Rookie marketer of the year: Jasmine Griffin, J.H. Whittaker & Sons

For many of the old guard, modern marketing is vastly different to what it once was. Long lunches aren’t nearly as common, attention often has to be earned rather than bought, and the pervasiveness of social media means consumers increasingly have the wood over brands. 

It’s a scary, confusing time for some, but it’s an era of immense opportunity for others and one young marketer who has well and truly grabbed the digital bull by the horns and proven what can be achieved with the range of new communications tools now at the disposal of marketers is Whittaker’s brand manager Jasmine Griffin. 

Griffin attended Victoria University, where she received first class honours in marketing, and started at Whittaker’s around a year and a half ago as a marketing assistant. It’s a small, family-run company, with just 15-20 people working in the office and 80 staff in total, and when she started she was just one of two people in the marketing team alongside marketing manager Philip Poole. 

One of her major roles was to ramp up the digital and social media presence of the company, which, when she first clocked in, had around 8,000 fans on its Facebook page. Now it has over 140,000, as well as 8,000 followers on Twitter, and it has been selected by Facebook as a best practice case study on how to use the platform effectively and within the rules. 

Photo: Mike Heydon @ Jet Productions

For some, follower numbers are an over-hyped metric and many marketers are still struggling with the openness social media demands. But by adapting its real world philosophy of honesty and generosity to the online world, Whittaker’s, led by Griffin, has succeeded in its stated social media goal of turning brand spectators into brand supporters. And nowhere is that more obvious than with its Peanut Butter and Berry & Biscuit blocks, which were both launched solely on social media. 

There was so much excitement about the Peanut Butter block before its launch in May this year that posts about the new flavour reached 1.2 million New Zealanders, which meant TV activity wasn’t required. But even without broadcast-media, it quickly became Whittaker’s biggest selling block and it still is (it even had to fly in more raw materials to fulfil demand). 

But she’s no one trick pony. She was part of the team that helped bring Whittaker’s amazing chocolate website to life and also brought Mini Slabs to market, which have gained a 29 percent share of their category in less than a year. And she was rewarded for all these impressive achievements when she was promoted to brand manager after ten months. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ovbuij66YY

Although Griffin, who has spent many years training as a ballet dancer and is now qualified to teach, is relatively new to the industry, she has already shown she is prepared to give back and presented at the Marketing Association’s Digital Day Out in July 2011, just nine months after leaving university. She also presented at another Marketing Association event in Wellington. 

When she began studying marketing, she didn’t imagine herself working with an FMCG brand. But she says it’s less about the sector and more about the company. She is passionate about Whittaker’s, which was recently voted the country’s most trusted brand in the Reader’s Digest survey, she loves its challenger brand mentality and its approach to business, and she feels as though she “struck it lucky” getting all these opportunities in her first job. 

At this stage, she’s very happy where she is. But marketers often tend to have the ‘change agent gene’, which means they’re prone to moving on to test themselves on the next challenge. So, given she has achieved this much so early in her career, you senior marketers out there better watch your backs. 

Award: University of Otago School of Business rookie marketer of the year.

Winner: Jasmine Griffin, J.H Whittaker & Sons. 

Judge’s comment: “She was very clear about the brand story, the brand positioning, and the quality of the product that she was working on. I thought that was incredibly strong and that she demonstrated leadership and I think to be a great marketer in the end you are going to have to lead.” 

Merit: Andrew Hill, Lion.

As assistant brand manager for wine at Lion, Hill was responsible for giving Corbans some much-needed attention, and he delivered a campaign that reconnected Kiwis with its Homestead range. At the same time, he led Lion’s sponsorship of MasterChef New Zealand 2012, planning and executing a campaign to increase the profile and sales of several Lion wine brands. The result? Increased awareness and a significant boost in value share. 

Merit: Sophie Rose Nicholas, Mitre 10.

Within six months of joining Mitre 10, Nicholas helped launch the innovative Mitre 10 Easy As multi-channel campaign, which provides online videos and how-to guides. In what was a very complex initiative involving a number of different departments, she applied the Mitre 10 brand framework to deliver a concept that has made DIY Easy As, both for customers and the organisation’s 4,000 staff.  

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