“Going beyond convention” is our regular interview feature where we shine a spotlight on those marketers who are championing creativity that stands out and gets talked about.
In each interview, we pose three simple questions to uncover what it means to challenge the status quo and why it’s so important for brands, which brands do the marketing community admire for taking this approach and what advice our guest interviewee would give to fellow marketers ambitious to go beyond convention.
Our second guest is Gareth Turner, Head of Marketing – at Weetabix.
Gareth is an experienced global FMCG marketing and commercial leader with a proven successful track record in developing brands, teams, and individuals.
Currently Head of Marketing at Weetabix, he has previously held senior brand roles at both Heineken UK and Arla Foods.
A long-time collaborator with Space (we bought a horse together during his time on John Smith’s!), Gareth regularly writes about brands and marketing on Linked In and in his “Sporadic Brand Ramblings” newsletter.
What does “going beyond convention” mean to you and is it important to Weetabix?
There is a lot to be said for convention in marketing. It is what gives us the process, rigor, and confidence to develop brand strategy and plans that deliver our business objectives. Convention tells me that increasing penetration is the way to grow my brand. It tells me that a combination of long-term equity driving communication and shorter term, sales driving activity in the rough ratio of 60:40 is optimal.
But convention is there to be broken too, right? If we didn’t break convention, we’d still be using outside privies, riding horses to the shops and sitting in tin baths every Sunday night (whether we needed to or not). Without moving beyond convention, we’d never progress.
So, for me, “going beyond convention” is about progress. Challenging the “way things are done around here” to improve performance. It’s not about recklessly breaking rules in a scattergun way. It’s about taking a calculated risk with a specific objective in mind.
Space encouraged me to do this when I worked with them on John Smith’s. We knew our drinkers loved horse racing and wanted to put them closer to the action. So we bought a racehorse and called him Smithy the Horse, of course. The campaign was more successful than the horse. A 569% sales boost in Tesco and over 2000% uplift in Asda.
More recently, going beyond convention has been important to us in the Weetabix marketing team. We’ve been pushing each other to deliver bolder, braver work because we believe it’s more effective. Brave marketing is important to me for a few reasons, not least my professional vanity – I want to work on work that I’m proud to have on my cv. I also want to work on work that works, that is effective and efficient, that has cut through. You don’t do that by meekly finding the least offensive or a beige consensus. It takes vision, bravery, and resilience to put your head above the parapet, and let people take pot shots at you. Drumming gorillas don’t appear without someone being brave along the way.
Pushing beyond convention and making yourself vulnerable to the possibility of making a mistake is how we grow.
What other brand(s) do you admire for “going beyond convention”?
An obvious choice, but Paddy Power are the high water mark for me. They’ve pushed bravery to the limit which would be beyond most brands, but resonates with their target audience.
More traditional brands that push convention in a more conservative way should also be admired. As a marketer I can appreciate that the internal sign off conversations there are likely to be harder than at a place like Paddy Power. An example of that is the Adidas work that’s the talk of the industry at the time of writing.
I’m not commenting on cryptocurrency, but OMFG what about the Coinbase QR code Super Bowl ad. It defies almost every element of convention when assessing an ad:
But has it been successful? D’ya think so? Hats off to them.
What advice would you give fellow marketers ambitious to “go beyond convention”?
The key to going beyond convention and delivering bolder ideas is to create a safe environment for these ideas to be shared. Whether this is within your department or with your agency partners. It is every marketer’s job to make the brave feel less brave.
There are three pieces of advice I would give to marketers looking to go beyond convention.