From Fonterra to Asahi, Giselle Bleakley has worked with some of the biggest global food and beverage brands. NZ Marketing sits down with the new Head of Marketing and Customer Experience at New World, who shares her passion for marketing and future prospects for the brand.
Giselle’s first marketing experience happened quite organically during a heated discussion with
her father over Lion Red when she was a teenager.
Her father assured her that Lion Red was his favourite beer and that he could pick the taste anywhere.
Wanting to prove a point, Giselle arranged a blind taste test for her father and some of his friends.
“We got a handful of different brands together, and as it turned out Dad had no idea which one was Lion Red. For me that started to cement how powerful those layers of brand stories are. That’s probably where it started out.”
Giselle has built a career in marketing at world-leading companies including Fonterra and others across the globe. She discovered a passion for the fast pace and the end-to-end ownership of retail, while working for Yum! on the KFC brand, one of the fastest growing quick service restaurant brands in the UK.
Now, off the back of an eight year stint at Asahi Beverages where she held a variety of strategic roles, Giselle is again ready to put that fascination for brand stories to good use.
“I literally feel like I’ve just landed one of the best marketing roles in the whole country,” Giselle says.
“The reason I’m so excited is because it brings together all my passions. I’ve always been super passionate about marketing and I love food. I’m a real foodie, whether that be cooking or even better, eating. The team I’ve got here is awesome, so it feels like an amazing ground to start on.”
Over the course of her career, Giselle says the most important skill she’s learnt is how to harness the power of a team in order to get results.
“It’s quite embarrassing but early in my career I knew that engaging and aligning people, and collaborating was something you had to do, but spent a lot of time convincing other people of my point of view rather
than engaging them.”
Now, with a few more years experience, her perspective has changed, and she’s got genuine desire to understand where people are coming from.
“When you get everybody moving in the same direction and you harness that collective brain power, you can end up in absolutely amazing places.”
It also helps that the New World brand holds a special place in her heart, as she has always loved the in-store shopping experience and the connection to New Zealand.
“It’s only now that I’m in the business and having a chat to owners or to people in the team that I’ve realised just how many amazing stories there are for the New World brand to tell.
“The really exciting thing for us is the ability to work with our amazing agency partners to bring some of
those stories to life.”
Dominic Quin, Group General Manager Marketing & CX, Foodstuffs NZ says Giselle is a highly skilled insights-driven professional, which makes her a great fit to lead the next phase of New World’s customer-
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to work alongside Giselle, she brings a combination of skills that make her a perfect fit for the role and has a proven track record in developing and leading very successful teams.”
Despite having enjoyed an already successful career largely in marketing, Giselle still doesn’t think of herself
as a marketer.
“What I love the most is that ability to really get to the root cause and solve real-life business or customer problems. It’s so satisfying when you can be clear on what the problem is and come up with solutions to solve it.”
So what makes a good marketer great? While other marketers might say a deep understanding of the customer, or pain points, Giselle says it’s having the ability to unite people behind a common goal or vision.
“As a marketer you’re the glue between different functions. The reality is you could have some of the best ideas in the world, or be one of the smartest people, or have the coolest most creative brand campaign, but unless you can get everybody onboard and moving in that same direction, and united behind that common goal, you’re just wasting your time.
“Having the ability to not just think as a marketer and as a functional expert, but being able to think beyond your point of view and take a total business and customer view, I think is the difference between somebody who has amazing ideas and great functional skills, and somebody who can turn that into something everyone can get behind.”
This article was originally published in the Dec/Jan 2022/23 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.