Ruurd Neurink – Porsche

Ruurd Neurink – Porsche

Ruurd Neurink is Marketing and Communication Manager at Porsche in the Netherlands. Porsche in the Netherlands is part of Pon Luxury & Performance Cars, known as Pon Porsche Import. Pon was actually the first importer of Porsche globally, back in 1949. Ruurd is responsible for marketing and communication within Porsche Netherlands. His team tackles anything to do with marketing, including content creation, campaigns, product introductions and customer experiences. Ruurd: “The Netherlands is a relatively small market compared to other countries, but the mentality of the Dutch is that we are quite critical, innovative, and very entrepreneurial. So that gives us an interesting position within the broader organisation of Porsche. On the one hand we are part of a strong global brand with Porsche, but at the same time we have that Dutch entrepreneurial mentality coming from our Pon family. This means we like to try new things in our market and can be a bit bold with that. Or as we put it: ‘Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness, than for permission’.”

Main KPIs for growth

Porsche has been a renowned and leading brand for over 70 years. According to Ruurd, this makes for a small margin where they can locally operate in: “From a small country and small market, there is limited space for us to act on the brand side, so our goal is to utilize the global brand for local impact. We measure our impact through customer feedback. Customer satisfaction is our most important indicator on how we are doing as a brand, which in turn results in sales. From a brand perspective, we track mainly internationally. Locally, we have not been tracking as much but this is something we are working on, as well as exploring our brand KPIs a bit more. Not just looking at current times, but also towards the future of Porsche. There have been a few shifts over the years that people were apprehensive of at first, such as lean manufacturing, diesel power and the launch of SUVs. People didn’t think it would fit the Porsche brand. Which was not any different when we introduced the concept model of our first electric car. 5 years later, you can’t open a car magazine without seeing the massive praise it’s receiving. When you want to measure how your brand is growing and changing, you need to look at your different target groups. That’s something we are working on more and more. Differentiate, and looking closer at what your brand means to different generations and target groups now and in the future.”

The role of creative

“Creative is one of the important pillars of brand growth. As I’ve said, Porsche is already an established and enormously strong brand, meaning that you need to exceed all expectations in order to further grow that”, Ruurd continues. “And that is the challenge. When you want to create an impact, you must perform extremely well in your creativity and KPI delivery. So, creative is certainly very important. Where I feel we can improve is filtering and putting more focus. You can compare it to a puppy that wants to catch every tennis ball thrown their way. We are the same, we want to do so many things at once, and there is so much richness in the brand that you can play with a million different elements. So, we want and need to incorporate more focus. Which will lead to a different view on creativity. No longer looking towards the ‘one single shot’ that feels right in that moment, but also looking more towards the long term effects. What makes us different is that we will always push the boundaries, and go that extra mile.”

Ruurd gives us a few examples: “Everything we do has to be uncommon. Is it uncommon enough, or could another brand have done the same? One of our campaigns showed four men getting married so they could all own a Porsche together. In a different campaign, we tested whether the effect of driving a Porsche could be seen as an addiction by conducting MRI scans on people. We looked at the adrenaline shot of the 911 versus a jet fighter. These are uncommon projects. An uncommon car, for uncommon people. Because ultimately, we are selling something nobody needs, but everyone wants.”

Creative process

When it comes to their creative process, Ruurd tells us that inspiration and ideas stem from both inside, and outside of the organisation. “We have a flat organisation structure, so we discuss a lot of ideas from top to bottom. Next to that, we have a great partnership with our advertising agency. They are on the same wavelength, know the brand well and are a great sparring partner. We also have a digital agency, and we stimulate both agencies to keep in close contact. During Covid-19, it was interesting to see what we could do when we had to think carefully about our budget. We set-up several internal projects and sprints based on our own ideas. It was great to see the team blossom in a time where mental states were more likely to move in the opposite direction. We also realised that it’s easy to approach your advisors prematurely. Of course, you need your creative agency, but we can focus more on the insights beforehand to start the project of a lot stronger. Which is something we will continue to do.”

Ruurd highlights that Covid-19 has also been about communicating appropriately: “Every company in the Netherlands has been forced to take a step back. We have to be careful to communicate strongly about the possibility of buying a Porsche, while the country is in crisis. From your brand’s proposition, you don’t want to be doing that right now. But you also want to sell your product. It’s about being subtle and doing things in a fun way. We have produced a lot of retail materials for our dealers around Covid-19. For instance, people don’t just queue in a normal line, they are waiting on a starting grid inside the dealership. We incorporated the DNA of Porsche to do things in uncommon ways. But we haven’t done any big campaign on Covid-19 specifically. What we have done was about conveying trust and showing that we have done everything to make you feel safe, instead of trying to benefit from it.”

Determining the success of creatives

When asked about what makes creatives successful, Ruurd tells us that it is always his objective to communicate around a truth that is almost painful: “When you have a great insight, you are almost leaning towards the unpleasant, maybe something embarrassing. When that creative plays into a specific emotion, you really hit the spot. Consumers will get the feeling the message was meant for them. For me, creatives should always be based on an insight. You shouldn’t just rely on gut feeling. You need to know how consumers think about what you want to communicate. It’s not about over analysing or just looking at a lot of data, you need to make choices based on both and connect the dots.”

The more digital, the more social

Ruurd explains that the digital playing field is very important for Porsche’s future: “Motorsport is in our DNA. All Porsches driving on the road are based on everything we learn on track. Drivers could not be on the track anymore, but were able to continue their training in the digital world through simulators. It is a great development, and not just for automotive. The symbiosis between digitisation and reality and how they can reinforce each other, instead of being separate attributes. A lot will be happening in that field. Covid-19 has only reinforced the digital landscape and the connection to the physical world.”

Continuing to have physical touchpoints in a digitalising world is very important for Porsche. Ruurd: “It’s not without reason that we keep investing in dealerships. That physical interaction, having a social responsibility, is very important. It’s about humans, especially when it comes to a luxury brand. Without people, there is no luxury. No matter how many sales will be online in the future, the dealer will still be of massive importance. ‘The more digital, the more social’. In other words, the more we digitalise, the more we emphasise the human interaction and the social aspect of it all.”