Richard Askam is a digital entrepreneur, brand consultant and marketing speaker who created successful personalised campaigns for the likes of Unilever, Barclays, Vodafone, McVities and perhaps most famously, Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke‘ campaign – before an opportunity to speak at a conference in the UK changed everything! After receiving some incredible feedback on his skills as a marketing speaker and storyteller, Richard made the long-yearned leap to become a full-time motivational business and marketing speaker and, now hosts talks on business and branding, to clients all over the world.
Here’s Richard invites us into his life – a bit of history about how Richard’s career started and how he’s gone on to be one of the country’s leading business and brand consultants in the UK today, and an in-demand marketing speaker.
Find out more about Richard on his bio page HERE
Perhaps it was somebody else’s life as it seems so long ago, but my working life started in the UK wine trade in 1983. Born into a family of wine merchants, there was never any doubt that I was going to join the family business, and after stints in London, Germany and Italy learning all aspects of the trade, that was me sorted. A wine merchant doesn’t call it drinking….they call it research!
Fast forward to 2008, and with a declining business caused by many factors – change was needed and fast. A growing wine gift business coupled with the internet seemed to provide a way forward but it needed a usp. One of those 3am moments came along that if we can produce customised own labels on wines for the restaurant and hotel trade, how hard could it be to produce personalised labels for gifts? The answer: really hard! Nobody in the UK was prepared to print a single label for a single bottle of wine and then pack it, wrap it and send it to a UK address by mail – in case it broke.
Solution? I rented a warehouse next door to my wine business, bought some buckets and a few laser printers, hired some staff, bought some wallpaper scrapers and started the UK’s first dedicated personalised wine gift business for the Internet age called InterVino. It worked instantly, Christmas 2008 saw us scrape the labels off over 15,000 bottles of wine and replace them with some artfully designed personalised labels, taking great care for the new label to look like an actual wine label but with the buyer’s chosen name as the wine.
2009/10 – I launched the personalised alcohol gift categories at Moonpig, Interflora, Notonthehighstreet and John Lewis along with many more dotcom gift businesses that were launching every week it seemed. More warehouses came, more buckets, more staff and lots more printers. Eventually, I persuaded my wine suppliers to supply me with the wine with no front labels on…the buckets were thrown out!
2014 – an email landed in my inbox asking me to work with Coca-Cola on their Share a Coke campaign. I had arrived in the Champions League….1.5 million bottles of personalised Coke in 3 months, not a bad summer.
Richard Askam – My career as a marketing speaker
2016 – After being asked to speak at a conference in Windsor on my experiences to date, somebody suggested I should do speaking full time. After 33 years in the “ drinks “ business, I was ready for a change. So, I sold my shares in the business and re-invented my working life as a full time keynote speaker. It worked…I’ve since spoken in 17 countries and that continues to this day.
but one thing led to another…
2018 – At one of the events I was speaking at, I was asked if I knew someone who could make individual personalised Footballs for that years Euros. Of course I said yes….how hard could it be? Impossible it turns out to print on the curved surface of a ball post manufacture, so history repeated itself and I set up a company to add personalised photos to footballs called Ballpix. I challenged our print partners to find a solution and after 2 short and painful years, they did. And not only footballs, but Rugby balls too.
Football is a very mature commercial world and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t break down the walls of Jericho of what is essentially a closed shop. So, I approached Gilbert Rugby – the best known brand in the world about a partnership deal. We would offer their match balls as personalised gifts – we have now exported these to over 60 countries.
2021/today – I approached England Rugby about personalised balls as a licensed product but strangely, they seemed more interested in my ever growing retailer network than the product itself as they seek to grow the brand outside of the traditional club shop. I also discovered that their biggest selling merchandise product was…Baby Grows! Who knew….
Then the thought came into my head, what about a personalised Children’s storybook for boys and girls of all shapes and sizes, specifically about rugby and uniquely, about England Rugby. They loved this and as I write this, we are 14 days away from the launch of the books on the 1st day of the 6 Nations tournament for 2023. This will be followed by books licensed with many National sporting organisations across the world to encourage healthy living, exercise and aspiration for our children.
From Bottles to Balls to Books – in only 40 years, I wonder what’s next….?
If you’re looking for a sales and marketing speaker, take a look at some of the best in the business HERE, including advertising, creatives, digital disruptors like the founder of marketing agency Fanbytes, Timothy Armoo and gurus like Seth Godin, and Dragons Dens Steven Bartlett.
Voted No 1 marketing speaker at Hewlett-Packard’s Global US conference, and was honoured to host his own TedTalk in 2017, which you can watch here. Richard is now travelling more than ever, and enjoying every minute, which is evident if you have ever seen his stagecraft as a marketing speaker. Richard is, above all, engaging, witty and demonstrative – he is one of the best storytellers of his generation!