Building a career by building world class brands
Five years ago, I was far from my native Ireland teaching English and Media Studies to South Korean business students in Seoul, with little interest in a business career myself. However, after living and working abroad for a while, I began to see how important brands are to everyday life. Ironically – given my career at Kellogg – I struggled to find the familiar cereals I loved. Most weren’t sold in South Korea and, interestingly, those I could find were marketed quite differently.
I became intrigued by how successful products draw on culture and decided to pursue a career change. Around my 29th birthday, I returned to Ireland to begin a one-year master’s degree in marketing. That’s when I found my passion for shaping strategy and set out to work for a FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) company.
Crunchy Nuts’ classic tagline. Yum!
In late 2015, I began looking for my first-ever business job. Kellogg’s, a company I was very interested in, took a chance and hired me into their Innovation Team. They embraced my previous cross-cultural background and hired me for a job where people usually have much more experience. Fortunately, I joined an extremely talented team that generously helped me learn my role and the business. I quickly learned a lot about how we bring new foods to market and 18 months later expressed interest in learning the communications side of the business. Soon, a role opened up within the Brand Team working on Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut and I was offered the job.
David holding a box of the redesigned packaging of Crunchy Nut
Today, I oversee brand marketing – the equity and communications – for Crunchy Nut in the U.K., Kellogg Europe’s biggest brand in its biggest market. Crunchy Nut is almost 40 years old and enjoys incredible equity that we are always building on rather than reinventing. It’s the terrific taste of Crunchy Nut that gets people into troublesome life situations because, per our tagline, “the trouble is they taste too good!”
Recently, we put our equity to the test with the first-ever evening snacking campaign for a cereal in our region. To capitalize on the brand’s equity, we focused on different snacker characters who all get in a bit of trouble because they can’t resist Crunchy Nut. This included the noisy snacker, selfish snacker, sneaky snacker and messy snacker. With our agency partner, we developed an exciting digital campaign prompting people to tag any snackers they know who fit these profiles. The response was extraordinary and, by all metrics, the campaign was a huge success.
In my role, I worked with our media team and agency partners to bring this creative execution to life. It’s one of the many benefits of working at Kellogg’s; I get to work on huge brands with talented people in a culture where we are challenged to collaborate and take calculated risks.
David and his colleague working on the Crunchy Nut campaign
For anyone out there reading this blog who’s interested in similar work, I encourage you to carefully research companies to identify those with the right culture, making products you actually care about. Luckily, I’m also the end-consumer here at Kellogg’s, so that makes my job all the more interesting and enjoyable. I’d also suggest you to be open to what you’ll learn. I occasionally guest lecture at a local university on this topic and always tell students to seek a company with a strong culture around “learning by doing”. This is where Kellogg’s has been fantastic for me, providing a supportive environment where I am encouraged to develop competencies beyond my comfort zone. I continue to grow and learn on the job.