Marketing Game Changer 2022: Aramco’s Kirk Collingwood

Director of marketing, Saudi Aramco

Years in current position: 6

Years with company: 14

Size of department: 34 

Previous jobs
Served as director of PR strategy at Aramco.

Before Aramco was with Philip Morris International for 18 years. Managed the GCC markets, as well as postings in Slovakia and Switzerland.

Recent campaigns

Powered by How global campaign, running across 14 international markets and global media.

Sponsorships include Formula 1, Aston Martin F1, F2/F3 sustainable fuels, Aramco Team Series women’s golf (Ladies European Tour), IPL cricket, ICC cricket, China Basketball Association, Dakar rally, etc.

Recent achievements

Adding three major Asia-based sports properties to the portfolio. This was quite a challenge during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rapid fire

What are you working on?
I never stop working on productivity.

Who are you following?
Shane Parrish, who runs the Knowledge Project and Farnam Street blog.

What are you craving?
Someone to make me a great salad. I love an everything salad but am seldom invested in the effort/reward payoff enough to make one for myself.

What are you hiding from?
YouTube – I’m such a sucker for it. I love to learn new things from independent creators.
If I’m not careful, I’ll search how to fix a door latch and end up studying how to graft grape vines.

What app are you glued to?
Readwise – I use it continuously in the background. It pulls my highlights from multiple inputs: Kindle, browsers, Instapaper, Medium and even paper books and deposits them automatically into individual linked notes for me in Obsidian.  The time and effort saved is huge and I’m capturing so much relevant content that becomes useful to me later through exponential links.

What are you playing?
I’m always looking for three to play a few rounds of 42. It’s basically bridge played with dominoes instead of cards, and is a classic old Texas game.

What are you listening to?
A lot of podcasts at 1.7x speed, but I prefer to think about my luxurious weekend morning coffees with Amy Winehouse.

What are you reading?
The Three Marriages by David White.

What are you watching?
I’m currently binging a small farming course created by Conor Crickmore at Neversink Farms in upstate NY. He manages a gorgeous, weed-free, organic no-till farm with hand tools. 

Where are you travelling?
I used to travel for places but now mostly travel for people.

What is your good habit?
I think my best habit is being all-in.  I love to learn new things and to develop a new hobby or habit – and dive
into it head-first, sometimes wallet first.

What is your bad habit?
Being single minded. Hyper-focus gets things done, but it also gets me in the dog house for everything else I didn’t even see.

Agency reference

Tom Vick, executive vice-president business lead, McCann Worldgroup

I’ve worked with Kirk since July 2019. Kirk launched Aramco’s first-ever global brand platform, Powered by How, at the end of 2021, the culmination of more than a year’s worth of work. More recently, he expanded the company’s portfolio of sports sponsorship properties. Building on a first season as a main sponsor of F1 in 2021, under his stewardship Aramco also became team sponsors of Aston Martin Racing in 2022, as well as striking new deals with IPL Cricket in India, the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup in Australia and a new sponsorship deal with the Chinese Basketball Association.

The collaboration I’m most proud of is building the Aramco brand together. Aramco is now the Middle East’s most valuable brand, the world’s second largest B2B brand, this year’s highest new entry in Kantar’s BrandZ Global 100 (#16) and the fastest-growing brand in the 2022 FutureBrand Index.

Kirk is calm, considered and highly strategic. He has a deep understanding of his business and a great appreciation of the value of partnership. He listens to all points of view, not just those of a senior team, and has built up a deep bond of trust and affection with everyone who works with him. He also always makes a point of thanking the team for their efforts (even if he hates what they’ve just presented to him).

I’ve learned patience from Kirk. Sometimes, aligning multiple stakeholders in large organisations requires tact, diplomacy and picking the right moment to have key conversations. I’ve also got huge insights into Texan culture – I didn’t know that deep-frying turkey was a thing until I met Kirk.