umai social circle podcast cover photo

#7: Pabst Brewing Brand Director on Climbing The CPG Ladder

It started with Sweet Leaf Tea and led to Lone Star beer…

We connected with Pabst Brewing Brand Director Emily Hoyle to discuss embracing industry trends, overcoming imposter syndrome, and leaning into an ever-changing day-to-day workflow.

You’ll be reaching for a tall boy before this one’s over with. Cheers! 🍻

Let us break it down for you…

[1:09] Intro to Emily Hoyle, Brand Director at Pabst Brewing. Her stacked history in the CPG space.
[1:30] Why did Emily enter the consumer goods space? Shift from consumer to brand POV.
[3:06] You interned with Sweet Leaf Tea. Then, you joined the Proof Advertising team. Can you tell us more about those experiences?
[7:00] Working at Austin City Limits. The power of wild ideas, like the inception of Deep Eddy Vodka when the Austin market was cornered by Tito’s Vodka. Or, the recent boom of alcoholic seltzer brands. Play the long game!
[9:20] Let’s talk more about hard seltzer! How has this huge trend played a role in your current position with Pabst? Embracing aggressive innovation.
[12:30] Recent launches, like hard coffee. Spiked kombucha?
[13:41] You went into Proof and learned all facets of the business. You’ve since continued to lead this charge in other positions. Tell us more about your extensive job history!
[16:23] For someone looking to get into the CPG, what’s your biggest piece of advice for them? No hard-and-fast rule.
[19:47] A note on imposter syndrome – we all feel it! It’s very real. How does Emily deal with it? Come into it with confidence.
[23:49] But how do you say something confidently without being *too* aggressive? Reading the room.
[26:19] Your industry – advertising in particular – is really challenging. Talk to us about the hoops you’ve had to jump through.
[29:28] Do you have a favorite campaign – alcohol or otherwise?
[32:23] Where do you grab inspiration for your work? What’s a good starting point?
[35:41] You’ve worked with some HUGE brands – what strategies from that work could smaller brands put to use as well?
[40:00] How does Lone Star build community? Getting a brand out of the past and into the present.
[43:25] What does your day-to-day look like? It’s hard to answer! It’s never the same.
[48:24] An emphasis on teamwork! Be generous with your time. Support others just as much as yourself.
[51:50] Closing! Thinking ahead.

Mentions from this episode: 

Stay in touch:

Join Umai’s Facebook Group: CORE 3

Alison:
Hey, y’all Alison here. I wanted to quickly thank you for listening to our podcasts. I know you’re about to get a lot of valuable information from it but I also wanted to hop in and share with you guys a free S.O.P, which stands for Standard Operating Procedure. We use this S.O.P every single day in our agency to authentically grow and engage our audiences on social. It is 1000% free and I’d love for you to have it and use it in your business as well, so just go to umaimarketing.com/engage to go download. All right, cheers.

Alison:
Hello everyone. Welcome to the Umai Social Circle where we talk about CPG marketing tips to help business owners and marketers grow. I’m Alison, one of the co-founders of Umai marketing.

Karin:
I’m Karin, the other co-founder.

Alison:
So today we’re talking with Emily Hoyle. Emily is currently the brand director at Pabst Brewing, but she has a very stacked history in the consumer goods space. So we’re going to learn a lot today. She’s worked with Oreo, Diet Coke, Axe, Smirnoff, Wheat Thins, and that’s just to name a few, so we’re really excited to talk to you. Thank you for being here, Emily.

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah. Thank you all, I’m excited to be here.

Alison:
To number One what made you want to first start exploring the consumer goods space?

Emily Hoyle:
I wish I had an answer where it was a super intelligent thoughtful research decision but truthfully as a consumer and as I was on duty for advertising in our minor business. It felt like a natural, tangible step for me growing up. And I think all of us grew up in a really CPG focused world. It was a nice way for me to kind of dip my toe into an industry of advertising and marketing with something I understood which was consumer packaged goods, things I readily bought and consumed and interact with on a daily basis. So it just kind of natural decision which is when I think I kind of put too much thought in to be on honest.

Alison:
We always talk about how funny it is for when you’re a consumer, how easy and nice it is to shop on the shelf and pull beautiful things but really the CPG industry is so complex and it’s not as easy as we portray it to be.

Emily Hoyle:
100%, and I think that is definitely something you learn when you kind of make that shift from being the consumer, to being the person trying to attract and communicate with that consumer, is the level of thought and research and decisions and strategy about the packaging design, the name, the description, the placement on shelf, the height on shelf, the message, all of those kinds of touch points. Whereas a consumer just like, “Oh, this is what I want because I wanted it in that moment. I’m going to leave now.” So it’s an interesting shift.

Alison:
Yeah. There’s a lot there. So I saw that you intern with Sweet Leaf Tea and then you were at Proof Advertising. That kind of merges well together. Can you tell us more about those experiences and what made you want to stick into that field?

Emily Hoyle:
I did sweet Leaf Iced Tea Company, I was a tea slinger there, their brand ambassador. It was the summer before my senior year of college. And then I worked at Proof, now this was so far back in the day, they were still called Kohler. So this is well before they did their whole merger. So I worked there through my senior year in college and again that was the benefit of a really strong university with a lot of resources and spaces that I could look into potential jobs. And of course Sweet Leaf being local as well as Kohler now Proof. So I really enjoyed working at Sweet Leaf because it was kind of… You had to take the initiative. It was clearly basically you need to go out there and need to be a brand ambassador, need to find ways in places and spaces in Austin to get the brand out there. But then they kind of left us to our own devices. So it was really upon myself and the other interns to get creative and figure out where and how we could show up.

Emily Hoyle:
So it was doing a lot of marketing blitzes, setting up an activation at blues on the green. I learned how to play, how to drive a Sprinter van and take pallets and lock and manage. I never would have thought that’s something I would actually have as a skillset, so that was all really just about taking the initiative since it was such a small company at that time, it was really growing. And then for Kohler, that was just an exercise in learning to find my voice and ask for projects, ask for things I could take on and not be afraid to speak up and speak to people. I think what I learned from it as well was to always talk to people outside of perhaps your space to your expertise or where you want to go because you never know what you can potentially learn.

Emily Hoyle:
So I found myself talking to a lot of the people in the print studio or talking in the Media Studio versus perhaps just like the account department. And it really just gave me a lot of insights into the nuance and the inner workings of advertising in general that I may never touch in my career, but really helped me understand the overall process just to be quite frankly better at my eventual job.

Alison:
It is incredible that at Sweet Leaf you had that much creative freedom to make pretty much create marketing activations that’s wild, but they had their interns doing that.

Karin:
Yeah they gave a lot of trust in to [inaudible 00:05:42].

Emily Hoyle:
I mean, of course there was obviously structure and certain things we had to do. But if you think about this is, God, when was that? I’m like dating myself. That was ’09, so that was 2009. In terms of you think about the size of Sweet Leaf at that moment that was before they were bought by, I think it was Nestle or I can’t quite remember. So it was a lot more of, hey, we’re all in this because we love this brand. It totally makes sense in the world. You guys are young, you know how to connect to the community, these are the kinds of rubrics and metrics you need to do get out there and do it. Here’s a couple of events that we know we want to be at but then it was kind of…

Emily Hoyle:
I’ll never forget one of the other interns literally said, our boss kind of came in and he’s like, “Oh, working hard?” And said “There is like working hard or hardly working.” And the rest of us interns looked down and we’re, “Don’t ever say that ever again.” Needless to say he didn’t do well there. But it was just a testament to taking the initiative and figuring out what you can do and it was honestly a blast. I’m still good friends with one of the other interns that I met. He went to a completely different university. So it was just a great way to meet people as well.

Karin:
I mean, Clayton Christopher always coming in hot with those brands.

Emily Hoyle:
Well, I think at that time because I worked the ACL Festival, which I would say the best way to go to ACL is to work for a little bit, get paid and then just get off and go watch the music don’t have to pay for a ticket, but he was there. And I think at the time it kind of offhandedly mentioned that at this point, I think they were starting to potentially sell the company or at least get the buy-in from my… I want to say it’s Nestle or Nesti. And [inaudible 00:07:24] I think when I go make a Vodka, a Spy Fanta and I remember being like, “That’s wild, that’s stupid. Why would you ever do that? Tito’s is huge, you guys already use them as a partner. Well, good luck.” And then here we are Deep Eddy’s how large, so it’s just, I think it was a good lesson on listen, don’t always expect that it’s, you should always assume the world is as it is and it will never change and a wild idea couldn’t work.

Emily Hoyle:
So it was a really good lesson for me to not just immediately say no or shut things down or not believe in it, but to keep an open mind and really look at trends that might be emerging. So it was an interesting moment.

Alison:
I love that advice because as young, confident marketers and business owners, we’re like, “We know what we like, we know what you like, we know what we’re doing.” And to just be open to the possibility is pretty strong.

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah. And I think also don’t assume it’s just going to be a success from the start. I was saying, the bed out category within CPG and Seltzer, I would say if we were talking maybe three years ago, we would all be laughing. What is a Hard Seltzer? I don’t drink that. I drink craft or I drink beer and then here we are. And it’s just gobbling consumption and absolutely decimating the light beer market share industry. And I think it’s a really good moment of, you can have a great idea, but it might take three to five to eight years to really take off, but to not kind of, oh, first year it wasn’t success, two years got to innovate, it’s drastically not making any revenue. You can also get nickel track in terms of that same space.

Emily Hoyle:
So I think it’s important to actually trust in an insight, trust in a trend as long as you’re set up in a smart way to kind of figure out what is it three to five years to profitability or breaking even then to kind of have that plan. It’s not kind of instant success, instant gratification because we’ve kind of been trained to always have that reaction in those spaces.

Alison:
So can we talk about Hard Seltzer and how that’s played a role, that huge trend, how it’s played a role in your current position with Pabst?

Emily Hoyle:
So much I can’t speak to as relates to Pabst some of the things we have going on our side, but I think it’s a really it’s I would consider it a case study to looking at a hyper traditional industry aggressively innovating and where certain brands I think stuck their heels in. It was like we’re not going to go that that path is a ridiculous battle go away. And I think perhaps miss the boat in certain spaces. So there’s [inaudible 00:10:04] truly complete new innovators. There’s a lot of craft brands are starting to go there and you’ve got the second wave of fast followers of the beer brands. Finally, acknowledging that, “Hey, maybe this is a space where consumers are going.” So I think it’s a really interesting case study on how long do you wait until you accept or embrace a trend?

Emily Hoyle:
And I think arguably the beer business was very slow to embrace. It is now having to play catch up. And I think loss a lot of opportunity with consumers. I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom, but it’s really important to listen not only transfer but actually to consumers and understand what they actually want and need and create that.

Alison:
Yeah, that’s so interesting. And I feel like it’s more difficult for the larger brands that have all these structures already in place to pivot. It’s really great for new emerging brands to just get in there and-

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah.

Alison:
But when you’re at the level that you are, is there a certain point where you say, “Okay, this trend is proven, we need to move forward with it.” And how do you find that information?

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah. It’s interesting. It really depends on what type of company you’re at. So when I was on the advertising side, when I was working with Diageo, we were talking about the Seltzer space probably like five years ago, maybe even six. So typically in bigger corporations, they have entire workstreams and pipelines and verticals that are just innovation led people. We’re looking at trends, investigating all this, and you have your marketers and you have your sales guys. So if your company in corporate strategy is large enough, you have the people whose entire job is to do that. And they’ll bring it to the marketing side. I’m not at a company that’s as large as that, which I actually kind of like because I’m very much involved in that innovation pipeline as well.

Emily Hoyle:
And so really it’s just an education in what resources do you have on hand to review trends? How are you looking beyond your current industry to find that information? Who are you partnering with perhaps in that spaces in places to be your tastemakers in the world? Do you really just build a network of information versus assuming you have all the answers? And that’s how we really start to investigate two to three years down the line on trends, but I’ll be honest, Pabst Brewing obviously it’s PBR, work on Lone Star, work on Pearl and I also just recently as of this week, I’m taking on a couple more brands across the states, but we were playing catch up. We absolutely were.

Emily Hoyle:
We’re a company that was in the old guard of really not embracing change. We’ve had a complete leadership revival, the last two to three years with a lot of innovative thinkers, that are really leading those trends. Like for example, PBR just launched probably this past year Hard Coffee, which if you’d asked me two years ago that there was going to be a spiked coffee beverage, again, I’d be like, “That’s crazy.” But instead of saying that’s crazy, I would never do that. I’m like, “That’s crazy. Why are they thinking about that? What are they seeing? What’s happening? And if that’s happening, what else is happening?” Like the spike [inaudible 00:13:19] or what’s the space as we kind of hopefully decriminalize a lot of, perhaps some of these other elements, what’s going to lead in that beverage space. That could be pretty interesting.

Alison:
I really love how you frame that. So instead of saying that’s crazy, say that’s crazy. Why are they thinking about that? And going out and looking into it instead of just leaving it. So you said something earlier that I really liked about when you’re interning, you’re saying you went into proof and you got to learn about all facets and understand everything that goes in the final product. And looking at your resume and what all you’ve done, it seems like that is something that you kind of live by. Is that accurate?

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah, that’s actually a great question and a smart research on my background. Yes. So I started… I actually was at a PR major for exactly one semester and it was like, absolutely. And I switched out of that into advertising and did business, but I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. And it felt like a massive weight. And maybe it’s because I’m a Libra and apparently we’ve got scales and we measure everything, but I didn’t feel comfortable making a massive decision about what’s going to be my career or my job without any type of trial runs or information.

Emily Hoyle:
So I intentionally chose a different type of internship every summer in a different field of say advertising or marketing in general, to have a bit of a better understanding of what it would be like out in the real world. So then I felt more confident to go into account management when I took that first job, working on the Oreo and the weekends account. Because I felt like, “Okay, I understand, I don’t necessarily want to do media, but I understand it a bit more than probably other people haven’t touched it.” I eventually want to do marketing, but I think I need to go the advertising route because it’s such like a hyperdrive, jump in your career in the start.

Emily Hoyle:
So I did that through college and then I did that in advertising as well. I think he looked at the types of brands I touched, aside from just the CPG, I’ve worked in technology with Google, through that, I was able to work with Coca-Cola beyond Diet Coke, Avis and Volvo, and a couple other brands in those spaces and places, really just allowed me to understand what industries while in advertising. Because you can kind of jump around naturally that’s in advertising. You can be at a place for a year or less than a year. You can jump and not a problem. It’s not a hit to your resume as long as it doesn’t stack up. But I felt that advertising could give me a way to essentially shop around until I found an industry that I really liked. And I could then take the step to go onto the marketing side, the client side and make that my next long-term career. And hopefully do this all while getting paid. So, and still being able to explore that, but be able to actually have a living.

Alison:
Right. So for someone who’s looking to get into the CPG space, what’s your biggest piece of advice for them?

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah. I don’t think there’s one clear path to it, which I’m sure everyone’s like, “Oh, that’s helpful.” There’s not one pass rule. I think the way that I approached it is absolutely a path. If you’re torn between a couple different things, don’t feel like one decision is your final decision. Take it as a step into the next one. You never know what it’s going to lead to. So that’s one route. There’s another route is if you’re passionate about something start reaching out to people in that industry or with that knowledge, you’d be shocked how many people actually respond to a cold LinkedIn message. Once in the [inaudible 00:17:09] they won’t, but you know what, sometimes they will and have a conversation in a chat. So you can easily start to reach out to someone within those industries. And you can start small and start to build your way through.

Emily Hoyle:
I have a lot of people I work with now who are career built people. And they started literally as a truck driver, taking the beer from the truck into the bar. And now they’re the SVP of sales of our top market. So there’s so many different ways you can approach it and you shouldn’t feel like there’s one route. I think you just have to go in eager inquisitive and have a really, really strong work ethic because that’s what people recognize. And that’s the type of town that they invest in. And that will either get you to jump to another industry or another job because they see your talent or promotion from within, if you kind of stick with one industry.

Alison:
Yeah. Totally agree with the reaching out. It’s only happened a few times, I used to do that, but it’s only a few times vice versa and just the passion and eagerness and boldness, it’s inspiring to see. And it just gives you a whole another love for what you do and what you like to do.

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah. And I’d also say like, it might sound and maybe it doesn’t, who knows we’ll all listen to this afterwards that maybe perhaps I have all the answers or I’ve figured out, it’s absolutely not true. I think that was the biggest eye-opener for me is, especially when I started to get into the advertising world, which is just an insane amount of extremely talented people, which can be very intimidating and the same can be true when you go into a very hyper-specific industry, it feels like everybody’s the expert except for you. And when I realized I assumed was extremely talented or extremely knowledgeable and maybe had some innate talent or access to insights or information I would never have access to. I realized pretty quickly once I got into those worlds, but that just wasn’t true. They just were hard workers.

Emily Hoyle:
And more often than not, they didn’t know the answer, but they trusted their own opinion and their own voice. So for better or worse, I think personal philosophy has just been like fake it till you make it. There’s going to be certain things you know, certain things you don’t, but that’s true to everyone, which is the person with the C-level in their title or someone who has assistant at the front, that’s really kind of the lowest common denominator. So that’s helped me be able to be inquisitive, to have ambition, to get after stuff that acknowledgement that we’re all still learning and not really actually knows what’s going on. So fake it till you make it.

Alison:
I love that motto. And I know Karin and I talk about imposter syndrome a lot, and it can really weigh you down if you just continue… I think if you just are continuing to learn and you’re right there on the same path as most others.

Emily Hoyle:
It’s tough to… Imposter syndrome is very real and I’ll be honest. I feel like every time I’m given a promotion or I get a job or I do well or something like that, I have this moment of self-doubt, even in praise. “Do I really do that well? Or I messed up in this one point,” and I’ll fix it on that. And it really takes away the personal, when in the moment to actually celebrate like, hey, actually really worked my ass off. I’m actually going to celebrate that. Even if I messed up in this one spot, but it’s a challenge. It’s an act of exercise I have to do to basically be my own personal cheerleader or life coach in those moments. And to not just maybe suppress it and try and ignore the imposter syndrome, embrace it, take them into to understand, okay, why do I feel that about myself? Why am I putting myself down? Here’s all the things I just heard accept it and kind of move on but it’s absolutely an active exercise that I still have to do, even as far in my career.

Karin:
That’s so wild to hear where you are and you still struggle with that.

Alison:
I mean, that’s really inspiring. I feel like a lot of people are going to hear them to appreciate it. So we all feel that way. I mean, I feel like if you don’t feel that way at some point in your life, its like-

Karin:
I mean, what do you do? Do you have any, do you have a mantra where you’re like, “I’m the shit,” do you say that to yourself?

Emily Hoyle:
That’s so funny. When you start to be at a place for long enough, I think there is some variance in sticking it out, even if it might be a little overwhelming or a lot to take on at the beginning and I would say my transition from advertising into marketing and hyper-specific into beer, was a massive learning curve because it came with a lot of commercialization and understanding finances and sales operations which was well far beyond what I was traditionally used to. But I got to a point where I realized just put in the work, ask the questions, start to inform myself, continue to get better.

Emily Hoyle:
And then once I got into a position where I felt a bit more comfortable or when I started to self-doubt, there’s this whole process where we start to present, it’s called are the Pabst path, we build an entire brand plan from macro insights into hyper specific tactical sprints you’re going to do with your specific brand and it’s obese. And I had to present that to the entire marketing leadership team and then the sales leadership team, and then the exact team, literally people who own the business, the owner. I was psyching myself out a little bit because I was like, oh my gosh and it’s all through Zoom.

Emily Hoyle:
And then I had a minute and I asked myself I have classic conversation yourself, do you believe in your plan? And I said, absolutely. Does anyone else on this call know more about this plan than you? I was like, absolutely not. Do you feel confident with it even if they disagree? And I was like, absolutely. So even if they don’t agree entirely with it, are there certain things they want to push on? I had confidence in my opinion and my perspective that I was bringing that I believed in myself, not because I’d done the work. And I think that’s really what it was is if he put in the work and you have faith and confidence in yourself, even if someone’s going to disagree or have a different opinion, they see that confidence, they see your perspective and they respect that. And it’s a much better path towards actual meaningful change or a conversation.

Emily Hoyle:
But when people can sense that maybe you don’t maybe believe in that. And you’re trying to tell them the answer they want, they really start to get at you especially at certain levels. So as long as you have that confidence and that faith and belief in yourself, even if you have to fake it until you make it a little, it actually can transform a presentation and a conversation you have with some regardless of their opinions.

Alison:
This is great. And I’m just going to keep asking questions about feelings and stuff. Sometimes I feel like personally I struggle with saying something confidently without being too severe and saying it, how do you take on that?

Karin:
Yeah. Like soften the blow?

Emily Hoyle:
Number one, and I think I learned this from truthfully, the advertising side, so I was in client services left, I was in the account service department. You have to read a room, you have to understand array. How does every single person operate? What’s their triggers? What’s their motivators? So that way, if you really start to kind of honestly analyze the people around you, if he’s your own team, how do you motivate without demoralizing? If it’s your client, how do you stand firm without causing an unnecessary fight or pissing them off? How do you manage up with your boss if they’re a terrible manager? Or how do you communicate these pieces?

Emily Hoyle:
So I don’t think it’s about self-censoring, shouldn’t have to feel you have to say something polite and I would argue that there’s an assumption that women in business or women in the world have to be demure or pleasant, or always with a soft and light touch. Unfortunately, that’s been ingrained in us but I also have to fight that. I think it’s about reading the situation, understanding how a person reacts to communication and then tailor your message in that way.

Emily Hoyle:
For example, [inaudible 00:25:15] is our general manager at our company, is the most blunt straightforward person I’ve probably ever met. So I don’t sugar coat, anything. I just straight get a direct answer back and it’s a little game of back and forth and then it’s done. I have other people I work with. If I were to do that, they would be so shut down that the communication would go nowhere. So I do a long walk for him sandwich. So I do a roundabout conversation to then finally get to the point. So they feel soft and buttered up enough that we can have the debate. And then there’s other ways where someone just needs to feel they said something intelligently. “That’s a really good question and that’s a really good point. However, this is why we thought this way, but I appreciate you kind of calling that out.” And then suddenly they’re like, okay, they’re onboard. So I don’t think it’s about one way or the other. It’s just read the situation and kind of, how can you be most persuasive and change your skillset to ultimately get what you want?

Karin:
Beautiful.

Alison:
Oh, well going back into your experience. So the alcohol industry advertising, especially it’s so complex, there’s so many hoops you have to jump through. Can you give us a couple obstacles that you face and how you guys overcome them?

Emily Hoyle:
Advertising or excuse me, alcohol advertising can be really, really tricky. I call it a sandbox. It’s called the creative sandbox. The biggest thing is there’s just certain things, especially in highly regulated industries that you just cannot get around. So don’t bother trying to fight against hard rules or breaking those find ways to bend them or work within it. So for advertising in alcohol, for example, and I was actually going to pull up a couple of ones, I think I wrote them down. Oh yeah, you can never, you guys, it’s a fun exercise. I want you to know this. You can never actually show consumption in alcohol. If you watch your ads, you’ll never see someone actually drinking the beverage that they have in hand. So next time you got anything that out, watch the ad and then they’re just like, no one’s drinking it. You also can’t show over consumption. They can’t have multiple beverage multiple times and show a lot of time spent because it’s not considered okay.

Emily Hoyle:
And granted, some of this is regulated by the actual advertisers or certain network in some it’s self-regulated, like Diageo has a marketing code and they’re very strict on what they allow and what they don’t, because they just basically don’t want to get sued. So I get it. You can’t show cause effect. I start drinking this and suddenly I’m sexier, I’m wealthier, I’m more popular or sexual success at all, you’ll notice again, you watch them and that’ll never happen. And then again, in Texas, TVC laws are so strict, If you walk into a store, you’ll notice in Texas that if there’s an offer a cross-merchandising opportunity like buy a beer and some chips, the offer will always be related with the non-alcohol beverage, but you cannot discount beer. You can’t be like, if you buy this, get a dollar off, there’s no rebates or refunds.

Emily Hoyle:
So it’s a very, very small world you can work in. But if everyone’s playing by the same rules. Like any name of sport, if you’re all following the same rules, there’s still going to be a winner. So just understanding kind of the parameters and then how you can get around. It can be really interesting, which is why do you need a really unique selling proposition or you need a really interesting way to differentiate that perhaps has nothing to do with the actual product itself. The actual consumption or the result from it. But maybe it’s more about the feeling of togetherness or socializing or moments shared together. If you think about how Coca-Cola does it, there’s other ways that you can kind of play into it, you just have to kind of pivot and perhaps go towards a feeling and emotion and insight versus, Hey, I got to show how to exactly use a product. So it can be fun. It can also just be really crappy when you’re saying, can’t do this, and can’t do this. Can kill all these creative ideas. Can’t do it. Can’t do it. Can’t do it.

Alison:
Yeah. I guess you just have to come to the table with a whole lot of ideas every single time.

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah. Every single time. And it gets easier as you keep going. You’re avoid this, do this and stuff.

Karin:
What’s your favorite? Do you have a favorite campaign of all time alcohol or?

Emily Hoyle:
Oh, yeah. I mean, I saw that question. I was like, “Oh, no what do I say?” I feel I always like to see what’s coming out and what’s new and try and embrace it. And there’s a lot of easiest way to understand really good campaigns is there can, I know a lot of them say con, but there’s the film festival. There’s also the advertising side of it. So there’s constantly award shows that recognize really innovative, awesome work year after year. And they always list the links and they always list the examples. So it’s just a really good way, if someone’s going into an interview and they don’t just want to say Coca-Cola or Nike to look through all those lists and maybe find the one kind of off the interesting one and that will actually impress the person because most likely they know of it or they know the person who made it. But for me, I think hands down kind of looking at the broad space of advertising, this is an old one back from the 50s or 60s. It’s Avis. We try harder. You guys can learn with that campaign at all.

Karin:
That sounds familiar.

Emily Hoyle:
So the reason I like it is just actually the story behind it. And that’s the fact that Avis at the time was number two to Hertz. And rather than trying to, maybe have the me too, inspiration or kind of feeling a little brother and having to prove themselves, I would argue like the Pepsi response to Coca-Cola always kind of feels the sub-brand and no offense, anyone who prefers Pepsi, but they embraced it and they said, “Hey, we’re number two.” Which means we try harder for you consumer because we’re not number one. We know when you need to earn your business. And these are all the ways we do that. And we’re going to continue to strive to work hard for you because we’re number two, because we’re constantly going to try and be better.

Emily Hoyle:
And it was absolutely transformational for their business. They went from losing millions of dollars a year to actually profitability. But the reason I like it the most is that this is a time when the industry was extremely male dominated in very white, I’d argue it’s too white now still, but it was actually done in led by a female copywriter, Paula Green, who had the fortune of working with when I worked on the Google rebreathe project. And I believe she’s actually inspiration behind Peggy from Mad Men. And she’s the one who actually wrote the actual copy or the copy work and everything behind it. So not only was it an amazing way to take “a problem” and turn it into your biggest point of pride or reason to believe in the company, but the fact that it came from a woman and an extremely male dominated space is just kind of inspiration for me, especially being a beer industry that’s extremely male dominated. So I’d say that’s kind of my always timeless favorite.

Karin:
I love that story behind it. I would have never known that. So who else or where else should we be grabbing inspiration?

Emily Hoyle:
That’s a good question. I think sometimes it’s hard to say, “Hey, where do you grab inspiration from a high level?” I think it’s more what I ask people. What are you interested in? Not industry response, but in general in life where you find yourself following on Instagram or reading articles and clicking on the nose of the spaces and places that perhaps you start to take more time and attention to. I really like design work, I found that I really liked product development and product design when I was on the advertising side that was my favorite part of every project, which was the concept behind the actual can or the bottle and what it looked like.

Emily Hoyle:
So for me, I started following various different people on Instagram and different design blogs, or just asking people in that industry, who should I follow? What should I do? And I actually, haven’t done that for years and just picked it back up now because I’ve got a bit of extra time on my hands due to go in. I think it’s more about find what you’re interested in. Start to, I think the beauty of social media especially on Instagram, if you follow the recommend another follow and you just fall down the rabbit hole and then you can call and then you’ll to see and start to be able to understand and speak the language and kind of follow those trends.So I don’t think I honestly have you got to follow list, you got to follow back, so it all depends on your interests.

Emily Hoyle:
I think there’s just a really easy way to find a path to where you’re no longer having to search for it and the information kind of comes to you and Google alerts tell you what that always helps. That’s an easy… I had that a lot when I was looking for a job, I’d follow certain founders. So if they had a Ted talk or something that, so if I ever needed to perhaps reach out to someone on LinkedIn, I would search their name and Google alerts. See if I could find an event or something they went to and I’m like, “Hey, I saw your… or I watched XYZ thing, I thought this was interesting. Do you have time,” versus, “Hi, I was wondering if I could talk to you about the industry in general.” Because then it was a bit of flattery, something specific like I found you, I listened to you, I think something you said that was industry and interesting. Can we have a conversation I’d love to learn more and I tended to work a little bit better.

Alison:
That’s so cool. I mean, we set up Google alerts for the clients that we work for. So we’re on top of what’s going on in those fields, but I’ve never set them up personally for myself.

Karin:
Yeah. Til I can slide into the Dms. I love that.

Alison:
Yeah. Oh my gosh.

Emily Hoyle:
It works, especially in Austin, it’s big but it’s small, there’s certain spaces. So you can follow certain people that are probably pretty high up in certain industries. And more often than not, you’ll probably know through three people, someone who knows them or reference it or how best to connect with them. So you’d be surprised when you start to ask around, which is why I think mentorship and open communication and connection with people is super important. And then it’s really kind of outside of maybe our comfort zone and the people we know just to make sure everybody kind of has a fair shot to that type of access.

Alison:
Very cool. Okay. So we kind of want to talk about people who want to get to where you are. So did we ask you already what the biggest piece of advice you could give someone trying to enter the space?

Emily Hoyle:
Was that when I say that fake it till you make it because I think that’s-

Alison:
Yeah. As I was reading that, we’ll cancel that but that’s… What can smaller brands take away from the bigger brands that you’re currently working with or have worked with in the past?

Karin:
It’s a really good question.

Emily Hoyle:
I think it’s always important to look at a company’s origins. Because if they’re a big brand, they had to start small somewhere. I think HEV is a masterclass on starting small, going big, but not losing the ability to innovate and be very much on top of all trends and being a leader in a lot of spaces. So I’d say that’s just bar none of really, really good, I call it local example of a company not losing its connection to its roots, but embracing an ability to expand smartly. There’s a reason they’re not in every place in Texas because I don’t think they’d be able to do it as well as they would want, and they’d have to compromise a lot of their principles to get there.

Emily Hoyle:
And again, yes, they are one of our partners, but this is more my perspective on them as a consumer and then also as a marketer. So I would definitely understand where they came from and see the path of where they got, if you really admire them and use that perhaps as your guiding principles, if you do want to expand to that size.

Emily Hoyle:
Now on the flip side, though, something that I think small companies, businesses, brands have that larger brands will never have is this ability to connect on a one-to-one level in a way that essentially big brands essentially sacrifice on the altar of scale of profitability, of whatever they truly care about. It leads bigger companies to, okay, I have to appeal to everyone. So then I will maybe not say anything and I certainly won’t say anything controversial or specific or bespoke because it’s going to piss off X, Y, Z person. And I can’t do that because they’re X% of my consumer market. So I’m going to go this way.

Emily Hoyle:
In Diet Coke, when I used to work on that was a really good example of, they wanted to embrace the Gen Y consumer. I think they still call it Gen Y why at that point, but they had their baby boomer generation. And they were torn between, do we appeal to our loyalists or do we recruit? And because they really couldn’t make a smart decision on it, the brain continued to flounder. And specifically from the advertising communication pieces, it was never cohesive or clear or had a strong point of view. And I think it just fell flat. And I’m saying that as somebody that actually worked on the campaigns, it still felt like things fell flat.

Emily Hoyle:
So as a small business leaning into being local, being trusted, being authentic, having a true story, something that people can resonate with, I think is super, super important and something not to lose along the way, because ultimately I think that’s what can differentiate. I think a lot about local small businesses, especially in these times, people want to support them. Like my favorite coffee shop, Provide, was just shut down, which was terrible. And it was so sad to see a local business go. And I’m so worried. It’s just going to be replaced by a high-rise or a corporate, Starbucks, who knows. I think don’t underestimate the value and the power of being local and being bespoke, “being special” because sometimes that’s actually what a consumer is looking for, that ultimately they lack that emotional connection or that loyalty to the mass brands because those mass brands don’t care about them in the same way.

Alison:
Yeah. That is something that we really, really drive on for all the brands that we work with is the power of community and really building it and focusing in on how you can make their lives better from day to day outside of the products you offer.

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah, absolutely. Because then if they’re supporting and they’re lifting you up, that’s advocacy, that’s advertising dollars. That’s the way you compete with having a thousand dollars to advertise your product is you create your brand loyalist or your consumer into your advocate. That’s an amazing place to start with. And that hopefully leads to long-term growth and success.

Alison:
Yeah. So can you give an example of how Pabst does that, like how Pabst really one of the brands within the umbrella, how they build community well?

Emily Hoyle:
I’ll probably just talk about Lone Star since that’s the brand I work with most, the one I lead most. Lone Star has been around since the 1800s, which is kind of wild when you think about that. So it’s been around for a long time and it hasn’t necessarily changed, which is a good thing. But it makes it a little bit harder to connect if you’re always stuck in the past. So when I joined maybe a year and a half ago, my challenge and the challenge given to me and what I wanted to embrace is how do you take a beloved, but probably outdated or retro brand and make it relevant to today’s Texans? Who are today’s Texans? What do we value, what do we stand for? How does this connect to Lone Star, how does Lone Star connect in a way that other brands can’t because we’ve been around for so long, we intrinsically are Texan.

Emily Hoyle:
That was like a big, we call it our ship and by degrees we’re turning. And so we’re like, “Okay, we’ve done 180 in terms of hopefully shifting away from the old perception of Lone Star, but how do we embrace what it means to be Texan today on an iconic Texan brand?” And for us, that was about looking outside ourselves and our core consumer in terms of what does the consumer look like in Texas today? What do they want, what do they like, what do they identify with? That’s why we just came out with our Mexican style lager, Rio Jade, which if you haven’t tried, you should. It’s delicious. But not in a way that was like, “We’re just going to meet you this, and be a local version of El Dose or Modelo or Corona.” We did it’s like, “What is the most Texan way we can create a Mexican style lager because we’re intrinsically connected and linked in that way.”

Emily Hoyle:
So we partnered with a local artist from San Antonio, Cruz Ortiz to help us actually develop the concept behind the beer, the design, the artwork. We partnered on creating the name, thinking of it internally, but we wanted to make sure, how do we actually create an inherently Texan beer, which is obviously inherently has Hispanic culture and heritage and honors that, so that it felt part of the community. So when it came out, it wasn’t, “Hey, we saw the trends. So we me too-ed it.” It’s like, “Hey guys, we created this beer for Texans, for everybody because we want to celebrate that.”

Emily Hoyle:
And I think that’s why it’s done well. And I think that’s the way you can honor the community and get people to buy in and be an advocate for you because you’re listening to them, you’re representing them. You’re hopefully you’re doing it in an honest way versus perhaps forcing it or outdated or putting your head in the sand. I’d say that’s a good example from at least what we’ve done recently.

Karin:
That is amazing. That is so tight.

Alison:
I love all the questions you ask yourself and I’m sure that’s such a big part of your role. I did want to ask for someone who wants to be a brand director like you are, what does your day to day look like?

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah, it’s funny. I would say that’s probably the hardest question to answer. And it’s always been the hardest question to answer in my career, especially in advertising and even in the marketing side now. And it’s probably why I love it, because it’s never the same every day. It really depends on what time of year we’re in, in terms of say planning into executing into on shelf or in the world, who am I speaking to, who’s my audience and what am I focusing on? A classic day could start with me doing really deep research on my industry.

Emily Hoyle:
So I’m on Nielsen. I’m looking at our reports on our sales. I’m working with my commercial strategy team, with Numerator which pulls information on shoppers. I’m reading a bunch of articles within my industry. I’m reading articles outside of my industry. I’m basically acting like a sponge, like straight up college style when you’re trying to just learn everything to be able to write that paper that’s due way too soon. So just really taking it all in. So there’s that part of my job it’s constantly happening, which is constant education and investigation.

Emily Hoyle:
Then there is actual execution and strategy and planning. Taking all the information, understanding what we’re trying to accomplish as a company and I’m writing brand plans. A brand plan would be like I’d mentioned, all this high-level data around what we call our true market understanding. And then actually, what is our brand purpose, what do we stand for? So what’s happening out in the world, just agnostic of the brand or anything, what do I, or my brand stand for in this moment that’s non changing and is reflective of what we stand for, bringing those two together, where’s the things that match, where are the things that don’t, what do I need to then solve in my phase three of executing with excellence to actually be able to take advantage of those insights that match with my brand and where I want to go. And so that’s what I’m doing all the time.

Emily Hoyle:
And then on that third phase of executing with excellence, that’s me constantly working with my partners internally, externally. So it’s constantly working with the people I manage, my boss to get things moving, working across departments. I’m constantly speaking with my sales team. I think there’s a negative trend where you silo and it’s really difficult in COVID right now because everyone’s isolated. But marketing does one thing, sales does something else, whoever else buckets you have. And from my advertising background, you had to work as a team or you were totally screwed. So I work really, really hand in hand daily with my sales team to make sure that what they need, that I’m able to provide and vice versa.

Emily Hoyle:
And then the third bucket I’m constantly doing is I’m constantly working with our retailers or wholesalers and our retailers so because of literally prohibition and the laws, that’s how old this is. There’s a three three-tiered system in alcohol and beer. So you’ve got your supplier, Pabst, you’ve got your wholesaler, it’s someone who’s essentially the middleman, like for example, Capitol Wright is ours, Austin Capito Wright Distributing and you have a retailer, like HEV, or Kroger or Circle K. And all three have to work together, quote on quote, harmoniously for a consumer to be able to purchase that beer.

Emily Hoyle:
I am literally switching hats all the time. I like because I tend to get a little bored for doing one thing for too long. So I’m constantly in investigative informative mode into planning, strategy, organizing into executing, convincing, tracking in market and everything that falls below that. But I like it, and hopefully people who are listening to the podcast, enjoy trying multiple things and understanding the puzzle and putting it all together. That’s what I love to do, and problem solve and find creative solutions. That’s what I do all day long, truthfully.

Alison:
[crosstalk 00:47:30] Problem solving. I think that people, smaller brands sometimes do forget about the importance of really merging marketing and sales together when it comes to building campaigns and growing the business. And I think that’s a really great reminder to both of those teams to come together more often, have more weekly calls, just do whatever you can to communicate better together.

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah. It’s actually, and that’s a great point and I think it’s a good shot. And I love that you guys come with such a strong perspective from a small business minded space. I’ve worked at small agencies, but I haven’t necessarily worked on small brands and or companies. So it’s nice to you all’s perspective on that. I think another thing in terms of what I’ve learned, like I mentioned, fake it till you make it. But for me, it’s always been about teamwork. And to steal a quote from my cousin, who’s a teacher in California and he’s always like, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” I’m like, “All right, Paul.”

Emily Hoyle:
But the truth is it’s absolutely valid. And I have never gotten somewhere in my career because I did it on my own or I burned every bridge I could, or I only thought about myself. You can be generous with your time. You can be a team player. You can let other people shine by supporting them. You don’t have to put yourself on the back burner. But if you build a really strong team, not just like colleagues in your own space, but just that whole network of trust and support, you’ll be surprised and almost shocked sometimes of how much that helps things succeed.

Emily Hoyle:
So to your point, it’s not about like, “Oh, we’re against each other.” It’s, “How can we both help each other succeed?” Because once someone unlocks, especially there tends to be a bit of tension. And when I came in, I felt a fair amount of resistance in certain sales groups to just my existence or even with our wholesalers [inaudible 00:49:30] change. Because just FYI, not in my company, but in the industry, a woman in my role was surprising, which I was like, “Okay guys, we got to take a lot of steps forward, but we’ll get there later.” But having a chance to trust and build a relationship has been transformational because now we’re walking in and we’re doing this as a team. They know we’re on the same page. We know we’re all working towards the same goal and it just makes it so much easier. And it really gets rid of pretty toxic environments that can happen that ultimately can pretty much ruin a company if you don’t get ahead of it.

Alison:
What are some of the things that you do beyond just day-to-day communications to build that relationship and trust?

Emily Hoyle:
I’m constantly asking for their advice and opinions. Because ultimately, they know more than I do in their position with their vendors, with their partners. I’ve made sure that I have given them a chance to have an opinion to give a perspective. I make sure that I’m oversharing information and limit to what extent they can influence it and they understand that, but I’m constantly asking for their opinion, I’m constantly sharing and showing them things to get them excited, because if someone’s given an opinion or seen something or being a part of it, they feel more accountable to it. So they’re like, “Okay, well I’ve actually invested some of my time in thinking she’s heard me. She mentions it. I see it reflected. I feel respected. I feel like my voice is heard. I also therefore feel like I have a sense of ownership on this thing now, too. So I’m going to put more time and attention towards it.”

Emily Hoyle:
So it’s a long game to hopefully a success there, which is just build a relationship, don’t do it superficially, do it earnestly and honestly, and they’ll respond to that. And I’ve seen that payback tenfold because sometimes when I’m in a pinch, something’s gone sideways and I’m like, “Oh, crap.” I go call them and tell them, “We’re out of product. We’re out of stock because of lack of supplies due to COVID.” Everyone’s going to be pissed. And they’ll be literally like, “I got it. It’s handled, don’t worry. Trust me on the back to you.” If I hadn’t built that relationship, they’d been like, “You’re on your own. This isn’t our problem. I’m not having that conversation. You’re going to have to figure it out.” So that’s really what helps benefit it in general.

Alison:
I think we’ve hit our time. Karin, do you have any closing questions for Emily or?

Karin:
I don’t. I feel like we covered so much and I think you’ve connected what you’ve done on a bigger scale to help these small business owners really think ahead and be excited. And I don’t know, I’m excited at all the knowledge I just learned. [crosstalk 00:52:14].

Alison:
And I’m at four note pages literally.

Emily Hoyle:
No, well, I appreciate you all giving me the chance to have this conversation and I hope it’s helpful and I’m always open if anyone who listens or they want to grab, I guess socially distance coffee, or preferably a beer from Lone Star. I’m always around. But I appreciate the time to chat and listen. And you guys asked some really great questions and I did dust off a few, memories myself to be prepared. I appreciate it.

Alison:
Good. Well, speaking on grabbing a virtual coffee, is there anything that you want to leave any listeners so they can chat with you or check you out or anything like that?

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah. Hopefully if we’ve done our job, there’s certain distribution issues. The best way perhaps to engage in the brand stuff is I just ask, walk down the beer aisle, check out Lone Star beer, check out our new beers. Like I mentioned Lone Star Rio Jade, which is a Mexican style lager. And then we have our new German style kolsch called Das Bier Y’all which has a hint of peach. All again, done by local artists in Texas. It’s brewed in Austin, Texas. So check them out, enjoy them. And I would just say, hey, enjoy them responsibility and socially distance from your friends and family and hopefully enjoy the somewhat nice weather outside today before it gets hot again.

Alison:
Yeah. And if anyone wants to speak to you directly, do you have anywhere they can go to?

Emily Hoyle:
Yeah. I’d say reach out to me on LinkedIn, but [inaudible 00:53:41] in advance. I’m a slow responder just because work’s been understandably pretty insane just due to COVID and some of the shifts that in our industry. But always feel free to reach out on LinkedIn and then happy to grab a beer, even just a virtual chat if needed.

Alison:
Awesome. Well, thank you so much. Really great. Appreciate everything you said.

Karin:
Thanks Emily. If there’s anything we can do for you, don’t be shy.

Emily Hoyle:
No, I appreciate it. Thanks all. This is really great. This is a good way to almost end my Friday. So I’ve loved it.

Karin:
Enjoy your weekend.

Speaker 1:
Umai Social Circle is a CPG agency driven podcast based out of Austin, Texas. We’re excited to share more behind the scenes insights, chats with industry leaders or whatever else we learn along the way. Follow us on Instagram at Umai Marketing or check out our website, umaimarketing.com. Catch you back here soon.

Speaker 1:
(silence).

Leave a Reply

Sign up below to subscribe to our newsletter and get free marketing guides + how-tos!

Ready to scale your consumer goods brand?

Take our FREE 5-day Mini Course and learn our strategies to drive growth!

Skip to content