For years Turtlewax has kept a low marketing profile - now it needs to
work hard buffing up its image. Can Kellogg’s Rob Morgan make the
lacklustre company shine?
Rob Morgan’s switch from cereal giant Kellogg to the car wax company
Turtlewax may appear at first glance to be an odd move.
Kellogg’s marketing chief will be leaving a company with a pounds 70m
marketing budget and a brand presence in millions of UK homes, to take
up the top job of senior managing director with a company that has an
annual advertising spend of only pounds 1.5m.
Yet on closer inspection there are a number of similarities that help
to explain why Morgan was attracted to the challenges facing him at
Turtlewax when he takes up his new job in the new year.
Turtlewax and Kellogg are both large and secretive US corporations. They
both register a high brand awareness and their products are distributed
over a wide range of international distribution markets.
The difference is in the marketing of the product, and that is where
Morgan comes in. Turtlewax has occupied a dominant position in its
market for so long that it has tended to regard advertising as low down
on its list of priorities. Morgan is seen as the man who will give it
more snap, crackle and pop.
Chuck Tornabene, president of consumer and industrial products
worldwide, recruited Morgan for that specific purpose. ‘The area of
sales and marketing does needs attention and if we are to accomplish our
long-term goals then we need more focus,’ he says.
Morgan joined Kellogg in 1987, and has been credited with protecting its
market share from competition such as Cereal Partners and Weetabix. His
marketing skills helped Kellogg claw back its share of the pounds 981m
breakfast cereal market (Datamonitor 1994) that it lost in the 80s.
Kellogg’s products now command more than half of the breakfast cereals
His ascent up the corporate ladder has been meteoric, from category
manager to marketing director in four years. Morgan was destined for
greater things, say company sources, who add that Kellogg is peeved at
Morgan, 37, has been brought in over the head of Turtlewax’s present
managing director Roy Line, aged 65. Line will report to Morgan.
‘Roy Line has a wealth of experience and tremendous knowledge. There
are a number of ways his talents can be used in the export or UK arena,’
Turtlewax’s Tornabene explains. ‘That, however, is up to Rob Morgan.’
But why has Turtlewax felt the need to go out and find itself a heavy-
hitter from the marketing field? It certainly does not have the
appearance of a company that is shaky on its feet.
It is the clear leader in the pounds 50m auto aftermarket sector - car
valeting makes up the largest proportion. It has more than 50% of the UK
market and in the 60 countries it operates this figure rises to a mean
average of 68%.
Turtlewax plans to expand into new countries with its portfolio of 64
products. Line, who has 15 years’ experience in the field of car-
cleaning products, would be well qualified to take up a top role in
Waking up to advertising
While there is ample opportunity for expanding the international side of
the business a different picture is emerging in the UK.
Consumers in emerging markets abroad are more likely to spend their
leisure hours lovingly polishing their new cars than their UK
counterparts. Over here the fall in the number of new users of Turtlewax
products is estimated to be as much as 15% in the past three to five
years. And the allure of products such as Wheel Magic and Rain Kleer may
not be enough to lure a car owner away from the TV or shopping trip.
Turtlewax is beginning to address the issue of the UK market. Earlier
this year it appointed Peter White its first marketing manager. After
reviewing the advertising strategy he switched the pounds 1.5m account
from McCann-Erickson to Manchester agency BDH.
BDH is on the record as saying that it is ‘working on a long-term brand
and business strategy that will result in traditional product
demonstration-type ads but with a much stronger brand dimension.’ The
result will be seen on TV in the spring.
Morgan is likely to want to increase the advertising budget. New
products at a rate of two to four a year will be rolled out to grow the
market and stimulate the car-caring public’s interest.
One insider spelled out Turtlewax’s future. ‘It’s been at the top of the
pile for a long time and although it has not been complacent it has to
take more responsibility for growing the market.
‘Turtlewax is not a docile beast - it just needs a prod to get it moving
a little faster.’