Jen Culby – Ferrero

Jen Culby – Ferrero

Jen Culby is Senior Insight Manager at Ferrero, an Italian manufacturer of branded chocolate and confectionery products. Jen is responsible for several different areas and brands, including retail stores and E-com, for Praline brands such as Ferrero Rocher and Ferrero Collection. For the time being, Jen also looks after the brand Kinder.

Main KPIs for growth

According to Jen, sales are a key indicator for growth, and from a softer side, it’s more about brand engagement or brand ‘love’. “How people feel and care about the brand and products. With newer products it’s important to monitor awareness and drive consideration, with more established brands it’s important to monitor sales and engagement.”

“Brand love and relevance are important ingredients for growth,” Jen continues. “The backdrop to that is to really understand people. I think companies need to get into people’s minds, lives, and hearts, and deliver great products they truly enjoy, and then communicating to our consumers at the right place, the right time, and with the right tone.”

Role of creative

According to Jen, creatives are an important element in realising brand growth. “We need to continue to push to do things differently, and surprise people within the realm of the personality of the brand. To drive growth, you need to push to keep people interested and catch their attention. But you have to keep your brand’s positioning in mind.”

When it comes to creative challenges, Jen refers to not understanding or relating to people, fear of taking risks, and finding a balance between being consistent, yet tailored to the local market. “Sometimes, people working in offices may not understand or relate to the people they are trying to make happy with their products. As a researcher, that’s part of my role. There can be a disconnect. Not getting that deep understanding can be a challenge. There are also businesses who are not willing to take risks, and prefer to stay safe or neutral. In addition to that, the global view of a brand may not take the local market culture and nuances into account. Which can lead to creatives that aren’t quite hitting the mark. It’s a real challenge for global brands. You want to remain consistent, so you can’t do completely different things in different countries, but you need a certain level of adaptation from market to market. I can understand the global desire, but it does challenge the success of the creative in a given market if it’s not resonating there.”

Inspiration & research

When it comes to the creative process, Jen shares it’s important to determine what you want to achieve from a brand perspective and involve the creative agency. Jen: “Having a good brief is really important. Both the content in there, but also what is being asked of the creative agency. The more effort put into creating a clear brief, with the right amount of context, inspiration and clarity around the objectives, the stronger it will be. Sometimes it is quite a tight request, other times it is more open. Either way, the most important thing is that everyone is aligned on what they need to do and what they want to achieve. It makes it much easier for all parties involved.”

Inspiration can come from many sources, including trends, consumer behaviour and sentiment, the brand and history, unique product characteristics, anything that might relate to what they are trying to communicate. It’s helpful to use research in multiple stages throughout the process. Jen: “Early on in the process it’s not always necessary to start with a commissioned piece. You can gather inspiration from just observing people, as well as different trends, articles and reports. Once different ideas have been developed, leveraging qualitative research can help uncover which ideas have the strongest ‘legs’. As the creative development progresses, testing these more robustly via quantitative research helps gain a wider view, and certain techniques like neuro testing can help reveal how people are reacting on a more physical level. I think it’s really important to make sure that underlying idea is really strong.”

Successful creatives

Jen shares which elements contribute to successful creatives: “Having more budget, gives you more options and flexibility, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. Brands can have massive budgets, and still miss the mark completely. Other times, brands may have a very low budget, and it just works. Budget is definitely good to have, but it’s not a guarantee. It’s about the idea and how you bring that message across. Engaging the right people in the right way. Being clear, memorable, and evoking the right emotion. Ensuring that core idea and its delivery is what drives success.”

Jen highlights the importance of tailoring creatives to their channels. “Historically, many companies used a lot of tv, and they might just cut down the commercial and put it on social. These days it’s important to think about and plan for how a creative idea might play out across channels. Characteristics of channels differ immensely, whereas tv can build a story, digital needs to bring across that core message straight away. You need to make sure you create and tailor your creatives to the channel it will be shown on, though sometimes that is easier said than done. It is still a journey for a lot of companies, also because of budgets. You need enough budget to create different content for all these different channels or mindsets. But I think things are moving that way. The more we can tailor, the more effective it will be.”

Reacting to current times

When it comes to advertising in current times, Jen tells us it is a sensitive matter. “Companies shouldn’t be blasting messages which are completely inappropriate to how people are feeling. There is a certain sensitivity to people’s feelings in these times. From my perspective, there is a bigger picture. You can be in that moment and communicate about it, but people still have feelings, emotions and lives beyond that. There has been lots of research indicating people are happy to see regular advertising. They are not offended if you share a happy ad as long as it’s not inappropriate given what’s happening around. For certain industries and categories, it has been more important to tailor and make sure the messaging is spot on. But for FMCG brands, in particular food products, it hasn’t changed all that much. You need to be sensitive to the moment, but keep the bigger picture in mind.”