Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Jonathan Sully, Marketing & Media Consultant

Jonathan Sully is a Marketing & Media Consultant, working with clients across media, entertainment and FMCG industries, to help build their brands.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I have been very lucky to follow my passions and interests throughout my marketing career. I learnt my trade in Diageo working on Malibu and Smirnoff and launching Moscow Mule, a revolution at the time. It showed me the power of consumer understanding.

From there I was determined to work in the ad agency BBH who I still consider to be the best strategists in the business. Working with John Hegarty (creative director) and Nick Kendall (planning director) was a privilege and I learnt more about marketing than I ever thought possible.

The decision to stay agency or client side loomed and I went back to work on Action Man and Boys Toys at Hasbro. My first “once in a lifetime” role. The creativity and pace of the business was incredible.

I had the opportunity to work in the US and seeing the transition from selling plastic toys to promoting kids programming as being key, I moved to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), moving back to the UK to head up International Marketing.

WWE is a machine. They produce and promote at an unprecedented rate and scale. We brought the brand to contemporary new family audiences and along with SuperStars such as John Cena, The Rock and other luminaries, we toured the world. I should write a book, but most of it wouldn’t be believed. I ended up as President for APAC in Sydney and began my love of Australia and the perfectly formed Australian media market.

I moved into Fox Sports and then Disney and continued my career progression and was lucky enough to work on global franchises such as Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar. Disney was an education on how to manage global businesses in phenomenal growth. Working at Disney was a career dream come true and I am thrilled that I had that opportunity.

My most recent role was as Marketing Director in Bacardi-Martini, the largest privately held spirits company in the world. For 3 years we drove double digit growth and record sales of brands including Grey Goose, Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire and Patron. Ironically I returned to the Ready To Drink sector and championed the launch of Bombay Sapphire Ready to Drink Gin and Tonic – a huge success and testament to a very hard working, driven marketing team.

I am now consulting in the marketing and media space whilst I consider my next move in marketing.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

At present a lot is to do with Home Life, which is exactly what I want to do. I have dedicated more time to family and some of the “projects” on my list.

But each day involves publishing articles of interest, keeping on top of current issues in the marketing and business arena and keeping on top of clients, contacts and future prospects as we climb out of COVID-19.

We should all value this work from home time and opportunity.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

100% – an interim consulting life is the very definition of that.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I think that it has meant too little to me for too long. I think that you have to be brave, courageous and ride your luck to achieve your balance goals rather than having the scale tip dramatically one side or the other. I know very few people who have got this right. I’m not one of them.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Plenty! In particular I have dedicated more time to researching the broader market. I think the risk of tunnel vision in high pressure roles is very real. A holistic view of the consumer, customers and category is critical.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

We all seem to gravitate to the usual suspects for very good reason – Mark Ritson, Les Binet, Peter Field are all must have’s in whatever form they appear – print, podcast or broadcast. My list of podcasts includes Mumbrellacast, Mi3, MediaWeek, AdNews and Wired amongst others

Every marketer should also read Dave Trott’s blog and books – Creative Mischief, a book which detailed the things he has learned in his 40-year career in advertising and Predatory Thinking: A Masterclass in Out-Thinking the Competition. Both superb. John Hegarty is my other go to author – Hegarty on Creativity: There are No Rules gives you an inside line on advertising.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I think that I would be in severe and irreversible trouble if someone took away Netflix. Or my remote control for Netflix.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

It wouldn’t be from the A-list of talent running huge corporations, it would be from a single parent who has two jobs. We overlook the real work life issues that affect the people we rely on every day, and sell to as marketers.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

We often don’t know what is really a good work life balance until we change it. I would say that it isn’t easy to know when to jump away from something that can wear you down, but like the frog in the boiling pot, jump before you get cooked.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.