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In a world flooded with cutting-edge gadgets, some consumers are still hesitant to embrace change. How do marketers break through the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mentality and showcase the potential of groundbreaking tech? Episode 19 explores marketing strategies to captivate even the most skeptical minds as we welcome Taylor Robinson, Director of Communications at Oura, the smart ring captivating health-conscious consumers across the US.

ImPRessions Episode #19 Transcript

Kalli: In the past few years, consumers have been introduced to some of the most technologically advanced products that have the ability to change the way they live their lives. From smartphones to wearable tech, the possibilities are endless. But so is the skepticism. There are many that carry the mindset of if it’s not broke, don’t fix it so hard. Marketers reach these people and open their eyes to the wonders of technology. Taylor Robinson, director of communications at Oura, the smart ring that provides daily insights to help you understand your overall health, joins us today to discuss how to introduce and excite consumers to the latest and greatest. Taylor, thank you for joining us today.

Taylor: Hi, gang. So excited to be here. Thank you, Kalli. Thank you, Jenn. I really appreciate the time.

Jenn: Oh thank you. We’re really excited, especially since we’ve had our intro call with you and Kalli, and are both obsessed with the wearing, trying to finagle our finances to see how we can make it work. But that’s all I’m going to say before we dive into it, because I know you’re going to tell us a little bit more about what makes it fantastic. But I’m really excited for this conversation because I really, truly can’t stop thinking about it.

Taylor: Yeah, and that’s the beauty of it. The, you know, the way that the Oura ring really integrates into your life in a very simplistic way. I see it being really different than a lot of other wearables that are on the market.

Jenn: Absolutely. It’s genuinely different. It’s not just a tech fad, it has endless capabilities. Can you tell us a little bit more about what makes the Oura ring unique?

Taylor: Sure. I think the thing that is that makes the Oura ring much more different than a lot of the other wearables on the market is really the form factor. So when you see other wearables, most of them are on your wrist or fit on your body, and sometimes that can be cumbersome. I mean, for me, I am the kind of person that is, you know, a little bougie, if you would say, and I like to have my wearables or wearable technology sort of to fit seamlessly into my life, whereas for me, a wrist wearable just doesn’t blend in with the other things that I wear my personal style. Whereas the Oura ring, because it is a ring and it blends in so seamlessly with some of the other things that I wear on a day-to-day basis, that really makes it more interesting. It’s this match and marriage between fashion and function, and because of the shape and the form factor of it being a ring, it actually is more accurate than a wrist wearable, where the arteries and pressure points and pulse points are right in the bottom of your palm, whereas with a wrist table, you have to measure all of your insights through bone, cartilage, skin to get to the most important parts of your body where you can track your data and insights. It just it makes it easy to sleep in. It makes it easy to work out in. It is, I believe it’s waterproof, so you really never have to take it off. And it kind of really becomes a deeply integrated part of your life. Yeah.

Jenn: For listeners like if you’ve never seen the ring, it is fashionable. Like it looks like a beautiful piece of jewelry you’re not wearing mean. No offense to the people that will wear those like iPhone watches, but like, sometimes you look like a spy kid, you know? Like, it’s just a little too much. Like you can’t dress up with it. Exactly. But this you can wear like any occasion you could casual formal. It’s it’s really like a gorgeous piece of jewelry.

Taylor: Yeah. I wore my ring when I was actually officiating my best friend’s wedding, and it blended seamlessly into my outfit. Obviously, I had on my Veronica beard suit. It was it was gorgeous. But I mean, it just that’s the beauty of the ring that you really can. Just like you said. Jen, dress it up, dress it down, and it just looks like another beautiful piece of jewelry.

Kalli: It really does. And it’s funny that you mentioned the wedding because about a year ago, I was in a wedding, and the maid of honor was wearing her Apple Watch and like, not just like in the like, she’s holding the mic with the speech. Don’t get me wrong, I have an Apple Watch. I wear it all the time. It’s very useful and I really like it, but like, I wouldn’t wear it to a fancy event. So I ended up losing some of the benefits. Like I’m not going to wear. Like I went to a wedding this past weekend. I did not wear it, but if I had purchased the ring, which is in my cart, you know, would have been able to wear it and not lost that time of that information and like looked nice in pictures.

Taylor: Right. And then, you know, it would track your activity too. So as you’re dancing, you’re stepping, you’re up and about. And then at the same time, the beauty of the ring as well is, you know, our real main focus has always been on sleep rest and recovery. Whereas a lot of risk doubles are really sometimes can feel really pressured and can make you feel like, you know, you’ve got to get up, you’ve got to get your steps, you’ve got to move. The beauty of the ring is that it has a real nice. Balance between really understanding your body and understanding your rhythms, where on the one hand the ring will say, hey, you seem like you got a great night’s sleep last night, why don’t you try something that’s really going to make you feel even better? Or the ring may give you insights that say, hey, it seems like you didn’t get a great night’s sleep last night for whatever reason. You know your body temperature is elevated, or maybe you ate late, or maybe you had some alcohol late in the evening and it will tell you, why don’t you just take it easy today? Whereas that really makes people feel like the ring understands them. And you’re working with and and gaining insights from a product that really has your best interests at heart, as opposed to something that’s just kind of giving you a blanket statement of “you need to move” and “you need to move all the time”.

Kalli: Yeah, you know what? That makes so much sense. And, you know, mine always goes off and it’s like, it’s time to walk. It’s time to be mindful. I’m like, I can’t be mindful. I’m stressed about not walking!

Taylor: Exactly, exactly. And that’s our big piece as a product.

Kalli: Yeah. You know, I think it is a really good fit. And it also, like I said, they have there’s different aspects of it that really, you know, can appeal to a different lifestyle and even just to wear in your everyday when you’re not, you know, necessarily wearing it for like a fitness reason. Before we talk in more detail about your current role, you know, I know you executed award campaigns for four of the top 50 highest grossing films of all time. Yeah, can’t quite skip over that. Yeah, and nor do we want to. So if you would be kind enough, can you please, please tell us what that entailed and share which films that you worked on? Because we’ve been dying to know.

Taylor: Yeah. Well, I mean, I know you guys are very plugged in, and I appreciate the candor that you have when it comes to popular culture. Super important. And so I actually, in my first job out of graduate school, I worked for about four years at ILM and Lucasfilm, ILM, Industrial Light and Magic, the visual effects company that basically made Dinosaurs walk, made E.T, made R2-d2, and so it was so much fun to be able to work there with that brand and that company that has created this magical world around some of the biggest and most important cultural elements of entertainment in our lifetime. So while I was working at ILM, because there were visual effects company, essentially the way that visual effects studios work is they bid work to the studios based on the concepts that come in. So, you know, you’re making a Spider-Man, and Spider-Man needs to swing from building to building. How do we make Spider-Man do that? Well, you have to hire a visual effects team to create and execute all of those shots within a certain amount of time. So much, much in the same way that sound design happens or post-production happens. That’s all visual effects. So while I was there, it was between 2011 and think 2015, I want to say I’m not good at math. That’s why I do PR. So I worked right. So

I worked on the awards campaigns for the visual effects awards campaigns for the Avengers, both the first one and Age of Ultron, Transformers Dark of the moon, which you know, is not my favorite Transformers movie, but it was a pretty significant visual effects feat, I will say. And Pirates of the Caribbean Stranger Tides. So. And I mean, it was so much fun to be able to see sort of the, the post-production process from start to finish. And the people that worked at ILM and Lucasfilm have literally been in the industry for 30 years. I worked really closely with a ton of visual effects supervisors who they’re basically like the director of the visual effects team, and one of them was Dennis Miron, who is the literal legend in the industry. Think he’s one of the few people that have won the most Academy Awards. He has eight Academy Awards and is the nicest, most wonderful, sort of like perfect mad scientist like genius of visual effects. And he’s just so sweet. And I had a wonderful time working there on those campaigns. It was great.

Jenn: That is so cool. And like, this episode is probably one my husband will actually listen to because I’ll be like, we brought up The Avengers.

Taylor: I know we talked about it like, I mean, I’m an MCU person, so I mean, I’m happy to share any tea that he wants to come out with. I mean, it was really fun. I met a lot of famous people I know who’s nice and who’s not, and that’s probably a subject for another podcast.

Jenn: Oh! That’s another

Taylor: We’ll say. Oscar Isaac. Very nice.

Jenn: Okay, well, back to the Oura. Because I again, I’m with Kalli. It’s in my shopping cart. That’s another conversation with the husband. But think that one thing about products like the Oura, it’s so fantastic. But you’re always going to have the small base of consumers that are maybe skeptical about some of these high tech products, whether it’s maybe a lack of education or it’s a saturated market. I mean, you know, between Apple and, you know, we have there are so many companies that are doing similar things. So how do you build a marketing campaign that specifically is designed to those consumers that will actually excite them about a product and kind of lessen some of the reservations they might have?

Taylor: Yeah, I think for us, education is really important here. So for us, you know, whereas other products, you may see that they’re really more focused on things like privacy or really more focused on things like what the what the product can do for you. Whereas for us, our goal is always to make sure that we’re giving people the right information and the most accurate information to be able to understand their bodies. So through that, we really focus a lot internally on research and peer-reviewed research, making sure that the ring is used in studies for sleep and reproductive health and rest and recovery, so that we can then take those data points and share it with our community. In addition to that, you know, illness research was one of the big things that we kind of we kind of started out with. So during the pandemic, we we worked on a study with Tim Predict where we were able to essentially and, and I’ll share this study with you all. We were able to essentially predict illness ahead of when you actually may start feeling sick because of our temperature sensor. So and I mean, it’s really amazing. And so for us, we want to really make sure that that research is foundational to our product, whereas a lot of other wearables aren’t necessarily as invested in in that part of their business.

Jenn: So when you mean sick, like a cold?

Taylor: When I mean sick, it could be a cold, it could be Covid, it could be the flu, it could be anything. And so I, you know, having a young son at home, it’s always really I’m always looking at my scores and looking at my readiness score when I get up in the morning to see, okay, did my body temperature change. Like is there something I need to be worried about? He’s not sick, but if I’m getting sick, did I get something from him? And so that calculus kind of starts in my own mind. And the only reason that I know that is because I have the data and the insights right in the palm of my hand to be able to tell me that. And the same thing goes for reproductive health. Our period prediction feature is, to me, probably one of the best on the market. And to speak candidly, I had always thought I had had an irregular cycle, when in reality my cycle was extremely regular. And I only know that based on the research and the development that we do around women’s health, I can monitor my own fertility based on the body temperature signals that I get from the ring. We have a partnership with Natural Cycles that allows our members to track their cycles and basically use natural birth control based on the temperature sensors that we have. So for us, it’s, you know, it’s hard to differentiate yourself in that wearable market, but we really see ourselves as a leader in both women’s health research and just the design of the ring. Like I mentioned, the form factor is so unique and so different than a lot of the products that are available, and it makes it really easy to wear.

Oh, that that’s really amazing. And like, you know, for me, I mean, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on the podcast before, but I’m currently pregnant. And you know, even with at the point where like, obviously I’ve reached my goal in getting pregnant, you know, it’s also a lot of, you know, there are a lot of things that come up in your health that you need to be aware of or that you just become more aware of, you know, as you’re, like, constantly thinking like, well, I’m, you know, is my body giving the baby the support that it needs? And also have, you know, a young daughter. And like you said, am I going to get sick? I don’t want to get her sick. Like, what’s, you know, what’s going on with me? Because if I can’t be in my best health, you know I can’t take care of other people, you know, and whether you’re a mom or you’re taking care of, you know, an elderly parent or another family member, or just taking care of yourself, like, you know, it’s it’s feeling good as well. Because, look, we’ve all been cooped up for a while with Covid and everybody wants to, you know, go out and you want to feel good when you’re doing that.

So it’s really an amazing, amazing product. And you know, another thing that I thought is really cool and differentiates a little bit more of Oura, which I’ve noticed. And I mentioned to you actually, right before this call, is that I, as a Jonas Brother fan, have never seen more of Joe Jonas.

Jenn: Oh, here we go.

Kalli: Because I keep I keep talking we talked about I talk about the ring with Jenn. I’ve been telling my husband because I’m like, we should get these. And so now I keep getting hit with the ads where he’s talking about how he wore it. So I do want to touch up a little bit on product placement because that also were really important part of marketing. And I know it’s something that you’re personally handling it at Oura. So how do you find these relevant film or TV placements? Because I know he wore it in a video, but obviously, it depends on what type of audience you want to reach. Like you’re going to hit me hard if you have like a Jonas Brother member on it. How do you how do you reach decide who you’re going to reach or the popularity of a TV show or movie? Or is it is it something else you know, entirely? Like how do you cut that out and what’s the right fit?

Jenn: And too bad Vampire Diaries isn’t on anymore because Kalli would have lost it.

Taylor: Listen, I don’t want to yuck anyone’s yum, but you know, the CW shows are also an excellent way to get into product placement, but I will say, just to give a background of my role- so my role really focuses on external communications within the company and a huge focus on brand. So how does the brand show up? What kind of activations do we do? And then there is what we kind of like to call it within our business and within marketing sort of ambassador influencer programs as well. And that can run the gamut through paid editorial pieces that can run the gamut to just like you mentioned, product placement. So for us, what we always look for and what I look for are authentic integrations of the product within the experience that’s already happening. We don’t want to show the product in a way that obviously-and no brand would want to do this- We wouldn’t want to show the product in a way that would tarnish the brand, or wouldn’t really give people a deep explanation or understanding of what the product actually does. And so what we try to do is kind of twofold with our ambassador and product placement program. From an ambassador standpoint, we always like to work with people who either already know and understand the ring or already have a really deep vested interest in what the ring is providing. So we have a ton of famous fans, so to speak. I don’t know if you’ve seen Kim Kardashian is a massive or a ring fan. She talks about it all the time on her own social channels. You know, her sleep scores are insane. But you know, let’s all make sure that we keep our feet on the ground. Kim has helped me understand. Kim has helped when she says she gets ten hours of sleep a night. I say, now, wait a minute, Kimberly. Now, wait a minute.

Kalli: She doesn’t clean her own bathrooms?

Taylor: She’s doing she’s doing it all, but she’s not doing all of it. Okay? So, you know, so people like Kim Kardashian or Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba and people like that are massive fans of the ring and wear them within their sort of waking life. We always get. Miranda Kerr is another big fan of ours as well. She talks about the ring a ton, and so those are the kind of ambassadors that we’re always looking for. We’re looking for people that want to get better sleep. We’re looking for people that are really invested in their reproductive health. We’re looking for people whose mental health and stress is something that they’ve always struggled with, and they want to use the Oura ring as a tool to help support them through their meditation, through, you know, tracking their activity, to help them sort of feel a little bit more balanced during the day. And then from a product placement standpoint, we want to be able to, like I said in a quick snippet in a small window, to be able to allow people to understand what the ring does. So earlier, I think it was, you know, time is a flat circle. So I don’t know if it was it was not earlier this year, but in early 2021, in the first season of Sex and the City The Revival, we were able to get a product placement piece in that, in that in one of those episodes where right after spoiler alert, big fell off of his peloton had died. We were a gift that Charlotte gave to Harry so that he could manage his health and track his health. And specifically, what she said in the episode is men your age are dropping dead at the drop of a hat. You need to wear this Oura ring so that you can so that I can you can track your health better. I mean, we could not have asked for a better placement. We couldn’t have asked literally.

Kalli: The opposite of the peloton place.

Jenn: And I was going to bring this up before you even said, yeah, wow, the peloton debacle. We actually wrote something about it. Somebody at our agency wrote a big piece about it, and it was just so fascinating from a PR perspective but didn’t realize the Oura ring was kind of the, oh, this is actually going to help track your health. That’s really cool.

Taylor: Yeah, yeah. And it was it was amazing.

Kalli: I did know that because I had gotten my peloton like a couple weeks before that episode aired and was like, “oh, I’m going to go on my peloton when I watch it.” And I was like, “Oh my God.”

Taylor: Right. And so with that placement, we were able to really work with HBO and the prop masters that were working on the show. And usually, the turnarounds for a lot of those are really fast. But I mean, we again, we could not have asked for a better and more clear placement in a show that a lot of people are watching. A lot of people had eyeballs on. And it was, I mean, just a small snippet of a mention, and it really took us to the next level. And even in some of the recaps that they had for the episode, we were mentioned as well, which is just another additional piece on top of the placement of the show. Then the reach that you get from the online recaps from places like The Cut and the Daily Mail and things like that. It was it was incredible.

Kalli: I do have to ask because obviously, you know, peloton, they said that they didn’t quite know exactly what right the placement was going to be like, what the context of it was going to be. How much do you know about that? Or like, you know, how much insight does a brand have into that when you’re agreeing to have your product featured, like do you have any control? Like it’s just you have to wait and see the episode with everybody else, and you just know it’s going to be in there?

Taylor: Yeah, it’s a little bit of both. I mean, just like when you pitch a story, you know, you can try to shape and mold the story as best as you can with the talking points. And the way that the questions are may come in. If you’re prepping or briefing, you know, an expert to to do an interview for us. We were really able to be really close with HBO and with any of our other brand partners to talk to them a little bit about, you know, what the placement might be, what it would look like. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve been really lucky to be able to really have a good rapport with a lot of our brand partners, to be able to work with them on how should this really show up effectively? And then sometimes that does come out in the contracting process. You know, the contracting process can help shape a lot of that as well. If it’s in the contract that the ring needs to be on screen for a certain period of time, and you need to be able to see the logo, and that’s in the contract, then it needs to be executed. But at the same time, you know, some of that is relationship-based. You know, I don’t want to tell tales out of school, but my theory with Peloton, they’re a much bigger brand than us. I cannot imagine that they didn’t know what the context of the scene was going to be. But that is, again, a theory. If we knew from our end what the context of our scene was going to be and how we were going to appear, I can’t imagine that they didn’t.

Kalli: Think from what I heard. And just to clarify, because I said I know that they didn’t know, I want to clarify. I know that Jess King didn’t know.

Taylor: Which is different. Right. Right.

Kalli: Yeah. I don’t want to add fuel to a gossip fire like Vanderpump Rules, because that’s just not where we are right now.

Taylor: No, that’s not where we are, right?

Kalli: No, no. Yeah. Like, I know like she, you know, because I follow her on social and she was like very upset. She was like, oh my gosh. Like she had, you know, because she’s just filming like she’s from a class, you know, she’s not on set.

Taylor: Right, right. And like, her name wasn’t used. It was really her likeness to. So with the product placement stuff, there’s a lot of factors that kind of go into it. And there’s a difference, even with product placement, where, you know, if you’re doing it in a television show versus a reality show, or if you’re in a reality competition show, you know, we get asked about that all the time. And one of the big things with the ordering is that we need about two weeks for the ring to adhere and understand your baseline. And so if we’re doing a reality show or reality competition show where the ring may be used, we need to know the cast members and need to be able to be included in that process ahead of time, so that you can measure your scores while you’re, you know, jumping off of a building or whatever. So again, it’s a really nuanced process. We find it really valuable, and we always try to do something unique and interesting that will kind of subvert sort of expectations, but at the same time really explain what it is that the ring does and can do for you.

Jenn: Yeah, and also poor peloton not to, you know, we’ll move on from this, but it wasn’t even just the character who died after using the product, which thought they actually did it from a PR perspective. And I know we all kind of like geek out over, you know, PR campaigns in the wild and really seeing like, brands struggle with it in real time. But they had that ad that came out, which I thought was really smart, but then they got another blow when it turns out that Chris Noth was accused of sexual assault a week later. So like, the whole thing just blew up in their face completely. You know, those things happen in PR marketing, and it’s why you, you know, to your point, you have to be so careful. And whatever they knew, they didn’t know. I think that it just was a, like, a kind of a perfect storm. I think this kind of leads into our next question, which is kind of along the same topic, some of the challenges that you face when you’re putting together marketing campaigns for Oura is there have there been any campaigns where you, you know, really struggled, hit some type of obstacle, even though it was a brilliant idea? And even though you had all the tools and resources necessary to make it happen, whether it just didn’t stick with the audience or you just couldn’t get it off the ground. Have you faced any of those challenges yet?

Taylor: Um, you know, we’re still a relatively new company, and I think one of the things that we try to one of the things that we’ve done as of late with the introduction of our generation three of the ring, we did introduce a subscription model and a membership model across not just the industry, but as more and more subscription models start to become popular with brands and companies who are trying to look for additional revenue streams outside of the products that they already have. I think that’s one of the things that is evolving. Won members and customers are really savvy and really understand the value of what they’re getting from a particular product, and want to make sure that the subscription fee that they are paying or the, you know, the money that’s going to Netflix or the, you know, the amount of money that I spent on my Spotify for it to be ad-free once a month is always going to provide me with a matched value. And that’s something that is still evolving. So for us, our membership program is really focused on making sure that we invest back into the business when it comes to that research, the education that we have talked about, research and development acquisitions so that we can make our product better and more interesting. And for us, I think that’s one of the things that that’s really evolving, and I think it’s more so speaks to the wider macro conversation around subscription fees with a lot of brands, as opposed to something that is particularly an Oura brand issue.

Kalli: That makes a lot of sense. And, you know, kind of speaking of campaigns, and I’m wondering, are there any particular campaigns that you’ve led for the or perhaps, you know, if there was something in experiential marketing or, you know, I know you mentioned that you have some celebrity endorsements. How do those come about? And you know, and the most exciting things that you found that you’ve been a part of?

Taylor: Yeah, I mean, there’s been so much just even in the last a little over two years that I’ve been here. I mean, like I said, the sex and the city piece was, was really incredible and like a huge thing for my career, I would say that I’ve never really done before. We did a launch announcement around this past year where we launched a brand new colorway or a new color for the offering. That was really incredible to be able to sort of see that through, through fruition, not just launching the new color, but a new style of the ring. I mean, it’s one of the biggest evolutions in the product that we’ve had in the ten-plus-year history of Oura as a brand. In addition to that, we also have been doing a ton of new partnerships. So one of the things that I worked on was our partnership with Gucci, where the Oura ring skin essentially would be a Gucci branded skin. It is at this right now. It sold so well that it’s now no longer available, but it was a really unique product and a really unique experience to be able to marry sort of the luxury style of Gucci with the function of the Oura ring, and it was really like gangbusters. It was a great program to work on, and it was something that I really think took us into the next level when it came to awareness and visibility for the brand.

Jenn: Absolutely. And between the celebrity endorsements, the product placement, all of these partnerships that you’ve worked on for the Oura Ring. It really is a testament to what the product can do. And I think that in itself really breaks that educational barrier for people who maybe are not sure if they want to spend the money on something. Will it work for me? A lot of these celebrities, yes, some of them, some of them sometimes get paid. But honestly, even when they do, because I’ve worked with celebrities in the past as well, they’re really not going. –Even if they’re getting paid a lot of money- they’re really not going to stand behind and say most, because I can’t say for every single person, but most of them really won’t stand behind a product unless they really believe in it, because they’re putting their reputation on the line, even if they’re getting some money, or even if they’re getting exposure, it’s still there. Their reputation that they’re putting out there to stand behind a product and say, this really works. So it really is a testament. But do you have any advice maybe for up-and-coming marketing professionals, whether they’re graduating in college or their entry-level or, you know, whatever, maybe just trying to expand their knowledge on the industry, maybe specifically marketing a product, anything that you can provide?

Taylor: Yeah, I would say for me, my past actually is really in internal communications, and I sort of maybe not got up one day, but, you know, based on my experience, I really wanted to get back into doing external comms. The reason that I think I was really an attractive candidate for this role was because of the experience that I had in brand marketing PR and, so I would say that my big advice is to make sure that you have really diversified experience to be able to be an attractive candidate, no matter where you apply. You know, my experience sort of, again, runs the gamut from, you know, working in entertainment. And then, on the other hand, you know, I worked for a couple of years at an advertising agency. Then, on the other hand, working in tech for a really long time to be able to really understand the business and how tech works. I think that’s probably my biggest piece of advice, that diversification of your background actually is more important than you think.

Kalli: Well, Taylor, thank you so much for sharing your insight with us today. It was so interesting to hear a lot of the behind-the-scenes action that really ingrained new tech, like the Oura into our culture and our everyday lives. Thanks to everyone who joined us today. If you have any questions about the show or want to say hello, hit us up at impressions@pollackgroup.com. Until next time.