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Rejuvenating Marketing Training at British American Tobacco

by | May 12, 2011 | Case Studies

What do you do when your highly successful global programme starts to get a bit tired? Tinker at the edges or take a more radical approach?

British American Tobacco chose the latter and, together with their partner Infinity, has now implemented an award winning programme for 35,000 marketing staff across 180 countries.

Find out how they are making the shift to 70:20:10 model of learning, encouraging staff to build and share knowledge and connect with coaches to support their learning journey and careers.

British American Tobacco had been using e-learning within their training  to support the marketing function since 2002 – its Marketing Excellence Series consisted of 40 modules across 5 levels of learning. But familiarity was in danger of breeding contempt.

Svetlana Omeltchenko, Global Marketing Development Manager and owner of MXS in British American Tobacco said ‘More than 70% of respondents already believed that the original MXS was contributing to performance improvement in the work place.  But we knew that as MXS became familiar, with fewer and fewer marketers accessing the materials there was a danger that end-markets would want to rectify low take up rates by designing their own training.  This is not only hugely inefficient but it is contrary to our business strategy.  As we drive to become a globally integrated enterprise, we need every marketer in every country to have a globally consistent understanding of our business, skill set and ways of working’

Spurred on by extensive evaluation from over 2000 stakeholders and inspired by 70:20:10 ideas for learning (that recognise that 70% of our learning comes from our direct experiences in the workplace, 20% through role models & coaching and only 10% through formal learning),  British American Tobacco were looking to shift MXS from the 10 towards the 70 & 20. Keen to introduce more conversation, connection to relevant content and coaching, they set about rejuvenating MXS. The revised version of MXS is a comprehensive marketing curriculum – from day one induction to specialist modules for senior team members.

This award winning story shows that even when you have a successful programme in place, there is always room for improvement. The new system has allowed British American Tobacco to engage new staff today and has prepared them for the future

This case study takes a closer look at :

  • The challenges
  • A fresh look at the learning components
  • A fresh look at the learning experience
  • The individual’s journey
  • Going Global
  • Results & Feedback

Top tips from British American Tobacco for to help rejuvenate your learning initiative:

  • Review your current programme with key stakeholders before you start to make changes – include managers, coaches, learners, and experts.
  • Use video of real people – customers, managers, peers to share war stories & keep content real (but keep them short).
  • Make it easy for local business to input and adapt to global core content.
  • Allow local businesses to upload their content to the central platform.
  • Consider how tagging can  help you make meaningful links to content
  • Create activities in formal learning to help transition from knowledge to action
  • Build an awareness & familiarity of the community, coaching and toolkits up front in your induction programme.
  • Help line managers become more effective coaches by supporting them with resources and making it easy for them to connect to their staff.
  • Continually collect feedback and work with a core governance group  to provide ongoing improvements in provision
  • Create clear path ways so that individuals can see where they are going but don’t make them mandatory.
  • Don’t forget to refresh your face to face programmes either!


This case study was developed as part of Towards Maturity’s Good Practice Partnership with e.learning age Magazine and the E-Learning awards. It was originally published in the April Edition of e.learning age.

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