Jansen takes on the British Gas challenge

Cool%20Jules%2C%20Chris%20JansenBritish Gas’ latest marketing chief Chris Jansen may not enjoy the high profile of some of his predecessors, but those who know him believe he is more than capable of dealing with the challenges that lie ahead.

Jansen, who is managing director of BG’s Premier Energy division, has had marketing added to his remit with added responsibility for the brand’s profit and loss (MW last week). The move coincides with plans to double BG’s advertising spend this year.

Jansen effectively replaces Amanda Mackenzie – who is leaving the utilities giant to join Aviva – although BG also plans to appoint a marketing director who will report to Jansen. Former BT and Hewlett-Packard marketer Mackenzie is well known in marketing circles, as is previous incumbent Nick Smith.

Great admiration

But despite his lack of profile, Jansen, who has worked at Procter & Gamble and British Airways, can count some industry heavyweights as admirers. Gavin Patterson, group managing director of customers and ventures at BT, worked with him for two years at P&G. He says that Jansen did “a lot of innovative things” as brand manager of Head & Shoulders and adds/ “He’s a really capable guy. He’s a great marketer with drive and passion for the business. He’s also intuitive and doesn’t need reports, which is rare.”

Jansen joined BG in November last year. He says that he wants to use the “great talents” in the marketing team and give them “leadership and direction”. He adds that BG is doubling its ad spend to support a number of initiatives launching throughout the year. “We’re very much focused on our role as leading the industry,” he says.

One of Jansen’s biggest challenges, believe industry observers, will be to promote BG to a public that is angry about recent price hikes. One industry source points out that he will also need to “recapture” the green space for BG in the face of growing competition from rivals such as EDF Energy.

Jansen says that focusing on BG’s green credentials and tackling fuel poverty are among his priorities. He adds that the marketing director has not yet been recruited, but that he is looking to appoint “an outstanding marketing professional” to oversee the brand.

Sarah Gold, managing partner at BG’s advertising agency CHI & Partners, thinks Jansen will look to build team spirit following the changes in personnel and structure – and then work with his team and his agencies to deliver “great work aligned to the commercial priorities of British Gas”. She adds: “He will undoubtedly bring structure, energy and ambition to the role.”

Head & Shoulders above the rest

Jansen spent seven years at P&G, where he was involved in signing Friends actress Courtney Cox to advertise the Head & Shoulders brand. He also helped launch a television ad featuring a character called “Cool Jules” to appeal to a younger market. Jansen says that the ad contributed to the brand achieving a record market share.

Patterson’s colleague John Petter, BT’s chief operating officer, also spent time with Jansen at P&G. “Chris has the reputation of being a powerful driver and a natural entrepreneur with real creativity and flair,” he says. “He’s very confident and not easily wrong-footed by any situation.”

Jansen steps up to take on his new role with an impressive army of fans and a solid CV. But steering the BG ship through increasingly perilous waters could be his biggest challenge yet.

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