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An interview with...Chris Meechan, Marketing Manager at British Gas

Kelsey Martin
By Kelsey Martin  //  Mon 6th January 2014

Chris Meechan, Marketing Manager at British Gas, tells us about how Glasgow winning the City of Culture Award inspired him to get into Marketing and the lessons learnt from the #AskBG Q&A.

What was your first job?
My first job was working as a kitchen porter in a restaurant but before long I was working as a chef. I still like to cook, not so keen on cleaning though. I can always fall back to one of those early jobs if my career in marketing doesn’t take off.

What made you get into marketing?
My mum worked for a business development company and I recall going into her office a lot when I was younger. They undertook a lot of work with the Glasgow City Council and there was one year in particular that I remember where Glasgow won the City of Culture award. I was intrigued how they pulled together a fully integrated marketing campaign and really sold the city from a commercial and brand perspective. There was buzz about the city and a real sense of pride in what had been achieved. I suppose it is also that sense of achievement and making a real difference that made me want to get in to marketing.

What has been the response to British Gas's new brand 'me'?
British Gas wanted to think about how they could engage with the young professionals and ‘me’ was developed in light of this. The idea is to enable people to solely manage their energy through an app. It has been through Beta phase and initial reaction has been positive. The apps functionality continues to be refined thanks to feedback and they also have some interesting ideas to engage customers. There will be a full roll-out in the New Year and I think only then will we be able to gauge the true response to it.

What was learnt from the #AskBG Q&A?
I think the premise for doing it was spot on. A lot of the utility companies are struggling to build trust and only by having a face and speaking to our customers can we start to build bridges. It is also entirely relevant that we do so through social media and engage with our customers through these channels. I think we have learned that timing is key. Be prepared for everything. And continue to be honest and transparent.

Who has been your biggest influence?
It would have to be my mum. She worked in business development and taught me to keep learning (which is ever more relevant in today’s marketing environment), challenge the status quo (which I believe is fundamental in driving excellence and differentiating) and to have conviction in your ability.

Best marketing resource?
The Drum. A colleague told me about it when I first started trying to get my head round marketing and it has served me well. It’s a great marketing resource and it gives a snapshot of the day in marketing which is good to stay ahead of the curve, any trends/ campaigns/ strategies that stimulate ideas.  

Best piece of career advice you've received?
Purely form a career perspective- visualise what you want in 1, 3, 5 years time. What job, role and position do you want to be doing? What do you want from your personal life- do you want to own a house in a nice part of town, drive a certain car, be able to run a half marathon, etc? By visualising it you bring it to life. And then break it down into manageable steps that you can achieve, and start on the journey to achieve the goals you have set yourself. I guess the same principles can be applied in anything you do- whether its work, fitness, breaking habits.

Favourite pub?
Although I now live in London and I am spoiled for choice, I am from Glasgow where there are some truly amazing pubs. There is a pub in the centre called Maggie Mays. They have a good selection of rum and cocktails, they have a really relaxed setting and they regularly have live music. All the things I want form a good bar. I always make a point of going when I am home.

Ideal holiday?
Well I am going to Ecuador in the New Year. Any holiday where I can sample of bit of their culture and it is different to anywhere else I have been before is always good. If there is good weather and nice food, I often find that helps.

What book are you reading?
I am not a massive book worm, however I just finished a book called “eat that frog”. It’s about the length of a Roald Dahl book which is perfect for keeping my attention, but it’s great for thinking about how to manage a heavy workload. Something I am sure most people can relate to and something I definitely do better since reading it.

Chris has several years experience working in the services industry, more recently moving in to marketing. He is now responsible for transactional marketing campaigns, and the evolution of  customer communications for HomeCare products.
British Gas, Chris Meechan
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