Philippa Snare, Chief Marketing Officer, Microsoft UK

Tom Holmes talks to Philippa Snare, Chief Marketing Officer of Microsoft UK at Microsoft Corporation.

Tom Holmes

Founder & Chairman



Tom Holmes talks to Philippa Snare, Chief Marketing Officer of Microsoft UK at Microsoft Corporation.

Philippa joined Microsoft in 2000, working as Business Development Manager at Microsoft/MSN, rising to Chief Marketing Officer, Microsoft UK in 2011.

Prior to Microsoft she was Business Development Manager at Yell and before that online design and development, rising to internet development manager at Freepages/Scoot.


Creativebrief: As CMO of Microsoft UK, you have a wide-ranging brief and a portfolio of many products, what is your primary focus?

Philippa Snare: People – getting the right people in the right jobs so they can be successful.

Purpose – helping people understand what Microsoft is about, and why we care about being in Britain and helping the local economy.

Positivity – both internally and externally I believe business is tired of the “economic environment” saying .. I think people want inspiration, ideas, creativity and passion and I would love to show how Microsoft can help everyone with that, including ourselves

Creativebrief: What are your marketing goals for 2013?

Philippa Snare: Launch the most amazing set of new Devices and Services for everyone.

Help the business grow and positively impact the British economy.

Develop a team of people who are sort after and headhunted for outstanding roles.

Keep developing and helping others.

Creativebrief: Your career has spanned Scoot, Yell and Microsoft/MSN and Microsoft UK, what have been the high points?

Philippa Snare: Rebranding from Freepages to Scoot was my first ever big marketing experience, and it was awesome, as it was a small company we all got to play big parts, and I loved it. I was very lucky to have this experience early on.

MSN, building it and being a part of it, it was a team that I will never forget being a part of, we have lost some of those people along the way and we are still extraordinarily close. Being part of something like that only happens occasionally, knowing when you are in it and appreciating it at the time is so very important.

Being part of the commonwealth games project in MS was incredible and showed me the responsibility large companies have to make a difference.

My current role is extraordinary, the scope is so wide, the teams are so wonderful and I feel so proud to be able to take a role in helping MS within the UK at a leadership level.

Creativebrief: Along the way, have there been individual marketers who particularly impressed and inspired you?

Philippa Snare: Lots of people impress me, but the ones that I remember and stick out are the ones that are just being themselves and love their jobs and help others around them be great. I don’t want to name people, as I’ll feel bad about missing others out.

I love what John Lewis did over Christmas last year, they have a very consistent way of being true to their tone and brand in Britain. The same for M&S actually with Plan A.

I also love what RedBull are doing almost daily…. They have really embraced a completely integrated way of seeing marketing and they are so creative and clear about what they get involved in, it’s fun and creative and free and content led.

Creativebrief: What key attributes must a CMO have to run a world leading brand successfully, in this day and age?

Philippa Snare: Vision – and a way to connect people to it that transcends individual product / service experience.

Passion – someone once told me you have to love a topic or a discipline … I think to be the best you can you have to love both things that you work on.
Tenacity – sometimes it can be lonely, but not in a pathetic way, just it takes too long to explain things to people and once you have thought a while you realize you can work things out without having to do that anyway.

Courage – not everyone agrees all the time, but someone needs to take action to move things forward, occasionally you have to do that without feeling backed.

Creativebrief: What does the Microsoft brand stand for?

Philippa Snare: It stands for so many things for different people, it depends what country you live in, in developed countries it stands for unleashing innovation and Limitless possibilities for people at work and at home, in less developed countries it stands for helping people get the basics, set up their own companies, for helping provide an income, for other it stands for helping people with disabilities have equal opportunities. That is one of the best parts about working for a company like Microsoft, it’s hard, but if you like helping people it’s rewarding.

Creativebrief: How are you going about overcoming consumer perceptions that Microsoft’s competitors are cooler and more agile?

Philippa Snare: We will do what we do best – focus on our strengths, stay true to our beliefs and try and create stuff that helps people in their home and work life.

We have never been a super trendy brand. What people tell us is that we are trusted, responsible, and we try to be listening and learning. I think we can get better at those things, and still be successful.

We do have a job to explain to people simply all the great things we do .. that’s an ongoing frustration and challenge.

Creativebrief: Can you give me some examples of recent campaigns you are particularly proud of and the results they achieved?

Philippa Snare: Brandon Generator see here: it’s a great piece of work and so unique and fun to work on. The team are immensely proud. It received such reach online and through social that it was a truly great example of online amplification of global advertising. 3 Monkeys PR agency were instrumental in this along with LBi.

Ubelly – I love what we have done here with some of our greenfield sites like this one: that 33 Digital have helped us with enormously.

Windows 8 Slide at bluewater.. this was fun .. and I think right, very British thing to do, stacked in Childhood silliness … totally thanks to Jam (part of Engine)

Britain Works – this is less of a campaign and more of a commitment to help Britain get back to work a lot of agencies involved but Edelman has been a great partner to us over the years.

We work with so many great agencies, including our global ones like Wunderman and UM, BMB have been great for us recently and VCCP. 


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

Philippa Snare: Five years is not long in a way, and an age in others. Video is going to continue to be awesome. Different screens for different things.

Apps I think will start to normalise and just be another complimentary approach.

Content publishing will get back to being a highly respected and sort after skill done well.

Augmented reality will continue to trickle through…

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

Philippa Snare: That largely depends on what the outcomes are we are wanting to achieve. But I would say that more and more I see above the line, below the line, through the line all merging and working much more seamlessly if they are done well. And whilst there are still instances where they have their own values, the customer is the focus and priority so as they move to consuming and researching and purchasing through multiple devices and services, we as companies that care need to recognise those needs and help them make the best decisions for themselves.

Creativebrief: Do you prefer to use local agencies by market or international/global agencies?

Philippa Snare: Both, as a global company that gives us consistency, but operating in a local market I like to be able to add in local sentiment and business to the local economy. I am British after all.

Creativebrief: When choosing agencies were you ever influenced by awards?

Philippa Snare: Not really, although it helps reconfirm my thoughts/ feelings I think.

Creativebrief: What challenges do you face, managing day-to-day agency relationships?

Philippa Snare: Time mainly – I wish I could spend more time with people.

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

Philippa Snare : It is a continual process for us at the moment, I can’t see when that will stop.

Creativebrief: How do you monitor and stay-in-touch with the agency market to ensure you work with the best?

Philippa Snare: I try and balance out going to networking sessions, formal meetings and new introductions.

I occasionally will go on the Aurora ship which helps me get to see new talent very quickly all in 3 days.

I read a lot and look at the latest stuff flying around online., and always look out for amazing new concepts or content approaches.

Sometimes the best ideas/ knowledge comes from my god children who teach me the latest craze … have you seen the market trader who sings about selling fish??

Creativebrief: Do you/have you used intermediaries in the past? What are your observations?

Philippa Snare: Not really, I prefer direct, things get lost in translation otherwise.

Creativebrief: What’s your attitude to the ‘traditional’ pitch? Do you think there is a better/more modern way?

Philippa Snare: Yes I think creativity should come through without a standard approach. I love anything unconventional as it makes people think, and mostly I love it because of other people’s reactions to it.

Creativebrief: Would you ever consider awarding an agency business without a pitch? What would they have to do / demonstrate?

Philippa Snare: No never.

Creativebrief: What are your top tips to agencies when presenting credentials to you?

Philippa Snare: Be Human.

Relationship and trust are a “click” thing …. When you look at houses your know which one has the magic that clicks for you and makes you want to buy it. It’s the same with agency relationships; don’t take it personally if it doesn’t click with me or my team, just accept you won’t always click with everyone all the time.

Don’t Sell – Be normal and trust that your brilliance will shine through.

Creativebrief: What was the most impressive agency presentation you have ever seen?

Philippa Snare: Not sure this is a conventional agency presentation but I currently love this: as a way to stimulate creativity and bottom line growth. And this along the same lines – although the style is great and digestible to engage and learn and listen to.

Creativebrief: And finally Philippa, which marketing organisations do you particularly support and encourage?

Philippa Snare: The Marketing Academy and ISBA.