Goodby Silverstein & Partners’ Christine Chen on the Underlying Behaviors of Consumers

Christine Chen has over 12 years of experience in media having started her career at Foote, Cone & Belding. We recently spoke with Christine about her experience and current role.

The Makegood: Christine, you started your career at Foote Cone and Belding in media planning, launching new products and brands for Microsoft and Levi’s. Can you describe the major differences in your experience in media planning from when you started to now?   

CC: At the beginning of my career, a media person’s thinking and creativity were limited to the assets we were given. We were at the end of the baton pass and it was more about making sure the pieces held together than finding a way for media to extend the brand and ideas. It was so limiting compared with my experience now. And it never made sense that the largest investment was the most confined.

At Goodby Silverstein & Partners, we liberated Communication Strategists from that sad baton pass. We get to inject our imagination and thinking into everything we do, from the beginning. We get to live and breathe the central idea and come up with interesting ways to express and supercharge the idea. We do high-level strategy but we also plan and buy media. That spectrum of involvement and control is powerful. It is rewarding to work this way, and it never ever gets boring.

 The Makegood: As the Director of Communication Strategy at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners you lead the communication and strategy department. Where does your role begin and end?

CC: I don’t see a beginning or an end to my role. These days there is less of a planning cycle. We are almost always cooking something up. Roles bleed into each other more, and that’s a good thing, because if we have a deep understanding of our client’s business, and the culture and media around it, we become indispensable. That’s a resource you don’t want to turn on or off. Or so we hope.

The Makegood: Recently, you said that clients are often look at media planning in a silo. How do you manage to keep your clients focused on the big picture, when there are so many new media and technologies popping up all the time? 

CC: There are two things here. One is the separation of media from creative. We’ve seen the magic that can happen with media and creative under the same roof when you can’t tell the medium from the message. It makes for more magnetic, focused and effective ideas. In this day and age, that’s important for our client’s business. So that’s a big philosophical belief.

Second is the complexity of the landscape. We have to help clients cut through the hype. We emphasize the importance of distilling media platforms into the underlying behaviors of consumers and assessing if those behaviors match up to our audience, objectives, and ideas. It can’t be about being mindlessly omnipresent. We’ll exhaust our resources chasing platforms and shiny objects. And certain platforms have failed hard. It has to be about advocating for healthy platforms that serve the task at hand.

The Makegood: Can you tell us about some recent campaign successes?

CC: We recently pitched and won a large piece of business with a communication strategy that is already showing up in client briefs and in how they talk about their products. When you see the language bubble up and operate as a rallying cry, that’s a really good sign.

On a more DR-focused business, we continue to find inventive ways to surpass benchmarks, sometimes creating content of our own, sometimes inventing new technology to meet our needs. Another team knocked the socks off of a new CMO with a digital strategy and communication architecture across all channels, owned, earned and paid, that will unify their communications and give each piece a clear role.

We’re excited to see where all of these projects take us.

The Makegood: Thanks, Christine.