Marketing Matters… with Adam Murphy, Head of Brands at Ornua


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role.

I’m a marketeer who has managed a range of brands in Ireland and abroad. At Ornua, I am responsible for managing and protecting our brand portfolio which includes our crown jewel, Kerrygold; Ireland’s most successful one billion-Euro food brand. This involves working collaboratively with my colleagues in Kerrygold’s key markets around the world.


Why did you choose a career in marketing?

Well it certainly wasn’t due to any masterplan. As a teenager, I knew I wanted to be involved in the commercial world as my dad, who has since retired, had been a successful entrepreneur – but I really didn’t enjoy economics or accounting in school. I guess my interest in the creativity of music and cinema probably meant it was natural that I would be drawn to a career in marketing.


In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge marketers are facing today? How would you tackle it?

The rapid pace of change in the consumer’s world driven primarily by technology means that there is exponentially less time for marketeers to hone solution.  By the time a marketing technique has been perfected in today’s world, it is almost already too late. Marketeers who are comfortable taking bold decisions at pace in absence of the “tried & tested way of doing it” are more likely to succeed.


What advice would you give to someone starting a career in marketing?

Be open to working in sales. All the best marketeers I’ve seen can successfully commercialise a brand proposition i.e. over time turn positioning and strategy into net margin growth. That is the sole objective of branding. To do this, you need to know what motivates your customer (not your consumer) and adapt your strategy, message etc. accordingly. Your career can only benefit by being a marketeer who understands sales.


What makes a great marketer?

Someone who can seamlessly connect the abstract – long-term strategy and creative platforms – and the tangible – P&Ls and KPIs. And most importantly, can communicate this in a compelling and motivating way to their colleagues.


What is your favourite marketing campaign of all time? Why?

Kerrygold campaigns excepted, I’m going to completely contradict what I said in my previous point about KPIs and P&Ls, and choose the British Airways “Face” campaign from the late 1980s. It would most probably never be made in today’s climate: way too long, almost completely unbranded and really expensive. It subtly links the brand’s functional promise with its emotional one and visually it goes a level beyond “Adland” with its cinematic look and sound giving it ‘great stand-out’ in the environment of the time.


Where do you look for professional inspiration?

I’ve met with and been influenced by inspiring people in every organisation I’ve worked in. But not unusually I think that the bosses you have in your more formative years leave a more lasting impression. One of my first bosses (in Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard) had the perfect mix of a high degree of competency and drive matched with total integrity and genuine empathy. I learned a huge amount from that person, and I’ve tried – not always successfully! – to hold myself to those behaviours and standards since then.