The diary of a marketing VP

Jan 2nd

Jan 2nd

Met new boss today. Seems to be an oil guy – kept telling me that my pipeline wasn’t full enough due to an inadequate funnel. Follow-up

e-mail was about innovation – crazy guy!

Jan 3rd

Convened the team to discuss ramping up innovation. Research said we should segment the market then head for the white spaces; Technical said to ask our suppliers who was doing anything new; Brand team said we should copy last competitor’s launch; Sales said to ask customers what they wanted. Got an e-mail afterwards from Manufacturing asking if anyone had thought of just selling more of what we already make. Ha! As if.

Jan 17th

Just back from a day’s off-site brainstorm facilitated by an Innovation consultant. He turned on the ambient music and had us think of ideas that began with the letter F. When I woke up, I was disappointed to see only one idea on the board – ‘Fuck this, I’m going’ – and no one knew where the Sales VP was.

Jan 30th

We now have 52 concepts. Today we tried to hone them down against our consultant’s criteria of new consumer, new channels, new needs, which actually didn’t reduce the list at all. Which is great – 52 killer ideas! Just when I was feeling good; our Finance VP e-mailed me his criteria which he called the 3 P’s: Popular, Practical, Profitable. This ruled them all out, so I told him we needed filters, not blockages.

Feb 7th

I accompanied our Innovation Director to today’s Sales Management team meeting where she presented our chosen idea. This being her first such meeting, she took the responses badly. I told her that them throwing their pens down and staring at the ceiling en masse muttering: ‘I don’t believe it’ was a good sign; when I did that job they once threw my laptop out of the window. Also, I loved her response to the question of ‘So which of our long-standing, famous brands are we going to de-list to make space for this pile of crap?’ ‘Well, err… I thought you might, umm, try to get one of the competitor products

de-listed’ – I thought such naiveté had long since died out.

May 23rd

We’re off to the races and did a ‘preview presentation’ to our biggest customer today. All we have to do is drop our corporate colour and make it green to suit their shelving, and it’s a definite listing. Slam dunk!

Jan 3rd

Met the new boss today. He seems to be another oil guy, so he’ll be used to cleaning up messes then, I joked. Not sure we hit it off.

Jan 4th

Reluctantly tried another approach today – polled the entire department to ask their parents, partners and children what had been the best innovations in recent times. Pathetic list came out of it: Food & Drink: chopped lettuce; Household items: Swiffer; Alcohol: light beer.

Like, what is so innovative about salad, dusting, and beer that doesn’t taste of beer???? Anyway, brainstorm session tomorrow, where we have to look for ideas in ink-blot pictures. I can’t wait.

Twenty-plus years of marketing was enough for John Bradley; he left to do other things which interest him. He doesn’t write this column to pitch for work, but is just trying to help the next generation of marketers simplify an overly complex profession. He values and responds to feedback at