Masters of their own destiny

This year’s Rising Star Award nominees discuss the trials and triumphs of their careers ahead of next week’s Marketing Week Engage Awards ceremony.


The shortlist (l-r above):

  • Paul Dunkin, sponsorship manager, Royal Bank of Scotland (Previous: assistant marketing manager, Ulster Bank)
  • Jenna McCabe, charity business development and marketing executive, Rathbone Brothers (Previous: marketing manager, Seymours Consultancy)
  • Alex Giacon, ad solutions manager, Yahoo! (Previous: global planning and strategy executive, Yahoo!)
  • Sarah Bulling, product communications manager, LV= (Previous: junior brand manager, LV=)

Marketing Week (MW): What achievement in your career so far are you most proud of?

Paul Dunkin (PD): Launching and developing the RBS Scottish Rugby partnership. I was very lucky to help develop a top-to-bottom partnership and three-year strategy with Scottish Rugby. It was a blank canvas and we went for it. I wanted us to compete with best in class, not just best in financial services, so we made sure that it would not just be a branding exercise. We wanted to make it a true partnership that delivered for Scottish Rugby as well as ourselves – that way everyone has a vested interest in its success.

Jenna McCabe (JM): The completion of my Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)diploma. I did it within a year and it was the same year that I doubled the new business enquiry numbers for [wealth management company] Rathbone. A lot of the diploma was focused on project management and managing people. That really helped me because not only was I getting better results from the external world by learning how to manage prospects better, but internally I could also drive that new business forward.

Alex Giacon (AG): Winning an M&M award with the Yahoo! team for our global campaign for Paramount Pictures for the film The Dictator. It was a scalable creative idea that went above and beyond the normal campaign we would run for a movie studio. We had a site takeover, editorial that was aligned to the campaign and interviews with Sacha Baron Cohen in character. It was very creative and a lot of fun to work on.

Sarah Bulling (SB): Being part of the team which won marketing team of the year at the CIM Marketing Excellence Awards. Being in a small team of only five people, it was fantastic recognition for the hard work we’ve consistently put in to build the LV= brand and as the first industry award paper I’d ever written, it definitely stands out as a career high so far.

MW: What has been the biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome it?

PD: Probably moving country twice in three months because I was chasing an opportunity.

I moved from Dublin to London to work with the RBS sponsorship team. When I arrived in London we had just started talks with Scottish Rugby about becoming title sponsor. I was asked to work on the partnership which was an opportunity not to be missed, so I moved to Edinburgh three months later to launch and develop the partnership.

JM: I was the first business developer to be recruited at Rathbone so stakeholder engagement has been a big challenge. This has involved building relationships with the investment managers here in order to get their support with different marketing initiatives. It was really about changing the culture and making my peers see that marketing plays a huge role in winning new business and the maintenance of the business that we have now.

AG: It’s hard to get noticed in such a competitive landscape, especially when your first job is at one of the biggest digital companies in the world. I had to figure out my position quickly and learn as much as I could starting from zero. I think I became known for doing particular jobs well and for developing an understanding so that I knew particular products inside out. Networking is important too – internally and also externally so that you get a complete view of the industry.

SB: As in many companies, working in a small team has at times raised concerns with progression opportunities. Due to a limited number of management roles available, others may have chosen to move elsewhere for faster progression. However, I felt that the brand opportunity offered by LV= was more valuable than fast progression so have remained dedicated to and passionate about building the LV= brand.

MW: What aspect of marketing particularly excites you at the moment?

PD: From a sponsorship point of view, I really like Red Bull Cliff Diving. I love the attitude of ‘Build it and they will come’. Rather than being restricted by some of the issues that come from sponsoring a sporting organisation, they invent their own extreme sports that they own and tailor to their needs – it’s the kind of thing I’d love to work on.

JM: When you’re working in the ultra-high net worth sector it’s a very different marketplace to many others because we’re not a particularly digital company. Of course, all of the big developments are in online marketing and digital technology, so it’s important to keep an eye on those. But I’m excited about exploring the value of producing really high-quality and well-targeted direct marketing. Direct mail became a kind of mass marketing tool so I want to take it back to its roots by developing high-quality direct mailing in conjunction with a select few online initiatives.

AG: I’m excited by the evolution of content and the ways that media houses are moving into a new era of personalised and contextually relevant content, based on people’s interests and habits. From a strategy perspective, what will be key is how brands can leverage highly engaged audiences, not just by badging the content, but by serving the audience their own ‘personalised advertising’.

SB: I’m interested in the developments in media targeting through tailored ad offerings, soon to be launched through Sky’s AdSmart and Channel 4’s Adapt, where TV ads can be delivered based on user data held. This is likely to impact on both media and communications strategies in future, which may even see tailored creative per audience or postcode.



Playing it safe

Michael Barnett

Diet Coke, Galaxy, Old Spice and KitKat are rekindling old advertising and slogans for today’s audiences. Is this the result of a creative deficit or are fears of a public backlash on social media smothering the urge to chance something new?