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Up Close With Geometry Global Russia CEO Lau Geckler

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Lau Geckler on budgets, clients & his most recent appointment

Up Close With Geometry Global Russia CEO Lau Geckler

Geometry Global Russia CEO Lau Geckler spoke to Russian publication Sostav about his move from client to agency side, his experience in the tech business and plans for the development of the Geometry Global Russian office





1) Lau, you have recently joined Geometry Global. How do you feel about the new place? Why did you decide to join Geometry Global?

I chose to come back to the agency business because I missed working with people. For the last three years I have been part of a world where on one hand the focus was on innovation, while on the other, focus was all about products, manufacturing, inventory and cashflow. Of course, it started with innovations but in the end it became very operational. 

That is why I am truly happy to be back in a business that is a people business. Another reason for me to join Geometry Global is that it’s an agency that decided to invest in Russia despite the crisis. And on top of this it has the best people I have seen within Russian agencies, and I have seen a lot of them. 

Being part of the Geometry Global network, we have access to tools developed within the company that are our way of mapping and analyzing people’s Purchase Decision Journeys and fusing rigorous data and inspiring insight. I believe these tools are the future in advertising and creative businesses. 

Oh, and I also like the burger place around the corner. 


2) Not long ago you were on the client side. What are the pros and cons? What is the fundamental difference between the client and the agency sides?

One major difference is that when you are client side you work on one project and you focus on one thing. I like the fact that we have many different sectors, many different types of clients that constantly challenge you and therefore develop you a lot. But the big, big difference is that when you work with smartphones it’s all about commodity, suppliers, vendors, and money and less about people.  


3) What can you say about budgets and clients?

Nothing. Because I have NDAs in place with the clients.


4) You have huge experience in the technology business. At this point, are you satisfied with work in Geometry Global?

At Geometry Global, I have seen products that have not yet been realized by clients, and these products are extremely advanced in terms of technology and innovation. I still think that the marketing industry lacks innovation but I think that Geometry, with its Innovation Lab and Pivotal Ideas philosophy, has the ability to proactively work on ideas even before a brief is received from the Client. Our aim is to not only apply existing technologies, but to actually develop new ideas and innovations and bring them to market.

The other thing is that success is not just about introducing new technologies and innovations, but also about finding the true benefit for consumers and our clients. I believe through using some of Geometry Global’s methodologies, like Purchase Decision Journey, we are able to identify these benefits.  Combing that approach with technical know-how and creativity creates a very valuable offer for our clients.  And that’s our focus.


5) So you find it feasible to work in innovative marketing within today's conditions and realities. But are the advertisers ready for experiments?

They are not ready enough. Looking at the hierarchy of any organization I think that the more senior people become, the more prepared they are to experiment. The problem is that when you get further down most organizations, you realize that people are afraid, particularly during a crisis. They are afraid of taking decisions, afraid of trying something new. So I think that the biggest multinationals are ready to experiment at the very top level, but they don’t know how to cascade that through the organization. We are trying to help them to do that. 

All too often, it feels as though it can be easy to become fascinated by new ideas but at the same time try to seek guarantees and proof that the new idea will work. And when it comes to true innovation, you can’t promise that. 

For example, if you talk directly to the company CEO then you don’t need the same level of approval than if you talk to a brand manager who will need the proof to justify the expenditure. 


6) How is it going in Geometry Global? Has the crisis affected the business? Does the company feel the influence of the crisis? What has changed in the work of the agency in recent months? 

The crisis has affected every business, including ours. That is no great secret. However, as I said earlier, we decided to invest and keep our good people, to keep them motivated. So the spirit is very positive. The crisis also offers us many new opportunities to work with projects that we did not have previously. So we are looking towards the future very positively.

We are here for the clients and we are here to ensure that the clients are successful despite the crisis. So this is about changing the way they are thinking when spending marketing money and trying to get the very best out of that investment for them. In order to do this well, we have to understand consumers and shoppers and how the crisis has affected them, and we have to work faster and facilitate faster decisions. We also have to try new stuff and be willing to take risks. 


7) How have consumer and shopper behaviors been changed?

People behave differently during times of crisis, and that depends on how they were personally affected. Some people really suffer because their income goes down, or they lose their jobs, meaning they have to budget. They are switching to more affordable and cheaper solutions, and may completely reconsider their purchases in certain categories. Other people may not be affected to the same degree on a rational level, but I think that emotionally they are still affected, meaning that they need more optimistic offers and positive emotions. But of course, there are other people who see a crisis as an inspirational time, good for presenting new opportunities. 

So people are different, and different people are affected in different ways. It’s very important for our clients to specifically understand their target audience and adopt appropriate strategies to account for people’s feelings and behavior during this difficult time. 

Many people think that crisis is about down trading and affordability. It is. But, just as importantly, it is about understanding how people are thinking. They might spend more money in one place and less money in another. And you have to be really clever to know how to make an impact in that situation, both in terms of money invested but also how to adapt your products, your portfolio. 

Overall behavior is changing and that may happen in the most unpredictable ways. People rethink, reconsider, reevaluate, and when they do that they often take the opposite steps to the ones we expect. They became smarter; sometimes more rational, sometimes more emotional. We even see the super-premium product category increase during crisis, only people buy it in a different way. So those who didn’t buy expensive brands previously are now going to ask questions, and they return to ask more questions, and then they make another visit to see a specialist, a craftsman, and again ask yet more questions. So they still buy, they still spend the same money, but with a far more convoluted way to purchase. 


8) What is the basis of Geometry Global’s business? What types of services are the most in demand?

We inspire people to buy well. And we create all the products necessary to do that – with the key target to drive conversion rates for our Clients.


9) What areas of development are considered the most important for the agency? What are you planning to invest in?

As I said earlier, it is about people and tools. So it is about understanding the market dynamics as well as investing in people and supporting them. This ranges from strategy to consumer and shopper experience, but also covers digital and creative. It is all about giving people ideas and plans, and helping them to achieve their goals. 


10) Does the market maintain its attractiveness for you in particular? What makes you stay here?

Russia is one of the key markets for GG, and this is one of the reasons I joined GG. It’s a big and important part of both the EMEA region and the global network too. And that’s why we get attention and investment. 

We are, more importantly, all about companies who sell to shoppers, and Russia is one of the biggest consumer markets in Europe. It might not have the same level of growth it had a few years back, but it is still a growing market. And if you can crack the DNAs of consumers and shoppers in this market, you can be very successful.

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Genres: People

VMLY&R COMMERCE Worldwide, Mon, 17 Aug 2015 15:17:35 GMT