MEC’s Allison Coley Assumes Expanded Role on Colgate-Palmolive

Allison Coley will soon be moving from New York to the UK to assume her new position as Managing Partner at MEC London. We spoke to her recently about her expanded role on the Colgate-Palmolive account.

The Makegood: Allison can you tell us about your new responsibilities and why you decided to make the leap?

AC: As a Managing Partner at MEC London, I will be responsible for driving excellence in strategy and implementation across Paid, Owned and Earned in each of the 24 countries Colgate-Palmolive defines as ‘Greater Europe.’ Both Colgate and WPP encourage global personnel relocation(s) to strengthen internal and external networks, which is an aspect of the industry I truly appreciate personally and professionally. To illustrate, I’ve participated in Colgate meetings wherein colleagues are reconnected from their days as Associate Brand Managers in Malaysia 15 years prior. I feel this type of global networking and professional development is extremely gratifying, and both the CP and WPP executives have facilitated this opportunity for me in London.

The Makegood: You have said that “innovative thinking has different meanings in different parts of the world.” What would you say is your greatest challenge in terms of innovation for the US market?

AC: In my opinion, we often try to over-engineer ideas in the US in order to be ‘the biggest, best and brightest.’ Conversely, however, a simple idea or insight often yields the largest impact on consumers.

The Makegood: CPG companies were initially slower to adopt digital media compared to some other categories. However, during the last recessions investment in digital by companies like Colgate accelerated. How do CPG companies view digital today?

AC: In the past few years Digital has become a priority for CP, and we are making significant and traceable increases in this area. Our goal is to engage consumers through an ‘always-on’ experience that builds long-term brand affinity. It’s currently not as obvious for many of our products when compared to other categories, such as consumer electronics or retail, yet we are aware of the value. For example, it takes understandably more work to develop an innovative and engaging digital program for dishwashing soap that isn’t solely coupon-based. Nonetheless, this platform is rapidly moving forward and we’re capturing both the successes and failures to ensure our continued improvement.

The Makegood: Can you tell us about a couple Colgate campaigns that you are especially proud of this year?
AC: 2011 was the continuation of a fantastic global product launch from Colgate, called Sensitive Pro-Relief (a toothpaste for tooth sensitivity). The idea and execution were very simple and based on a very real consumer truth: prove to consumers that after they use the product they can drink cold water – or eat ice cream – and they will be interested.  We’ve seen very positive results from the campaign and it has been so much fun hearing consumers rave about the product!

The Makegood: Thank you Allison and good luck!