5 minutes with Sarah Dawson


Meet Essentially's Managing Director 

1. Describe your career in 5 words. 

Diverse.  Empowering.  Stimulating.  Fun.  Fulfilling.      

2. We have seen many of our clients adapt their strategies over the years to embrace changes in the landscape and meet new challenges. What do you see as the next major opportunity for our clients in the sport & entertainment industry?
Data, e-gaming and experiences.  Data has been key to success for a long time but the access and depth of insight now available means brands should be seeking an exceptional understanding of their target audiences / markets / competitors and should be pushing the boundaries of traditional ROI models.   E-Gaming is here and everybody should see it as an opportunity not a threat to our industry, regardless of views on live sport vs gaming.  Live experiences – we are living in a digital world yet 78% of millennials in a recent global survey valued a live experience as more meaningful than anything we can serve to them digitally, perhaps ironic given the opportunity we see in e-gaming but that just adds to the complexities of the younger audience.  We should use the amazing technology available to augment live experiences and do things that have never been done before.
And finally honesty. We know that the younger audience are cynical and have lost trust in brands so we need to see that as an opportunity to do things differently. We must help brands to be honest about what they are trying to do and build trust between them and their target audience. 

3. Do you have a favourite ever sponsorship campaign? One where the brand has delivered something you’ve seen and has stuck with you.  
Emotive or humorous content always sticks in my mind and there are a lot of sponsorships that have delivered in this space over the years - P&G Thank you Mom Olympics 2012 still makes me cry, but I’m a Mum so it hits the right buttons.  For me a successful campaign has to be something that uses the sponsorship through as many channels and platforms as is possible, telling a story and reinforcing the brand message over and over.  Sometimes this means the sponsorship is part of the ATL and sometimes it’s used to support it however it should always be linked strategically.  I do think a lot of brands use their sponsorship assets to create content, and whilst it might be good viewing, it doesn’t tell a story that ladders back to the brand or the ATL so ends up feeling disjointed and often quite random.  Robert Walters Recruitment of the Ultimate Lions Fan in 2017 was a clever campaign because it used its sponsorship in a very smart way and got incredible cut through for a recruitment brand in a busy time, then rode and milked every bit of that success across multiple platforms for much longer than anticipated through capturing the hearts of the NZ press.

4. After an amazing summer of Women’s sport, popularity is clearly on the rise.  As someone who has represented Scotland in four different sports, what do you think we can do as an industry to keep this momentum going?  
Popularity is on the rise because there have been successes on the field as well as better support from some governing bodies for women.  Having said that brands do have a role to play.  It is challenging to activate successfully using women’s sport but it can deliver results.  In addition, barriers to entry in investment terms are generally far lower than in men’s sport, so this is a space which has great potential and can deliver big results to a brand that is willing to invest and try new things.  I think brands should be confident to develop significant content strategies around women, Misty Copeland, Under Armour #IWILL and Virgin Media Inspired campaigns are great examples.
Finally I agree with Rebecca Stewart’s (AD @Essentially) view that we should acknowledge the obvious differences in the men’s & women’s games so we can put them aside and enjoy both for what they are, direct comparisons are pointless.

5. With the reorganisation of CSM, the Essentially brand remained but is focused solely on client services. What is the advantage of keeping the Essentially brand but still part of the CSM Group? 
Keeping the Essentially brand has allowed us to offer the marketplace an alternative to CSM when we need it.  Essentially has been able to retain it’s agile, boutique feel to give us the flexibility some clients ask for and we are also leading the way across the group with regards to our work in the music and entertainment space, which is an area Essentially has been delivering in for over seven years now. 

6. When not at work, where might we find you?  ‚Äč
Enjoying time with my wonderful and crazy little people Honor (3) and Thomas (2), my husband and friends.