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Meet Effie's Launch Event special guest - Andy Meldrum

Interview / 18 Apr 2016 /
  • Meet Effie's Launch Event special guest - Andy Meldrum
  • Meet Effie's Launch Event special guest - Andy Meldrum
If you are a marketer, Hanul Gabroveni is the place to be this Wednesday (April 20th) as the Effie Launch Event will announce the new vision of the Effie programme. Starting 2016 the event will focus more on learning and improving the practice and practitioners of marketing effectiveness than on the regular competition.
The Organising Committee's presentation will be followed by an Effie Talk on Builiding Knowledge as seen by Andy Meldrum (Head of Brand Communications for SAB Miller in Europe), the special guest of the evening. 

Just to feed your curiosity until the event will take place we asked Andy to share some of his marketing stories with us. 

Andy Meldrum – INTERVIEW

What made you choose marketing as a career? What did you dream of becoming when you were a child?

When I was a child I actually always dreamed of being a lawyer! Naturally, this was before I really knew what lawyers did all day... I remember being inspired by the hero of the old Agatha Christie film, „Witness for the Prosecution”, who used every trick in the book to outsmart his opponent in court. These days I try to apply the same principle to my competitors in beer!

Eventually though I studied economics – back in those days Marketing didn’t exist as a standalone degree. But as soon as I took the Marketing subject as part of my degree, I knew that I had found my calling. I was fascinated by the intersection between business and psychology. If I hadn’t discovered marketing, I might have ended up as a behavioural economist – it’s basically the same job, attempting to uncover why people make the choices they make.

Before moving to England you have worked in Melbourne for a couple of years. How would you say marketing differs on the two continents? Would you say that your different cultural and social background helped you in any way?

There is no doubt that marketing is becoming more global every year. You see that in the way that the best brands and ideas travel seamlessly across markets. Certainly working now in Europe, I see exactly the same marketing challenges that we were dealing with in Australia. Historically, the benefit of working in a market like Australia is that it is a relatively small, but well-developed market – and so the marketing & advertising community there is able to take some risks that might be harder to justify in a larger market. The flipside to this though is that as businesses continue to globalise, there is less‚ ‚pure marketing’ being done there.

The other advantage to coming from Australia is that we tend to get along well with pretty much anyone – so that definitely helps when your job might take you to 3 different countries in a week!

Participating in the creative process of developing a new product gives you a certain attachment to it and a natural care for its evolution. Do you have any examples of products that you have known from the start? 

I’ve had the pleasure of working on a number of new brand launches over the years – some successful and some less so!! Like many things in life – you learn more from the failures than the successes. In 2003 I worked on the launch of a new beer brand called Empire Lager. The concept started as a relatively niche proposition targeting Legal Drinking Age consumers with a very light, easy drinking liquid that would be well-suited to night clubs where traditional beers were considered too heavy and filling. As the project progressed, the company got more and more excited about the launch – everybody loved the packaging and the advertising, and so the marketing budget was continually increased, and the sales plan got bigger and bigger, and eventually it became the company’s biggest launch in years. And then it completely bombed. As we looked back on what had happened we realised that in our internal excitement we had completely lost track of the original consumer opportunity. That was a powerful lesson for me about keeping the consumer at the heart of what we do.

If you were to rewrite the rules of marketing, what would the first three be?

Start with the ‚Why’ – be clear on the underlying motivation for your brand or business. Be purposeful.
Next be clear on what problem your poduct solves... if it doesn’t solve a problem, consumers probably don’t need it.
Then market it in a way that appeals to people’s emotions - bring joy to the world!

You work in an environment that is both exciting and stressful. What do you do to unwind?

It’s funny you ask – this is something I’ve actually been focusing on a lot in the last year or two. I’m a big fan of "productivity hacks" – understanding what drives performance and simple techniques I can put in place to be as productive as posible – not just in business but in life. I start every day with mindfulness meditation followed by exercise. It sounds more impressive than it is – the meditation takes 12 minutes, and a high intensity Tabata workout that can be done anywhere takes just 5 minutes. If I tick those 2 boxes, my day is usually off to a pretty good start.

On the weekends I like to get out into the countryside on my road bike for a few hours to find some good hills to climb. An old cycling buddy of mine used to remind me (as I struggled to hold onto his back wheel up some monstrously steep climb) that "hills are good for the soul". I’m now inclined to agree. When you spend as much time as I do in front of a laptop screen either in an office or on a plane – getting out into nature and breathing in some fresh air becomes a critical part of my week.

On Wednesday you will meet part of the Romanian industry through an Effie Talk. What should the audience expect to hear or learn?

All of us in the industry are striving to achieve the same thing – marketing that is effective. Using an example of a piece of advertising I worked on in Australia, I’ll share the approach we train our marketing teams on at SAB Miller to help them to assess marketing ideas.