What I did:
I was Product Manager for the range of herbal and fruit infusions. They gave me that entire part of the UK portfolio – mine to manage! It was a great entry into classic brand management. We lead the infusions market and it was a happy place. OK, some folks would never see themselves sipping on a Camomile but those that did sure were nice people. They were easy to understand, fun and interesting to talk to and a pleasure to develop products and to communicate with. And that I did. Over my years at Twinings I added new blends, made TV ads, managed the project to put the bags in cartons without tricky cellophane, had amazing fun with PR and promotions and put the brand on show all over the place. I was in my late twenties and thin.
BIG TAKE OUTS THAT LEAD TO CURRENT ME:
- Brand passion in a company is worth more than a few million A&P: All of us working at Twinings were passionate about it. It wasn’t hard; it was that kind of place. At the desk behind me sat Stephen Twining. He was a real life Twining, not just a super-fan. In the main building sat his father Sam. They were 9th and 10th generation descendants of the founder. They literally lived it. There were tea buyers capable of detecting minor nuances of bergamot. There was a gentleman in the packaging department who remembered the old days and embraced the new. Twinings people cared and it made a difference.
- Marketing life is good when you lead it: If you lead a market you have an edge. It is probably linked to the point above. It makes the job of marketing a more fertile undertaking. You start a bit ahead. Your campaigns can be for the right reasons. It’s not the only way, but the air is good there.
- If the numbers stack up, a personalized sampling interaction can pay back many fold: Tea in bags was an easy product to sample. It was small, ambient and versatile. It was wanted. So many of the consumers I encountered could cite a personal interaction with brand at a show or an event. If it was by Stephen, your consumer was loyal for life. I’ve since worked on products where the numbers will never stack up – usually where the logistics cost too much. For tea, it worked.
My one little moment of pride:
I will never forget one little in-pack promotion I did with a lovely agency. It was a little portable teabag holder – you may have one? I still have mine. But more so I guess, the assistant brand manager working on the gifts range, sat in the corner doing data analysis with a cheeky look on his face? Well, he became my husband. As the tagline used to say, “There’s more to tea with Twinings”.