Gier lights a fire

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Don't call Randy Gier a brand-builder.

"I don't like people that tell you we're building the brand," said the new exec VP-marketing at Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages. "What's the point of building a brand if you're not building sales?"

In a little more than six months, the former Pizza Hut executive has embarked on an exhaustive review of Cadbury's portfolio, its marketing teams and its agencies. He scrutinized sales, distribution, positioning, pricing, packaging and innovation, and he made it clear there are no sacred cows.

"We have 68 brands in just the U.S. and they're all fabulous brands, but they're a bit dusty and we have to bring them out their slumber." To do so, the marketer is boosting its 2005 budget 20%.

The review team began researching consumer insights with a new proprietary tool that every employee in the marketing unit-down to the administrative assistants-will be trained on by the end of the year. While the company won't reveal specifics, Mr. Gier said the program relies on asking a deeper set of questions about what consumers like or dislike about a brand. "I want secretaries typing presentations to be able to review them and be able to say `I don't think we have the insight here,"' said Mr. Gier.

He credits the program for helping him to not cave under pressure to introduce a mid-calorie soft drink when Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo were doing so. The research also gave him the fortitude to not tinker with Diet Dr Pepper. "I don't know all the reasons why [Diet Dr Pepper] is growing but I'm not stupid enough to change anything." He did shift positioning for flagship Dr Pepper and 7UP. "The issue with Dr Pepper is not differentiation, it's relevancy," he said. Conversely, 7UP's challenge is differentiation. "People think things in green bottles are all the same."

Nor are shops sacred to Mr. Gier. He brought in the San Francisco office of WPP Group's Y&R Advertising to work with its New York office.

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