Meet Ed Halsey, our new VP of Marketing
If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Wow, that’s a tough question! If I had to pick just one food to eat for the rest of my life it would have to be cereal.
Hear me out – the variety is endless, you can enjoy it at any time of the day – as a snack, a proper breakfast or even a late-night treat (which I’ve gotten into a bad habit of doing lately). And don’t forget all the different milks – have you tried chocolate milk on cereal? Game changer! Also, throw in some fruits and voila – you’ve got yourself a balanced meal (sort of).
I’m definitely a cereal enthusiast.
Tell us about your journey to becoming our VP of Marketing. What inspired you to pursue a career in marketing? And why Genasys?
My journey to becoming the VP of Marketing here at Genasys has been quite the ride! I actually started off as a professional musician. That’s right – I gave up being a popstar to delve into the even more rock ‘n’ roll world of insurance underwriting.
As I navigated through different roles – from insurance underwriting to technology sales and even starting my own brokerage – I found myself naturally gravitating towards a marketing-centric approach to sales. Back then, I didn’t fully realise it, but I was essentially doing marketing work to support my sales efforts – creating my own marketing materials, social selling, crafting content and graphics – it was all part of the process.
Eventually, I came to understand the symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing and that they’re not two separate entities; they’re interconnected pieces of the same puzzle, working towards a common goal.
So why Genasys? It just felt inevitable that I would end up working here at some point. My connection with Genasys dates back to my time at Evermore Digital when I was carving my own path. During that journey, Genasys provided support, and in turn, I found myself advocating for them. Having conversations with Andre [Symes, Group CEO] and Craig [Olivier, CTO] about their business approach shed light on why this company resonated with me. Their ethos revolves around honesty and transparency, prioritising customer needs over simply pushing products. This philosophy mirrors my own when I was selling software – it’s about providing customers with all the necessary information so they can make informed decisions confidently. Ultimately, joining Genasys was a natural fit, aligning perfectly with my values and approach to doing business.
What’s the most unconventional marketing campaign you’ve ever been a part of, and what made it memorable?
One of the most unconventional marketing campaigns I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in was during my time at Evermore Digital, where I focused on creating engaging video content. I took what might have been considered dry subject matter and injected it with personality and accessibility for my audience.
Think of it like ‘The Last Leg’ with Adam Hills on a Friday evening, where they tackle serious topics like politics and news stories but with a humorous and engaging spin. That’s what I aimed for with my videos. I simplified complex ideas, added some humour, and framed them in a way that resonated with viewers.
One particular series I spearheaded was called ‘Vendor Spotlight’, where I showcased the people behind the businesses I collaborated with. It wasn’t just about the software; it was about showcasing the personalities, ethos and values of the individuals driving those businesses. After all, when you invest in a product or service, you’re also investing in the people behind it. You want to know that they’re not just competent but also aligned with your values and goals.
The campaign was a hit, generating substantial lead generation, and I not only made professional contacts, but also formed genuine friendships along the way.
And then there was the Rump Insurance campaign. Definitely my most controversial campaign, but it got over half a million views and it got people talking, so in that sense it was a huge success. Would I do it again? Probably not. But I think you need to try new things and be innovative.
Outside of work, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy?
Firstly, there’s football, which has had a remarkable resurgence in my life thanks to my son. After falling out of love with the game for many years, his enthusiasm in playing the game reignited my passion. And it’s become more than just a sport; it’s intertwined with my journey towards personal well-being. Following the challenges of lockdown, I made a conscious effort to prioritise my fitness and health, and it’s been so good to see the progress – from struggling to run to the end of my road, I’ve now played football twice this week, have a match scheduled for Saturday and I’ve just finished a PT session – and it’s only Tuesday.
I also proudly wear the badge of being a self-professed “tech nerd”. I’m fascinated by all things tech and I love software like Photoshop. I rendered my whole house in 3D, just because I wanted to see if I could and then became hyper-obsessed over the little details!. I started doing music for my own amusement years ago and the next thing I was flown out to America and had a recording contract. I love getting hold of bits of new software and tech. I find that stuff fascinating and I like thinking about how you can use tech to get to an end goal quicker.
Any hidden talents or passions you’d like to share with us?
One of my not-so-hidden talents is that I can bang out a tune when the occasion calls for it.
But perhaps one of my more unique talents lies in my ability to recite the entire monologue from ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’, which Robin Williams acted in. It’s a party trick that never fails to impress.
On the passion front, I’ve always had a love for writing, which led me to pursue journalism at university. During my time there, I had the incredible opportunity to work at Q magazine for two summers. Getting published in Q magazine was a highlight and my dad had it framed and hung on his office wall for years.
One particularly memorable experience at Q magazine involved me stepping into the realm of sales. It all started when the Deputy Editor approached me with a challenge: sell some advertising space and source a prize for a competition – ideally an iPod. Long story short, I managed to secure not just advertising space, but also multiple iPods and even a TV entertainment system (with stand), all for a half-page of space. It was a defining moment when the Deputy Editor declared, “you’re going to work in sales”.
A picture is worth a thousand words. If we scrolled through your phone’s photo gallery, what kind of snapshots would we find?
Loads and loads of pictures of my son. I’m such a proud dad and I have the most wonderful son who I absolutely idolise. It’s just picture after picture of all the cool stuff he gets up to and all the cool stuff we do together. And then there are loads of AI generated pics of myself in various predicaments for social media…which feels a bit weird to say out loud.
As our new VP of Marketing, what excites you most about joining our team and the challenges that lie ahead in the industry?
The undeniable synergy between an exceptional product and an even more remarkable team are what excite me the most about joining Genasys. The company stands out in an industry where trust and reliability are often hard to come by. I’m particularly thrilled about the opportunity to contribute to filling this crucial gap in the market and the prospect of being part of a company who do what they say is incredibly motivating.
Moreover, the chance to collaborate with people I’ve known for what feels like ages – people who are decent, ambitious and personable – adds an extra layer of excitement to this new chapter.
If you could swap jobs with anyone in the company for a day, who would it be and why?
It definitely wouldn’t be Andre! I have absolutely no desire to be a CEO!
I’d love to swap with one of the team in South Africa so I could meet my wider colleagues in the business face-to-face. Maybe Christelle [Frost, Chief of People], as that would allow me to really meet everyone in SA. I’m especially keen to get out there because one of my team has promised to take me scuba diving with them. I’m hoping they’re going to give me an air tank and it wasn’t just a threat.
Can you share a memorable team-building experience from your past roles, or any strategies you use to foster collaboration within your teams?
One of the most memorable team-building experiences I’ve had was when a colleague organised an escape room for us. It was my first time doing one and it was so eye-opening and genuinely taught me a few lessons that day which I’d never fully appreciated before.
What really stood out for me was seeing the diverse range of perspectives and problem-solving approaches within our team. It became obvious that no one person had all the answers and even the most reserved team members stepped up as leaders when they had the answer to one of the puzzles.
This experience showed me the importance of creating teams with diverse skill sets and perspectives, and not just hiring people who think like you do.
What’s your favourite marketing campaign of all time, and what makes it stand out for you?
Choosing just one is a tough ask, but a few come to mind that have left a lasting impression on me. First off, there’s the iconic Budweiser ‘Wassup’ advertisement. Then there’s Guinness – both the “crazy horses” and Guagoline (if you know, you know!) ads were really impactful and unforgettable. I’m also a little bit in love with the Surreal cereal campaigns which are beautifully human and tongue-in-cheek. Marketing is about triggering emotions in your audience and humour is a great shortcut to doing that.
What I also find fascinating at the moment is the trend of leveraging personal brand and followings to drive product sales. It’s a genius marketing strategy that involves building a big personal following and then shifting product to them. A few of my favourite at the moment are Ryan Reynolds, Logan Paul, KSI and Mr Beast. Have you also seen the Chinese livestreamer who made $14m in a single week by holding up hundreds of products at the camera for less than three seconds each? That’s essentially a similar model to the TikTok shop. Influencer marketing is genuinely taking over.
These innovative strategies that are currently capturing my attention and admiration in the marketing world.