Britvic CMO: 12 to 18-month planning cycles are now irrelevant

CMOs from Bacardi, Britvic, Trinny London and Vodafone Smart Tech reflect on the challenges and positive implications of 15 months of pandemic marketing.

Media 360: panel featured CMOs from Bacardi, Britvic, Vodafone Smart Tech and Trinny London
Media 360: panel featured CMOs from Bacardi, Britvic, Vodafone Smart Tech and Trinny London

Marketers from Bacardi, Britvic, Trinny London and Vodafone discussed how the pandemic changed their working practices at Campaign’s Media 360 conference today.

In a session entitled Inside the mind of the CMO, Matthew Barwell, chief marketing officer of Britvic, said the past year had taught him to devise a clear strategy but then be agile in the way it is deployed.

“At one level, everything's changed but then nothing has changed, he said. So, [it is important to] have a really clear strategy about where you want to head to, what the roles of your brands are in people's lives [and] what it is you want to achieve.

“And then just bring a different level of agility into how you operate. We used to operate a 12- to 18-month planning cycle that became, very quickly, irrelevant. We have to move to a far shorter, far more responsive, far more dynamic way to plan.”

Also taking part in the roundtable were Pamela Brown, chief marketing officer of Vodafone Smart Tech, John Burke, chief marketing officer of Bacardi, and Shira Feuer, chief marketing officer of online beauty brand Trinny London.

Burke agreed it was important to be agile but warned about the impact on staff: “Everything is rolling right now: rolling budgets, rolling marketing plan, rolling comms plans, and we're in front-foot reactive mode, which, after more than a year, is quite exhausting.”

As a brand that was 95% online already, the behaviour changes brought about by the pandemic had less of an impact on Trinny London's marketing approach – once it had established a “resounding yes” to the question of whether “people still want to buy make-up when they aren’t leaving the house”, Feuer said.

Trinny London’s marketing output, which is largely digital content, has been so prolific during the past year, that Feuer said she was now worried about how a return to the office would affect her team’s productivity.

Feuer said: “My team's productivity doubled, we were just producing so much stuff. I’m a little bit more afraid of what it's going to be like when everyone's back in the office because the team’s working so well.”

Despite the pandemic affecting some of Vodafone’s plans – it pushed back the launch of a smart tracker that had been scheduled to go to market in May 2020 – it also allowed the mobile network’s marketers to get greater insight into their consumers.

Brown said: “We were running a lot of our customer insight work through Zoom and we absolutely loved it. We revelled in it, because now we were in people’s living rooms, kitchens, studies, gardens, wherever they could find peace to come and chat to us.

“It's just really fascinating getting close to our target audience in a way that we've never been before. There's nowhere to hide when you're in someone's home.

“We felt very connected to them but also [to] their problems that we could develop solutions for in the future, which we'll be launching over the coming months and years.”

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