Pollyanna Ward, Digital Brand Manager, FrieslandCampina

“The biggest challenge on a social media level is proving your worth and what value you do you prove that you're doing well when a lot of ads are dark?"

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


Pollyanna Ward - Digital Brand Manager - Friesland Campina

Career to date:

2017, Digital Brand Manager, FrieslandCampina
2015, Digital & Social Media Manager, Mondelēz International
2014, Co-Founder & Social Media Marketing Manager, The Nottingham Bucket List

Creativebrief: Please could you talk us through your career to date.

Pollyanna Ward: Whilst I was at uni I did an internship at River Island’s head office as an administrative assistant. I got chatting to some people at lunchtime and they were saying that they ‘did’ the Facebook. And I said what do you mean you do the Facebook? My boss said you can go and shadow them for a day. I was really interested in how they were taking pictures and then putting them online and tracking the sales afterwards. I went back the following summer and did the internship in the digital department. After that, I went back to uni and started following different marketers on Twitter and Facebook.

Then the article came up by David Levin [Creative Director at That Lot] about how he made money tweeting as a pub. I took that advice and set up my own company whilst I was at uni and ended up tweeting, Instagramming and Facebooking as some coffee shops, a pizza place and a bar which then leant itself into a food blog. It was from the blog that I got picked up by Mondelēz when I graduated which was super lucky. I think I just happened to be posting as much as possible on LinkedIn and Twitter at just the right moment that the Senior Brand Manager for Oreo was on LinkedIn looking for a Social Media Manager. I got an email sent through over the summer holidays and it said do you want to come in for an interview next week and I said OK, sure? I started two weeks later, moved to London very quickly and it was super cool.

During my time at Mondelēz, they were really supportive and let me take the reigns within the first couple of weeks. For the next two and a half years I grew my skills. I did some training with Dentsu on the digital space, looking at programmatic, TV buying, partnerships and influencers which was exciting and challenging. Then I basically worked my way across the whole biscuit category. It was a really good time to join the business because it was just when social was being taken seriously. That two and a half years flew by and then the opportunity came up at FrieslandCampina to work on a more European role.

Creativebrief: What attracted you to Friesland?

Pollyanna Ward: Friesland was very different but still within FMCG, so I knew I had a lot of learnings that I could share and a lot of the same ways of doing business. There’s a difference between working in a start-up and then working in a start-up in a bigger company. When you’re in more of an established business, you’ve all got one common goal which is drive growth to this brand for the business. For me that was quite an attraction that it wouldn’t be too much of a shift. I really wanted to be able to do more of the online sales side of things, to be able to track people not cookies, or people not pixels, across the whole digital ecosystem and then literally see month by month the growth.

Marketing was something that you don't realise actually how big it is. I was always kind of doing it but just wasn't really aware that it was a job."

Creativebrief: In your role as Digital Brand Manager, what is your primary focus?

Pollyanna Ward: More strategic, more focused on the brand building side of things and understanding how to drive that build and drive brand equity. There is a challenge that, in the Netherlands, Vifit is already an established brand. But you do have the benefit of the halo effect. It was understanding how to tap into that, looking at how the budget can be the most effective and then drawing up how all the different channels fit together. The idea for me is that every single touchpoint that you see the brand, you get the same message. If it all works in silos or people go off and do their own thing without any one direction that you’re all pointing in, you’ll end up with the influencers posting whatever they want to do, and it doesn’t quite fit in with the brand guidelines or the messaging that we’re using. The same with the partnerships and with what the creative agency come up with. The other thing as well was understanding the dos and don’ts and then making sure everyone was aware of that.

It was definitely an interesting one writing the briefs but why I love writing briefs is I like keeping them as tight as possible because then, if you’ve got a circle to play around in, you’ll stay within your limits but then the world’s your oyster to do whatever you want with. A lot of my role was ensuring that all the different touchpoints were on track. Then also doing the measuring and reporting which when you’ve got three countries to look at does take up the lion’s share of your time.

Creativebrief: Is there a particular piece of work that you’re really proud of? Or a favourite campaign?

Pollyanna Ward: My favourite was definitely the Runner’s World Netherlands activation. It recruited runners to run the New York Marathon then you’d have two Dutch sports influencers that would train you. You’d be put into teams of whether you were a seasoned marathon runner or the other group of people that had never run it before. The people that were the non-seasoned marathon runners came from a lot of different backgrounds and some were people that had never done exercise before. Their journey has been amazing. Even now they’ve still kept it up. A lot of the time when you do activations like this it’s a onetime thing of yay, you got to meet your favourite celebrity, you have the photo and then you never follow it up. To me this showed the power of how a good partnership can work. Those people now will forever remember it as being the Vifit sport activation. That was the most successful partnership we’ve done in terms of hitting those reach numbers and hitting that engagement rate.

Creativebrief: Industry wide, is there a particular piece of work that you saw that you thought I really wish we’d done that?

Pollyanna Ward: My favourite industry wide campaign in general is Snickers’ You’re Not You When You’re Hungry because I think that basically takes you right back to writing a product concept. They found this line that is applicable to pretty much anything. Snickers were able to localise that to every single country around the world and it’s still being used now. It was one of those campaigns that they were able to put into their product, their website, their social content. That to me is what I would love to happen one day. I’d loved to have sat in that meeting room when they came up with that idea. It’s forced me to look more at the insights and data.

The biggest challenge on a social media level is proving your worth and what value you do you prove that you're doing well when a lot of ads are dark?"

Creativebrief: Why do you think you chose a career in marketing and more specifically, in social media?

Pollyanna Ward: The biggest thing that I’ve ever been taught by my mum is to only work places where you’re allowed to wear jeans! And I’ve stuck to it. Marketing was something that you don’t realise actually how big it is. I was always kind of doing it but just wasn’t really aware that it was a job. It was very much social media led as I said from the Dave Levin article. It was only when I got to Mondelēz as Social Media Manager and a year in, my line manager said she could see me as a brand manager. I never really wanted to be boxed into social. I’m not someone that likes being boxed in or categorised in general. I think it was just the first job that came up but then I discovered that I was already using some of the skills; they just needed honing.

Creativebrief: What do you think’s the biggest challenge facing marketers but maybe specifically on a social media level?

Pollyanna Ward: The biggest challenge on a social media level is proving your worth and what value you add. For a start there’s the education of why are we paying someone to be here? On a personal level, how do I prove the value that I can bring? A lot of people, if they go on your Facebook and they don’t see the advert that you’ve made, they think you haven’t done anything, or your job hasn’t been done. From a social media perspective, the challenge is how do you prove that you’re doing well when a lot of ads are dark? It’s difficult to justify why something hasn’t got loads of likes or why something hasn’t got loads of comments when even Facebook themselves have done studies to prove that there is no correlation between a like and a brand uplift.

Creativebrief: Looking outside the industry, personally, who or what are you inspired by?

Pollyanna Ward: I’ve always loved Spotify. If I could work anywhere, I would want to work at Spotify. They use data in the sexiest way, the coolest way and also the most useful way. They’ve gone about their advertising in the right way and they’ve gone about using their data in the right way. I always see what they’ve done recently as inspiration. In terms of the people that I follow, Richard Shotton, he’s a behavioural psychologist or behavioural economist, I don’t know what he’d choose to go by. He pulls different adverts and why they worked from a behavioural perspective. When thinking about what’s awesome and who’s doing crazy things in the industry, I definitely look to different tweeters to see what they’re talking about.