How ACMI's marketing director learned to take a Melbourne brand to the world
Emma Levy's world is constantly moving, and to keep up with it, she's always looking for new ways to impress the critics – like her 6-year-old daughter.
Emma is the Director of Brand and Marketing at ACMI, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, which has more than 1.5 million visitors a year, putting it in the top 50 most-visited art spaces in the world.
With a $40 million redevelopment in the works in 2019, Emma wants to make the museum as much of a household name as The Whitney in New York or London's Victoria and Albert.
"These lauded and august institutions are renowned for amazing visitor experiences, and we'll be creating that same feeling right here in the heart of Melbourne. It's pretty special," she says.
To prepare for the challenge, Emma enrolled in our Brand Management program, delivered by marketing enfant terrible and infamous F-bomber Mark Ritson.
"Mark Ritson is a loud and engaging voice in the marketing space, and I'm a bit of a fangirl. The combo of him and the course was irresistible," Emma says.
"I loved the teaching, loved the practical content and loved that we touched on theory as well. The whole experience was great."
Maintaining ACMI's popularity is a constant challenge for Emma, as the number of recreation options people have to choose from grows each year.
"Competition for the discretionary time and dollar is incredibly intense," she says.
"We sit in the space of what to do for fun this weekend after walking the dog and doing the shopping – we're the reward or 'me-time' choice. It's a big challenge to be top-of-mind."
The most valuable insight Emma gained from the Brand Management program is one she connected with instantly – the need for marketers to remind themselves that they are not the target audience of their own work.
"I think marketers often forget that the minute they become a producer of something, they're no longer an impartial consumer of it," she says.
"You always have to look at your data – qual and quant – and understand where your brand sits in the market, then develop your strategy and from there comes your tactical response. That was my biggest takeout."
Emma says making room for professional development is important for marketers who rarely give themselves time to step back, reflect and refresh their thinking.
"You don't often get the chance to do that when you're in a higher-level role – attending a lot of meetings and looking at endless spreadsheets – but going back to learn in a classroom setting with other brand nerds is so rewarding."
Among Emma's favourite recent exhibitions at ACMI are The Clock by moving image artist Christian Marclay – a 24-hour piece of video art that splices together over 10,000 clips of time pieces to show the real time when viewed – and Wonderland, a vast collection of Alice in Wonderland images and paraphernalia, which her daughter loved.
"Wonderland is touring globally at the moment, and we built it right here in Melbourne. It really pushes the boundaries of what an immersive exhibition experience can be in a museum environment," she says.
"My daughter was just absolutely wowed by some of the experiences. I remember having that extra level of pride to have been involved in creating it."