The Secret Marketer

Our ‘man on the inside’ provides a view from the top of the marketing tree

In spring 2010 we are launching a new standalone brand. Nothing major about that, you may think, but for many in our marketing and sales teams, this is the first time they have actually worked on a brand launch.

What previously seemed such manageable steps on the critical path to launch, including “choose brand name” and “sign off artwork” are now keeping me up at night. Last week, I accompanied our brand team to a meeting with our design agency. We were pleased with the work they presented and told them so but experience has taught me to ponder over packaging designs for at least a good week before providing measured feedback. This will be our launch “outfit” so it needs to be right.

After many months of describing the said initiative by a coded project name, we now have to put our proverbial marketing balls on the line and christen our new baby with a suitable name. This is serious stuff.

A little like The X Factor, my office is decorated from floor to ceiling in concept boards showing the five hopefuls from which we now have to select a finalist.

My brand team judging panel is blessed with the youthful exuberance of Cheryl Cole but also like her, it lacks experience. Given the mortality rates for NPD, I decide that this is where I have to earn my money and lead my apprentices towards a decision. At moments like this, it is very tempting to turn it out to the audience vote, but I have neither the budget nor the belief that further rounds of formal consumer research are going to help us now.

As the week passes, I set myself a notional deadline of Friday to develop a shortlist. Sadly I have never been great with deadlines and as my family rise on Saturday morning they find that the concept boards have now been transported to our kitchen. If in doubt, ask the family.

They are the target audience for this brand and, unlike my team, they will not be shy to tell me what they really think for fear of damaging their career prospects. This evening, we are hosting a BBQ where I shall conduct “formal” consumer research sponsored by Peroni and Oyster Bay. On the guest list are Simon Cowell, Pete Waterman and a few other mates who work in marketing. If this gets past them, it should really be a winner.

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