GULFSTREAM, THE FOOD AGENCY WITH A FRENCH FLAVOUR

Over the past 25 years, Gulfstream has forged itself a stronghold in the food and food-processing world in France both for strategy consulting and the implementation of advertising plans.  From a “raw” product to a transformed product, the Gulfstream team works on all food subjects with the same philosophy: disseminate a positive influence (l’influence positive®), the agency’s byline.

Laurence Demeure, the agency’s Sales Manager and Coordinator of the GS&CO network, does not want turnkey solution advertising or promotional recipes that damage the sustainable value of publicity operations and therefore brands:  “The aim of the ‘positive influence’ principle is more to change perceptions and behaviour once and for all.  An objective that calls for the right messages to be conveyed to the right target at the right time and for the results to be meticulously monitored.”

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A “silo” management approach is applied to the agency’s 80 employees from the world of advertising, PR, digital systems or promotional activation.  “We do not rest on our professional laurels, we grow with our customers and their ecosystems and never hesitate to ramp up our competency whenever necessary.”

This is the leitmotiv that Emmanuelle Frenel- Audouin, the specialist Food Consultant Manager, applies to drive relations with brands.  “Agencies must not disregard the requirements of distribution if our customers are to have a chance of seeing their operations in stores.  Our core business is still customer communication but we must also be able to integrate the issues and constraints specific to Trade Marketing”.

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“The agency alongside advertisers”- this is how its founder, Vincent Houdou, describes the position of Gulfstream, an independent structure that made a turnover of 9 million in 2016.

The agency’s 50 loyal customers for over 5 years include brands such as the Lactalis Group (Président, Galbani), Bordeau Chesnel, Val de Rance ciders and cooperatives and interprofessional organisations such as the Coopérative de Pommes de Terre ‘La Noirmoutier’ (Noirmoutier potatoes), the Interprofession du Bétail et des Viandes (INTERBEV – cattle and meat) and the Comité Interprofessionnel des Produits d’Aquaculture (CIPA – aquaculture products).

Since 2015, the Gulfstream agency has been the flagship of the international network, GS&Co, the contraction of “Gulfstream & Co”, working on behalf of foreign brands and interprofessional organisations on the French market.

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Marianne Malone, expert on the United Kingdom

When she graduated in Philosophy from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Marianne had little idea of which sector she would enjoy working in. A one-year contract as an assistant in French at a prestigious private school took her to London and she decided to stay, loving the buzz of a big city and the opportunities it offers. Following a secretarial course and a first ‘proper job’ in an estate agency, she joined Europa Nostra, a charitable organisation specialising in the protection of the European built heritage, followed by a one-year project for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  She always enjoyed cooking, though. “My mother is a fantastic cook, she can prepare a meal for twelve without batting an eyelid. I’m more of a ‘fusion’ cook, and I enjoy preparing meals for two or four people. Presentation is key to me. And home-made ice creams!”

It was Olivier Dubuquoy who gave Marianne her first job in food and wine.  She started as a ‘temp’ in the Public Relations team at Sopexa UK, followed by a maternity cover for the Group Product Manager for Fruit & Vegetables. Then Olivier offered Marianne a permanent position in the food department. Over the years, she worked on major above- and below-the-line campaigns for Le Crunch apples, as well as a trade and consumer launch for Pink Lady© apples and Lesieur’s Isio4 oil, summer fruits, lamb’s lettuce from Nantes, and oversaw an EU-funded campaign to promote the benefits of European olive oil in the UK. She also monitored food safety issues, including ‘Mad Cow Disease’ and avian ‘flu.

After fifteen years or so at Sopexa where she became Director of the Food Department, Marianne decided to go freelance and team up with her husband, a TV technology journalist, editing the Inside Satellite TV newsletter and helping him run four-day conferences on at the international TV markets MIPCOM and MIPTV in Cannes twice-yearly. She also organises regular seminars for the Marketing Communications Group of the British Chartered Institute of Public Relations and worked for Italian importer Fine Italian Foods until they were bought out by Castello.

Marianne and her husband recently restored a small village house on the Ionian island of Lefkas. Inspired by Greek produce and lifestyle, her blog www.theroadtoataraxia.wordpress.com talks about food and life on a small island.  ‘Ataraxia’ means ‘absence of worries’ or ‘serenity’ in ancient Greek philosophy – it is also the name of Marianne’s favourite South African wine. In life as well as in dreams, philosophy and gastronomy often meet…

Olivier Dubuquoy, specialist in international projects

Currently based in Barcelona, Olivier is much more than GS & Co’s local contact given his specialised expertise in international strategies. There is, moreover, a common theme to Olivier’s career: the fact that he has consistently worked on challenges overseas, and therefore all over the world.

His first job after gaining his degree in agricultural engineering in Paris was based in Mexico. Once back in Paris, he worked in the phytosanitary and veterinary business of the Roussel Uclaf group as international product manager then head of the Maghreb, Southern Europe and South America areas. He then left the capital to embark on a new career in the economic department of the French Embassy in London, where he was assigned to agricultural affairs.

On a visit to Washington D.C., Olivier discovered a new practice not yet known in France called lobbying. Charged with representing French interests and commercial activities for the embassy, he handled a number of serious food crises in particular (including listeria in cheese, benzene in Perrier, procymidone in wines).

He returned to London just as Sopexa was beginning to set itself up as an independent communication agency. He managed the Group’s sites in the UK and Southern Ireland for 5 years and headed up the management of some fifty inter-trade accounts including thirty in the wine sector. In this role, he took up a new challenge: how to deal with the arrival of New World and notably Australian wines on this market.

Olivier then set off for Spain where he initiated the development of Sopexa’s private label clients on the Iberian Peninsula. Here, he opted for integrating French products into Spanish cultural customs and developed partnerships with local stakeholders. This was how French cheese became an ingredient of choice for tapas!

He was then appointed Company Secretary of the Group, then Sales Director, before leaving Sopexa for new challenges. Now at the head of his own consulting company, he undertakes international projects for collectives (Conseil Oléicole International – management of USA-Canada, China and Russia advertising campaigns for 18 months; Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency [KOTRA] – approaching European markets) and also acts as an expert assessor for the European Union and other international organisations.

Olivier has contributed a great deal to the knowledge base of GS & Co with his multi-market expertise and detailed understanding of the economic, political and technical implications of collective and generic campaigns.

FFK, 3 letters shaking up PR in Germany

6 years ago, Meike Frers, Elke Fierenz and Jan Koch decided to set up their own public relations agency in Hamburg. Called FFK, this agency was the natural extension of a working relationship dating back over 10 years. With their complementary skills and shared vision, the partners offer innovative independent and bespoke consulting to wine & food brands and collectives.

Since its inception, the agency has tripled its staff and now has 14 strategic and operational public relations and media experts. Their clients represent the whole spectrum of culinary arts (food products, wines or lifestyle), with private organisations or collective marks such as Vinho Verde, Ribera del duero, Rioja, Côte du Rhône and so on.

In 2016, FFK was ranked among the top 500 most dynamic companies by the German business magazine “Focus”. However,  rapid growth is not the objective of Meike Frers and her 2 partners: ‘our priority is not expanding as quickly as possible but fostering human, socially engaged and responsible activities and forging long-term partnerships with our clients who rely on high quality advice. ”

All lovers of good food and wine enthusiasts, the agency’s 3 co-founders are personally involved in each project and the FFK added value stems from their detailed knowledge of audiences and a “liberated” approach to public relations. The agency provides advice on and implements a wide spectrum of mechanisms aimed at both professionals and consumers, offering an unconventional approach to press relations, from content production to professional events, including point of sale promotions and digital media coverage.

“Open-mindedness is an important feature of our approach and we have identified this same quality in the GS&CO network. Hence, we decided to share our knowledge of the German market and the business in the form of a multicultural cooperation.’

                                                    

Damien De Koninck, Belgian strategist

He made his debut in cosmetics before taking the route of wine and food products. After leading teams at Sopexa Benelux for many years, he has gradually refined his vision of consumer products marketing before going on to create his own model. His greatest source of motivation? Integrating the logics of creativity and innovation with strategic thinking. His favourite word: agility.

Damien has always been passionate about marketing, since the time of his education in Business School. Having cut his teeth in the L’Oréal group in Belgium where he participated in repositioning the Vichy brand, he decided to move from the health sector to the food sector, motivated by the idea of setting up communication actions to promote quality food products.  His passion for business was up and running.

Over 13 years, he was first the manager of the wines and spirits sector, then the marketing director (for all sectors), then director of the Belgian and Dutch subsidiary at Sopexa. He developed a structure on the model of communication agencies, modernising the strategic approach of the collective. The digital became a central lever for building bridges between the image and sales, enabling a more holistic response to the challenges of advertising.

Among his past references, he counts many collectives such as the wines of Loire, Alsace and Bordeaux, the cheeses of France or the Label Rouge, but also brands such as Entremont, Lesieur, Princesse Amandine, brands that are well-known in France and wishing to expand in Belgium. Armed with his bicultural knowledge, he is familiar with local subtleties and has mastered the art of how to approach the Belgian, Flemish and Francophone markets.

In 2013, he created Strat & Com (www.stratecom.be), a consulting agency for marketing and communication. A multi-skilled agency working with an agile model, without sectoral specialisation, in the service of creativity. Creativity that he wants to develop at the collective level, since he is currently working on a new method of co-creation… which he is waiting impatiently to try out!

Michel Le Roux, expert on the Netherlands

He moved to the Netherlands 25 years ago where he promotes French wine and cuisine through the power of emotion. His career proves that in group marketing and PR, you can be both a dreamer and a killer! 

After graduating from preparatory school and the Paris Institute of Political Studies, Michel began his career in a publishing house, a far cry from cuisine and wine.

It was only when he arrived in the Netherlands that he began his second life in French business and the universe of trade organisations. He joined Sopexa and was appointed head of its wines department (CIVA Alsace, CIVCP Provence, Rhône, Bordeaux sup, Viniflor, Beaujolais, etc). Michel knew that by renewing consumer experience, market shares would develop. By introducing electronic musical scenes, rosé wines created a new trend. With that impetus, shares in distribution increased from 0.6% to 10% in just 10 years.

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Michel pursued his career at De Waal, Zey & Engels, as Marketing Director for major French producers, such as Bougrier, Moueix, Romanée-Conti, Loron, Prunier, etc., as well as for ‘’new world’’ wines (Montes, Salentein, Yellow Tale etc.) .

In 2002 he founded Alterego, an agency specialised in Food, Drink & Culture, and developed his agri-food expertise, namely by working for Andros, Unilever, Haust, Dilmah and Aldi. With his new structure, ‘‘Rethinking the Box’’, he specialises in sensorial marketing applied to food (Carousel of Senses, IDish) and also develops innovative socio-cultural projects with emerging countries.

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