Michael Cowan is a global brand consultant and CEO of Brand Distillery. Michael also founded and owns Ireland’s highest brewery in the Wicklow Mountains, and its award-winning Irish mountain beer, MONT™.
After a distinguished career working across three continents on iconic consumer brands such as Guinness, Pepsi, Red Bull, and McDonald’s, Michael left the corporate world behind, to create his own international export beer brand MONT™. Through his consulting work, Michael also helps other start-ups and young businesses create leadership brands, to compete effectively against the big global players.
Q: What do you love about your job the most?
In two words: Ideas and People. I love bringing ideas to life, in a creative way, to bring something tangible, of value, to people. In marketing there’s too much talk of ‘consumers’, but I love seeing how ‘people’ from all walks of life react, engage, and enjoy brands and priducts I’ve had a hand in delivering to them.
Q: What is your overall development strategy?
We want to grow continuously but steady in all segments and we want to deliver excellent services to all customers.
Q: By your opinion, what is live marketing’s best advantage?
Live marketing creates communities, and communities create tribes, and tribe members are your brand ambassodors, when you can’t reach their audience yourself. So live marketing becomes a very efficient & effective marketing tool, if you get it right. Unfortunately too many brands focus on the technology of the live marketing, rather than one clear, resounding brand message, so it becomes a wasted opportunity to grow your tribe.
Q: Live marketing is a stage. The screenplay for impressing the audience is … ?
Every screenplay must have a villian; The Antagonist. Your brand must be the Protagonist. The good guy. The key for brands is to make the audience identify with your mission, through good storytelling, and a clear sense of purpose. Obviously, being entertaining helps keep the audience’s attention. If you get the screenplay right you’ll have the audience wanting to collectively beat up the bad guy for you. Metaphorically, of course!
Q: How have the best live marketing events you have attended so far made you feel?
I spoke at DMX Dublin earlier this year, which is Ireland’s biggest live marketing conference, by far. The thing that impressed me was the diversity and buzz around, that led to an amazing amount of content & idea sharing. It felt great to be part of our evolving industry.
Q: Looking at your bucket list, what is the one thing that you really wish to cross off by the end of 2018?
I would really like my Irish beer brand, MONT™ exported to Central Eurpoe, including Slovenia, in time for the Christmas period!
At Conventa Crossover, he will share how he created MONT™ from a seed idea to now be widely considered as ‘Ireland’s answer to Peroni’, in less than 3 years.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone (alive or dead), who would you have dinner with and why?
I would love to have a meal with the late, great Anthony Bourdain. And I’d like him to cook it for us too (I’ll peel the onions). Not only would I get to enjoy the presence and storytelling of this amazing human being, but I’d get to enjoy his great cooking too!
Q: What would you share with our participants if you would have only a one minute lecture?
I’d have just enough time to explain why they should all read Jack Trout & Al Ries’ “22 Imuttable Laws of Marketing” and Dr Byron Sharp’s “Why Brands Grow”.
Q: : What are you bringing to Conventa Crossover?
Hopefully I’m bringing a fresh, unique perspective on live marketing and how to build a leadership brand, even if you have limited resources. Failing that, I’m also bringing plenty of samples of my award-winning MONT™ super premium Irish lager!