives:
Emphatic — We understand other people’s point of view, users, clients, co-workers, partners.
Collaborative — We are all creative, open to change, open to work with others.
Passionate — We are passionate about always learning, thinking, and advancing in the field.
What is a campaign you worked on that was especially successful and why?
The digital campaign for the FOX TV series “Outcast” in Portugal was a huge success for our team. All results were well above what the client expected, especially since the premiere ratings beat the popular show “Game of Thrones” in audience numbers.
In your opinion, what ingredients are key to create a successful digital campaign?
A deeper understanding of your user starts from basic human needs, or understanding the concept of empathy.
Strategy goes hand in hand with creativity; the two cannot function alone.
Promises are not enough anymore. The talk has to be backed by actions and brands have to take action in order to prove what we say.
How would you define creativity?
To me, creativity is doing things in new ways or mixing together unusual elements. From these components, new ideas are born.
What is your story working at the agency?
My first contact with the advertising industry was in a Nike campaign with Cristiano Ronaldo. They invited local talents to partner with key sports figures from each country, and I was chosen to work with Ronaldo. Afterwards ComOn invited me to run Nike’s social media as a writer and community manager in which I then proceeded to spend a year doing project management. Later on, they gave me the responsibility of putting together the new social media team. I’ve been Head of Social for the last 4 years and currently lead a strong team of 10. My role involves more managerial tasks including developing strategy for several brands.
How did you become interested in digital media and marketing? At a young age or at the university level?
I have a masters in Computer Engineering, but it was after completing the London School of Economics summer school program titled “E-Business in the Digital Age” that I realized my love for the field of digital marketing. Prior to that program I was working at KPMG. I left my job and spent one year DJing, building a name for myself in the dance music world mostly with social media. From these passions, a new career was born.
What do you see as some up-and-coming social media platforms?
I see the importance and usage of “dark” social platforms rising in the next months/years, mostly messaging apps like WhatsApp, Slack and Messenger or even Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
What kinds of skills/qualities do you think you need to possess to be a strong community manager?
I believe that most skills can be taught, but values you either have or you don’t. That why the top qualities I look for are soft skills: Curiosity (never stop learning); Responsibility (reliable people that take ownership of what they do); Passion (you can’t teach passion, but it’s extremely contagious); Team Spirit (less ego, more collaboration); Easygoing (when people aren’t having any fun, they don’t produce good social content).
What do you do for inspiration? Are there online publications, professionals, industry leaders you read/follow?
I find that simply reading and talking to people gives me great ideas.
Please list a few of your favorite digital brands:
Lego, General Electric, Uber, Taco Bell, Red Bull, GoPro, Airbnb, Netflix, and Vice.
What do you like doing in your free time?
Reading and playing sports.
What is a digital trend that is here to stay, at least for the relative time being?
Satisfied users are the best marketers. Brands should take advantage of this and tap into using their customers’ experiences and real stories as pieces of content. Let your users market your brand for you.
What advice do you often give to people who are starting to work in your same field?
It’s not what you know, it’s how fast you can learn. Advertising is constantly changing, so your ability to learn faster than others is your real competitive advantage. To be successful, you’ll never be done. You’ll always be learning new stuff and new skills.
Another important piece of advice is to learn to say no. We think we’re supposed to say yes to everything, but trying to do everything usually means not doing anything very well. Learning to say no – “No, thank you” more specifically – is invaluable, especially for young professionals.
Finally, read more. Reading can help improve problem solving, expand your vocabulary, and even cultivate exposure to different ways of thinking.
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