Jeremy Stern is the Managing Director for PromoVeritas.
I run PromoVeritas, a London based marketing agency that specialises in what we call ‘Promotional Compliance’ – that is ensuring that the prize draws, competitions and instant win promotions run by major food and drink brands are fair, legal and operated with integrity. So we are the guys who draft promotional terms & conditions, pick winners of prize draws, judge entries to competitions and oversee Willy Wonka type instant wins for brands such as American Express, ASOS, Cadbury, Pringles and Kellogg’s.
What did you do previous to full-time work?
I went to Manchester University and studied BSc in Management Sciences, and before that had a year of work – selling encyclopedias door to door in France and also working on a Cruise Ship in the Med. Also I did the Chartered Inst of Marketing Diploma. But best qualification is moving around brands.
How did I get into this career
I did a classic route of working in FMCG Companies – starting at Unilever, then moving to the world of coffee and launching Kenco Coffee, before moving back to London as the Marketing Manager for everything chilled and Fresh at Tesco. I then made a dramatic switch into technology for five years at BT, running campaigns supporting the launch of new phones, satellite services and phone based services. But FMCG beckoned and I joined Coca Cola as European Promotions Director, responsible for events such as the Olympics and World Cup. It was at this point that I started to get interested in ‘doing things right’, and it was clear that marketers had no real idea of the laws or rules that affected their daily business. That was the basis for setting up PromoVeritas – to make compliance so easy that not doing is the worst choice! We are now a team of 30+ plus people, working on 1,000+ campaigns a year, for some of the biggest brand names, in the UK, Europe and globally – so we must be doing something right !
A Typical Day
Start off with 1 to 1 with one of my team – trying to ensure that various projects, both client and internal, are moving on at pace.
Then I will be off to give a one hour training session (free) to staff at an agency or a brand. If they don’t know, they won’t care, so we are passionate about educating the industry. Did you know that you must not pick the winners of a prize draw that you have run – it needs to be done under independently, or that there must be an independent audit statement to show that the run of scratchcards that you have just produced have been printed correctly and the winners distributed randomly and securely, or that there is a real art to creating Terms & Conditions that are both readable and effective.
Then back to the office, where today I spent an hour reviewing a beta version of a website for a major brand of crisps, checking that the journey is logical, that the correct data consent is obtained, that all possible entry options generate an appropriate response and that all of the images have appropriate copyright approval. Then it will be reviewing a radio script for a brand of cereals that is launching a recipe based prize competition. Finally it was signing off 50 cheques, ranging in value from £50 to £1000 for those who have been lucky enough to find one of the near 1,000 Cadbury White Crème Eggs that we have secreted around the country – there are still some eggs worth £10,000 to be found. We handle all the claims …
What skills and qualities are needed
Ability to multi task – rarely do I get to spend more than 30 minutes on a single task
Out of the box thinking – you have to develop a skill for creating solutions. Marketing is all about solving problems; I need more sales, I need to reach new audiences….and the obvious is rarely enough
Guts – you can go and research the hell out of an idea, or you can rely on your instinct and go with it. Of course it is rarely your money, and there are risks to be considered, but market research can be a bit too much of a crutch, delaying good decision making
What advice would I give
Be eagle eyed at all times. Read anything and everything, not just the same newspaper or website everyday (one day I have the Times, the next the Sun), it will give a broader perspective on life, and that odd snippet will come in useful one day.
Don’t be afraid to move around sectors or industries – it is amazing how often what you thought was common knowledge in your old industry, is seen as new and innovative in a new industry
If you could give your younger self advice about your career, what would you say?
I would say you have to realise that everything is a learning experience so ‘put up, shut up and get on with it’ whatever ‘it’ is!
If given the choice of a junior role on a big brand, or the same level on a less well known brand in the same company, take the latter. You may have a smaller canvas to paint on, but at least you will be able to choose the design and the colour of the paints!
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