Interview by Katy Willcox – Project Manager

This month’s Spotlight Interview is with the brilliant Elliot Connolly, Partnerships Account Director at Mando-Connect. Elliot has been with us for 6 months now, and really hit the ground running working on one of our biggest promotions of 2021. I caught up with Elliot to hear a bit more about him and his favourite brands, partnerships & loyalty schemes!

How did your career start in partnerships & marketing? 

I did a one-month internship for a local PR agency, in Rossendale where I’m from & this got me really interested in the Marketing side of things rather than PR. I decided to move to London as there were a lot more job opportunities, so I did three internships whilst sleeping on my brother’s sofa, and then the last one offered me a permanent role and it all started from there really. My Mum still thinks I’m working in PR…

Who would be your dream brand to work with?

I have two brands I would love to work with, ‘BrewDog’ & ‘The North Face’. They are two brands that really know what they stand for with distinct personalities that captures peoples’ attention.

‘BrewDog’ do so many great partnerships like the one with Ricky Gervais to help home stray dogs: https://www.brewdog.com/uk/streetdog. Whilst ‘The North Face’ is a brand that just makes the outdoors cool – they have a great loyalty programme too called ’VIPeak’, with early access to new products, sale & discounts, competitions and access to VIP events that they host.

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What has been your favourite partnership / promotion you have worked on whilst at Mando-Connect?

On my second week of working at Mando-Connect, I started on the Shell Go+ promotion, so this has to be my favourite. I was there right at the conception, through to the execution. It’s a huge new promotion called ‘Spin to Win’ being run across thousands of Shell forecourts around the country.

We created a massive prize pool, with lots of great Partners; FitBit, Forest Holidays, Halfords, the list goes on. I think it’s quite bold for a brand to roll out such a big campaign during a national lockdown, but it’s been great to work on and it’s performing really well.  If you are a Shell Go+ member you can play here: https://shellspintowin.co.uk/ and if not it’s easy to signup!

If you could be given a new skill / talent overnight – what would it be?

It would have to be being fluent in all languages. It would be so easy when travelling and just being able to speak to anyone, anywhere would be great.

Is there a B2B loyalty program you admire?

I think Vodafone Business is a great B2B loyalty program & not just because it’s one of my accounts at Mando-Connect! If you are a Vodafone Business customer, you have access to ‘VeryMe’ Vodafone’s reward platform, but the rewards are specifically tailored to businesses.  We have really focussed on targeting small businesses with the rewards recently, which I think is important in the current economic climate. It also shows that Vodafone aren’t just a telco provider, they are thinking of small businesses needs and trying to help. We did a great reward with ‘City Pantry’ at the end of 2020, giving 600 VeryMe Business customers a £5 Just Eat takeaway voucher, every Monday in December as a little treat. The vouchers were all claimed within two hours of them being released, which was great to see.

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What have been the best and hardest things about developing partnerships in lockdown? 

I definitely think that the best thing has been companies have had to become much more open minded to new opportunities and have to look at different avenues to grow in the current climate. This really helps when I’m speaking to new companies about the world of partnerships-people want to know more, more than ever which is great.

I think the hardest thing would have to be losing the spontaneity of speaking to colleagues, just to shout across the office and check if an idea is bad or not is something I miss- although video calls have been great in lockdown to keep in touch, but just not quite as spontaneous as I would like!

What’s a fact about yourself that surprises people?

I discovered I’m allergic to Christmas Tree’s….I get puffy, itchy eyes- so I have to have a fake Christmas Tree from now on, which is probably a bit better for the environment so not the end of the world!

Could you tell us about a Loyalty Scheme / Brand Partnership that you think is really impressive? 

I’ve already mentioned ‘BrewDog’, but they did a fun, tongue-in-cheek partnership with ‘Aldi’ in 2020. ‘Aldi’ did a copycat version of a ‘BrewDog’ ale & instead of it becoming a spat between two brands, it became a serendipitous social media exchange that gave life to American Pale Ale collaboration called ‘ALD IPA’. You can read about what happened here: https://foodanddrink.scotsman.com/drink/brewdog-responds-to-lookalike-aldi-beer-yaldi-ipa/.  BrewDog flipped what could have been a messy spat into a best-selling IPA- that’s the kind of Brand Partnership I like, grabbing a opportunity and running with it.

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Are you part of any loyalty schemes yourself?

I am, my favourite at the moment would be the Lidl loyalty scheme called ‘Lidl Plus’. I like loyalty schemes that I can use in everyday life, and help out a little. You can get money off your shopping if you spend over a certain amount, there are also partner rewards on there with Tough Mudder, MoveGB, USwitch, Readly…quite a broad spectrum it’s just a really handy one to have on my phone- so I never forget it when I’m at the till.

If you could do any job for just one day, what would it be?

I have two answers for this one- if I am being paid for this one day of work, I would have to go with something like running ‘Amazon’ for the day- it would be hard, but if it’s just one day & I could manage I’m sure- and I can’t even imagine how much I would be paid…!

If I’m not being paid, it would be a Chef in a Michelin starred restaurant, I like my food, so it would mainly be so I can taste all the food.

What’s one thing you learnt from 2020?

I learnt I’m a really slow reader…I thought I would be able to read loads of books as we couldn’t do anything or go anywhere but I read Dracula & it took my about 6 months!