Howard Kee got into events more by luck than judgement. He was looking for a change of role internally at Ford and the previous incumbent asked if he'd considered the advertising and experiential marketing manager position. "I hadn't, I did, and the rest is a history of nigh on four years now," he says.
Kee enjoys the variety his role offers, from running a dealer conference one day to organising makeovers for competition winners the next. "No two days are the same and I really get a kick out of seeing people appreciate whatever it is I've organised," he explains.
The most challenging part is fitting it all in. As well as events, Kee manages Ford's advertising in the UK, so every day is a test of organisation.
Our events are an extension of our brand and as such must represent what Ford stands for. They are meticulously thought through, well designed, professional in both delivery and interfacing with consumers and above all, accessible to all. Events are an integral part of our marketing mix and reflect what we are doing across all the other channels.
Partnering with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games as vehicle supplier has brought some exciting opportunities. Apart from supplying 1,120 vehicles with decals, I will be managing the corporate hospitality and Ford's presence in the experiential festival area on Glasgow Green, where we are expecting about 350,000 visitors over 12 days (23 July to 3 August). Our main objective is to boost perception of the Ford brand by providing a fun, informative and friendly activation for visitors.
I'm always looking for new approaches to achieve an event objective but this doesn't mean re-inventing for the sake of it.
For Goodwood Festival of Speed last year we created the Fiesta ST Fan Cam, which involved people experiencing a 200mph fan and then capturing the resulting facial distortion. Sounds terrible, but the results were a fun and very visual activation. I like to ensure we're keeping up with development of technology, especially social, as this can play a big part in amplifying the reach of an event sometimes at a very low incremental cost.
Making a return
I'd like to think we're much more focused now on ensuring every pound we spend is going to contribute towards our bottom line profit. As with most companies, surviving the recession has led to much tighter management of budgets and assessment of opportunities. I now plan across the main categories to ensure we are able to deliver adequate reach and return in each and ruthlessly assess each individual event to make sure we're spending wisely.
Travelling: There's nothing more enriching than immersing yourself in a country's culture.
Eating: Great food and good wine. I've even been known to experiment in the kitchen.
Extreme sports: I love going white-water kayaking, climbing and mountaineering.
Doing nothing: It's been a while, but I like lying on a beach reading a book.