(Almost) Everything That Went Down at the Twilio Segment Variety Australia CMO Dinner 

Twilio Segment Variety Australia CMO Dinner 
Jess Gleeson

The inaugural Twilio Segment Variety Australia CMO Dinner took place in Sydney on Friday night, with big reveals about what’s next for the Seven Network, insights into the marketing strategy and success of “Barbie”, and Gary Vee taking to the stage talking about everything from bringing media and creative back together, to the self-esteem and egos of creative directors which is hampering brands.

Here’s (almost) everything we heard, learned and saw while at the event. 

Gary Vee Wants to See Media and Creative Brought Back Together 

One of the biggest challenges facing entertainment companies, brands and the wider industry is the separation and tension between creative and media agencies, the night’s key speaker Gary Vee told the crowd. 

“I think CMOs continue to be challenged by the same things,” he said. “My biggest hope and dream for all the CMOs in Australia and every other part of the world is starting to have a real conversation and putting them in a position to succeed where if we can get CMOs to start pressuring agencies to bring back media and creative under one roof, well, then we can actually hold the agencies accountable to actually drive our business, which then will make us much more popular with our CEOs and board members.”

He said his observation is that CMOs actually want to lean into accountability and measurement, because it would free them up to focus on other things. 

“Like we as an agency beg and plead for our clients to give us media and creative and hold us accountable for the business results at the end of the year. That’s how I build my whole company – any time we don’t, we’re vulnerable.”


Credit: Robert Meredith

Delicious Dinner (and Cookies)

Guests at the Twilio Segment Variety Australia CMO Dinner were not only treated to a delightful multi-course dinner from Pyrmont’s Sala, but they also got to digest some realities about a future without cookies, thanks to Nicholas Kontopoulos, vice president of marketing for Twilio across Asia Pacific and Japan.

Kontopoulos gave the lay of the land as the night kicked off, and said afterwards it had been a massive success. 

“Twilio was thrilled to partner with Variety Australia and The Brag Media for this game-changing event.” he said.

“The night was filled with insights, collaboration, learning, networking and good times, and we always love spending time with talented executives from some of the biggest and best companies out there. We can’t wait for the next one.”

Why the “Barbie” Marketing Push Was So Successful 

The “Barbie” phenomenon is still in full swing, and guests at the Twilio Segment Variety Australia CMO Dinner were treated to some unique insights about just why the movie has broken so many records, stereotypes and expectations. 

Universal Pictures’ director of marketing Suzanne Stretton-Brown talked through the key elements that made the film a marketers’ dream locally and globally. The first, she said, was the power of emotion and nostalgia, and how this was further amplified by a simple colour.

“There is something psychologically wonderful about pink. Now it is a key brand asset of Barbie that we know her to be, but there was something about the joy, the celebration of pink that just cut through and took our brand out there. And the combination of all of these things drew on emotion, and ultimately if you don’t stir emotion in your campaign, your content is not going anywhere,” she said. 

Plus, she noted, the marketing department managed to make consumers feel like “Barbie” was everywhere, watching them – so they too needed to get out there and watch “Barbie”. 

Seven Network Reveals Next Steps 

The Seven Network’s CMO, Melissa Hopkins, also took to the stage at the Twilio Segment Variety Australia Dinner to reveal her plans to overhaul and modernise the broadcaster. 

Not only did she flag her intentions, plans and strategy for poaching viewers from rival Nine News, and a strategic partnership with Gary Vee – but she also detailed her plans to overhaul the company’s brand proposition

“I think the opportunity is to make Seven relevant again to Australians. So, for those of us old enough in the room, 20 years ago Seven was just as cool as a Google or a Meta. And we’d be quite happy to have the sticker on our laptops. It’s sort of lost that, and I think there is a real opportunity for us to become part of the fabric of Australia again, to really define ourselves as a brand, over and above our content. I don’t think many content players actually globally have been successful in doing that, but it really really excites me that I’m on the journey to do that with Seven,” Hopkins said on stage. 


Credit: Jess Gleeson

Even More Insights From Gary Vee About Ego, Empathy and Excellence 

Gary Vee also opened up about the challenges the industry faces with ego, empathy and excellence. 

He said his biggest challenge in his agency business over the past near decade and a half has been to give creatives more self-esteem, after a rough trot with the industry’s current systems and structures. 

“It is stunning how insecure the creative directors of ad agencies are around the world, and the lack of humility and curiosity is devastating,” he said. 


Credit: Damien Ford


“And the retraining of all the creatives that we hire from the most iconic shops is extremely challenging. They would much rather believe that their subjective opinion in the boardroom is right [rather] than black and white quantum raw data… We do it with empathy, with a lot of training,” he added.

“Three years ago, we made a pretty substantial decision which was every single creative globally would make creative every day. So our entire creative department actually makes creative every day. And as we all know, because you’re in the industry, most creative shops are not in the business of making actual creative, they’re in the business of making decks and pitching ideas.” 

The inaugural Variety Australia CMO Dinner was made possible by the support of Twilio Segment.