“How do you do it?” – notes from Under the Spotlight with Syl Saller and Craig Inglis

The Curzon Bloomsbury was packed full of Marketing Society members. The audience were there for two reasons – to listen and learn from Syl Saller, CMO of Diageo and Craig Inglis, Customer Director, John Lewis.

A naturally ebullient crowd, fuelled by wine and sugary lemonade, we fell uncharacteristically silent when these world-class marketers took the stage.

Over the next hour, they had us at the edge of our seats, listening intently and rapidly taking notes. Hungry to learn, the thought in every marketer’s head was “How do you do it?”

Here are the key takeaways:


Lead by example. Set the tone. Seek brilliance but understand that, in order to learn, you need to get things wrong from time to time.

You must become braver one terrifying step at a time.


Hire great people. Ensure you seek and employ diversity, not cookie cutter versions of yourself.

Develop your people

Grow your people. If you don’t grow your people, your organisation won’t be bold and you won’t have brave leaders.

Go back to the customer

When facing a tough question, go back to the customer. Have empathy – place yourself in their shoes. What are they facing in their lives? What to they want? What do they need? How can we help them?

Change – the status quo

Decision-making allows brands to manage the social, technological and economic volatility that is the status quo. Changing is survival – brands that do not embrace change will become irrelevant.


World-class marketers need to drive innovation and creativity. Data allows us to be closest to our customers; it places a responsibility upon us to bring this insight into the business.


Trust your partnerships. Be brutally honest with one another. Agencies need to drive hard for creativity, not allowing the many voices around to dilute the idea. Be single minded to the point of obsession. Make sure the idea doesn’t get chipped away. 

Take a risk

Make a difference. Be noticed – be remembered.

Elevating above the email

Writing emails isn’t a marketer’s job. Think beyond the email – what are you trying to achieve? What difference are you trying to make?

Work hard and be your own North Star

Be yourself. Bring yourself to work. Be braver.

But… don’t believe the hype.

You can always do better.  Keep it real.

Invest in your brands  – better investment, better growth

Growth is often about smart choices. Ask yourself – “how do I use the information I have to make smarter choices everyday?” It’s about continual refocus.


Make sure you have passion for what you do. This is your guide to focus on making the right choices and doing the right thing. This may mean you are the lone voice in the room but, if you are your own ‘North Star’, you will succeed.

Both agreed the role of the marketer has become digital and specialist. Brilliant Noise is a proud agency partner to Diageo. We believe the world needs leaders and organisations that can reinvent themselves for the digital age and the future beyond it – that is our purpose. For more information, please get in touch.