TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2018: Simon Jarvis reshapes TAB to win Marketer of the Year

What would you do if you were faced with the challenge of doubling a tired brand’s customers, with a history of sluggish growth, deeply entrenched negative perceptions, and archaic technology and infrastructure at its core?

According to the team at the New Zealand Racing Board (TAB), “You’d run for the hills or you’d call Simon Jarvis.”

In December 2016, Jarvis took the call to join the New Zealand Racing Board (TAB) team and he’s hit the ground running with reshaping the team and running a creative agency pitch to appoint Y&R.

Having spent a decade in the advertising industry, working on agency-side including Lowe London, Draft FCB, plus BMF and BCM in Sydney, Jarvis gained experience above and below the line to offer an integrated perspective to most communication problems.

One piece of work while at BMF was relaunching the Dare Iced Coffee for Dairy Farmers (later National Foods), in a campaign that generated a 40 percent uplift in national sales and went on to collect two Lions at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity in 2009.

Now that skill is being put to the test with the New Zealand Racing Board and the TAB brand. 

He took the challenge of refreshing the brand in his stride and in the last 18 months he’s been broadening its mainstream appeal and attracted a new generation of customers, including more women.

“It’s now a modern contemporary brand that’s representative of modern New Zealand,” he says, and you only need to look at a TVC to see that’s true.

Recently for the Fifa World Cup, the TAB released a campaign with Y&R and MBM featuring both men and women celebrating their overnight wins.

And the transformation isn’t just skin deep.

The TAB brand has eclipsed every established business record for customer acquisition and generated a 21 percent uplift in customer growth year-on-year, driving dramatic increases in customer expenditure and revenue.

With these results, Jarvis has already seen the TAB win big at the NZDM Awards, where it took home two gold, four silver and one bronze.

While Jarvis is proud of all results the brand has achieved in the last 18 months, a highlight has been repositioning the TAB brand to coincide with the Lions Tour.

Understanding the brand needed a refresh, the TAB launched the ‘Now you’re in the game’ platform at the same time as the Lions Tour in 2017.

With creative showing how the TAB app can fling users into the heart of the action at a sporting event, the platform was rolled out in a multichannel campaign across TV, digital, video, search, display, outdoor and radio.

“It became the most successful marketing initiative the TAB has ever run,” says Jarvis, “so that is a massive highlight”. 

The customer growth target for the campaign was exceeded by 12 percent, alongside an exceeded target for turnover (customer spend).

From agencies to organisations

When asked if his agency background has aided his role as a marketer, Jarvis calls it a head start, particularly when finding creative solutions to business problems.

“Not only creativity in the way we approach problems also the creativity in the way we nd solutions to overcome challenges you face in everyday business. Whether it’s that we need more customers or we need to drive extra revenue.

“Creativity for me is the ultimate differentiator.” 

And being from an agency space, Jarvis believes he can work better with its agency partners to unlock their full value.

Beyond working with the TAB’s agency partners, Jarvis leads a team of 15 marketing professionals, including a marketing communications team, a CRM team, digital marketing, and production and design professionals. 

Describing how he approaches the role, he says he follows three philosophies:

1) Everything has to be driven by customer insight: “You need to be customer insight led. If you are not customer-centric you are not in the game at all.”

2) Data and analytics need to drive decision making.

3) Creativity is the ultimate differentiator to unlocking value: “I think everyone can pay to overhaul their CRM systems or customer data platforms but unless you are creative in your approach to reaching your customers, you become wallpaper, you become ubiquitous like everyone else, so you need to really stand out.”                                                                                     

Those philosophies come from his decade in the industry and reflecting on the trends he sees right now, it’s the excitement about micro-segmentation he points out.

While brands are using different customer segments, he believes they need to move beyond segmentation and into true personalisation.

In the same way Book Depository gives you a list of recommendations based on a book you buy, Jarvis is seeing other businesses move towards that and says it will be a big focus for his own team in the coming years.

“I think one of the major marketing trends will be wholesale personalisation where, for instance, two different customers that come to the TAB will experience a different customer experience when they land there based on previous behaviours and their preferences.”

Important for personalisation will be the use of data, something Jarvis says is absolutely central to all the decisions made within the business.

“We are 100 percent about performance and driving results,” he says and with numbers including a 21 percent uplift in customer growth year-on-year, eyes will be on TAB to see where it reaches next. 

Marketer of the Year 
Simon Jarvis (New Zealand Racing Board, TAB)
“Simon demonstrated himself as a well-rounded marketer who has been successful in a transformation of NZ Racing Boards approach to marketing. The key attributes range from a cultural and market transformation in a challenging environment. Simon has built an engaged team with stellar results. Well done.”
Michelle Anderson (The Warehouse Group), Sarah Williams (Spark NZ), Wal Dumper (Subaru of New Zealand) 

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