What I did: Here I managed to earn the title of Group Product Manager and I was responsible for all the beverages. At the time this was by value over 95% ambient, bar a small joint venture with another business I would go on to work with one day. I joined just as Cirio took ownership. They were a passionate business of all things yummy, Italian and mostly based on tomatoes. We had the lot – oranges, pineapples and now tomatoes. That man from Del Monte, he was screaming YES whilst punching the air. During my time another Del Monte, “Del Monte Fresh”, entirely separate before now, acquired the business. We no longer had tomatoes, but by goodness did we have lettuce.

 

 

BIG TAKE OUTS THAT LEAD TO CURRENT ME:

 

  • If you are sitting on the right-hand side of the product life cycle curve, the game isn’t over you just have to play it differently. My portfolio of juices was ambient, situated deep inside the store. To get to them you had to pass the fresh juice aisle, one that was bright and airy and packed with promotions that made a carton of some cheaper than ours. Tropicana were advertising New York breakfasts and doing all sorts. We tried a lot of things. We launched a brilliant range of juice drinks called World Fruits, we redesigned to make our packs brighter with fresher visual qualities. We ultimately tried to take the brand where the sun was shining in that cheeky chiller. We worked hard and we were passionate about it all. With hindsight, some of these things I’d do over again, others I wouldn’t. What I would tell me self is this: Let the brand be itself, the things you try that are not, well they ain’t gonna (and didn’t) work.
  • Iconic ad campaigns are very rare. If you have one hold, don’t fold. What did the Man from Del Monte say? If you were born before 1980 then I’m pretty sure you will know the answer to that question. (It’s yes). It was an ad line that became part of the British vernacular. The proposition was tidy and true. We talked long into many nights about whether we needed a new campaign idea. We were on the right of the product lifecycle. We had a tiny media budget. Not only did we not need a new campaign idea, if we found one, no one would ever see it. The End.
  • Mergers and acquisitions are irrelevant to most consumers. Keep calm and carry on. You can imagine the workshops, away-days, visions and dreams that went on over 3 years and two acquisitions can’t you? You can’t? I rest my case.

 

My one little moment of pride:

 

This was my walk on Hunstanton beach with my husband and Bill Palmer, the factory manager for Del Monte Kings Lynn on a weekend. He gave up his time to show me his town because it happened to be the one where my own Granny grew up. If you work in Marketing you will acknowledge that a lot of what you do is adding a layer of hassle to those who have to make it. The Del Monte factory manager took me to the beach (on a Saturday!).