Leaving the analogue world behind
Too many brands are set up for the analogue world and not fully prepared to embrace digital, according to Soren Hagh, Heineken’s exectuvie director of global marketing.
In an energetic presentation, Hagh revealed that the beer giant, which owns more than 250 alcohol brands, had reassessed its internal structure 12 months ago to work out whether its approach to marketing was becoming “outdated”.
“We realised that most of our brands and stories were born in the analogue age and it made us nervous. Around 12 months ago we started an overview to assess how Heineken can win in a world where digital is the norm,” he told delegates.
Admitting that the changes had been “unpopular” among some of its marketers, Hagh said the review had sparked a complete change in the way the business tells stories.
“We assessed our digital content and social storytelling against the very best in the world and found out we were lacking so we are making big changes,” he added, revealing that Heineken has grown digital spending from 9% of its budget to 25% in under two years.
“This is about deploying a tailored digital strategy in every single market as we cannot pursue the same marketing strategy in the UK as we do in Nigeria or Vietnam. As we adopt this big data strategy, taking a hit on creativity is obviously the biggest risk we face, but it is worth taking as we must ensure that digital revives Heineken and its partners.”
From behind the sticks to CMO
When professional footballers retire, they often pursue punditry or get their coaching badges but not ex-Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van de Sar.
Currently chief marketing officer at Ajax, the club where he won the Champions League back in 1995, van De Sar said the prospect of following his fellow ex-pros was unappealing.
He joked: “For me doing coaching or being a pundit was boring. For 21 years I was on the pitch but only when I was made chief marketing officer did I know what having a real job felt like!”
The Dutchman admitted that he had been inspired by the commercial model at Old Trafford and its former chairman David Gill when taking the step into marketing.
“I soaked up a lot from David and the success of the Manchester United marketing department and it inspired me to do a sports management course, that’s when Ajax came calling,” he added.
“David warned me it would be tough and it is true but building Ajax as a brand is a fantastic challenge as we don’t have the same money as the English clubs.”
“Every day as a marketer a new door opens, whether that’s social or finding the right kit sponsors, and it drives me on to really achieve something.”
Edwin van der Sar, marketing director, Ajax
The growth of Instagram
Instagram’s co-founder Mike Krieger admitted the rise of the photo sharing platform, which now generates 80 million photos daily, had been a “surprise”.
But he insisted that despite the social media platform’s huge growth, it must not forget about its community.
“Our first ever staff hire wasn’t a designer or an engineer but a community manager called Josh,” he said during the key note speech. “And that focus on curated and personalised content that appeals to the Instagram community must not stop.”
Referencing Instagram’s ‘suggested’ section, which has evolved from “a totally unpersonalised or different approach from the man down the street” to “photos liked by people whose photos you’ve liked,” Krieger said the section was proof that Instagram doesn’t stop listening to its users’ feedback.
He also said Instagram would continue to focus on video.
“It feels like we’re just getting started on video as we’re just introducing curated storytelling and we’re looking for more brands to work with,” he added. “Ultimately, we want to blend the learnings we take from humans and machines together in the most personalised way possible.”