Interviews

Claire Andrews, Marketing Director, Mazda Motors UK

Claire became Marketing Director of Mazda UK in October 2010, having been promoted from Senior Marketing Manager to reflect the restructure of the sales and marketing functions at Mazda UK.

Tom Holmes

Founder & Chairman

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Tom Holmes talks to Claire Andrews, Marketing Director, Mazda Motors UK.

Claire became Marketing Director of Mazda UK in October 2010, having been promoted from Senior Marketing Manager to reflect the restructure of the sales and marketing functions at Mazda UK.

Prior to this Claire was Brand Manager, a position she held since 2007, having been promoted from Business Manager, following on from her first role at Mazda as Events & Brand @ Retail Manager.

Claire joined Mazda from Lotus Cars in 2002 where she was an Events & Communications Manager.

 

Creativebrief: As Marketing Director of Mazda UK what are your key responsibilities?

Claire Andrews: I am responsible for all elements of the Marketing mix – from integrated National and Dealer Communications to Experiential, Brand, Social, CRM, Retail Promotional Campaigns and Product Management which includes setting the pricing and specification for all Mazda vehicles sold in the UK market.

People management is also a key part of my responsibility which is really rewarding. I love developing talent and giving my team the opportunity to move onwards and upwards in their careers.

Creativebrief: Your career has spanned Norwich Union Insurance, Lotus Cars and Mazda Motors, what have been the high points?

Claire Andrews: Taking a new product to market is always exciting but when that product is a sports car that definitely registers as a high point. I launched the Lotus Elise Mk II at the British Motor Show which was a showstopper as the UK hadn’t seen a true all-new British sports car launch for a while.

Launching the Mazda RX-8 was also incredible as rotary engine cars are so unique – it really captured the public and media’s attention.

Developing the Mazda RX-8 PZ Limited Edition was a high point as it went on to achieve iconic status amongst sports cars.

Creativebrief: What are the main challenges for your sector/category over the next 12 months?

Claire Andrews: The economic climate hit the car industry hard last year, with consumer confidence at an all time low for making a major purchase, and this is forecasted to continue throughout 2012.

Interestingly, the sector is divided between unbeatable value from relatively young Korean brands with favourable export exchange rates and premium brands which are now more affordable due to retail consumer finance or low CO2 for company car drivers.

In 2012 the battle for market leader will intensify as VW continues to steal share from Ford and Vauxhall with their value campaign. New environmental technology will also take centre stage in a world where affordability and practicality will increasingly be overriding concerns. In this respect, the ones to watch are VW Up and the Mazda CX-5 powered by our ground-breaking SKYACTIV technology.

From a consumer perspective, 2012 will be a great year to buy a car – finance permitting!

Creativebrief: What work have you done recently that makes you the most proud?

Claire Andrews: Being the only automotive partner in the launch of Facebook Deals was fantastic.

Effective online social content to drive offline in-showroom purchase was extremely successful and we retailed 100 Mazda MX-5’s in under two weeks!

Digital innovation is key to stand out against the big traditional media spenders in our category. I’m particularly proud of our mobile presence as we’ve been recognised by Google for having one of the best mobile automotive sites.

Our new dealer websites are also category leading in terms of providing our retailer partners with mobile sites as well as a state of the art web platform dedicated to retailing; including e-commerce which is surprisingly unusual for car brands.

The dealer website solution puts the customer at the heart which is something our sector sometimes falls behind on compared to other retailers.

Creativebrief: How do you see the media landscape unfolding in the next 5 years?

Claire Andrews: For the past couple of years it has been forecasted to be the “Year of the Mobile”. However, I believe this year and next will definitely see this prediction become a reality as smartphone penetration exceeds 80% and mobile internet usage exceeds desktop internet usage.

Growth in the mobile sector will accelerate and impact on consumer behaviour. Similarly, M-commerce has potential to take off as UK consumers embrace the mobile wallet.

Online will continue to provide the best platform for advertisers to innovate but the potential changes in cookies legislation may prove interesting in terms of ROI for online spend.

Integrating in-store with online and mobile for a seamless consumer experience will set brands apart. Vouchers are set to stay and partnership innovations such as O2 Priority moments have potential to increase as securing a deal will remain central to the consumer’s purchase decision.

Audio/visual recognition technology, such as QR codes or AR applications, will be an interesting development as the use of a mobile screen as a visual search engine continues to grow.

Traditional media will still have its place for reach and it’s interesting how events, such as the Olympics, boost the short term importance and inflation (!!) of some of these media channels.

Creativebrief: Do you prefer to use an ‘integrated’ agency approach or specialist agencies by individual discipline?

Claire Andrews: I’m a great believer of agencies doing what they do best! That said, traditional ad agencies who start with a press ad or TV campaign and then force this idea into other channels as an afterthought definitely need to move with the times and fully embrace online and mobile.

Experiential is more specialist and should be left with experienced event agencies who can extend campaign ideas into social as a cost effective recruitment platform.

Creativebrief: Do you prefer to use local agencies by market or international/global agencies?

Claire Andrews: For a Pan European or global HQ, international agencies have their place to ensure ROI on large scale productions such as TV and brand consistency across markets. Local agencies tend to be most effective at connecting with the local audience.

The cultural nuances even between European markets never cease to amaze me. I believe social needs a local agency approach to achieve real engagement with fans.

Creativebrief: When choosing agencies in the past were you ever influenced by awards?

Claire Andrews: Awards are interesting but word of mouth recommendation and campaigns which stand out rank higher on my agenda than awards alone.

A more important factor is the agency’s ability to demonstrate their understanding of our customers to deliver a better customer experience and to get under the skin of our business to support our commercial objectives.

Creativebrief: What challenges do you face, managing day-to-day agency relationships?

Claire Andrews: Integration and communication between agency partners can be challenging at times.

The key success factor is having the right people working on the account as they get behind the client’s best interests and the interagency relationships then come together effortlessly.

Mindshare are a long-standing agency partner with Mazda as we have a fantastic relationship – the team consistently suggest ways of innovating to help us deliver on being a challenger brand.

Creativebrief: How often do you look at new agencies or review your roster?

Claire Andrews: This is mainly event driven such as a new business need, an innovation presented by a new agency or, in more unusual circumstances, it is performance review related.

Reviews with existing agencies take place on a regular basis to ensure our efforts remain focused on delivering the best result against our business objectives.

Creativebrief: How do you monitor and stay-in-touch with the agency market to ensure you work with the best?

Claire Andrews: Trade press is a good source to stay-in-touch across sectors. Monitoring competitor activity to see who is doing it well, as well as who isn’t, and comparing their marketing performance to their market share.

Creativebrief: Which agencies do you think are ‘hot’ right now?

Claire Andrews: For media buying, Mindshare are hot. For creative I admire BBH’s work on the Lynx angels campaign as it was clever and innovative and I love the Yeo Valley farmers! Mother are also hot for their work on Stella Artois – it’s “cidre”.

For paid search, Jellyfish are a specialist agency who deliver great ROI. AKQA’s Nike Training Club app was great.

Itch are an interesting and creative boutique events agency and Imagination have really stepped up their game by combining their extensive events experience with social amplification.

Creativebrief: What’s your attitude to the ‘traditional’ pitch? Do you think there is a better/more modern way?

Claire Andrews: Being innovative is a good fit for Mazda so I personally welcome a more modern approach than PowerPoint slides which follow the tried and tested approach.

This doesn’t mean it needs to be completely off-the-wall as ultimately it must focus on delivering against the task or business objectives. However, being memorable and engaging is paramount. Clients are consumers at the end of the day!

Creativebrief: Would you ever consider awarding an agency business without a pitch? What would they have to do / demonstrate?

Claire Andrews: I’ve awarded business to agencies without a formal pitch process. It depends on how well their proposition fits our business need. Being nimble can create competitive advantage.

Creativebrief: What are your top tips to agencies when presenting credentials to you?

Claire Andrews: Research the client first and demonstrate this insight in the credentials pitch by tailoring it to the client’s business requirements.

Use relevant case studies from a variety of sectors to demonstrate effectiveness with sound metrics.

Be creative – don’t kill the client with PowerPoint!

Variety is welcome – video breaks up the presentation.

Be succinct – strike the right balance between talking about the agency credentials and business results achieved for clients.

Adapt the presentation to the feedback given during the meeting.

Show the culture of the agency through bringing the right balance of the agency team to the presentation.

Creativebrief: What was the most impressive agency presentation you have ever seen?

Claire Andrews: I recently saw an amazing presentation from our events agency. It was one of the most exciting and creative ideas I’ve seen in a long while. The whole team were utterly bought in and wanted to take part in the experiential idea.

You’ll have to watch this space for more information as the idea is now in development for launching the all-new Mazda CX-5 this summer!