Mobbie Nazir | The Innovator 25 2016
06The Innovator 25:

Mobbie Nazir

Chief strategy officer

We Are Social


Innovation for the sake of innovation will always fail"


As chief strategy officer at We Are Social, Mobbie Nazir has played an important role in the agency's rise into one of the world's top digital firms, underpinned by eye-catching work for such brands a Adidas, Google, Hello Bank and Youtube. Nazir is a long-term champion of the role of social thinking to drive business value, but her career owes as much to refreshing willingness to work across boundaries, which has included previous roles in digital, PR, and advertising for Digitas, Fishburn Hedges and JWT.

How do you define innovation?

Innovation is creating value through change. It’s about challenging the status quo and the underlying assumptions of the usual and accepted ways of doing things, whatever that may mean for your brand, category or organisation. All in the name of making things better.

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

In a bold and risky move, Visit Sweden created a phone number, manned entirely by volunteer Swedes, which anyone could call to ask anything about the country. The idea was rooted in free speech and letting the country speak for itself — unfiltered and unrestrained. Visit Sweden’s previous campaign involved handing over the @Sweden account to a selection of Swedish volunteers. Unfortunately, one volunteer’s wildly offensive views did create some controversy, but it did not deter the tourist board from taking it to the next level and continuing to challenge category norms of tourism marketing. At an uncertain point in history with countries shutting down their borders and people becoming less open, Sweden’s very timely campaign was a lovely celebration of the country’s 250 year anniversary of abolishing censorship.

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

Netflix, GE, Lego, Greenpeace, Red Bull, Beats by Dre, GoPro.

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

In our industry the only certainty is change. The way people communicate, and their needs and expectations from brands, are constantly evolving. I took a conscious decision early on in my career not to double down on one area of marketing and communications. As a result I have worked in digital, PR, advertising and now social. Each time I have made a change people have expressed surprise and sometimes even concern - but the experiences I have gained with every  career shift, and the flexibility I now have to meet new business challenges, have been priceless.

Who is your mentor and why?

I believe you can learn a great deal from everyone you meet. So I try to always be open to how other people approach things and what I can learn from them. I have met many people in my life who have inspired me and I am very grateful for that.

How do you find inspiration?

By thinking about something else - spending time away from work with friends and family. I find the best ideas always come when you are not looking for them!

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

The single most important thing is to have a clear idea of the business problem you are going to solve. Spend time working this out and build your case around it. Innovation for the sake of innovation will always fail.

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

I think it’s interesting to think about how you can change your perspective when it comes to innovation. Sometimes it’s not about a specific place but a way of thinking. Kids have not yet learned to be restricted by boundaries or perceived notions of what can and cannot be done. They can imagine the world in ways adults generally cannot and ask the questions we have forgotten to ask. Getting some of this fresh perspective on how you approach a problem is a great way to unlock innovation.

What’s your favorite time of day and why?
The end  of the day - when I have time to reflect.