Media Mavens 2013

Media Maven Ivan Pollard Makes Connections Pay for Coca-Cola

Exec Plots Ways for Brand to Resonate With Consumers Globally

By Published on .

Ivan Pollard's path wasn't always crystal clear. The U.K. native has a degree in physics and started out working at a community center in a "tough" area. Those experiences taught him "how to think, how to solve problems," he said. He put those skills to good use after his friend Jon Steel, the legendary ad planner, helped him snag an interview at a London ad agency. Mr. Pollard, 51, went on to work at BMP, DDB, Needham, Wieden & Kennedy and Naked Communications. He later opened Unity, billed as the first independent strategic-connections-planning agency in London.

Ivan Pollard
Ivan Pollard Credit: Michael Hoeweler

At Coke he's also problem solving, finding ways to instill the principles of connections planning to Coca-Cola's marketers around the world -- or, as he defines it, "the discipline of deploying your resources across owned, earned, shared and paid media in such a way that it delivers business results."

One example is the popular "Share a Coke" program, which launched in Australia before spreading around the world. That program involves Coca-Cola swapping its white scripted logo for popular names, like Chris and Emma, on Coke bottles. "One of their starting points was to think, 'What can we do with the bottle?'" Mr. Pollard said.

At Coke, he encourages marketing execs to "make sure that when you spend your time and effort and resources building a plan it has no dead ends. Not that everyone who sees a poster will hold a phone up to it, but if they want to, they can."

Who is your favorite follow on Twitter?
My favorite follow is Jonathan Mildenhall (@mildenhall). Always funny, always interesting, always useful and so often lacking any form of self-editing that makes it preposterously exciting. And of course Wendy Clark (@wnd) who is much more inspiring.

Describe your daily media consumption.
I am a junkie for all of it. I start with the BBC website and with I am an avid reader of old-fashioned magazines (still) and read everything from New Scientist (of which I understand some) to Us Weekly (of which I understand none) and of course, Ad Age and Campaign (of which I pretend to understand all). I also love the radio and will listen to NPR, sports radio and anything with good music. That is what I fall asleep to.

If you could only watch one network for the rest of your life, which would it be?
I am afraid it would have to be the BBC. Great balance of almost impartial news, hilarious comedy, brilliant science and nature, and fabulous drama.

Which obsolete tech device do you wish you could have back?
Apart from the Mangonel (large catapult for hurling rocks at things), I guess it would be the old- fashioned yellow Sony walkman. Emblematic of a generation; symptomatic of my age. Then I could play my old mix tapes again from the '80s.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? If the question is what would I like to do …
Wow. Write children's books, be a physical-education teacher, become a doctor, be an explorer, an astronomer. But if the question is what I would have to do … Coca-Cola salesman in White Bear Lake, Minn. (Mr. Pollard's wife and kids live there. "We have a strangely modern marriage," he says.)

Most Popular