Gareth Turner – Weetabix

Gareth Turner – Weetabix

Gareth Turner is the Weetabix Head of Brand responsible for brand marketing and strategy. Gareth has extensive experience in marketing, advertising, and communication, having previously worked on brands such as Lurpak, John Smiths, Arla, and Bulmers. Gareth started working at Weetabix back in June 2019. Gareth: “Weetabix has a strong heritage, but also an ambition for growth, and the desire to do things differently. We have a great opportunity to be bold with our marketing.”

Main KPI’s for growth

Gareth explains that after profit, his main measure, as for many FMCG brands is penetration: “Moving a consumer from no purchases to at least one purchase is the aim. It’s consistent with the Ehrenburg Bass thinking, you grow your brand by increasing penetration. Then there is a suite of KPI’s that sit beneath this, including mental and physical availability, awareness, and salience.”

The road to successful creative

When it comes to getting great creative, Gareth explains that, it’s important to separate the idea from the execution. He adds “The first step is to have a robust long-term brand strategy, followed by a strong creative idea, and then a plan to bring that great idea to life. I first learned this, when I worked at Heineken, and it was a game changer for me. Since then, I’ve been using this every day!”

Marketeers need to be single minded – if there are 2 messages for consumers, then there should be 2 briefs, or at least 2 executions. The reason this is so important?  Consumers don’t care about advertising half as much as we do – for example, they’re often dual screening whilst watching TV. Therefore, good cut through and consistent branding are very important to transfer that one message. You need to make sure that all communication, such as packaging, in-store, TV and OOH, are consistent and on brand. It makes it easier to achieve salience as you are constantly building on existing memory structures, something Weetabix has done really well. Gareth gives us an example: “A couple of years ago we brought back the ‘have you had your Weetabix?’ campaign.  It had been around in the 80’s and was still fondly remembered by the public. So, we decided to bring it back. It was like having a Rembrandt painting hidden away in the attic. In my experience, a great brand idea along with a single-minded, well branded and persistent creative will give you a better chance of success.”

Consistent through channels

Gareth continues with Weetabix’s creative development: “We always start with a media neutral idea and then consider the channels being used in a campaign. For example, when it comes to social media video ads, people will often have the sound switched off, which is the polar opposite of radio. So, the creative idea needs to be able to be optimised to the type of channel, whilst consistently using as many distinctive assets as possible in order to stand out the branding. This is a very important part of ensuring success. With the help of our agency partners, we create something more appropriate for the channel. Having good, consistent ideas is very important, but it’s the execution that needs to bring those ideas to life.”

When asked about having a big versus small production budget, Gareth reiterates that it’s more about the idea: “Bigger budget will get a bigger production, but smaller budgets can often deliver a better ROI, if the distinctive assets are being used in the right way. It’s important that brand teams give lower budget productions the same love, care and attention as the big budget assets. A good creative idea is not dependent on the production budget.”

Testing creative

When it comes to testing their creative, Gareth tells us that all the brands he has worked on carry out quant and qual tests on their advertising before airing, and Weetabix is no exception. “We combine this early testing with “in flight” tracking and econometric modelling to check that the ads are performing as we expect. Research provides us the opportunity to understand what’s working and what’s not working in the ad and to make any changes we see fit. Obviously, this is easier if you get the feedback before you’re at the final film!  However, it’s important to remember that research is only one input into the decision-making process, marketing folklore is littered with examples of iconic advertising that failed a creative test.”

Influence of current time

When asked about the influence the current situation surrounding the coronavirus has on the Weetabix communication strategy, Gareth explains that with people spending significantly more time at home, media consumption is changing – more people will be watching TV, searching online and listening to the radio: “Our media strategy needs to be agile now, more than ever before, and adapted to the new reality. For FMCG brands that are able to, the historic case studies suggest that they should continue to invest ATL.” When asked about stockpiling and the longer-term effect on the brand, Gareth added “I’ve seen some data that suggests only 3% of the population stock pilled in the early weeks of lockdown, and that the reason for the empty shelves we saw was because people were buying into 1 to 2 extra categories. It’s classic Byron Sharp: the stock pressure seems to be primarily coming through penetration growth, rather than frequency or average weight of purchase. There’s a coming challenge for many brands to retain these newly-won shoppers.”

Interview by Sim Dehra – Senior Client Consultant