“Fearless” Marketing and the Power of Storytelling

Guest: Stephen Tisdalle Chief Marketing Officer, State Street Global Advisors

No matter how dramatic or controversial, truly great storytelling in marketing doesn’t just boil down to publicity stunts. Rather, the most impactful storytelling is all about the message a company is trying to convey and how that message originates from its internal values. And in the case of the famous “Fearless Girl” statue that faces down Wall Street’s charging bull, it was the message about fostering a greater diversity in the financial industry that has had a lasting impact.

Stephen Tisdalle, CMO of State Street Global Advisors, was on the team that made the “Fearless Girl” statue. And although the installation made headlines all over the world, the campaign also prompted State Street Global Advisors to devote themselves to greater gender diversity in their own leadership and on their own boards. On this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, Stephen shares the internal challenges his team faced when developing the idea, the global reaction to the statue, and how this striking piece of storytelling marketing sparked a global-wide conversation about equality in the workforce.

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What You’ll Learn

Why did a statue of a ‘Fearless Girl’ in front of the ‘Charging Bull’ leave such an impression?

The “Charging Bull” statue that lives on Wall Street has been an iconic symbol for decades. On March 7, 2017, SSGA unveiled the “Fearless Girl” statue – a brave young girl that confidently faces the bull. She continues to serve as a symbol for greater diversity on C-suite level boards, and that’s exactly what Stephen and his team were trying to convey. That’s what makes Fearless Girl such a prime example of storytelling marketing – a piece that stands the test of time and represents values that span companies, states, and even nations.

You have to back up your storytelling marketing with action

Fearless Girl may have remained a simple statue with a brief amount of fanfare if it hadn’t been for SSGA’s actions that backed up the claims she made. SSGA has committed to increasing the level of diversity in their own boards, as well as encouraging their clients to do the same. Stephen explains to Drew that since her installation, SSGA has found that more than 300 companies added a female director, and to-date another 28 plan to follow suit. Fearless Girl also amassed over 6.5 billion social media impressions. However, if a company’s storytelling marketing campaigns are to leave a persisting impact, they must be backed with action.

Truly great marketing can flourish when its paired with important values

The genius behind Fearless Girl lay in her ability to convey values that should be important to companies of all sizes in all industries. Stephen explains that “authenticity is attractive,” and that people are drawn to marketing campaigns that are aligned with important values. He continues by explaining that companies and leaders need to “do well, do better, by doing good.” Storytelling marketing can be the perfect way to convey those commitments.


  • [0:30] Stephen explains why State Street wanted to put a fearless girl in front of a charging bull
  • [9:50] Stephen and his team had to overcome internal concerns before moving forward with Fearless Girl
  • [15:29] Great marketing comes when you align with important internal values
  • [21:04] The true value behind Fearless Girl was in the actions taken across the world
  • [26:24] Stephen explains the future of Fearless Girl
  • [31:33] The storytelling process begins with a strong marketing focus
  • [38:48] Fearless Girl and how she has impacted the brand awareness of State Street Global Advisors

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Resources & People Mentioned

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Meet the Guest

 is Chief Marketing Officer of State Street Global Advisors, the third largest asset manager in the world, with $2.7 trillion in assets under management. He is responsible for brand and advertising, digital strategy, institutional and intermediary channel marketing, internal communications and social media. Stephen is also a member of the Executive Management Group, the company’s most senior strategy and policy-making team.  

Stephen and his Marketing team are recognized for their award-winning campaigns that highlight the relevance and investment philosophy of State Street Global Advisors. He pioneered and led the Fearless Girl campaign that has helped raise awareness around the globe of the power and potential of women in leadership, as well as the connection between increasing gender diversity on boards and long-term company performance.   

Stephen has won numerous industry accolades and awards, including four Grand Prix top honors at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Advertiser of the Year at the Clio Awards, Best in Show and the CMO Pencil from the One Show Awards, the Grand Effie awards for both Most Effective Brand and Most Effective Marketer, as well as Individual Marketer of the Year from the ANA. 

Prior to joining State Street Global Advisors, Stephen served as Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing for OppenheimerFunds, Inc. and its subsidiary OFI Global. He was responsible for promoting the firm’s thought leadership and investment strategies across Retail, HNW and Institutional channels within Brand Advertising, Corporate Communications and PR, Digital Strategy, Creative Services and Integrated Channel Marketing. 

Stephen has a broad range of experience in various senior leadership roles in brand and advertising at both Ogilvy and Saffron Brand Consultants. He also has a deep bench of business strategy and change management experience from his senior manager roles at IBM and PwC Consulting, in both the US and the UK. 

Stephen earned his M.A. in History from the University of California, Los Angeles and his B.A. (Hons) in History from the University of British Columbia. He and his wife have two sons and reside in Boston.

Quotes from Stephen Tisdalle

  • Authenticity is attractive.
  • Do well, do better, by doing good.
  • Companies that have greater gender diversity on their boards and leadership outperform companies that don't.

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