Annabel Venner

Interview with Annabel Venner

Ahead of our Under The Spotlight session we caught up with Annabel Venner, Annabel is CMO of DirectAsia and Hiscox Global Brand Director. 

In her role, Annabel is responsible for driving the effectiveness of marketing across the Hiscox Group and DirectAsia, specifically in key markets of the UK, US, France, Germany, Thailand Singapore. Her key deliverables are; running and sustaining the 'Hiscox Marketing Excellence' programme, owning the Hiscox & DirectAsia brand architectures and ensuring its local activation, and providing technical support, guidance and best practice to all markets.

You have a degree in chemistry from the University of Bristol, how does someone go from studying chemistry to working in marketing?

My first job was working for SmithKline Beecham ina production (manufacturing /packaging) management role and I liaised with the marketing teams on product and packaging changes. After learning about their roles and how close they were to consumers I asked for a transfer to the marketing department.  

Prior to joining Hiscox, you spent nine years at Coca-Cola, how did their marketing strategies develop from when you started up until you left?

A real focus during my time at Coca-Cola was diversifying into still drinks with the launch of Powerade, and Dasani, and driving the growth of existing still brands such as Oasis. CSR was also growing in importance and this was tackled through partnerships and looking at how we could reduce the impact on the environment. 

Our new mission for 2019 is to empower brave leaders, how can we do this?

Through a combination of inspiring events, highlighting work and leaders that embody this, and giving marketers the tools and support, via networks.

What have been the bravest decisions of your career so far – as both a client and an agency? What's been your proudest moment? 

My bravest decision was going to live in Asia for three months soon after we bought a business out there in 2014. I was tasked with doing a full review of the people, agencies, creative and strategy so it was a great project to lead. However, I did leave my family behind in London and very quickly had to learn how to work in a very different culture. My proudest moment was Hiscox being shortlisted for the Marketing Society Brand of the Year.

How do you think the quality of UK's marketing industry compares globally?

I think that we can hold our heads up high in terms of work that is developed in the UK and is effectiveness. I have sat on a range of judging panels and have been impressed by the talent we have across a range of verticals and marketing disciplines.

What brands are you most impressed by at the moment? Any campaigns which have particularly caught your eye?

I think that Greggs has done some great work recently, from its vegan sausage roll and Christmas activation, through to its new/healthier products and this is clearly translating into changing consumer perception and strong business results.

You’ve been in the marketing industry for over 20 years, what's been your favourite campaign or project you worked on and why? 

Shortly after I joined Hiscox we launched the As Good As Our work campaign, developed by VCCP.  Some brave decisions were taken at the time; moving away from TV, going against the grain of typical insurance advertising and injection wit into the work. Everyone was proud of the work and the impact that it had (creatively and commercially) and one of my favourite executions was ‘Bald Men’.  

What does being a brave leader mean to you?

Being authentic, doing what is right, being open, honest and empathetic and constantly learning! 


Don't forget to join us for Under The Spotlight with Annabel Venner on Thursday 26 September at The Kimpton Blythswood Hotel in Glasgow. Tickets are available here