The Judges’ Club: meet Kirsty Hunter, Innocent’s chief marketing officer
The entry deadline for The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries – which celebrate the best work, companies, and people behind the most effective digital campaigns around the world – has now passed, but you can still enter by applying for an extension. Here, we catch up with one of this year's expert jurors, Innocent Drinks’ chief marketing officer Kirsty Hunter.
Kirsty Hunter, group marketing director at Innocent Drinks
Kirsty Hunter started her career in Scotland at lager brand Tennant’s, working her way up to the role of marketing director. Next, she joined C&C Group – which would eventually acquire Tennant’s from AB InBev – and while there worked on brands including Magner’s, Stella and Becks. Seven years of local and global roles at Britvic followed and then, two weeks after the UK went into lockdown, she started at Innocent as group marketing director.
This year, she has been helping to judge The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2022, which was the perfect opportunity for us to find out a bit more about her and hear how she got on joining a new business during a pandemic.
How challenging was it to start a new job when the country was in lockdown?
I quickly realized how important having those close work relationships and being able to build trust quickly is. It was hard to do that remotely because I was this still image on a screen to a lot of people for a good year. Particularly when you’re new to a business, it is important to be able to create those in-the-moment, real-life connections. Trying to do collaborations on Microsoft Teams, with names on sticky notes around the screen, was not conducive and quite different.
It was difficult, but Innocent has invested hugely in its culture. It was quite a shift for us, as it has been for everybody, but Innocent has put a lot of investment, time and support behind its people. It has been nice, though, to get back into a hybrid and flexible way of working.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
At Innocent, just as we started to come out of the pandemic we did our first pan-European campaign, ’Big Rewild’, which is a massive step forward for us as businesses and brands to really put people and the planet first. It really started to bring a higher purpose and a positive impact on the planet. I’m really proud of what the team did in circumstances that had been quite challenging for all of us.
Earlier this year, Innocent was called out for greenwashing with its Trafalgar Square takeover. What do you think of industry guidelines when creating ads focused on sustainability?
There are currently some guidelines, but the industry is still learning. We need governance because we’re all creating work and if things change, it’s really difficult to do that because we have to plan ahead. But we must be clear that we’re not trying to sell something that isn’t true.
This is an opportunity for the industry to learn together and support each other in this role while holding ourselves to account. The number of people who reached out to me after the last article around this was amazing – even just those who contacted me on LinkedIn to have a conversation, whether it was to agree or disagree or because they have similar issues.
What is core to me and Innocent is how we come together as a community because we have a better chance of having a positive outcome rather than fighting against each other.
If you could fix one problem in the drinks industry, what would it be?
As a society and as a planet we need to fix ourselves and the industry has got such a massive role to play in that. We can’t just do nothing or be so fearful that, if we do do something, it is going to come back to bite us.
We need to find a way of doing business in a more sustainable way – and not just from a profit point of view, but all of us, because as businesses, if we can’t get to sustainable capitalism then we’re all royally screwed. I’m not saying it’s easy, because if it was we would all be there already, but it does require some really big changes from large businesses and requires some of those smaller businesses to keep pushing forward, challenging and thinking of new and different ways of doing things.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
If you spoke to my husband, he’d say I was terrible at it, but flexible working has helped me massively on that front. I have an hour and a half commute into London and it does take a lot of your time. It’s nice to be able to not do that every single day. My thing is exercise. I swim a lot, I play tennis and run. That’s my escapism, my way to switch off, and the last couple of years have really helped me do that and set some boundaries, but it’s challenging because it’s not the way I’m wired.