Meet Hanna Riberdahl, CEO of Sveriges Annonsörer
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I was born and raised in… a suburb in the south of Stockholm, where I still live. I have spent most of my life here, it is a great city to settle down. Stockholm is usually referred to as ‘Venice of the North’ because it is surrounded by water and beautiful old buildings. It is also not that crowded, and the air is quite clean compared to other cities around the world.
I studied… business administration at Stockholm University. Everyone in my family were lawyers or studied law. Sunday dinners were very boring, everyone was talking about laws. I really wanted to do something completely different. I started out studying statistics because I always liked numbers, discovering patterns and analysing figures and the reasons behind them. I then went on to study behavioural science. I found that combining statistics with behavioural science was quite interesting and I ended up studying marketing. It was not a straight-forward “I would like to work in marketing”, but it came naturally after a while.
I started in the marketing industry…as an Insights and Planning Manager at Telia, Sweden’s largest telco company. A couple of years later, I became the head of the Insights department. I had around 15 Insights Managers in my department, working with a variety of traditional types of research and feeding that into the organisation to help us make the right marketing decisions. Today, this role tends to be assigned to one person in large companies. Insights roles have transformed into digital analysts and has become much more data driven. A few years after I started working in the marketing industry, data gathering became the hype with the notion that Business Intelligence (BI) could solve every problem. This is still the case today.
If I could change one thing about the marketing industry in 2020, it would be… truly understanding that brand marketing drives long-term profitable growth, as well as in the short-term if we do it right. Marketing is not just a cost that you can turn off and on again. This is an important discussion to have and reflect on especially amid the coronavirus crisis. What we have observed is that several companies have been very quick to turn off their marketing investments based on quarterly financial results, and then turn it on again. I think the reason companies are doing this is because they do not really understand that marketing can drive business growth.
We also need to change the hype around data-driven marketing. We need to move towards more insights-driven marketing and really understand the data we have. Marketers should focus on the why, instead of only focusing on the what. The Association of Swedish Advertisers’ new guide for marketing effectiveness “Let's talk effectiveness!”, is a start to changing that.
One thing Covid-19 has taught us… despite the speed of digitalization increasing significantly, even in a quite digitalized country such as Sweden, the basis for our wellbeing remains the same: we have a need to socialize. Even though remote meetings and digital dinners are good substitutes to face-to-face interactions, they will never be enough. I think that we will see a gigantic shift towards a more hybrid solution for how we work, consume, travel and interact with each other, even after the coronavirus crisis.
One thing most people don’t know about me… I am obsessed with planning, both personally and professionally. My family’s calendar is very structured and quite full well into the future. Blind spots must be filled, otherwise I don’t feel comfortable. But I have recently been challenging myself to do unplanned activities that are more in the now. I think I have made some progress because if there are blind spots in my calendar, I don't freak out anymore and actually get excited.
One fact about my country… equality is a big part of Swedish society, from gender and diversity to education, health care and parental leave.
This is part of a series of monthly interviews with heads of national advertiser associations in WFA membership.