When Bernard Bradley left Vauxhall to go to Volkswagen in 1995, it afforded some of his colleagues a bit of a laugh while others were amazed, he says. After all, what was he doing swapping his fleet sales marketing position with a company that had 20% of that sector for a similar position at a market minnow that claimed less than 3%? "It was a very similar position with a very, very different type of organisation," recalls the quiet Glaswegian.
Now Bradley has taken the chair as VW's advertising chief, with responsibility for its [pounds]44m UK advertising spend. VW's relationship with BMP DDB is one of the strongest anywhere in adland and has picked up numerous creative awards; it may be that his former colleagues at Vauxhall are now laughing on the other side of their faces.
Bradley's title is communications manager, but the 31-year-old is swift to point out that "job titles don't mean anything here. We don't have job descriptions and it is not as if you are given a box and told to stay in it. You can stray into other areas as long as you have something to contribute," he enthuses.
Frankly, it is hard to see how he would find the time to stray into other areas when his home territory encompasses all aspects of marketing communications for the VW brand, including supporting its retail channels.
VW business director at BMP DDB, Alison Parker describes the set-up as "incredibly streamlined. It is a really small marketing department but that's good because it means that the decision-making process is very straightforward and you are dealing directly with the people in charge," she says. The downside, presumably, is that everyone must work like Trojans to keep up. Bradley reports to marketing director Chris Craft but his remit includes the advertising work for the VW brands.
The atmosphere at VW's headquarters in Milton Keynes, with its aircraft hangar-like open plan offices, is informal, friendly and busy. Bradley appears tanned, but not very relaxed, after his recent holiday. He took up his new position on April 1, one of the least auspicious days to embark on a new job. "Yeah, there was a bit of me waiting for someone to go 'ha, ha, fooled you', but thankfully that didn't happen," he smiles.
He also joins midway through a full-scale review of its media account.
Those who have worked with him describe Bradley as very likeable, good at his job, hard-working and well-respected. But first impressions suggest he is a bit nervous about being profiled, as he comes armed with notes prepared for the interview, and insists on sticking to them, for the most part.
Bradley has got himself a difficult job and he is the first to admit it. His mission is to husband the long-standing relationship VW has with its agency and build on its successes, particularly of the past three to four years. …