MARKETING MIX: PROFILE - JANE ST CLAIR-MILLER HEAD OF CORPORATE MARKETING HEINZ EUROPEAN GROCERY/MRS BEAN

Driving through the white entry gates to Heinz’s headquarters in Middlesex can give visitors a sense of foreboding. Your first glimpse of the buildings within reveals two drab honeycomb concrete structures, knocked up in the 1950s. They seem more reminiscent of a chemical warfare plant in the old Eastern bloc than the offices of some of Britain’s favourite brands.

Driving through the white entry gates to Heinz’s headquarters in

Middlesex can give visitors a sense of foreboding. Your first glimpse of

the buildings within reveals two drab honeycomb concrete structures,

knocked up in the 1950s. They seem more reminiscent of a chemical

warfare plant in the old Eastern bloc than the offices of some of

Britain’s favourite brands.



Heinz has a reputation for not being the biggest fan of corporate

glasnost.



Two months ago, Jane St Clair-Miller sacked Redwood Publishing from its

pounds 6m Heinz at Home magazine account just days after appointing it.

The publishing company’s crime? Talking to the press.



But 35-year-old St Clair-Miller emerges into the foyer full of smiles,

chatty and seemingly without a care in the world. Could this really be

the iron maiden of Heinz?



She affably escorts me to her office which is rather sparse apart from

proud framed portraits of Heinz’s ’icon’ brands such as Tomato Soup,

Ketchup and Baked Beans. Despite her bright and breezy demeanour it

becomes clear that St Clair-Miller is pushed for time. She’s in the

midst of a particularly testing period for Heinz.



After years of ’downsizing’ (one of the HQ’s two buildings is now

empty), the firm decided to restructure its marketing across Europe in

June. As head of corporate marketing European grocery, St Clair-Miller’s

brief is to strengthen the overall Heinz brand throughout the region

while adapting advertising, PR and direct mail to a new category

management system.



She continues to play a major marketing role in the UK, but is now

working with European category directors for sauces, canned foods and

tuna (incorporating John West, acquired from Unilever in June), as well

as integrating marketing staff from other European outposts.



Each of the Heinz ’icon’ brands have account managers and St

Clair-Miller likes each of them to talk about ’my advertising’ while she

retains the broader perspective. She wants to retain this attitude in

each European country.



St Clair-Miller says she wants to avoid the trap of pan-European

advertising.



’Ketchup is our only pan-European product and even that is positioned

differently in different countries.’



’We’re reviewing everything we’re doing and I’m building a new team, so

it’s going to be tough getting the consistency we need,’ she says.



However, St Clair-Miller stresses that her style is more carrot than

stick. ’I like to bring people with me. My successes have not been

gained by forcing things down people’s throats.’



She admits that there is a strong culture within Heinz that newcomers

tend to love or loathe. This attitude is conservative, cautious and

modest.



When Redwood was perceived, perhaps unfairly, to be crowing about its

account win, St Clair-Miller’s statement summed up the culture: ’The

bond of trust was broken from the outset.’



’It’s easy to misjudge Jane,’ says Graham Hinton, chairman of main Heinz

agency Bates Dorland. ’She’s not an aggressive or robust individual but

underneath there’s a steely determination. She’s very focused.’



She hints that the key is to manage upward as well as downward.

’Although Heinz can be a cautious organisation if you have a strong

argument to move in a particular direction, there is no problem and once

Heinz decides to do something it moves quickly.’ That was evident when

just over three years ago Heinz became one of the first major FMCG

companies to heavily commit to direct marketing.



Heinz is now back on the box and St Clair-Miller has managed to make her

mark on the firm’s advertising with the current ’Toast to Life’

campaign, which she is clearly proud of.



’Heinz is an emotional brand. It’s about simplicity, security and

consistency; the last general campaign (United Nations) was too

complicated.’



She is also close to sorting out uncertainty about where Heinz goes now

with its below-the-line marketing. ’We have built our database up to an

optimum size of five million and will be issuing the next edition of

Heinz at Home in January.’



So what drives her? ’I want a big role,’ she replies, although one

senses she is after recognition rather than power. She adds: ’I have one

motto: that I will be happier today than ever before. I’m never

nostalgic.



’Just when I get itchy feet there seems to be a management shake-up

which keeps me stretched.’ Could this be coincidence? Or does Heinz

recognise exactly what it has got?



BIOGRAPHY



1987-1991: Product manager, soups HJ Heinz



1991-1993: Senior manager, beans/ketchup HJ Heinz



1993-1995: General manager, marketing frozen and chilled, Heinz



1995-1997: General manager, consumer communication HJ Heinz



Present: General manager, corporate marketing Heinz European Grocery.