TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2017: Whittaker’s Caitlin Attenburrow celebrates sweet Rookie Marketer success

How did you get into marketing? What sparked your interest in getting involved in the industry?

I first discovered my interest in marketing in my first year at Victoria University. We had this great lecturer called Martyn Gosling who was so passionate and liked to do everything a little differently. That was what sparked my curiosity and passion for the subject.

I will always remember when I got to the end of that first year paper and was sitting in the exam. I opened the exam booklet and the first and only question was: “Imagine you are sitting in an airport and a CEO sits down next to you and asks you ‘What’s the point of marketing?’” It was worth 100 percent of the grade and I spent three hours writing the answer. I walked out of the exam and thought: ‘This is what I want to do.’

I think what I like about it is that it has a little bit of everything: leadership, creativity, writing, strategy, organisation, psychology and a lot of influencing skills, which is everything I’m interested in. 

How did you come to work at Whittaker’s?

I was fortunate enough to be hired by Whittaker’s directly through my honours degree at Victoria University. They didn’t advertise the job, they just interviewed most of our honours class and I started a week after I handed in my final assignment (our CMO likes to refer to this as ‘keeping up momentum’ with a little chuckle).

I have always loved Whittaker’s chocolate (in particular, the Peppermint Santé bar) and had been very interested in the marketing they had been doing in the past few years with the huge success of campaigns like L&P, ‘The Big Egg Hunt’ and Jelly Tip.

I was extremely excited to get into the engine room of that work. For them, it was good timing too because we were looking at getting into Instagram and I had just written my dissertation on building successful brands on Instagram, so I brought those learnings to the table. 

Whittaker’s has launched a lot of different products over the past year or so. What’s been your contribution to those successful launches?

I’ve been responsible for leading the product development and marketing campaign for Toffee Milk chocolate, two new Mini Slab flavours, Tweats and Dark Orange, as well as leading and running the Meridian campaign. This involved taking the concept from ideation through to a final product, including developing the chocolate itself and the packaging. I was also responsible for developing marketing campaigns for these activities alongside our agency partners Assignment and MBM, as well as managing the relationships with external partners like Meridian.

I also act as a brand ambassador for the events that these campaigns are involved in, leading vox pops in central Auckland as part of our horse and cart event to launch Toffee Milk, and meeting up with people at the Brooklyn Turbine to launch the Brooklyn Block with Meridian.

I’m also responsible for generating all the live content on Snapchat and Instagram. I also run our local and Malaysian Facebook pages, Instagram page and Snapchat account and I’m responsible for planning and producing content for these platforms. 

What would you consider to be your favourite part about working in the marketing team for Whittaker’s?

There are lots of excellent bits in my job! Being able to see a new flavour launch like Toffee Milk chocolate and know that you were responsible for making that happen (what the packaging should look like, what the marketing assets should look like, what the chocolate should taste like etc.) is really special.

I love producing social media content and planning product launches using my own assets (I do this for every single Malaysian product launch) because it’s a real creative challenge that pushes me to learn new skills, including photography, video production and Photoshop work.

Inputting on the product strategy for Whittaker’s is also something I enjoy about my job because we’re a really small team.

The great thing about that is, everyone has a voice and I’ve been allowed to take on a lot of responsibility very quickly, which I feel very grateful for.

What’s been the most challenging thing to deal with in your role?

The speed of execution is probably one of our most consistent and biggest challenges. In FMCG, things change so fast and your strategy has to keep up, so the pace at which we make decisions is just insane. Things can change on an hourly basis as new information comes in and new options open up. This brings its own challenges because as a project leader, you’re responsible for keeping the wider team on the same page and fully up to date to make sure your product development runs smoothly. Keeping everyone rowing the same boat in this environment is a huge part of my job and a challenge I enjoy.

What advice would you give other young marketers out there trying to make their way in the industry?

Be curious about everything, don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo and when you have an opinion about something, make sure you have a sound reasoning for your decisions and be ready to talk about it. 

Rookie Marketer of the Year
Caitlin Attenburrow (J H Whittaker & Sons Ltd)
Judge’s comment
“What stood out was Caitlin’s ability to launch new products and campaigns from a well articulated consumer-led strategy through both new product development programmess and omni-channel communication strategies, influencing and aligning the company all the way.”
Ashley Thomas (Fairfax Media), Debbie Harrison (Casual Fridays), Emily Fu (Fairfax Media), Lauren Chalmers (Loyalty New Zealand) 

  • This story will also appear in the Awards issue of NZ Marketing. 
  • To read more on the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2017, click here.

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