While the appointment of a new marketing director often signals a shift in strategy is on the horizon, at Weetabix, Francesca Davies doesn't plan to wield an axe to the plan set by her predecessor.
Weetabix internally appointed Davies as marketing director earlier this month, succeeding Sally Abbott who moved up to board level as managing director.
As the country’s leading cereal brands, top on Nielsen value share, Weetabix finds itself in a position where it must stand steady while weathering a changing media landscape, and Davies has told The Drum that TV remains the most important way the brand connects with its customers.
The promotion comes as previous incumbent Abbott steps up to managing director, where she will oversee marketing strategies and the consumer-facing side of the business.
Davies, who has been with the company since 2008, promised evolution not revolution, stated that there is already a lot of positive momentum within the 85-year-old brand, and as a result, there won't be any drastic change in strategy. It will continue to reach out through traditional mediums like TV, and numerous retail partnerships that help tell the brand’s story at the point of purchase.
“TV is the backbone for us, a real powerhouse," said Davies. "No matter what way we cut the modelling and the effectiveness data, it continues to be our space, because the brand is so universal. TV is likely to remain the backbone of our comms, but we will always think about where we go beyond that in line with consumers."
Davies' vote of confidence for television advertising is not mere lip service; the brand has invested heavily in the medium already this year. First there was the fantasy ad 'Jack, which showed the effects of Jack the giant of 'beanstalk' lore having a hearty breakfast. But most notable was the return of the ‘Have you had your Weeabix?’ strapline after a period of hibernation. This formed part of a £10m campaign that was founded on consumer nostalgia for the old tagline.
“We are really excited about the response to our campaign, we brought back a tagline which is in the vernacular of many of the British public,” said Davies, who added that the brand's Facebook page, which more than 600,000 people 'like', proved a useful focus group to gauge the response.
The brand’s on-pack promotion for Despicable Me 3 has been the most recently pushed content on Facebook.
For Davies, it is about keeping the brand relevant to modern consumers, whether that is parents, professionals or nutrition-focused individuals. “We have a very passionate, laser-sight focus on marketing effectiveness, typically cost per reach. As a universal brand with a portfolio that sits in half the nation’s homes, it is important that we reach as many people as cost effectively as possible," she continued.
Davies will look to her previous commercial experience to ensure Weetabix keeps its place in both a competitive cereal and wider breakfast market. “We will be looking for retail partners to create a really exciting through-the-line journey that starts at the traditional consumer media and marketing and moves right through to the moment they will buy. Having that connectivity with our retailers and thinking about shoppers is really exciting for me and it is a space we can really move forward in.”
She acknowledged that her own performance will be measured against the success of her marketing predecessors who built the wheat biscuit brand into a breakfast powerhouse. “We are a brand with a huge amount of heritage and I think all credit to all the marketers way before me who have built a brand that is the backbone of the British breakfast occasion and is trusted by many people.
“It is so simple and honest in its delivery and brand, people love that.”