The stars of today will become the leaders of tomorrow
Since 1988, Ball and Hoolahan have spotted and worked with the very best in marketing. To celebrate a quarter of a century of guiding and influencing the careers of many of marketing’s finest, Ball and Hoolahan agreed to sponsor the prestigious Marketing Week Rising Star award.
All of us at Ball and Hoolahan are former marketers and we know how hard it is to rise above the rest in today’s competitive world, so we offer our congratulations to each of the nominations for this year. It takes something special to get nominated and stand out from the crowd and we offer special congratulations to the final shortlist.
While one of them will inevitably rise above the rest, all the short-listed nominees can shine and take pride in the recognition of their talent demonstrated in the following pages.
At Ball and Hoolahan, we are proud of our 25 years of involvement with marketers and their careers, and reflecting back, we can see many ‘rising stars’ who we have helped in their careers and are now operating at the most senior levels in a variety of sectors and businesses.
Many examples stand out, but my favourite story is of a young man who we placed as an assistant brand manager (ABM) in what is now GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). He had been a captain in the army and won the Sword of Honour during his training at Aldershot. He left the army with an MBA, but not a degree. He was clearly a star in the making, and while he had no marketing experience, GSK welcomed him as an ABM and his career took off. He is now the chairman of one of the brands nominated in this year’s Marketing Week Engage Brand of the Year award, and continues to be a star in the world of business.
Indeed, on reflection, while it has been our pleasure to recognise and encourage many hundreds of rising stars in marketing over the past 25 years, it is almost impossible to predict where their career will take them. We have worked with the very best junior marketers who have become chief executives and board members not only of leading FMCG brand owners, but lifestyle brands, retailers, digital start-ups (success and failures), airlines, sports associations, healthcare, leisure destinations and many, many more.
At Ball and Hoolahan, we pride ourselves on taking a long-term view when it comes to career advice and we have been very fortunate to work with some great talent. The portfolio of rising stars whose names we have helped to carve in the stratosphere of global businesses is as wide and far reaching as you would expect after 25 years in the business of spotting and nurturing talent.
We think this year’s selection of Rising Star nominees – specially identified for Marketing Week via a rigorous selection process – are as good as any we have seen in the past 25 years and not only do we wish them all luck, but we are absolutely confident that at least one of them will be someone we will look back on in another 25 years and say: it all started here.
The marketing industry relies on new talent to bring in ideas, energy and fresh ways of operating. We cannot possibly hope to understand how our economy, culture and businesses will develop unless we talk to those people emerging as future leaders. That is why our Rising Star award, in association with Ball and Hoolahan, is so important to me.
But what is star quality in the marketing sector? Our shortlist for the Rising Star award proves stars can come in many forms.
Caroline Fredj at GlaxoSmithKline was tasked with raising the profile of Ribena. The historic brand needed a new way to interest today’s families. She responded with a multidisciplinary approach, in line with her belief that products must be “truly rooted in customer needs”.
Meanwhile, Fiona Marshall at online retailer ASOS highlighted her star quality to our judges by tackling a new consumer group: men. She focused on their cultural interests rather than clothing items alone. This led to an impressive rise in male customer loyalty, demonstrating Marshall’s belief that “you really need to deliver something relevant” to consumers.
It is a different kind of achievement that has put Kirsty Mullan from the BBC in the shortlist. She has used digital resources to give content extra life beyond broadcast. Mullan argues marketing is “about making sure you are on top of trends and reacting to them – much more so than planning to buy some media in November because people will be going Christmas shopping.”
For Rich Pleeth at Google, thinking about the big ideas is a standard part of his role. He worked on Google’s Think Quarterly, a rare offline project for the brand to show thought leadership.
The judges felt this showed real innovation, and Pleeth feels that working this way has given him a wealth of experience, saying, “We really shouldn’t be scared to be wrong. I am trying new things, pushing the boundaries”.
Revlon’s Kate Winstone also caught the judges’ attention for her work in maximising the value of the cosmetics brand’s partnership with Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model. She pushed the partnership into all marketing areas, including social media and shopper marketing. As she says, marketing must ensure it is “making that deeper connection” with consumers and using all media to get across its messages.
Ultimately, everyone on this shortlist has the drive and ambition to succeed within brands. So congratulations to all five of our candidates and we’ll toast the winner at our awards ceremony on May 22. Here’s to the future of marketing.
Ribena brand manager, GlaxoSmithKline
Transforming the fortunes of a much-loved, classic family brand can be a challenge, but it is one that Caroline Fredj has embraced wholeheartedly in her role as brand manager for Ribena at GlaxoSmithKline.
On her watch, Ribena launched a campaign highlighting the Vitamin C content of the range, targeting mums with a positive health message to boost sales. Each pack of Ribena contains 100% of the daily recommended Vitamin C intake, an appealing fact for parents of active children.
The brand has also worked hard to boost digital engagement levels to communicate better with consumers, and ultimately to make it a more important fixture on shopping lists. Fredj also appointed a new PR agency to increase awareness of Ribena, and instigated and oversaw a packaging redesign that went from concept to production in just six months, increasing on-shelf standout of multipacks and improving customer perceptions.
One of the most successful Ribena press campaigns to date has seen an 18% year-on-year improvement in return on investment.
“For the relaunch of the multipacks, we made sure we understood what was at the core of the brand and the product – active families, high Vitamin C content, among others,” says Fredj. “Before thinking about how to communicate about the relaunch, we had to deliver designs that we knew would resonate with our target audience and our strong loyal customer base.”
The company had acknowledged that the heritage and trust felt for the Ribena brand had not been translating effectively into multipack sales – a key category for the family shopper. It was felt that the brand was not ‘top of mind’ for shopping mums, and that low packaging impact was not helping in a busy retail category. Crossover sales between buyers of the Squash range and those of multipacks were low.
A multidisciplinary approach with rock solid coordination was required. “We knew that Ribena needed to be modernised as well and the packs should be representative of what the brand stands for,” she says. “In-store communication is key, so I worked across functions with the shopper and category teams to develop strong, shelf-ready packaging for the new range of multipacks. The cartons are sold mainly in ‘impulse’, so we needed to reassure not only the consumers but also the trade that it’s still the same Ribena they know and love, but in a brand new pack. Therefore, I relaunched the outer packaging as well as adding a message on the cartons themselves.”
The shelf-ready packaging featured a visual motif to communicate the product’s high Vitamin C content promise, reinforcing the brand’s above-the-line messages on the store shelves.
The new look appeared on shelves from February 2012, with research into its effectiveness showing high scores. The Ribena ‘smile line’ design has been retained, with each product variant featuring different front-of-pack scenes. These include images of fun, the outdoors and the countryside, with an element of modern family activity to reinforce the target audience.
Caroline Fredj is in no doubt about how the marketing sector is changing. “Consumers getting smarter at making the choices that they think are right for them,” she says. “They engage more with brands that are relevant to them and speak their language.
“Marketers should learn how to engage with consumers and listen to them rather than interrupting them. The rise of social media has also strongly influenced marketing and provided new opportunities for brands to talk to consumers and shoppers in new ways that will create better connections with them.
“Return on investment results remain important, but marketers should look at not only the quantity of interactions but also the quality of engagements.”
This means new challenges too: “Marketers nowadays should be strongly commercial and understand the challenges of the marketplace,” she adds. “They should learn how to speak with the consumers and also the shoppers.
“They need to have insights on the brand and its target audience but also the retail environment and what is driving the customers’ agenda. This will help them deliver products that are truly rooted in consumer needs and advertised in a way that will really resonate with them.”
Senior global brand manager, ASOS
Joining an online fashion retailer in a completely new role and essentially creating a culture of customer-centric brand marketing from scratch are tall orders. To add to those challenges, Fiona Marshall, senior global brand manager at ASOS, also set about raising awareness of the brand in that toughest of customer groups when it comes to fashion: men.
“The prime objective was to raise awareness,” she says. “Awareness of our menswear offer was really quite low. ASOS was traditionally seen as it started off – a womenswear brand. It has much higher awareness among women than men, so it was all about getting guys really engaged and getting them to consider us a place they would come and shop. And it worked really well on both of those metrics.”
Using qualitative research to back up a hunch of where men find fashion inspiration – in culture, bands and movies – the ASOS Men’s campaign set about creating an example for men to follow. The ASOS Urban Tour consisted of six documentary-style films from talent hotspots in Paris, Tokyo, LA, New York, Shanghai and Berlin, featuring urban musicians, dancers and artists.
Five of the best dancers were picked for an interactive, shopping-based video. Clickable hotspots allowed viewers to focus on and buy from the video by clicking on individual dancers. Targeting bloggers helped the videos reach an estimated 10.5 million online users.
“We know that men are more interested in technology and they were never going to buy into a really obvious fashion-oriented campaign because that is just not the way they shop,” says Marshall. “So we wanted to get into their cultural interests and approach them from that angle.”
When, in a previous role, she had worked on BBC iPlayer, Marshall had been struck by how keen men were to adopt the technology. “We thought that doing something really engaging, really novel, really fresh, would be a good way to keep them engaged,” she says. “But the subject matter had to be really important. It had to be really interesting but delivered in a way that felt new and innovative. So whether it was people like David Beckham who are really good at sport, an amazing singer, amazing dancer or someone who was really brilliant at inline skating, it was these types of people who they looked up to and style inspiration taken from, as opposed to the catwalk or magazines, which are the kind of places that women get their inspiration from.”
Awareness of ASOS among the core target audience of 16- to 34-year-old men increased by 85% during the 11-week campaign, while the number of male Facebook fans increased by 24%.
“In terms of long-term customer value we’ve seen some amazingly positive results,” says Marshall. “We look at the results every month and they are continuing to get stronger and stronger. From a loyalty point of view, our customer are going from first-time order to second-time order, and if they have seen Urban Tour, they are more likely to make a second purchase. They are more likely to then go on to make a third purchase. That’s the holy grail.”
From the ASOS point of view, marketing is changing rapidly, says Fiona Marshall. “I think it depends who you are talking to, and obviously we are talking to a very young audience,” she says.
“Our target audience is aged between 20 and 29, and they are not watching TV, they are not reading print, they expect a lot more from the companies and the brands they buy into. They are really digitally savvy, they are on the move all the time. They are easily bored and they have so much going on that you really need to cut through and deliver something that is relevant to them. If you are talking to that audience, I think, absolutely, marketing has changed and is changing and needs to change more.”
For ASOS, opening up communication channels is a big part of the process.
“We are very much about it being a one-on-one dialogue with them, and it is a dialogue not a one-way broadcast message,” she says.
“As a company, we have always been very much set up to listen to what our customers want, and then deliver the things they have asked for. Whether it’s a service proposition or a product line, it’s about really understanding what they want and then delivering it, as opposed to thinking we know what they want and telling them what they need.
“Marketing permeates every aspect of the business, so our delivery proposition is actually also part of the marketing. The fact we offer free returns and free delivery, that is actually a marketing tool.”
Creative marketing manager, BBC Two, BBC Four, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra
Numerous professions offer variety, but there can’t be many jobs in marketing that offer more than that of Kirsty Mullan’s – creative marketing manager at the BBC. In a position that sees her overseeing the marketing of some of the BBC’s most valuable and important programmes, a typical day might involve work for BBC Two favourite Top Gear and Radio 4 flagship the Today programme, along with planning for a themed season of science programmes. It represents a very different challenge to her previous job, heading BBC1 and BBC3 marketing.
“With something like the Today programme, you are talking to pretty much everyone that sits in the House of Lords and the House of Commons, as well as 10 million other people across the UK, and it is a huge responsibility,” says Mullan. “It’s very much about quality and it is about the BBC’s pinnacle brands and making sure we are cutting through to opinion formers and also our audience.”
Other tasks, meanwhile, may involve protecting the global image of popular shows, such as Top Gear, that are broadcast worldwide.
In a rapidly changing media landscape, the programmes people want to watch or listen to, and the way they want to consume them, is changing enormously. So too is the way institutions like the BBC are communicating with their audiences. Keeping a finger on the pulse of change is essential, as the lines between TV and the internet become increasingly fluid.
A rapid rise through the ranks at the BBC has seen Mullan gain key experience of these issues, along with valuable lessons about how different audiences move at different speeds. “Two jobs ago, I delivered a global Doctor Who campaign,” she says. “The ‘Whovians’ were an incredibly active audience online. You could target them so much better online than you could via TV, because sci-fi fans just love to sit and have a chat about all the conspiracy theories. With Doctor Who, not only are you trying to engage with a younger audience who you can find much more readily online, but also to target an audience who will then republish your content without you having to invest lots in media spend. It’s invaluable.”
Other projects have benefitted from increased use of online resources since. The BBC’s 2012 Shakespeare season, developed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, used an online portal to leverage the huge consumer interest in the Bard.
“It makes sense that if we can’t host it on a TV channel, we can use that online space much more effectively,” says Mullan.
Leading the marketing for Britain in a Day, a crowdsourced documentary capturing Britain on 12th November 2011, involved Mullan working with a complicated web of partners and agencies to gain maximum participation from the public. The project could herald a new era of audience involvement in TV programmes.
In spite of the budget cuts at the BBC, Mullan says: “That is a really interesting area in terms of personal marketing – we can get people talking about subjects that they otherwise might not have spoken about.”
As a firm exponent of the possibilities of technology, Kirsty Mullan has clear ideas on how marketing will change in the future. “I think the future of marketing is much more about getting brands to engage with consumers and audience than speaking at them, which is what we have traditionally been doing through advertising.
“It is about talking and communicating in new ways, whether it be through distinct content, special offers, Groupon, Facebook or Instagram. It’s giving consumers power over your brand.”
She believes the ability to conduct or inspire that interaction with consumers will be a key skill for marketers, as taking part becomes a mainstream activity rather than one predominantly enjoyed by the young.
“It is definitely growing,” she says. “Radio 4 is fabulously well consumed in terms of what we call a ‘replenisher audience’, which are 25- to 44-year-olds who consume a lot of the station’s content online. They are essentially our future audience.
“Marketing’s role is much less linear than it used to be. I think it’s much more reactive than proactive, because you can’t tell what trend is about to hit,” she adds, citing the massive growth of Pinterest as an example. “You could not have predicted the success of Pinterest happening. It’s about making sure you are on top of trends in the market and reacting to them – much more so than planning to buy some media in November because then people will be going Christmas shopping. I don’t think brands think like that any more.”
Product marketing manager and Think Quarterly UK editor-in-chief, Google
Think Quarterly (known internally as TQ) is a physical manifestation of Google’s evolution to promote itself as a thought leader and innovator. In a move that some saw as paradoxical, the online company chose to make its first ever foray into the medium of print to do so.
In a bid to offer more than just data, Google had already run events and roundtables before the idea of a quarterly book came about, says TQ editor-in-chief Rich Pleeth. The initial idea was to create a stand-out piece of thought leadership.
The fact that the thought-leadership communication would be sent to 500 chief executives and 600 policy makers raised an obvious point. “I get hundreds of emails a day,” says Pleeth, highlighting that if TQ was distributed to its senior audience by email, it was possible that nobody would read it. A new tactic was required.
“We needed to bring some Google quirkiness, and then to engage these CEOs who didn’t really understand digital and change their perceptions and positions,” says Pleeth.
The project grew into a strategy to produce an unusually attractive, individually tailored book for a very select readership. Agency The Church of London was appointed to design it.
The first issue was themed around data, and its uses. “We wanted it to be open and give a view of what happens at Google, as well as provide a platform for experts and thought leaders from around the world to share their expertise,” he says.
The launch issue was customised with each recipient’s name, and inside there was a pop-up infographic. The publication was sent to a select group, including Gordon Brown, and
was packaged in a box with a Google-branded wax seal. “Who has heard of a pop-up going into a business magazine? Well, I think that’s pretty cool,” says Pleeth.
“We had a phenomenal amount of press coverage when we launched,” he says. “We trended on Twitter as the third most popular topic for 72 hours, which is unbelievable. Large brands have increased their spend with us and we’ve had lots of new business leads.”
The intended CEO-level audience was impressed too, helping to secure interviews in subsequent editions with figures including former US secretary of state Madeline Albright and WPP head Sir Martin Sorrell.
Think Quarterly is now published in the US, Germany and Italy as well as the UK. Themes for issues have included innovation, people and speed. The creativity issue was distributed in mid-April, and the next issue will focus on play.
In keeping with the tailored approach, the book has used tactics such as commissioning an enormous illustration about how technology brings people together, then dividing it into 2,500 smaller images so that each edition of the magazine had a unique cover. A postcard of the full image was enclosed so readers could find where their cover fitted in using a map reference.
It’s this kind of thinking that has caused the search and social giant to create so much buzz from a print-edition book.
Thinking about the future of marketing involves asking some big questions, according to Rich Pleeth. “We have to consider whether the desktop computer will still be around in five years’ time,” he says. “Will we all be wearing Google Glasses or be carrying screens folded away into our pockets? Will all of our payments and loyalty cards be stored biometrically so that we will simply need to put our thumb on a pad to pay for an item?
“The future of marketing is going to be about the individual, tailoring messages to you, not to your age range or to who you
may be watching.”
He would also encourage more risk taking in marketing. “People are scared of making mistakes and doing something wrong,” he says. “But we really shouldn’t be scared to be wrong, and I am often controversial and make mistakes. I probably make more now than I have ever made in my life and I think that is brilliant.
“I am trying new things, pushing the boundaries, and am often horribly annoying when someone tells me not to do something. I want to try and see why they said ‘no’, take a chance and discover why it’s wrong. Because what if it’s right?”
Brand manager, Revlon
Tasked with maximising the value of an existing, high-profile sponsorship deal, Kate Winstone, brand manager at Revlon, took the message straight to its consumers with a multidisciplinary campaign that culminated in an exciting and successful digital push that brought new, younger customers to the brand.
“Our sponsorship of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model was one that we had been involved in for two years when I took over the brand,” says Winstone. “But essentially, it was really just a name-badging exercise, and it really did nothing to elevate the sponsorship and generate consumer awareness about us.”
The brand had placed a minimal focus on the ‘Revlon shoot’ episode of the competition where models posed for photos wearing the brand’s make-up. And it only executed a basic level of press coverage and in-store promotional activity around the winner.
“My objective was to take the amazing asset of being official make-up partner of this show and make sure as many consumers as were watching it were aware that we were the sponsor, and to really engage with them,” says Winstone.
She upped the quality of execution across all brand touchpoints, from programming execution, press, PR, in-store and shopper marketing through to a huge digital campaign. “It was very exciting to work on,” she says. “The most exciting thing about Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model was really connecting with the younger consumer, who originally Revlon didn’t have much airtime with. So really it was all about engaging this new younger consumer and reaching her through a digital platform where we hadn’t connected with her before.”
The tactic worked. “Overall, in the space of six months, Revlon added 2,000 new Facebook fans, and Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model was a key driver for us – there were more than 50,000 wall post interactions,” she says. “We were regularly updating around the show. We also had thousands of entries in each of the weekly competitions we ran.
“The day the winner of the programme was announced, we had a big champagne go-live with the victorious contestant on our Facebook page, and it achieved the most overwhelming response. There were literally thousands of comments about how much they loved Jade [Thompson, the winning model] and the campaign. So I think we really saw that emotional connection come through.”
The campaign initiated the first Boots.com customer marketing initiative, sparking 2,000 video views and a 40% increase in online sales. The results speak for themselves.
“In terms of our emotional connection with consumers, in our tracking studies we are seeing plus 20% results compared with a year ago,” says Winstone. “That’s on emotional connection and how consumers perceive the brand. When we took the promotion into stores, it was one of our top-performing promotions of the year.”
“The biggest way that marketing is changing is that you have to become increasingly savvy about how you reach the consumer,” says Kate Winstone, Revlon’s brand manager. “Really, it’s just about making that deeper connection, and for that, I don’t think wallpaper advertising is really where it is at.
“Instead of selling a product’s unique selling proposition, which the beauty industry is obsessed with sometimes – as in, ‘this lip gloss has five times the shine’ – it is really about emotionally connecting with the consumer a lot more. That’s really what we are trying to focus on.”
As a cosmetics brand, Revlon focuses on women as its target market, and Winstone believes the approach is a suitable one for its consumers. “Women really connect a lot more,” she says. “That emotive, rather than numeric, message appeals and is right, for the cosmetics industry.”
She agrees that the changes go hand in hand with wider social developments. “I think there has been a huge change in the digital landscape and how that affects my role,” she says. “Even though I’ve only been in the industry for five years, the role of digital is increasingly important. And I think that is going to be critical for the next generation of people to come into work.”