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Marketeer of the Year

By The Drum, Administrator

March 12, 2004 | 21 min read

Introduction by Graeme Atha, chairman of The Marketing Society in Scotland

Having had the opportunity of working in some guise or other with each of the five nominations, I thought I would offer a personal perspective on each of the candidates – as you consider who will get your vote.

I have known Bill Farrar the longest – from the days when he was a thrusting trainee brand manager at the hotbed of young talent that was IDV in the 80s. Twenty years on, he still retains much of his thrust and remains one of the most competitive players around – both on the sports field and in the boardroom. He is, most famously, the man behind the bird. The man that transformed the oil painting into the dancing, skating, strutting Famous Grouse we know and love. Having also crashed through the glass ceiling from marketing into the boardroom proving that, yes, it can be done.

Next up is Farrar’s sparring partner at the SRU – the newly appointed chief executive Phil Anderton, and another great example of marketing making it right to the top. The golden boy of Scottish rugby with an impressive track record both at Proctor and Gamble and Coca-Cola has risen through the ranks faster than one of his legendary fireworks. He caused a few sparks among the “blazeratti” along the way, transforming the entrenched institution into a marketing-orientated organisation that has seen dramatic increases in ticket and merchandise sales – despite poor performances on the pitch.

Another nomination that faced massive organisational challenges was Malcolm Roughead, who inherited the rudderless and leaderless political football that was VisitScotland. If the internal problems were not bad enough in his first year he also had another one or two other issues to contend with – namely Foot and Mouth and 9/11. He began one of the most important and comprehensive brand reviews undertaken in this country and quietly restructured his department to ensure they could deliver the vision and plans that have resulted in equally impressive results.

Glen Gribbon at White and Mackay also faced enormous challenges as he sought to shake off the shackles of a trading-orientated whisky business to become a brand-oriented organisation. His classical training at Mars would help him guide his team during very difficult times as, one by one, the management buyout team he was part of was dismantled and his every decision was assessed by management consultants. Despite this, he has developed a series of bold and highly successful new brand initiatives, both at home and abroad.

Finally there is Ian Wright of Family, one of the most pleasing stories in the advertising world of late. Having endured a pretty rough ride at Faulds and Yellow M, Ian has remained relatively unscathed to lead his new agency to impressive early growth despite such turbulent times. Ian is a great example, demonstrating that it is possible to be both successful and a thoroughly decent fellow – even in the cut-throat world of advertising.

Bill Farrar, Group sales and marketing director, the edrington group

Bill Farrar, group sales and marketing director at the Edrington Group, is one of the few Scottish marketing professionals to have made it to the boardroom table. His appointment to the board came last October and, understandably, it ranks as one of his high points of 2003.

With regards to this thorny issue, Farrar, whose company owns and markets The Famous Grouse, The Macallan, Cutty Sark and Highland Park brands, says: “To be successful, any organisation has to have marketing at the very heart of its business. Over and above what we have achieved marketing-wise at Edrington Group, the most important challenge we are all facing is the need to keep reinforcing the enormously important role that high-quality marketing can play for all businesses. It is much less about individuals than the way a business faces up to the future, with marketing at the core. To ensure this happens, we as marketing professionals have to act as professionally as any other discipline in business and perhaps even more so.”

With regards to high points of the last year, which saw sales of the group’s malts grow by around nine per cent to March 2003, Farrar says there are five themes that come to mind.

First, he is pleased with the way his team has moved the company’s brands forward, particularly The Famous Grouse, for which the new Grouse Icon ads have proven highly successful and have started to turn the corner of bringing Scotch Whisky to a younger market.

He says: “We research and track all our actions thoroughly but I believe it goes a little further than that. We believe that, once you have robust processes in place, the important ingredient is a combination of intuition, experience and judgement. We are trying to stand out in a world cluttered by consumer messages and being distinctive and brave is very important.”

Another important theme of Farrar’s year has been the ongoing establishment of the distribution company Maxxim, as he explains: “Route to market is extremely important for us. Therefore, ensuring the overall success of Maxxim is absolutely crucial for our brands to continue to grow and develop.”

Farrar says that his involvement with the Marketing Society and his recent appointment to the newly formed Fellowship of the Marketing Society give him the chance to contribute something to raising the bar for Scottish marketing.

Fourthly, Farrar says that the work they are doing with The Macallan brand in the US and Middle East is really breaking the barriers of whisky marketing and is attempting to go beyond the safe territory of product credentials, something of which he is justifiably proud.

Finally, another high point of the last year has been his involvement with the team at the Edrington Group that is now actively looking to broaden the base of the business by considering product launches in other categories and moving beyond the Scotch Whisky market.

Farrar says the best part of his job is the wide variety of challenges that he faces on a daily basis, not just from the UK, but from around the world. His least favourite is hanging around airport lounges waiting for delayed planes.

Phil Anderton, Chief Executive, Scottish Rugby Union

Phil Anderton’s appointment as chief executive of the Scottish Rugby Union will be a welcome appointment for most – especially those in the marketing arena. Such is the stigma that surrounds the role of marketing professionals at the highest echelons of business.

One person who might be less enamoured at Anderton’s rise to the very top of the SRU, however, is England’s guiding gaffer, Clive Woodward.

For those who missed the fall-out of last month’s Calcutta Cup match between Scotland and England, Anderton paraded 800 bagpipers pre-match and ignited almost as many Roman candles and fireworks, much to the annoyance of Woodward, who complained that such showbiz bravado was excessive and that they were “here to play rugby not sing songs”.

The culprit, however, does not give a monkeys what England’s boss says. As a man who once drove forward the biggest brand on the planet, Coca-Cola, Anderton thinks solely in terms of brand benefit and sales, and if that leaves some sniffy, high-profile upsets, then so be it.

As a graduate from St Andrews University, Anderton spent five years at Proctor and Gamble as brand manager with brands including Daz and Pampers. He then spent seven years with Coca-Cola as brand manager of Coca-Cola, then Diet Coke in the UK before moving to Atlanta as global marketing manager of the soft drink giant.

Anderton joined the SRU in 2002 and has been seen by many as a bright light in what has been a dull stretch for Scottish rugby. But, as well as adding a glossy edge to some poor Scottish performances Anderton has been at the forefront of rekindling an interest in Scottish rugby. The average attendance at Scotland matches last year was 50,000, compared to 30,000 five years ago. Income has been grown from £17m in 1999 to £28m last year. Meanwhile, sponsorship has grown from well under £1m to over £3m. As well as new, key initiatives since his appointment Anderton, has applied a number of obvious marketing practices to Scottish rugby and it is now reaping the benefits.

But what of the plans for the future? “Merchandising is an area we are hoping to grow,” says Anderton. “We are also looking at a licensing deal whereby we can receive loyalties by permitting businesses and products to tap into the Scottish rugby fever we are creating.

“But, even more importantly, we need to drive participation in the game at a grass roots level. To do this we need to change perceptions by drive and trial.” However, in Scotland, with rugby still playing second fiddle to football, this is going to be a big challenge, admits Anderton.

“If we drive the interest, then the newspapers will follow. And we can build this following through a very proactive PR campaign.”

This process is already underway, with the SRU agreeing to let player Simon Taylor front a number of ad campaigns to create a celebratory figure in the mould of the world-famous Golden Balls, David Beckham. Although that mould may need a little filling yet. “We want to make the fans proud of Scotland and their heroes,” adds Anderton. “And this is one way to identify with fans and build the stage.”

A lot of people view rugby through rose-tinted specs and the 1990 Grand Slam is still a close memory for many. But things have changed, although, evidently, the passion remains, says Anderton. Perhaps just in need of a little stoking from time to time, though.

“Look at England – their success has benefited the sport south of the border massively, in terms of both sport and business.

“But it’s not just performance that means success for the SRU as a business. Look at the Boston Red Sox in the American baseball league. They have not won a baseball world series since 1918, but they have developed a brand that is hugely successful through creating a good atmosphere and a good time – looking after the customers and giving them value for money. They are at full capacity every game on the back of their heritage and reputation.

“That is what we can do, create a reputation that all Scots people are proud of. Winning is sometimes a bonus.”

As for “Firework Phil”, as many of the press have labelled him, what does he say to his doubters? Well, at present there seems to be only one: “The whole Clive Woodward thing was fantastic; bring it on,” says Anderton. “Talk about providing us with acres of free publicity, and reinforcing in a lot of people’s minds that what we are doing is the right thing.”

Malcolm Roughead, Marketing Director, VisitScotland

Malcolm Roughead joined VisitScotland in May 2001, to take responsibility for UK marketing, international marketing, business tourism marketing and research, during what could easily be called turbulent times. However, during his three years at the helm he has managed to re-assert a degree of calm when it comes to selling Scotland to the Scots, the UK, Europe and internationally.

In recent times Roughead has been forced to operate within a vast organisation that has faced a seventy per cent staff turnover, but he has managed to realise an increased value in business from the organisation’s marketing exploits of eight per cent in 2003, and he expects to increase turnover in the next year by between three and five per cent.

Despite the international tourism trade facing its toughest times since World War Two, due to international terrorism threats, recessions, infectious diseases and the war in Iraq, Roughead’s team of around 80, which spans the whole range of marketing and promotional activity, has continued to seek out new ways to convince Brits, Europeans and Americans that Scotland is the place to visit.

Building on his immense marketing experience gained at companies such as Nestlé, SmithKline Beecham and Guinness, Roughead has introduced a number of new initiatives in the last year. These have included a complete review of the organisation’s marketing services, which saw the re-appointment of 1576 and Feather Brooksbank to handle advertising for the UK (and the continuation of the “Live It. VisitScotland” campaign) and the appointment of WWAV Rapp Collins Scotland and Bd-ntwk to create direct marketing and sales promotion campaigns respectively.

Roughead has also overseen the appointment of the Consul Group, part of Grey Worldwide, in Germany, to handle international advertising work, which last week saw the launch of a new pan-European and US campaign with the new strapline of “Welcome to our life”.

But it is thinking within the organisation that Roughead has focused much of his time and effort on this year, as he explains: “This year we have brought in a major focus on consumer insights in order to fully get under the skin of what visitors to Scotland think about the country and what it has to offer.

“We have also introduced a brand equity monitor to monitor the equity people have in the Scotland brand. This has shown that, funnily enough, the more familiar people get with a destination the less likely they are to return to it because they feel it cannot show them anything new or different. So the key implication for us now is to continually surprise people about Scotland.”

The area of business tourism is also a fast growing one and one which Roughead sees as key for Scotland’s tourism trade: “Business tourism is a huge area of revenue for the regions in Scotland. We are looking to encourage people coming to Scotland for conferences to stay on for a few days and enjoy what the country has to offer.”

Strategic partnerships is also another way in which Roughead is looking to meet the demands of visitors to the country: “Once we have really identified what people want, we can decide how best to get them here. One approach we are looking to take in the future is this holistic approach. We are asking what things you do when you visit a country – you travel, you sleep, you eat, you buy things – so we are looking to identify partners to allow people to really do the things they want to do when they are here in Scotland.”

Another key for Roughead has been the continued development of visitscotland.com, which is now the biggest online seller of accommodation in Scotland and what he calls a “real one-stop-shop for Scottish visitors”.

The website is also the focus of a pilot marketing initiative being planned by Bd-ntwk, which will effectively target travellers on a one-to-one basis, with deals and offers uniquely targeted at them. Roughead says this is planned for April and if successful could hold the key to the next stage of development for VisitScotland.

Glenn Gribbon, Marketing Director, Whyte & Mackay

Two and a half years ago, Glen Gribbon was part of the £200 million acquisition of JBB Greater Europe by what was then Kyndal – the largest ever MBO put together in Scotland.

The acquired business included the Whyte & Mackay and Invergordon Distillers Groups, and boasted a 9 per cent share of the worldwide Scotch whisky market.

Things have moved on since then. The name Kyndal has been dropped in the UK and a number of the original MBO team have left the company.

Glen Gribbon is just back in the country, having flown in from India, where he was busy helping to finalise a deal that will see Whyte and Mackay setting up a business in Delhi.

His arrival back in Edinburgh coincides with the announcement of a wide-ranging sponsorship deal with Hibs, which will see the relocation of Whyte and Mackay’s 70-strong sales and marketing team to the football club’s Easter Road premises, as well as a five-year shirt sponsorship and the renaming of the club’s South stand.

All in all, a busy time for Gribbon.

Gribbon joined Whyte and Mackay (then JBB) after stints with Mars, BP and Colgate-Palmolive. He cut his teeth at BP Oil on a commercial graduate programme before moving to Mars Confectionery. After four years working in both sponsorship and media roles, he moved to Colgate Palmolive, working on a pan-European brief. Gribbon then joined Jim Beam, where he worked with a “Southern European” remit, touching on the Balkans and central Asia before taking on a brand role, looking after Aftershock.

Two and a half years ago Gribbon became marketing director, playing an instrumental role as part of the MBO team. “Exciting,” says Gribbon. “But, as with many MBOs, it didn’t turn out quite how we expected.”

Early on in the buy-out it became clear to Gribbon that there was a much bigger opportunity to develop the company’s branded portfolio than was first realised.

“There have been lots of changes in personnel,” laments the brand director. “You start off with a plan but often things don’t happen how you think they will. And, for us, a lot of things didn’t happen as planned – that led to a number of people moving on, and other people being moved on.”

However, now, following a wide-reaching review of the business, the company is going from strength to strength, although the review process was not without its pains: “The review was the right thing to do but it wasn’t the most enjoyable process we have ever been through. Anyone who tells you that it was probably works for the management consultancy. Everything we did is being challenged – including our brand investment plans. One of the things I’m proud of, though, is that, in terms of direction, they did not feel that we were doing anything wrong – fundamentally, a tick in the box for our brand development.”

Under JBB, brand spend had been dropping, with virtually no investment in the Whyte and Mackay portfolio in the years prior to the MBO. Gribbon was tasked with turning this around.

“At the end of the day best practice marketing is doing something that will add sufficient value to the business.

“We have got challenger brands, and we are a challenger company. We go head to head against Famous Grouse in Scotland, and we go head to head against Smirnoff. We need to have a point of difference. We need to get noticed, especially if the brand has not been out there for five years.

“But, no matter what marketing activity we put in place, the challenge that we always face is, is this going to drive sales? The only reason marketing exists as a function and why marketing people reach a senior position in a company is because they are able to demonstrate that they are adding value to the business. That is it. That is your sole purpose in life.”

The big question that remains for Gribbon, though, is how to raise the profile of marketing in the key decision-making process within organisations: “I don’t believe that marketing people always have to be spearheading the board. However, marketing does have to be on a par with other departments, like finance, for example.

“Another problem for those who really want to stay in a marketing career is that it is difficult to get the breadth of experience you need to develop your skills in Scotland. That is a big frustration for me. One of the best ways to raise the profile of marketing within an organisation is the ability to bring good marketing people through the company. Often down to current mindsets, this remains a challenge for everyone involved in marketing in Scotland.”

Ian WrighT, Managing Director, Family

Perhaps the best word to sum up the first full year of business for Edinburgh-based communications group Family would be opportunistic. And while that word often has negative connotations, in the case of Family boss Ian Wright it has been nothing but positive for his agency and the many individuals who have found themselves jobless due to crumbling agencies over the last year.

Since launching the advertising agency Family, with his three fellow directors Jill Taylor, Kevin Bird and David Isaac in 2002, Ian Wright has built it into a 29-strong communications group, diversifying into a number of other areas as the opportunities have presented themselves.

Initially they appointed former colleagues from Yellow M, which they left after a failed MBO, then with the closure of McCann-Erickson Scotland they were able to further boost the agency’s creative team. More recently Wright has presided over the fastest growing agency in Scotland as he has scooped up staff, and clients, from Draftworldwide and Faulds to see the group diversify into direct marketing, sales promotion, new media and increase its strategic capabilities.

So how has Wright managed to grow his staff numbers by 600 per cent, and win 11 competitive pitches in 2003, while most Scottish agencies have struggled to pay the milkman on time?

He says: “I wouldn’t say we have ignored what others have been doing, but we don’t focus on them, we focus on what we are doing and what we want to do for our clients and the business. When we set out 18 months ago we said we wanted to build the agency into a communications group and we have been smart about doing that. We have acquired talent as it has become available due to the agency closures in the last year.”

High points have been returning Dunfermline Building Society to TV, the Scottish Leader work for Burns Stewart and the Martin & Frost work that has won creative awards across the board. The future is bright, creatively speaking, with new work for pokeroom.com and John Partridge, the Irish outdoor clothing brand.

Wright says he owes his success to the staff, whom he claims are the most committed he has ever worked with, but much of this could stem from his managerial style, which rewards effort and success. Every member of the team received a bonus in June for reaching set targets and on Valentine’s Day every female member of staff received a bunch of flowers from the boys. Tickets to Prague were up for grabs to the staff member who came up with the “Best Idea for the Agency” and every second Friday the whole agency gets together for a team talk, as Wright says “it is an all-round team effort.”

Looking to the future, Wright says that we are more likely to be reading about the launch of Family Stockholm than the launch of Family London and he sees no reason why more Scottish agencies cannot export their skills.

As for himself, Wright says he is ambitious, takes a straightforward approach to business, is a good listener and is very much part of the team at Family.

With regards to marketing being taken seriously at board level, Wright says: “There is not enough marketing representation at board level and we, as an industry, need to find ways to improve that. Perhaps the more fundamental problem is that there is still little belief in what marketing can do for an organisation. For most directors marketing is still a bolt-on at the end. It needs to take on the same significance as finance or HR, for instance.”

Wright also says that one of his keys to success has been having a sense of humour – and you should have seen his tie!

Vote for your choice for Scottish Marketer of the Year by e-mailing (in confidence) your choice to gatha@matrixuk.com.

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