Will the new Britvic marketing director live up to Marsden’s legacy?

Andrew Marsden, one of the UK’s most high profile and outspoken marketers, shouldn’t find it too hard to get a new job, say observers. The Britvic marketing director surprised the industry last week by announcing his departure from the soft drinks giant, where he has led the marketing department for the past ten years.

Marsden, described as “an assiduous networker”, says he is leaving of his own volition and is looking forward to pursuing new directions. “I’ve had ten years in the business, and by the time I finish gardening leave at the end of January it will be 11 years. It will also be more than two years since the Britvic flotation and it seems a good moment because I’m 50 and I want to do some more things. I’ve got the energy to do more,” he says.

Jed Glanville, chief executive of Britvic’s media agency MindShare, says: “He is well-connected with businesses across the UK and I’m sure he’ll find another top position.” Others believe that it will be tough given his age, but believe his wide experience should stand him in good stead.

One source claims Marsden was going to leave the company after failing to secure the managing director’s position in 2003, when sales chief Paul Moody took the job, paving the way for the chief executive’s role when the company floated in 2005. But Britvic offered Marsden strong financial incentives to stay on until after the flotation, and he is now leaving with a substantial package, says the source. Marsden refuses to comment on these rumours.

On board
Marsden remains a keen proponent of marketing as a major business discipline that deserves greater respect in the boardroom.

“What matters is that people who know about brands are represented around the boardroom table. You have to have people who understand that the majority of shareholder assets are held in those strange things called brands,” he says.

He is involved in a wide range of industry bodies – he is president of The Marketing Society, has sat on the executive committee of advertisers’ trade by ISBA, and is on the Government’s advisory committee on advertising, overseeing the Central Office of Information and other state marketing activity. He is a director of BCap and is involved with an array of other marketing bodies.

A source sums up his achievements: “Diversifying the portfolio, new product development and cleaning up the products to fit the needs of today’s chemical-free environment. He is an active member of the marketing community and really does deliver above and beyond the call of duty.” 

Leading the way
Marsden has led some of Britvic’s biggest launches as it has expanded its presence in the rapidly-growing still-juices market, while less healthy carbonates, which make up half its sales, are declining.

He lists his achievements at Britvic as launching adult soft drink J20, which is now the biggest-selling packaged product in pubs, clubs and bars. He relaunched the Robinsons brand after Britvic bought it from Reckitt & Coleman in 1995.

“It wasn’t in great shape, but it is significantly bigger than when we bought it – now it is the number seven grocery brand. It is the biggest soft drink by volume, when diluted with water,” he says. He also launched children’s range Fruit Shoot and says its H20 mineral water sub-brand is number one in its category.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing, though. There was the saga of Freekin’ Soda, which had to change its name twice and was eventually dropped. And the original launch of mineral water Drench was misjudged. Marsden says it was too narrowly positioned and it is being relaunched.

One of his most notable moves was shifting the account for Tango and several other brands into CHI. BBH handles the Robinsons account.

Britvic is understood to have hired a headhunter to find a replacement for Marsden.

Agencies responsible for the £15m annual ad spend – including about £5m for Pepsi – will be keenly monitoring Marsden’s replacement to see if the new marketing director will review the advertising.        

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