Q&A: Gayle Harrison, brand director, Heineken UK (Foster’s)

Heineken UK’s brand director for Foster’s talks about how its marketing approach takes into account different brands and changing attitudes. 

Marketing Week (MW): How has your marketing approach adapted to take into account changing attitudes? 

Gayle Harrison (GS): What’s at the heart of our brand doesn’t change. Our brand essence is our brand essence and that stays the same, but the way we bring that to life through the activities we do might change.

In the Foster’s TV ads we have two Australian guys in a beach hut answering calls from guys in the UK about light-hearted worries they might have. We research those worries extensively to make sure they are relevant in today’s climate. Every year when we develop our activities we talk to consumers to make sure they still resonate.

MW: How does the marketing approach differ between the different Foster’s brands?

GS: When you launch new innovations you’re almost starting at the beginning, so it’s about making it very clear to consumers what those innovations are. If you look at the work we’ve done around Foster’s Radler this year, it’s been very functional, we have not been trying to build an emotional proposition around it because we need to explain to people what the product is first. All the advertising has been focused on the pack shot and what’s in the bottle. Over time, once people start to understand that, we hope to move to a more emotional positioning. Similarly with Foster’s Gold, the marketing has been a lot more focused on telling people what the product is and how it differs from the core Foster’s product.

MW: Is your core customer the same across all brands?

GS: At the centre of all brands is the same core consumer, but these new products do have the potential to broaden our footprint. So, for example, the core consumer for Foster’s Radler is still 18 to 34-year old men, but we know that it is bringing more women into the brand, and some older people as well who maybe want to moderate [their drinking] a bit more.

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