Episode 12

Adaptable Marketing Strategies for Global Communities

In this episode, Sonia Oblitey, Senior Director of Global Marketing at OkCupid, discusses the importance of tailored global marketing strategies and knowing the values and patterns of their target groups.

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Guest speaker: Sonia Oblitey

Sonia is a passionate and dynamic senior-level brand marketing leader with over 20 years of experience launching and positioning brands in markets around the world. In her current role as Global Marketing Director at OkCupid, she oversees the development and implementation of global brand strategies and marketing programs in key markets outside of the U.S., ideating and launching initiatives that drive awareness, revenue and app installs for OkCupid in these key markets.

Previously, Sonia worked for Fortune 500 companies including Estée Lauder and Walgreens Boots Alliance.

 

Episode summary

This episode features an interview with Sonia Oblitey, Senior Director of Global Marketing at OkCupid. Sonia is a passionate marketing leader with 20 years of experience launching and positioning brands in markets around the world. 

In this episode, Kailey sits down with Sonia to discuss personalization tactics of online dating, reaching people globally, and being an advocate-focused brand.

 

Key takeaways

  • Cultural relevance is critical when crafting marketing campaigns for online dating. Campaigns in Berlin may not exactly translate to folks in Tel Aviv, for example. Marketers must do their research to find out what singles across the world are looking for and create targeted campaigns.

  • One way to help users find a successful dating match is by continuously optimizing your algorithm and managing your data. This rigorous approach leads to more trust with customers and more impactful results. 

  • In online dating, it’s critical that people across the globe can understand and use your product. In-app questions need to be accurately translated and culturally relevant to ensure users get the most out of their experience. 

     

Speaker quotes

“We're constantly optimizing the algorithm and working on new ways to manage the data. So, it could be through CRM that you have a compatibility rate with someone who's at 95%. [...] And not only do you answer questions on OkCupid but you also get to weight your questions.” – Sonia Oblitey

 

Episode timestamps

‍*(01:58) - Sonia’s career journey

*(06:31) - Industry trends in customer engagement in online dating

*(12:40) - Challenges in the customer engagement journey

*(16:29) - How Sonia defines “good data”

‍*(24:52) - An example of another company doing it right with customer engagement (hint: it’s Uber, DoorDash, Dove, Nike)

*(29:44) - Sonia’s favorite data-based marketing campaign

*(32:18) - Changes in the next 6-12 months in customer engagement

*(35:06) - Sonia’s recommendations for upleveling marketing strategies 

 

Connect with Sonia on LinkedIn

Connect with Kailey on LinkedIn

 

Read the transcript

Kailey Raymond: In today's world, dating happens nearly entirely online. Most of us know the struggles of setting up a dating profile, selecting your best photos and prompt responses, only to be lost in a sea of other singles looking for love. OkCupid is changing the game completely. The app has thousands of sign-on questions, 15 of which must be answered by each user. OkCupid is able to use this data to help you find your perfect match while ensuring the questions are culturally adaptable. To get a better understanding of OkCupid strategies, I invited Sonia Oblitey, Senior Director of Global Marketing, on the podcast. In this episode, Sonia and I discuss personalization tactics, reaching people globally, and being an advocate-focused brand.

Sonia, thanks so much for coming on the show today. I'm so excited to chat with you. I want to learn a little bit more about you and your career. How did you get to where you are today?

Sonia Oblitey: Well, thank you for having me. I listen to the podcast, and I'm just super humbled to be interviewed amongst some really great marketers, as well, so thank you. My career path was interesting. Basically growing up wanting to be an investigative journalist, that was my thing. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to get down to the hardcore facts, and I wanted to be the voice for people and uncover and discover things. Even in high school, I was writing controversial topics about uniforms in school and condoms in school. So that was my thing.

Kailey Raymond: I love it.

Sonia Oblitey: I was kind of a rebel. I mean, we actually got some hate mail. This was back when there were newspapers, so I was featured, published in a newspaper, and my parents were like, "This girl." So when I went to college, my major was English, because I was going to be a journalist. And then within my first semester my parents were like, "Oh no, you're not going to major in English. Major in business." I have an immigrant background, and they're like, "You're not going to explore. You're going to work." So I said to myself, "Okay, if I could major in business, what will still allow me to tell stories and still connect with people?" And I'm like, "Marketing," and I'm creative, so I majored in marketing.

After college, I was working in the buying office, buying cosmetics, and I was like, "Ah, I don't know about this." But luckily for me, I was able to gain exposure into marketing, because we worked with a lot of different cosmetic brands. The brands would come in and they would pitch their campaigns and their new products, and I fell in love with that. So I made the transition into brand marketing, and I was a cosmetic marketer for about, a long time. The years...

Kailey Raymond: We don't have to go into that, we don't have to go into that.

Sonia Oblitey: Fast forward till today. But I was granted a really unique opportunity about three years ago, and Melissa Hobley, who was the former CMO of OkCupid, she just recently joined as CMO of Tinder, but she calls me and said, "You know what? We want to take OkCupid international, we're killing it here in the US. Why don't you join the team?" And I was like, "Wow, this will be a great way to get a little bit out of beauty marketing," being in beauty marketing for so long, but also to just tackle a whole new challenge, like building the story of OkCupid and dating internationally in different cultures that I don't speak the language and I don't know the culture, but it's been a great ride. It's been a great ride. So that's kind of how I've got to where I am now.

Kailey Raymond: That's awesome. You must see so many different nuances as it relates to dating and different cultures in your role, and I'm so excited to dive into those. I have so many questions. As an avid fan of shows like Love Island and Terrace House, I have plenty of questions to be able to ask you today.

Sonia Oblitey: Oh, there's lots. My first brainstorm working for a dating app was quite interesting. I'm like, "Can we talk about this at work?"

Kailey Raymond: This is work. What's the line?

Sonia Oblitey: I would blush. I'm like, "Oh my gosh, no." OkCupid is not a brand that shies away from bold statements. Not sure if you saw some of our scenes, some of our campaigns, for instance, DTF was a campaign that-

Kailey Raymond: I saw that one all over the subways, yes.

Sonia Oblitey: All over the subway. And it's down to find, and that came from Insight too, because it's down to find what you're looking for. So I mean, and DTF launched before I joined the company, but it was really Melissa as our CMO at the time, using Insight to see what our users really cared about. And you're down to find whatever it is you're down to find. And our users just happen to be really progressive because we are a very progressive dating app. Matter of fact, we were the first dating app to really focus on LGBTQ rights. We have 22 gender options, 20 sexual orientations, and we've had this for years. So that's the core of the brand. It's always been inclusive. So DTF was just a natural progression. Take an acronym and kind of have fun with it.

Kailey Raymond: Well, I appreciate that as a queer person, seeing that representation in all of these apps is super, super important to me. And so really appreciate the fact that brands, maybe five, 10 years ago, it might have been going out on a limb. Now it seems like everybody's catching up with the times, but awesome to hear that. OkCupid's kind of always been ahead of that. And speaking of, one of the things that I really want to learn from you is about those trends. I am sure that you have your hands on the pulse of a lot of the things that are going on as it relates to online dating in the industry. So can you talk to me about some of those? What are some of the biggest trends that you're looking at as it relates to the customer engagement and online dating?

Sonia Oblitey: Yeah, I mean trends for us come from all over the place, which is what's fascinating because trends can come from pop culture. Trends can come from the questions that we ask within our app. Because we have over, geez, thousands of questions. We've had since we launched 9.5 billion questions answered. I mean, this year alone, people have answered 400 million questions. So we have data from our app, but as far as culturally, think of a trend like quiet quitting, that's all in the news right now. And we think how does that apply to dating? How does that apply to Gen Z? How does that apply to millennials? What is it that are deal breakers for people? What are kind of the signs of the times in the sense, because dating changes, with COVID, for instance, you went from meeting in real life to now just meeting, literally having to just stay online. So for those who weren't comfortable, how do we make them comfortable? What is it that we can tap into? So I think as far as the trends are, like we look at seasonality as well. When will be the time that you're going to be out meeting people, summer, New Year's Eve, does just feel like you might-

Kailey Raymond: Summer. And then it's like, is now cuffing season? Have we officially entered cuffing season?

Sonia Oblitey: It's almost there, cuffing is. And every dating app does cuffing season. So what's our spin on cuffing season? We use data for that. We use data to even coin terms that we know matter to our customers. So for instance, for climate change, we will have climate change as a focus, and then we work with teams to come up with a really interesting name for it. And that way we're able to then own that conversation. And then it comes a data driven insight, but now it's also an OkCupid dating trend.

Kailey Raymond: That's so interesting. So what I'm hearing is, well first of all, the number of questions that folks in your app are answering is an astounding, unbelievable volume that you're achieving. So kudos to you. But I guess what I'm understanding is you're looking at a lot of those insights, kind of seeing some of those top ones that are answered perhaps, or the ways that people are answering them, and then identifying some of those trends from there and building campaigns off the back of that. Is that right?

Sonia Oblitey: Exactly. And just to add a little bit more to that, I love working at OkCupid because not only are we data driven, we're also very conscious of being advocates. We're very value focused. So with the Black Lives Matter movement, we saw an uprising and the resurgence of people who really wanted to be allies. So we were the first to launch a Black Lives Matter badge so people can match on that. So trends don't just come from data. They also come, like I said, from the discourse of the country. We launched a pro rights badge so people can filter out those who were against pro rights. That alone, I think, as far as dating today, people are really looking for people who share those core values. You don't want to waste your time on date five dating somebody who has offensive values, values that you would never even try to look past. We do that work for you. The heavy lifting.

Kailey Raymond: That's so interesting. And because you focus on international marketing, I'm sure you're seeing a lot of the nuances in different countries and how different users are actually interacting with the OkCupid app. Do you have any insights that you're can share with us about some of the nuances that you might be seeing per country in terms of what folks are looking for?

Sonia Oblitey: We're very popular in Israel. And in Israel we're popular because they see us as a serious dating app, because of that culture from the research and from also the data that we have from our users there is they're very influenced by family and they're very much about serious relationships. Marrying and then having your family. So they use OkCupid as more of a tool to date seriously, and find somebody for a lifetime. Where in Germany it's a little different, especially in Berlin.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah, Berlin's a unique place. Having been to Berlin, I can tell you that what you're saying probably makes sense to me, but keep going.

Sonia Oblitey: It's funny, if you see our ad campaign in Israel and if you see our ad campaign in Berlin and in the US, you're like, wow. But we cater more to that diversity. It's for looking for a relationship that allows you to be you. We want to highlight that. Whatever you're looking for, you can find it on OkCupid. And that's interesting about international marketing and dating app, because the core values of OkCupid doesn't change. We're still about matching about what matters, asking you questions, allowing you to match with someone who really wants what you want. But if you want to do that seriously, go for it. If you want to have someone for a night for the weekend, or just a date for Sunday, or for the lifetime, you can find that as well. But we have to ensure that we're sticking within the cultural norms of the society. So even in Tel Aviv, we have to make sure that our messaging resonates the way they date in that market, and then we progress with them as they progress.

Kailey Raymond: That's so interesting.

Sonia Oblitey: Yeah, it's probably one of the most interesting experiences I've had as a marketer customizing the messages, but I'm also customizing for the culture. So it's not like I am selling a lipstick that's red wherever I sell it. And I might be changing the model here and there, but no, we're actually tapping into how you date, and what's more intimate than dating?

Kailey Raymond: Truly nothing.

Sonia Oblitey: It's been quite a ride. It's interesting, just the psychology of it all.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah. Oh my gosh. You are blending, I'm sure, tons of insights that are coming in, both quantitative, qualitative, all across the board in terms of social media listening, how folks are interacting with your app, the questions that are coming in. And I'm assuming it's hard to know which ones to kind of move on and which ones to not in terms of the trends, because there's so much information coming at you all the time. I guess I'm really interested in also learning about some of those challenges, is your marketing to folks and how many different countries do you market to folks in? What are you, what's your per-view? 

Sonia Oblitey: We actively market right now to four. But our questions are available all over the world, so 30 different countries, and we do have interactions with all the users throughout the world who have availability to use the app.

Kailey Raymond: Wow, that's awesome. And so imagining that there's probably different challenges in different markets as it relates to engaging your customers, do you have any stories or things you want to share in terms of some of those things that are hard to do and hard to engage your customers, especially as it relates to kind of the nuances and culture?

Sonia Oblitey: Yeah, I mean, where do I start? I think so, okay, I'll take a step back. We are now translated in a few of our local languages, but before we were only in English. And you ask somebody if they want to be in an open relationship in Turkey, they interpreted that as are you open to a relationship?

Kailey Raymond: Okay.

Sonia Oblitey: So that changes your response and then will change who you're going to see in the algorithm. And even when we did translate into Turkish, because you translate, you go through all the work, everything's reviewed a thousand times, but there's still times when you're like, "Oh wow, missed that one." One question was do you clap when your plane lands?

Kailey Raymond: Oh, I love that question. That makes me so happy.

Sonia Oblitey: That's a big question in Israel.

Kailey Raymond: Is that cultural?

Sonia Oblitey: It is.

Kailey Raymond: Can you enlighten me? What cultures clap when the plane lands? This is a question that I need to answer in my life.

Sonia Oblitey: So that's the thing for Israel, they clap, but then there are people who are a little bit more, I don't know, annoyed with it. So it's funny-

Kailey Raymond: I think it's very funny. I'm like, "Clap all the way, let's go."

Sonia Oblitey: And based on that insight, for Israel specifically, we did a digital cartoon, almost illustration, showing a plane landing, everyone clapping, and then a couple looking at each other, not clapping and rolling their eyes and then they matched, because they don't clap when the plane lands. 

Kailey Raymond: That's perfect.

Sonia Oblitey: In Turkey, the way we translate it was, "Do you clap when the plane crashes?"

Kailey Raymond: Huh? Okay.

Sonia Oblitey: That's not a good question.

Kailey Raymond: For me, I'm not stoked about that.

Sonia Oblitey: So we immediately find this, obviously we can change them instantly. We can go into the product and change the questions. But it just shows how even when you have the right translation, you don't. You still have work to do when you're not local on market. But we do have great teams around the world who are soldiers on the ground, as I like to say, and they keep us tapped into the culture.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah, that's awesome. So that's maybe one of the ways that you're solving some of these perhaps cultural nuance challenges that might arise is you have localized teams, is that right?

Sonia Oblitey: We do. We have localized teams and we do work with dating experts in the culture and in the regions that we tap into as well for the psychology of it all, to make sure that we are not only adding credibility to the brand, but also making sure that we know a little bit more about the dating habits and patterns of the different target groups that we focus on.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah, absolutely. Let's talk a little bit about that. I'm sure that there are different patterns of the way that people date and interact. You're saying that in some cultures it's a little more fluid in terms of the way that you market and in others it's a little bit more meant for serious kind of partnerships and couples coming out. So want to learn a little bit more about the way that data is influencing all of your marketing campaigns in OkCupid, and starting with that, do you have a definition for what good data looks like?

Sonia Oblitey: My definition for good data is what question doesn't answer for me. That's how I look at data because it's like if I as a marketer I want to build a plan, but I really need to tap into my consumer and I need the data, but I need my data to answer questions. So I typically start with a bunch of questions and then I work with my data science team to help me with that and help me identify a trend through that data. Questions can lead to so many more questions and so many more answers. So I think, for me, that's really what good data is. It's anything that helps me to find an opportunity. We do a lot of brand studies. We could say our campaign was a success, it had a 99% awareness. And I'm like, well what was that 1%? What happened there?

Kailey Raymond: Never good enough.

Sonia Oblitey: It allows me to just continue to optimize. And then sometimes the answer is that 1% just isn't your target. You will never get that 1%, it's just not for you. But that's still the answer to that data. So that's what I think of when I think of good data. But I'm not somebody who is like, "Because the data says you have to do that." It's not the way I was brought up in my career. Funny enough, as a brand builder, we did focus groups and everything, but a lot of it was gut too. It's almost like a dance of my gut and the data.

Kailey Raymond: Absolutely. Yeah, I fully agree. And there's something about this where I've worked in B2B businesses most of my life. I think that B2B businesses forget a lot of the time, but you're also still talking to human beings. They're the ones that are purchasing things. And so anchoring every single decision that you're making fully on a half a percentage point instead of human intuition. I don't know. There's definitely got to be a balance there for sure. So I appreciate the fact that, especially in consumer brands, you are probably looking at things in a six, 12 month in the future lens more than a lot of folks, and you don't even know what the data's going to say, because it's going to change before you know it.

Sonia Oblitey: Exactly.

Kailey Raymond: One of the things that I want to learn about too is how does your team leverage that data? So you're answering questions, billions of questions or being answered on your platform. How are you using that data in your signup process to predict that compatibility among the users? Where is that going? What is that feeding? What are the campaigns that you're running off the back of that?

Sonia Oblitey: Interesting question, because a lot of your question is based off of the algorithm. So we have our 15 onboarding questions that we know are designed to be the questions you can't skip. And that's going to give you your initial matches along with the preferences that you set. And then throughout the app, you're going to continue to get questions. And the more questions you answer, the better match you're going to find. We're constantly optimizing the algorithm and working on new ways to manage the data. So it could be through CRM that you have a compatibility rate with someone who's at 95%, you probably want to get to meet them, or you guys both answer some of the same questions the same way. And not only do you answer questions on OkCupid, but you also get to weight your questions.

Kailey Raymond: Whoa. No way.

Sonia Oblitey: Yeah. 

Kailey Raymond: That's very cool.

Sonia Oblitey: You do care about, you kind of care about, you don't care about, but that's like you only accept a yes for this answer or only accept a maybe some questions that you have a little bit more flexibility. So that also feeds into the data. And I think, as far as the campaigns that we've done off of the data, about two years ago, right around the time when COVID hit, we had a campaign called Ask Yourself, which was completely driven off of our questions. So DTF was the campaign that's going to shock you, it's going to remind you that OkCupid is here. It's going to tell you that we are the app for you. If you're down to find this, Ask Yourself campaigns about, well, how are we going to do that for you? Answering these questions. So the team spent a lot of time going through all the question data and seeing what was important to our users. And then through that is what they developed this campaign Ask Yourself. So OkCupid question number 56. Is a soulmate worth waiting for? Because we saw, that's a big question for us. And then we took these questions and added some really dynamic illustrations, very whimsical, if you want to say abstract, like two people intertwining into one on a repeat, asking that soulmate question, but it was all driven from the data.

Kailey Raymond: That's really cool. I love that. Ask Yourself. So you're taking those biggest questions that folks are answering the most and then transforming them into creative. I love those types of campaigns. One of my favorite campaigns when we did that was I used to work at a company that had a lot of salary data, and we had all of the differentiations between if somebody was giving us their gender, their race, their age, all of that stuff. So we could break it down in really interesting ways. And we sent that data over to a physical artist and she created a visual representation of the wage gap. And it was this big sweeping installation and this big warehouse in San Francisco. So moving, and then having conversations and panels about that with a lot of leaders.

Sonia Oblitey: And you know what? It's authentic. It's what we know to be true. I love that.

Kailey Raymond: And it's something that's important. It's something that everybody feels, and it's something that is so human, but it's anchored on all of these insights that are coming through the platform, which is really cool. Do you have any examples of maybe what some personalization might look like? I know that you just said weighting of different preferences and the apps. Any other ways that y'all are driving personalization within your customer engagement strategies or brand tactics?

Sonia Oblitey: Yeah. That's the thing about dating apps. If you're doing it right, we're showing you who you want to meet. So that's personalization in itself, is just giving you the tools to select the preferences that you're looking for. But I think, for me and for OkCupid, what I like about what we're able to do is we are able to literally show you your person based on a percent score. So it's almost like dare I say the Netflix of online dating because Netflix is able to show me what I want to see for the most part. Amazon, how they know my favorite color is pink, I have no idea. I have a pink air fryer, pink dishes, all because Amazon knows that's my favorite color. So with OkCupid, we're able to show you who we think you should see, but it's based off the questions that you answered. And that's very personal. Very personal.

Kailey Raymond: I love that. And what I really think is so cool about this is we talk a lot on the show about third party data kind of going away in the future. First party data being a really rich source of information because it's consented, it's coming directly from the user. But really what you're talking about right now is a layer even deeper than that. We're hearing a lot of trends about, which is called zero party data, which is a form fill. It's a survey, somebody's answering it, and you're tailoring the entire experience based off of what a human being is telling you. And I think that that's certainly the most powerful form of data. If you can get people to interact with your app and actually give you something, instead of just looking at all the ways that they click. I think that that is the most important thing that you can do. I love that. So I want to transition a little bit into some of the future looking things and some of the people that you might look to for inspiration. Do you have anybody that you look to that you think is doing it right as it relates to customer engagement and brand tactics?

Sonia Oblitey: There's so many. I just personally look at those brands who are answering my personal need and meeting my expectations. But I love Uber. I think that they are definitely the leaders when it comes to customer expectations and they've set these expectations. I think DoorDash is doing a really great job at it as well for me, because I think I might be their biggest customer in the DMV with DoorDash, because they have this way of letting me know when it's time to order. And they always have a way-

Kailey Raymond: Scary, right?

Sonia Oblitey: Telling me what I should order, and then making it really easy for me to follow my driver, easy for me to contact my driver, and easy for me to message with them. And I'm okay without talking to a person. I'm okay with messaging customer service because I have competence that they're going to get back to me. And to me, I think that's what customers are expecting now, is we might not always talk to somebody with this new day and age and technology, but we need to know that there's somebody there. I think besides those two, I do go back to my traditional storytelling branch that I love, and I love Dove. But for me it's just as a woman of color and I look at Dove, I think they're genuine. 

I don't think they're pandering to me. And I can think of the commercial with the, I forgot the name, the campaign, but it was about hair and texture, and the little girl was getting her hair done by her mom. And it gives me goosebumps till this day because I can see myself. And it's Dove, and I'm loyal to Dove. And a lot of my girlfriends are loyal to Dove because we believe them. Same thing with Nike over the years, and I think recently I was really impressed by the Serena Williams Gatorade commercial with Beyonce. I guess it's just anything that I stop and I'm like, "Whew." If it gives me that chill, I'm like, "Yeah, they took the time to tell that story and I believe them." I did.

Kailey Raymond: That's huge. I love that. That's the phrase that you're using is “I believe them”. It means that they've done such good research and understand who their consumers are so well, that they're creating campaigns that truly speak to you. If a brand can give you goosebumps, that's like the ultimate sign of praise.

Sonia Oblitey: It really is. It really, really is. And what's wonderful about today is we don't have to have multimillion billion dollar brand budgets to tell stories anymore. We can tell stories in other ways of the channels, even through TikTok.

Kailey Raymond: Are you using TikTok for-

Sonia Oblitey: We are.

Kailey Raymond: Tell me about it. 

Sonia Oblitey: I think for TikTok, we're still optimizing and learning, but the content, it's not about ... Okay, and I'm not trying to offend anybody, but with Instagram, I feel like I'm following these celebrities and these big influencers, where TikTok, I'm just following really funny content or really great content, or content that means something to me. So for the dating app, it's like people know dating can be hard. You could have a content creator with two followers who's just really funny and just makes you laugh, and can express the frustrations of dating in a really funny way. That to me is TikTok.

Kailey Raymond: A hundred percent.

Sonia Oblitey: People are giving you just a little bit of their time. Boom, boom. Be funny with it. Be quick with it if that's where you're trying to go with it. But that's why I like TikTok, because it a) allows a lot of people to be content creators. I think it just builds opportunities for more people. And because of that it feels more authentic.

Kailey Raymond: You're so right. But do you think that-

Sonia Oblitey: I am not paying you $50,000 like, "Hi I use OkCupid." No. It's like somebody who are not getting paid, but they just love the brand, they love the idea, and they love to make videos.

Kailey Raymond: Customer advocacy. That's the way in. Because, at the end of the day, I'm fearing the future of TikTok for exactly this reason, brands got on Instagram and they were like, "I understand what we're doing here." And then it was like, "Okay, the sponsored push back and all that kind of stuff." But I agree with you, right now, it still feels like this place where you can discover in a really genuine way, and it feels like it knows you too well. You're like, "Wait, how did I get on this? But it's kind of perfect. I did want that recipe, thank you."

Sonia Oblitey: Too well. But I can be on TikTok for three hours and I'm like, "What have I done with my day?"

Kailey Raymond: You set a timer. You got to set a timer.

Sonia Oblitey: Yeah, I guess I should try that. Knowing me, I'll just keep pushing ignore, ignore.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah. Snooze, snooze. So funny. Tell me about maybe your favorite database marketing campaign that you've ever run.

Sonia Oblitey: I would say they Ask Yourself campaign. I think that was really the one I mentioned before that was really database. But I will tell you about my favorite, more like a brand emotional storytelling campaign, is my beauty marketing days. I used to do marketing for Tommy Hilfiger fragrances and we were designing a new fragrance, and we really wanted to tap into men's passion for their cars, for their classic cars. And when we were designing the bottle, when you closed your fragrance, we wanted it to sound like you were closing your car door.

Kailey Raymond: Wow, that's so cool.

Sonia Oblitey: That's how much we wanted to connect with this consumer. We wanted for the leather of the bottle to feel like leather on your car. We wanted to give you that experience of this is like a car, luxury car, very aspirational know that you're heading into when you buy this fragrance. And that was based on insight too. A lot of insight work on who that target would be.

Kailey Raymond: That's so interesting. I would've never got down to the nuance of the way that the cap actually goes back on and the sound that produces, that is so well thought out in terms of customer experience. It's unbelievable.

Sonia Oblitey: Fragrance marketing is the most romantic marketing I've ever done. Because it's all storytelling. You can't smell the fragrance through your TV. I mean you might back in the day with magazines, you could, or if you're in the store. Soon, probably through TikTok. So it's very romantic. You want to feel the way, but the Calvin Klein ocean.

Kailey Raymond: It's all of these Italian models. That's like what I always think about when I think about fragrance is all these guys on cliffs in the Amalfi coast.

Sonia Oblitey: Exactly. It's true, but it's very romantic. And we have a customer that's so focused, maybe a little too focused. And we designed the fragrance for them to have that experience from every design, every detail of the package.

Kailey Raymond: So cool. And that's such an interesting example and so detailed, and something that I have never thought about, and just it impacts the way that people think about, care about, and feel about your brand. And it has that genuine, back to one of the words that we've been using today, and authentic, it builds that trust. They get me. Very cool. 

Sonia Oblitey: That's the plan, that's the hope.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah, absolutely. What do you see changing and what do you see on the horizon in terms of some of the ways that you're engaging with customers in the next six to 12 months? What are your eyes on right now?

Sonia Oblitey: What I see changing is I feel that our customers need a little bit more incentive to stick around. So whether it's gamification within your product, rewarding them some way in the product, I feel like people are expecting that now, sort of in a way. Let me build some points or let me have this community that I can talk to. And it's starting to make its way into dating. 

Kailey Raymond: That's interesting.

Sonia Oblitey: I think that's something I see as happening, is building retention through gamification and through other social networking tools.

Kailey Raymond: That's so interesting. This has come up a couple of times and I think that's exactly right, is every brand, whether you're B2B or B2C, is thinking up ways to build these ways for you to never stop interacting with your brand. And that's exactly gamification. Do you have any experiments that you're running right now as it relates to gamification?

Sonia Oblitey: We don't have any, but I know that it's something that we're definitely considering, but we haven't allocated any resource to that. It's really something that we want to take our time with and make sure that we test it right because we don't want people to lose focus on you really are here still too, to meet somebody and connect. So no, not yet. But I have been really interested in how other brands have been doing it within the whole gaming world, but it's building a product within the game. Or even in Meta. I've been seeing what's going on in the whole Metaverse thing, and I'm still trying to understand that myself. But it's definitely where we're headed.

Kailey Raymond: Dating in the Metaverse? Who knows?

Sonia Oblitey: Why not?

Kailey Raymond: 2023, Here we go.

Sonia Oblitey: Did you ever think that we would ever date through computer? So ...

Kailey Raymond: Yeah.

Sonia Oblitey: My mother still doesn't understand it. I'm like, "Go, mum, you could beat somebody through your computer." She's like, "What? Computer?"

Kailey Raymond: And it's amazing. It's an amazing thing. I met my partner on an app, and my brother met his wife, and so everybody that I know, a wedding that I'm going to this weekend. It's so pervasive. One of the producers of this show met her husband on OkCupid and she was like, "It's the questions. I did a thousand questions and he found the one that was so important to me." So it's working.

Sonia Oblitey: I love to hear that. You hear that everybody?

Kailey Raymond: Shout out.

Sonia Oblitey: It works. It could work if you work it.

Kailey Raymond: Absolutely. So great. My last question for you, any steps or recommendations that you have for folks that are looking to up level some of their marketing tactics and brand strategies?

Sonia Oblitey: Oh, I thought you were going to ask me about building the perfect dating app profile.

Kailey Raymond: We can go into that too. Some personal advice.

Sonia Oblitey: I think to up your strategy, I'm an old school marketer, is kind of like I always ask myself, "So what?" I just always ask myself, "So what? Who cares?" And keeping my customer literally right in front of me, giving the customer a name because I have to stay customer oriented. And I always ask my team, are we talking to ourselves? Because I've done that before in my career. I've built huge campaigns that didn't really succeed because I'm like, "Oh wow. We spent a whole time in the room, in this conference room, talking to ourselves." And I think, for me, that's something I've learned. I've also learned to never stop learning. But for me, it's not even about just reading various trade publications, but it's talking to people. Really talking to people, especially my Gen Z cousins and families. I really like to understand where their minds are going.

Kailey Raymond: Where is Gen Z going?

Sonia Oblitey: I don't know. I think they ask where I'm going. What did you just try to do? But the thing is, I'm kind of far removed from that and I never want to sit in an Eiffel Tower. I never want to be that senior executive that doesn't get it. I don't personally want to be there. You can fall into that trap. We're all here. We're all together. And it's good to learn. It's good to try to take risk. One thing I learned about being at OkCupid, is we think bold. I mean, when I tell you we think bold, we think things that someone should never really think. Then we bring it down and-

Kailey Raymond: I want to sit in that marketing room. I want to sit in that brainstorm.

Sonia Oblitey: It's quite the experience.

Kailey Raymond: Add me to your next one. I'm in, let's go.

Sonia Oblitey: I'm having the time of my life just being able to think this way and having a team that supports it. A senior team that brings themself down to earth and we're all in the trenches together trying to spread this love around the world.

Kailey Raymond: That's so great. Well, Sonia, thank you so much. This has been so great and-

Sonia Oblitey: I had a blast.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah, absolutely. Anchoring on genuine, authentic relationships, reaching out to the customer and making sure leveling the playing field. Awesome words to live by. Thank you.

Sonia Oblitey: Thank you.

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