Interviews

Mario Rauter

Senior Brand Strategy Manager at Lloyds Banking Group

Ben Somerset-How

Client Director

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creativebrief: How has your career path led you to marketing at Lloyds Banking Group?

Mario Rauter: It’s certainly far from straightforward – some dabbling in journalism and arts marketing to begin with, then found myself in an Austrian telco start up doing content marketing and a bit of sponsorship; that was then bought by Orange and they needed someone to lead the external communications for the rebrand to Orange. I can’t have messed that up too badly, Orange global hired me to move to London where I did Global Sponsorship strategy for 28 markets, and then managed their first pan-European sponsorship for EURO 2012. After that, I joined EE to help launch their new brand, and then decided that I’d seen most of Telco and wanted to try my hands at a new problem: banking brands. 

Fascinating, to go from young tech brands to a brand with a 250 year history, and also a brand that was at the time marred by the financial crisis and had to fight a battle to regain a share of the public’s trust.

creativebrief: Why did you choose a career in marketing?

Mario Rauter: The constant newness of the next exciting project (that may contain things or technologies I haven’t got the slightest clue about and need to figure out how to work with first), combined with the long-term commitment of running a brand and developing and growing it is a very attractive proposition. And for me, marketing is about storytelling, in many guises. If I get to do that, I’m happy.

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

Mario Rauter: Believe in what you and what your brand are doing. Believe in your customers to do the right thing, and encourage them to do it. The magic point of success sits where those three intersect, and create commercially relevant actions from your customers. If you can do that time and again, and stay hungry (with a large dose of foolish), what’s to stop you from having a brilliant career?

creativebrief: And who is a great example of this?

Mario Rauter: Well, one of my all-time icons is Wally Olins. He’s had a pretty good run, wouldn’t you say? Other great marketers are the YBA, people like Tracy Emin – may not be the traditional marketer you think of, but I can’t think of a better example of authentic brand marketing!

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

Mario Rauter: That people don’t want to be marketed to, simple as that. Marketing must evolve, and brands must evolve, to be in a constant, truly meaningful two-way conversation with people (and I say people, and not customers on purpose!). To stay relevant in a time when people are exponentially more flooded with brands in more channels, so that marketing becomes background white noise, and you’re really competing for people’s time they spend with you. How can you add something valuable to people’s lives, and make them want to spend time with your brand, that’s the challenge. 

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

Mario Rauter: I think it’s part of my job to keep up with technological developments and innovation in comms, with the latest thinking on brands and how to interact with customers better – to their benefit, and to the benefit of the brand I’m working on. Talking to people about their experience and what they think the next big thing is going to be is the lion’s share of how I keep up, and reading, of course.

creativebrief: How does this impact your relationship with agencies?

Mario Rauter: I am lucky enough that I work with agencies that bring the latest thinking and innovations to the table and are keen to try them out and make them work, so we’ve got quite good partnerships in that respect.

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

Mario Rauter: Two projects spring to mind: I remember the feeling when I worked on the launch of EE and that big blue brand went live across the UK. Central London was covered in EE ads, every paper wrapped in EE, and you couldn’t escape Kevin Bacon on TV. When numbers for the launch came in and the brand did hugely well, that was a huge moment of pride; and when customers really experienced the magic of technology.

Also, getting Halifax back on track after the banking crisis, and seeing more and more customers trust the brand again, not just for their everyday banking, but even more for huge emotional purchases like their first house with their first mortgage from the Hali, that customer trust is a great outcome to brand work.

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

Mario Rauter: A combination of two things, first, proper numbers speak. It’s about knowing what your customer is currently worth, and what they are going to be worth, and how much you need to invest and when, to keep the relationship between a brand and a customer profitable. And, keep the relationship relevant to people you’re talking to, and meaningful. When you can demonstrate profitability of marketing’s contributions to the overall P&L, you will inevitably raise the profile of marketing.

The second thing you’d want to have in your armoury: a ton of customer insight, relevant truths about people that the business can use to better talk to them, gain an advantage, and improve what it’s currently doing.

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

Mario Rauter: A generalist, of course! While I have strengths in some marketing areas, in others I’m happy to rely on the help of a team or colleagues – and learn from each other as we go and create amazing stuff!

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.