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Talking with Creative Leaders: Why Empathy is Essential for Marketers

An Interview with Brigette Wolf, CMO of My/Mochi.

Brigette Wolf joined My/Mochi earlier this year as their new CMO to lead the charge in accelerating their growth. With years of experience leading global brands like Oreo and Trident, we were so excited to chat with her about how marketers can succeed as the industry continues to change.

Tell me a little bit about you and your role.

After 20 years at a big CPG, I changed things up by joining a small/mid-sized company which has been a blast. Some things are very different, some things not so much, but all of my work at My/Mochi is hands-on. It's been really fun. How do you feel marketing has changed over the past year or so?

The scale of connectivity is probably the biggest change, which is something that big companies struggle with. It used to be a one-way conversation; now, it's definitely more of a two-way conversation. And if anything, it may become one way from the consumer side. They're making their own content, so the power of the narrative has definitely changed, but that creates a lot of opportunity for brands today to be more authentic and human. You can choose to be more serious or more playful, depending on what you're doing and what your consumers’ needs are. The shift is that we’re all getting back to the consumer. Sometimes that can get lost, especially in a large organization and employees can start thinking about “the consumer” as a third-party alien. People forget it's actually a human being we are trying to connect with. Sometimes it’s important to ask yourself the question with any strategy, “How would my friends, family or someone I know respond to this?” Now more than ever, it’s important to better understand consumers with boots-on-the-ground strategies and research about who your consumer is, what they are buying, and what they care about. We need to listen to consumer comments and make sure that we challenge assumptions we've made.

We've talked about consumers, but how do you feel teams have changed in the past year? And how are you ensuring connection and collaboration amongst your team or other teams you've been on? When I started at Kraft, it was the creative agency that was the powerhouse of integrated marketing campaigns. But later, creative agencies, PR firms, design firms, and the media had to play nicely within the sandbox together. I think that shifted again with media moving from TV to digital. Digital advertising requires a different type of creative approach – the approach can’t just be launching one big hero commercial, you need to be on several different platforms. Because of this, I think teams have become fragmented because we need a lot of people to do work across various platforms and mediums versus concentrating on a television spot. What kind of tips and tricks would you have for anybody to get fresher ideas out of their brainstorms?

I encourage my team to chop up big ideas into various smaller ones or explore different iterations of a core concept. Sometimes, the best ideas come out of jumping off someone else’s idea or a bigger concept.

What are the most important soft skills in business today from your point of view?

I think listening and empathy should be at the core of any marketer because they should be in service to someone else (their customer).

Consumers have a need and so, therefore, they buy a product to serve that need. Or sometimes brands create a need that consumers didn’t know they had. I never knew I needed handheld, portion-controlled ice cream like My/Mochi, but I will tell you it helps satisfy my craving and has an off-switch that is beneficial for me. I feel better about my choices after one My/Mochi. I think every marketer needs to closely listen and have empathy for these sorts of needs and have a sense of curiosity about those they’re targeting. Why are they behaving in a certain way? What’s driving it? There is a level of humility that has to be a part of any campaign. Because of this, I believe soft skills are really important.

I also think there is value in having more direct conversations. Sometimes account managers would be the only people you would give feedback to on a campaign and the creatives would present and hop off the line. Everyone is afraid of crushing other’s dreams and ideas, but sometimes this indirect communication could lead to a lack of efficiency and create more opportunities to get lost in translation. I prefer to speak to creatives directly, approaching this sort of conversation with a level of sensitivity and empathy, as well as an understanding that creatives’ minds do work differently. What do you feel is the most difficult for organizations: Generating new ideas, prioritizing ideas, or actioning ideas? All three! Prioritizing an idea can be challenging – determining the hardest-hitting idea that’s going to be the most cost-effective. You can love an idea, but if you don’t have the budget for it, it’s not going to fly. We’re working through something right now where we had 3 ideas. The one idea that we are the most excited about is going to be the most painful in post-production whereas the other two are super clear about who we can target and how they should be executed.

What are you excited for this year?

We’re officially on the other side of the pandemic. I was watching Jimmy Kimmel who did a video of “Things That We Have Forgotten,” such as wiping down our groceries or drive-by birthday parties, and it made me want to cry – I’d blocked it out. We might finally be getting back to some sense of normalcy from a societal behaviour perspective, which means we can get out, eat and explore. We can start innovating and start talking to people again, and consumers can do things like product tasting and have face-to-face interactions.


Brigette Wolf is a solutions-oriented, forward-thinking disruptor of the snacking space. Coming from nearly two decades of work in marketing with experience in CPG training and investment banking, Brigette specializes in P&L management, global innovation, customer marketing and channel development.

Taught in an awe-inspiring environment by The Garden's Founder, Shari Walczak, ThinkShop is a comprehensive 2 to 3-day professional development program designed to inspire new ways of thinking and upskill your team’s ability to tackle tough day-to-day challenges. ThinkShop provides the tools and training to solve the wicked problems that your organization is facing.


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