Peter Stringham

Group general manager-marketing, HSBC

By Published on .

Big idea: Total control

How it came to him: An experience with a client when he was at BBDO Canada

How it's changing his business: Drove a new brand to 29th most valuable in the world

Marketers often are asked to do the impossible. That's what Canadian beer company Molson asked of Peter Stringham in the mid-1990s, when he ran BBDO in Canada. The brewer was the largest in the country, but was only a few percentage points ahead of

Labatt Breweries. Molson wanted to move away from Labatt, so it went to Mr. Stringham asking him to research, design and develop a product with a complete marketing campaign and have it out to consumers in five months.

"We went back to them and said, 'All right, we can do this, but there's going to have to be a team of people from the agency and people from the brewery, "' Mr. Stringham says, "'and that team has to be given complete authority to develop the product, the marketing communications, everything."'

Molson agreed. The group worked hard, challenging the basic perceptions of how beer companies promoted their products. In five months, Molson launched Red Dog.

Good ideas may come from the lone genius, Mr. Stringham has learned, but big, transformational ideas more often come from a group that has authority to activate a plan. He continues to depend on such groups in his current position as group general manager of marketing at global banking firm HSBC. "We only became a global brand by rebranding almost 80 different banks in almost as many countries in 2000 as HSBC," he says. "What was transformational was this whole idea of how you execute." One of Mr. Stringham's project groups realized that people like dealing with a global company if they can still feel as though they'll be treated as individuals.

Who in the group came up with the idea? Mr. Stringham doesn't know, or even care. The method's success speaks for itself-and for HSBC.
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