Meet the Maker: AG Barr

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Vicky Lawless-Mitchell tells of working at AG Barr

What’s your brand’s story? When was it founded and what are its goals?

AG Barr was founded in 1875 when Robert Barr started producing and selling soft drinks from a small factory in Falkirk. Today, we operate across the globe, with our overarching purpose to create value for our customers, consumers, shareholders and for society as a whole.

At the company’s heart are some of Britain’s and the world’s best-loved soft drinks – such as the iconic Irn-Bru that launched in 1901, our vibrant Rubicon fruit and juice drinks, our innovative Rubicon Raw energy drink and our unique Barr flavours range.

How long have you worked at AG Barr?Headshot of Vicky Lawless Mitchell

I’ve been with AG Barr for almost 14 years. The time has just flown by, driven by the fact I work with incredible people who genuinely care about our business and who are always there to help each other. I’m lucky that I love my job and I’m always proud when I tell people where I work.

What’s your role?

I lead the customer marketing team, which incorporates category insights, shopper activation and e-commerce. The team is spread across the UK, from Scotland to London and everywhere in between!

We work to deliver both shopper and market insights to our internal teams as well as our external customers. Working with our customers and our brand and sales teams, we bring our campaigns to life for the shopper.

Describe the production process?

Now that would be telling! Irn-Bru is made to an original secret recipe with 32 flavours and that’s about as much as I can tell you on that.

What we are really proud of at the moment is the work we’re doing throughout the production process to reduce our impact on the planet.

Last year, we launched our No Time to Waste sustainability programme. A few highlights are that all Irn-Bru and Rubicon 500ml bottles are now made from 100% recycled plastic, we were the first to offer a paper straw in a paper wrapper on small juice packs and all of our UK sites use fossil-free electricity.

What’s a typical working day like for you?

It can range from being in customer meetings through to supporting my team on larger projects such as our new Category Vision or our channel strategies.

I spend quite a bit of time working with my peers on shaping and developing our customer and brand plans, and building the capability of our sales function.

What is a standout memory from your time at AG Barr?

The standout for me was how we responded during Covid. The focus was to keep up morale and ensure everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing was being looked after.

We had goody boxes sent out, “walk and talks” where people were encouraged to get away from their desks and time set aside in the diary just to check in on each other and make sure our friends and colleagues at work were OK.

What’s your favourite flavour/variant and why?

Without a doubt it has to be Irn-Bru. It’s what I’ve grown up with since I was little and has always been my favourite. Irn-Bru Xtra is my favourite variant – extra taste with no sugar.

What do you think sets Irn-Bru apart?

There’s so much fun to be had with Irn-Bru and we love finding new ways to engage with our Scottish fans. This year, we focused on the fact that fans can’t agree on the taste that makes it so special.

Three new cheeky TV ads have been a hit with shoppers, who can all at least agree that Irn-Bru tastes phenomenal!

How do you think retailers can make the most of your Irn-Bru?

Retailers can maximise the opportunity Irn-Bru provides in three ways. Firstly, ensuring they have the full range – Regular, Sugar Free, Xtra, 1901 and Energy, to cater for different shopper needs.

Secondly, maintaining strong visibility of the brand so that shoppers can find it in store.

Thirdly, having some fun with our in-store communications that will really engage customers on their soft drinks shopping mission.