Gabrielle Markwick-Brown: A Marketing State of Mind

Gabrielle Markwick-Brown

There’s a lot of people doing amazing work in the NZ marketing world. TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2020 Marketer of the Year Finalist Gabrielle Markwick-Brown is one such person. Two year’s into the role of Marketing Manager at IAG, she’s successfully implemented and executed the relaunch of State earning her industry-wide recognition.


Gabrielle Markwick-Brown has been a marketer at IAG since 2013, but started her marketing career over 10 years ago. She joined IAG as a Marketing Communications Specialist and has steadily risen through the ranks, to the position she now holds as Marketing Manager across much of the IAG portfolio including State, NAC and Lantern insurance.

NZ Marketing sat down with Markwick-Brown for a discussion on insurance, direct marketing and what it takes to produce award-wining marketing.

Why do you love working for IAG?

IAG is a truly people-led organisation, I love the commitment from the New Zealand Leadership Team to live up to our purpose and lead by example, and they also role model the behaviours they ask of us. It’s easy to lose connection in a large corporate, or get lost in a hierarchy, but at IAG everyone is really grounded and just generally lovely people all doing their best to help our customers when they need us most. I have also been fortunate to work under several inspirational leaders, who have given me so many opportunities to step up and keep progressing, keeping me excited and motivated to do great work. Plus, my team is amazing, we have fun together every day whilst delivering great work and great results. I feel very lucky.

What do you love about marketing?

I do love the world of direct marketing because of the immediacy of seeing results, however often it can be the last piece of the puzzle and a bit of an afterthought. My introduction to the world of brand strategy has been eye opening. I love having the ability to influence strategic business decisions to align with the brand platform, deliver and embed this across an organisation, and also translate it across the customer and people experience. It’s really inspiring and motivating for me.  

What does it take to be an award-winning marketer?

Have passion, vision and be brave… you’ve got to engage with your stakeholders and really challenge the status quo. Surround yourself with great people and allow them to do amazing things, but always keep your customer and your objectives at the heart of all decisions. Make sure what you’re doing is more than just a campaign, all the little touchpoints have to work – it’s all about the experience you create for your customers and your people. And ask lots of questions!

What’s been your most significant career achievement?

Without a doubt, the relaunch of the State brand and what we have achieved in such a short period of time. To shift some of those longer-term brand metrics like trust, consideration and awareness in such a positive way and in such a short time frame and then seeing the impact of that flow through into our business results is something I’m really proud of.

Talk us through this relaunch of State, and your marketing strategy.

We went back to basics and took the time to understand who our customers really were, how they were living their lives, what their worries were, what they liked about State, and what wasn’t working for them and what their needs were, and not just from their insurance company.

Having this really clear insight into our customers set the foundations for the creative approach.  We knew we had to be meaningful and relevant to our busy audience, be bold and distinctive to break the apathy and get State back into the consideration set.

We had to bring back an emotional connection to the brand. And this wasn’t about making people cry or tugging on the heartstrings – it was about connecting in a different way. So, we retained the essence of the State brand, slightly quirky, slightly funny, but always relatable.

We prioritised our increased investment in media to build brand affinity and salience. Our brand platform enabled us to get really clever with how we reached our audience, leveraging data points and audience behaviour to deliver dynamic and relevant messaging in digital OOH, online video, radio and our digital performance layer. So, while it was a mass market approach, we managed to make it personalised.

At the same time, we also revisited our customer communications, reviewing what was working, what wasn’t and what was missing. We translated the brand into communications people could really relate to and have incorporated more content that demonstrates that we understand their busy lives and how we support that.

But it’s not just an ad campaign, it’s also about taking my organisation on the journey. I spoke with everyone from our customer-facing teams, through to our executive team building the story and selling the vision. It was a key aspect of my approach, to build a revolution and get IAG excited about State. Having a really clear brand platform has also meant decisions regarding our service propositions and customer experiences are now being made with the brand platform in mind.

What are some of the biggest challenges marketers are faced with? Particularly in the insurance sector.

Insurance isn’t usually seen as an exciting topic, so breaking that apathy has always been a strategic priority for us. Getting the brand out there, being noticed, getting that cut through were critical factors in how we took State to market and continues to be a focus going forward. Obviously the Covid-19 pandemic has been a massive disruption to where we thought we were heading for the year, so we’ve been rapidly replanning to take on the challenges ahead. Marketing in a recession is a different operating environment and requires a different approach, so I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve over the next 12 months and beyond.

Where do you see your career headed in the next 5-10 years?

I don’t really have a fixed career path in mind. If I work with great people, under inspirational leaders and for a great company, then I’m inspired to do great work and that’s what keeps me motivated. I always put my hand up for opportunities and see where they take me, and I will keep doing that.  


To read the profiles of all the winners from the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2020, get a copy of our Awards Issue, here.

David Nothling-Demmer

About David Nothling-Demmer

David Nothling-Demmer is Editor of NZ Marketing magazine.

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