Exploring the Digital Marketplace

A Conversation with VP of Marketing for Betterfly, Fernando Barretto

by Alexander B. Stensby

This past week, I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down and chopping it up with marketing professional, Fernando Barretto. He has had an illustrious career working in various departments of marketing, branding, and content creation. This has led him to his current and new role as Vice President of Marketing for one of the most prolific up-and-coming business, Betterfly. I truly appreciate that he took time to interview with me as he has just welcomed his newborn baby boy into the world (congrats again, my friend). Fernando is a bright light in the competitive industry of advertising and marketing along with being simply a cool person to talk with. Without any more delay, here is my conversation with VP of Marketing for Betterfly, Fernando Barretto.

The Interview

Where it Started…

AS: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me Fernando, it is a pleasure meeting you. 

I see we already have some things in common living in South Florida and cheering for the Miami HEAT (Go HEAT!). However, you have been around the country holding numerous positions in the realm of marketing and content management/creation as I see with Deutsch LA and the mobile marketplace app, LetGo in New York City. 

Before I ask my first question, please feel free to shed some light and introduce yourself and the company Betterfly which, congrats by the way, you recently became a part of this past August. My friend, you have the floor! 

FB: Thanks! 
I’ve had a dynamic and successful career in marketing and advertising spanning over 15 years, working with iconic brands and agencies. Most recently I’ve joined Betterfly, an exciting startup from Chile, with the ambitions to revolutionize the way corporate benefits are offered to employees. We’re the first Social Impact Unicorn out of South America and have impacted 1MM members with our innovative product.

Serving as the SVP Group Account Director at Deutsch LA, a 2020 A-list agency, I led brand, creative, and strategic initiatives for PetSmart. My recent accomplishment includes spearheading a strategic effort resulting in the “Anything for Pets” brand platform and a new go-to-market plan, targeting a younger demographic through digital advertising. Before joining Deutsch, I served as the Global Brand Marketing Director at letgo, a top 5 fastest-growing app in 2017. In this role, I played a pivotal cross-functional role, collaborating with diverse teams to achieve ambitious brand goals, leading to 125MM+ downloads. When it was time to revamp letgo’s marketing strategy, I led a pitch and chose Droga5 as a creative partner.

My passion lies at the intersection of creativity, technology, and innovation. This passion sparked in 2010 when I collaborated with BestBuy and the Despicable Me movie to create a mobile app translating minion language. Notable projects include the Taco Emoji engine, AI Slack Ordering bot with Taco Bell, and the SnapChat Lizard Lens with PetSmart. Originally from Brazil, I moved to the U.S. at 17 as an exchange student, shaping my perspective and instilling resilience and a hunger for continuous improvement. My commitment to innovation and technology continues to drive my career. 

Using Tools (No Pun)

AS: Now, in the modern era of marketing, there are a multitude of tools we have access to for marketing, advertising, promotion, brand growth, and so on. Which digital platform has been the most successful for your business and in past experiences? This could mean anything from Email marketing services, Google Ads, and even social media marketing whether it be Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Which area of digital media do you feel has been the most helpful in your marketing efforts? 

FB: I think more important than the tools, is the destination. You want to make sure you have a clearly defined north star, and then you can leverage the best tool that fits your roadmap. As a tactic, I find that valuable and engaging content is a key. The audience is not thinking about your brand, about your offering, so finding a way to speak to them in ways that are relevant is imperative. With the rise of AI, producing that content is getting to be easier and easier, but that doesn’t let marketers off the hook. There’s still a considerable amount of insight gathering and strategic decisions that need to be made in order to serve your audience with content that adds value to their journey. With that said, we use a lot of project management tools (Asana, Trello, Notion.ai etc.) and leverage ad platforms (Meta, Google, Linkedin) as well. In the future I see a lot more UGC so influencers and Social Content will play a bigger role. We haven’t used Tiktok yet given the infancy of our product and strategy but think it’s in our future.

AS: I completely agree that there will be a shift with apps like Meta and LinkedIn. So, with that said, do you feel this could change in the next five years considering new applications being presented such as TikTok some years ago and now the Meta social network Threads? What are your predictions for the future of the digital marketing industry? 

FB: Same as I said before, the most important thing is the strategic roadmap and the audience insights you’re going to work with. How are you adding value to the audience, what is the niche of communication you’re tackling and what’s your value prop? The vehicles (social, etc.) are going to change and we need to be able to adapt, but I believe none of those are a strategy in it of itself. I was in the front lines of digital marketing when Social Media was introduced and have seen every chance since. The good marketers stayed consistent with their messaging approach and are able to shift to whichever medium is most relevant to their consumer.

The Great Pandemic of 2020

AS: During COVID-19, almost every industry took a heavy blow and perhaps we are still seeing the dust settle almost four years later. Now this question is a two parter so hang in there. 

Firstly, I see you spent much of 2020 working as the Director of Brand Marketing at LetGo until July when you started working with Deutsch LA as a SVP Group Account Director. What were the greatest challenges you faced during this period, how did it help you grow and persevere as a marketer? 

FB: I left letgo 4 months into the pandemic, but our operations shut down due to an acquisition right after March. I started at Deutsch LA in June and had all the challenges of adapting to at Pandemic world. Having to work build a team and establish processes in a new company was challenging and it didn’t come without its set of challenges. Learning how to adapt your communication style to zoom meetings, having the discipline to stay engaged during video calls, establishing all the right touch points with the team all had a learning curve. We had to learn new production processes, deal with increased costs and learn new tools. But as with anything, consistency of action, a clear strategy to march towards and having the discipline to stick to your guns when things get challenging is important.

AS: Then, when did you feel the tides turning where the business of marketing could get its legging back and do you feel we will perhaps never get back to where we were before the pandemic?

FB: I was working in advertising so production came it its own challenges. Doing everything remote was difficult at first but it brought to light some of the inefficiencies we had in a world where 6 people would fly 6 hours for a dinner. I’m not a nostalgic professional when it comes to “the good old days”. I think our job is dynamic and there will always be challenges and it’s our job to find the way to reach our consumers and add value to the purchase journey. The world still turns, we can’t mourn what it was because your consumer has different needs and with adversity comes opportunity. The fundamentals are still the same and it’s important to keep looking at ways to speak to your audience in meaningful ways.

A Look Into the Future

AS: Now, conclusively, speaking on Betterfly, one of the leading wellness and fitness centers available on the market currently, where do you see the company headed and where do you want to have yourself positioned in the next 5 years? What are your long-term goals? 

FB: Betterfly is revolutionizing the way companies protect their employees. Employee benefits are the second biggest expense of companies (outside of payroll), but the usage rate is dismal compared to its expense. We’re personalizing the benefits offered, from financial protection (different types of insurance) to wellness offerings (fitness app subscriptions, language learning, meditation, etc.) and rewarding employees for their healthy habits. The kicker is that with each positive action taken, employees earn points (bettercoins) that can be redeemed for social donations at no cost to them.

If you would like to learn more about Betterfly and their mission to protect employees and strive for financial security for all, please feel free to visit their website BETTERFLY.

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