Interviews

Jan Gooding

Group Brand Director at Aviva

Ben Somerset-How

Client Director

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Jan Gooding is the Group Brand Director of Aviva and the Chair of Stonewall.

Jan began her career in the agency world, before becoming managing partner of two marketing consultancies then moving client side to senior roles at BT and British Gas.

In 2008 she joined Aviva and is currently responsible for the brand and customer marketing strategy for the Aviva group and the effectiveness of the marketing function that supports it. Aviva is the largest insurer in UK with a total of 34 million customers across Europe, Asia and Canada.

Jan holds an MA in Economics from Cambridge University, is a Fellow of the Marketing Society and a member of WACL.

 

Creativebrief: As Group Brand Director, what is your primary focus?

Jan Gooding:  I am responsible for the development of the Aviva Group’s brand and marketing strategy in all of the 16 markets in which we operate across the world. That means building the distinctiveness of our brand and what we stand for and ensuring that our ambition is evident in the customer experience. The brand is a very valuable asset and my job is to ensure that we both monitor and protect its reputation and build the equity that we already have.

Creativebrief: What is the biggest issue for your brand today and how are you addressing it?

Jan Gooding: Aviva faces slightly different challenges in its different markets. In some places, like the UK, we are a brand leader and in others, like Indonesia, we are seen as more of a challenger brand. However, if I were to pick one challenge, I would say that it is making Aviva famous across a broad offering of insurance, retirement, health, savings and investments products. Our customers have a tendency to buy one type of product from us and don’t always realise the strength of our expertise in other areas. For instance, in the UK we are well-known for being a car insurance brand and yet we look after 25% of all UK pensions.

Creativebrief: What attributes do you think are required for success for a CMO today?

Jan Gooding: A CMO has to both inspire colleagues about the role the brand plays in their success and encourage the investment that is required to ensure the brand remains relevant. To that extent, I think it is still important that marketing practitioners continue to get emotional about their brands. This connection can help to deliver significant additional value for a brand’s customers. Much has been made about marketers being commercial and being able to ‘talk the numbers’ – which is important – but bringing to life how brands perform on a ‘human empathy’ level must not be forgotten. These days a CMO often has to galvanise a large number of people across their organisation to make sure customers have a joined up experience, so the appointment of a very capable team underneath them is also vital. CMOs are no longer assessed simply on the brilliance of their marketing campaigns and providing evidence of driving growth. They are expected to generate the insight that will result in scalable innovation in a rapidly changing world, so they have to be strong leaders of the marketing function but also credible influencers across the whole business.

Creativebrief: What work are you most proud of over the course of your career?

Jan Gooding: I think, inevitably, the brand and marketing campaigns that I am most proud of are those that I helped to develop and are still relevant today. I worked on the global strategy for Johnnie Walker that resulted in the ‘Keep Walking’ campaign, which still runs across the world, and on the British Gas ‘Looking after your world’ campaign. In each case the brand was under threat from new competition and looking for a big idea. There was a lot of hard work involved, with very talented people going back to the drawing board several times before we cracked it. My ambition is that the next campaign that we develop for Aviva with Adam&Eve DDB will have similar longevity.

Creativebrief: Industry wide, what work has excited you most this year?

Jan Gooding: The campaign that really caught my eye recently came to me through my Facebook page – the Always #LikeAGirl campaign, which urged girls to redefine the phrase ‘like a girl’ from one of weakness to one of strength. All credit to P&G for landing on such a rich insight and challenging us to think about our careless and demeaning use of language. Of course, what is so brilliant about the campaign is that both men and women, as adults, fall into the same horrible trap. I also have long been an admirer of Unilever’s Dove’s campaign for real beauty, and applaud how the Always brand is making us think again about what it really means to grow up as a girl in the modern world – and how entrenched our culture of casually demeaning women can be.

 

Creativebrief: Can you tell us about your involvement with WACL?

Jan Gooding: I have been a member of ‘Women in Advertising and Communications London (WACL) for a couple of years now and hugely enjoy it. The Club is so much more than black tie dinners with interesting speakers and networking. So much is done through ‘Gather’ events and bursaries to encourage the next generation of women coming through. Not to mention the immense effort that is put into fundraising for NABS and other charities such as Alzheimer’s Society this year. I always leave a WACL event feeling replenished and energised. I enjoy the simmering feminist undertone and good humour of the women I meet there – although I can’t help regretting that it is still necessary to keep pushing the equality agenda after all this time.

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

Jan Gooding:  As our media consumption patterns evolve over the next five years, the most important issue that will face brand owners will be to work out what it is worth investing in, in terms of paid media. We all know that the trend of streaming content to our mobile screens will go to the next level and that more sophisticated marketing will integrate the purchasing process into our media consumption patterns on and off-line, and vice versa. However, many brands will still want to reach large audiences at speed. Of course, many of them will have to pay to get there, because for whatever reason they lack the propositions or creativity in their marketing to leverage the world of freely shared content. It’s an exciting period but I suspect many clients will be slower to adopt new models of media planning and buying than agencies imagine because it is hard to give up approaches that you believe worked perfectly well to date, whilst you try new formulas.

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

Jan Gooding: I like to work with a small roster of specialist agencies, where one agency is the clear strategic lead. If agencies have confidence that you value their area of expertise, and their place at the table is secure, it is perfectly possible and enjoyable to collaborate and do great work. It is increasingly unlikely that any single agency can house every capability required at any one time, so the idea of the ‘one stop shop’ is elusive and unrealistic. Ultimately I am most interested in the talent and expertise of the people working on our brand than the kind of agency they come from.

Creativebrief: How do you stay in touch with the industry’s best agencies and their work?

Jan Gooding:  I like to keep in-touch by taking on judging roles at industry awards, because the events allow you to explore a number of fascinating case studies and the strategies that marketers and their agencies come up with in more depth than you would by reading the marketing press. I have judged the Marketing Society Awards a number of times and the quality of the entries is impressive. I freely admit that I take stock of the agencies behind the campaigns – even if they don’t win awards on the night. You get a sense of who is consistently delivering the goods for a whole range of brands and budget levels. That is when I first really noticed Adam&EveDDB.

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

Jan Gooding: Actually we have just reviewed our creative agency and have appointed Adam&EveDDB, having worked with our previous agency for eleven years. This year we have also reviewed our global research and insight partners to ensure we were maximising a very significant spend. On the whole, running a pitch is a very time-consuming exercise and takes high commitment on both sides to get the most out of it. But you have to be mindful that you don’t get too comfortable with your agency partners and learn to live with each other, rather than continuing to make the effort to challenge. I do believe it is healthy to revisit how the relationship is working every year and be prepared to go through the disruption of having a look around if you believe complacency has set in.

Creativebrief: What’s your attitude to the ‘traditional’ pitch? Is there a better way?

Jan Gooding: I guess I have always regarded the traditional pitch as a bit like a particularly challenging job interview, through which you want to test the market and genuinely open yourself up to some very different ways of thinking about your brand. I appreciate there is a lot at stake on both sides, and am aware that agencies don’t always feel they have been fairly evaluated. However so far I have found it to be a very successful way of testing the market and finding a new long term partner, because it is as close as you can get to understanding how each other thinks and whether you believe you can work together before actually taking the plunge. I think the only alternative is when CMOs simply move their business to an agency, with whom they had a previously successful working relationship. I rather admire that approach, and it is certainly a demonstration of the partnership that agencies can enjoy with some of their clients and how that can be rewarded.