Meet Cheryl Toner, AXA UK

Cheryl Toner is group marketing and communication director for AXA UK

Cheryl Toner: group marketing and communication director, AXA UK
Cheryl Toner: group marketing and communication director, AXA UK

Brands controlled
AXA Insurance, AXA Life, AXA PPP Healthcare, Architas and Bluefin.

What are your main priorities over the next 12 months?
I am responsible for building the reputation of the AXA brand in the UK and Ireland, the number one global insurance brand [Source: Interbrand].

Last year, we repositioned the brand to redefine standards in our markets, so a key priority will be to maintain our high levels of awareness and build brand content to support our ambition of being a trusted brand. It will mean supporting new product launches next year and developing improvements in our service to increase our levels of advocacy.

The internet is successfully competing for a share of our media investment and continues to be a hot topic. I shall review our approach to digital to ensure we make the most of new opportunities.

Agencies used?
AXA's media buying will be handled by Havas UK from 1 January. Team Saatchi manages the creative and E3 for digital creative for the AXA brand, while MWO and Steak are responsible for Swiftcover.

What are the main criteria you use when selecting an agency?
Our agencies are key partners in our business, helping us to drive change and deliver cut through in our communications in a very competitive market to ensure we stand out. Having strong relationships with agencies is critical. We want them to be passionate about our business and really strive to understand our customers, to help us build brand favourability and deliver the insights that bring an idea to life.

What role will media play in positioning the company in 2009/2010?
Media will play a key role and we plan to up-weight our investment across our brands. Recently, we appointed Havas to bring some fresh thinking and, at the same time, make our media selection more accountable to support further investment. Media selection will be informed by our robust approach to segmentation and the thorough understanding of our customers' media habits.

Has the current economic climate had an impact on your marketing activity?
It is always tempting to reduce marketing investment in difficult times. However, experience shows such short-termism does not pay in the long run. This is why we have maintained our share of voice but, more importantly, recognised the concerns of our customers and provided them with reassuring communications about our financial stability.

What has been your most enjoyable campaign to date?
I am very proud of our launch campaign to reposition the brand. Firstly, the campaign delivered extremely good results in terms of our brand metrics and, secondly, the creative execution is being adapted for campaigns for AXA across the globe.

Which medium can't you live without?
The intranet. Our employees must be the biggest advocates of the brand, so the intranet plays a vital role not only as a medium to share information, but also to engage our people in how they can play their part in our success.

How has your career background prepared you for your current role?
I have worked in brand and marketing for 15 years, which has provided me with a sound knowledge and understanding of what is important to our customers. I believe this will be instrumental in continuing to ensure we build a customer-centric organisation at AXA.



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