Head of Brand Development and Marketing Communications, “Perekrestok”

The “client-agency” model is going away: how the in-house experience can be successful.

Pavel Kesado-Alonso

Head of Brand Development and Marketing Communications, “Perekrestok”

17 years in marketing;
from September 2018th — working in X5 Retail Group;
his team has 10 members.

— Tell me about your career path.
— My path is different from usual career development on the client's side. I started at a research agency and I did qualitative research. After work in different companies' marketing departments I got an insight that I could not understand partners, which were coming to me. I didn’t understand what media, communication and so on were. That’s why I went into the agency business. I had started as an usual accounting manager and I ended as client-service director.

After two agencies, I decided it was time to return to the client side. Came to MTS. We did Red Quest, which is a massive, hybrid project that we came up with internally, which is great.
How did we come up with it? There was a youth segment, and something had to be done with it. Then the development of products like unlimited Internet, data packages, etc. began. What was our task? Grow the youth segment. During the quest, we increased it from zero to 2.5 million active participants: those who carried out some action useful for the company. The quest was later closed.

Over the years, I understand that the strategy could have been done differently. But, honestly, I do not regret the path that I have taken: I have an idea about different businesses. I believe that if you are a marketer, you should have a certain set of skills and techniques that you can apply in any industry.

After MTS I was called to VTB24. And it was a meeting with a dream. Being a student of mathematics faculty for seven years, I liked the banking sector. Financiers are cool guys, but now I understand that I and the bank are incompatible: they live there by some kind of their own rules.

Then I was invited to Volkswagen. I stayed there for three years.

— Do you think it's normal for big companies to do everything inside? In terms of communications.
If you can't follow the process, you don't have the ability to manage it quickly. So you understand that you need a tool that you can use "in the moment".
Our team was such a tool. For you to understand, we have given up on communication partnership for half a year. All invented themselves. Filmed and produced. It was an experience. There was a big question before the team - will we manage or not? But we did it. And this gave us the realization that we can develop some campaigns ourselves.
— In fact, you say that the team has one risk — to be uncompetitive.
— You need to be aware that a team can be assembled from anyone for three kopecks and shout in all corners that you have in-house. Or you can invest, hire specialists from the market with extensive experience, get them interested, because the motivation here should be the strongest.

It is important to set ambitious goals for the team. For example, "let's try to do everything ourselves." This is such a professional challenge! And for a leader, the most important thing is to motivate the team with your example.

In addition to experienced specialists, they also found very young ones, in whom they saw potential, and now they have become so successful that they have gone into telecommunications. With us, they realized that they can create both big ideas and very small campaigns.

There should always be a goal, such an image of the result that you want to come to, it is very important. Because if you don't have it, you don't know why you even need to do it.

— Who are you in X5?
—  Head of Brand Development and Marketing Communications at Perekrestok. I am responsible for the private label portfolio. Perekrestok has 14 of them.

— How should TV and digital shares be planned now?
— We need to look at the business and the resources that we have. If you are a major national advertiser, it is obvious that without advertising in mass channels you will lose. Because competitors will not refuse it. Moreover, TV is still cheaper. Therefore, such major players as Pyaterochka, of course, cannot afford to go digital only. And we can. Most likely, there is a high probability that we will maintain a certain level of media activity in classical communications, but we will pay more attention to digital.
Персонализация - глобальный бренд
There is always a demand for a partner you can really trust. There are past relationships, new acquaintances, but the issue of trust is always very acute.
— And how to check before the start of cooperation that you can trust?
— You need to focus on cases, the opinion of the professional community, personal experience and communication with a particular partner. But if I could give advice to the agency part of the business, I would advise you to pay attention to self-promotion. When you know your product but no one else knows about it, that's a problem. It will be difficult for you to prove that this is a working tool. It really can be the best on the market, but you didn't tell a professional audience about it. PR builds trust. We all have a circle we trust. We are social beings, so in our lives we focus on the opinions of these people.

—  What is your best case?
— I might want to tell you, but I don't remember. I can name two examples. The first is RED QUEST. Before my eyes, something was actually formed from scratch. 2.5 million users in two years. There was a strong idea, a desire to be partners with global brands, the opportunity to enter these franchises, the implementation of these projects - this is amazing.

The second case is Skoda. When I got there, the brand was confused with Lada. And when I left there, the knowledge of the brand increased significantly. The team and I proved that working with the local agenda is very important. You can use global strategies, but it is important to work with insights from a local audience. One of the campaigns is the One Family, One Team platform, which we linked to the Sochi Olympics.

— What advice would you give to marketing directors?
— Don't be afraid to experiment. You can work according to an established scheme, but it is better to try. Admit to yourself if it won't work and draw conclusions. It's better to be wrong, but try.

Many may think that it is expensive. But it may also not be costly. This may seem like an internal process, within a group or region.

— Is there a share in the budget that you allocate for experiments?
— There is always a share, I plan it. Everything that is in Perekrestok, even at the federal level, is experiments. We, as a supermarket, understand that it's either now or never. Grocery retailers have their own level, and this is already some kind of hygienic form. If you do not give some qualitatively new solution to the client, do not differ, then you are just one of the gray masses.
Какие критерии показателей должны быть у экспериментов?
— What are you doing to feel the market? What to read, watch?
— In the era of streaming consumption of information, it is difficult to single out, there is a lot of unnecessary. I read some Telegram channels. For example, "Non-digital economy", "Nezygar", "Merciless PR man". I also love the Smart Reading project. They make summaries of books for which there is always no time, and even those that are not published in Russia.

I advise you to ask questions. Some time ago I didn't. I thought it was better to remain silent and pass for a smart one. But now I think the opposite. Always have an idea of ​​the end result you want to achieve. Without it, it is difficult to feel yourself in space. The image of the result should always be. It doesn't matter what business.
Photo: Unsplash.com