Mindshare Unplugged: Meet Stephanie Fleming

Every month, Mindshare Unplugged spotlights and interview rising stars across Mindshare North America – people who exemplify our core values of Grit, Provocation, Speed, and Collaboration. Say hello to Stephanie Fleming, Director of Communications Planning in Toronto, and find out what makes her tick.

About Stephanie: Stephanie is based in Mindshare’s Toronto office and leads communications planning across Kimberly-Clark and several other accounts. She joined Mindshare five years ago, coming from a research role at Carat Canada. She’s originally from Ottawa but moved to Toronto for its “Canadian tropical” climate. Outside of work she enjoys traveling – most recently she visited Brazil.

1) What consumer trend(s) do you think marketers need to be paying attention to?

Today we live in a world where advertisers are wrapped around the finger of the consumer and not the other way around. Audiences are increasingly tuning out ads, and we’re seeing a transformation in the way consumers can demand the very best services, quality, and experiences at all times. Advertising needs to adapt to tell stories, create hyper-personalized messaging, and look more like content to address this consumer trend. These brand stories must be so engaging, entertaining, informative, and valuable that consumers actually seek them out, choosing to see and hear our brands.

We also need to pay close attention to technographic segmentation in addition to demographic. Mobile devices have quickly changed consumption patterns, and continue to do so. We now consume media the same way we consume snacks: in bite-sized moments. These intent-rich moments are becoming the new battleground for brands – the place where consumer affinity and dollars are won.

2) What inspired you to go into the advertising/media industry?

I got a taste for advertising in University while pursuing my business degree and knew it was for me. I was good at math and finance classes, but ultimately I wanted to pursue a career that flexed both my analytics and creative muscles, so I majored in marketing. Plus, the marketing majors seemed way more fun than the accounting grads. Following graduation, I moved to Toronto and started my career in the research department of a media agency.

I’ve always been most interested in understanding consumers and what truly motivates them to choose one brand over another. Because of that, it was only natural that I would move from research to media planning to now communications planning.

3) Give us one big prediction for the advertising / media industry. What’s next in ten years?

Ten years ago, Blockbuster underestimated Netflix, and Blackberry definitely didn’t anticipate Apple’s impact on their business. I think that now, more so than ever before, it’s important to think big picture and long term, not just for brands but for the agency model as well.

Agencies underwent an unbundling of sorts in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, with media breaking off into separate entities. Over the next ten years, I anticipate we’ll see a re-bundling but in a different way. The re-bundling will involve disciplines not normally associated with agencies: psychologists, data scientists, journalists, visual designers, anthropologists etc. New agency models will unfold as a necessity to meet changing consumer needs. In turn, this will allow agencies to continue delivering on their clients’ needs and continue to be indispensable business partners.