Martin Riley on… Nurturing talent and brand equity

Nurturing talent

We have a traditional château called Château Ricard in the French countryside where we do much of our training. It’s always inspiring when you see the next generations coming through. It’s a great way of seeing people from all around the group at different stages of their career. One of the key things I want to do in this role is make sure there is real familiarity with as many people as possible in the marketing function, even though we are spread around the world.

Brand equity

Most of our brands are 100, 200, and in the case of Martell, nearly 300 years old. So we have an enormous responsibility, which is something I always tell junior marketers joining the team. There have been generations of people building the equity of these brands and we’re passing the baton on to them so they have to understand what came before.

I tell them it will be a lot of fun but that they have a responsibility. They are building the brand for the future and for the next generation. We don’t make decisions that are in any way going to upset the equity of the brand but at the same time we have to embrace the need for innovation.

Spirit

I believe very strongly that we have to understand the nature of the wines and spirits business. It’s not an FMCG business in my view. It’s something far more emotional. It’s not for nothing, as it were, that the word for spirit is spirit. In French it’s eau d’vie which translates to ‘water of life’, and in Gaelic the word for whisky is usquebaugh, which translates to the same thing.

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