5 Questions for Marketing Leader Chris Hayek

Since joining Pennzoil-Quaker State in 1999, Chris Hayek has risen through the ranks. Today, he is Director of Global Brand Marketing for Shell Lubricants, responsible for the entire consumer value proposition for Pennzoil, Quaker State and Formula Shell, which includes taking calculated risks and driving innovation. By Chris Hayek, Director of Global Brand Marketing for Shell Lubricants

Just this year, Chris collaborated with MediaCom to produce “Breaking Barriers,” an award-winning full-length documentary that premiered this past summer in a programming (not advertising) block on the National Geographic Channel.

1. Where do you look for inspiration as to what’s next for your customers and your business?

As a motor oil company, we are generally in a low-involvement, low-frequency category; people only think about motor oil right before they get it changed and right after. In between, we are relatively invisible to the consumer. This means that loyalty and relevance at the moment of purchase are key. For this reason, I tend to study consumer brands like Red Bull, Nike or BMW, where shoppers and buyers have a clear passion for the product. Service can also be a differentiator in the “Do It For Me” side of our business, so we think a lot about the Disney experience and how can we tailor our service to be more “Disney like”.

2. How are you leveraging content and data to engineer the success of your marketing programs?

Data and content bring you two things: immediacy of information on whether a campaign is working, and the ability to change content in reaction to the data. In the past, we looked at data as a point in time that was just about how communication was absorbed by the consumer: do they remember (awareness), did the message make an impact (consideration), etc. Today, we go well beyond traditional metrics into social measures, such as: did they like it enough to share it with others, are they amplifying a brand’s efforts via recommendation, will they push others to interact with your brand. We know that recommendation by family and friends has a huge impact, so we can now look at data such as likes or, more importantly, shareability and time viewed. In other words, we’re able to go much deeper into whether the message is actually resonating with the consumer.

3. How are you listening to and prioritizing your customers within your communications system?

MediaCom provides some great social listening tools for us to understand how effective our messaging is within our larger brand ecosystem. For a brand like Pennzoil, we have to balance breadth and depth. Because we are the #1 brand in our category and want to stay there, we look for ways that we can carry the message through reach. Like many companies, though, our sweet spot is driven by a small number of knowledgeable heavy users, so some of our listening and communications target this base of influencers, with an eye toward getting them to recommend our products to others.

4. How do you ensure integration and collaboration between marketing disciplines and specialists within your organization?

With new content and channel opportunities popping up all the time, a relatively small organization like ours is almost always stretched, and even specialists have to work hard to keep up. The right level of integration across the company is the hardest part of the brand planning process. And with so many specialties and sub-specialties, in fact, we have to remain vigilant to ensure that individual KPIs aren’t drilled down so deep that we lose the connective tissue of the brands. For us, the brand manager is responsible for making sure that plans are optimally connected at the highest level and that the connective tissue remains vibrant. Our agency partners play a key role here as well, and we use a lead strategic agency to work hand and hand with the brand manager.

5. What does our marketing future look like? What organizational changes do you believe the industry must make to succeed?

The hardest challenge that I see both today and in the future is that messaging to and between consumers is “always on.” No matter where a consumer is or what he’s doing, some sort of company message is there. As we go forward, we are beginning to think of share of voice not only vs. our own competition, but also in terms of all the content with which a consumer interacts. For us, consumers are making choices long before they get into the store, so it is not just about the “Zero Moment of Truth” in front of the shelf; it’s also about the “Negative Moment of Truth” when the consumer is about to pull out of his driveway on the way to the store or station. Has he already decided to buy Pennzoil, or not?

While we’ve stayed very focused on the in-store experience, which is important, we’ve also had to expand our efforts across the entire purchase cycle, from trigger to purchase to experience and back to (re)trigger again. How do we drive more loyalty when consumers have so many options? One of the answers is to optimize your agency structure, as it’s no longer the case that just one agency does media planning, for example, while another is doing only creative. Social, content and programmatic, in particular, have created a lot of overlap. As companies reshape their marketing departments, so too will agencies be restacking their offerings in order to maximize revenue. Together, brands and their external partners will have to work hard to rationalize this joint system in order to ensure that advertisers are getting the best possible output for the dollars invested.

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