Direct Line and Trinity Mirror on ‘neurodiversity’ and why it is crucial

Direct Line’s top marketer believes too many brands are allowing their marketers to “get bogged down in data” and there must be a balance between creativity and number crunching.


Direct Line’s marketing director Mark Evans has warned that marketing is becoming too much to do with the left part of marketers’ brains, which prioritises logic and skills such as mathematics.

Speaking on a panel at Marketing Week Live today (8 March), Evans said that while it is great more top-tier brands are prioritising diversity internally, there needs to be the same focus on neurodiversity and ensuring there’s a balance between creatives and number crunchers.

He explained: “Marketing is becoming more left brain and about being based around analytics and instructions. But it needs to become whole brained or you risk losing sight of the creative people as they are being too bogged down with reading data.

“My daughter is dyslexic but there’s things she can do brilliantly that I am unable to do. That same neurodiversity – so celebrating people that can prioritise both the left and right side of their brain – is crucial for the marketing teams of the future. You can’t expect creative people to be analysts or vice versa.”

Zoe Harris, group marketing director at Trinity Mirror, agreed with Evans. She said the publisher has embedded a faster way of working to combat the rise of digital but says it’s important tthe business still thinks longer-term as well.

“You have to accept the different types of speed that marketers work at,” she added. “Around 20 years ago the Daily Mirror sold 3 million newspapers a day but that’s now around 1 million, while our websites get 40 million people visiting monthly.

“Of course, this faster-paced landscape has changed our mindset and now if we launch something like an app and it doesn’t work after six weeks, we kill it off. However, we also have marketers working primarily on long-term brand building – that mix is crucial.”

Neurodiversity – so celebrating people that can prioritise both the left and right side of their brain – is crucial for the marketing teams of the future.

Mark Evans, Direct Line

The panel, which was discussing the marketing teams of the future, also touched on how to get CMOs more integrated into the c-suite.

Annabel Venner, global brand director at Hiscox, advised: “You need to make the CEO understand you will get things wrong and that there’s a lesson you can learn from that. Honesty creates more respect.”

Marketers must also ensure they are not the “light entertainment” at the end of a board meeting. Harris concluded: “Don’t just be seen as a fluffy marketer or the light entertainment who plays the new ad at the end of the board meeting. Talk about the impact of consumers and make it clear from day one that you understand the whole business.”