Interview on the go with…Tim Orrell

By 13th October 2017The Press

In our latest Interview on the go Sarah Learoyd speaks to Tim Orrell, UK director of FPP. The former colleagues catch-up on all things shopper marketing, tanks, their mutual love of Elon Musk and a spot of retail therapy in virtual reality…


Q. You’re a shopper marketing expert, what exactly does that mean?

A. Shopper marketing is a broad church, but in essence, it’s understanding how and why shoppers do what they do and finding ways to influence them or change the environment to make shopping simpler, more effective and ultimately more profitable for the brands we work with. Often brands will have a fabulous ATL campaign, supported by edgy social media and whole cornucopia of other marketing gimmicks. Unfortunately, they often fail to finish the job at the point of purchase – It’s like running the London Marathon in record time and then stopping on the mall to put some diving boots on.

Q. Who is your favourite retail brand and why?

A. As a committed chocaholic, I love Cadbury’s. Aside of my troubling Dairy Milk habit, I love how they’re constantly looking to introduce new products based around their familiar core range. This makes shoppers look out for the next new thing, keeps the brand fresh and allows then to move into other categories, like dairy, biscuits and ice –cream. Their use of a consistent colour makes them easy to spot and their ATL is cool. To be honest they could do Dairy Milk with gravel and I’d give it a whirl and If they could combine Jeffrey West in the mix, I’d sign over all my worldly goods.

Q. What’s your one real retail marketing bug-bear when you go shopping that you don’t feel retailers can ever see until you point it out to them?

A. It’s all about price these days and often that clouds the issue. Retailers are supposed to solve shopper’s problems and inspire and yet all we see are rows of value messages. We’re forgetting to sell the product and need to understand that every product needs to establish its use and occasion. A more mission-based solution is definitely the way forward with merchandised ideas for simple dinners, quick health lunches, weekend breakfasts etc. There are some moves in that direction with Tesco’s ‘Food Love Stories’ but ironically it’s great above the line, but weakly activated in-store and invisible on their website – we’re happy to help Michelle McEttrick!

Q. What’s the next big thing in shopper marketing?

A. Wait for the boo’s of derision, but V.R. is starting to gather pace and will start to play a key role in all marketing very soon. We’ll soon see car dealers showing customers their perfect car in V.R., Estate agents letting you look around a house without ever visiting, and even shopper’s shopping in totally new types of store, away from the old stacked shelf format. We’re testing V.R. in our new suite at FPP and it has completely transformed my opinion, and expectations. – the possibilities are endless.

Q. I know one of your favourite questions to ask when you’re interviewing people is ‘what did you want to be when you grew up’…so?

A. I’m still working on growing up, but heavy metal guitarist was and still is right up there but I think that dream has died. I’m banned from buying leather pants by friends, family and a United Nations Moratorium so that combined with my ‘Kumbaya’ guitar skills have pushed the dream further away. Don’t see how the pants would hurt though…

Q. Piece of advice that’s stuck with you throughout your career?

A. My first manager use to say ‘Rise together, fall together’ and I’ve always stuck to my team like glue. Nobody can get anywhere on their own, so you’re only as a good as the team around you and I have been blessed with the finest, nicest and most talented people you could find. My team come first, always –Thanks Paul M, great advice! He also used to say ‘always plan out where to get a pie and a piss ‘and that’s been useful too!

Q. We once got the chance to test drive a tank when we worked together on the British Army account which is pretty fantastic, but what’s been the best experience your marketing career has given you to date?

A. I loved the Army account, the people and especially that they let us play with their tanks but…

I had the pleasure of sitting in Coca-Cola’s HQ in Atlanta to discuss their shopper marketing and that realised my dream of working with the biggest brands worldwide. We had the meeting, visited Coca-Cola World, had lobster for tea and then drove home in a convertible mustang and although that makes me sound like a massive pumper, it was a very good day!

Q. What would be your last meal?

A. I apologise in advance to any gourmands or to anyone with taste and manners for that matter. It would have to be a homemade lasagne sandwich. Homemade lasagne, ignorantly slapped twixt two Warburton’s baps (buttered obviously) with some mature cheddar and black pepper thrown in for good measure. My mum would be appalled, I blame the prevalence of instant gratification in society –either that or I’m a scratter?

Q. Who is your hero and why?

I’m currently obsessed with Elon Musk he is incredible. He seems to be single-handedly dedicating himself to the protection and progression of the human race. Most of us given his billions would be in a frenzy of self –gratification and shopping – not focusing on making us a multi-planetary species, forcing through the popularisation if electric cars to reduce global warming, developing revolutionary public transport and even investing in protection against A.I. should it get out of hand. What a guy! He’s funny as well! If he was my friend, I would call him Musky!


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