Carolyn McKeever is Global Head of Downstream Marketing Communications at Shell and one of the esteemed speakers at Festival of Marketing 2019.

To get you hyped for the Festival in October (10-11 in London), we caught up with McKeever to ask her a few questions about her work at Shell.

See Econsultancy’s Festival of Marketing page for more interviews and discounted tickets.

What external factor(s) do you think is/are having the biggest impact on consumer attitudes to advertising?

Carolyn McKeever: One of the key things I’ve noticed is that attention spans are so inconsistent, neither long nor short. Sometimes our customers will happily watch 12 minutes of content, while other times they’re gone in six seconds or less.

Consumer attitudes to what is ‘worthy’ of attention is having a huge impact on how we approach our communication strategy. It means that we have to focus much more on earning the right to be in the lives of customers when we connect with them – whether that’s for 12 minutes or six seconds.

Having worked agency-side, has anything surprised you about forging agency relationships at Shell?

Carolyn McKeever: Forging relationships with agencies is easy if you are fair, respectful and collaborative. What surprises me is how surprised our agencies are that we behave like this.

carolyn mckeever, shell

What creative (marketing, advertising or something completely different) has inspired you recently?

Carolyn McKeever: I was at Kings Cross station a few weeks ago and B&Q had created a ‘bee pit stop’ – #beeandq. It was a lovely green hive-shaped installation, so I actually took a photo of it and sent it to my team. I even posted it to Facebook, which I’ve NEVER done before.

It was great marketing: a key social issue, plus a whopping target for the collective to easily get involved with, plus shamelessly driving sales of lavender. I just loved it.

On the retail side of the business there are so many trends that seem ready to disrupt things – connected and automated cars (not to mention electric) – How does Marketing get involved with innovation at Shell?

Carolyn McKeever: The same as everywhere, I expect. Our brand managers identify what our customers are feeling and thinking about; things like sustainability or climate concerns. Then marketing finds a way to address these issues. For example, Nature Based Solutions is a practical way for customers to do something about their carbon footprint.

Our retail sites of the future will have to accommodate many customers wanting to get in and out in four minutes or less. But they will also have to cater to those charging their electric vehicles and needing a place to relax or work for 20 minutes. We’re tackling these future trends now, to make sure we’re ready – at scale – when the need arises.

On the practical side, how does Shell manage comms across so many different markets?

Carolyn McKeever: The perennial question: how do you do ‘Glocal’ well? Once a year, small teams of our Global colleagues go into the local markets to support the development of the annual marketing plan. This is a great opportunity for the Global team to influence the local markets.

In Shell Retail, the Global team is responsible for developing the comms strategy and creative platforms. We work with two or three ‘pathfinder’ markets to get the concepts to actually work and then the local teams deploy the campaigns in situ.

However, local teams also have freedom to develop their own campaigns, if needed, and the Global team’s role is to make the learnings from these local campaigns and activities known across all our markets. Retail encourages local empowerment, while other parts of the Downstream business are more ‘command and control’. I can see the benefits of both approaches, to be honest.

To hear more from Shell’s Carolyn McKeever and a host of other speakers, check out the Festival of Marketing 2019 agenda and book your ticket.