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Deep Dive 11 Nov 2020 - 4 min read

A Show Called Brandin': Brent Smart, Jodie Sangster and Manu Feildel on brand fame, Aldi's middle aisle and the world's best and worst airlines

By Paul McIntyre - Executive Editor

CMOs favourite personal brands? For IBM's Jodie Sangster it's Aldi while Guinness is the first choice for IAG's Brent Smart

Is fame all it's cracked up to be? For brands, the answer is a resounding yes, with a massive multiplier effect. The  second episode of A Show Called Brandin' dives into why brand fame burns pathways into our brains and shortcuts to the checkout. On the CMO Couch IAG's Brent Smart and IBM's Jodie Sangster work up a lather about their best - and worst - brands and experiences, while Australia's sauciest Frenchman, Manu Feildel, shares his recipe for success.

“Guinness is my favourite brand, because good things come to those who wait, and I feel like I’ve been waiting a long, long time for a proper pint in a proper pub.”

Brent Smart, CMO, IAG

Brought to you by LinkedIn, The Behaviour Report and Mi3, A Show Called Brandin’ looks at brands in culture, creativity and commerce. Each episode explores one of five principles of growth identified by LinkedIn’s B2B Institute fellows, Les Binet and Peter Field. This episode dives into brand fame – and why it’s worth the effort. 


Check out the second episode of A Show Called Brandin' with IBM CMO Jodie Sangster and IAG CMO Brent Smart below:


Brand fame: become the no brainer, literally

For brands, familiarity breeds not contempt but trust, fame, and neural pathways in the brain - the holy grail for marketers.

“The more people see something, the more familiar they are with it – whether it be for good or bad,” per LinkedIn influencer, personal branding expert and author, Jane Anderson.

“Under pressure, we go to what we know,” she says. “It might not necessarily be the best thing but what is memorable - and that often comes from being the most visible.”

CMOs Brent Smart and Jodie Sangster on the best – and worst – brand experiences ever

On the CMO Couch, where chief marketers become the customer, IAG’s Brent Smart and IBM counterpart Jodie Sangster unpacked the brands that have earned a piece of their headspace.

For Smart, it’s Guinness: “It's my favourite brand, because good things come to those who wait, and I feel like I’ve been waiting a long, long time for a proper pint in a proper pub.” Australian soap brand Aesop is also up there: “We spend so much time washing our hands these days, we might as well do it with a really good product.”

Aldi does it for Jodie Sangster. “I love the middle aisle. It’s grocery shopping plus lucky dip.” Post-Covid, she’s also flipped “from heels to Havianas”, while Cadbury’s is “featuring quite strongly” in the Sangster household. Is that since working from home became the norm? No, she admits, “It’s always been there”.

Asked for her best ever brand experience, the British expat wisely goes Australian.

“Qantas for sure. I was on my way to the airport - late as always - sitting in a huge traffic jam, completely stressed. And I had a call from Qantas customer service saying ‘We can see you are not at the airport and you are not going to make it. Don’t worry we have put you on the next flight – just take your time and get here.’” Perfection in pre-emptive customer service, says Sangster.

Brent Smart agrees the national carrier has nailed it. “I lived in America for many years and was blown away by Qantas when I came back. I could not believe how great their service was,” he says, “because American Airlines are like catching the bus. It’s the worst customer experience ever.”

No offence to bus companies intended.

“I listen to a lot of business people - and a lot of business people are just business people. And I think that is a little bit boring sometimes.”

Manu Feildel, chef, celebrity, businessman

Manu Feildel: Brand, fame and back again

The Behaviour Report’s Dan Gregory suggests brand fame doesn’t need to be complicated. “Fame is just awareness at scale”, he says. But brands have to build it over time – and be prepared to keep going.

That’s a lesson embodied by Australia’s favourite Frenchman, Manu Feildel.

Fame has paid off for the celebrity chef, TV host, restaurateur, author, cooking school founder and business person. Chefs used to be “slaves” he says, “now we are rock stars. It’s crazy.”

But he had to do the hard yards first – and it almost didn’t happen, when Channel Ten decided his French accent would not cut the mustard for for MasterChef.

Like consumers, TV producers sometimes go for the safe option.

“I did the auditions and made it to the last six. Then I got the tap on the shoulder, ‘thank you very much, we’ll call you tomorrow’. And I knew that was a no for me. The executive producer said ‘we love what you do mate, but the French accent is not going to work.’”

It was almost a case of déjà vu with My Kitchen Rules.

“I did the pilot for five weeks, and again, ‘sorry, it’s the French accent’. But the executive producer fought hard for me to get the job, because he saw the opportunity of having me on the show, with a different accent and my knowledge from Europe. So I got the job - and 11 years later I am still doing it,” says Feildel. “And my accent gets stronger and stronger every year.”

Feildel says years of cajoling MKR contestants to make tastier sauces led him to start his own range, The Sauce by Manu. And he believes business success can only be achieved on a foundation of passion.

“I listen to a lot of business people,” he says. “And a lot of business people are just business people. And I think that is a little bit boring sometimes.”

Therein lies a lesson for both B2B and B2C marketers: If you are gong to live the brand – then inject some personality and individuality into it, urges Feildel, and doors will open.

“I go and sell my sauce to people sometimes. I don’t send someone to do it. I just go and knock on the door.”


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