The Mary Robbins Direct Marketer of the Year Award

Vanessa Morris


When ASB lured Vanessa away from ColensoBBDO, she had been part of a globally awarded team producing direct marketing for BNZ. After years in agencies, it was time to take on a client-side role, embedding a new marketing automation programme.

Recruiting a champion of “the customer” was a deliberate move by ASB, with trust in financial institutions declining. Vanessa was recruited with a licence to disrupt, ask ‘why’ and do what she did best: think of the customer above all else.

As direct marketing manager for ASB’s new marketing automation platform, Vanessa had the enormous task of establishing a new direct marketing discipline, educating stakeholders, embedding a new team and processes.

She never swayed from her belief in the awesome opportunity available to improve customer experience through serving targeted, personal and relevant messaging direct to customers, when they needed it. She led her team to map data availability and customer journeys, held collaborative ideation sessions to uncover campaigns that could be delivered immediately, identified valuable data points for our Business Insights team to prioritise, and aided the development of a RACI to identify the end to end process of a direct campaign, establishing clear inter-departmental accountability in a new discipline.

Two years in, Vanessa not only helped deliver over 200 data-triggered, automated campaigns, she has navigated legacy systems, muddy customer journeys and stakeholder education to drive a strong direct marketing discipline. Vanessa is now on a mission to extend ASB’s direct marketing ecosystem to include paid media placements. Feeding information about customer interactions back into ASB’s marketing database could help to inform lifecycle communications, helping them to predict customers’ needs and enhance the experience that they’re able to deliver.

Vanessa is a star at ASB, leading with a unique mix of curiosity, appetite for excellence, and humility. She lifts up those around her through her collaborative, inclusive approach – always with a view to make the work better.