Cilesta van Doorn – Tele2

Cilesta van Doorn – Tele2


Cilesta van Doorn is listed #21 in the Adfo CMO top 100 ranking 2018. When she started at Tele2, some years ago, she had the challenge to change the Tele2 brand from a price fighter into a value champion. “You get the clients that you deserve.” According to Cilesta the clients of Tele2 -before the repositioning- were only sensitive to price benefits and left if they found a lower price elsewhere. Tele2 needed to change that. This is her story about how she and her team changed the Tele2 brand into a value champion and, especially, what the role is of media for Tele2.

Tele2’s main KPI for brand growth is brand awareness followed by brand associations. Tele2 wants to claim specific associations such as ‘be different’, and ‘ridiculously fast 4G internet for outrageously low pricing’. Cilesta: “We wanted to have at least two associations linked to our brand that people should recognize us for.”

“For me Brand Growth is achieving your goals via the strategy that you determined.”

A more generic KPI for Tele2 is the Net Promotor Score (NPS), where Tele2 has the ambition to grow from being the telco with the lowest score to the runner-up position. Other KPIs are less marketing driven but are more determined by commercial targets. “In our case these targets are market share, service revenue growth and customer value. But all our KPIs are always driven by our core believe: ‘drowning yourself in data should be carefree for everyone’.

And what is your most important KPI to grow your brand? “Consideration and NPS are our main drivers. For us it’s of crucial importance to steer on top 3 consideration, since this wll determine whether we are able to influence our market position. Our consideration level was low when we relaunched our brand, making it essential for us to push for top 3 consideration in order to build longer term trust. This also means of course that we always need to be spot on in our communication when communicating with customers in a switchers’ market to ensure we will reach our short term goals. By focusing on our strategy, creating creative communication that is often labelled crazy, and by monitoring the right Brand KPIs, we realy started to grow towards a broad target audience.“

What are the first thoughts that cross your mind when we talk about the main growth drivers in your business? Cilesta: “First and foremost our brand. If you are able to make the right emotional connections, then people respond are open to you. If you make sure you have the right brand visibility or salience in combination with the brand you created, you have created a strong base that will open the door for you so you can enter with a strong proposition. Sometimes people say ‘a strong proposition will sell itself’. Think again. If you have a great proposition but your brand is not strong enough, it is not going to fly. And believe me, we’ve been there.”

The role of media

This year’s central theme of Ingredients for Brand Growth is the role of media. For Tele2, the most important media driver for growth is still TV. “TV is still necessary to increase your brand awareness. We have a ’70-20-10′ media strategy, which means that we make sure that 70% of our media budget is always invested in those media that create strong awareness and consideration. Then you arrive at  a strong combination of TV, radio, Out of Home and online. And it’s not just bursting or dripping, we use our allocation strategies in a mixed mode.”

“TV is still necessary for increasing awareness quickly”

A substantial part (20%) of the budget is used to be innovative and to create branded content for all layers. Creating specific content for instance for video streaming, also using specific channels. “We’ve embraced the Google content model and started out with its hygiene layer. Additionally, we created a strong hub layer to interact with and connect to our target audience. And with our hero layer, typified for instance by our Christmas campaign (#hatersgonnelove) or our exclusive cooperation with designer Jan Taminiau (#streaminstyle), which is part of the buying funnel, we really go all the way. We’ve established that -if we do it in the right way- this creates massive PR value and increases our consideration without pushing for sales.”

The final part of the media budget (10%) is reserved for trials. “A good example was the nr1 hit song created by rappers Lil’Kleine and Ronnie Flex. We wanted to create something special with the Tele2 mantra ‘Not because you have to, but because you can’. Cooperating closely with the two rappers was extremely risky and I am sure that not many CEOs would have dare to approve this, but if it works (which it did) than you have a 2 times platinum record and more than 14 mio video views. And of course, sometimes it fails, but that’s part of the game. You need to have the trust of your CEO in order to create strong and differentiating marketing. That is why I generally don’t believe in reporting into a Commercial Director, since they almost always have completely different views on how strong brands are build. They will mostly go for short term gains. Spending this 10% wisely is always going to be difficult. That is why we came up with the idea of a special wild card: something that my team can use, once a year, for something they believe in if I am against it. And I’m not too proud to admit that I can also be wrong about something, for example the Snapchat campaign that we run that was very successful. My team was right. We learned so much from it and I’m now just as proud of it as they are!”

What would be your definition of media? “For me personally, when I think of media, I think of everything that you pay for to connect with your target audience to profile your brand. I don’t include owned and earned media in this definition, although paid media can make a huge difference. I want to keep things transparent for our company and for us owned and earned are difficult areas: who out there is eagerly waiting for an interview with Tele2. Compare this to an interview with the lovely CEO from Tony Chocolonely, who has a story to tell that comes straight from the heart. People listen to that wonderful story and purchase chocolate because they love it so much. Obviously, great chocolate will be the proof of the pudding, but -like many, many people- we’ve become choco addicts because of it. I would love to be able to work with storytelling, but you’re walking on thin ice here and its often perceived as too commercial.

Measuring the Media ROI

The main KPIs for determining the success of media investments are related to brand KPIs. Tele2 is measuring brand awareness and consideration. For online, the measurements are expanded with views and clicks, but more importantly do we create engagement and brand loyalty..

The way Tele2 is collecting all kinds of data is varied. “We use a lot of figures from all kinds of sources such as sales, but also research and specific campaign research. And we are part of an international tracker. Last but not least, we use neuroscience as well.”

In general, Tele2 is satisfied with the measurements and tools it uses, but Cilesta does not always agree with the outcomes: “For example, if I will follow all neuroscience outcomes related to our creative work slavishly, we would definitely lose our distinctiveness and look very different from the Fun Rebel that we are today. Getting insights does not automatically mean that we apply them.”

As Managing Director Marketing Cilesta is working very closely with her Head of Media Denise Noordermeer, who is an expert in media strategy and planning, and Tele2’s media agency MediaCom. Commenting on the cooperation with MediaCom, Cilesta says: “Media strategy and planning are much like a very complex puzzle that is being put together between the internal team and the agency – always starting from our strategy and goals.”

The next question is about short or long-term goals regarding the media investments. “I’ve noticed that every commercial business is always very much focused on short term goals. That’s good and I understand it. However, in branding and marketing communication it’s about both short and long term goals. My core belief is that if you make sure your communication to reach short term goals is set and works well, you create room for longer term communication. And the other way around holds true as well. If your marketing communication is not delivering on short term goals, you will most likely fail on your long term goals as well. But it’s not always as easy as this sounds and sometimes I also have to defend our longer term brand budgets and concepts. If we start focusing on small bundle subscriptions for example, I will definitely hit on all short term sales targets, but I will also end up with the wrong target audience and lose my growth in customer revenue.“

Who is your main advisor with regards to media? “As said, my main advisor is my inhouse media expert. She plays a crucial part and is working closely with my Brand Manager Danielle Snoeij and my Marketing Communications Manager Margaret Kreuger. Together, they make the plans and ensure our media agency is totally aligned and able to help us get the maximum out of our budget. After a pitch, we decided to work with the media agency that has the same drive and commitment as we have. Because in the end, we all have to feel proud of our achievements. Our media agency is a partner, working closely with us on our strategy.”

“We don’t want to be too early with new technology, but if we can make it unique we will for sure make it happen.”

What is your opinion about the possible impact on your brand of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, where machines might take over purchase decisions from humans? “At Tele2, we don’t want to march in front of the troops when it comes to this. After all, it might not work for our customers and we will end up losing of money, which we simply cannot afford. In the past couple of months, we have created an extremely cool app that uses AI. Our new app allows customers to follow their own online and telecom behavior in a cool new way, but still also in a more ‘traditional’ way. From a consumer point of view, I think brands need to become even more distinctive, because you need to stand out in the crowd more and more than ever before.”

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