Combining Google-Style Recruitment & Netflix’s Storytelling with Appear Here’s CMO, Gaston Tourn – Episode 11

Welcome back to the next episode in our CMO series of Scale of One to Tech, and we’re continuing with a guest whose incredible career path has seen him in top marketing positions at Google, Badoo, Emma, and now Appear Here, one of Wired Magazine’s 100 Hottest Startups.

With international marketing experience, two Master’s degrees and 8 languages under his belt, Gaston Tourn has demonstrated at the highest level how to combine creative writing and storytelling skills with the more analytical side of marketing.


This episode is truly packed with thought-provoking debate around which brands are nailing their marketing campaigns in light of business mistakes, opportunities opening up in an ever-evolving high street, and how you can apply the successful ethos behind Google’s infamous hiring process in a business of absolutely any size…

This episode covers:

  • Shifting the misplaced perception of marketing as deception to a form of storytelling
  • Adjusting to regional differences in dating culture at Badoo/Bumble
  • Creating Appear Here, and how businesses use it as a whole new marketing channel
  • How marketers should combine analytical and creative skills (left brain vs right brain)
  • The lessons businesses can learn from each other about exciting marketing and effective storytelling
  • Google’s hiring strategies, and how to bring objectivity into recruitment
  • Leadership through transparency and giving context rather than taking control
  • How retailers are adapting to change, and the future of the high street


Links & references


Alex Marriner:


Acquire Digital Talent:


Gaston Tourn:


Appear Here:


Episode highlights


“Marketing doesn’t have good marketing outside of our industry. I think what marketers do is really bring the voice of the customer and the user to the heart of the organization. I think it’s the opposite of what people assume marketing does; marketing is not about deceiving.” – 2:40 – Gaston Tourn


“What I learned at Google is that if you put the user first, all the rest follows. That’s the mantra that the whole marketing organisation and the whole company has. They put the user first, put the consumer first, and all the rest follows – including revenue.” – 7:05 – Gaston Tourn


“Appear Here is an online marketplace for retail spaces, like an Airbnb for retail. We make it super simple to match landlords with brands. I’d say we started as a company that was quite invested in pop ups and short term. At the moment we have evolved from that and we’re really focused on flexible retail. ” – 9:25 – Gaston Tourn


“I think it’s quite challenging to find talent that combines the creative mindset with the analytical mindset. Usually, what you find is people who are incredibly creative or incredibly analytical, but there’s not many who combine both. I think the best marketers try to combine both.” – 14:30 – Gaston Tourn


“In any interview I had for a CMO role, the first question they asked me is ‘Are you more of a brand guy or a performance guy? Are you more analytical or creative?’ and I always say it’s like asking me for my favorite child. If anything, the right question is how you bring both skills to life in conjunction.” – 20:25 – Gaston Tourn


“I think big organisations should take risks; People don’t want to see safe marketing, nobody wants vanilla marketing. Then I think small companies should try to bring in some processes because startups can actually be very political, due to the fact of not having clear processes.” – 24:15 – Gaston Tourn


“Everyone probably remembers 2/3 years ago, when KFC ran out of chicken in the UK. Most companies would have issued a very corporate response to that and tried to hide away from it. They actually made a moment of it and they literally changed the logo of KFC to FCK, and said ‘FCK, we’re sorry’.” – 28:40 – Gaston Tourn


“At Google, you always have to provide concrete examples when hiring. So it was not ‘I think this person is x’. It was ‘Give me a concrete example from the interview that actually justifies what you think about this candidate’, which I think helps a lot with unconscious biases as well.” – 32:50 – Gaston Tourn


“I think that’s a really good takeaway here. Whatever size of business you are – whether you’re a startup, scale up, or multinational – make sure that if you’re going to recruit someone, do it properly. It’s a hugely important part of your business, your growth, and where you’re going to be in the future.” – 38:15 – Alex Marriner


“When you start leading people there is always the temptation to sugarcoat the truth, because you want to make it more palatable, or you want to make sure that your team doesn’t have to absorb a lot of stuff that is going on around the company. Transparency is the best policy, and even when you cannot be transparent about certain decisions just be transparent about that.” – 42:35 – Gaston Tourn


“I don’t think the high street is dying. I think there’s a really good future for the high street, but for sure it has to be different to what it used to be. I think we need less chains and mass retail, we need more passion and opportunity. I think independents are the ones bringing that to our high street.” – 46:20 – Gaston Tourn