Katie McAlister
Katie McAlister
A view from Katie McAlister

Why KFC, Greggs, Nike and Netflix are in my marketing dream team

TUI chief marketing officer on the ultimate team of five people (well, mostly) she would recruit to work on a brief.

When I became the chief marketing officer of TUI UK and Ireland in June 2018, my initial focus was our brand marketing. What did we want to stand for and, most importantly, how did we want people to feeI about TUI?

Our Thomson brand was well-known and yet, in order to modernise the business following our move to TUI, we needed to make sure it allowed us to challenge people’s perception. The Thomson name and great-value package holidays, purchased on the high street, went hand in hand, but we now need to make sure people know we’re a modern and diverse holiday company. 

This is even more important following the sad demise of Thomas Cook recently. It, too, was a well-known travel brand and fabric of the high street, but in order to stay number one you have to be more than that. If I were to create the ultimate dream team, I’d want to surround myself with people who have had great success in some key areas: turning negatives into positives, generating talkability for their brand, having a social conscience and being a disruptor in their industry that resulted in changing consumer behaviour. 

The first person I’d have in my dream team is KFC’s CMO, Meghan Farren. I really admire how she handled the chicken shortage and subsequent apology. The apology remained so true to the brand, its tone of voice and created talkability. 

The second team member would be Hannah Squirrel, customer and marketing director at Greggs. As a Geordie, I have a long history with the humble sausage roll! The cult love and rise in popularity of Greggs has been something I’ve loved seeing over the past couple of years. Its ability to mock the snobbery around Greggs food with the Gregory and Gregory pop-up and the launch of its vegan sausage roll are testament to a team that is challenging the perception of its brand and, of course, driving new people to try its products, resulting in huge growth.

My third team member would be Kelly Bennett, formerly at Netflix. During his time in the role of CMO, Netflix went from 26 million paid members to more than 139 million globally – something that, as a commercial marketer, I wholly admire. More than that, the Netflix approach is pioneering; it has fundamentally changed the way we view entertainment and disrupted its market. At TUI, we must continue to create personalised content and contact customers when we know when they want to book, with where they’d like to stay and the places they may wish to visit. 

My fourth team member is Nike’s vice-president and CMO Dirk-Jan van Hameren. In today’s world, creating an authentic social conscience as a core part of your brand’s DNA is imperative and the way Nike has led in this space is something I really respect. As we all become more socially aware and start to think more about our carbon footprint, becoming better global citizens, being more diverse and giving back to places that we visit, our social conscience is something that I will continue to focus on. 

My fifth and final team member is a wild card – and it’s not a person, it’s a vibe. When we create our holiday brand campaign, it’s imperative that we bring to life that intangible yet totally real "holiday feeling". Yacht rock is therefore my final team member – for being that feeling of carefree fun in the sun. 

Katie McAlister is chief marketing officer at TUI UK and Ireland and a member of Campaign’s Power 100

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