Potato grower Tom Keogh top marketer

Tom Keogh, MotY Finalist

The man who developed the strategy for Keogh’s potatoes and luxury crisps in a bid to reverse the decline in Ireland’s potato market has been named Marketer of the Year. Tom Keogh researched how Irish people consume potatoes and grew a premium strategy through ties with retailers and innovative PR with the ‘Keogh’s – Grown with Love in Ireland’ brand.

Knowing that potatoes needed to be marketed to a new and younger consumer, ‘farmeter’ Tom Keogh led by putting his family’s agribusiness front of stage by launching world first innovations with Easy Cook in 2008 and the Selena selenium rich potato more recently. The Selena targets potato lovers in search of a healthier, more functional food.

Keogh led category management for potatoes in shops and rolled out National Potato Day.

Consumption of potatoes had halved between 2002 and 2012 and supermarkets saw the vegetable as a loss leader. He managed to get growers to come together and fund an industry-wide marketing campaign to reverse the decline in the potato market. Keogh’s Crisps has won a 30 per cent share of the luxury market, with exports to 14 countries.

Damien McLoughlin, professor of marketing at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, who again chaired the Marketer of the Year judging, said the Keogh’s story was a standout for ingenuity and inventiveness, showing a clever, informed approach to marketing. His product innovation was a major factor in Keogh winning the coveted industry award.

Fiona Curtin, AIB Fiona Curtin, Heineken Ireland  Brian Keating, AIB

Brian Keating, AIB

This year’s two other finalists for Marketer of the Year were Heineken Ireland’s head of innovation Fiona Curtin for the launch of Orchard Thieves cider and Brian Keating, brand director, AIB, for his strategy in rehabilitating the bank. The Orchard Thieves roll out meant not only disrupting a category but also a major international drinks company’s entire culture.

In her first major innovation task, Curtin looked beyond beer in giving Ireland’s ‘Guinness of cider’ – Bulmers – an unprecedented challenge. The opportunity was there but Curtin knew she had to act fast if Orchard Thieves was to become Ireland’s top cider brand in five years. Curtin got Rothco to create a foxy campaign targeting ‘happy tribers’ with the line ‘Be bold’.

Faced with the huge task of rehab at AIB, Brian Keating set about restoring the marketing role in the troubled bank. Following Anglo’s collapse and amid takeover rumours, the brand perception was at an all-time low. With EU caps on spend and a recruitment shutdown, Keating developed a strategy to win back public trust and confidence in the AIB brand.

It started with the slogan ‘The bank that works for you’ and went on to focus on the wider ‘Brave’ proposition which meant breaking with convention and being far more than just a popular cheerleader. Rothco created a series of media campaigns and close ties were fostered with the GAA. Kerry footballer Colm ‘The Gooch’ Cooper fronted one TV commercial.

When asked by the Marketer of the Year judges to suggest tips for other marketers, Curtin said “know your numbers and don’t be an ivory tower marketer” – get out there and do it. Tom Keogh’s credo for other ‘farmeters’ is “think consumer to field and field to consumer”. Keating’s personal motto is that he is not a banker and that’s why he is in the job he is in.

Tom Keogh is the 23rd winner of the Marketer of the Year. Launched by Marketing.ie in 1993, the award has been sponsored by recruitment agency Alternatives for the past 10 years. The 1997 winner was Simon and Amanda Pratt for Avoca. The luxury retail stores and cafes has been bought by US multinational catering group Aramark for around €60 million.

Tom Keogh

Ploughing away:  Tom Keogh researched how Irish people consume potatoes and grew a premium strategy through ties with retailers and the ‘Keogh’s – Grown with Love in Ireland’ brand. Easy Cook was launched in 2008 followed by the Selena selenium rich potato. UK agency Brandpoint designed the Keogh’s Crisps packs. PSG Notorious handles its PR.



Marketer of the Year is registered in the Register of Trade Marks in the name of Marketing.ie under the Trade Marks Act 1996. Any use of Marketer of the Year in the Republic of Ireland is strictly the preserve of Marketing.ie.  











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