Senior Marketer of The Year 2013 preview

The faces and stories of those on this year’s Engage Awards Senior Marketer of The Year shortlist, in association with Adobe.

Foreword: Let’s applaud this new generation of marketers


Simon Morris
demand marketing EMEA

We’re extremely proud to sponsor the Senior Marketer of the Year Award and help celebrate the incredible work that’s been produced across the country. As Branwell Johnson rightly points out in his foreword, the industry is evolving very quickly and the skills that today’s marketers need are a long way off those employed 10 years ago.

Indeed, it seems like nearly every day a new channel, a new platform, a new device, a new technique becomes ‘the next big thing’ and marketing is the one industry that continues to be at the centre or front of it all.

What this means is that marketing professionals, in particular senior marketers and chief marketing officers, have to manage major changes at a pace rarely seen before.


A recent report, which many of us in the industry will be aware of, highlighted perfectly the pressure marketers are under – 70 per cent of chief executives say that they have lost trust in marketing. According to the findings, by Fournaise Marketing Group, chief executives have an innate lack of trust because of marketing’s reputation; they feel that marketing has no real influence on the organisation as a whole, and that most marketers could never go on to senior positions in the business.

Pretty damning stuff. In a way, however, you can see where chief executives are coming from. The huge changes driving the way consumers want to interact with businesses seem to converge on the marketing department. It becomes ‘marketing’s problem’ so to speak, and the entire business starts asking why they aren’t doing more.

It all comes down to the almost endless possibilities the digital world opens up for marketers and the pace of technological change means that if you want to be first, you can’t dip your toes in to test reaction – you have got to take a leap. Not only is this a risky strategy that sometimes doesn’t pay off, but marketing budgets are also finite.

However, for marketers this really doesn’t have to be a negative story – this digital revolution has given us the capability to bust wide open the return on investment and measurement argument so often cited by the board. Everything can now be tracked and marketing campaigns can be directly measured alongside business sales cycles. And the technology that enables this measurement to take place is now more attainable and effective than ever before.

What is for certain is that marketing is facing an exciting time. Never before has it, as a discipline, been so measurable, or indeed central to the business. Senior marketers can now prove, beyond gut feel, the effectiveness of their campaigns on the bottom line. This has been the basis of our most recent campaign which intends to dispel the commonly held misconception that ‘you can’t trust marketers’, and to urge the industry to focus on metrics not myths.

The campaign was also designed to celebrate marketers and make sure they get the credit that they deserve – exactly what the Senior Marketer of the Year Award will do. So, with that in mind, all that is left for me to do is wish everyone the very best of luck and I look forward to meeting you all on the big night.


Branwell Johnson
Acting editor
Marketing Week

Marketing Week is delighted to launch this new category, in association with Adobe, for the Engage Awards 2013.

The role of the marketer has changed and evolved with lightning speed in the past decade and while core competencies remain the same, the modern senior marketer has to have a breadth of knowledge and orchestrate far more channels and agendas than ever before.

This award is designed to recognise and celebrate those marketers who have shown they can handle the demands of the job with aplomb. As part of the qualifying criteria to be placed on the original list, all the nominees devised and implemented a big project in 2012.

That original long list was created by nominations from the industry and the shortlisted candidates were then selected by the Engage Awards judging panel, which is made up of experienced and visionary marketers. The candidates on the shortlist are now subject to our readers’ votes.

So the final result will be selected by you. Find out more about those shortlisted candidates in this supplement – what’s driven them to the top in their business, what they have learnt along the way and how they have tackled the big challenges facing every marketer. The candidates may come from a wide variety of sectors but you’ll notice one common trend – their brands all have a digital DNA, or the digital sales and marketing channels are vital to their success.

Make sure you take advantage of this opportunity to learn from these marvellous practitioners by digesting the following pages – it’s a rewarding read.

Everyone on the shortlist deserves praise and should be delighted by the recognition from their peers. But there can be only one Senior Marketer of the Year and that person will be announced at the gala Marketing Week Engage Awards evening on 21 May 2013. We hope to see you there – it’s going to be a fantastic night.

The shortlist


Suzi Williams
Group marketing and brand director

As official communications partner of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, BT was recognised by Populus as the brand that made the biggest corporate contribution to the games.
Suzi Williams, BT group marketing and brand director, was responsible for securing and leading the sponsorship of the games with a marketing budget for the Olympic and Paralympic activation of less than 0.01 per cent of turnover.

Her first challenge was to convince the board and stakeholders of the great opportunity London 2012 would be for the brand.

Williams says: “The biggest challenge going into any new territory – especially one requiring significant investment – is to prove value and build a picture of success everyone can buy into.”
The vast array of stakeholders on the project, from government and arts communities to media and sports bodies; the high-risk nature of the telecoms infrastructure side of the project; and the economic uncertainties over the past few years added extra levels of difficulty in terms of budget and messaging, according to Williams.

“Of course, nothing prepares you for the sheer physical and mental pressure of being ‘on point’ 24/7 for the eight weeks across the games themselves,” she says. “But meticulous planning, an excellent team and a huge amount of passion and commitment from our partners meant we delivered way ahead of expectations.”

BT hosted the official London 2012 website, which had 450 million visits; installed WiFi infrastructure at the Olympic Park; ensured there was capacity to meet increased demand through investment in its UK network as well as other key services and events leading up to the games. By the end of the Olympics, 75 per cent of the country recognised BT as the official communications services provider for London 2012, according to research from Nielsen.

However, the biggest achievement, according to Williams, has been the impact achieved internally in terms of increasing pride among BT’s 90,000 strong workforce. Notably, 75 per cent of staff now want the brand to continue sponsoring the Paralympics.

Williams has worked in brand and marketing roles for almost 20 years and built her career through Procter & Gamble, Orange, the BBC and Capital FM before joining BT six years
ago to lead group marketing and brand.

At BT, Williams has implemented brand ‘tone of voice’. Every customer-facing employee in call centres and the marketing and communications teams have been trained and inspired by the ‘speaking with one voice’ programme. It has reached more than 40,000 employees in the past four years and won internal accolades.

The Olympics sponsorship required focus, passion, hard work, hard metrics, good humour and great partners says Williams, which also make up her key points of advice for aspiring senior marketers. She says: “Try to get the balance right between art and science, passion and instinct. Hire brilliant people. And most of all enjoy it. This job is meant to be fun!”


Jeremy Ellis
Marketing director

Modernisation is a key part of the strategy at travel firm TUI UK, owner of Thomson and First Choice, which has been focused on revamping the traditional package holiday concept and making it more relevant for today’s holiday makers.

Leading the marketing drive is marketing director Jeremy Ellis, who has a good understanding of the multi-faceted company having spent more than 20 years at the business.

“Holiday companies haven’t typically had strong and clear brands. The biggest job I have is making Thomson famous and getting it to stand out from the competition,” he says.
“For us, it’s all about modernising the brand. Holiday companies are often perceived as being slightly dated but Thomson’s exclusive product concepts are far from what people might expect from a ‘package holiday’. It’s my role to ensure that people understand we’re a forward-thinking, modern business.”

As part of this push, Ellis has been heavily involved in the development and implementation of Sensatori, Thomson’s tailor-made luxury holiday packages. He describes this as “our most successful product ever”, along with Thomson Gold and Platinum, which together form the backbone of TUI UK’s corporate strategy of differentiation and exclusivity.

He has also been instrumental in developing TUI’s CRM capability, including the MyThomson and MyFirstChoice sites, which are personalised holiday websites, allowing customers to book additional products and services, and explore information about their holiday destination.

Another significant move has been the repositioning of First Choice as ‘The Home of All-Inclusive’. This makes it the only package holiday company to offer all holidays on an all-inclusive basis.

Ellis says: “Our strategy is centred on the modernisation of both our brands and communicating our diverse and exclusive proposition to a wide audience of customers.”
It was as a result of redefining Thomson and First Choice and developing distinct propositions for both, as well as creating two critically acclaimed TV campaigns, that he was promoted to his current role in 2011. He was previously head of marketing.

Since that time, TUI UK has seen profits rise 8 per cent. In order to make sure marketing activity is successful, Ellis says: “It’s absolutely essential that campaigns are delivering the required return on investment and that they are aligned with the current business priorities.

“We do this through ensuring campaigns feature our latest innovations and are continually challenging people’s perceptions of what we do.”

When it comes to results, the company also uses brand tracking to measure changes in awareness and preference, as well as ad hoc research for brand activity.

For any budding senior marketers keen to work their way up, Ellis’s advice is clear: “The most important thing is to focus on really understanding what your brand stands for and stick religiously to this in all marketing activity.”


John Bernard
Director of global marketing
Firefox OS

Last year was an extremely busy one for John Bernard. He raised awareness and customer acceptance of a new brand, operating system (OS) Ubuntu, and launched it into more than 2,000 retail stores globally. He was also instrumental in developing marketing strategy around the recently announced Ubuntu phone.

Bernard has managed to change the face of the software industry by providing an alternative desktop OS to PC manufacturers and helped to change user habits across Asia and Latin America in bringing to market a new entrant.

More than 20 million people now use Ubuntu and it is forecast to ship on 5 per cent of all new PCs in 2013, challenging Microsoft Windows.

Not one to rest on his laurels, late last year Bernard took up the reins at Mozilla Firefox as global director of marketing, to bring to market the new mobile phone operating system, Firefox OS, which was announced at Mobile World Congress in February.

He says: “Mozilla is all about breaking down barriers and opening up the web. That, and our users, is at the heart of everything we do. When we first launched Firefox, Mozilla broke down the walls around the web on the desktop.

Now, we’re doing it again – this time in mobile.” He has created and built the marketing function and directed the plan for the launch of Firefox OS in partnership with Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom and America Movil among others. In total, 18 mobile phone operators and five phone manufacturers are partnering with Firefox OS, to offer consumers a choice.

“Mozilla is a newcomer in the mobile industry, which is a challenge we openly and readily accepted. The fate of our mobile world can’t depend on just two companies,” says Bernard.

Competing with Apple iOS and Android, Firefox OS offers an intuitive mobile phone experience, appealing to end-users in emerging markets globally. John helped to guide Firefox OS ‘Unleash The Fox’, a brand campaign that allows consumers of Firefox OS smartphones to ‘Blaze Your Own Path’.

“Today, there are two dominant players in the smartphone market: iOS and Android. With Firefox OS, we’re bringing a new dynamic to it. Essentially, we are increasing the competitive pressure on Google and Apple to improve their HTML5 engines, and work towards making HTML5 applications on iOS and Android competitive as well,” says Bernard.

By highlighting Mozilla’s mission of openness, innovation on the web and putting the power of the web in people’s hands, and using targeted PR and website optimisation, as of November 2012, the Firefox browser is used by more than 20 per cent of the internet population – that’s more than 450 million users.

Bernard believes that knowledge of digital and mobile is integral to marketers. “If you’re not doing so already, immerse yourself into digital and mobile, sign up for a course if you have to. The marketing world is spinning towards mobile faster than you can say ‘smartphone’.”


Romain Bertrand
Head of marketing

As JustGiving’s first head of marketing, Romain Bertrand’s tenure at the brand has been transformative, pushing forward the adoption of new technology in a charity market not well known for it. JustGiving, which acts as a portal for fundraisers to campaign for their treasured causes, has now passed the £1bn milestone in donations since
its inception 11 years ago.

Bertrand has revamped the marketing strategy from the bottom up, with a greater focus on data and aiming to refocus the brand onto consumers.

“We have really only scratched the surface so far but it is about trying to match people with causes and charities that mean something to them,” he says. “We are trying to come up with communications that are engaging, and then to help them find the right ways to donate to charity. That’s a big change, when before it was all about mainstream charities blasting people.”

New product development has been a central part of Bertrand’s activity, bringing to market new consumer services, including JustTextGiving with Vodafone and Facebook donations; a new developer platform that allows partners to adapt JustGiving’s technology and fundraising pages for corporates. The service provided to charities themselves has also seen significant innovation under Bertrand’s watch, with new functions allowing greater integration between their data systems and those of JustGiving.

He explains: “We wanted to make sure that they had the best access to data around the donations given through JustGiving and around the individual users, so they can go back to these users if they have permission. They can mine all the different trends, look at all the different products, mine it by the time of the day, or by channels like mobile. That is an interface that the majority of charities would never be able to build themselves.”

These transformations have required not just the introduction of new products but also of new skills and a new identity for the brand. Bertrand has refreshed the marketing team and new talent has been brought in to cover the entire range of marketing disciplines including in product marketing, brand, CRM, B2B marketing, social media, PR, content and design.

Importantly, JustGiving is expanding internationally too. It has been present in the US for around nine years, but has recently also moved into Japan and Holland, and Australia is mooted as a new market in the future. Bertrand says that this growth presents organisational challenges in understanding both the inner workings of charities in those countries and the “psychology of generosity” among donors.

It is the UK model, where consumers are enthusiastic and active at a grassroots level at campaigning on behalf of the charities they support, that Bertrand says he would “like to replicate as far as possible”. Yet he also points out that “the good thing is it is quite flexible”. The continued growth of the JustGiving brand clearly owes a lot to the marketing infrastructure that Bertrand has helped to put in place.


Katie Sheppard
Director of marketing and relationships

Katie Sheppard successfully led one of the most innovative and interactive campaigns of 2012 with the ITV2 dating show, Girlfri3nds. This sponsorship was a TV first as well as a first for, taking audience engagement with reality TV shows to a new level.

“We could give the brand a role, so it wasn’t just putting a sponsorship on the programme,” says Sheppard.

All the show’s contestants were given profiles. Viewers were able to try dating the contestants that appeared on the show through, for free. The brand also ran a range of digital and social media activities, as well as on-air idents featuring real dating advice. Viewers of the show on ITV2 were able to follow the progress of the female protagonists via Twitter and the show’s website. They were also able to view the contestants’ profiles and contact them for free via the site. The sponsorship proved to be a huge success. After the first episode, saw a 15 per cent increase in people visiting the site.

Client, production company and media owner worked closely together to make the project work and Sheppard says it got people to try a brand that they might not have considered otherwise.

Sheppard was also responsible for creating the brand’s UK Real Stories campaign, which features filmed stories of real members across the country and has been one of its most successful campaigns to date.

Over the past five years, Sheppard has taken online dating from a niche ‘tech’ pastime to a mainstream way to meet a partner. The series of ads in the Real Stories campaign are designed to show how finding a date online is now part of everyday life. The campaign has really moved the traditional testimonial on, proving that it can be authentic, heartwarming and insightful.

“You’ve got to have a vision and an ambition, something that you are striving towards,” Sheppard says. “There is a danger that you get stuck in the day to day, and you have to have your eyes on the prize.” That prize for is to make meeting a partner or a date on the site the most popular way to meet someone.

Since she joined, it has become as popular to meet someone on an online dating site as it is through work. “Five years ago, that would have been unimaginable because online dating was kind of a pursuit of tech-savvy geeks, but now one in four relationships start online, according to YouGov.”

Sheppard has been at for five years, starting as PR and communications manager.

It took her less than three years to get to her current director-level role. “I always wanted this job,” she says, crediting her “pushy and tenacious” nature for getting her the role.

She started her career making tea and faxing press releases at a marketing agency in London, after answering an ad in The Guardian ‘looking for someone to do all the shit jobs that no one else wanted to do’. She worked her way up to manage some of the agency’s PR accounts and after a stint at other agencies, co-founded a PR company called Cherish, before approached her.


Paul Higgins
Marketing director
TalkTalk Business

Paul Higgins is into the final year of a three-year plan aimed at maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing at TalkTalk Business. In his role as marketing director of the B2B network provider, he oversaw the delivery of a new website and content marketing platform last year, as well as an automated system for all push marketing.

“The year was about ensuring that we got all of our core platforms in play, working in tandem and integrated so that we’re sweating every pound that we invest,” explains Higgins.

This focus on return on investment has reaped impressive results. Higgins reports that due to the new website, customer conversions have increased by between 10 and 20 per cent without any additional online investment by the company. One of his biggest challenges, he notes, has been to incrementally drive up returns using a flat marketing budget.

“It’s important to pick the big wins,” says Higgins. “My department covers online, campaigns, events, PR, social media and content. The easiest thing is to do a lot
of things to an OK standard. The challenge is to do a couple of big things but do them really well. For us that means having a big web platform and lead generation platform and delivering on that.”

TalkTalk Business’s online revamp has included the development of a new self-service portal that allows customers to set up and manage their own accounts. While this kind of online functionality has traditionally been an IT-sponsored project in most companies, at TalkTalk Business it was led by Higgins’ marketing department.

“You’ve got to be a commercial person first and a marketing person second sometimes,” he suggests. “There’s no point having the best idea in the world if you can’t show that it makes commercial sense.”

Higgins is now turning his attention to social media and content marketing in order to build on the streamlined and automated marketing system that was honed last year. His marketing team has overseen the development of more than 200 new content assets for marketing, including white papers and videos that aim to attract and engage prospective customers. Higgins was previously B2B marketing manager at Caudwell Communications. He joined TalkTalk Business as head of propositions in 2006 where he helped to launch the company’s broadband proposition into the SME market. Commenting on his rise to the marketing director position, Higgins points to the importance of showing both flexibility and commercial knowledge.

“You have to be willing to roll with the punches and accept that when you try things, they may not work fantastically on day one, but you need to have the courage of your conviction,” he says. “It’s vital that you listen to what your customers are saying as well as what people in your business are saying. Make yourself relevant to what’s happening in your business and speak in a shared language.”



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