Franz Drack on the Absolut dos and don’ts of marketing

Franz Drack
Franz Drack

Franz Drack is in a first-rate position to lead the VentureVillage and Apex Power Sessions seminar on marketing this Thursday, 24 January. As Global Marketing Manager at Absolut Vodka, he’s had an illustrious career working with international clients. Drack has also launched highly successful campaigns, such as Absolut Greyhound in collaboration with Swedish House Mafia – which received over 25 million views on YouTube.

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VentureVillage caught up with him to get a sneak peek on how to make a marketing campaign go viral and to get his top marketing tips for entrepreneurs…

Hi Franz, tell us more about what you do..

I usually work on the global campaigns for Absolut, for example advertising campaigns for the brand itself or the introduction of new products. Prior to that, I worked at Coca-Cola and L’Oreal.

I worked from 2004 to 2008 in Austria for Absolut and then moved over to Sweden for them. My roles changed a few times in the past few years, I was responsible for looking after Europe, but in July 2011 I switched to the global brand team for Absolut. I’ve been at Absolut for four years now, which in comparison to today’s generation is very long. I think people in the startup scene are more likely to change their jobs every six to 12 months!

Describe your typical work day

width="250"Firstly, I travel a lot. New York, Amsterdam, USA, Germany, I’m in a plane a lot of the time. That sounds quite glamorous, though it isn’t at all unfortunately. It’s actually the opposite, because you are constantly running from the airport to meetings. Other than that I’m basically in front of the computer and have a lot of meetings and calls with different countries. The time differences mean late nights! But the work is generally a lot of fun – we have a young team and a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Can you tell me a bit about the massive success of the campaign for Absolut Greyhound?

It was a really interesting project. We discussed how we could create something with Swedish House Mafia that would go above and beyond a normal sponsorship – we always like to bring part of our company personality into campaigns. We decided to work with Swedish House Mafia because they are from Sweden and because they have an awesome live show, which we were personally excited by. They had the energy that we needed in the campaign.

Everything just fit well together. It’s always hard to judge whether these kinds of things will be successful. But if you are excited by an idea, you work a lot harder and in the end you get something spectacular.

You have a very large budget for the marketing of Absolut, how can startups with much smaller budgets reach marketing goals?

I think the most important thing is to sit down and decide why you’re doing the whole thing. You have to start with the why. Instead of copying other firms, young businesses should ask themselves “what are the values that we stand for? What kind of market behaviours do these values inspire? What kind of brand experiences do we need to project to inspire this kind of behaviour in our customers? And that leads to the question – how do we present our products and services?” From these questions, the marketing concept should arise quite easily.

Often, young businesses come from the other side and say, “okay, we have a product or a service, which looks like this, so let’s commission an advertising campaign.” Then the results don’t look authentic and customers notice quite quickly that the campaign doesn’t fit with the business or brand. You have to decide on the values and principles – then you can reach marketing goals even if you have a small budget.

What I often see in marketing are businesses making big investments in campaigns and you just can’t help but think “they’re doing this to try and prove to someone that they have the financial means for a campaign”. For example, internet portals that advertise their website on TV. Even if the investment isn’t that much, you have to think of the huge amount of effort the consumer has to put in to do something with the information. For example, they need to note the address, check in on their tablet, computer or smartphone and find the site. I think there are far more effective solutions.

What are the three biggest mistakes that many firms make when they begin marketing campaigns?

Businesses often don’t start with the “what do we stand for”, they build their marketing strategies too superficially and focus on the use of the product instead.

A mistaken focus is another problem. People whisper in a lot of channels, rather than screaming in one. The motto should be “do less, but better”.

Finally, you should decide what behaviours of the target group should be changed through the campaign. What should the consumer think, feel, say or do after they’ve seen the campaign? That often results in clarity on what the marketing strategy should be.

Why did you decide to join the Apex Power Sessions and what excites you about it?

It’s a great environment in which ideas are exchanged. There are representatives from Google, Etsy, the public – everyone is involved in different things. You can learn a lot from one another and that’s just great. The title is “Meeting the Pros” (though I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a ‘pro’) and I think you should always be curious about your own area of expertise and get to know different avenues. That’s what the sessions are there for. You bring in your own perspective and receive feedback on your ideas. That is what is so exciting about it and why I’m so glad to be a part of the Power Sessions.

Interested in finding out more about the Power Sessions? Check out the link here!

Our Second Power Session is proudly sponsored by the Berlin School of Creative Leadership
Berlin SchoolThe mission of the Berlin School of Creative Leadership is to become the world’s leading institute for quality executive education and research into creative leadership. It fuels open dialog within the creative community and tackles key issues in media, entertainment, advertising, design, journalism, and marketing. 

Image credit: JoshuaDavisPhotography

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