We talk to Richard Askam, marketing expert & branding speaker.

14th Jul 2023

Richard Askam, marketing expert & branding speaker chats with Jane Farnham, Director of Great British Speakers.

We discover from branding speaker Richard Askam just how he got your name on the side of a bottle of coke.

Richard Askam, a seasoned branding speaker, brings a unique perspective to the world of public speaking, thanks to his extensive 30-year experience in the Wine Business. He discovered that the wine industry is, at its core, an industry driven by storytelling. In fact, selling a bottle of wine requires captivating the audience with a 30-minute keynote on its provenance.

In 2010, Richard took a career turn and pioneered the concept of personalized champagne gifts in the UK. This innovative approach served as an antidote to the commoditization of the wine market. Richard’s expertise as a branding speaker stems from his ability to leverage storytelling and personalization to create memorable experiences for customers.

If you’re seeking a captivating and insightful branding speaker, Richard Askam is the ideal choice.

Contact Great British Speakers today to book personalised branding speaker Richard Askam for your next event.

Here’s the full transcript of branding speaker Richard Askam’s chat with Jane Farnham of Great British Speakers

00:00:08:20 – 00:00:20:22

Jane Farnham

Hello, I’m Jane Farnham from Great British Speakers, and I’m here today chatting to the man who put your name on a bottle of coke. The inspirational marketing and branding speaker, Richard Askam. Hi, Richard. Thanks for joining us.

00:00:21:03 – 00:00:22:05

Richard Askam

Hi, Jane. Nice to see you.

00:00:22:20 – 00:00:30:12

Jane Farnham

Really lovely to see you. So before we get to the bottles of Coke, and speaking, can tell me a bit about your life before 2008.

00:00:30:24 – 00:00:37:05

Richard Askam

Wow. Okay. Well, there was a lot of it, sadly. Which, which is not a problem, but a problem for me more than anybody else.

00:00:37:15 – 00:00:38:09

Jane Farnham

Oh, great.

00:00:38:20 – 00:00:57:06

Richard Askam

I do. I say. Although strangely, it always feels like somebody else’s life when you, when you look back on on sort of the things that you’ve done. And it genuinely, now the world that I am now, is sort of feels like somebody else did it previous. But predominantly to answer your question, I was in the drinks industry and that’s that’s my family background is the drinks business.

00:00:57:06 – 00:01:20:13

Richard Askam

In fact, my father opened the first independent off license in the north of England in 1962. So that sort of led us into the world. He came from a brewing sort of industry career and into the independent wine business, really in the sixties. So I grew up. The reason I’m six foot five, by the way, is I was weaned on red wine.

00:01:20:22 – 00:01:34:09

Jane Farnham

I obviously wasn’t as I’m 5 foot two. white wine doesn’t work the same way apparently. So your dad was in wine. So what was your experience then in wine?

00:01:35:03 – 00:01:57:18

Richard Askam

Well, it was, it was interesting, really, because he came into the world of wine before really the UK consumer did, you know, it was very much a luxury product. You know, something that you had on your birthday or a special occasion, whereas now it’s something that you have for breakfast if it takes your fancy. So it was quite a risk and I guess that was an early indication really of who he was as a businessman.

00:01:57:18 – 00:02:23:20

Richard Askam

He quite liked that risk. He quite liked the point of change, and it’s something that I’ve definitely inherited in my working life. He was one of those guys, Jane, that liked to sort of jump off a cliff and build a plane on the way down. And I very much sort of inherited that, that, enjoyment is a strong word, but willingness, I guess, preparedness to to be at that point of change when it comes along, you know, as it always does in business, those pivot points in your career.

00:02:24:03 – 00:02:29:19

Richard Askam

For me, they’re actually the most exciting. It feels like they won all over again. Every time it changes, it feels like a new start up.

00:02:30:20 – 00:02:39:06

Jane Farnham

So you what, so what did you do as a initially when you were younger from moving on from your your dad? Did you stay in wine?

00:02:39:24 – 00:02:56:04

Richard Askam

Yes, I did. So I he he, like a lot of fathers, tried to do too sons gave me the best education that I could possibly have in that business. But I didn’t recognize that. I very much resented it actually at the time, because he sent me off to work in France, to work in Italy, to work in Germany, to work in them.

00:02:56:08 – 00:03:16:08

Richard Askam

It was awful. And I had to drink all this wine. That’s terrible. Now it’s dreadful, you know. But but, but actually what he was doing rather rather cleverly, was introducing me to the entire world of that business that I would one day have to deal with. And therefore, having done somebody else’s job, it gives you a great sort of insight into into their world and makes that relationship a little bit easier to understand.

00:03:16:15 – 00:03:35:00

Richard Askam

So when my time came along and I did that for ten years, really off and away, but came back home to run the business, my father unfortunately fell ill around about the late nineties and didn’t recover from that sadly, and passed away in 2001. And I kind of was thrown into the world of, well, better get on with it.

00:03:35:00 – 00:04:00:10

Richard Askam

And as I say, this, this whole point of change really wasn’t something that scared me, actually quite excited me. But the first thing that I did, like all sons do to all fathers, is change everything. And, and we went from very much a retail focused business to very much a wholesale focused business. And, and that really was looking at the world of restaurants, hotels and anywhere that you could go to eat, that you drank wine, needed a supplier.

00:04:00:10 – 00:04:11:22

Richard Askam

And I pivoted our business towards that sector rather than retail, which at that time had become heavily concentrated within the supermarket sector and had become, become a bit of a race to the bottom in terms of price, to be honest.

00:04:12:10 – 00:04:17:05

Jane Farnham

Yeah. So what about, so were you mailing wine to your customers at that stage?

00:04:17:12 – 00:04:52:04

Richard Askam

No, not initially. It was very much a local regional delivery business. You know, the man in the barn, it was how far could we go in a day and get back before, before the end of the day? And, and that was our sort of patch, if you like, to deliver. So every, every hospitality business within that region, we tried to acquire as a as a client, as a customer of our wine supply business, it was only towards the mid 2000’s, 6, 7, 8, that we started to get into mail order the Internet sort of, you know, if you can remember those days when the Internet started, you know, that was taking off and a lot more gifting

00:04:52:04 – 00:05:15:09

Richard Askam

was being done online. We started online as well. I had to learn everything from scratch because there was no there was no sort of system set up to allow people to spend one. In fact, most people were scared of doing it in case it broke. So so there was there was a lots of barriers to entry, not least of which the cost of delivery, which was horrific, the cost of packaging to make the wine actually get across that delivery, which was horrific.

00:05:15:15 – 00:05:36:10

Richard Askam

And you suddenly turned the £5 bottle of wine into a £25 delivered item, which wasn’t particularly commercially savvy. So there was a lot of learnings to be done. And it was around that time that we sort of started to diversify into, into what would what would make us look different in the marketplace. And at that time that was customized own labels.

00:05:37:23 – 00:05:41:07

Jane Farnham

So, so you started that on wine originally?

00:05:42:00 – 00:06:04:22

Richard Askam

Yeah, basically in order for us to sort of yeah, well, not too much gifting. It started in the wholesale business because all of our restaurant and pub and golf club and wherever customers quite like the idea of having their own wine, so so we created an own label for them, you know, the red lion red or the Kings head white or whatever that label needed to be, which gave them a little bit of intellectual property, if you like, ownership of their own wines.

00:06:05:19 – 00:06:25:07

Richard Askam

That very quickly morphed into our corporate gifting business. I’m sure you, like many people across the country, Jane, received that bottle of red in that bottle of wine in a gift box at Christmas from a company for something nobody knew what it was for or why, but they gave you it anyway. And that sort of ruled the roost really for for several years.

00:06:25:07 – 00:06:41:16

Richard Askam

But we we took the customized element of our own labels into the gifting world. And actually so that that gift, when it arrived, it had your name on it. You knew who had come from, you know, it was a bit more personalized. And that really was where the penny dropped, you know, about personalized labels.

00:06:43:02 – 00:07:01:03

Jane Farnham

So that’s the start. And it was obviously bang on trend as well. So you capitalized from that. And then I hear you then had contact from Coca-Cola in 2014. So tell me a bit about that email or was it?

00:07:02:13 – 00:07:28:10

Richard Askam

No, it was email. I mean, the build up to that really was in that sort of change point 2009, 10, 11, 12, you know, we proliferated the market with personalized alcohol gifts, predominantly champagne, prosecco, the sort of the giftable items, if you like, got into spirits, got into beers and created some beautiful labels. I mean, one of the, one of the things that we really tried to do was make sure that label looked like a wine label.

00:07:28:10 – 00:07:46:07

Richard Askam

It had your name on it, certainly, but it had the sort of the proprietary nature of an actual wine label. So it didn’t lose its elegance. There’s an awful lot of elegance that’s required in the wine business and I went out, I created Moonpig’s alcohol gift category for them in 2010. In the first year, they sold £1,000,000 worth of champagne.

00:07:46:20 – 00:08:09:00

Richard Askam

At that point, I think Ian’s is good. We should do more of it. So I went to Not on the High Street interflora, John Lewis, Buy me a gift. Find me a gift, get me a gift, or all of those places. And basically we supply it. So in the same sort of method as we wanted to supply every restaurant and hotel in our area, we wanted to supply every online gifting business because, because we could, we learnt how to do it by then.

00:08:09:10 – 00:08:27:13

Richard Askam

So I guess when this email arrived in 2013 and I was sitting on a train on my way to London again because I spent a lot of time on the train to London and it arrived saying, Would you be interested in working with Coca-Cola to deliver their Share a Coke campaign? And you think, How long do I wait before I say yes?

00:08:27:13 – 00:08:31:19

Richard Askam

You know, because you do want to appear too keen, you know, and all that kind of thing. So there was about 8 seconds.

00:08:32:06 – 00:08:34:16

Jane Farnham

I thought that was dating. 

00:08:34:16 – 00:08:45:18

Richard Askam

You know, and I replied, then I replied again in case they didn’t get the first one, because to be honest, when when are you ever going to get you know, this is a little old me from Lincolnshire. When are you ever going to get a chance to work with a global firm like, like Coca-Cola in your career?

00:08:45:18 – 00:09:03:04

Richard Askam

So there was never a chance I was going to say no to that opportunity. And basically, and I asked the question, Jane, why, you know, why me? And they said, well, look, we, we look around the Internet and everywhere, everywhere you look that could send one glass bottle to somebody was supplied by you. So we figured that, you know, what you’re doing.

00:09:03:04 – 00:09:18:09

Richard Askam

And at that point, we largely did. You know, we had learnt all the lessons the hard way over over the previous years. So in that summer of 2014, we delivered nearly one and a half million bottles of personalized Coca-Cola across Europe, which was just incredible.

00:09:19:07 – 00:09:23:00

Jane Farnham

Is amazing. But again, you managed to leverage that deal, didn’t it?

00:09:23:22 – 00:09:53:06

Richard Askam

Well, I always try and take that to and I’ve got it got and turn it into the next thing. Yeah. So and actually what that did was create the best calling card that I’ve ever had really in my life was the one whenever I was going to see a potential new client, first thing I do is send them a bottle of Coca-Cola with their name on it, you know, which which of course at the time was just off the charts in terms of emotive sort of gifting, but then very quickly rolled into things like personalized Marmite, personal Jaffa cakes.

00:09:53:22 – 00:09:56:01

Jane Farnham

I bought one of those personalized Marmites.

00:09:56:17 – 00:10:17:16

Richard Askam

Thank you on behalf of my mortgage. Thank you. Kit Kats. We did some stuff for Dove at Unilever so that the whole world of brand marketing jumped on the, on the bus very, very quickly about personalization and I was very lucky. Jane. I genuinely know that it was luck that I was in the right place at the right time to be able to do those campaigns.

00:10:17:16 – 00:10:30:20

Richard Askam

And it absolutely elevated my sort of profile, I guess in that world of the new world of digital print, the new world of individualized marketing I was at the forefront of and I’m very grateful for.

00:10:31:20 – 00:10:42:15

Jane Farnham

Yeah, of course there’s an element of luck in everything, but you have to have the tenacity and drive and, you know, insights to be able to push these things forward. So give yourself quite a bit of credit.

00:10:42:21 – 00:10:49:23

Richard Askam

Well, my my dad’s my dad had an expression that looks gets you in the room, but skill keeps you in the room. And so I’ll I’ll take that.

00:10:49:23 – 00:10:55:03

Jane Farnham

Yeah. So tell me then how to get a speaking assignments start, because that’s what we’re here to discuss today.

00:10:55:15 – 00:11:19:15

Richard Askam

Yeah. Again, out of, out of left field. I got an invitation to come and speak at a conference in Windsor, actually, at the Dorney Lakes, Eton Rowing Club, which, which sounded fantastic. It was with a print group called Dscoop, which is a sort of a printers co-operative, really, all of which are Hewlett Packard print users. And the Coca-Cola campaign had been done by Hewlett Packard Digital Print.

00:11:19:15 – 00:11:36:23

Richard Askam

So they invited me to come down and talk about my experience of, of what was then like the the rock star of personalization, which was the Share a Coke campaign and I did that. Never done public speaking before in my life. The nearest I’d got to that was my groom’s speech when I got married, which went down quite well, apparently so.

00:11:37:13 – 00:11:56:06

Richard Askam

So it’s a weird one, Jane, because I genuinely and nobody believes me other than my mother was the shyest, shyest child that you can imagine. But somehow standing on a stage felt like a comfortable place. And and so I stood up on this particular occasion at this event and spoke like I’m speaking now. I haven’t changed at all.

00:11:56:11 – 00:12:15:23

Richard Askam

This was in 2016, told the story of how I ended up doing the Coca-Cola campaign. Got a nice round of applause. Somebody came up to me at the end and said, You should do this for a living. And at that point on the train, on the way home, I’m thinking, Hmm, do I want to spend the rest of my life sticking labels on bottles, or do I want to stand on stages and show off?

00:12:16:20 – 00:12:18:23

Richard Askam

You know what? And you know what the answer was.

00:12:20:02 – 00:12:29:12

Jane Farnham

Good for you, a true performer. But coming right up to date then, Richard, in many ways your biggest change yet, came out of a speaking gig.

00:12:30:10 – 00:12:50:05

Richard Askam

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I guess this is the world Jane that we live in and enjoy. Isyou never know who’s in the audience and so you never know who you’re going to meet. And ultimately that should in theory, make you be always at your best, which it should be. I was taught a long time ago, actually understand the room that you’re in and talk to that room.

00:12:50:13 – 00:13:05:02

Richard Askam

You know, I think it’s massively important to engage with your audience as if, as if they were a room full of people wanting to taste wine back in the the eighties. You know, it’s the same people that want to hear. The only job of the speaker, of course, is to be heard. So so if you if you make it listenable, then then you can get your point across.

00:13:05:11 – 00:13:26:23

Richard Askam

And in that room on that particular day was a guy from Carlsberg who came up to me afterwards in the bar, as you would, and said, can you do personalized footballs? And I said, probably, had to use that wonderful marketing line. I had no idea how hard that would be. But they wanted personalized footballs for the Euro.

00:13:27:10 – 00:13:46:08

Richard Askam

I think it was 2018 tournament because they were sponsoring it. So I said, Yeah, leave it with me. Went off to try and find somebody who could personalize footballs, couldn’t find anybody. They could all do it at the pre-production stage when the leather was flat, you know, before the before the ball was made. But the whole notion of printing onto a curved surface was was, was beyond most people.

00:13:46:08 – 00:13:51:09

Richard Askam

So I again, a little bit like with the personalization business, couldn’t find anybody to do it, so I had to do it myself.

00:13:51:20 – 00:13:57:07

Jane Farnham

So why did they not choose to do it pre-production?

00:13:57:07 – 00:14:17:08

Richard Askam

Because everybody would have to be called Steve. You can’t you can’t do individual personalization to order next day. If there’s only one name on it, they could have done a Carlsberg football, certainly no problem. Branded but personalized at this point, they wanted to have Jane on one, Richard on another, Steve on another, ordered on a website and delivered the next day.

00:14:17:08 – 00:14:20:07

Richard Askam

That was what they wanted. 

00:14:20:07 – 00:14:20:14

Jane Farnham

So the ball had to be ready to go.

00:14:20:22 – 00:14:41:21

Richard Askam

Absolutely. It was a gifting proposition rather than a marketing proposition. So, so we set about the task, couldn’t solve it, couldn’t do that gig, missed the opportunity with Carlsberg. But what we did do is create a business called ball picks, pictures on balls. That wasn’t a very long meeting. And to be able to personalize footballs and rugby balls with people’s names and with people’s photos.

00:14:41:21 – 00:14:55:22

Richard Askam

And again, the first, as it turned out, the first people in the world doing that. And as a result, we’ve ended up with some fabulous relationships. Gilbert Rugby is probably the one that most rugby fans will be familiar with, and we’ve now exported those to 68 countries.

00:14:56:20 – 00:15:06:21

Jane Farnham

This is quite fascinating, you know. Now you’re also a personalization experience ambassador for Fespa. Tell us what Fespa is and what you’re probably as well.

00:15:06:21 – 00:15:31:11

Richard Askam

Fespa is a global print association, originally founded for screen printers, but actually has grown well beyond that, much more into the graphics industry and wide format printing and digital print. And of course, my my sort of speaking work since 2016 has largely been in that world because of my association with the Coca-Cola campaign, although it’s sort of fallen out of the side to to other events as well.

00:15:31:20 – 00:15:54:06

Richard Askam

But I was asked last year to come to Bruges and give a keynote on the future of personalization. Really, Where did I think it would go? Which is wonderful because you can future gaze all you like. Nobody can prove you wrong. So I was very happy to stand and pontificate and in the audience, front row, the audience, unbeknownst to me, again, you know, you never know who’s in the room, was the CEO of Facebook and a lovely guy called Neil Felton.

00:15:54:15 – 00:16:15:21

Richard Askam

And he collared me after my speech and said, We’ve been wanting to do a personalization show, an event, an exhibition conference for years. But but we needed to get everybody inside the room to do that, to have that sort of 360 degree view of the whole opportunity. Would you like to front the show because everybody seems to know you for what you’ve done.

00:16:16:03 – 00:16:39:03

Richard Askam

You’d be a great ambassador for for the show. So I thought about it for about 3 seconds and went, Yeah, why not? And here I am sitting here today. I feel as though I should have a tray of Ferrero Rocher’s as an ambassador, but they haven’t given me that yet. So I am now the ambassador for the, the personalization experience, which is a three day event that will happen in Munich in May.

00:16:39:15 – 00:16:58:07

Jane Farnham

Oh, that’s really something to look forward to, isn’t it? And to just add on final note, then, obviously, you know, I can see that you love speaking and you get a buzz from speaking and obviously marketing, which is where it all started. But what in terms of your content, who’s who do you talk to and what do you talk about?

00:16:58:07 – 00:17:09:06

Jane Farnham

Is it largely marketing or is it inspiration in terms of, you know, giving people drive and telling them how to make things happen? Talk to me, talk to me through what you talk about.

00:17:09:16 – 00:17:25:23

Richard Askam

It’s kind of a bit of all of those things really, because, you know, I don’t, as an audience member, I don’t one person I don’t want one person to say one thing to me because then you largely know what, what you’re going to get and there’s no surprises. And and in a way, we’re not very good as human beings is tuning in to things that are preordained.

00:17:25:23 – 00:17:45:00

Richard Askam

So I try and sort of cover, use my story, use my background and an awful lot of anecdotal evidence. I mean, 30 years in the wine business gives you more stories than you could ever think of. But applying them to the room that I’m in, the audience that is there and to the client because, you know, ultimately my job and my responsibilities to the client who has booked me to speak.

00:17:45:06 – 00:18:09:21

Richard Askam

What would they like me to emphasize? What would they like me to use my content to emphasize for their outcome? Because these things shouldn’t be about me. I’m really just the vehicle by which they make their point in a way that people hadn’t heard before. And I’m a big fan of that, telling an old story in a new way is something that I really enjoy doing because my single goal, Jane, always has been and always will be as a speaker for the people in the audience to go, Hmm, I hadn’t thought of it that way.

00:18:10:05 – 00:18:21:16

Richard Askam

And if you can provoke people to think differently, they can do it themselves. They don’t need somebody like me to tell them what to do. They just almost need somebody like me to give them permission to think it.

00:18:21:16 – 00:18:46:08
Jane Farnham
That’s brilliant. Honestly, it’s been fascinating talking to you. It sounds like I could sit and chat maybe over wine all evening and learn so much from it. But thank you so much for your time today. It’s been brilliant. And if you’d like to book branding speaker Richard simply contact myself or Steve at greatbritishtalent.com on 01753439289 or you can always email bookings@greatbritishtalent.com.

00:18:46:11 – 00:18:47:15

Jane Farnham

Richard thanks once again.

00:18:48:04 – 00:18:48:18

Richard Askam

My pleasure.

 

You can also catch the Great British Speakers Podcast series on your favourite podcast platform:

Spotify, Apple logos and links etc

Call +44 1753 439 289 or email Great British Speakers now to book branding speaker Richard Askam for your next event.
Contact us.

Richard-Askam-branding speaker personalisation digital-print-entrepreneur-at-Great-British-Speakers

Richard Askam branding speaker at Great British Speakers

Other Podcast

Elevate Your Corporate Event with a Health and Wellness Motivational Speaker
Incorporating health and wellness into your 2024 corporate events, can transform the way your team approaches their personal and professional lives. So get your team ready to kickstart the new year on a high note ... read more
VIEW ARTICLE
The Cost of hiring a keynote speaker in the UK at bureau agent Great British Speakers
Hiring a keynote speaker for your event is a valuable investment for your company. Whilst using an internal staff member might seem cheaper, their expertise and impartiality may not be up to scratch. The Cost ... read more
VIEW ARTICLE
Best Speakers for International Men's Day at agent bureau Great British Speakers
International Men’s Day (IMD) takes place on 19th November and is a global celebration of the positive role that men bring to society, communities and the family. While acknowledging men’s positive contributions and achievements, IMD ... read more
VIEW ARTICLE