1.Tell us your story … 

In some ways, that’s a secret but I guess you could say that my story starts with a chimney.  A long time ago, I decided that as a man with considerable wealth, it would be nice to help the poor and give secret presents to those people and children who needed it.  I heard about a father who didn’t have enough money for his three daughters to get married so to help him and his daughters out, I thought I would drop a bag of gold down the chimney – which on reflection, wasn’t the greatest idea considering the fire was lit.  But, lucky for me, the father had left a stocking hanging by the fire to dry and the gold coins magically fell into the stocking. And that’s where my story begun.

2The Interpreters spend a lot of time trying to understand our clients’ customers and segments within the market. How well do you know your customers?

I’ve been fortunate enough to maintain a one-to-one dialogue with my customers over the years, which I’ve noted other brands are envious of. You would have seen the most recent Australian CEO Survey from PWC that 79% of CEOs are concerned about changing customer behaviours.  For me, it’s the changing customer experience that caused me to adapt.  I’m a lot more tech savvy than the old days and try to maintain my community presence.  That’s why come December, I take a very ethnographic approach and get out into the shopping centres, running my versions of focus groups.  I use quantitative data to help as well – in the early days, I created a segmentation of children who were naughty versus nice, which helps from a targeting perspective but nothing beats getting out there and listening.

3. We do a lot of problem solving at The Interpreters so we’re interested in how other people solve problems. How do you approach problem solving?

Despite being a strong brand, I still suffer from the problem of credibility and believability, which correlates strongly with an increase in children’s ages. This used to concern me but now I focus on our core demographic. I think I read in one of your previous blogs that brands need to recognise that they don’t necessarily own their brand themselves. This struck a cord with me (as many of your blogs and interviews do) and I refocused my energies on the customers that mattered, rather than those who questioned.

I’ve had other problems over the years and these are things that are largely out of my control so as a brand, you need to be agile.  Property prices in Australia impact because of the number of apartments I need to navigate.  Climate change is an ongoing issue; Amazon and their drones but I think back to Rudolph – deemed a liability for being different but saved the day one foggy Christmas Eve.   That’s problem solving for me – looking outside the box for ways to deliver – literally.

4. Interpretation is subjective but a key part of our analysis. We’re always interested in the ways other people might interpret key trends or things of interest from their specialism. How do you interpret what has happened in 2017?

By this, I’m assuming you’re referring to the so called ‘research’ announced in the UK where Die Hard was ‘officially’ declared to not be a Christmas movie.   I hope that you had nothing to do with those findings Paul but I can only interpret them to be a) wrong and b) factually incorrect.  Sure, It’s A Wonderful Life, Love Actually, those films might be easier to classify as a Christmas film but you need to look deeper into the Die Hard story.  Listen to the soundtrack, look very carefully at the gifts that John McClane brings, it’s set on Christmas Eve at a Christmas party.  When those ‘results’ came out, it was my personal version of Brexit – HansGruberexit if you like and there was not a lot of yippe ki yay in the workshop that day.  Let’s hope that’s the last shock for 2017.

5. Because we firmly believe that Information is Beautiful, we would like to give you a copy of Information is Beautiful, ‘a stunning visual journey through the most revealing trends, fascinating facts and vital statistics of the modern world’. Because first impressions matter, have a scan through and tell us which visualisation caught your attention and why?

Information is beautiful so as a gentle plug – if you haven’t sent your Christmas list to me, you should – I can only work on the information I’m given.  I choose ‘The Most Popular Search Terms’ map as visually, it’s a great representation of what presents I need to deliver by geography.  I mentioned earlier that I’ve embraced new technology and I have done a bit of the old ‘googling’ myself to help the Elves in the workshop.

May I also take this opportunity to wish you, the team at The Interpreters and all your clients, collaborators and suppliers the very best wishes for Christmas and a very Happy New Year