Pat Gray

Vice-President of MarketingRogers Video, Richmond, B.C.Pat Gray graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1968 with a Bachelor of Commerce & Business Administration (Honors Marketing.)Shortly thereafter, Gray accepted a position with Standard Brands (later Nabisco Brands) as a sales representative,...

Vice-President of Marketing

Rogers Video, Richmond, B.C.

Pat Gray graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1968 with a Bachelor of Commerce & Business Administration (Honors Marketing.)

Shortly thereafter, Gray accepted a position with Standard Brands (later Nabisco Brands) as a sales representative, later moving into the marketing department in Montreal.

In 1971, he joined Nabob Foods advancing over 10 years to the position of marketing manager.

In 1981, he left to become a private marketing consultant and small businessman.

In 1983, Gray returned to the corporate world as a marketing manager with Rogers Cablesystems.

Between 1987-90, during a second stint as a self-employed businessman, he acted as a marketing consultant for two credit unions and a computer accessory company.

In 1990, Rogers Cablesystems lured him back to the corporate world as marketing manager for its subsidiary, Rogers Video.

In February, Gray was promoted to his current position as vice-president of marketing.

- During the 1970s, revamped Nabob Foods’ powdered dessert brands, taking sales from 5% of the market in Western Canada to 35% on a sustained basis.

- Boosted 1992 sales (as opposed to rentals) of movies at Rogers Video outlets by 53% by adding display bins, new product lines and staff incentives to existing marketing plan.

We asked:

Q. Are you a believer in marketing by science or intuition?

A. ‘Marketing is a blend of science and common sense that, with a spark of creativity, can yield effective results that do not always need to break the bank.’

Q. Was there a significant turning point in your career?

A. ‘Leaving the food industry and consumer packaged goods after 15 years, and then successfully applying my marketing skills in a variety of industries, including tourism, banking, communications and, now, home entertainment made me appreciate what a marketable profession I enjoy.’

Q. Who or what influenced you the most in your marketing career?

A. ‘Twelve years ago I had the opportunity to work with a promotion house in New York. Working directly with their creative talent helped me to discover my own creativity and encouraged me to be more of an entrepreneur and innovator.’

Q. What is your favorite marketing campaign (not including campaigns with which you have been involved)?

A. ‘I was privileged to be associated with the Nabob Foods and Maxwell House roasted coffee comparative campaign in the late ’70s. I was purely a spectator, but appreciate what was accomplished. It ranks with the Coke-Pepsi comparative campaign in the result it achieved.’

Q. What is your favorite ad (not including ads with which you have been involved)?

A. ‘My favorite ads were the series of Campbell Soup billboards which communicated the warmth/goodness of Campbell Soups, in particular, one in which a hot water radiator was painted to resemble the Campbell Soup label – simple yet powerful – no copy was required.’

Q. What do you do in your spare time?

A. ‘Make lists of things I have to do outside my spare time. Seriously, I play tennis, a bit of skiing, and I enjoy having friends over to watch a good movie in our home theatre.’

Q. What is the most recent book you’ve read?

A. ‘I’m currently reading The Client, by John Grisham.’

Q. What do you love most about the marketing business?

A. ‘I enjoy the pace, the constant change, the freedom to experiment and use creative new approaches. With 70 stores, it’s easy to test, and you can measure the results quickly.’

Creative/strategic sense

‘We don’t have a formal ad agency at Rogers, so Pat writes a lot of the ads we run.’

‘He’s great at developing ideas. If you go to him with an idea, he can come up with all sorts of twists and turns you never would have thought of.’

‘He’s a creative and conceptual marketer, and he’s very action-oriented. He can take a creative idea and make it happen.’

‘He’s a great proponent of creative in the sense that he appreciates the role of creativity in marketing strategy. He is the first to say there is a place in a marketing department for creative people as opposed to number crunchers and business school grads.’

Management style

‘He’s a practical joker, so when things are getting a bit too serious and too intense, you can always rely on Pat to alleviate the tension with a good joke.’

‘When he was looking after Squirrel peanut butter [at Nabob,] he had T-shirts made up showing a squirrel strangling the bear from the Kraft peanut butter label. The staff loved it.’

Business sense

‘I would describe him as the kind of guy who would zig when others zag.’

‘Pat was an entrepreneur at a time when marketers were primarily focussed on moving share ahead.’

‘Pat stood out at Nabob for his organization and his forethought. I have never come across anyone who researches so thoroughly and then works it through step by step exactly as planned.’

Competitive sense

‘There is nothing he likes better than going head-to-head with a Rogers Video competitor in a particular area, getting all our guns in a row and carving out our share.’

Next issue: Sharon McCarry, marketing manager, Rollerblade, Montreal.