Scott Coleman has headed up DuPont's marketing and sales efforts for just over a year, succeeding Cynthia Green. DuPont has historically been known for its chemical products, getting its start in the production of gunpowder—“The best bang for your buck” was an early slogan. But only about 20% of its current products are chemical-related. Coleman has worked to get the word out about DuPont's varied products and markets, and to revamp the brand's identity.
What major challenges did you face when you came aboard last year?
We're a 208-year-old company with 30,000 products and a presence in more than 100 countries; but the world view has been that we're just a chemical company. Many people don't know the new DuPont. I did an unscientific survey of younger people, 25 and under. They knew some of our brands—like Kevlar, Teflon, Tyvek and Nomex flame-resistant fiber—but they didn't associate these with DuPont.
This year we really plan to revamp our brand architecture along three lines: food, energy and protection. We make the science behind the products; and, with inclusive innovation in mind, we can be a powerhouse here.
How is this being accomplished?
We're rolling out a new theme, “Global collaboratory,”
which will highlight stories and points of view in working with governments and nongovernment agencies across the world. One way we're going to do this is with two-minute “minidocumentaries” in a partnership with the BBC. This is part of our sponsorship of the BBC series “Horizons,” which is the second-highest-rated program on BBC World News. The series looks at companies around the world that are making the greatest progress in their sectors and influencing the way people will live in the future.
We've also sponsored National Geographic's series “7 Billion,” both in print and online, about the repercussions of having 7 billion people on the Earth. And we'll be announcing some additional partnerships with key global media properties shortly. We saw a double-digit bump in familiarity after the “Horizons” viewings, but we think we can build on this success with our upcoming campaigns.
It's hard to ignore your title, VP-corporate marketing and sales. Explain how these two functions are being combined at DuPont?
As much as we'd like it not to happen, it's human nature to have separate functional silos here. But there's so much you can leverage when you have marketing and sales working hand-in-hand. The dual title was scripted when I came in. At DuPont, our 13 businesses are independent; each business president makes his own decisions. At corporate, we have an internal marketing and sales consulting practice. We'll go out to our businesses and teach the ABCs of marketing or selling. We also have a projects group that will parachute in if the business needs to do a product launch or channel analysis. We use about 50 market researchers who apply training and tools to specific customer centers. For example, Pioneer Hi-Bred, which produces hybrid seeds for agriculture, is one of our companies. How you interact with farmers is different than how you work with governments to sell Kevlar protective armor for soldiers.
How would you sum up your marketing approach this year?
We're focusing on content and digital marketing in everything we do. Not just Web-based but down to social and mobile. We've built a new system to increase the efficiency of content management—to create it once and share across the website. In the past, as the company worked on some bleeding-edge tools, we had siloed websites and content creation. Now, “Global collaboratory” means we have to populate content in one place and have it appear all over the world on various platforms.