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Future Market Leader Interview - 5 minutes with...

Alessandra Laraud

Senior Brand Manager at The Laughing Cow, Groupe Bel

creativebrief: How has your career path led you to marketing at Groupe Bel?

Alessandra Laraud: I went to university at EM Lyon Business School in France and attended very good classes that got me passionate about marketing. When I had to look for the first internship I was in Madrid finishing the Erasmus Program at the peak of the economic crisis in 2008 so I applied to marketing roles in all sorts of different sectors and the odds brought me to an assistant brand manager role on the fresh cheese portfolio (Galbani, Salakis…) at Lactalis Spain. I loved my marketing experience there and decided that food was where I wanted to start my career after graduating. That experience in dairy helped me when applying to Danone in Paris where I worked for 3 years and had the opportunity to lead very early major new product developments and communications campaigns on different local brands. I then decided that I wanted to move to the UK to reach for new opportunities and joined Bel UK as Boursin Brand Manager. I successfully relaunched the portions range tripling its value sales and developed Boursin’s digital cooking platform. I have since been promoted to Senior Brand Manager on The Laughing Cow and lead a transversal project to help generate more breakthrough ideas within the business.

creativebrief: Why did you choose a career in marketing?

Alessandra Laraud: I was born in France, grew up in Italy, lived in the US with my family for a year at the age of 10 and in Argentina and Spain while at University so understanding different cultures and behaviours has always been something I had to do to adapt to the new environments I found myself in and I learned to enjoy it. I am now really passionate about people’s behaviours and how to influence them so I love being able to have that at the centre of my daily job. I also love how the changing nature of those behaviours gives a very exciting perspective to our roles as marketeer for years ahead.

creativebrief: What do you think makes a successful career in marketing?

Alessandra Laraud: From a personal perspective it’s about making sure that it is a continuous exciting learning path and that all along we succeed in nourishing brands and providing people with experiences they value.

creativebrief: And who is a great example of this?

Alessandra Laraud: Even if he is not a marketeer today, I truly admire Paul Pollman (CEO of Unilever).

creativebrief: What do you think are the main challenges facing marketers today?

Alessandra Laraud: I operate in a category where 80% of volumes are sold on deal and the number of products is being cut year on year. The retail environment has probably always been very tough but the arrival of the discounters and the price war are making it particularly difficult for manufacturers at the moment to find room for healthy growth, particularly smaller ones. On the other hand, the media environment is more and more complex with high TV inflation, infinite touchpoint options and bigger flows of data coming from each of them. I think marketers require greater leadership skills to influence all elements of the mix and greater creativity to find ways to nourish the brands’ equity and break through effectively.

creativebrief: How do you keep up with constant stream of innovation in marketing comms?

Alessandra Laraud: I receive weekly newsletters from our partner agencies and others I like to follow (like Design Taxi), attend conferences and talks as well as follow brands on social media.

creativebrief: How does this impact your relationship with agencies?

Alessandra Laraud: It can generate debates or spark ideas, it forces us to look outside on both sides and even if there is not always an immediate action it will open our minds and I believe subconsciously influence better decisions later on.

creativebrief: How do you know if you’re getting the best from your agencies?

Alessandra Laraud: I try to involve partner agencies as much as possible in our internal thinking and build a relationship where they feel empowered to contribute to it as much as we do. It’s about engagement and sometimes little things like picking up the phone instead of writing an email, appreciating the work they do for us and spending some time outside of work together can make a real difference for both sides. It is not rocket science but for some reason I don’t always find it easy to do myself. I also trust that they want to do the best job they can.

creativebrief: Of your recent work, what makes you particularly proud and why?

Alessandra Laraud: I am particularly proud of the TV ad I recently developed to support the launch of Mini Cravings, a new snacking range under The Laughing Cow brand. It was hard work to find the right balance between wanting to land all the messages to educate consumers on what this product is and keep it light-hearted, but I think the result is great and sales uplifts have been incredible.

creativebrief: How do you think marketers can raise the profile of marketing within their organisations?

Alessandra Laraud: I think it is key that marketeers empathise with the other departments’ challenges and that they understand their language and their agendas. Also, finding the right balance between being a source of inspiration and energy for the organisation and being realistic, fact-based and business oriented is key to remain credible.

creativebrief: Do you see yourself as a generalist or a specialist, does it matter?

Alessandra Laraud: I feel quite a specialist because the food industry is the only one I have ever worked in and I have always been client side, but then a generalist in terms of skills set (ranging from P&L management to comms strategy) and challenges I have worked on (from reaching new audiences to finding the right vanilla aroma for a new yogurt).

creativebrief partner the Marketing Academy is a non-profit organisation which provides a unique forum for industry leaders, marketing gurus, entrepreneurs and inspirational people volunteer their time to inspire, develop and coach the next generation of future leaders. The Marketing Academy gift a maximum of 30 ‘Scholarships’ each year to the fastest rising stars in the marketing, advertising and communications industries. A team of high profile mentors and coaches develop these stars through a process of mentoring, coaching, networking and personalised learning. 86 mentors, 30 Coaches, 20 Judges, 36 companies and an owl called Merlin all provide their time, resources and knowledge to assist in shaping the minds of our future leaders. Furthermore as a vital part of their curriculum all Scholars volunteer at least one day per year through our Donate28 initiative to work with charities who need bright young marketing minds. For a full list of the individuals involved, see the Sherilyn Shackell Market Leader Interview.

About the author

Ben Somerset-How, Client Director

Ben heads-up the brand focused business development team which sees him dedicate time to engaging both new and existing clients of Creativebrief. He is also the driving force behind our Market Leader Interview series and regularly guest-lectures at a variety of university marketing & management courses.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-somerset-how-2a3697a