Soul & Science
Soul & Science

Season 1, Episode · 6 months ago

S1 Episode 1: OkCupid Global CMO Melissa Hobley | Moral Capital vs. Business Capital


OkCupid Global CMO Melissa Hobley joins us for our very first episode to help answer the question: Does moral capital lead to business capital?

As a leading expert on brand-building, Melissa Hobley has a reputation for marrying powerful brand marketing with data-driven digital advertising, in bold and breakthrough ways that jumpstart brands and create measurable value. Melissa is currently the Global Chief Marketing Officer at OkCupid, one of the largest dating apps in the world. As the first CMO at OkCupid, She has made the brand famous for its message of inclusion and progressive advertising. Prior to OkCupid, Melissa was the VP Marketing for Walgreens, and CMO of Buyology. Melissa also happens to be a client of Mekanism, and together we’ve created some amazing, progressive work that has moved the needle for OkCupid’s business.

Brought to you by Mekanism

I always wondered if marketing lives in the heart or in the head. Should you trust your instinct or your integers? Often the answers both, but should you lead with one more than the other? So bring your heart and your head and join us in the conversation this week, which I thought was appropriate for our first episode. It is a first date, if you will. I am joined by the lionhearted CMO of Okcupid, Melissa Hobbley. Melissa Hobby is a leading expert on brand building. She has a reputation for marrying powerful brand marketing with data driven digital advertising in bold and breakthrough ways that jumps our brands and create measurable value. Melissa's currently the Global Chief Marketing Officer at Okcupid, one of the largest dating APPs in the entire world. As the first CMO Okcupid, she has made the brand famous for its message of inclusion and progressive advertising. It's always cutting edge, it's always breaking barriers. Prior to Okcupid, Melissa was a VP of marketing for walgreens and the CMO of biology. Melissa also happens to be a client of mechanism and together we've created some amazing progressive work that's moved the needle for her business, most recently out of home campaign, every single person, which was the first ad campaign to ever mention Pan Sexuality. In this episode today with Melissa, we're going to interrogate the question does moral capital lead to business capital? Him Alissa, welcome to soul and science. Thank you for that amazing intro and congrats on the podcast. Thank you, thank you. We're excited. I want to know how you got started in marketing and how you found your way to Ok cupid. I think you've been there almost five years now. Correct. Yeah, which... marketing is like seven lifetimes. I am an accidental marketer. I was a political science major and I was going to go to law school and work for the state or working campaigns, and I did a ton of internships and I did a PR internship, honestly because it was across the street from my dorm apartment on the upper west side, and like two weeks and I was like what is this world of Public Relations and marketing? I love it. It is a little Sharky, a little fun, a little smart, a little savvy, and that was it. I was on the calm's marketing path and I never looked back. I love the happen stance marketer because I think when you're growing up and trying to find yourself and what your passions are, it's very rare that what you go to school for you end up doing. So, all right, let's turn to okay Cupe it now moral capital and business capital. That's the theme for this episode. It's hard to measure, but how do you think about this idea of progressiveness and inclusivity and building that? You guys have a very clear message and a very clear vision. You know what the soul the brand stands for. How do you translate that into, you know, the science of success the business side? How do you make sure that that moves the needle and get you the downloads and the users and the revenue? How how do you see that that soul of the brand informing the business success? Yeah, well, I love that question because I just think we don't talk about that enough in business and in marketing, and so I think it's awesome that you're thinking about these topics and you're exploring it on this podcast. First of all, and I think of more businesses gave that some thought. They thrive there, employs, be happier. They don't have attention, she's be able to hire better. All the things I've I think that we we had to make it that way. I came in and...

...okay cupid and never had a marketing campaign, a brand campaign. They had like nine followers on twitter, instagram. It was it was not a function they had built out, and they didn't have to initially, because okay cu would was created by two Harvard Math grads who were really smart and very socially, civically politically engaged humans, who who thought technology should help me find a person in the same way that it's helping me, like, find a car. And the magic of the brand and was that they had taken a stance on issues and they enabled you to filter your matches on the things that you cared about. They had never talked about that really and they had never amplified that or said what if we leaned into that more? What if we responded faster to things happening in the world? And so when you start working somewhere and in some ways it's easier and someone's harder to just start from scratch, you say, well, what is it actually makes okaycupe it different? You know, when we paid attention to the data and we paid attention to what up dators were telling us, they were all saying I've never had deal breakers as important as they are now. And if your twenty something, you don't even want to match with someone that doesn't believe that climate change is real and you don't want to match with someone that doesn't support black lives matter. What was amazing is when we started paying attention to that, there was a lot of conversation or reach a pre productive rights and one of the first things we did was part of panparenthood and create a pro choice filter on the product and made it very easy to signal if your pro choice, that's a relevant issue of your dat if you're single. Right when I looked at twitter that morning at the from like, you know, eleven followers, we had added a couple thousand and like a day and then the next day we had more than next day and more, and then we started to see it in the business and then we started to see it in perception, and so it just became a building block. You know, today, okay, cube, it is a real player and and a and one of the biggest eating APPs in the... and we have been loud and proud and bold about bring your issues to your dating APP unintended. That brings depth, that brings substance and it is also like an ingredient to a successful relationship, and the other dating APPs have not jumped into that. So we're just we're just running with it and, you know, listening to what people are talking about, what they care about. You know, we're the first eating APP to add a vaccine badge and mechanism and you were involved in that personally and that was an amazing thing to be doing. You know, zooms with the White House talking about how we can help get out the vaccine. It's amazing. Yeah, I think I think there's two. When I we work with a ton of brands in our experience and I think there's some brands that, you know, we might pitch a progressive campaign or campaign that takes a stand and there's a lot of hesitancy even today, to sort of Piss off one group or another and they feel like that might hurt their revenue and so they sort of aim to go down the middle. There's that. Then, on the flip side, when we're working with newer, ddcy brands that are built by engineers, right, like okay cupid was. Ultimately there's a lack of understanding of marketing and it's more tactical than building that sort of soul part of the brand. Did you have to fight to say, Hey, we are going to take a stand, you know, internally, and did you have to like push off of the engineering driven part of it to say this, look, this is marketing and it's going to work and if we piss off this many people were going to appeal to more people this way? How did you have to navigate that, or was it? Was it fairly easy? At Okqube I started small and I think I built some trust with the my CEO and with our the larger organization. I also came prepared with the data. Here's what we're seeing our...

...own product, here's what we're seeing in social here's how other brands have gone from not a player to relevant. Here's how we get people to talk about us. And again, the beauty was the product. Truth was there that we weren't just saying we have sixteen million answers on gun control alone. We could look at what are people talking about, what are they responding to? It's getting people together literally and you know, we had great partners like you all. Mechanism was incredibly instrumental and helping us say we have a different point of view and we want to go where other people are not going. But but it's all based on like how people are really talking. Like you. Like one of the lines we came up with together. It was it's okay to choose not to date someone who is in pro choice. It's okay to be into NPR and BDSM, like you know, you guys helped us bring this kind of drive and passion and mission to lie life, and that was important too. So also, I think I build trust in the organization by doing good work, thanks to the team of mechanism. You know, I'm always an advocate for agencies. I think brands are so talented and they have rich department's internally, but it's at outside perspective, as if we're a member of the audience, and how do we view this brand? The story you're trying to tell is what brand is. Reputation is what the audience tells you your brand is and your reputation when your internal you might think your brand is perceived away because you're surrounded by people that are working for this brand. The audience outside will really tell you what your brand stands for. They might be beyond your customers or why you're not getting some customers because they see your brand differently. But I've never seen a brand not take chances and have it payoff in terms of doing bold work, because even if the bold work backfires in some way, you get traction and you get noticed. Then you get relevancy...

...and with such add out there you've got, if you're going to spend money and build something, you better have a point of view and if you don't, it's going to just be wallpaper, and I think that's really important for brands to know what they stand for. You never lose when you have another perspective come in or say hey, here's the direction. One of the cool things that meganism did for okay cupid was come up with this idea of doing boundins. A car is like how real people talk you. We looked into that and and representing real people, we looked into it and we're like yeah, mountains, a cars are sis, Hetero, White, old, weird, mushy, like weird mushy and with like only a serial killer would give someone a car that says that like, are you trying to take all my money? And and and we did those cards. We all last year amuse these and, you know, amazing queer non binary artists of color around the world, and and the response was so positive that we're turning him back on with with you all in God like another week. Part of Okcupid is you have a really wide tent and say however you want to engage, however you want to interact, whether you're looking for love or you're looking for fun, or if you're looking for multiple partners, whatever it might be, we're here for it. Versus, you know, those dating apps that might be like this is for marriage, this is for hookup, this is for you know, specialized in this audience. Is that ever a hindrance? Down the whole, it's worked for us, especially because what we're learning more about gender and orientation and how fluid these things are, and and covid has been fascinating. We have to give you one day to point. There's been an eighty four percent increase in data's an okaycupid that identify as Pan Sexual. That is unheard of, like we never see those kinds of increases and part of what's driving that was covid made people kind of go away and say, hang on,... know, how do I really identify and who am I attracted to you? And and the rise and Pan Sexuality is a little bit of a rejection of you know, bisexual says I'm attracted to both men and women, but it excludes people that are not binary. And so more people are saying, well, I'm pan sexual because I would be attracted to someone who has day then pronouns. It is actually about the person, not about the gender. Gender. Yeah, and so because, you know, I think, okay, cubis just been really well positioned because we're learning so much about and every day I learned something new about how people are connecting and falling love or attracted or like. What's driving the spark? And and also it's we take it. I can't even state how seriously we take that. You come in, whether you're trans, you're not binary, you're young, you're old, you're short, you're Sall, you're atheist, you're devout, Orthodox Jewish, that you are affirmed if you are creating a big tent but small tables where you can find your people. And and maybe today you are feeling this but tomorrow you're feeling more like this, will we got that too. Yeah, I love I love that. That feel like it's sort of a statement on how the world should behave. The challenge sometimes is there's so much work to do. Yeah, it's hard. It's hard to figure out where to put the hours and where to put the time, because there's so much that needs to be fixed and corrected and maybe because your you guys, are focused on this idea of inclusion and you choosing. Does that allow you to understand what you want to support and what you don't want to support, and you try it not to boil the ocean and attack every progressive issue? Like, how do you how do you sort of narrow cast so you're focused and you're not running? Yeah, it's hard. It is hard and I can feel your payings. I think you guys probably get a lot of requests to jump into things and help out with stuff. When we're debating something to get involved in.

Will Look at how relevant is this issue to our daters. So with black lives matter, we saw that conversation happening and we saw people proactively putting at the top of their profile. I support Blm. Please swipe left if you don't. And so we wanted to make it sexy, we wanted to encourage it, we wanted to help drive that to you know, how do we light that on fire? And and so, you know, we I remember having a conversation on Sunday morning and we hijack the product road map to turn on a black lives matter badge. But also work with ENDBLACP donate a million dollars in Nadspace to nonprofits fighting the fight for racial equity in justice. So we look at what what our daters care about and think about and what they're talking about. We also, you know, issues like reproductive rights. That is a real thing that you may encounter if you're dating and your single and you're sleeping with a guy and a pregnancy play takes place. Knowing how someone stands on that issue is important. It comes back to the audience. So you're using the data, the science from the audience to determine what purpose to focus on, because it resonates with them versus your individual desires or your team's desires. You're really letting the audience dictate what's important. To some extent. How do I put the power in her hands or their hands or his hands, or I'm Delhi to Denver, to Paris to Detroit. All right, I have to too quick. Last questions for you. We're wrapping up here. One is sort of an open ended one, but from your vantage point of what you see, what do you think the future of dating looks like? Is it? Is it where we are now? Is it, you know, sort of filtering people more before you meet them? Is it meeting...

...more people? Is it any any sense on where you see? You know, the next couple years of dating trending towards people did a lot of video dating and Covid and whether it's a facetime or zoom or what'Sapp called, whatever it was, and that's going to stick around. This idea that. Wow, my time is precious. I'm so happy I can get back out there, but I'm also being a little careful with my time. I'm going to like, let's get on a video chat first to see if that thing is there. And I said that's advice I always gave to people before the pandemic was have a phone call or a video date first. You're going to get a really good idea if, like, there's a there's a connection there and you might say, let's not meet next week, let's meet Saturday, or you might say yeah, thank you very much, I love that. All right. Last question. I know you believe this to be true, but I guess for other CMOS listening or for the audience out there, the idea of moral capital leading to business capital and how you would sort of feel, with your experience at Okay Cupid, of how how that works and how other brands might think about that. How powerful is your business capital without moral capital? Having moral capital is one of these single ingredients that catapulted okaycupid from a very challenging position to incredibly relevant, number one in certain countries around the world, producing a tremendous lift on revenue and margin and, most importantly, helping people find their person by investing and moral capital on our side and encouraging our users to share what matters to them. I love that. This has been really fun. Thank you for all your insights and time. It's been amazing. This was the best first date. Thank you, Jason. What a...

...great episode with Melissa Hobbler. She's a client of mine. She's fun to talk to and I think we really learned through her experience that moral capital does lead to business capital. It does lead to business results and a mechanism. That's something we're going to continue to push our clients for. Thanks so much for listening to soul in science and we'll see you next week. So in Sciencesm mechanism podcast produced by the amazing Frank Grisco, Ryan Tillotson, Tyler Nielsen, Emma Swanson and Sophie Moround, with the music by Kyle Man. I'm your host, Jason Harris.

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