Yahoo Finance UK has released the next episode of “Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded,” featuring Syl Saller, the CMO of drinks giant, Diageo. In this interview, Syl, who presides over an annual ad budget of more than $2 billion, making her one of the most influential CMOs in the world, talks about changing outdated stereotypes in ads and discussed the biggest marketing issues the industry currently faces.
A transcript of key quotes from the Yahoo Finance interview can be found below.
On the biggest marketing challenges (22.16)
“If I look at ourselves as an industry and I think about the sea of change that is technology, there are upsides and downsides to that.
“One of the upsides is, if you look at data and analytics, we can transform our agenda as we are using these to understand the return on investment. Not only for our brands, marketing tools and strategies but also buying tactics – we know what the return is on TV this time of year versus on social media versus our influencer returns. This also allows us to decrease and increase what is working and have more credibility in the discussion we invest in marketing which is terrific.
“Sometimes people look at technology as an ends unto themselves which it is not. If you go to Cannes, it’s wall to wall sessions on AI and voice. Really important things, as we use voice to mentor people on how to drink scotch for example. But they can never be goals unto themselves.
“Marketers have to stay rooted in the fundamentals of marketing in what the consumer really needs and what the company needs to achieve.”
Why brand purpose can be a “minefield” (25-26:00)
“When you think about ‘unstereotyping’ you need to understand the subtleties. For example, all of our brands have some purpose that we may or may not declare to the consumer, but it sits at the back of the mind.
“One of our purposes for Baileys that we had quite a few years ago was “to make women shine”. It was interesting that we took to the stage at Cannes because no one had ever taken the big stage and really talked about ‘OK this is our not so great work’ and we wanted to do that, so I partnered with Mark Sands who runs beer, Baileys and Smirnoff globally.
“We showed a bunch of examples of where we get it right and where we get it wrong. The Baileys example is really interesting, because when we dug into it we found we don’t need Baileys to make us shine. We can do that for ourselves, thank you very much!
“Baileys thinking about empowering women is really not the right thing. We were also wrong strategically, we were all so blinded by that purpose and we missed the forest for the trees to say wait a minute… Baileys doesn’t actually operate in the traditional strategic framework we use for alcohol, because I bet we don’t sit there and go “I wonder if I’ll have a Baileys or a Tanquerary.
“But you might think “I wonder if I might have a Baileys or an adult dessert, some ice cream or cake or whatever”. So we started looking at it through that lens and that led to the kind of work you see right now from us, which is to understand that the treat space, which is aimed solely at adults and to be that co-conspirator in your pleasure. That’s our purpose right now, and it’s just far more relevant to people.
“Purpose is an interesting minefield in getting it right. If you’re too heavy handed, the consumer says ‘come on’. It’s in the subtleties that you can communicate the right message.
How Diageo is nudging consumers “to drink better, not more” (Time code: 27:00)
“Our results, which have been very buoyant of late, are driven by an unbelievable focus on value versus volume and the way we think about it is: if people choose to drink (and that really is a choice) then we want them to drink better not more.
“If you look at the “Leave As You Arrived” campaign with David Beckham, or the Guinness Clear ad that we started running with during the Six Nations, when I was talking to people it was great, people going “Guinness is coming out with a clear product”, it’s really…a tongue in cheek ad that shows us pouring Guinness from a tap and it’s water. What we’re trying to say there is “a good way to moderate your drinking is to space drinks with a glass of water between each one.”
“Or choose not to drink that’s fine, but our responsible drinking agenda is as important as our performance and that really is in the heart of our company.
View the full video interview here: