Magazine article Marketing

Thierry Billot

Magazine article Marketing

Thierry Billot

Article excerpt

Pernod Ricard's managing director of brands says creativity and innovation are central to success. Here he talks to Nicola Kemp about the potential of social media and the perils of price promotions

Although Pernod Ricard owns some of the oldest wine and spirit brands in the world, it manages to balance this heritage with an intense focus on innovation. Much of the credit for successfully achieving this must go to Thierry Billot, the company's influential and charismatic managing director of brands.

Billot, who is based at Pernod Ricard's Paris headquarters, where his office is adorned with a signed poster of Kevin Spacey (a brand ambassador for Jameson whiskey), talks to Marketing about avoiding the lure of promotions and driving an innovation agenda throughout the business.

- How do you communicate the importance of marketing across the business?

We want to be leaders in what we do in terms of marketing. If we simply do what everyone else does, there is no competitive advantage. We want to push marketing and develop skills. We have a central marketing function which develops and defines what the next steps are to help us be different and creative. We are also involved in the leadership team and in creating fresh thinking and training programmes to change the business.

- You have been a financial director and a chief executive. What advice would you give to marketers about how to better connect with the board?

Marketing is recognised at Pernod Ricard as a key lever to build our brand. We work on the substance itself, the brand truths, and at the same time we are very reductive; the equity is in the balance sheet Marketing is one of the two feet of Pernod Ricard; it's the equity we build for the long term, and it's the activity we do at point of purchase. We manage to find a balance between the two.

- How is digital changing the way you communicate with consumers?

We use digital a lot. Today we can't develop a communications platform without a digital element. It is not that the story we are telling has changed; it is just the way we are telling it is changing. It is definitely a fully integrated approach.

- What impact is the growth of social media having on your business?

We are shifting from classical marketing to social media, but it is not about putting everything into social. The reach of classical media can be broader than that of social media. The key is how we use digital media and how we harness the mobility of social media to influence consumers at the point of purchase. …

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