Q&A with Kolja Eikelmann, CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries

CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries
Kolja Eikelmann, CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries is a forward thinking and result-driven Marketing expert with 20 years of experience in the FMCG marketing industry. 

In this Q&A, Kolja shares his unique marketing experiences and gives us interesting insights about PPG Industries, a global supplier of paints, coatings, optical products, and specialty materials which is driving innovation, sustainability and color in the industry.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into Marketing?
KOLJA EIKELMANN:
I wouldn’t be able to say when I first realised marketing was the path for me, but I think it’s been evident my whole life that I’m interested in the diversity that marketing allows. Since childhood, I have always been so fascinated with the details of a product, no matter what it is. I have an endless sense of curiosity and I think that was the major driving factor for me to enter the world of marketing.

I realised marketing might be for me when I discovered the unique opportunity it offers to be involved in all spectrums of the business; not just advertising, but also in creating solutions and analysing outcomes. The overarching goal is always to make a real difference and help people in their daily lives, and marketing allows you to both be a part of the solution as well as a witness to the outcomes.

My job with PPG is very colourful – just like my company! Within my one job title I get to explore innovation, creativity and analysis. This variety has always been appealing to me.

M7: You have an exemplary marketing experience of more than 20 years in the FMCG industry. How have the marketing dynamics changed over these years and what tactics do you feel modern marketers should adopt, to survive in this competitive world?
KE: 
As you would expect of any industry in the 21st century, marketing is constantly changing and increasing in complexity in this digital age. The increasing presence of digital media and the growing demand for ease-of-access online services, has resulted in the field growing broader than ever before. The possibilities now are numerous, but they are fragmented; you must be truly dedicated to the field to build the knowledge base of marketing tools required to thrive in such a climate. Ultimately, PPG wants to produce work that has the greatest impact on businesses, this was arguably easier in the past when you had a traditional, simple media mix, as opposed to now when success depends on mastering traditional media and online outlets, social media and digital advertising tools.

For example, it can be easy to spend a lot of money on Google ads that are expected to be high value, but instead, organizations might see greater return on sales if the money had been allocated to a faster and more agile response to SEO.

In marketing, it can be easy to get caught up in the creativity of the work – as that is most often our strength – but not fully immersing yourself in the analytical side of things is a mistake that is often reflected in outcomes. I would recommend that every marketer should always make sure to know their KPIs inside and out and try to get as familiar with Excel spreadsheets and analysis as they are with the creative work.

In this constantly changing modern landscape, marketing has become even more important than ever before. Specifically, in the paints and coatings industry, marketing was a late bloomer as it has been driven by shelf sales for so long. However, as an industry we are refocusing on innovation and purpose; and pushing the boundaries on what is expected from paints and coatings and what they can do. PPG aims to improve and protect the world through our products – but none of this is possible without proper marketing to support the business.


"A focus on our customers, our innovation, our people and our entrepreneurial way of working – are all elements that inspired the One PPG vision, and what most accurately represents the key to our successful way of working."

M7: Your work experience spans across highly complex matrix organizations to entrepreneurial and start-up businesses. What do you believe is your driving force behind your proven track records and achievements?
KE: 
I am very proud to say I have left behind a strong track record of positive differences within the companies in which I am working. Although I have worked in many different, seemingly unrelated industries, the knowledge and tools that I learnt at each step along the way continue to prove invaluable for each new challenge I face. From paints, to dairy, to cosmetics – your collective marketing knowledge spans across whichever business you are a part of. Once you’ve built up this knowledge base, the true challenge is not having the tools but knowing which tools to use and when.

I have always been most drawn to companies that challenge me to make a difference. This is how I’ve shaped my career and how I made my decisions on where to work.

M7: How well do you believe that a service-oriented and data-driven leadership approach along with business strategy and operational execution can lead to company growth with an upsurge in revenue/sales?
KE: 
I strongly believe in a service-oriented and data-driven leadership approach, as well as incorporating social and ethical capabilities. Data-driven leadership is the key to the future – in many industries – but especially in marketing. The industry today is all about knowing your KPIs and business cases, which are data rich. Working in marketing is about being able to positively impact business outcomes, and that ultimately boils down to the ability to add value for your customers and consumers. Focussing on PPG work as a service-oriented industry highlights the need for data availability – both in that of the business and that of our customers – to be able to best consult and serve. Knowing your data is the key currency for success in the 21st century.

Data analysis can provide us with information such as click through rates and viewership. We are able to access tools now that, if used right, can prove invaluable to achieving successful outcomes. Being able to use this information to your advantage will allow you to instantly see whether your data retrieval is successful. Every business case and KPI that you set out to tackle can then be achieved using the data to measure sales growth.

M7: PPG Industries has been included in the list of American Fortune 500 companies. What do you think has made it possible to build a fortune for PPG industries?
KE: 
PPG has a strong culture of building the business across SBUs through investment, innovation and acquisition. We are one of the leading and largest paints and coatings companies in the world. This status is maintained by PPG’s culture of investing in R&D and constantly challenging the boundaries and expectations of the coatings world.

The opportunity to build our position as a market leader in many countries around the world is only possible through our global network and international approach. For example, our Alison Park facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a major hub of innovation for PPG – but work that is done there is often inspired by an idea from Europe, that itself was driven by a customer need from Asia. To stay on the frontlines we can’t sit still and be complacent. Our recent acquisition of Hemmelrath and a new plant in Tianjin, China is evidence of our strategy to expand our foothold, our abilities to deliver for customers and our capacity for innovation to maintain our position as a market leader.

PPG has many moving parts which all function in different areas of the world across different business units, but our central goal is to add customer value. A focus on our customers, our innovation, our people and our entrepreneurial way of working – are all elements that inspired the One PPG vision, and what most accurately represents the key to our successful way of working.


"Data-driven leadership is the key to the future – in many industries – but especially in marketing."


M7: How is PPG Industries’ tagline ‘WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD’ serving its purpose of enhancing the world through its paints and coating solutions?
KE: 
PPG is in every part of daily life – even if you don’t realise it. You touch and feel PPG in your living environment practically 24/7: from your car to an airplane, to your refrigerator, to your laptop or even your soda can. This tagline reflects how PPG’s paints and coatings cover every part of life. PPG products provide the expected functionality of adding a colour or coating to an object, but even more than that, PPG products enhance the longevity of an item and increase its appeal. Whether it is an electronics coating that makes a laptop feel smooth to the touch, or a coating that protects the body of an airplane from overheating in the sun. PPG’s mission is not to provide what is expected, but to offer innovative solutions to questions no one expected an answer for.

Environmental impact is one of the greatest concerns of the 21st century, for both our customers and us as manufacturers. As a business founded on mass production, it is our responsibility – and therefore our challenge – to be as positive a force as possible in the fight against climate change. This is why so many of our modern products are developed to align to both PPG’s mission of protecting the world and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: boat coatings that reduce friction and therefore reduce fuel consumption, aircraft windows that don’t need frames to reduce plane weight to help minimise carbon emissions, electric vehicle battery coatings that enable cars to travel for significantly longer periods of time per charge, increasing the viability of electric vehicles on roads. We are innovating with purpose – for the public, for our customers, for consumers and for our own PPG people.
The world cannot function without paints and coatings in our everyday life, and that’s why PPG’s tagline is so powerful. If we are going to continue to be a worldwide presence, we want to be sure we are making the world a more beautiful place in the most long-term, stable way possible.

M7: You have taken transformational business initiatives to foster incremental business changes and drive cultural change throughout the organization especially in dynamic business sectors. What are some of the advantages of taking such timely measures?
KE: 
As part of the global shift towards greater digitization, businesses have the opportunity to drive cultural change. Digital transformation is a key component, especially as peoples' buying habits are evolving and changing how they purchase products. This is acutely felt in Europe, with its variety of different countries, cultures and languages. From a marketing standpoint, the industry is offering incremental business changes in this new culture of on-demand. In the age of Amazon and digital transformation, people want easier and faster solutions from the paints and coatings industry. Customers want to get the job done as quickly and as easily as possible with support from the supplier. As a result, PPG is innovating to be more agile and fast, by developing architectural paints that take less time to dry or offering customers a more on-demand paint matching experience.


"A successful campaign is one tailored to the needs, style and audience of the customer."

M7: You have an amazing experience of working with top leading companies like Nestle, L’Oreal and currently PPG Industries, how influential was your role in transforming marketing tactics for these organizations?
KE: 
My roles in these organizations were really diverse. For L’Oréal, I was more into sales and worked within category management. This later proved very influential for my future marketing career as it introduced me to the integration between marketing and sales in helping to serve customers in the best way possible. Integrated communication between marketing and sales is an essential tool in connecting both ends with the business purpose while still staying customer focused. You need to drive your campaigns forward and also sell your products in a much more complex way that is completely focused on the customer’s view. In order to do this, you need to know what is best for the customer when you place your products within a category role. This requires a lot of analytical skills to convince a customer what is best for them. You need to oversee the whole thing and act almost as both an internal and external consultant for your company. This whole picture view of the marketing process really influenced my journey and helped me strengthen my skillset for my future roles, such as when I was head of digital for Nestle.

When it comes to marketing, you can’t just pick the most creative, 360 media campaign available and offer it to the client. A successful campaign is one tailored to the needs, style and audience of the customer. To be best at what we do, it is essential to build an in-depth understanding of your customer’s view and what is best for them. This experience came with me into my work for PPG in using this knowledge to establish myself in a more leading role. At PPG I am also the communicator in the company and need to understand everyone’s view and connect with all the different departments. I am not only the marketer in my department but I’m also responsible for looking at the whole value chain within this digital leading role. PPG has experienced double-digit growth in the past two years in both B2B and B2C and this success is down to how closely we collaborate here.

M7: Kolja, what is your super power?
KE:
I would say my super power is a combination of my visual and analytical skills, articulated through my courageous and enthusiastic mindset. Being able to both develop a specialized skill set and confidently acknowledge my areas of expertise and strength makes for a very beneficial cocktail to drive progress. Having empathy and other social skills are important to exert a positive influence within my team at PPG. However, these qualities should also be backed by facts – knowledge, experience and history -- which is a combination I have not seen in many people. Being self-confident and believing in my strengths is a powerful tool in business, and something that has greatly helped me along the way.

M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
KE:
I’m really driven by being up to date and well informed in as many areas as possible, and I would advise my younger self to do the exact same. I’ve always been a very curious person, but I would tell my younger self to be even more so and to take in as much information as possible. In this fast-moving world, that is just getting faster as we become more digital, there is always something new to learn or discover. If you remain stuck in one point of view or one way of thinking, you are already behind the curve. Stay flexible, stay interested and always remain in a constant state of learning.

ABOUT PPG INDUSTRIES

PPG: WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD™
At PPG (NYSE:PPG)
, we work every day to develop and deliver the paints, coatings and materials that our customers have trusted for more than 135 years. Through dedication and creativity, we solve our customers’ biggest challenges, collaborating closely to find the right path forward. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, we operate and innovate in more than 70 countries and reported net sales of $15.4 billion in 2018. We serve customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets. To learn more, visit www.ppg.com.

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Supernal, Hyundai WIA and Mecaer Aviation Group Partner to Accelerate eVTOL Landing Gear Development

PR Newswire | October 19, 2023

Supernal, Hyundai Motor Group's (HMG) Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) company, Hyundai WIA, a global automotive and aerospace parts manufacturer and Mecaer Aviation Group, an Italy-based global aeronautical company, announced today a partnership to design and manufacture landing gear systems for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles. Hyundai WIA specializes in mass manufacturing and precision machine tools, while Mecaer is experienced in designing and building aerospace-grade landing gear systems. The three partners are collaborating to improve the safety and overall performance of eVTOL vehicles by addressing weight, structural efficiency, energy absorption and electronic system integration in the landing gear design and manufacturing process. "Our collaboration with Hyundai WIA and Mecaer is a testament to Supernal's commitment to innovation and the highest standards of safety, design and manufacturing for Advanced Air Mobility," said Jaiwon Shin, president of Hyundai Motor Group and CEO of Supernal. "This partnership unites our collective strengths and expertise to deliver aerospace-grade eVTOL landing gear in record time and ensure their scalability and sustainability. These types of automotive and aerospace strategic alliances are key to the growth and success of our emerging industry." The partnership is critical to Supernal's efforts to pioneer high-scale production processes that will meet future demands of the AAM industry. The collaboration will support the business model—and streamline manufacturing—by incorporating state-of-the-art materials and efficient assembly technologies. "Hyundai WIA looks forward to leveraging our expertise from the automotive industry in large-scale parts manufacturing for the benefit of Supernal's upcoming eVTOL aircraft," said Jae-Wook Jung, president and CEO of Hyundai WIA. "We foresee significant potential to help demonstrate how cross-industry efficiencies can address enduring supply chain challenges, as well as the potential created by a new category of civil aviation." "We are especially proud to announce our participation in this industry-leading strategic partnership and to have teamed with Supernal and Hyundai WIA to design, develop and manufacture a fully integrated wheeled landing gear for the Advanced Air Mobility company's eVTOL vehicle," said Bruno Spagnolini, CEO, Mecaer. "We are extremely appreciative of the trust Supernal has shown in the ability of the Mecaer and Hyundai WIA team to produce and innovate its landing gear system." Supernal, Hyundai WIA and Mecaer held a signing ceremony for the partnership at the Seoul Air Show on October 18.

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Aviation Technology

Aviation Capital Group Announces Delivery of One A321neo to Spirit Airlines

PR Newswire | October 25, 2023

Garmin announced its latest aviator smartwatch – the D2™ Mach 1 Pro. Featuring a large AMOLED touchscreen display, up to 25 days of battery life1, an LED flashlight and more – D2 Mach 1 Pro is designed for the most demanding pilot lifestyles, including those who fly professionally. Sporting classic pilot watch styling and premium materials like sapphire and titanium, the D2 Mach 1 Pro is ready to be worn both in and out of the cockpit. With extensive aviation, health, fitness and smartwatch features – D2 Mach 1 Pro redefines what pilots should expect from their smartwatch. "This year marks 10 years of the D2 series – a smartwatch line that pilots have relied on to combine aviation tools with the latest smartwatch technology. The D2 Mach 1 Pro provides an extensive set of advanced capabilities that pilots use every day, all while touting battery life that can withstand even the long-haul commercial pilot trips. Features like the LED flashlight and large AMOLED display, combined with the high-end materials, make this the most premium-built D2 smartwatch yet." –Carl Wolf, Garmin Vice President of Aviation Sales and Marketing New features pilots will love A built-in LED flashlight offers variable white light intensities, a strobe function and red light for flight deck operations. Improved battery life touts up to 25 days in smartwatch mode and up to 46 hours in the Fly activity, perfect for the professional pilots who complete their trip over multiple days. Red Shift Mode changes the entire watch interface to shades of red to help preserve night vision, which provides for potentially clearer sight for demanding night flying conditions. The ECG app2 allows users to record their heart rhythm and check for signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib). Users can take a 30-second ECG recording and view the results immediately on their smartwatch and, optionally, later in the Garmin Connect™ smartphone app. When pilots aren't taking to the skies, they can get a better understanding of their fitness levels and track their performance with more than 30 built-in sports apps and advanced training features like hill score and endurance score. Designed for pilots Built for 24/7 wear, the carbon gray D2 Mach 1 Pro combines a durable design and premium materials like sapphire and titanium with a vibrant and sunlight-readable 1.4" AMOLED display. The 51mm watch case features a diamond-like carbon (DLC) titanium bezel and stainless steel 5-button design, allowing for quick access to flying tools, fitness stats, smart notifications3 and more – all on the responsive touchscreen interface. Compatible with a wide variety of metal, leather, nylon and silicone QuickFit™ bands, the D2 Mach 1 Pro can be styled for every type of event, whether it's a workout at the gym or a night on the town. Premium aviation features on your wrist The D2 Mach 1 Pro includes all the preflight, in-flight and postflight features pilots have come to know and trust from the D2 series, including a worldwide aeronautical database, HSI, Direct-to and moving map — all available without a phone connection. Pilots can stay informed with easy access to NEXRAD3, METARs, TAFs and MOS4 weather reports — alongside custom weather alerts as well as non-weather alerts like time, distance, altitude and a fuel timer. Utilize the wrist-based Pulse Ox sensor5 to monitor blood oxygen levels and barometric altimeter for altitude alerts. And in case of an engine-related issue, the D2 Mach 1 Pro can show the best glide speed, estimated glide distance and glide time, along with a bearing pointer to the nearest airport and a list of alternate airports. Flight logging is a breeze with the D2 Mach 1 Pro, which automatically starts tracking flights on takeoff, then automatically transfers the date, duration, total flight time and route to the user's flyGarmin.com logbook3. Pilots can connect with the Garmin Pilot™ app to seamlessly transfer flight plans to the watch and view the list of waypoints included in their route. Additionally, for pilots operating a PlaneSync™-equipped aircraft, the D2 Mach 1 Pro can be used to access the aircraft dashboard to view status information6 including fuel, electrical, database and location information while away from the aircraft. Customized fitness With dozens of built-in sports apps – including new team sport activities like football, baseball, softball and more – D2 Mach 1 Pro provides data and insights for many passions. Whether working out at a gym or in the comfort of one's home, the D2 Mach 1 Pro tracks activities like strength, cardio, indoor rowing, stair stepping, yoga and HIIT. Users can also take advantage of daily workout suggestions or follow animated cardio, strength, yoga and Pilates workouts right on their watch screen. For those exploring the great outdoors, they can keep track of adventures like hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, whitewater rafting and more. Around-the-clock wearability The D2 Mach 1 Pro is designed for all-day wear and includes advanced health and wellness tools, as well as a suite of smart features to keep users connected while on the go. Loaded with 24/7 health monitoring features, the D2 Mach 1 Pro includes Body Battery™ energy monitoring, all-day stress tracking, jet lag advisor, advanced sleep monitoring and sleep score, and more. Packed with connected features, the D2 Mach 1 Pro lets users receive smart notifications3; download songs from Spotify®, Deezer or Amazon Music7 for phone-free listening; check their calendar; breeze through checkout lines with Garmin Pay™ contactless payments8; and more. Like all Garmin smartwatches, the D2 Mach 1 Pro can be used with either Android or Apple® smartphones. Available now, the D2 Mach 1 Pro includes a vented titanium bracelet with carbon gray DLC coating as well as a black silicone band for a suggested retail price of $1399.99. Garmin products and services have revolutionized flight and become essential to the lives of pilots and aircraft owners and operators around the world. A leading provider of solutions to general aviation, business aviation, rotorcraft, advanced air mobility, government and defense, and commercial air carrier customers, Garmin believes every day is an opportunity to innovate. Recipient of the prestigious Robert J. Collier Trophy for Garmin Autoland, Garmin developed the world's first certified autonomous system that activates during an emergency to control and land an aircraft without human intervention. Visit the Garmin Newsroom, email our media team, connect with @garminaviation on social, or follow our blog. Battery life based on D2 Mach 1 Pro when smartwatch mode is enabled. The ECG app is only available when paired with a smartphone with the latest version of the Garmin Connect smartphone app. The ECG app is not available in all regions; see Garmin.com/ECG for availability. The ECG app is not intended for use by people under 22 years old. With the ECG app, this device is capable of generating an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram. When paired with a compatible smartphone, with a data connection, and in range of Bluetooth technology. U.S. airports only This is not a medical device and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or monitoring of any medical condition; see Garmin.com/ataccuracy. Pulse Ox is not available in all countries. Remote aircraft status requires active PlaneSync subscription. User's smart device must have internet connectivity. Feature is available on-ground only and requires GDL 60 to have LTE connectivity; signal strength and other factors may apply. See Garmin.com/PlaneSyncCoverage for coverage details. May require premium subscription by a third-party music provider View current supported country, payment network and issuing bank information at Garmin.com/GarminPay/Banks.

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PPG Industries

We work every day to develop and deliver the paints, coatings and materials that our customers have trusted for more than 135 years. Through dedication and creativity, we solve our customers’ biggest challenges, collaborating closely to find the right path forward. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, w...

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