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Talking with Creative Leaders: Why Marketers Have Never Been So Important

An interview with Sarah Broomfield,

Director of Marketing at Campbells Company of Canada

For our second interview in our creative leaders series we jumped at the opportunity to pick Sarah Broomfield's brain on many topics, learning why she thinks marketers have never been so important, why it's vital to adapt plans in real-time and how getting away from your desk can foster creative thinking. We hope you enjoy her POV as much as we do.

Tell me a little bit about your role.

My portfolio spans soup, food and beverage categories, which comprise about 70% of the company’s total sales. I have a talented team of Assistant Brand Managers, Brand Managers and Senior Brand Managers that report into me, leading the strategy for one of the most iconic brands, Campbells, as well as newer growth brands like Pacific Soup, Pace Salsa, and Prego Pasta Sauce, all of which are facing unique market challenges and opportunities.

How do you feel Marketing has changed over the past year?

I find Marketing to be one of the most interesting business functions as we are involved in both the strategy and execution of brand plans, which necessitates tight collaboration with all the other functions within the company. This collaboration requires Marketers to have a deep understanding of the operational and financial implications of all initiatives, alongside the traditional marketing responsibilities to create integrated marketing communication plans and launch new innovation.

Recent macro-economic trends and the lingering impact of the pandemic have put tremendous strain on supply chain operations and companies’ bottom lines, forcing Brand Marketers to apply an even greater level of focus to areas such as demand planning, financial forecasting and pricing strategy, in order to continue to win in a very challenging and competitive market dynamic. The role of a Marketer as the ‘general manager’ for their respective brand has never been more important, underscoring a new requirement for Marketers to be not only creative, but also externally minded, considering the social, economic and financial factors that will impact their ability to generate demand for their brands.

In what ways do you feel teams have changed over the past year? How do you ensure collaboration and connection with your team and amongst your team?

For most companies, the past year has involved a gradual transition back to in-person meetings, which has had a tremendously positive impact on team collaboration. I believe the Hybrid working model that most companies are adopting is offering the best of both worlds to its employees. Having the ability to manage work/life responsibilities more efficiently on days employees are working from home, creates a willingness to be fully present with colleagues on the days that they are in the office. There is a noticeable buzz and energy that is created when we have a brainstorming session in person at the office, which I find drives greater discussion and ultimately fosters more creativity. The hybrid model has enabled teams to purposefully plan their meeting schedules according to their day, with a mix of focused mind time at home, lively meetings in the office, and a return to some fun social events, helping us all continue to feel motivated by our work.

From your POV, what are some of the biggest challenges senior marketers face today?

In an increasingly cluttered environment, Marketers are challenged to find new ways to break through with consumers. With ever-shrinking advertising budgets and a fragmented media landscape, marketers must work with agency partners to not only craft a compelling ‘big idea’ for their brand campaign, but also find new ways to develop and disseminate that content efficiently and with impact. From the exploding world of influencer marketing, the overwhelming power of non-TV video to reach younger consumers and the continuous evolution of social media platform capabilities, brand marketers need to navigate the digital landscape with more technical proficiency than may have been required in the old world of ‘traditional media’ marketing. Gone are the days of an annual ‘business review,’ as ongoing tracking of KPIs is essential in a world where plans can and should be, adapted in real-time.

What are 3 tips you have to get fresh ideas out of brainstorms and avoid stale thinking?

1. Use technology – interactive whiteboards and sticky notes can help overcome the challenges associated with working in a remote environment

2. Start with inspiration – always kick off your brainstorming sessions with powerful external examples that set the tone for the type of creative thinking you want to foster

3. Market Tours – get everyone in the right headspace before you brainstorm to understand the competitive context and be inspired by in-market activations.

How important do you feel creativity is as a soft skill?

Creativity requires the use of imagination to produce original ideas. Within the cluttered and competitive market that we are operating, a Marketer’s creative approach might be the single most important thing to get noticed. Challenging the status quo, questioning historical methods of working, and ideating around new solutions are qualities I have personally witnessed in some of the strongest brand marketers. Some are naturally inclined to this way of thinking, but that is not to say that it cannot be learned by all.

Simple steps like carving out focused ‘mind time’ within your day can help ensure you have the space to ideate. One of my past companies set up a creativity room, filled with bean bag chairs, candy jars, whiteboards, fidget toys and big windows. I also just recently visited an office that had set up an entire green house, complete with a calming rain soundtrack and lounge chairs. Not all companies will have something this extravagant, but I personally find getting away from my typical desk environment helps foster the creative thinking needed to determine how to overcome current business challenges.

What do you feel is most difficult for organizations and why?

Generating and selecting top ideas to pursue is often more challenging for organizations than identifying the problem or actioning the solution. Generating new ideas requires focused mind time and a concerted effort to think creatively, which often gets pushed to the bottom of our to-do list in a world of exploding emails and urgent action items.

What are you most excited about for 2023?

With continued digital transformation, I am excited by the fact that as a Marketer, I will be constantly challenged to learn new technologies. There seems to be limitless possibilities and unimaginable solutions that AI technology and the development of the Metaverse will unlock as we seek to create more immersive experiences for consumers. I am also excited to return to more in-person events, conferences and business travel, which often creates the environment needed to think differently and spark new ideas.


We couldn't agree more with the themes that Broomfield touches on above, particularly when it comes to helping to foster creativity through a more creative environment which is one of the many ideas that shaped ThinkShop -- a creativity training program that arms teams with tools to promote fresh thinking and avoid stale ideas in a fun and thought-provoking way.


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