CLIENT OF THE WEEK: Iceland’s unstoppable force - Karen Yates is exhausted by the sheer enthusiasm of a frozen-food marketer

Anyone who doubts that Iceland is turning over a new leaf should spend ten minutes on the phone with Russell Ford. If your fervour for marketing needs reignition, you could try and go 15 minutes, but only the strongest should aim for the full 20. Ford, you see, is pure, unadulterated enthusiasm.

Anyone who doubts that Iceland is turning over a new leaf should

spend ten minutes on the phone with Russell Ford. If your fervour for

marketing needs reignition, you could try and go 15 minutes, but only

the strongest should aim for the full 20. Ford, you see, is pure,

unadulterated enthusiasm.



The raw, unedited Ford is a mind which roves from the buzz of the Far

East where he learned business at the table of the Hong Kong Chinese, to

the excitement of breaking Iceland out of its shell. At 35 years old,

Ford is on the brink of unveiling a new persona for the UK’s

second-biggest frozen-food seller. For some time now, he claims, Iceland

has been a fast-moving, responsive retailer, no longer the dowdy,

downmarket food chain of public perception. It’s time, he says, to tell

everyone.



But punters scouring their TV screens for the new-look Iceland this

January will be disappointed. Ford calls the first burst of ads issuing

from Iceland’s six-month relationship with HHCL & Partners a ’stepping

stone’. They will be along the lines of the old commercials with just a

brush up in style and pace. For the real ground-breaking stuff, the

public will have to wait for the grand unveiling in March. ’We’ve

traditionally used smiley families with Goldilocks kids in ads screaming

pretty aggressive deals,’ he explains. ’We’re still going to do the

aggressive deals but we’re going to create a new image through our

advertising.’



It’s hard to convey the enthusiasm of this man in mere print. As we talk

he radiates the fire and nous of a street trader plugged into the

strategy of a marketing man. And that is essentially how he came to be

in his current position as joint managing director of Iceland. Firstly,

with a career in buying - electrical appliances at Dixons - through to

both buying and selling - at Clydesdale - and then on to Iceland.



Here, his joint managing director, Andy Pritchard, looks after finance,

IT and service departments while Ford controls the buying, selling and

retail. He calls this the ’trading’ aspect of the business - and boy,

does he love it.



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).