Louise Tullin on marcoms, 2019 plans and being a mum

This week we sat down with our CMO, Louise Tullin, to talk about moving people, what 2019 holds for Unruly, and being a mum.

Q: Hi, first of all, could you introduce yourself and tell a bit about what you do here at Unruly?

I am the Chief Marketing Officer at Unruly. That means lots of different things but overall I am responsible for the Unruly brand, with the ultimate goal of moving people: our clients, the publishers we partner with and Unrulies!

We really care about our partners and customers so the Marketing and Creative Team around the world work incredibly hard with the rest of the business to try and deliver the most moving experiences. Whether that’s making people giggle with our giveaways, blowing their minds with cutting-edge research about emotions in video advertising, or helping them future proof their data strategy in the Unruly Home.

Life at Unruly is always pretty hectic, but truthfully I wouldn’t have it any other way! In the last 6 months alone, some of the highlights include launching the U7, our client council formed of the largest advertisers and agencies in the world; delivering wow at Cannes, Spikes Asia, Programmatic I/O and DMEXCO; crafting predictions we think may shape the industry in 2019; using our emotional data to help Lexus create the first campaign scripted by AI; and shining a spotlight on some of our very talented Unrulies and incredible clients scooping up 10+ awards. Right now we’re recovering from CES and gearing up our next U7 event. There’s never a dull moment!

Q: How did you find out about Unruly?

7 years ago I was approached by Unruly on LinkedIn. I went to the website which was brimming with internet meme culture and bursting with personality. I loved it and I knew I wanted to be part of it! We had just secured $25m in Series A funding and were already flying high.

It turned out to be the best move I ever made. Every year since has been a different chapter. Whether we were launching the Future Fifty Programme at our offices with the Chancellor at the time, being acquired by News Corp for £114m, opening offices across APAC or launching new video ad formats. I can’t wait for what 2019 brings as we continue to propel our programmatic offering.

Q: What notable roles did you hold prior to Unruly?

I’ve been working in Marcoms for high growth tech scale-ups and big tech giants for almost 15 years. Whether I’m selling a 3D printer, cybersecurity or the world’s smallest hard drive has never really mattered to me. What I love is the pace of change and the big ideas you need to differentiate a company where tech is becoming increasingly ubiquitous.

Q: What draws you to the type of work you do?

I get bored really easily, find it hard to sit still but at the same time am very focused and driven, and I love chatting to people.  That means I need to be in a company and role that’s varied but at the same time has a very clear vision and culture. Unruly’s guiding star is fixed but the route to reaching that star changes along the way.

I spend a lot of time on internal communications as our people are our most important customer to me. Highly aligned teams, with the freedom and flexibility to do great things, can reach the stars. However, you need to make sure everyone has the information they need to be empowered to make decisions within their own roles and teams to move the business forward in the right direction.

Unruly team

Q: With trust being a huge talking point recently what does trust mean to you?

Honestly, this topic bores me. We need to flip the conversation. Trust should be table stakes. Sadly it’s not always the case. I’m looking forward to a time when the industry can stop talking about bots, fraud and ad misplacements and double down on real and engaged views powered by emotional insights. After all, emotions are the deepest drivers of human behaviour!

Q: Tell us about something you’ve learned while working at Unruly?

To be agile. Firstly, continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection. I’m sure my impatience drives the team up the wall but it’s been scientifically proven that shorter time frames are better for business. In my eyes, patience is not a virtue and indecision and procrastination can be detrimental.

Embracing change used to be one of our core values. But we agreed that actually embracing change, going along with it, riding coattails, is not enough. We look for people who inspire change. Within their team, within the company, within the industry!

I’ve also learnt to welcome constructive criticism. When you are putting 100% into your work and you’re a perfectionist any kind of criticism can feel demotivating. But when advice is given in a supportive environment, framed with concrete examples, it can actually be the fastest way to scale your career.   

Q: What are Unruly doing to tackle Fake News?

fake news

We’re owned by a multi-billion dollar publishing company who own some of the most trusted titles on the planet (The Times, Wall Street Journal and The Australian to name a few) so that’s a great start!. Sites that inform, enlighten and entertain. Titles that emotionally move people through great content.

85% of our views are delivered across ComScore 1,000 sites. Ultimately an investment in Unruly means an investment in quality journalism and a vibrant internet. Our ads support journalists who are holding politicians to account, braving conflict areas, covering news with integrity and balance, reporting the true facts, delivering real news and real views.

Q: How are Unruly building trust with their consumers?

Emblazoned across our brand values is positivity. Adland can feel like a dark place at times, but it needn’t be. Advertising has the power to change the world and technology has the power to deliver better experiences for consumers. I see Unruly’s role as working with others collectively to bring light and respect to the industry. To transform digital advertising for the better.

Q: It’s the weekend: what do you like to do in your spare time?

I try to make my children really tired so I can have a good night’s sleep! So that generally involves swimming, football, setting up assault courses in the garden, having a 90s rave with glow sticks in the kitchen, going for long walks and dressing up as pumpkins and superheroes. When I’ve tired them out, I tire myself out by spinning, boxing or dancing (largely because I eat a lot of food and have to burn it off!).

You (working parents in particular) can have anything you want but you can’t have everything. There are physically not enough hours in a day! So I’ve always focused on what makes me and my kids happy and tried to drop the ball (read this if you get the chance) on little things that don’t matter (like keeping on top of the washing or sending thank you cards – sorry!).

Sometimes life spirals out of control. Last month I sent my sister a 30th birthday card saying ‘Happy Birthday Andrea!’. Her name’s Amy. She laughed (thankfully!). I’m a perfectionist so it upsets me when I make mistakes but I’m only human. The sooner we start acknowledging that mums can’t and shouldn’t have to do everything, the better!

Q: What makes you believe in the work you do at Unruly?

Because I love the people here. It’s a cliche but it’s true. Everyone has an impact.

I’ve been lucky enough to work directly with Sarah Wood and Norm Johnston. Both very different people but with the same drive and huge ambition. I honestly can’t thank them enough for what they’ve taught me.