PROFILE: Mark Palmer, marketing director, Green & Black's - Music on a summer's evening

Being in the same room as Mark Palmer, marketing director at Green & Black's, is enough to reduce a normal person to a salivating wreck.

With due deference to Palmer, the reaction has nothing to do with him - it's his brand, strewn seductively across the boardroom where we're meeting.

The chocolate is certainly having the desired effect on its target market - the discerning chocoholic - but Palmer brings us back to reality in a lively manner. He explains the ethos behind the biggest promotional activity the organic brand has undertaken to date, its sponsorship of "Music on a summer's evening". Consisting of 21 summer-themed concerts at venues including Althorp, Kenwood and Marble Hill, and featuring entertainers such as Jools Holland, the sponsorship was supported by sampling of all eight flavours and Green & Black's new variant, ice cream.

The campaign, through Billington Cartmell's recently launched live events outfit Closer, had a simple objective: to get people tasting the chocolate.

"Not many people have an idea of what our chocolate tastes like," Palmer says. "It's not everyone's cup of tea. But that's what we're about."

It's also about organic ingredients, which until a year ago was a key selling point. Now the worthy image brought by that link is forcing the brand to refocus its marketing to concentrate on taste, hence the sampling activity.

Palmer talks about the brand with passion. He is clearly enterprising, committed and ambitious. Having just turned 30, he's got a bit to boast about: he has reached the status of marketing director at a relatively tender age; he was behind Burger King's biggest promotion, with Pokemon; and he was involved in the square-shaped Hula Hoops activity at KP, a push that featured a £100,000 prize mechanic and made the front page of The Sun.

For Palmer, this early experience proves that promotions can not only grab the national headlines, they can also galvanise the public, "if they're related to the brand". He adds: "With a lot of SP, the mechanic has nothing to do with the brand. Square-shaped Hula Hoops made people think about what the brand was actually about, that they were usually circular. That encouraged buy-in."

Given Palmer's ambitious nature, his move from Burger King to the smaller spend of Green & Black's is a curious one. He says the decision was driven by a need for independence. "The big difference between working for a small company and a big one is that I don't have somebody from the European office saying I can't change the brand," he says. "I'm steering the ship, and that's exciting. Yes, the budget is smaller, but I know that every decision I make directly influences how well or how badly we do."

So do agencies treat him differently now? "They spend less time trying to impress you and more time doing the work, because we can make decisions quickly," he argues. He's pragmatic about who he wants to work with, though.

"Bigger agencies wouldn't be right for a small client - we wouldn't get their best people working on our business. We've not gone too small and we've not gone too big - we don't want to be farmed off because we're not P&G."

Palmer's relationship with Billington Cartmell stretches back to his Burger King days. It is already set for its next piece of work, a Tesco sampling campaign throughout October and November, with NPD work and an underground campaign to follow.

A healthy 65 per cent of Green & Black's £2.25 million annual marketing budget is spent below the line and the brand has a seven per cent market share of block chocolate sales in key supermarkets. The figure may seem low, but the chocolate isn't stocked in newsagents like regular countlines.

Given that the brand's sales have doubled with Palmer at the marketing helm, you can't argue that his strategy isn't sound. And he's not done yet. "I arrived at a £7 million retail business. We want to get that to £25 million by the end of 2004," he says. "My aim is for Green & Black's to become the number one chocolate brand in the UK." As we're munching, we wait to see.

QUESTIONNAIRE

- If I won the lottery: I'd buy a small business with potential

- Most embarrassing moment: Presenting a preview of a Hula Hoops TV ad

to the sales force only to press play/record on the video and tape over

the ad with the lunchtime news

- If I wasn't in marketing: I'd be a buyer. I love shopping

- Describe yourself in three words: Passionate, driven, controlled

CURRICULUM VITAE

2001-present: Marketing director, Green & Black's

1998-2001: Marketing manager, then senior marketing manager, Burger King

1994-1998: Marketing graduate through to group brand manager, KP Snacks

(brands included Hula Hoops and McVitie's Go Ahead)

1991-1994: BSc in Business Administration, University of Bath.

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