First up in our ‘Meet the Client’ series is the head of marketing at Smeg UK, John Davies. Since winning the Smeg account in 2015, we have worked closely with John to secure a total of 2,864 (and counting) pieces of press and social coverage, including a cool 404 national newspaper cuttings for the iconic Italian kitchen appliance manufacturer. Recently, we sat down with John to find out more about his day-to-day in Abingdon, Oxfordshire and his proudest work moments to date.
What are your main responsibilities at Smeg UK?
My role is broad and varied looking across the marketing mix above and below the line, from point of sale to website, PR, events, partnerships through to advertising, merchandising and imagery.
How did you come to work in your current job role?
I was headhunted to consider the role from an industry far removed from cool appliances. I quickly realised I was up against stiff competition during the recruitment so needed to work hard to show my passion, ideas and determination to cut through.
What is a typical working day for you?
There is no typical day at Smeg! As a family run Italian brand every day is different which is rewarding (and exhausting!). The role is very hands on, from mailmerges to press loans, web and blog updates to setting up shows. My day usually starts with a good breakfast (most important meal of the day!) and has been known to end with an ice cold cider (or two!).
What is your most memorable work moment?
The launch of our small appliances at Dolce&Gabbana in Milan was a clear highlight, especially in terms of how valued I felt following my first conversation with our family owners. From a hard work point of view the reveal of our flagship London store two years ago was immense. The evening of the event I broke down in tears at the end of the night, so much emotional energy and huge shift for the brand.
Working with celebrities plus high profile films and TV programmes is another, London Has Fallen and Security to name but a few. Experiences like getting the brand onto TV screens during Wimbledon by sponsoring top-tier players, then personally be able to play on the hallowed turf and use the athletes changing rooms was a real treat! We do so much, but making an impact is the most rewarding.
Last but by no mean’s least, having a three course dinner prepared in-person by none other than Tom Kerridge at his Hand & Flowers test kitchen.
What is your favourite part of working for Smeg?
As a brand we do so much, working with schools and charities, huge global brands through to local independent retailers. The people here make the business. The care for, and trust in, our staff is immense and the stuff we do like kids Christmas parties where children all get a present from Father Christmas is such a special and generous moment in the annual calendar.
My favourite part overall is having the freedom to implement ideas and get creative to make a real difference – without KPI measurement at every turn.
Why do you think social media is important for business growth?
It’s where we all hang out! We need to get closer to and understand our audiences so what better comms channel to share, engage, solicit feedback and reach new channels
What is your favourite dish to cook with a Smeg appliance?
Carbs all the way so pizza for me! My wife makes a mean zero dough in our stand mixer. I can fire up our smart oven from my phone, then a stonebaked pizza awaits five minutes later, topped with Parmesan cheese from Smeg’s family farm, of course. Got to be a meaty topping too!
What is the biggest misconception of the Smeg brand? What are you doing to combat this?
The fridge. Most people’s single biggest association- our biggest asset and equally Achilles heel. The other is the often unknown origin of the business (Italian). We therefore spend time communicating our cooking appliances and heritage since the 40s.
If you had to recommend just one Smeg appliance, which one would you choose and why?
My smart oven is absolutely fab. Out soon, a built-in meat probe plus smart touch screen and remote control is a winner. Watch this space!
What’s your favourite piece of press coverage for Smeg?
Ooh… that’s a hard one as we’ve seen so much over the years. I really couldn’t single out just one piece, certainly a major national title and big full-page feature where it’s not expected, so something like our Mondrian fridge in GQ, a proud boy moment…
What is your most memorable PR moment with LRR?
Can I say the Rolling Stones gig? Or one of many press launches at home or abroad? One of my most memorable activities was actually a creative activation we carried out around the Royal Wedding with Harry & Meghan doppelgängers, such a hoot! I couldn’t stop cracking up!