VERGE MEETS: Caitlin Robertshawe

VERGE spoke with Caitlin Robertshawe, Assistant Brand Manager for Quaker at PepsiCo. Since joining PepsiCo in 2014, Caitlin has worked on some of the UK’s biggest snacks and breakfast brands, overseeing product launches, brand campaigns and digital, including managing Quaker’s instagram page.

How did you break into the world of Brand Management?

I studied PR at Bournemouth Uni and graduated in 2012. During my degree, I quickly became really interested in marketing and branding, so sought a marketing placement as part of my sandwich degree and took on additional brand management courses. For my placement I spent a year as a Marketing Intern at Disney working on live action TV series and movies post theatre release and it cemented that marketing was for me. After graduating, I worked for a year as a Marketing Executive for Dove Spa (a sister company to Unilever’s Dove) and then worked for a year at Johnson & Johnson as a Marketing Graduate. I joined PepsiCo in June 2014 as Doritos Marketing Assistant, and I am now Assistant Brand Manager for Quaker in the UK.

What’s the best part about your job?

Brand Management is a great career if you love being creative, taking ownership and making things happen. I really enjoy launching new products, which is a good thing considering in the last year Quaker has launched over 15! As a Brand Manager you get involved in every step of the journey from ideation through to seeing a product on shelf. I really appreciate playing a part in testing new flavours, designing packaging, creating and managing digital content, working with brand ambassadors and tracking how our new brands perform. The time from idea to launch can vary dramatically – Quaker Oats Super Goodness, which we launched last year, was four years in the making, but Overnight Oats Pots which we’ve just launched has only been an eight month journey. The variety I get to experience is something that really interests me.

How does social media play a role for brands?

Social media has grown exponentially in the last few years and I’m really passionate about the digital media opportunities for brands. It’s so important to keep up with this digital transformation because it’s a new way to do business with your consumers. The amazing thing about digital is you can track what is being watched in real time, how much a piece of content is engaged with, what moments their interest’s peak and what they think on the spot. This means you can respond, redirect your approach or boost how many people see the content in real time, thus increasing your chances for a higher return on investment

Getting the Quaker Instagram channel up and running has been a real priority for me. The strategy has been about capitalising on the genuine interest people have in visually beautiful and delicious oat based recipes as well as working with influencers to widen our reach. Instagram makes it easy for us to tell our story and be part of the conversation on the versatiltity of oats – from chilling and soaking them overnight, to baking and creating energy balls to exciting trends like savoury porridge. Deliciously Ella is one of the key influences in this space – so it was great to work with her last summer on our first overnight oats activity.

What inspires you?

The people and brands I work with keep me inspired every day. I’m lucky enough to be exposed to some of the best brands in the country as PepsiCo owns Walkers, Tropicana, Doritos, Pepsi Max, 7 Up and Quaker to name a few! The work these teams generate is astounding and I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by top class Marketers.

The team around me is dynamic and highly experienced I’ve been mentored by some senior marketers in the business who have encouraged me to step up and take ownership of my projects which I find really empowering. Career development and progression is really prioritised at PepsiCo and it’s a fast paced environment which keeps me excited. I also really value the flexibility I get from the business, being able to balance being in our UK head office with working from home and visiting agencies in London every week

 What’s keeping you busy at the moment?

 Overnight oats is a huge trend at the moment and one we see as a brilliant opportunity to boost sales outside of our usual winter season – so Quaker has recently teamed up with designer duo MissPrint to give our shoppers free, limited edition mason jars with every pack of 1KG oats to use when making overnight oats for breakfast this summer. We’re also running a massive digital campaign including video content via celebrity influencers’ social media platforms with delicious overnight oat recipes. This has been one of the most exciting launches to work on – we’ve moved really quickly to be the first major brand to play in this space.

And even though it’s not quite summer yet, we’re already getting ready for winter. As you can imagine, winter is enormous for porridge sales and we’ve got a lot of exciting new Quaker products coming out to keep attracting and inspiring new consumers, so I’m deep in planning those launches now

What is your proudest work achievement?

 I was lucky enough to spend a year and a half working on the Doritos brand. The Doritos brand positioning is ‘For the Bold’, and it’s something that I think works perfectly for Doritos and allows for endless creativity and boundary pushing. Whilst working on Doritos I led a campaign where we sent The LadBible on a live 12 hour holiday to Ibiza with bold challenges that they had to complete throughout the night Their adventure was broadcast live through Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook and we had thousands of people following their journey! It was a risky yet extremely  fun and engaging piece of activity that forced us to get uncomfortable and push the usual conventions of Brand Management, and it’s something I am very proud of. We won multiple awards for the piece of work which makes my sleepless nights totally worth it!

Where do you see yourself going next?

I love working with brands and consumers, so I plan to keep working on things that excite and challenge me and hopefully make it all the way to the top! I would love to be a Chief Marketing Officer one day

Any advice for those trying to get into a Brand Management role?

Firstly, you’ve made a brilliant choice and one that’ll be so fulfilling! Brand Management is a competitive industry so any experience you can get whilst you are studying will really help. Whether it’s doing an internship in your holidays, getting involved in marketing for a University society or attending events at the likes of Google or Amazon Head Offices for example – do what you can to make sure your CV stands out. My colleagues in Brand Management at PepsiCo have degrees in everything from law through to accountancy and some haven’t been to university. It’s less about what you’ve studied and more about your commitment, passion, drive and willingness to learn.

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