Emily Walker graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2015 with an MA in History, in her final year focusing her studies towards gender history to reflect her interest in feminism, civil rights and equality more generally. After a brief period in a sales role with another organisation she joined Arnold Clark in their Marketing Team in 2016 and she has progressed from media buyer assistant to media buyer, and then head of media, before changing role and department to become head of media and brand marketing. Emily is passionate about using her role to drive positive change for women and other underrepresented groups.
“When we advertise to customers we want to be as diverse as our customers. That means reflecting back to them a life that feels familiar.”
A woman’s place
I studied history at the University of Glasgow and really enjoyed my time there, so I decided to stay in Glasgow due to that experience. I focused a lot on gender and feminist history, completed my final dissertation in that and also completed a final year ‘specialist subject’ course on it. So, I’ve always been interested in women and their place/roles in society.
After uni, I was keen to stay in Glasgow and took on a sales role with Primesight, the outdoor media company. I didn’t love that role and found that working in sales wasn’t really for me, but it did increase my interest in advertising, media and marketing more generally.
I heard about a media buyer assistant role at Arnold Clark from a friend who worked in their Communications Team and applied. After that, I progressed to media buyer and then head of media. Recently, with the change in role and department, my role has expanded and I now head up the Brand Team.
Building new customer connections
Day-to-day we look after the brand plans and strategy, campaigns, media buying and planning as well as high-profile sponsorships, such as ITV This Morning, Channel 4 Drama and TalkSPORT breakfast sponsorship.
We also work on the brand advertising, growing the name in new areas and maintaining our coverage in areas we’ve been with for years. We’re always looking for new ways to appeal to new customers and increase the knowledge of the brand at all points.
We also work on activation campaigns, such as our big yearly sale or end-of-year event as well as our weekend events. The team also works on our Sell Your Car (car buying service campaign) and Click & Collect advertising, which is growing and becoming an increasingly popular method of buying a car, especially after 2020 and the COVID pandemic.
Speed of change
The growth and change in the Marketing Department since I’ve joined has been significant. The business is firstly an automotive sales business, but the list of departments and subsidiaries is massive. Further down that list, it morphs into a company that markets itself to an agency standard — we produce all the adverts you see on television in-house, for example.
It’s an unusual set-up and the dynamic is probably totally different to other brands that do similar. We also don’t market a tangible product, but a brand and company first, then the numerous products we sell, such as Mercedes-Benz, Vauxhall, VW etc., car rental, pet insurance and more. Our objective is always to grow Arnold Clark as an overall car and vehicle retailer, but within that, the numerous products and services we provide need to be considered and amplified individually when suitable.
With competitors such as Cinch and Cazoo bringing to market a fully digital online purchase experience for cars, there’s a lot of discussion within the media and on whether this is what consumers want and need. This has changed our approach as a business and brand as well. It’s changed the automotive market in the UK, whether or not we see consumers going down that route to the extent we’re being led to believe. Their massive increase in advertising and sponsorship from about 2019 onwards made a lot of others in the sector take note and consider new opportunities.
Electric vehicles, COVID, the cost-of-living crisis, Brexit – the list goes on and on when it comes to changes in recent years. And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Internal versus external branding
Internally, the discussion about the changing workforce is one that is frequently discussed and focused on. The company clearly wants to be, and I believe is, leading the change on who it is that is selling cars to the UK population. The workforce is diverse and amplifying this internally has translated into considerations of how we want to be perceived as a brand and how we market that brand.
No one should be intimidated or uncomfortable to come into an Arnold Clark dealership. Product consultants are named as such to express to customers that the branch staff are there to help, advise and lead you to your right choice of car.
When we advertise to customers we want to be as diverse as our customers. That means reflecting back to them a life that feels familiar. We literally have every type of car for every demographic of customers to consider, from Fiat 500s to Jeeps to BMW X5s to Vauxhall Zafiras. This is something we try and keep at the forefront of our plans and advertising throughout the brand.
Making sure we show customers of all demographics is important to us and it’s something the Brand Team and I try to keep in mind at all times.
Equity, diversity and inclusion in our brand and marketing: Keep pushing forward
I think we are still learning and working on the way we reflect our equity, diversity and inclusion commitments in our brand. And I question myself every time we create an ad — it’s probably the easiest way to keep pushing this forward. It shouldn’t be something that slips by the wayside that just leads to boring ads that don’t reflect the world around us. And although it’s not a hard change, it’s something that unconscious bias plays a part in.
Day-to-day, when you’re busy and moving from one job to the next, questioning whether casting is as diverse as it should be or if we’re using a range of images to reflect the population can be missed. Therefore, making sure we review this and question ourselves frequently is the best way to make sure we aren’t ‘forgetting’.
The Arnold Clark Cup is a great example of the way the company is championing women within another sector. Sport has been seen as a male space for years, and the automotive industry is the same. Sports sponsorship and partnerships have been a mainstay for our sector and with both sectors moving forward, it makes sense for us to support their progression with gender equality as well as our own.
The Arnold Clark Cup has just finished for this year and was a great success with two venues pretty much sold out and fans from all over travelling for the games. That and our work with brand ambassadors, such as Fara Williams MBE, Alex Scott MBE, Erin Cuthbert, Judy Murray and Eilidh Barbour shows that we really are invested in growing our links to women’s sport and supporting those that excel at what they do in that sector.
What International Women’s Day means to me: Work, dedication and progress
I always link International Women’s Day with history, because of my degree and personal interests. Occasions such as International Women’s Day, Black History Month or events like Pride shouldn’t be taken for granted. They mark all the work, dedication and progression that women have done before us to allow us to be where we are now in life, society, careers etc.
I just hope that International Women’s Day continues to be focused on actual change and progression. Reframing how women are perceived in the workplace is constantly evolving and growing. Days like this are there to bring the change into focus.
Celebrating IWD 2023
I’ve never really considered what I will personally do in order to celebrate International Women’s Day but I think I’ll give it some more thought this year. Usually, friends of mine and I always talk about it or acknowledge it, but we don’t actively ‘celebrate’ it. Time to change this, I think!
Further plans for growth
The rest of this year we will still be present across the ITV This Morning sponsorship, Channel 4 Drama sponsorship and TalkSPORT Breakfast as well as continuing to be present across an array of media, amplifying the brand and our messages.
The company’s expansion plans for southern regions will see our Click & Collect plans grow further across the UK. This will allow us to have physical destinations in new areas where we haven’t before. The Brand Team will be continuing to look for new and exciting opportunities for the company, hopefully placing us in front of new audiences and customers.
This content is brought to you in paid partnership with Arnold Clark.