CMO50 #26-50: Rob Langtry, Australian Wool Innovation
As global chief of strategy and marketing officer for Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) since 2010, and a strategic consultant since 2007, Langtry has led the organisation’s transformation from R&D operative to brand and marketing powerhouse.
He was instrumental in getting the not-for-profit organisation to invest 50 per cent of its budget into marketing, and has since worked on expanding the array of marketing activities undertaken globally using consumer insights, content, digital and partnerships as tools for success.
“We continue to build global partnerships, retail engagement and consumer advocacy for the Merino wool fibre, using demand pressure to increase returns to Australian woolgrowers,” he says.
“This is on a digital-first basis. By deep engagement with our supply chain and customers, and consistent qualitative and quantitative insight work, we’re ensuring we are answering the questions our audiences are asking.”
From the CMO50 submission
Business contribution and innovation
For a decade up to 2009, the Australian wool industry did not market the fibre it produced. Under Langtry’s leadership, the group developed a five-year plan to get it back on its, feet then built a digitally driven marketing department from the ground up. It also created three key global campaigns, each involving different components of the global fashion industry and supply chain.
After decades of no real price increases, the value of wool jumped within three months of campaigns launched and from 2010 until now, pricing has moved from $8 a kilo to $12.50. In addition, AWI has gone from no global partners to more than 80 over the same timeframe.
This was achieved against economic headwinds and at a time when most other Australian commodities have suffered reversals, Langtry said.
Modern marketing and customer engagement thinking and effectiveness
In 2010, AWI decided to recreate the Woolmark Orize for young designers. From a startup event, it now runs globally on an annual basis and has a jury of the world’s leading fashion designers. In 2015, it has generated over 1.3 billion OTS.
This program has helped reposition wool from being an old-fashioned product to being closely associated with high-end and cutting-edge designers and combines events, PR, digital and social media.
Langtry has also instituted a CRM alumnus that acts as a basis for networking and growing demand.
Another ongoing and successful marketing activity is the ‘The Campaign for Wool’. This is an advocacy platform for wool as a natural fibre. His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, is lead spokesperson for the program.
The campaign started by grassing over London’s iconic suit street, Savile Row, and grazing sheep on it. Since then, Langtry and his team have done similar events leading fashion cities including the Palais de Tokyo, the Bund in Shanghai, Galleria Milano in Milan, and Bryant Park in New York.
This year, AWI will close Via Napoleaone in Milan and graze sheep on this iconic street. This program has engaged over 600 retailers, 700 million plus OTS. All of this has delivered a positive return on investment to growers, Langtry said.
Data and/or technology driven approach
In 2010, AWI started building an internal creative capability that includes concept, video production, graphic design. Langtry said it has built assets used by retail partners (wool being an ingredient brand) to help them tell the story of wool. In addition, the team works across Facebook (1m plus), Web, Wei chat, Sriboga, Twitter and blogger networks to generate unique content.
This has led to direct engagement with many of the world’s leading fashion and apparel brands, most of who use AWI’s in-hour produced copy or content to tell the story of the Woolmark and Australian Merino wool.
Langtry said he fosters creativity by deep engagement with the supply chain and customers.
“We drive consistent qualitative and quantitative insight work to ensure we are answering the questions our audiences are asking,” he added.