Jill Kluge, chief marketing officer of hotel chain Mandarin Oriental, has officially stepped down after 30 years at the company.
Kluge began in a PR role at Mandarin Oriental, rising to global director of brand communications in 2000 and then chief marketing officer in 2019.
Kluge will continue in a part-time position as brand advisor for Mandarin Oriental, which is known for its “I’m a fan” series of ads, an ongoing campaign since 1998.
In April, Joanna Flint, who had spent the previous 12 years with Google in Singapore, left the internet company to take a new global role as chief commercial officer at Mandarin Oriental. The company confirmed at the time that Flint's position would "supersede" that of the CMO as Kluge prepared to depart.
The "fan" campaign was created by Michael Mozsynski and Alan Jarvi when they were at M&C Saatchi. Later, when the pair set up London Advertising, they won the account back in 2009.
Starting at the brand in 1991, Kluge has worked on the hotel chain's marketing strategy as it has grown from seven properties in Asia, to 13, with a further 20 in development.
Speaking to Campaign, she cites the move from print to digital as the obvious major change in her role, as well as the increase in the group of people she and her team has to reach, which now includes influencers, celebrities and digital news outlets as well as print newspapers such as The Financial Times.
Talking directly to customers was also “unheard of” when Kluge started her career. “In those days, PR was all about media and print, it was simply getting your name in the titles that mattered. It was a pretty straightforward thing, you got to know the editors and entertained them well, and they wrote wonderful things about you in return for dinner at your best restaurant," she said.
Mandarin Oriental’s “I’m a fan” brand campaign has featured a series of celebrities over the years with the first being businessman Sir David Tang. Since then, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson and Dame Helen Mirren have all starred in the ads. Rather than being paid a fee, celebrities who appear in the ads are given money to donate to a charity of their choice.
Kluge added: "This campaign has become integral to us as a company and what’s fantastic about it is that we can adapt it all the time by bringing in new celebrities. It’s unlike a typical celebrity campaign. We never asked them to star in the ad until we knew they'd stay in our hotel."
Ultimately, though, the campaign’s message has remained unchanged since its inception. According to Ipsos Mori, the campaign achieves the highest ad recall it has ever recorded – 57%.
Kluge said: “Chief marketing officers change every two, three years and obviously want to put a stamp on what they believe is the right tone of voice and, and, and have a successful campaign behind them. But if there is already a successful message, and you have a clear and consistent tagline, you wouldn't change it.”