Interviews

Emily Byrne

Marketing Director at L'Oreal Designer Fragrances

Ben Somerset-How

Client Director

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creativebrief: Why did you choose a career in marketing?

Emily Byrne: I liked the variety within marketing. It allows me to balance an analytical mathematical skillset with creativity. I also wanted to work for a company that had marketing at its centre, as I believe that putting the consumer or customer first should be at the heart of every successful business strategy.

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

Emily Byrne: Given the variety that exists within marketing, there can be any number of successful career paths. It all depends on where your strengths lie and what you want to get out of a career. However, there are a couple of things I believe are essential to all successful careers – hard work, a bit of luck, and great mentors.

creativebrief: And who is a great example of this?

Emily Byrne: Of the mentors I have met as part of the Marketing Academy, Amanda McKenzie (former CMO for Aviva) stood out for her honesty and tenacity. Within L’Oréal, I owe a lot to two of my old bosses – Daniela Tufo, who now works for Unilever, and Antny Rankin, now General Manager for Kiehl’s UK at L’Oréal.

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

Emily Byrne: I’m sure that every marketer faces different challenges. For me, being part of a large well-established company and working for luxury brands, the biggest challenge is creating and sustaining dialogue with consumers. Gone are the days where we can put out brand-led advert after brand-led advert, as consumers now expect to be able to engage with their favourite brands in real time. There is a fine balance between staying relevant and being in the conversation, whilst also maintaining a worldwide luxury brand presence.

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

Emily Byrne: As a company we have subscriptions to trend agencies such as NVision. Our media agency, Maxus, also sends weekly and monthly headline trends. I also subscribe to Google News alerts to ensure I stay on top of what’s happening.

creativebrief: How does this impact your relationship with agencies?

Emily Byrne: It means that it has to be seamless. I always seek out our media agency’s point of view on new developments within the industry.

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

Emily Byrne: The short answer is that you don’t. All you can do is continue to challenge them, and work with a broad enough range of agencies so that their responses don’t revert to ‘same-old, same-old’.

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

Emily Byrne: I am particularly proud of the launch of Viktor & Rolf BonBon. It was a huge undertaking in terms of securing extra space in-store, and represented a very strong partnership between us and our key retail partners. It also broke records in terms of PR coverage, and was the biggest launch of the year in limited distribution.

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

Emily Byrne: I am lucky to work for a company where marketing is at the heart of everything we do. If anything, I need to be fighting to ensure that there is enough non-marketing diversity at the top levels of management! For those in organisations where marketing is less central, I think the key is to understand how the marketing function can help achieve the overarching business goals, while also suggesting ways to push those goals further through a better understanding of consumer need.

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

Emily Byrne: I’m definitely a generalist within marketing, having worked in both operational marketing and product development and loved both. And beyond that I also feel that I’m a generalist in the sense that I don’t envisage my whole career being in marketing. I believe that marketers, with our consumer-focused mind-set are well placed to step into general management roles. However, I know lots of very successful marketers who have specialised in a particular area, which also works for them. It’s about what’s right for the individual and the organisation where they work.

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 interview.