M&C Saatchi Australia’s head of communications and head of FABRIC Krystyna Frassetto talks LBB’s Natasha Patel through how a shift in marketing and the rise of influencer trust has impacted brands
Krystyna Frassetto has been in her role at M&C Saatchi Australia for just over a year. And what a year it’s been. She’s navigated communications through a pandemic and headed up the FABRIC in Australia, a specialist service “offering fully integrated creative solutions to support brands operating in, or looking to break into, the Lifestyle space.” The service is currently available in the London and Sydney offices, with plans to reach Berlin, Johannesburg and New York over the coming months. For Krystyna, a background in public relations and advertising, as well as roles at Weber Shandwick, AKQA and We Are Social have all played their part in shaping her expertise into what it is today.
As time leads for brands become shorter and consumers turn to social media for influence, Krystyna talks to LBB’s Natasha Patel about moulding FABRIC and where she believes marketing is heading.
LBB> Firstly tell us more about your role overseeing M&C Saatchi’s FABRIC and working on something that is becoming international?
Krystyna> Since joining M&C Saatchi in early 2020, my role has been two-fold: to solidify the PR and communications capability of the group and launch M&C Saatchi FABRIC in the Australian market. M&C Saatchi FABRIC is the new lifestyle marketing division of M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment. We create change for brands through people’s passions in the areas of food, health, beauty and style, focusing primarily on PR, influencer marketing, content and social.
Simultaneously launching in multiple markets was surprisingly smooth. In the past, Australia would have been behind our offices in London and New York, whereas now it’s much more interconnected. In fact, in some instances, us Aussies now lead the way for other markets, especially when it comes to health and wellness trends.
A silver-lining of the pandemic is that even though we’re further apart than ever, the global community has become closer. As a network we’re all talking and sharing far more regularly - I know some of my global counterparts’ kids just as well as I know my Australian teammates’ new puppy. From an audience perspective, we’re seeing the rise and fall of trends and hyper-passions happen in harmony across the world, making it easier to define a single go-to-market strategy for our new offer across the network.
LBB> How has your background in PR helped you in this role at FABRIC? Is there much overlap?
Krystyna> One of my first bosses in PR encouraged me to view my career trajectory in chapters; leading the team at M&C Saatchi FABRIC feels like the culmination of my chapters in PR, advertising, digital, influencer marketing and social media as the work we do for our clients is all-encompassing.
For example, PR practitioners have always sought to influence opinion. Today, the challenge is the same, but the opinions and voices are much more varied as we no longer design campaigns purely for journalists. We also need to engage influencers and advocates, industry commentators and often, we can reach consumers directly on social. This means our ideas and solutions need to be channel agnostic, and that’s where my journey so far comes in handy.
LBB> Marketing has shifted a lot over the past year, what do you think have been the biggest changes and how have you shifted to ensure clients can keep up with this?
Krystyna> For all of its consequences, the pandemic prompted a rapid and exciting shakeup of the status quo. In a lot of instances, it has balanced the playing field between brands and agencies big and small. A decade ago, agencies and marketers would ideate against an annual plan, developing major campaigns with big budgets that would be released throughout the year across a multitude of media channels.
Now, it’s much more complicated and dynamic. We’re counselling clients that they can no longer control every image or message and orchestrate a dialogue about their brand. We won’t always have long lead times and big budgets. Instead, we’re crafting ideas in real time that get brands part of the conversation and part of the ‘fabric’ of culture. One way this might materialise is by answering a brief with 10 short-form clips created by Influencers rather than one hero film that we would have previously shot and produced ourselves. We’re also looking at staging intimate events that are easy to get up (and move) quickly, rather than large, costly productions that require big builds and long timelines.
Admittedly, it’s a much more complicated world to be in but there has never been such a business imperative and creative opportunity to embrace this change. We’re all reading more, watching more and sharing more and so if you can influence the conversation and show up in an authentic, meaningful way, the pay-off is huge.
LBB> Same with influencer marketing - much has been said about how influencers are more accessible due to various lockdowns across the globe - what has this done for marketing?
Krystyna> Influencers have embraced direct-to-fan relationships and comms channels at an unprecedented scale since lockdown. As a result, trust in the opinions and recommendations of the influencers we deem to be authentic is on the rise. A recent report claims that 92% of consumers say they trust influencers more than advertising.
While major campaigns and sponsorships remain a powerful tool to engage audiences through the things they love, this shift in trust means we’re increasingly looking to influencers to bring our message to life and in turn, this places even more importance on authenticity. Discerning online communities can easily spot a #sponsored post and so it’s essential to establish mutual partnerships with influencers who can credibly endorse the product, and that you balance creative direction and creative freedom.
LBB> What is the most challenging aspect of your role? And what about it excites you the most?
Krystyna> The most challenging part of my role is also the most exciting. Our team are privileged to work with some of the most iconic, purpose-driven brands in the country including Commonwealth Bank, Optus, My Muscle Chef and Sonos. We have such an incredible opportunity to shape popular culture and drive meaningful change which is exciting, but the race to grab every one of these opportunities and move at the speed of culture is an ongoing challenge. I’ll never be able to do it all personally, and so it’s about building and empowering a team around you to go after them, together.
LBB> What is it about the creative sector that drew you in?
Krystna> I’ve always had a passion for creativity and like to think I’m creative in all aspects of my life - my career, but also my cooking, entertaining and style. At school, I would mock-up magazine covers using Paint and ask friends to pose for ad campaigns - not what our creative director wants to hear, I’m sure!