Running the global show: Garbhan O'Bric, global brand director of Baileys

How a brand can weave itself into the "rich fabric of culture"

Garbhan O'Bric is based in Diageo's headquarters in Dublin. He is responsible for the global marketing for Baileys and works with Sunshine, Mother and R/GA.

How do you structure your global marketing operation to ensure the best ideas rise to the top?
First, you need to define what makes a great idea. I believe it is one that enables a brand to transcend its category and weave itself into the rich fabric of culture. This means the starting point is very different: you work back from culture, not out from category. You work from the things that are shaping the lives and motivations of the consumer who is making that purchase decision at that time.

So our global marketing function needs to be structured in a way where everyone is attuned and aware of culture in all its manifestations. You need to put the opportunity or problem at the heart, not the process.

We divide our marketing function by core competence. We have the heads of all the different disciplines sit around one global table, but they also have direct reporting lines to colleagues who work in their discipline at a local market level.

For example, we have a global planning director in Dublin who works on consumer insights. There are also planning directors in London, New York, Shanghai and Mexico. They are all in constant dialogue, learning about their respective markets, sharing learnings and working together. Tech enables that constant dialogue and shared decision-making.

We also have a creative counsel to ensure we are enjoying skills and experiences from all around the world.

How do you ensure the different teams work together?
Culture is one of the defining elements that enables breakthrough successes. The principles of alignment and collective endeavor are fueled by deep relationships and a collective sense of ownership. Nothing quite beats being in a marketplace, so we are a well-traveled team.

Common measurement and evaluation is the lingua franca of global marketing. We work hard to ensure we have quantitative and qualitative standardized KPIs, so all the work we do is liberated from geographic reflection. There’s a culture of accountability and mutual alliances.

How do you foster this culture?
We have to appeal to the heart as much as the head. It’s hard enough today to get ideas to cut through. It is so hard to create, identify, nourish and bring to life a brilliant new creative idea that ties together all the marketing challenges and is effective. Everybody has to go above and beyond together. But they are only going to do that if they have emotional skin in the game. They need that to be engaged, believe and have meaning.

How do you incentivize your agencies to work together?
We don’t. Instead, we work incredibly hard to make sure the fit is right when we select our agencies. They need a common mindset so the principles of mutual reliance are deeply ingrained. There’s an
alliance of the willing. That changes the nature of the dynamic.

When you have chosen the right agency, you work hard to make sure you nurture them. We also go out of our way to celebrate what our teams have achieved.

How do you ensure you are getting the right feedback?
Everyone’s opinion is valued. We welcome dissent. We invite people to challenge each other. We work hard through our relationships to create trust. Trust is a key enabler to get people to be open and frank and to work in a collegiate fashion.

How do you shorten the feedback loop?
The issue is no longer shortening the time. The feedback loop is immediate and live. The issue is with the vast amount of information – how do you enrich the feedback loop so the quality of your measurement and evaluation is as informative as possible? Trying to manage the avalanche of data is the real challenge.

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