On May 26, Panasonic of North America announced Betty Noonan as its head of marketing and branding, roles that had been separate at the company.
After studying psychology and marketing at Rochester Institute of Technology, she held nearly "every job in marketing there was" at Eastman Kodak, Noonan said in an interview -- from general manager and vice president of photo services to vice president of worldwide marketing. She saw Kodak through its transition from film to digital after the introduction of digital photography. She left the company in February after 25 years.
Noonan spoke with FINS about why she took the job, her goals for the brand and how marketers can build their skills.
Chris Prentice: How does your background in psychology help you in marketing?
Betty Noonan: Marketing is all about taking consumer insights and turning them into sales. Psychology helps [you] understand those insights. The combination of the disciplines has really worked for me.
CP: You were at Kodak for 25 years. Why Panasonic?
BN: I looked at Panasonic, and it was almost love at first sight. While the brand is so familiar to so many people, it felt sleepy in the marketplace. What I was looking for was a brand challenge. I was chomping at the bit.
CP: What's first on your list for revitalizing the brand?
BN: Job number one is to reintroduce Panasonic as a thought leader. It's a humble brand: They make great products and tend to not step up and take credit for innovations. Panasonic lost its voice in the last couple of years.
CP: How will your experience at Kodak help?
BN: I have deep experience in managing the brand when it was at the top of the industry. I managed the film business through an era when it was huge, global and healthy. I also had the experience of seeing the brand go through a monstrous transformation with the introduction of digital photography.
Managing a brand through that type of transition is not something everyone has been able to do. I have that unique capability. The reason I am here is that deep marketing expertise. I am a lover of brands, and I think I can instill spirit back into the Panasonic brand and into its employees.
CP: Panasonic has been laying off employees. More layoffs are planned. Will you be expanding your team?
BN: What I have found in my three weeks here are some really talented marketers. But it's not a company that's been focused on marketing in a long time. As our marketing begins to hit its stride, I am sure we would be looking to supplement the staff. But I do not have specific plans yet.
CP: Do you have any advice for people who want to get into marketing?
BN: My oldest daughter is just going off to college. I have been convincing her to focus on anthropology. This is not just digging up rocks. It's the study of cultures.
Write to Chris Prentice