An award winning, commercially astute, creative marketing and communications leader with over 25 years of experience covering retail, culture, hospitality, venues, entertainment, and global iconic brands.
Illy cut his commercial teeth under the tutelage of Justin King at ASDA and rapidly rose through the trading floor ranks to become a buyer.
After 6 years back in the music industry managing, producing and tour managing Mercury Music winning acts amongst others, Illy then joined Pernod Ricard and spent 12 years in senior global marketing roles where he truly honed his visceral understanding of consumers/audiences and their behaviours.
They viewed him as truly entrepreneurial and allowed Illy and his team to operate as business within a business. His passion for creativity and innovation was always respected. Additional highlights during his tenure include creating the Experiential Marketing team – the first of its kind for a drinks company well before it became the “buzz word” it is today.
In addition, his passion for all things cultural informed strategic brand partnerships such as Perrier Jouet/Royal Opera House and Absolut Vodka/Saatchi Gallery to name a couple.
More recently he worked with legendary rock band Iron Maiden in bringing their now multi award-winning, best-selling beer TROOPER, from a pub dream to market – it now sells over 40M pints in 49 countries.
As well as this, Illy intuitively understood the power and advocacy of connected communities and the importance of culture as an enabler. Some of Illy’s recent and relevant work at Counterculture includes:
The Factory, Manchester – Strategic Business Plan review – including advising on audience and retail/commercial models/solutions for the new NPO due to open 2023
High House Production Park, Purfleet – refreshing the vision, business plan and marketing strategy for this globally recognised artistic creative/production park
Rochdale Borough Council – researching and creating the Festival and Events strategy for this diverse Borough with high levels of deprivation including how the strategy could assist in addressing issues around community health and wellbeing
Rochdale Town Hall – research, options analysis for the shape and form of business and operations for this signature venue opening 2024 resulting in a full three year business plan and P&L
DLI, Durham – working with Durham City Council leadership team and the lead architects to create the long term vision, mission and behaviours to repurpose this venue as a cultural hub and create an ambitious destination offer, the contract has been extended to create and deliver the new brand which Illy will lead
A charismatic, agile leader, globally networked with consumers always front of mind, Illy is not afraid to challenge the status quo to achieve the best.
In addition, Illy is an elected Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and part of its mentoring network, a NED of an OFSTED “Outstanding” MAT, a Trustee at SOAS London and a member of the National Governance Association.