Tori Rappold | The Innovator 25 2016
Tori RappoldThe Innovator 25:

Tori Rappold

MD & communications lead for Ford Asia-Pacific


"The correlative analysis work we are doing right now at Ford might actually deliver clear comms ROI data"


Rappold was named WPP communications lead for Ford in Asia in 2015, after spending the previous four years leading the global Gillette Venus business for P&G at Marina Maher Communications. Rappold was charged with driving change and innovation through a blended WPP client and agency organization that includes six agencies (public relations, social media and content) operating in 13 markets. If that sounds like a tall order, Rappold has handled the challenge with aplomb, driving deep data analysis, connecting communications strategy to business metrics, developing a communications-focused path-to-purchase and integrating on and offline conversations for modern word-of-mouth programs. Her work has included a vast audit of near and mid-term goals, leading to rapid implementation of numerous capability upgrades, data experiments, integration opportunities and operational rigour over the past 12 months.

How do you define innovation?

Innovation can come with a lot of jargon and buzzwords. Pretty simply, innovation is finding better ways to do things. Better ways to solve problems, better ways to understand complex issues, better ways to communicate something important and better ways to connect with consumers.

Most innovative comms/marketing campaign you’ve seen in the last 12 months?

Actually my favorite campaign is not from a brand right now, it's Conservation International's "Nature Is Speaking" effort. Their objectives are to signal how we take the planet for granted and get people to understand the magnitude of the climate change issue. The execution is innovative because you can tell they've spent a lot of time thinking about how to get people's attention and applied every learning you can think of from the modern digital era. They've chosen top Hollywood talent for video voiceovers, used Instagram style photography to get people to appreciate the beauty of the earth and stylized written content to look more like Buzzfeed. Sometimes Cause campaigns can be really dry and overly intellectual. This one is on the money. The content is simple, powerful and memorable.

What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?

Under Armour has done a great job of embracing different sports and fitness realities while still maintaining a consistent brand personality. Their Rule Yourself platform allows them to tap into growing consumer trends like athleisure, extreme training, and wearable tech in a way that still feels complementary to larger plays like NFL, Olympics, etc. They’ve taken the performance aspect of traditional sports apparel and combined it with the innovation culture of the tech industry. It’s a genius position because trying new things all the time has become part of their brand and keeps them relevant. Xiaomi is at the forefront of the connected lifestyle trend and it’s an exciting brand to watch in China. They make high quality, affordable products that integrate various areas of your daily life through data and technology. They’ve succeeded without the typical marketing investment you would expect for a tech brand and it’s largely because they have millions of passionate fans. This is impressive considering the company is only five years old. Their mantra is “Just for Fans” and they make those fans feel smart and special, giving them a real voice in product development and marketing. In many ways, Xiaomi is following a path paved by Apple, but they’re doing it on their own terms.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider ‘innovative.’

I've had the good fortune to work on very innovative teams over the years. Working with Sam Lucas (formerly BM, now J&J) and Stacie Sherer (formerly BM, now Weight Watchers) on Comcast was memorably innovative because our communications platform influenced so many core aspects of their business. Working with P&G was fulfilling because their consumer insight focus is a natural catalyst for trying new things. The correlative analysis work we are doing right now at Ford A-P, might actually deliver clear comms ROI data and that would be a pretty major moment!

In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?
Planning & analytics.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry’s level of innovation?

About the same as other marketing disciplines. We've made a lot of progress in the last five years in multimedia content, analytics and digital. In some ways it feels like we were experimenting. We now need to process our learning and make sigificant investments in the tools and resources required to make them part of our core proposition.

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for marketing & PR to become more innovative?
Planning & analytics.

Who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is?
Other marketing agency

Who is your mentor and why?

Karen Hampton, former VP of Ford AP Communications and now EVP of Ford Smart Mobility Communications, has been a great mentor for me over the last year and a half. She has a gift for asking the most important questions about what you're trying to accomplish and it elevates the strategic discussion 10-fold. Her openess to finding new ways of working allowed me to explore the possibiliities of precise measurement of comms effectiveness. We are now beginning to translate those learnings into everyday guidance for our team members.

How do you find inspiration?

If you have a curious nature, you will find inspiration everywhere! Read everything, ask questions, talk to everyone, observe how people live. It's surprising how much inspiration you can take from things that are seemingly unrelated to your actual work. From a literal standpoint, I love Twitter and I follow a lot of entrepreneurs and opinion leaders. I try to make downtime in taxis and airports count by catching up on what's happening.

Advice for people seeking to bring new ideas, ways of doing things, to their organizations?

Don't give up! People and organizations are naturally resistant to change, but persistence pays off. Keep refining your ideas and pitch and you will eventually have success. Each time you succeed makes next time easier!

In your opinion, what’s the most innovative place in the world?

I'd have to say living and working in Shanghai, it's right up there. People network very easily here and it sparks great ideas. There are also low barriers to trying new things, so a creative culture permeates the city. Other than that, I think any city or neighborhood where people are open-minded and curious can be innovation hot spots. Given how globalized we've become, the whole world is living and breathing ideas and innovation.

What’s your favorite time of day and why?
Dusk because it's a moment to take stock in what's been accomplished and to create some space to think about things you might not get to during the mad rush of the work day. It's also beautiful!

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