Interview with Richard Stokes

December 11, 2018

Richard Stokes, Global Head of Content at Wavemaker, will join our experienced jury for the World Media Awards 2019, but prior to that, we caught up with him to discover his take on the key trends affecting global content-led advertising.

WMA: Why do you think it’s important to benchmark and celebrate great international advertising strategies?

RS: As everyone who’s worked on international clients knows, getting really brilliant work approved and delivered across national boundaries and cultures takes, in equal measure, great strategic thinking and blood, sweat, and sometimes, tears. So, it’s really important we recognise these efforts through these awards. 

WMA: As a judge, what are you hoping to see in the entries to the World Media Awards?

RS: I’m looking forward to seeing some fresh thinking, that in turn creates brilliant and meaningful content which consumers actively seek out/share/love. And of course, clear business outcomes of this effort and investment.

WMA: For brands in the travel and tourism sector, what are the particular challenges when targeting an international or cross-border audience?

RS: Simply that what might attract one nationality or culture to visit, say, a particular country or attraction could be very different to another nationality. The insight into culture nuance in this category is vital. That makes this a really tough category to nail when we think about international campaigns. 

WMA: What do you think is the key to truly engaging content?

RS: We’re frankly overwhelmed with content choices. So, to create truly engaging commercial content (that has a business outcome) takes real skill. It has to be as good as non-commercial content – so we stop interrupting what people are interested in, and become what people are interested in. How? By having an innate understanding of the audience and what moves them. 

WMA: What is the killer question an agency/media owner should ask a client to ensure that their content brief is fit for purpose?

RS: Why are we doing this? What do we want our audience’s reaction to be when they consume this content?

WMA: What distinguishes the “international” target audience from “domestic” audiences – and how granular can you be in your targeting?

RS: I don’t believe there is an ‘international’ audience per se. We should apply all that we know of an audience group and ensure we personalise content to the greatest extent possible. Even, as a minimum, to a segment or tribe that can exist across markets. 

WMA: What do you need to look for in your media partner[s] when planning an international content-driven advertising strategy?

RS: Audience insight, ability to target discreetly, interesting data sets, of course, a scaled audience of viewers/readers/users, potentially the content studio to partner with to create the content in the style of. 

Don’t forget to check out the categories for 2019 and how to enter the awards.