Pauline Oudin Adds Savoir Faire to Branding

Pauline Oudin has the bearing of an elegant French woman and the precise manner of an orchestra conductor. It is a perfect combination for her role as managing director and partner in Gradient, the marketing agency she joined in January 2017. She says her role is “to make the ship sail smoothly and lead strategic planning.”

The French native was managing director at Sopexa USA for five years and represented a number of wine associations from France, Morocco and Israel. During that time she helped to increase the agency’s revenues by 50 percent, won a Sabre Award and was named a Wine Enthusiast “40 Under 40” in 2016.

Sailing the Ship

“I try to lead by example. I am decisive responding to questions, and I don’t let go of details. When the going gets tough, I remain calm. If my team works late on a business pitch, I’ll stay in the trenches with them. If you show your team that you care and that you notice their efforts and will help them with tough decisions when they need it, they will go the extra mile for you.

“I see my role more as a funnel than as a creator at meetings. I am amazed at how my team with their genius/hectic/overactive brains come up with 20 ideas per minute. The strength of a strong team is to find those three ideas within those tossed on the table that are both exciting and strong from a marketing perspective.”

Why Focus on Experiences?

“A Harris Poll [sponsored by Eventbrite] reported that 3 out of 4 young American adults would rather spend their money on experiences than products. We [at Gradient] create experiences that connect consumers to the brand in a way where they will adapt the initial marketing message and push it to their audiences in a relevant and credible way.

“High-quality beverages, for example, usually have amazing craftsmanship stories that a 30- second sales pitch or press release cannot capture. An experience crafted with as much attention to details as the products they showcase can certainly get closer.

“For Dom Pérignon Vintage Trinity we designed customized environments to convey the Champagne’s three expressions,” she explains. Oudin and her team took over Irving Plaza, a giant theater space in Manhattan and recreated a Parisian nightclub for 400 guests. They also fashioned three separate rooms for VIP groups of 50. “The Rosé room was a boudoir. In the Blanc room, poets created haikus for guests. The P2 room was a labyrinth of mirrors to highlight complexity.”

A “Typical” Day

Pauline and her husband, Nicolas, (her high school sweetheart) live in New York City’s West Village and have three children. The family speaks French at home.

“I prep for the next day at night, laying out the kids’ clothes and setting the breakfast table. I wake up before 7 a.m., check emails and squeeze in a workout on my Peloton bike. I ride my old brown bike to my office on 28th Street, 15 minutes away. I like to bike everywhere.

“While no two days in the office are alike, I usually review financials, handle client requests and put out any fires in the mornings. Since our team often works nights producing events, we hold creative meetings during afternoons. I usually pick up something for lunch to bring back to the office, or we’ll order in for a team meeting. I leave the office around 7 p.m. unless we are working on a new business pitch. After dinner and the kids are in bed, I’ll work a little more.

 “I’m a night owl,” says Oudin. “I like to read before I go to bed and enjoy novels and historical books. I rarely get to sleep before midnight.”

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