In this episode of Scratch, Rory McEntee, Marketing Director of challenger fitness brand Gymbox, joins Eric for an engaging discussion on what it takes to cut through the noise as a marketer and have an outsized impact with your campaigns. Rory shares his passion for orchestrating unconventional campaigns that surprise audiences, taking risks that incumbents shy away from.
With 20 years under their belt, Gymbox has built a reputation for experience-led classes and irreverent, cheeky marketing. Rory attributes their success to embracing budget constraints and thinking differently. He relies more on instinct than data, noting that the customer is often wrong. His advice to marketers looking to stand out? "Do things you would not normally do. They may scare you, they may not work, but you might just hit on something."
He encourages marketers to “ask for forgiveness, not permission”, and progressively build trust with leadership to get creative ideas approved over time. He believes that successful challenger brands are the ones that are unconventional and fresh in their creative campaigns and media choices. Join us in this episode to explore Gymbox's unique marketing philosophy and discover unorthodox insights that can help your brand thrive in a competitive market.
🎧Listen to this episode on your favorite platform - https://link.chtbl.com/scratch
Mentioned in the show:
- Surreal cereal campaign -https://www.thedrum.com/news/2022/07/12/cereal-brand-surreal-crunches-breakfast-rivals-with-cheeky-billboards
- GYMBOX FOOH CAMPAIGN - https://www.thedrum.com/news/2023/08/22/spoof-bus-roof-ad-promotes-gymbox-aerial-classes
- Maybelline Campaign - https://digiday.com/marketing/what-maybellines-faux-ooh-ads-say-about-the-future-of-advertising-in-augmented-reality/
- Gymshark Mural depicting Leana Deeb is a mix of paint and real fabric - https://www.thedrum.com/news/2023/08/28/ad-the-day-gymshark-mural-depicting-leana-deeb-mix-paint-and-real-fabric
00:00:00 - Intro
00:03:30 - Favorite Challenger Brand
00:06:20 - Doing More with Less
00:10:20 - How to do ‘Cool’ Stuff?
00:22:30 - Does Marketing Re Drive Business Results?
00:35:25 - Being Idea & Value Led
00:40:30 - Lightning Round
"Scratch" is a production of Rival, a marketing consultancy and technology company that builds challenger brands, strategies, and capabilities to change categories.
In every episode, Eric interviews the CMO of some of the world's biggest or fastest-growing challenger brands, exploring their innovative marketing strategies that challenge established incumbents. Immerse yourself in the world of challenger brands and learn valuable marketing lessons from industry experts, as you discover their secrets to success.
Watch the video version of this Podcast on YouTube.
Find Rory on LinkedIn.
Say hi at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you.
Rory: You know, we actually then think about how do you amplify that on social? How do you kind of get your influence here as your content creators to come down to capture that, and to amplify it, but you need a really good creative line or creative hook for people to want to share that.
And I think we've always tried to surprise people. So I constantly get messages in my, my LinkedIn and my whatsapp groups where people send me, you know, chalk stencil we've done in the middle of the road or in the park somewhere, and they're kind of going oh, wow, Rory, like how did you get away with us? And, you know, my answer always is, you know, we ask for forgiveness, not permission. We just do things. And, and we, we, we've always just said, You know what, let's just do it. If we get in trouble, we get in trouble. But let's get ourselves out there and get ourselves talked about because there's nothing worse than being beige and just doing what everybody else is doing.
I'm Eric Fulwiler. And this is scratch, bringing you marketing lessons from leading brands and brands rewriting the rulebook from scratch for the world of today. Hey, everyone, my guest today is Rory McEntee. He leads marketing at Jim box. If you're not familiar with Jim box, they are a very disruptive, provocative, and interesting challenger brand. Here in the UK. Rory is a seasoned marketing leader. He's built a career across CPG, retail, leisure industries, working with some of the biggest brands and a lot of Challenger brands as well, including Paddy Power.
A love I mean, the bulk of the conversation, as you'll see, and if you've seen any of the gym box marketing, that has been done recently, you know, it's about creativity. It's about disruption. It's about quote, unquote, going viral. And you know, it's just one of those brands where they've been able to do that consistently, which I know is something that everybody wants to get to so incredibly innovative, incredibly interesting conversation, we dig into how, particularly when you have constraints around budget, you can have an outsize impact. So he's got a couple ideas and suggestions for people on that. We talk about his dynamic with his CEO, and how he's been able to cultivate a relationship where, in his words, his CEO, quote, lets him get on with it. He's able to do risky and provocative things. And then we also talk about which I think is really fascinating, just, you know, he calls himself he's like, I'm very, very idea lead and even said, like, sometimes he throws away and ignores the data, and even says, you know, you really shouldn't listen to the customers all the time, which of course, is a little bit different. And there is some nuance to it. But I think, the instinct that he's cultivated, and how committed he is to these ideas, and when he sees it, he knows, not always and he does talk about some of the misses that he's had. But I think that's a really interesting thing for people to think about. And just, at least for me, I walk away from this conversation, feeling like I maybe need to push myself a little bit more to be a little bit more uncomfortable and a little bit more aggressive with what we can do on the marketing front. So really great conversation. Hope you enjoy it. Without further ado, please enjoy where we McEntee of Jim box.
All right, Rory, really looking forward to this conversation. And it's funny, you know, we, you know, reached out a while ago and actually had to go back to my old moleskin, my previous moleskin to look at my notes. So I've been I've been excited about this conversation for a few months now. How're you doing? Yeah, really good. Really good. Thanks for having me on. Cool. So we got a lot to get through. And I told you before we pressed record that I dropped into the amp community, our WhatsApp cmo group that I was chatting to you today that kicked off a lot of conversation, so I'm gonna have to report back to them. But before we get into it, can you tell us about a challenger brand that you are passionate about right now? And why? Oh, wow, a challenger brand.
New. It's funny when when you talk about challenger brand, it seems to be very, very on trend, very topical in the last couple of years. I think when I first started out it's Paddy Power. And every month cinema that we were, if we were challenger brands, but we didn't feel like we were a challenger brand. It was just a bit of a kind of a rebel mindset that we had.
So when I look at Challenger brands, now I kind of look for brands that are doing things really differently, either in terms of their creative execution, or in terms of their homes heard the media choice of media, for me, the really interesting one. And the brand that I'm really keeping an eye on at the moment is a brand called surreal, which is a protein cereal brand here in the UK. And what I love about surreal is creatively they do stuff that I haven't seen before, you know, they either have you seen what their recent campaigns where they actually took celebrity from Michael Johnson
And for Michael Jordan, Dwayne Johnson, Serena Williams and did quotes from from those celebrities, but actually it was you know, students in barrel met or a cleaner in London. And I really liked that fresh outtake they've done. And I think the the media choices they've done it, I'm sure we're going to come on to it later on, you know, Pho at home or fake out of home is huge at the moment. And we're seeing a lot, a lot of brands in that space. And they actually kind of yin with everyone else he aimed. And they did a cardboard billboard, which was dubbed the worst billboards, ever, which I thought was just really clever. And they actually physically got cardboards and they sellotape them up onto onto a billboard. So I think any any brands that surprise me, I like that, I think, as a challenger brand, surreal are
unconventional and fresh. But in their creative in their media. That's what I really look for at the moment then. And we actually, we worked with them on a on a bit of a partnership about six months ago. And that was on the back of me seeing what they were doing in the industry because I really resonated with their with their brand and their DNA and what they were doing as as a business. So if you haven't seen them really worth a look, surreal. Cereal tastes pretty, pretty damn good, too. Nice. Yeah, I haven't tried it. I've seen their marketing, because they certainly get talked about as it says Jim box within the marketing circles of brands that are doing interesting, creative, clever, to your point. Thanks. And I think we'll come back to it. I don't want to get into it now. But it is interesting, because the campaign that they did, and you should go check it out. I think that I think that they ended up I don't know if they had to take it down. But there was kind of like a legal, you know, discussion around that. And there's something here to that, how far do you push the boundary? Obviously, you know, when we're going to talk about the fake out of home, that's not a legal thing, but it is kind of like pushing the boundaries a little bit. So there's something to that in terms of the brands that get noticed.
And, you know, kind of, I guess how they approach really doing things differently to the point of maybe stepping across a bit of what people would say is a line as well. Yeah. And you I think, Eric as well, the bit the bit that I enjoy it with brands who, who, who tried things differently, that they're clever, and that they're able to ride that journey. So whether you do get a legal challenge or get I'm sure we'll talk about that later on and delve into it. Where do you get the legal challenge or whether there's a bit of social chatter, you ride that wave a little bit, and you look to see how you amplify your your message or your your, your PR on the back of that challenge? I think even with surreal I think it was on the back of that particular campaign that they actually put out a video with their legal adviser telling them what to do and not to do so they kind of elongated the campaign put it that way on the back of that initial work, which which again, I think challenger brands to be able to kind of work fast and get maximum exposure from a campaign is clever. Yep. Love that. All right. So before we get into it, right, for people who might not know Jim boxer live outside the UK, can you give us a quick overview on the business? Sure. So chin box is a
gym, in a box are there we are in London based brand. We got 99 clubs in London.
It was we're actually in our 20th year we're celebrating our 20 year anniversary this year.
It is mostly known for its really creative classes in the industry. So we do everything when we call from from holistic to sadistic. So from yoga to boxing, and everything in between. And the brand is quite a disruptive, irreverent, cheeky brand, with a very distinctive tone of voice. It isn't like any other gym. Many listeners may have been to in that. You go in and we have live DJs it's been designed by nightclub designers. We have a boxing ring in the middle of the gym, and the class. The classes aren't hidden into you know, cubby holes in different corners of the gym. It is very in your face, brand and environment. And it was actually founded by a gentleman called Richard Hilton, who worked for an advertising agency back in 20 years ago, and he was in New York and he was working for the likes of Nike and he saw some fabulous gyms over in New York and brought them back to the UK there was nothing nothing like this in the UK at the time. And you know, he was talking about you know, one day you could have a
Muhammad Ali's trainer training you and there was an element of surprise and I think
I'm Jim box has kind of become that, you know, real experience lead brand. It's quite a unique
a unique experience and the marketing kind of really tries to amplify that in terms of what we do in the industry. So it's quite, it's quite cool, different, Jim, where to look if you haven't seen it? Yeah. And actually, that's what I was thinking, as you were talking about, I've actually never been to a gym box. So I think I need to change that just to come check it out. But I remember, you know, and I lived in New York, and I don't know if this is where he got the inspiration, but like the David Barton gym, and kind of like those types of places.
But I think it's interesting because, you know, we had one of our rival roundtables last night, cmo dinner, and a lot of the conversation, or a good chunk of the conversation that a big takeaway for me was talking about different brands like Ryanair, as an example. And I was like, I think it's a great brand. You know, a lot of people would say, it's horrible, it's terrible experience, I think the conversation started because someone was like, they just treat you like shit. But I'm like, they're honest and authentic about what they are, they are if you want to get from point A to point B for the cheapest, like the least amount of money, and you don't care about anything else. And they're just relentless, maybe to a fault with some of the stuff they've done recently about delivering on that. But I think that, you know, there really is no separation or distinction in the customer's mind, between brand and product. And a lot of this is where I think a lot of big businesses get it wrong is like marketing and product or whatever you want to call it, in a big company, ends up getting siloed. And there's that disconnect between what the experience is for the person and what the brand says externally. And I think that's as you were talking, I'm like, Oh, this makes a lot more sense. Like the spontaneity, the diversity, the excitement of the experience in the club, I noticed you didn't call it a gym, the club.
You know, clearly you're delivering on that in the marketing as well, and how the brand comes to life? Yeah, I think it's a really interesting point, the Royal Air example is great, because I think ultimately, no matter what you say, about Royal Air, people come back again and again. And again, you know, they may remember the experience isn't what they would expect. But you know, you get what you pay for a little bit. And I think the social humour in particular, kind of, you know, even to the point where they they mock their own customers, people just smile and go that's wrong in their eyes.
Now worked for Ryanair, I think for our brand, it's very different. We're a premium, premium brand and wouldn't kind of go down that route. But there needs to be a kind of a brand truce, like what is your product? And and how do you then how do you talk about your product? And how do you amplify that. And I think our kind of brand DNA, you know, we are a challenger brand, our classes challenge the industry in terms of, you know, what people would refer to with boring gyms and we feel like we are the antidote to boring gyms essentially.
And that resonates through our product in the gym, that we've got really shit hot products, in terms of the equipment, but our classes and instructors are, are second to none. So
you do really need to live your brand through your product as well. And it's so it's so important because our marketing is is pretty to the nose, I think it's pretty, you know, it catches your attention. And I think you need to make sure that translate as you walk into the door. Great. So let's dive in. Let's talk about the marketing. And the place that I want to start is you talked about the campaign that you did was surreal, we're obviously going to talk about the fake out of home campaign.
But you and there's kind of like a class of brands that I think are able to do our class of marketers, you're able to kind of like really punch above your weight in terms of the impact of your marketing compared to the investment, at least a financial investment. I know the creative investment, if we want to call it that is very high. So I guess every marketer, every brand would want that, you know, and this appears into the conversations that we've all been in where everybody wants to, quote unquote, go viral. But how do you how do you think about doing more with less? Like, what's the approach to kind of making this almost magic happen on a consistent basis? Oh, God, what a really good bath today, but if I could articulate that, well, I'd be I'll be doing really well. Probably a very rich lunch. But um, you know,
I think it's brought out of necessity to a degree. And what I mean by that is we have very small budgets compared to some of the big brands who are out there. So you got to work a little smarter, a little a little bit harder to kind of do that. So I think
firstly, you mentioned creative we're a very the gym box brand and its DNA is is its tone of voice is cheeky, irreverent and that allows you to do things that are somewhat different in the space
But that tone of voice, you know, it isn't built overnight, you got to do that consistently for years and years and years. And then that gives you the opportunity to do things somewhat differently.
I think where we, we differ and where we kind of constantly surprise people is true that, particularly through the media and how we how we use media
historically, we would have kind of used traditional out of home adverts and, you know, local kind of posters and proximity marketing the world now through social media and digital.
It's tricky, because you've got to decide where to spend your money, but we see it as an opportunity to kind of get our, our, our audience to tell it to get a slightly bigger reach from our marketing. So, you know, we look at taking kind of strategic out of whole advertising, you know, we actually then think about how do you amplify that on social? How do you kind of get your influence here as your content creators to come down to capture that, and to amplify it, but you need a really good creative line or creative Hawk for people to want to share that.
I think we've always tried to surprise people. So I constantly get messages in my, my LinkedIn, and in my whatsapp groups where people send me, you know, chalk stents that we've done in the middle of the road or the park somewhere, and they're kind of going oh, wow, Rory, like, how did you get away with us? And, you know, my answer always is, you know, we ask for forgiveness, not permission, we just do things. And, and we, we, we've always just said, You know what, let's just do it. If we get in trouble, we get in trouble. But let's get ourselves out there and get ourselves talked about, because there's nothing worse than being beige and just doing what everybody else is doing. So what we've tried to do with our advertising is
to surprise people, and for Gymbox to come up in places that they may not expect to see it. And that creates the talk ability. And but But it all does hinge back on the creative idea. And something that actually works within that media space. And I think that's been the key with people then wanting to talk about gym books constantly. I really liked that idea. And that provocation of surprise, because actually, I can't think of many marketing conversations or briefs that had that word in it or had that goal in it. Breakthrough, viral, disruptive. Sure. But surprise, I think it's a slightly different thing, which is really interesting. And I'm certainly going to take that away. And think about it. And also, you know, the legal aspect of this, I know that we touched on it briefly, and you kind of said, you know, let's let's be let's be provocative, that is something that I think challenger brands and businesses, and a lot of this depends on the CEO and the founder and all that stuff, not just the marketing team. But it is an advantage. Because if you are at scale, you're more focused on protecting what you have, and avoiding risk, particularly for certain industries over others, rather than viewing risk as an opportunity to get more attention and then grow. So I think that that's interesting. But I gotta I have a quote down here from our prep call, which I really love where you said, we focus on creating campaigns and not spending money. And there is something to the constraints drive creativity
element of this, but I actually think that, you know, because I think about the fake out of home thing, you know, pure gym, I don't know who you would consider a competitor, obviously not the exact same product, but they probably would have just gone and bought, you know, bus ads, but because you didn't have or didn't want to spend the six, seven figures on the campaign, it kind of forced or I would assume it forced the team to think a little bit differently about what you actually do. So whether they're real or artificial, those constraints, even just sort of provocation for the internal team in the agency, I think is a really interesting lever for CMOS to pull. Yeah, and I think, you know, two points came to mind when you mentioned that, I think one is the the internal structure. So I think, you know, we, we do have a very lean team, and a great CEO who encourages kind of disruptive thinking and to do things differently. And that does help. Because I do think other competitors who are bigger, may have more red tape, you may not be able to have an idea in the morning that you want to get out that evening. And that does happen a lot of gym blocks, you know, we're very topical and reactive to events in the industry. But also, you know, touching back on the, you know, the fake out of home adverse, we did.
Funnily enough The idea came internally.
And we did investigate actually, it was a rather aerial classes. So we had this idea I'll talk you through the idea first, and then I'll talk you through the, the fallout as such, so it was an idea that came up we have aerial classes where you know, you hang
from a trapeze or a ring, or a hoop, the idea came about actually, if you were to, you know, put an advert on a bus, the place you'd want to put it is on the roof because people would then be looking down. And that was the whole idea. And then again, it goes back to this creative idea that creative line has to be good.
I think that when we investigated the option to do both adverts it didn't exist. So we looked at, we looked at the option and go, Okay, we could we could lose that creative idea and put it to our creative graveyard. Or actually, we could, you know, there was a bit of a trend for Faker at home advert and we told you know why it's such a great idea. Let's kind of mock it up, we'll put it together. And we'll just see it out there, just you know, just see what happens. We you know, it was a small idea for social. And we received so much positive PR in terms of being innovative, slightly different, great use of media space. That was three or four days of just fantastic PR. And then somebody said hold on a second, I've seen this image before it's been used for X are used for why. And then there was the counter argument from the media outlets in particular saying Hold on this advert isn't isn't real.
That in itself, create a talk ability. And I must admit, I kind of sat back for you know, a couple of days and just watched, you know, with my my popcorn and just watch the chatter on both sides of the the argument and
you've had Maybelline who did the tube adverse in London again, for any of your listeners that may not be in London, it was it was a great CGI focused August, I'm sure people have seen.
Adidas and Nike have done some stuff in the back of the World Cup with Messi and CGI. And there's a little bit of a trend for it now, are those not CGI, ours was made by some great people, we got a great copywriter, we got a great designer. It was a sad, human fake adverse, as opposed to any sort of CGI. But But I think we we were happy in in our in our approach that this was a fun, exciting bit of content. And that became content in itself. Whereas if we hadn't done this adverse, and it wasn't fake, we would not have got half the PR from us. So it cost us probably 250 pounds. And we got, you know, I can't even put a number on the amount of amount of exposure we received on it. It was phenomenal. Really, really great. And can I just ask to the extent that you can share has that also led to
you know, new signups or whatever the metrics are that you track from a business and commercial perspective as well, because, you know, I, I don't? Well, I've been in this industry for a long time. I didn't study marketing, I didn't start in marketing. Sometimes I feel like a bit of an outsider. And why I actually really didn't like the advertising agency world, even though I spent 10 years in it was I felt like a lot of a lot of what got talked about was what I would call advertising for the sake of advertising. It was advertising that marketers thought was cool, but didn't actually or at least nobody focused on what what is it actually doing for the business? And so I'm not saying this is that but I am saying marketers think this campaign is really cool. Is it also driving the business results that you want marketing to do? It's a really good question. It's always a difficult one to measure a look of we can look at how many how many bits of exposure we've had, what prep we've had, but how do you correlate that that into into sales? Right? I think all we can say on this particular one is we have you know, eight categories that in our business area will be in one combat, another holistic yoga history, etc. Arrow has always been a tricky one for us to promote. And I think what this did is it put aerial, you know, high on all our communication for a new audience. I think actually, what we did see was an increased level of bookings on the back of that for a sustained amount of time. Now, can you put that back to the campaign? I'd like to say yes.
There are other factors in terms of you know, what that could have been. But I do believe that I have seen the bookings go up and it's now
how much of that would have happened without the campaign, maybe some of them pushing areas as well. But what it did it it gave it a shot in the arm and I got us out there to golf, people talking, which which was great. And people and the shareability of the campaign as well amongst aerial users was high. Okay, cool. Yeah. And look for 250 bucks or whatever it was, you know, the threshold for what constitutes a positive return is going to be very low. I do want to ask one thing and this this is what kind of what came up and stirred some controversy controversy in the amp group. So there's kind of the you know, fake out of home, and I don't I don't think I think people like are getting over that. I think it's really interesting if you're out of home kind of media agency, but apart from that, that's fine, but
and let me know if I'm gonna
In this right, did you see the campaign as something that was real? And only then people figured out it was fake? Because I think that's the piece that's a little bit different is, is that a little bit dishonest? If you're saying it's a real thing, as opposed to some of the other fake out of home where everybody's just upfront of like, Hey, this is fake, but we think it's cool.
Yeah, and you don't want that was the bit that I think riled up, particularly the media owners, and you're in a bit of an echo chamber on LinkedIn, and people are talking to each other? And I do I do take that challenge on board. I think what we what we did was exactly that we put it out there. And let people guess, is this real? Or is this not?
You know, there's an element of the media, the media outlets, and the media owners. Chuck the challenge back to me from these guys, I'm, I love an open conversation. Their view was, you know, you duped us, we kind of shared this, but in the belief that it was real. And I think, you know, my response back to that is, look, I get that we're a challenger brand, we're not a lot of money. You know, we can't compete with Nikes Maybelline, these guys have huge budgets, who can who can kind of let this seed out into social, let other people share it, we don't have that brand awareness that we've got, we've got to find more strategic, clever ways to get the message out there.]
You know, is it a bit of a learning for us going forward on honesty, perhaps, perhaps. But I do think the, the, as a challenger brand, you've got to find clever kind of innovative, innovative ways to try and kind of get your message out there. So I think you've got to, you've got to take some risks, you got to take some risks, and you got to do things a little bit differently. To push the envelope, for sure. You got it, you got to you got to look into it, you know, marketing moves fast, you know, this trend is may be here for a while it may not. And we're learning as we go, we're learning as we go.
So I want to talk about
the internal dynamics and structure that allow you to do all these things. He talked a little bit about kind of the team that you have within marketing, but I guess around you, right?
You said in our prep call, that you have a CEO who quote, lets you get on with it, which I love. And I think any marketer listening is like, how do I how do I get that? How do I get a CEO, a CFO, a board that kind of gives me the autonomy, to do interesting, potentially risky push the envelope types of things.
Because I think that that's what limits a lot of creativity and opportunity for brands to grow, is not necessarily the marketing team, not being able to come up with something, you know, effective, but the business around them, particularly with incumbents, you know, not allowing it to go out. So how has that worked for you at JIM box? Like, how have you cultivated that relationship with the CEO? And what does it look like? Do you like, do you even have to run stuff past him? Is there an approval process? How do you How does he just let you get on with it?
I hope he doesn't watch this when they're when you say it like that, because he'll lead No way. I'm no, no, I think
it's an ongoing process. So I've been at Jim box, you know, five years, the first six to eight months, were pretty challenging, because you know, you come in from
a brand you work for Paddy Power every month cinnamon, I feel like I knew, you know, I know how to how to run a challenger brand, I know how to do things, I've done marketing for quite a while, you didn't come in fresh with new ideas. And you, you almost have to take a step back, you've got to learn from other people, you've got to understand the gym audience is very different than, you know.
Cinema goers, or sports betting. So the first kind of year or so with a bit of a challenge, but really getting underneath the skin of the brand. And both our CEO and founder who is heavily involved in the business still really love marketing, and the brand has been built on on marketing and brands. So they're very hands on individuals. So that trust takes a long time to build.
And you make a few mistakes along the way, you know, there would have been would have been in the early days some some work or campaigns that I've brought to the guys and pitch. Thus, when I look back at it wasn't right for the brand, and it got rightly kind of rejected into, you know, the creative graveyard, you know, for every idea we get out we probably got about 10 to 12 that, you know, end up in this kind of creative graveyard. So it takes a long time. I think as you as you grow as a business and you know, I have to bring in you mentioned the team. I've got a small team of three full time people in house and I've built a number of freelancers and agencies that are experts in PPC or paid media PR agency, a great copywriter who I worked
freelance work. And I think the CEO then sees the team that you build around you. And he has trust in the output of the work that you're doing week in, week out. I think that's taken a long time to kind of build that trust. But I think to answer your other question around, can you can you just get work done and signed off? It works in two ways. I think either one, I bring him an idea. We sit and we procrastinate over the idea for hours. And we think, you know, will the audience buy into this is this crazy, because we have some crazy ideas. And there are some more we sit, you know, we sometimes get out of the Get out of the office, go to the pub, have a few beers, we brainstorm ideas.
And there are other times where I may have an idea at 9am. And he's unavailable, he may be working, he'll just trust me to get that out on social because we it's taken, it's taken years and years and years to develop that Rory gets the brand, He knows our audience.
But it's not an easy thing to do. It's not an easy thing to do. And and I think, you know, a lot of cm CMOs and CEOs have different relationships. But I think, as a small brand, you have to have trust in somebody who's going to, you know, allow let somebody pull the trigger, and you'll live or die from those consequences. Yeah, I think I think a couple things that I draw out from what you said, that really resonate, and are interesting to me is
one, you know, you have a boss who said, you can't sell to somebody who doesn't want to be sold to like, you can't change everybody, right. And I think a lot of people listening can probably relate to that in terms of banging their head against the wall to get stuff approved. And it's just not gonna happen. But the opposite is also true. Whereas you have CEOs and organisations that are just into this from like, who they are and how they're wired and how they think. And I'll say, you know, as an anecdote, the last cmo role that I had before starting rival that was a big part of my decision making process was spending time with the CEO and seeing how much he was bought into being brand led and doing disruptive things. And I knew that I would have that partner, like, it sounds like you do. So I think that's one
and two, that it takes time. You know, like, you probably didn't walk in day one. And we're able to do this stuff like you've cultivated that relationship over time.
And the last thing that I think is really interesting is, I really think that even if you have the most Numbers spreadsheet, or engineer, like if you're the least creative marketing CEO out there, I feel like everybody gets a little bit excited about, hey, let's brainstorm this together. Let's go have a beer and talk about what crazy shit we could do. I think there's something to kind of bring them into the process, maybe that depending on the person could help with that longer term journey of building the trust and kind of creating that autonomy that everybody wants.
Yeah, well, I think you know what, you're right, I think you hit the nail on the head there with bringing someone on a journey, I think what I've learned over over years is if you come to somebody at the end of that, that journey and pitch them the idea, and you've worked it off with your your agency, or your freelance team or your marketing team,
there's an element where a CEO may say, we're not sure about that. But if you if you if you bring somebody on that journey early, you're going to you're going to be tweaking, refining together as you go on. And you get to the end result, as other team, I think, I think is how you, you know, get things out the door, to put it in a better way.
But the other piece, you know, as a as a brand, and
you know, we have that culture throughout the business I have with my CEO, but we have it across the business with my team members. And you know, I've got to go on holiday occasionally. And it's a lean team. And we still have to get stuff out. And I think one of the things we were very keen to do as a team, myself and Mark, my CEO was to,
as we scaled the business up, you know, the business is, you know, we don't have brand guidelines, you're in the way that big companies have brand guidelines, we've got to look and feel our design, but we wanted kind of internal brand values, what we stand for, and they kind of existed in in a weird way kind of floating around, but we needed to get them down on paper. And what we did as a team was we brought everyone from the business from the top level to the bottom level. So from the CEO all the way down to the receptionist, and even our cleaning teams, and we got everyone around the table over a couple of weeks. And we worked at our brand values. And we came up with five brand values which have essentially steered the business in terms of everything we do from our marketing to the products we put in and the classes we develop. And I think that has allowed us as a way to get things out the door quickly because we know what we stand for and we have a sounding board for our marketing with when we come up with a campaign does it hit these brand values? Does it have a giggle to them?
People smile, does it sweat the details? Does this you know, not offend people don't be a dick, you're either some of our brand values. And that has helped with the decision making process internally. And it's brought the rest of the team on that journey to be able to kind of make sure we're consistent with our with our brand and our marketing. But also, just from a decision making point of view, just to get things done quickly, we have a really great sounding board. So for the last chapter of our conversation, that's actually the one I'm most excited to get your perspective on. I guess the way that I would open it up is I think about this terminology or this dynamic between being idea lead and data driven. And I think, you know, good marketing, good marketing teams, good marketing organisations are of course a blend of both right? Is it the creative or the quant? Is it the art? Is it the science? It's both, of course, at the end of the day. But I think most marketers in most organisations tend to be a little bit or a lot bit more, one or more the other You strike me as someone who's maybe a little bit more idea led, not that I'm sure you, you know, go through the numbers. And that has a part of your process as well. But one, let me know if that's fair. But I guess the other part of this is like, you've had a lot of wins. You know, interesting stuff people talk about, like, clearly it's having an impact on growing the business. You mentioned, you've had a lot of ideas that you've thrown away as well. But
how do you know? Like, is it just your instinct, like you've done this for a while you really understand the brand, you really understand the customer and this creative process in your head and the team that like you're just able to feel it and to know what you should do? Like? How do you know what you should be doing with this type of thing? Because often it's not something where you can know for sure that it's going to work? Yeah, look, you know, I think to answer your first question, I am absolutely more ideal at than daily.
Look, I look at data we you know, I look at Google Trends. And you know, what worked for us in terms of search terms, I look at you know, brand surveys we do we do you know, research with our members. Look, there is data there and term. I ignore a lot of it.
That's kind of my point. Right? It's like, because are there in like alternative universes like 99 Other Rory Mackenzie's that just suck at marketing? Because they ignore the data? And they don't have the instinct for it? Like, where does that come from? You know, what a lot of it comes from? Look, first and foremost, yes, I work in Marketing, but I am a, I'm a gym box member, you know, I'm in the gym every day, I'm kind of on the front line, put it that way, I'm seeing what our members see, I'm seeing what you know, our potential members are seeing from you know, in the area. So I'm kind of in that world, firstly, so I think that does help, you know, I'm not sitting in, you know, in my home every day I'm in, I'm in the gym five days a week, you know, I'm in there in the morning, I'm in there at lunchtime, I'm in there in the evenings, the office is tied up to the gym, so I'm in there. So that's the first thing. I think
you get a feel from that, you know, I talked to people not you know, not about marketing, but just you know, how did you enjoy our class, you know, not not from a research point of view, but just on a human level. And you get a real good feeling from people on that.
But, you know, it's interesting, like, when you talk about data, we ask our members questions, and we ask what you think about this campaign, these classes and, you know, I love the Henry Ford quote, back in the day, you know, if you do ask people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. And there's an element to that Jim barks and with data if we were, you know, putting, you know, removing treadmills from the gym and people said, You're mad, the people want to run them, you know, fitness is changing. And, you know, we have bands that play in a ring and DJs in our club, and we do member parties and
it because I'm, I'm in London, I see what's going on, people want experiences, people want that social chatter.
And even when we run our campaigns, you know, I, yeah, we can do consumer research, but you look at a campaign and you just know, you just know that that's gonna hit home. That's a homerun. It's the art, right? Yeah, it's the art you can put as much science behind us you want and you can do consumer research. And you can ask every Tom, Dick and Harry, but when you're at when you're at it, and you see work, you go, that's great fucking work. That's gonna that's gonna land and
you can't explain it. It's just it's just a feeling. It's just a feeling. And there's an element of risk with that, because you're putting it all on your decision. And you know, will this campaign work? Will it drive the membership and the sales we needed to do?
But so far I've been I've been lucky like we've we've had failures, we've done stuff. We've done stuff that hasn't quite landed. And that's been good fail. You know, we've done classes over the years that people have felt have been greenwashing or we've done campaigns that have, you know, we never tried the offence that we wanted to
disruptive not offensive, but you can't keep everybody happy, right? You're gonna you're gonna you're going to annoy some people, if you are a challenger brands, there's nothing worse than being beige. But my if I feel it in my bones and I feel comfortable with that decision, we're going to pull the trigger and we're going to do it.
You mentioned it a bit already with the Henry Ford, if you ask people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse. But to put it another way, as you said in our prep call, and I jotted down this quote, the customer is wrong most of the time. I think that is a perfect place to leave it. But before I let you go, I want to do a quick lightning round just kind of quick fire answers on a few different questions. So what was the first marketing job you ever had?
First marketing job. I used to be on the agency side working for Heineken and their rugby, which was great, lots of free beer. Nice. What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
Ask for forgiveness, not permission. 100%. title of your autobiography? What's the best brand campaign you've seen recently?
Love my friend that Jim sharks work with the modest billboards they've done. The Hijab and the influencer stuff. It's just phenomenal. If you haven't seen it, Google it. It's an influence they've worked with with graffiti in a real hijab. It's fantastic. I have not seen that. So parent would be great if we could pull that up. And definitely include it in the show notes. What is a marketing tool you can't live without?
This is going to be really, really bearing for a lot of your listeners. But Google Sheets Google Word docs, I have saved so much time over the years when you just kind of go are you edit the document yet? I'm doing a Save As file version 23 Or on a presentation.
I just think it saved me so much time. I remember those days. Well, what is one thing people should do differently after listening to this episode?
wound? Wow, that's a good question.
My advice for anybody who who's in marketing and just do things that you would not normally do, they may scare you. They may not work not at a 10 may fail, but you might just hit on something. That is that little kind of golden nugget.
Amazing, bro. Thanks so much. My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Scratch is a production of rival. We are a marketing innovation consultancy that helps businesses develop strategies and capabilities to grow faster. If you want to learn more about us check out we are rivals.com If you want to connect with me, email me at Eric at we are rivals.com or find me on LinkedIn. If you enjoyed today's show, please subscribe, share with anyone you think might enjoy it. And please do leave us a review. Thanks for listening and see you next week.