Coke Amatil Marketing GM: “It’s NOT About The Agency Driving THEIR Agenda”

Coke Amatil Marketing GM: “It’s NOT About The Agency Driving THEIR Agenda”

A senior Coca-Cola Amatil marketeer has used her presentation at yesterday’s ad:tech conference in Sydney to remind agencies it’s not about “their agenda” and why a lack of client knowledge has become a “perennial problem” in the agency-client relationship.

B&T Magazine
Posted by B&T Magazine

Sally Byrne (pictured above), Coca-Cola Amatil’s GM of marketing for its alcohol and coffee lines, used her presentation – “How brands innovate using emerging technology” – to remind agencies that they’re supposed to be working for the client.

“It’s about genuinely walking in the client’s shoes,” Byrne suggested of the client/agency relationship. “It’s not about the agency driving its own agenda and that’s a perennial issue we have. Those partnerships, you can sort of ride them in the short term, but if you genuinely want an agency to work for you then they have to assume that they are working for the business.”

In a wide-ranging presentation, Byrne didn’t shy away from Coca-Cola Amatil’s “big business issues”, “issues borne of a businesses from the 20th century” and “how to get people to drink more soft drink when they think it’s fattening?”.

Byrne likened Coca-Cola Amatil marketing conundrums to the elephant and the turtle: “It’s not about two years giving birth to an elephant and hoping it will last for two years… we’ve got the turtle model where you give birth to 200 turtles and hope a couple of them get off the beach, through the water and stay alive.”

However, Byrne cautioned about marketeers’ reliance on things like data when simply observing your customer was, she argued, a wholly better research proposition.

Bringing up the Walkman phenomenon of the 80s, she recalls when potential customers were asked what colour they wanted and they all said yellow, but in actual consumer trials they all picked black!

“We see it in our coffee [line of milk] beverages a lot,” Byrne revealed. “People always say they want a really strong coffee to wake them up but the reality is our ‘light’ selling range sells three times more than any other range.

“So you just have to be really careful… you have to be watching, observing humans and there’s a number of ways to go about that.

“FMCG companies have this thing around product where they either need a new one or augment the existing one in a new way… it’s ‘what does somebody need next?

“And it’s usually a ‘thing’ and it’s only then things like customer experience and ROI come into it. We’re spending so much time on the product, but these days that’s not exactly what’s turning the consumer on,” she argued.