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CMO50 2016 #4: Lisa Winn, Coca-Cola South Pacific

  • Name Lisa Winn
  • Title Marketing director
  • Company Coca-Cola South Pacific
  • Commenced role July 2014 (with Coca-Cola since 2002)
  • Reporting Line Business unit president
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 62 staff, 6 direct reports
  • Industry Sector FMCG
  • 2015 ranking New to CMO50
  • Brand Post

    A gentle nudge by a concerned university professor changed Lisa Winn’s career path. The Kiwi-born marketing professional, who is the marketing director of Coca-Cola South Pacific, says this ‘pivotal moment’ changed the course of her life.

    “I was enrolled in an honours economics class at Otago University in New Zealand and involved in a lot of maths, and I remember a professor tapping me on the shoulder saying ‘I don't think you're really enjoying this’,” she says. “I had to confess I wasn’t.

    “He pointed to the marketing faculty next door, and said there was an honours class in marketing and I should go and see if that engaged me more. So I knocked on the door of the marketing faculty and found it suited me a lot better. I’ve always looked back at that advice and thank him.”

    And Winn has never looked back, embracing the marketing community as her professional corner and feeling right at home in the discipline.

    Over the years, she has held various roles at Unilever and an array of positions at Coca-Cola since 2002, including brand management and director of strategic planning, enabling Winn to gather a wealth of experience she says feeds back into her current marketing leadership role.

    Innovative thinking

    Discussing milestones, Winn says the ‘colouryoursummer’ campaign ticks all boxes in terms of innovative thinking, breaking norms and being disruptive.

    “In 2014 we found that young adults simply didn’t feel that Coke had an affordable smaller pack size or was ‘speaking their language’. Coke was also not seen as cool because it lacked the critical factor of ‘defying convention’.

    In response, the team launched a new range of limited edition multi-coloured 250ml cans. Not only were the cans a new colour, they also formed a readable code. Every combination of six coloured cans was a different code that unlocked unique colourful experiences, games, content and prizes all via world-first image-recognition technology housed within the brand's mobile site.

    "Thus the cans – as codes - gave the audience access to a hidden, colourful world that had been created just for them," Winn says.

    The five-month campaign was a huge success, with more than eight million cans sold, and more than 838,000 codes unlocked.

    According to Winn’s CMO50 submission, it was the first time the group developed a major summer program with no TV media, reaching 75 per cent of the target demographic through a social and digital-led program.

    "We took our biggest asset, our iconic red packaging, and turned it not only into a code that could unlock a world of content, but also highly visual on shelf.”

    It also opened up the team’s creative development to others, particularly social influencers who ‘took control’ of the brand message. As a result of the #colouryoursummer work with Australian singer, Troye Sivan, the campaign became the number one trending hashtag globally on Twitter.

    Driving change at local level

    Winn says her “personal passion is innovation”, and cites setting up the first innovation incubator for Coca-Cola in Australia as a major achievement. The ambition was to create new billion dollar business utilising existing Coca-Cola assets.

    Winn recruited two startup entrepreneurs and set up its first co-founded team, ‘Red Garage’. The first six months was focused on embedding the team into the business, helping them to understand both the problems Coca-Cola faced and what assets it had available. It then used an open innovation framework and worked with partners at Coca-Cola Amatil to make available over 700Gb of supply chain data.

    After a weekend-long program sharing day-to-day business problems highlighted by everyone from truck drivers to sales reps, 12 new business ideas emerged. One of the ideas has led to a new, rapidly growing business venture, Hivery, which uses data analytics and machine learning to optimise the company’s vending machines.

    In its pilot, the Hivery team generated double-digit revenue and delivered efficiencies from each vending machine. Hivery now employs 10 people, has contracts with major Coca-Cola bottlers partners in Australia, New Zealand and United States, and has other countries in the pipeline.

    With innovation high on the agenda, Winn says she is also working to bring agility to the marketing function.

    “Like any corporate, reducing bureaucracy and unnecessary red tape is always something we need to be vigilant about. Improving agility is an important focus of mine, and in fact our entire leadership team," she says.

    As an example of agility, Winn says the company uses a detailed ‘marketing factory’ process to allow marketing materials to move swiftly through decision gates and provide clarity to everyone at every step of the way.

    “An important part of the creative process is ensuring that there is only one accountable decision maker at every creative gate. As part of this process, in the past six months we have delegated decision authority to more members of the team,” she continues.

    Asked whether the role of marketing has changed, Winn borrows the proverb: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” What has changed is the manifestation of how people solve problems, and the media channels and the way marketers connect with them.

    “We have a strong digital presence - we have a social team. We are involved in big data and all of the things that are happening in the world," Winn says. "But by the same token, I feel my role is to bring people back to the basics: what is the problem we are trying to solve? What is the return on investment?

    "Let’s get rid of all of the jargon - bring it back to its simplest and back to its core. I feel that [marketing] hasn’t changed because people are still people at the end of the day. Building a connection with people is what we do in marketing.”

    While her list of successful campaigns are stacking up, Winn recognises her achievements and milestones have also come about thanks to her creative and talented team.

    “The piece I am most excited about is the team that we have," she adds. "Building the team is one of my biggest accomplishments... My role as marketing director is to support the idea, nurture it, to remove roadblocks, and to help it go through the system as quickly as it can.”


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