7 December 2018

Taking TUI’s campaigns to the next level

Friederike Döbel, TUI Senior Brand Manager, moved to Sweden, taking the Nordic content and campaigns to new markets and higher grounds.

Friederike Döbel, TUI Senior Brand Manager

Friederike believes that only when you listen carefully to what people have to say, you truly understand their challenges. And only then can you find the right solutions. And it may be this skill that makes her an important piece in the Campaign Center of Excellence-puzzle. Friederike is now ready for her new adventure. Moving to Sweden, taking the Nordic content and campaigns to new markets and higher grounds.

COFFEE BAR, SÖDERMALM. Friederike Döbel sits down with a coffee. Around us is a mix of people using the café as their daily gig economy-friendly workspace and dads juggling kids. How Swedish. As a Swede you always try to downplay the positives about this country saying things like “you know it’s really dark here in the winter” and “we don’t even have a government”. But Friederike is hard to disappoint.

I am very excited to be here. So excited to explore the city and all that this country has to offer!

And just like that, a new adventure begins. She has just unpacked her bags in her Stockholm flat. Moving to Sweden to be part of the new Center of Excellence for Lisa Rönnbergs team, Content and Campaigns. The Hannover native joined TUI three years ago after working for the food industry for a few years.

I did a grad program for marketing and sales at Nestlé, followed by a brand manager position for MÖVENPICK ice-cream, which was a lot of fun. I was lucky to work for a great brand, in a very operational, hands-on role. After a few years, my aim was to move into a more international, strategic context.

At that time, TUI had a job offering for the global coordination of the oneBrand project, where local brands were to be rebranded to TUI, so I applied. I was impressed by the braveness of how TUI had decided to rebrand all of their local brands.

Changing a brand is not an easy thing to do?

No. The Netherlands had already rebranded and the next markets were the Nordics and Belgium. My job was basically to make sure that we didn’t re-invent the wheel in each market, especially in campaigns and media, and to make sure that everyone was informed about what was going on.

You have to create engagement around changing the brand. As soon as you had people convinced that this was the right thing to do, the projects were moving faster. When we were done in Belgium, we got thirty employees together in Brussels at Zaventem airport and pulled an airplane over the finish line with a rope. Like, we made it!

What were the challenges?

We like to think that all markets are different, and at the same time there are quite a lot of similarities. Even challenges can be the same across markets and cultures, but the way of solving them might differ. What I really learned was to listen and to ask the right questions. It’s also important to be transparent and to share as much information as possible. If you are willing to share information, and you go first. Others will follow. It is important to build trust.

What’s the goal of the new center of excellence?

We are creating and evolving a cutting-edge communication framework which helps us to drive consistency and to be perceived as one strong brand across all markets. And our main goal of course is to be best in class regarding all of our consumer communication. We operate in a globalized environment where it's more important than ever to establish networks across markets.

Is there a risk that marketing departments will feel limited in their creativity?

In my opinion, boundaries are crucial for creativity. It’s similar to the oneBrand project – we don’t need to re-invent the wheel in each market. We are in an industry where the communication towards Belgian or German consumers shouldn’t be completely different from the communication towards Nordic consumers. Because in the end they all end up in the same hotel. On destination everything comes together.

Why do you think the center of excellence ended up in the Nordics?

For one, excellent creative productions together with a very strong team and strong creative agency. The Nordic marketing team has really succeeded in creating a communication concept that stands out and they have done a really good job translating the productions into all relevant channels. And if you look at the ability to be ahead in terms of trends, the Nordics seem to be just that, a lot of the time. What we see here is going to happen in three or four years in the other markets.

Last year, Friederike participated in a charity race, driving around the Baltic Sea-states in a twenty-year-old car, up to twelve hours a day. 8700km in 16 days, no GPS or highways allowed. The money collected went to the Handicap Kickers Hannover e.V., Sage Hospital in Senegal and Die Arche e.V. – all non-profit organizations trying to make the world a better place. Friederike is also an avid kite surfer and has lived in Boston as well as in Seattle, making her move to Stockholm her third time moving to another country.

I like adventures. But I also like having something to come back to, some kind of base. But sure, adventures are fantastic. Moving to Sweden is an adventure.

Before moving here, I thought to myself – this will be an easy one, because I’ve moved abroad before and the Swedish culture is similar to the German one. The other day I found myself in the Ica Maxi looking at laundry detergents for ten minutes like: hmm.. I wonder which one is for delicate clothes. It’s the little things that make you realize that it might not be as easy as you thought.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?

Right now, I’m learning about a new culture and a new language. I’m currently watching the Swedish TV-show Bonusfamiljen, which is about how to get family life together when family constellations change. It’s fantastic because I get to learn about Swedish contemporary culture and Swedish language at the same time.

In the end, I want to have fun and make friends for life. That’s what it’s all about.

What do you think that your new colleagues can learn from you?

I’m here to build connections. Successfully sharing cross markets. So that. And hopefully, how to really succeed with the Center of Excellence and to take it forward.

What other brands inspire you?

There is a lot of brands that we can learn from when it comes to things like consistency. Apple of course. But other brands as well, where the brands use their heritage in smart ways. One example is IKEA, that has a strong Swedish heritage and they use that successfully in other markets. When you listen to an IKEA radio spot in Germany – the man in the voice over has a Swedish accent. Also brands that create great content for social media. I mean everyone remembers the Volvo Truck Split.

What’s good leadership?

I was lucky to participate in TUI’s global high potential leadership programme “Perspectives“ this year and can highly recommend it to learn more about strong leadership in a digital age. In one of the webinars, our Nordic MD Alex, presented the Nordic model on leadership that consists of trust, transparency, togetherness and testing & learning. I can just agree with him on all of those. In addition to that, I think that to be a good leader is to be a good listener.

During the last year, Friederike has made one significant change. She has started to ask herself the simple question “have I really listened to people today?”. It might not sound like much, but we all know that to implement a new behavior in life, takes a lot. In a world that is increasingly noisy, listening might be more powerful than speaking.

I have learned to listen and to reflect. I keep reflecting on my listening. That’s something that’s especially important working across markets. Only if you truly understand the challenges you can find the right solutions.

Where do you think you will be in five years?

To be honest, I have no idea where I will be in five years. But that’s OK because if someone had asked me five years ago where I would be today, I would have never guessed that I would be sitting in a café in Stockholm doing this interview with you.

Five last questions:

Meatballs or Bratwurst
Zara Larsson or Lena Meyer-Landrut
Business or Casual
Stockholm or Hannover
Mountains or Ocean