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R-Net Blog

R Net Blog

R-Net spotlight: Anne-Lise Johnsen, Young Marketing Leader of the Year 2016

Anne-Lise Johnsen was once told that a career in sports marketing is impossible to achieve. Today she is Product Manager for Youth Membership at Arsenal F.C. and holds a trophy from The Marketing Society reading Young Marketing Leader of the Year. After graduating from BI Norwegian Business School with an MSc in Marketing in 2008, she moved to the UK to study for an MSc in Advanced Marketing Management at Lancaster University. A stint in comms for News International followed, then she joined Arsenal in 2012 as a Marketing Executive with a promotion to management earlier this year.

How does it feel to be Young Marketing Leader of the Year? Now that the surprise and initial excitement has settled a bit, it feels absolutely amazing. The other nominees are all great as well, so I feel incredibly proud, humble, and happy to have received the acknowledgement and recognition from senior peers.

One of your directors identified your biggest strength as “charming directness”. Is that something you recognise in yourself? Definitely. Being Norwegian and having a straight talking family, I am very direct. However, I try to package this in with some British politeness as well as a bit of charm so my point comes across well, but in a nice way. I honestly feel this is one of my biggest strengths, and something that helps me every day, especially with stakeholder management.

How important do you think research is as part of the marketing mix? It's absolutely crucial. The Club’s youth marketing strategy to engage young fans is embedded in key research we perform on an annual basis. It allows us to develop a robust strategy and plan that excites our young audience as well as their parents/guardians. I’m also a big advocate of doing research during product development, bringing customers on the journey with us and really encouraging co-creation.

What’s your most hated buzzword? I don’t like the word buzzword to be honest! At the end of the day, trends come and go and we’ll always want a way to describe them all, so we end up with words that do exactly that. Let’s stop focusing on the buzzwords themselves and see how we can action what they mean instead.

Who’s your biggest influence? In all honesty, I have never had one marketer who has influenced my choices or career path. I am more influenced and also inspired by key people in my life; my dad who encouraged me to go into marketing; my mentor, Jonathan Earle, is key to my leadership development; my brother, who is my role model and whose opinion I always want – and he isn’t even in marketing! And last but not least, my fiancé, who always challenges me and gets me to see things from another perspective.

What three words should marketers live by? Fun, honesty and new. I don’t think this is restricted to marketers, but I believe people in general should focus on having fun (preferably by working with their passion), being honest and always pushing for something new. A bit of change is good for everyone.

What’s the next big thing? In my area, I hope to see more sporting organisations seeing the value of youth marketing and how youth can make a difference for their organisations.

What did you last spend too much money on? Our wedding photographer – but I don’t regret it for a minute as she is brilliant. I can’t wait for her to use her amazing talent for us in 2017.

What’s the best opening line from a novel? "Here is Edward Bear, coming down the stairs now, bump bump bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin." This may be from Winnie the Pooh and not as grand as what others may have chosen, but it reminds me of friendship, my childhood and hope.

Finish this sentence; if I weren’t sitting here right now I’d be… I have always wanted to work in marketing and sports; so I like to believe that I would still be sat in a similar spot, even if I hadn’t ended up at Arsenal. But if we were talking about holidays, then my preferred spot is always my family cabin by the sea in Norway. My slice of heaven.

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