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July 8 2021

PHD & eatbigfish discuss community-powered challengers with Reddit

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PHD and eatbigfish’s podcast series, Overthrow II: Challenger strategies for a new era, returns for a spin-off episode, concluding the series with a conversation between guests Harold Klaje, EVP and President of Advertising at Reddit, and Rebecca Burchnall, Managing Partner at PHD UK.

In this episode, the panel speak alongside host Adam Morgan, Co-founder of eatbigfish, to discuss the power of community and how challengers – even those as large and established as Reddit and Diageo – can utilise the support and authenticity of their communities.

Reddit, as Klaje explains, continues to be a challenger despite its huge global userbase and strength in markets such as the US, and that’s largely down to its community. “We’re a community-based platform,” Klaje tells Morgan and Burchnall. “We believe having this community concept challenges the norm and makes it interesting for people to discuss their passions in a different way.”

Burchnall adds that PHD carries a similar mentality of size not equating to challenger status: “We share quite a lot of the same values as Reddit. The way we maintain that [challenger] mindset is how we galvanise our teams and our people and the culture we have around being open, being courageous. By always being the feisty underdog in every way we’re looking at what we do – the ideas we have, new approaches we bring to clients, or the way we operate internally as a business with our people.”

The importance of openness threads itself throughout the conversation, steered by Morgan who describes openness as being intimately linked with authenticity – a trait which features heavily in many of the 10 challenger types discussed in PHD and eatbigfish’s 2019 publication Overthrow II: 10 strategies from the new wave of challengers.

“People can be who they want to be on Reddit,” says Klaje. “That leads to even more honest and true discussions, and it’s a great value add for challenger brands, to have that authenticity on [Reddit], which is a real opportunity to engage with these community members.”

Burchnall witnessed this opportunity first-hand whilst working on Seedlip and Copper Dog, two brands within the diverse portfolio of PHD client and one of the world’s largest producers of spirits and beers, Diageo.

“Our core route to how we drive success starts with the power of community that sits behind them,” says Burchnall. “A group of people, a collective, that empowers people to understand more about those brands, get into the skin of the brand story.”

This is accomplished by “starting with the community and creating a sense of authenticity, through influence and talent, but also reflecting that through advertising and content we build.”

Klaje calls Reddit a “curious bunch of people” who are seeking information – and the userbase is more than willing to receive that information from the brands themselves, given 82% of communities on Reddit report appreciating when brands are part of the discussion.

“We very much work with partners in social spaces like Reddit where communities are thriving,” says Burchnall. “They’re honest and open in the way they talk about needs, purpose, content, and brands.”

To hear more on how brands can leverage community and authenticity, listen to the seventh episode of Overthrow II: Challenger Strategies for a New Era, available on AppleSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Audioboom.

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