Moore is now less for 2degrees—UPDATED

Larrie Moore, the founding marketing director for 2degrees, has quit the mobile operator.

Saying that his work there is done, the former Vodafone and GSK marketer is planning to take his entrepreneurial skills into a business of his own.

“I’ve spent the past 25 years specialising in start-ups and turnarounds, and I get kick out of working on them. I love working with a blank piece of paper.”

Moore says when he started with 2Degrees in 2008, he promised his family that it would be for a limited time with clear milestones in mind.

“We’ve reached those milestones sooner than we all expected. It’s time to have a break and see my family again. My wife believes there are three people in our marriage.”

Buying customers?

Those milestones include reaching 875,000 customers and being identified (in its own research) as the ‘most popular’ mobile phone company. Moore hopes the momentum will continue to make 2degrees the most popular brand across all categories.

Asked if 2degrees has been ‘buying’ customers with loss-leading offers, Moore says they have been “competitive” and simple. “When we entered the market the two main providers were expensive by international standards and made complicated offers. Since our entry, mobile phone rates have fallen.”

In June last year, 2degrees reported a loss of $76.8 million in the 12 months ended December 2010, posting gross profit of $38.2 million on sales of $107.6 million.

The company also won the Supreme Award at the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards in 2011.

Moore attributes the success of 2degrees to the total brand offering, which includes price, customer service and of course Rhys Darby.

Darby days

“We chose Rhys because we wanted someone that all New Zealand could identify with, who wasn’t too well known, but was on the up. Since then of course he’s become a global star. He’s just such a talented guy. He gets the scripts two weeks before and he rehearses them to the point that we pretty much get the ad in a single shot.”

Moore says Darby represents exactly what 2degrees stands for:  quirky, egalitarian, simple to undertsand and of course everyone’s best friend. “In fact the name 2degrees came from a Dominion Post article about research into the two degrees of separation of all Kiwis. I mean, when I met my Kiwi wife, I couldn’t believe how many other people she knew, even in London, because her mate had a mate ,who’s sister who was a friend of her cousin and so on.

“So we proposed the name to the board but it was rejected at first because they didn’t really get it. I specifically wanted to avoid anything with ‘tele’, ‘phone’ or ‘com’ in it. So we enlisted the help of [then]chairman Bill Osborne, who’s a Kiwi, and he got it straight away. He convinced the board that it would work.”

Jumped or pushed?

With all the success of 2degrees, it’s curious that Moore’s resigning. Was he pushed? Moore insists it was his decision and he leaves on good terms with the company and its chief executive Eric Hertz.

The company says the same (see below for the official blah).

Around the traps, people speak highly of Moore, both professionally and personally. Some point to his ambition as a clue to his resination. “Larrie wants to be CEO, but Eric’s not leaving any time soon,” says one telco insider.

Moore doesn’t hide his desire to run ‘a shop’, and if it’s not 2degrees he needs to move on to the next thing. He says he’s a very goal orientated person, and sets clear milestones for each job.

“I don’t drift.”

Why, when drifting has worked for so many of us?

“I suffered quite a serious illness when I was young. I got cancer at age 22 and spent two years in hospital. I was supposed to join the marines but the cancer set me back. It made me realise that we take so much for granted. It had a quite a big impact on my career, it made me set clear goals and manage them.”

So it’s on to … what?

“Well, first I’m having a holiday. I haven’t seen my family properly for the last four years. I’m also getting fit again.”

Moore once played competitive soccer in the UK and is keen to get the boots on and lose his man muffins. He’s staying in New Zealand but  the horizons will be further afield.

As for 2degrees, he hopes his legacy will be the team and a vision for a long term success. “There’s no reason why the challenger spirit can’t continue. And the brand is in very safe hands with the team at 2degrees including Mark [Clearly] and Eric [Hertz]. And they’ve got great support in Whybins and Origami.”

Here’s what the company said on Wednesday:

2degrees today announces the resignation of Chief Marketing Officer, Larrie Moore, after four years with the business.

In 2008, Larrie joined what was then NZ Communications, and went on to champion the commercial, brand and marketing strategies for “2degrees” – turning it into a brand that now enjoys the loyal business of 875,000 New Zealand consumers and businesses.

CEO Eric Hertz says Larrie has played an instrumental role in the creation of 2degrees.

“Larrie is the architect of our great brand and marketing, and I thank him for his outstanding contribution over four remarkable years.  It’s fair to say we are all the better for his leadership and influence.”

As Larrie has decided to look for a new challenge, Chief Sales Officer Mark Cleary, who has worked very closely with Larrie, will broaden his responsibilities to take the role of Acting Chief Marketing Officer while 2degrees seeks to fill the position.

Larrie Moore says: “It’s been an extraordinary privilege to be part of creating what has quickly become an iconic New Zealand brand.  2degrees is absolute living proof of ‘an idea whose time has come’. But guiding the strategy and marketing of a new telco is an enormously time-demanding job (ask my wife and three kids). The biggest buzz I get is building something from scratch or turning broken things around and, given the fact 2degrees has matured so much and so quickly since we launched, I’m now looking for another big challenge to get my teeth into, but before I do I am going to spend some long overdue time with my family over the rest of the summer.  It’s been a real joy to be part of a great success story and I wish Eric and the team all the best for the future. I will always have a very special relationship with this company and this brand.”





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