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The Essence of Storytelling

Former Chief Marketing Officer at Bacardi & Walgreens Boots Alliance

IP Interview
Published on April 12, 2020

Why is this interview interesting?

  • Why truth is the foundation of any powerful story
  • How to curate connection points with your brand and the consumer
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

In terms of storytelling, in your opinion, is this the essence of it, in terms of this moment that has to capture the consumer? How do you think about story telling?

Personally, I think story telling is everything in life. As marketeers, what we’re trying to do is influence consumers, to at least consider, but at best, engage and purchase our brands, our products. That’s what we’re trying to do. In order to do that, you need to understand how to win over the consumer’s hearts and minds. How to story tell. The one thing I’d say to young marketeers is, ensuring you know what your story is. In other words, what is the position of your brand, strategically? Therefore, the stories that you can tell that are on brand, that will deliver the performance that you need to deliver, whilst growing the brand equity that you are charged with growing. That’s it. That’s marketing. There is nothing more important.

Additionally, ensuring that those messages land at the most powerful moment they can, is what connection of moment influence planning is all about. I’d just say to marketeers of today, that story telling is not just about your consumers. It’s also about your internal organization. Have you told your story to your internal organization? Does your internal organization believe that they can win with your brand? Believe that your brand is the brand that they want to go out and talk about and tell stories about, to their customers, to their stakeholders, today.

For me, storytelling is the core of what marketeers do. The only preface I put on it is, you’ve got to do the strategic work first, so that you know the stories that you should be telling, you have a right to tell and are believable and engaging to your consumers.

What makes a great story, in your opinion?

I think it needs to come from a foundation of truth. I think, from that truth, you need to find ways that it can actually tell a story in an engaging manner that has your consumers wanting more. That has your consumers going, you know what, this brand gets me. It understands my life. It’s talking to me, in my language and it’s saying things where I go, wow, have you seen that? I want to tell other people that story. I want to share that content. I want people to understand and feel the same way as I’m feeling about this brand. Again, it goes back to being strategically clear and having your strategic foundation absolutely solidified.

Then understanding your consumer’s world and the insights and the motivations and needs that are driving them and matching your story and your telling of your story, to the way in which your consumer wants to receive that information and will have them go, wow; this brand gets me, I get it. Let’s get together.

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