Alison Cannon tells Karen Yates how W&D Breweries stands behind its
It must be a drag working for a brewery and having to test drinks. But
Alison Cannon has given herself to the job wholeheartedly.
Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries’ director of marketing has had, by
her own admission, ample preparation for the task.
Despite being a self-confessed ‘southern softie’, Cannon was raised on
pints of bitter. Her brew then was the Sussex ale, Adnams. Now you can’t
tear her away from W&D’s leading beer, Banks.
Loyalty is a trait much valued at W&D, which was Woollams Moira Gaskin
O’Malley’s first client nine years ago. The brewing company stuck with
the agency through thick and thin until its collapse this summer
(Campaign, 25 August).
In the wake of WMGO’s demise, Cannon has been through a ‘long and
painful’ search for a replacement, which finally ended last week with
the appointment of Butterfield Day Devito Hockney to the pounds 1 to
pounds 2 million business (Campaign, 3 November).
So far, Cannon’s career has been a perfect marketing round of consumer
goods. Starting with kettles and toasters at the TI group in 1985, then
a two-and-a-half-year stint at Spillers Petfoods where Cannon found out
about the ‘harsh realities’ of marketing.
Then, with a thorough grounding in the hard knocks of dealing with
multiple retailers, Cannon moved into the stomachs of her consumers at
H. P. Foods. There she worked through new-product development to own-
label and key brands as a marketing manager. Finally, 18 months ago, she
joined W&D as director of marketing.
W&D owns more than 1,000 tied pubs spread from Weston-super-Mare to
Preston. Its main following, however, is among Midlands beer drinkers,
not known for their enlightened approach to women. But Cannon insists
her sex didn’t even come into it when they chose her for the role.
‘W&D was more interested in my ability to do the job,’ she says firmly,
pointing out that women have also penetrated the final male preserve of
the plant - the brewery itself.