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Functional versus Emotional Brands

Former Chief Marketing Officer at Bacardi & Walgreens Boots Alliance

IP Interview
Published on April 12, 2020

Why is this interview interesting?

  • The difference in marketing functional versus emotional brands
Executive Bio

Andy Gibson

Former Chief Marketing Officer at Bacardi & Walgreens Boots Alliance

Andy began his career at Diageo in 1999 where he was primed in the Diageo Way of Brand Building and led various different spirit brands across different continents. In 2011, he joined Carlton United Breweries, the leading beer company in Australia, as Chief Marketing Officer where he led the revival of the VB brand. In 2013, Andy joined Bacardi as CMO where he managed the global brand portfolio including Bacardi, Grey Goose and Bombay Sapphire generating revenue of over $4bn. In 2015, Andy joined Walgreens Boots Alliance, the $26bn revenue global pharmacy, where he led the Global Brands Portfolio.

Interview Transcript

How would you describe marketing spirits, versus the healthcare brands, within the pharmacy world, at Walgreens Boots Alliance?

They are two really different categories. I call everyone a brand manager. Everyone in the world is a brand manager, who touches a brand in any way. It’s absolutely imperative that brand managers understand their category, understand how their category operates and what the drivers for consumer choice are, of their category.

The spirits category is an emotional category. You can’t talk function in the spirits category. You can’t market off, mine is stronger than yours. It’s illegal. If we boil it down, all spirits are, are ethanol. What you’ve got to do, in the spirits category is build the emotional reasons that consumers want to purchase your brand. You’ve got to build a world, in your consumer’s hearts and minds, that’s better than the world they currently live in and a world that they want to go to, that differentiates from your competitors. It’s all emotional. It’s all badging.

If this didn’t exist in the world, we’d all be walking around drinking plastic bags of ethanol. But we’re not. We’re buying Grey Goose, at three times the price of Smirnoff, because we’re creating worlds when we do spirit marketing. We’re creating this emotional place, that consumers want to say, this is me. I badge with this. In the healthcare world, consumers aren’t looking for emotional benefits, primarily. Primarily, they are working for efficacy. They’re working for, I have a symptom, I have an issue and what I want is efficacy. I want to know that what I’m taking is going to work, first and foremost. It’s going to work better than, perhaps, the brand that I’m currently consuming. In the healthcare world, the messaging shifts, very much, to an efficacy first driven message, followed by an emotional message.

People are still buying into the emotionality of the brand, otherwise there wouldn’t be brands in the healthcare world. But they want to know that they work, first. So very, very different.

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