Helen Warren-Piper is an experienced strategic marketer and business leader who has successfully worked within the FMCG sector at P&G and United Biscuits. Helen is currently Marketing Director for Grocery brands at Premier Foods plc.
What was the inspiration behind the new ‘Bisto Together Project’?
Bisto has always been a brand centred on bringing families together. We have just launched the latest extension to our brand – the ‘Bisto Simply Casserole’ range. For the launch, we ran a campaign to find people who hadn’t seen a friend or family member for years and wanted to be reunited over a hearty home cooked Bisto meal. After going through 1200 applications we filmed three different stories – the first one was an ice trucker called Kev who was separated from his family for weeks on end. His family were flown out to meet him in meal together. The campaign stories are a moving reminder of the simple pleasure of sitting down to dinner with friends and family which is exactly what the Bisto brand stands for. You can see all three campaign stories here: http://www.bistotogetherproject.com/
What is the biggest misconception about Premier Foods?
There’s a misconception that Premier Foods is a trading business that doesn’t invest in its brands and that it’s a hard place to work. Over the last couple of years in particular, there has been real recognition that we need to grow our brands and the only way to do that is to invest, get consumers to really love the brands and to deliver more relevant innovation to market. We spend over £20m in ATL media – I don’t think that people always realise the level of investment we really do make.
What qualities do you look for when you are interviewing brand marketers?
1. Strategic thinking – someone who can see the bigger picture and is strong at concept/copy.
2. Leadership - the roles we have here allow people to eventually lead a business unit when they reach Brand Director level and as such these people set the direction for the whole business. We need people who are strong leaders and can give examples of how they can envision, energise and influence others to achieve results.
3. Creative Agencies are part of the team – we need people who recognise that creative agencies are an extension of the team and should not be treated like a supplier. It’s important to give feedback and encouragement in equal measures. Clients get the work they deserve if they put the right level of effort into helping agencies to really understand their brand.
What are your top interview tips?
- Look smart. Dress suitably for an interview. It’s important to make a good first impression.
- Get your small talk right. An interview is not only about your experience, it’s about giving a sense that you ‘gel’ personally into the culture of the company and the team.
- When talking through your experience, clearly give context, an action and a result. Don’t assume people understand the context and always be crystal clear on the commercial result you were aiming for and achieved.
What have been some of the biggest highlights of your career?
I have been lucky enough to work on a number of brands and products that genuinely make a difference to people’s lives. I worked on Pampers when P&G were losing a share point a month to Huggies and helped turn the brand around by creating the new “baby stages of development” nappies range and TVC’s to launch them. I also worked on Iams and Eukanuba and developed staged nutrition products to look after pets at different stages of life and help them to live longer. These products were launched across France, Italy, Germany and the UK. It’s now a privilege to work on so many well loved brands at Premier Foods like Bisto, Ambrosia, Sharwood’s etc. Finding ways to keep the brands relevant and aligned with the changing needs of Mums – such as enabling them to provide a home cooked meal for their family as well as managing their busy lives – is a challenge I love.
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