CMOs To Watch: DrinkWise’s Part Time Builder, Part Time Marketer, Nathan Kent

CMOs To Watch: DrinkWise’s Part Time Builder, Part Time Marketer, Nathan Kent

Introducing Nathan Kent, a Bunning’s aficionado, a Radiohead groupie and the marketing director at DrinkWise.

Welcome back to ‘CMOs To Watch‘ . Once a month, we look beyond the biggest marketing bosses in Australia and the world to focus on emerging leaders and under-the-radar brands.

Kent holds an impressive CV. After eight years in various roles at Leo Burnett, he transitioned into a group account director role at TBWA\Australia. From here, he moved into a senior marketing role at Coles and has now been addressing issues related to drinking culture and underage drinking at Drinkwise since 2018.

B&T: What three things would you take to a desert island?

Nathan Kent: I’ve been watching Alone Australia on SBS, and the rational side of me says a knife, a box of matches and a fishing net… But it seems like being alone is the reason people often leave the show, so I’d swap the matches for my family…

Favourite album, movie and book?

NK: OK Computer – Radiohead. This is the album I listened to during my exchange year overseas. This album had such a profound impact on long-haired 16-year-old me. Listening to each track still transports me back to that time and place.

Usual suspects – Still one of the best plot twists of all time. Great storytelling and brilliantly executed.

Dark Matter—Blake Crouch. This is such an amazing book. You need to suspend belief, but the premise of appreciating and being grateful for everything you have really resonated with me.

What is your passion outside of work? 

NK: Building, renovating or just a casual trip to Bunnings. I love problem-solving and the satisfaction I get when completing a project, and who doesn’t love a Bunnings sausage?

If you weren’t a marketing director, what would you be doing?

NK: Building, renovating or working at Bunnings.

What was your favourite campaign of all time?

NK: Earth Hour – well ahead of its time in terms of creating a movement and behavioural change. I had just started in advertising at Leo Burnett when the campaign was developed and was amazed at how big the idea became. If we had more campaigns focused on bigger issues, we would be in a better place. Creativity really does have the power to change the world.

What is your brand’s top priority for the next 12 months? 

NK: DrinkWise aims to create a healthier and safer drinking culture in Australia for those choosing to consume alcohol. We want to reduce alcohol-related harm by developing innovative behavioural change campaigns and extending them through a whole-of-community approach with stakeholders, the community, government, partners and industry.

We have developed really engaging, creative, and innovative campaigns aimed at different audiences. For the next 12 months, we will focus on extending and embedding those campaigns and working with stakeholders and partners to deliver social impact at scale.

Ensuring social cause messaging resonates is important but also can be challenging, which is why we are looking forward to exploring new media and engagement opportunities to keep pace with the changing media habits of Australians.

What channel is exciting you the most and how do you split your marketing budgets between long/short and channels mix?

NK: While statistics show positive signs of cultural change and a reduction in risk-related consumption habits, there is still work to be done to shift entrenched behaviours among some Australians. I’m excited to help accelerate positive trends by developing work that evokes change, particularly opportunities around incremental short-term ‘nudging’. Connecting with our audiences during those moments when they are drinking or making the decision to drink or buy alcohol is critical.

It is not a specific channel, but AI presents a unique opportunity as we move from Large Language Models and imagery to Large Action Models and predicting the outcome of human behaviour and reactions to stimulus. When used the right way, AI will hopefully enable social cause marketing to have a bigger impact on changing behaviours, allowing engagement with people based on a set of predetermined models and redirect that behaviour at the pivotal decision-making moment, particularly when it relates to alcohol consumption or purchase.

What is the biggest challenge you currently face in the marketplace?

NK: In my work, it is critically important that the messages resonate, which means getting quite granular in terms of audience segments, age, demographics, backgrounds and cultures. As media fragmentation continues, this becomes challenging in some respects – but at the same time also more exciting, as it forces you to be smarter in terms of engagement to ensure the range of available channels and interactions are compelling and relevant.

What campaign are you most proud of?

NK: The Internet Remembers – I’m really proud of this campaign as it is a great example of taking a really important research insight and working together with agency partners to deliver a really innovative and creative campaign about the negative effects of binge drinking.

Given research showed young adults weren’t concerned about the long-term health effects of excessive drinking, we needed a way in – and it came in the form of using.  unsophisticated drinking moments from the internet bought to life across the country via a series of augmented reality (AR) displays in bars, via social media and throughout city centres. Users could scan a QR code (long before COVID was a thing) and explore the bronze statues immortalising the rookies in embarrassing situations. Scan the QR code below to have a look for yourselves. This hard-to-reach young adult audience was engaged – and it even made the television news in France!

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

NK: Having a relaxing holiday on a desert island with my family…

Check out the other instalments in the CMOs To Watch series here:




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