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CAO'S JON HUBER FEATURED IN "MARKETING NEWS"

JON HUBER
CAO CIGARS, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

He built CAO’s marketing department, and built a brand that HBO licensed as “CAO The Sopranos Edition” and is favored by rockers who indulge, as well. But no Mad Man, he: Like any good marketer, Huber loves what he sells, but his son has never seen him smoke.
Q: In your lifetime, what was the first marketing campaign you can recall being exposed to?
A:
I can vividly remember going to the grocery store and picking my breakfast cereal based almost solely upon what toy was inside. Today, when I see my own 7-year-old son doing the same thing, I realize it’s solid marketing targeting the 12-and-under demo. Although today it’s much more sophisticated [with the] cross-promotions with movies, sports, etc., whereas when I was a kid you were just pretty damned lucky to get that decoder ring.
Q: What made you decide to pursue marketing as a profession?
A:
I never really made a conscious decision … to pursue marketing. It was more of a natural … progression of life events. In my case, I fell in love with the premium cigar industry and made a decision that I would pursue this as a career. Once I got my foot in the door, the whole marketing aspect just came naturally to me. … I sought out ways to get the CAO brand out there. It’s something I wake up and get excited about each and every day.
Q: What qualities make a marketer great?
A:
I think you have to know your customer and also have to have a keen instinct, gut and smell for your business. The minute you lose that connection with your customer and forget to whom it is you’re marketing, you’re lost.
Q: What qualities undermine an otherwise talented marketing executive?
A:
Often I see an over-reliance upon textbook marketing. While certain facts and measurements are important, I can’t tell you how many times I see people … spend all their time analyzing, planning and evaluating—and they don’t spend enough time just getting in there and actually making it happen!
Personally, I’m more impressed by actions than all the $5 words, coined phrases, bar graphs and corporate lingo.
Q: Pick your poison: Hard and fast ROI, or experiment and see what sticks?
A:
While ROI is a good measurement in terms of accountability, I’d have to go with experimentation.
Q: What inspires good marketing ideas?
A:
We always look beyond our industry for ideas that may spark our next cigar line. I’m constantly reading magazines—everything from Cigar Aficionado to W to InStyle to Wallpaper to GQ to you name it!
Other brands can be an inspiration, as well. Apple and Prada are two brands that have heavily influenced CAO.
Q: If—as the saying goes—you are your own brand, then what is the tagline for a brand campaign for you?
A:
Wow—good question! Considering the last couple of years of my life, [it] would be, “Never a dull moment!”
Q: What do you point to as your greatest single marketing accomplishment?
A:
There is no one single accomplishment over the years that I can comfortably say was a result of marketing alone. Everything … has been a result of a focused team effort, and I have been fortunate to work with some of the most creative and hardest-working people in our industry today.
Q: What do you point to as your greatest single accomplishment outside of marketing?
A:
My 7-year-old son, Liam.
Q: Ten years from now I’d like to be ________________.
A:
Still alive and walking upright. But if you need more detail than that, I suppose my dream has always been to live on the beach and spend my days with the people I love—taking walks, painting and learning to play the alto sax. But if that doesn’t happen in the next 10 years, I’d be thrilled to still be building a bigger, badder, better CAO brand!
Q: What profession, other than marketing, would you most like to pursue?
A:
I think I’m too old to be a porn star or an extreme sports athlete, so I think I’ll stick with the marketing gig for now.
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