Q&A: Meet Award-Winning Marketing Strategist Andrew F. Stewart of AFS Strategic Consulting
Welcome to another installment of our B2BeeMembers series. Up today is an award-winning marketing strategist from Toronto who joined B2BeeMatch to offer his professional marketing services through his new firm, AFS Strategic Consulting. Meet Andrew Fraser Stewart!
Andrew is an experienced and celebrated marketer. He’s won a Webby and a Canadian Marketing Association award for his work on the Tim Horton’s “EhMoji Keyboard, Text like a Canadian” campaign. He earned a Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Achieving Communications Excellence (ACE) award for his work on the Canadian edition of Dove’s “Choose Beautiful” campaign. And he earned another CPRS ACE award for his work on Knorr’s “Where’s Salty and What’s for Dinner?” campaign. Oh, and you may have heard him talking about marketing on the radio—he’s a panelist and expert on NEWSTALK 1010.
Andrew took some time to answer our questions about what a marketing strategist does exactly, what kind of brands he likes to work with, and why he champions diversity and inclusion in marketing. We soon learned that for all his awards and expertise, Andrew is simply a brand storyteller at heart—one who wants to tell some new stories!
You’re a marketing strategist and consultant. Can you give us a little breakdown of exactly what that means?
I have years of experience managing social, digital and content teams. So I’m usually brought in to develop creative insights and ideas and to manage junior teams for small to medium-sized agencies. I’ve done almost every job on the digital marketing side of things, so agencies know I understand the process and how to produce great work.
Can you tell us what got you interested in marketing, strategy and consulting?
At heart, I’m a storyteller. I love to take an idea and map out a story and the connections a brand can make with its audience and with the public as a whole.
You work with both big brands and small ones to help drive growth through digital marketing. Can you tell us if they share any challenges or opportunities?
Whether I’m working on a big brand or a small brand, it’s my job as a marketing strategist to fit that brand into the life of its audience in an authentic and beneficial way. With big brands it’s more of a challenge to work within the constraints of the brand’s history, whereas a small brand can be more agile in its messaging. But with small brands come smaller budgets, and that can be either a challenge or a creative opportunity. Both big brands and small brands have their benefits and both have their challenges. But when a strategy is based in authenticity, when a client has the desire to build trust, and when a marketing team has the right insight and creativity, it doesn’t necessarily matter how big or small the brand is—both follow the same path to production.
You work on all kinds of B2C products, from beer to cannabis to books to tractors! Is there a kind of product that you really love working with? And is there a kind of product that gives your marketing strategist skills a really satisfying deep stretch?
Confectionary. Maybe it’s my fat-kid roots, but I think there’s something special in the simple joy of creating a story around a treat. At every agency I’ve worked for, I’ve had an ice cream or confectionary client. Who doesn’t like selling ice cream and candy?! On the other hand, confectionery isn’t the most challenging as a strategist. That’s why I also love my work in regulated industries. Nothing drives me more than having boundaries to work within—probably because I’ve always loved pushing boundaries.
Speaking of pushing boundaries, anyone who follows you on LinkedIn knows that you post about diversity and inclusion in marketing and that you lead panels and sessions on that topic. But why is supporting women, people of colour, and the LGBT community so important to you?
My privilege gets me in the door when others can’t enter, so it’s my job to push as hard as I can for those who are left out. I’m a white male, and I’m well aware of the privilege that was given to me. But I’m also a gay man who understands what it’s like to grow up with little representation in the market. As a kid, I would have loved to have seen a Tiffany’s engagement ring commercial that featured two men. Diversity is the greatest strength a storyteller has, and frankly, there are a lot of redundant stories being told again and again. I want us to tell new stories with more diverse people so that kids growing up today actually see themselves represented.