Industry Interview: Desirée Gullan On Why CRM And Targeting Individuals, Not Audiences, Are Advertising Essentials

Industry Interview_ Desiree Gullan On Why CRM And Targeting Individuals, Not Audiences, Are Advertising Essentials
Desirée Gullan, co-founder and Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital.

Desirée Gullan’s industry roots stem from working with leading South African advertising agencies. The co-founder and Executive Creative Director of G&G Digital shares tips for creating successful campaigns and highlights 2019’s industry trends.

Early life

Gullan has worked in advertising, branding and now digital communications for over 21 years. ‘My first essay writing exercise in primary school involved learning to do a spray diagram and it blew my mind and ignited my love of writing. I knew then at about age 10 that I wanted to work in a related field. When I found out what a copywriter was, I knew that would be my path. I studied Literature and Psychology, and then copywriting at the AAA,’ said Gullan.

Her first job was working as a junior copywriter at Ogilvy, and she also worked for TBWA and later FCB Africa. She then went on her own as a creative consultant, co-founding G&G soon after meeting her business partner. ‘We have grown the business into what it is today. We have a power team and an amazing portfolio of clients who respect our passion and work,’ she said.

What do you enjoy most about working in the industry?

‘I love creative problem-solving. Clients have business needs and we help them find solutions. We strategise, write, design and produce new things from a client’s need. It’s always exciting, always challenging and always rewarding to see our ideas come to life,’ she explained.

When she started her career, it was all about the big, single-minded idea that would be executed on television, radio, print and outdoor. With the ‘spray and pray’ model, there was always a need from clients for more measurability to know if their marketing efforts were working and which ones weren’t working.

With the rise of digital came the ability to measure and draw insights from the data. ‘Today we know so much about people and their behaviour and this empowers brands to be more targeted and effective with their marketing and get better ROIs.’

2019 industry trends

Gullan mentioned that the average person is bombarded by 5000 or more ads per day, so the focus should be on personalised, highly targeted communications that talk to individuals and not target audiences.

‘We’re seeing a need for more Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) and proactive communications and service in the B2B, B2C and B2B2C space. People (not a target market) want to know their brand understands them and talks to them, not at them,’ she added.

CRM is essential for improving customer satisfaction and building relationships with brands via:
• Analysing data and insights to understand customers and potential customers.
• Dramatically improving communications.
• Focusing on mobile.
• Hyper-individualisation so customers feel valued and appreciated because their brands understand them.

Favourite project and tip for creating successful campaigns

A good brief is an essential ingredient for good work and that has to start with the client (or with the agency extracting it from the client). Once you have all the right information and clear objectives then the creative process can begin. When Gullan is reviewing work with her team, they go through these standard review questions:

  • Is it on brief?
  • Is it on brand?
  • Is it a breakthrough?

‘This is a good check list to see if the work will meet the client’s brief and get them an ROI on their budget.’

Gullan have a number of incredible breakthrough campaigns, see few below:

First For Women


St Mary’s Foundation

Keys to success

‘Don’t quit. You will make many mistakes and will be knocked back. Pick yourself up, learn from difficult challenges and keep on keeping on.’ Gullan loves this quote by Theodore Roosevelt, (and to all women readers, replace ‘man’ with ‘woman’): ‘It’s not the critic that counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again…who at the best knows the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst if he fails, fails while daring greatly,’ she said.


‘I still love writing and storytelling and always will. I’m finishing my first novel – watch this space,’ Gullan said. When Gullan isn’t not working, she does yoga and meditation daily, as it not only helps her manage stress but also makes her happy. ‘I have a Great Dane who takes me for regular walks and I love Grande cappuccinos,’ she concluded.