A Moment with... DIAGEO's James Thompson
5 reasons why DIAGEO's James Thompson has the coolest job in the world
You've seen their sponsorship at Formula One, one of the biggest sporting events every year; read about, and perhaps even tried the drinks of the mixologists participating in the prestigious World Class bartending competition; and of course, partied at their glamorous Jet Black parties in Singapore.
At the heart of these brilliantly-executed and highly interactive strategies, is a company that believes in the legacy of its brands, and a man who believes that the consumers are at the core of their business. Meet James Thompson, Chief Marketing Officer, and the main man spearheading these consumer-driven initiatives at drink giant DIAGEO.
"People have been trying to take part in brands ever since brands existed -- people like feeling part of something big and exciting. It is more important now because Broadband is everywhere and people have so many choices," Thompson elaborates. "In the end, the brands that gonna win are the ones that have beliefs and values that people can take part in."
And judging by the popularity of DIAGEO's stable of brands, they're evidently on the right track to dominance on the liquid luxury front as well as consumers' minds. Thompson gives us the inside scoop on working for one of the most exciting alcohol companies in the world.
There's no such thing as a typical day at work...
"My most valuable possession is my passport and my job takes me to every country in Asia Pacific also to America and Europe from time to time."
"I also spend a lot of my time sitting with people, listening to them, helping them get the best of what they are and who they want to be and help to try and nurture their ideas -- so it’s really about our ideas and people, and that’s my business."
Yes, people do think he has the coolest job...
"People think it’s cool! I’ve been doing this for 18 years, and you tend to forget it’s cool after a while. But it is, actually, and sometimes you have to pinch yourself. [When people find out what I do], they either ask me to buy them a drink or make one!"
"We get to work with people like Madonna or whoever that happens to be the Christina Hendrix of the moment, and I love that there are hundreds of different stories about whiskey and how it all started. I find different ones out there every month -- it's fantastic."
But no, he doesn't get to drink on the job...
"No you can’t drink on the job! I get to taste on the job though. We invent lots of new drinks, and we’re constantly innovating and trying new things. 40 percent of sales in the last five years came from new products, and I got to try all those."
Meeting celebrities isn't what he loves most about his work...
"I've met the guy who used to play Tony Soprano and I also met the Irish Prime Minister 15 years ago. But I’ve met enough celebrities in my life I think. It’s great to meet new people, but in the end what keeps me excited about this place are stories and the chance to make new ones as well, and programmes like 'Water of Life' [a community service initiative that gives aid to people without access to water]."
Try beating this party he threw for his friend...
"I once threw a party for a friend's 50th birthday at the Drummulr Castle [Diageo's Home of Scotch Whisky on Speyside], which is a big Victorian castle in the middle of the Scottish countryside. I remember doing a toast to my friend with our Johnnie Walker Blue Label in this beautiful candlelit cellar, and I thought to myself, 'wow not many people have hosted a party like that'."
Head over to LifestyleAsia.com and check out the recent Johnnie Walker Jet Black Party. You might also want to find out more about the Diamond Jubilee by John Walker & Sons and the Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
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A Moment with... DIAGEO's James Thompson
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