Staff Reporters
Jun 17, 2021

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Andrew Hicks, Woolworths

The long-time Woolworths marketer continues to ride on the collectables craze and strengthen the supermarket's purpose work, from tackling hunger to food waste to the declining bee population.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Andrew Hicks, Woolworths
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers

Andrew Hicks

Chief marketing officer
Woolworths Group
Member since 2020

Look up Andrew Hicks in a search engine and you’ll see dozens of stories about the purpose-led marketing he has driven at Woolworths, keeping the supermarket in the headlines for all the right reasons. 

In his first year in the CMO capacity, following his promotion in August 2019, Hicks faced a range of unforeseen challenges, including bushfires, drought and the impact of Covid-19, that influenced his decision to prioritise developing and acting on the supermarket’s purpose. For his work, he was featured in the Power List class of 2020.

After realising the value Woolworths can provide to the community, the past year has seen the brand sharpening its purpose work, from tackling hunger to food waste to the declining bee population.

In July 2020, amid a sharp rise in the number of Australians seeking food relief as Covid-19 plunged many into economic hardship, Woolworths jointly launched a national campaign with News Corp Australia to encourage donations to Feed Appeal, a not-for-profit that provides grants to local food-relief charities. Woolworths kicked off the appeal with a $100,000 donation—equivalent to 200,000 meals. More than 1 million meals were donated by Woolworths shoppers following the campaign.

Then there’s Woolworths’ biggest campaign in recent years: the launch of ‘Ooshies’ collectable toys. First rolled out in 2019 in partnership with Disney to chime with the release of the Lion King film, ‘Ooshies’ returned with a bang in 2020 with a collection of toys from across the Disney+ universe, including characters from Marvel, Star Wars, Disney and Pixar. The campaign was designed to bring “more magic” to customers navigating the challenges of the pandemic, Hicks said. To reduce plastic waste, Woolworths renewed its recycling program with TerraCycle for pre-loved Ooshies. The Disney+ Ooshies promotion ended early due to “extraordinary demand”.

A few weeks later, Woolworths launched another collectables program: a thoughtful initiative designed to tackle food waste as the festive season approached, with a seven-piece stackable set of glass containers. Purpose was also baked into the brand’s 2020 Christmas campaign, which focused on encouraging Australians to share, support local farmers and producers, and give generously back to the community.

In March, Hicks oversaw a marketing stunt in which the shelves of one Sydney’s Woolworths locations were stripped of fruit, vegetables and other products that would be under threat if the bee population disappeared. The stunt was designed to start a conversation about the importance of pollination in Australia’s food supply. It also aligned with the return of the supermarket’s Discovery Garden promotion, in which shoppers can collect seedling kits. The new kits focused on educating Australians about honeybees, with all but two of the seedlings designed to attract the all-important insects.

On the business front, Hicks drove the creation of an ‘innovation hub’ model for Woolworths Group. Launched in September, this brings into one building the company’s digital arm, WooliesX, creative agency Greenhouse (powered by M&C Saatchi), and media businesses Cartology and BIGWX. The ambition is to accelerate brand growth through creativity and connected experiences, Hicks said.

Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers


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