Craig Inglis, Director of Marketing, John Lewis

In recognition of his contribution to the business, Craig was promoted from head of brand communications to director of marketing in 2010 and in 2011 he won The Marketing Society’s Marketer of the Year Award for Excellence

Tom Holmes

Founder & Chairman



Tom Holmes talks to Craig Inglis, Director of Marketing at John Lewis.

In recognition of his contribution to the business, Craig was promoted from head of brand communications to director of marketing in 2010 and in 2011 he won The Marketing Society’s Marketer of the Year Award for Excellence.

Prior to John Lewis, Craig was Sales and Marketing Director for Virgin Trains and Product Manager at Thomson Holidays. 


Creativebrief: Craig, as Director of Marketing at John Lewis, what are your key responsibilities and priorities?

Craig Inglis : I am responsible for all aspects of marketing the John Lewis brand including category and brand marketing, CRM and Insight.

Creativebrief: John Lewis has won the Marketing Society’s Brand of the Year Award in both 2010 and 2011, what was the main reason behind this success?

Craig Inglis : Other people can probably answer this better than me but I think John Lewis won brand of the year two years running primarily because we have delivered compelling, emotionally led marketing, which is true to our brand promise.

And I don’t just mean the TV ads. Yes they are the most talked about but I believe that we are creating inspiring communication across all of our channels with a handwriting that is now definitively John Lewis.

Examples of recent work…


Creativebrief: What are you doing to innovate the brand in 2012?

Craig Inglis : We are constantly looking at new ways to activate the brand and engage with our customers and we aim to ensure that a proportion of every project budget supports something new and innovative.

For example, this year we have ventured into new territory by delivering fantastic experiences to our customers in partnership with like-minded organisations including Kew Gardens, Lollibop and the Elle Deco British Design awards. And there’s lots more to come in the future.

Creativebrief: What work have you done recently makes you particularly proud and why?

Craig Inglis : There’s a huge amount to be proud of at John Lewis. I have a brilliant, committed team who are delivering work that makes me proud every week. However, if I had to I pull out one area I was particularly proud of it would be CRM.

We have been working very hard behind the scenes over the last few years to get the right level of CRM capability in place at John Lewis, both from a technical and people point of view.

There’s a long way to go on this journey but last month we took a big step forward by launching myJohnlewis to our highest value customers. myJohnLewis is a rewards programme delivered in the high quality way that you would expect from John Lewis giving our customers access to exclusive events, previews and rewards and we have big plans for it in the coming months.

Creativebrief: Your career has spanned John Lewis, Virgin Trains and Thomson Holidays, what have been the high points?

Craig Inglis : I have been privileged to work on great brands with great teams of people and the high points are as much about that as the outputs. Indeed some of the highest points have been as a result of seeing teams pull together during the most difficult moments.

Highlights include overcoming adversity to successfully launch Virgin’s new trains, developing and launching and of course building some outstanding campaigns for John Lewis, which appear to have captured the hearts and minds of a great number of people.

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

Craig Inglis : Retail is an incredibly fast moving, dynamic industry and whilst that is exciting it brings with it many challenges. What I’d pull out though is that how people shop is changing constantly and to succeed it will be vital to deliver a personalised experience across all the channels in which our customers choose to interact with us.

However, we must remember to do this whilst protecting our brand at all costs. So embracing change whilst remaining true to our core values will be the big challenge going forward.

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

Craig Inglis : Agencies – I don’t actively choose specialists v integrated agencies, rather just the people who are right for the task in hand. Increasingly I would expect all of our agency partners to be multi-faceted and non-parochial in the way that they work.

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

Craig Inglis : I’ve never been influenced by awards when selecting an agency. Rather my choices are based entirely on the confidence I have in the people. I need to know that they understand and care about my brand and that they will work ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with us and our other agency partners in delivering brilliant work.

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

Craig Inglis : We don’t have a set period for conducting agency reviews. I would never choose to pitch lightly as it’s rarely the best solution to managing a relationship. When I do though, I would typically work with an intermediary as it’s the most effective way to understand what’s happening in the market and who out there might best fit your brand.

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

Craig Inglis : For me, the day to day challenges are rooted in the fact that both clients and agencies are populated by human beings who inevitably sometimes get things wrong, don’t always communicate effectively and often have different views as to the best way to achieve a result.

The only way through this is to have genuine two-way openness in the relationship that allows the difficult stuff to be talked about and overcome. It’s evidence of these sorts of relationships I’m looking for when appointing an agency, whether that’s in a formal pitch or not.