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How Diageo taps the zeitgeist

News, 12 January 2017
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LONDON: Diageo delivers truth in its marketing by acknowledging reality, according to the drinks giant's head of culture and entertainment.

But Leila Fataar, the first holder of the title and one year into her role, admitted that assessing the impact of this "cultural marketing" approach is not straightforward.

"When we talk about marketing that's more than a pouring deal and not just about advertising then that's hard to measure," she told The Drum.

For now, sharing is her preferred KPI, although she added that "everything we do needs to drive to sale".

Fataar's modus operandi differs from the usual in that she generally avoids working with traditional agencies, instead favouring "cultural voices" that may be non-traditional agencies or freelancers.

"They are creators that are not necessarily creatives and it's about how you connect them with the connectors [social media platforms] who are bought, owned and earned," she explained.

One example of this way of working came at last year's Notting Hill Festival, Europe's biggest street festival, when Fataar explored the links between Guinness and the Caribbean and how these tapped into the purpose of the brand – Arthur Guinness having been particularly community-minded.

So she teamed up with Boiler Room, an online music broadcasting platform that commissions and streams live music sessions, to stream eight of the Carnival's biggest and best sound systems to the world: some 2.5m tuned in with Boiler Room's social channels pushing the total to 36m organically; and there were 500,000 instances of engagement on earned media.

"I know if you put a logo over something then that's not going to gel with the people within that culture", said Fataar. "What we do has to be authentic and you can only really do that if you're part of it and respecting it as well."

This in increasingly important in a marketing environment where consumers are eschewing brand messages for personal experiences. "It [marketing] has to feel like an eco-system of influence, something that's peer-to-peer rather than just one person going for reach," she said.

That's not to say that bought media doesn't still have a role. "You have to be able to hit the broader target as well as the core people," she added. "One doesn't really work without the other, especially on big brands."

Data sourced from The Drum; additional content by Warc staff

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