’I’ve worked in chocolate all my life,’ laughs Mark Horgan, the
joint marketing director of McVitie’s.
Horgan is the man responsible for putting the penguins back into
Penguin. He persuaded Gerry Moira, the executive creative director of
Publicis and author of the original ’pick up a Penguin’ ads, to drop the
celebrity endorsements of recent years.
’I wanted to reinvent the warmth of the brand and bring back the
penguins,’ Horgan explains. ’Public expectation has moved on, so we gave
the penguins some attitude and put them in modern environments like the
kitchen and a bus.’
It took Horgan a while to find his chocolatey vocation. He shut himself
in a lab for four years at Strathclyde University and emerged in 1987
with a first class degree in maths and physics. Luckily, he got a job as
a graduate trainee physicist at Rowntree’s head offices in York. Within
a year, Roger Partington, now the marketing director of Safeway but who
was then at Rowntree, saw through Horgan’s physics boffin exterior and
took him under his wing.
Horgan began with Black Magic and Dairy Box. He moved on to Quality
Street before joining Mars in 1993. ’I learned the basics at Rowntree
and I put them into practice at Mars,’ he says. Travelling across
Europe, sometimes four days a week, suited Horgan well. ’I miss the
travel,’ he says. ’The industry is moving towards global marketing and
in 20 years’ time everybody will be doing it.’
Horgan’s jet-setting days ended when he and his wife decided to start a
family. He joined McVitie’s in 1996 and the joyful parent replaced the
frequent flyer when Benjamin arrived 20 months ago. Spare time is now
spent playing with him instead of playing football.
Horgan still faces plenty of professional challenges at McVitie’s. He
wants to turn Penguin into an impulse confectionery purchase to match
its big UK rival, Kit Kat. That should keep him surrounded with
chocolate for a while - ’I do eat my fair share,’ he admits.