How Jeremy Caplin got ahead

“I strive towards keeping everything I do fresh and challenging, and being seen to add value both for my clients and for dunnhumby.”

Name: Jeremy Caplin
Company: dunnhumby
Job title: Head of Knowledge

What made you want to get into brands/advertising/media/marketing? I started off in research and development at Procter & Gamble as a Technical Brand Manager. While I was there I started to feel like I was on the outside looking in and marketing began to have greater appeal to me. Ultimately I decided to go honest and just do it.

How did you get into the industry?
While I was at P&G, I spoke to them about making the switch from R&D over to marketing. I won’t lie – it was a difficult move to make happen, certainly not a normal change! But once I made the switch over I never looked back.

What was good and bad about your first job?
Good – I was a young graduate, and suddenly getting paid while I was still learning which was wonderful! I was also employed at a large well-known company, travelling around the world a lot, getting to drive much better rental cars than my own model back home. As for the bad – I knew marketing was where I really wanted to be and it took a while to make the change happen – 10 years in total.

List your jobs to date:
Procter & Gamble – various roles through to European Section Head
P&G Italy – Assistant brand manager/ Brand Manager/ Marketing Manager
Reckitt & Colman – EU Category Director, promoted to Global Category Director when the company became Reckitt Benckiser
Monster – European Marketing Director
Nestlé Purina – Marketing Director for UK and Ireland
dunnhumby – Head of Knowledge

What were the best and worst, and why?
The best life was in Italy – where I met my wife, and lived in Rome. As for the job itself, Global Category Director at Reckitt Benckiser. I was doing strategic marketing, which is my passion, getting to direct brand strategy and basically having the world as my marketing train set! The worst had to be the same job, as my office was generally somewhere at 30,000ft. I got to spend 48 hours in Sydney, went to New York twice a month for a day at a time, spent 24 hours in Sao Paulo, not to mention the European stops which didn’t even register as trips away. I always seemed to be off to another time zone, and couldn’t really have much of a life back home.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Nelson Mandela – the man has such vision and purpose, and stuck to his principles throughout.

Who in the industry do you most admire?
The people client side who approved these ads: The Sculptor, the Peugeot 206 with the elephant, and Marmite’s Love it or hate it campaign. They had the vision and ability to say yes to ideas which might have seemed risky – it must have taken real guts.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
Constantly challenging myself – making the move from R&D in the first place, and then moving from local, to European-wide, to global, then moving agency side from in-house. I try to make change a constant.

On what do you base your success so far?
Conviction and belief in what I was doing. I equate success with steering a consistent path no matter what tries to deflect you. I try to live by the formula of 2+2=5 – giving the unexpected and striving towards better results than what was put in, if at all possible.

What are your ambitions?
I strive towards keeping everything I do fresh and challenging, and being seen to add value both for my clients and for dunnhumby.

Change one thing about your job
I’d love to spend more time with our clients and less on admin!

Change one thing in your industry
It would have to be all about what you believe in when you are client side – accountability. I’d love to see marketing emerge from the fog of poor data so that we could accurately measure the true value of what we add to business.

What is your favourite brand?
Marmite. It’s incredibly clear about what it does and doesn’t stand for, and isn’t trying to be all things to all people.

What is the next big brand in your view?
If I knew the answer I’d be buying shares! Probably PeoplePower.com. Consumers today can dictate to companies like never before, and brands are only just adjusting to this.

List your media diet:
BBC.co.uk/news, The Times Online, Private Eye, Marketing, Marketing Week, Campaign, Media Week.

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