Potato farmer Tom Keogh wins Marketer of the Year

Grower has created ‘Keogh’s – Grown with Love in Ireland’ brand from household staple

Marketer of the Year for 2015 Tom Keogh:  a ‘farmeter’

Marketer of the Year for 2015 Tom Keogh: a ‘farmeter’

 

Tom Keogh of Keogh’s has been named Marketer of the Year for 2015. The announcement was made at an industry awards lunch in Dublin yesterday. In taking an unbranded staple – the humble spud – he has done a most difficult thing and created a brand – the “Keogh’s – Grown with Love in Ireland” brand.

It now includes several successful brand extensions from his Keogh’s Easy Cook Potatoes to the new Selena potato – selenium-enriched “healthier” potatoes to capitalise on the trend for functional food. He created Keogh’s Crisps to claim a stake in the premium crisp market with innovations such as the Shamrock and Sour Cream flavour and gluten-free crisps.

His crisps now claim more than 30 per cent of the luxury Irish crisp market and he exports to 14 countries. It’s clear than when the north Dublin farmer sees a potato he sees a business opportunity to quite literally make something of it.

He led the effort for category management for potatoes in stores and kicked off successful PR initiatives such as the first National Potato Day,

It has had a ripple effect with his sector. His proactive approach to solving a serious problem for his family business – consumption of potatoes in Ireland fell by half in the 10 years to 2012 and supermarkets saw the vegetable as a loss leader – has encouraged Irish potato growers to come together to co-fund an industry-wide marketing campaign.

The judging panel, led by Damien McLoughlin, professor of marketing at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, felt Keogh’s story was a standout in terms of ingenuity and inventiveness, showing a clever, informed approach to marketing. His ongoing product innovation was a strong factor in his winning the award. The judges went on to say: “In addition, his clear focus on what customers want (and delivering this) plus the challenge of creating a premium brand in what was originally considered a commodity market are classic examples of a skilled marketer at work.”

Keogh who regards himself as a “farmeter” – a marketer who happens to be a farmer – is a graduate of the strategic growth programme (food industry) that forms the executive leadership programme at the UCD Smurfit School.

One of three finalists, he beat strong competition from Fiona Curtin, head of innovation at Heineken for the roll- out of Orchard Thieves cider and from Brian Keating, group brands director with AIB, for his work on the overall brand.