SSE names Jenny Ashmore as first CMO

SSE has appointed Mars and P&G senior marketer Jenny Ashmore as its first CMO with a brief to accelerate its customer-focused brand strategy unveiled earlier this year.

SSE has hired FMCG marketing veteran Jenny Ashmore to help build trust in the brand.

Ashmore takes up the role next month (5 August) and will lead brand marketing, media, consumer insights and digital marketing. She will set to work on shaping the brand’s 2014 service-based marketing campaign in addition to developing the company’s Commonwealth Games sponsorship activity.

Ashmore will report to managing director for retail Will Morris who is leading a wider business strategy to improve customer relations. Despite boosting investment in brand building initiatives so far this year, Ashmore says more is needed from the company to combat anger from consumers over rising energy bills, sustainability and reliability.

She told Marketing Week: “SSE hasn’t always got its messaging right but the team are working hard to address this and build trust in the brand. One of the things I’m going to be looking at when I start is how SSE powers the everyday lives of our customers. I genuinely believe that insight drives great proposition and I think that’s where we need to start.”

Ashmore had stints at British Gas and Shell before taking up senior roles at P&G, Mars and Yell. Most recently, she has consulted for various brands on sales and marketing strategies.

Viewpoint – Seb Joseph

In appointing Jenny Ashmore SSE is looking to show there is substance behind its recent pledges to be more customer-focused. Ashmore has a reputation for focusing on innovation and building communities around brands, both of which could help the energy firm stand apart from rivals. At P&G she is credited with establishing the Pampers website as the UK’s premier parenting portal in the early noughties while at Mars she made user-generated content a key pillar for brands including Skittles and Snickers.

In a market where legislation makes it difficult to compete on price a sound brand, delivered across all touchpoints becomes a crucial differential. It’s an approach that is being adopted by SSE’s main five rivals, but crucially Ashmore has the retail pedigree to make SSE’s efforts potentially resonant far deeper with consumers.