Anne-Lise Johnsen

Product Manager - Youth at Arsenal Football Club

Ben Somerset-How

Client Director Creativebrief


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

Anne-Lise Johnsen: After graduating with an MSc I moved to London with the hopes of securing a marketing assistant role in a smaller company as I wasn’t tempted by the graduate schemes. After a while, I secured a role with Milkround. I spent 18months with them, being responsible for several of their digital marketing campaigns and their social media strategy. This started my passion for youth marketing. 

I wrote my MSc dissertation on how football clubs target the female audience – and having played football myself for 12 years sports has always been my passion . One day I came across a football marketing role, and after convincing the recruiter that I had the right profile my CV was shared, interviews took place and here I am! 

creativebrief: Why did you choose a career in marketing?

Anne-Lise Johnsen: My dad was a big influence when I was young and he suggested that I chose marketing as an elective course during the Norwegian version of A-levels. I absolutely loved it from the start. The combination of being creative and analytical is what drew me in, and still keeps me going today. 

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

Anne-Lise Johnsen: Passion for the industry, good understanding of consumers and being fast paced. Marketing constantly evolves so an appetite for learning is key to success in my opinion. 

creativebrief: And who is a great example of this?

Anne-Lise Johnsen: Gail Gallie of Project Everyone is someone I definitely admire.

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

Anne-Lise Johnsen: The constant change in the environment. This sometimes means you can only be reactive rather than proactive in your approach. 

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

Anne-Lise Johnsen: I read selected blogs, follow key influencers on Twitter and learn from my peers.

creativebrief: How does this impact your relationship with agencies?

Anne-Lise Johnsen: It doesn’t really; I believe you can gain knowledge from different sources. However I do expect my agencies to be in the know and share good case studies without me asking. I often look to my agencies for their expertise, especially in mobile with our recent app launch as well as our youth research agency. 

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

Anne-Lise Johnsen: Everyone judges this differently, but I constantly review and evaluate an agency relationship to ensure that I’m getting the best out of them. I try and be as transparent with them as possible, and rather than treating them like an agency I treat them as part of the team. This seem to work as the results definitely show that we are doing something right. 

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

Anne-Lise Johnsen: I’m very proud of our recent app launch. In August 2016, Arsenal became the first Premier League football Club to launch an app designed exclusively for our youngest fans. I’m proud of being part of something as big and new in the industry, but also because insight and kids themselves drove the development of the app.

We commissioned this project to a new agency and it has been a great project to work on. The start of a new great relationship.  

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

Anne-Lise Johnsen: It’s all about sharing and bringing people along on the journey. Make them feel excited about your area and involve them! People respond well to being involved and empowered. 

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

Anne-Lise Johnsen: I personally don’t think it matters. I am a generalist marketer as I touch most channels on a weekly basis, but I am very much a specialist in youth and sports. A unique combination! 

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.