AB InBev's Nick Robinson: People are the backbone of successful brands and campaigns

Nick Robinson: the marketing director, UK and Ireland, at Anheuser-Busch InBev
Nick Robinson: the marketing director, UK and Ireland, at Anheuser-Busch InBev

Anheuser-Busch InBev's marketing director, UK and Ireland, explains the importance of creating campaigns with strong foundations.

I’ve been lucky to have worked on some incredible brands for some equally incredible leaders. But if I still treated marketing in the same way as I did when I started, I wouldn’t be here today – nor would the brands I work with.

As marketers, we can’t resist change and now, more than ever, we need to work faster, challenge our boundaries and embrace evolving trends to remain relevant, valuable and authentic.

People are at the heart

At the backbone of every successful brand or campaign are the people who made it happen. One thing I’ve learned in leadership is that it is crucial to employ people who are better than yourself – embrace new skills and perspectives.

Surround yourself with bright, energetic, curious people and anything is possible

For me, a huge part of my job is recruiting and developing my team. I’m a firm believer that our people should grow at the pace of their talent.

As American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "Big jobs usually go to the people who prove their ability to outgrow smaller ones."

Give your team the room to challenge themselves, take leadership and great results will follow.

A curious mind

Curiosity is key to learning and, because our environment is changing so rapidly, we need to keep opening new doors. Stay curious about your customers, new technology and your industries, and you will keep your brand alive.

In its simplest sense, the more curious we are, the easier it is for us to stay engaged and adapt, and the more likely we are to put greater effort into succeeding. And with a curious mind comes new thinking and the ability to embrace new opportunities.

Pace and agility

Forget about having time and a long-term strategy – we don’t always get that luxury any more. Moving with pace and agility is the way forward and we need to ensure we are connecting our brands to moments that matter to our consumers, not to us.

Often, these are moments in popular culture and are hard to plan for in advance. For instance, one of our most successful marketing activities in recent years was for Budweiser, where we turned around a national campaign in only four days following Wales’ performance in the Euros.

The result was momentous, with "#FreeBudForWales" trending on social media and sales of Budweiser skyrocketing. In order to have agility, you need strong foundations; most importantly, strong teamwork across functions, positive relationships with partners and trust between global and local teams.

Even if you are a big brand with a number of stakeholders involved, you can make it happen if the idea is worthy enough and foundations are strong.

Experience over value

Today’s consumers are increasingly motivated by experience and, while they live in a digital age, they still have the desire to "switch off". Real-life experiences are everything to millennials, and a brand can create true, long-standing connections by helping to facilitate these.

This was a clear success for the Corona "This is living" campaign this year, encouraging consumers to get outdoors and make meaningful, real-life memories.

The Corona Sunsets Festival series brought the pleasure of the beach to urban environments and consumers will remember this for years, unlike the bus-stop advertising they have just walked past.

Nick Robinson is the marketing director, UK and Ireland, at Anheuser-Busch InBev. He was previously marketing director, Germany, at Coca-Cola and has held several roles at Diageo in marketing, sales and innovation.

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