Dom Dwight, Marketing Director at Taylors of Harrogate: The importance of sustainability – Transcript

0:00:12 – Host
Welcome to Genuine Humans, exploring the stories behind the great marketing leaders of our time and hearing how their journeys have influenced the brands they’ve built. Brought to you by the social element, here are our hosts Tamara Littleton, CEO and founder, and Wendy Christie, Chief People Officer.

0:00:45 – Tamara Littleton
Welcome back to the Genuine Humans podcast, I’m here, as ever, with my wonderful co-host, Wendy. How are you doing?

0:00:51 – Wendy Christie
Really good, thank you, how are you?

0:00:53 – Tamara Littleton
Very good, and I’m very excited as well because we have a great guest on today, someone that I have admired from afar and I’ve managed to meet in person as well. We are joined today by Dom Dwight, who’s the marketing director at Taylors of Harrogate, which is best known for, of course, the makers of Yorkshire Tea and the sister business, Bettys. Dom joined as a copywriter 15 years ago when he launched Yorkshire Tea on Twitter, which is now, of course, X, and that was the early days of brands on social media, and so he’s become the marketing director. He became marketing director in 2016, and under his watch, Yorkshire Tea has grown to become the UK’s number-one brew. So, delighted to have you join us, Dom, welcome.

0:01:39 – Dom Dwight
Thanks for having me.

0:01:41 – Tamara Littleton
So, Dom, what we like to do with our guests is take you back a little bit to your early career because, obviously, I’ve given away some of it about how you joined 15 years ago. But can you give us a bit of a flavour of how you got to where you are now and your sort of earlier career as well?

0:01:58 – Dom Dwight
Yes, sure, I think. Normally, when I try and answer a question about Yorkshire Tea, I end up telling this story and feeling apologetic because somebody wanted a short answer, whereas this is maybe the first time I’ve ever been asked to tell the actual story. So I’ll still try and keep myself under control. Feel free to pull the lever if I go too far back.

I think the thing to say that makes everything make sense is I didn’t really know when I went to university what I wanted to do. I just knew that I was good at English, I was interested in reading, I was interested in writing, and I went to Leeds University, if I’m honest because it had a really good reputation for its nightlife, which this is like in the mid to late 90s.

While I was at university, I actually ended up doing joint honours. I did English with History of Art, which I did because I hadn’t done well enough in my A-levels to get into straight English. So that was a way in. But actually, while I was at uni I discovered that I really enjoyed History of Art. I think the theory side of art actually really appealed to me. My brain worked in that way, and, more importantly, I kind of made one of my best friends while I was studying the History of Art who my friend Marcus, who we had really similar kind of interests in music. I played drums, he played guitar, and we formed a band.

And during our time at university, we befriended a lad called Tom who played double bass, and we had this little band going for the whole time that we were at uni together. So, by the time, and the reason for this part of the story, is because it’s true that I genuinely thought I was going to be in a band for the rest of my life. At that part of my life – we didn’t have delusions that we would be rock stars one day. I think we just thought if we could make a living as musicians, we’d be happy with that. You know the, the cliche is to say you just want the occupation musician on your passport, and that’s so. That’s that’s where I was at about 20 – 21 years old.

But when we finished university, and we hung around Leeds for a couple of years, I think as it became what we really did for a living, it became a lot less fun and a lot more intense. So, combined with a few things, I’d met a girl that I was getting more serious about, and my bandmates were getting more and more focused on needing to move to London because that’s where everything was going to happen for us. And I think I just realised I needed to make a call, and I chose to leave the band. And it was tough because anyone that’s been in a band knows it’s basically like an actual breakup. And I stayed put, and I’m quite pleased about that because the girl that I stayed behind for is now my wife and that panned out well. So I think I made a good call, and my bandmates got signed within about six months and had a record deal. So it did work out for them, but no bitterness on this part; always really pleased for them to do so well. And then I guess the reason for all of this is partly I think it demonstrates I never, ever had a plan, and I’ve kind of just gone with what made most sense in the moment.

But after the band, I suddenly found that when people ask me what I did for a living, I could no longer say well, I’m in a band, but to pay the rent, I do this dreadful, boring office job. The dreadful, boring office job was my answer, and I just thought I need something more exciting, started writing for a friend who worked for a local magazine this is still in Leeds. It was called the Leeds Guide and it was basically a kind of shameless rip-off of the Time Out template. It was a guide to what’s going on in Yorkshire, and I loved that, though I wrote for them for free for quite a while before a job opening came up in their team. They liked what I’d been writing. I was reliable, so when I kind of was in the right place at the right time and had a job opening, I was in, and then I had about seven or eight years of working in magazine publishing.

Sort of worked my way up to editor. We did quite a lot of other titles as well as the Leeds Guide, so there was a bit of a broad like array of content that I got used to, and then towards the end, I think I also realised regional journalism in the noughties was basically dying because Google and digital early online advertising was killing it. So, I kind of started to panic and think, you know, with one small child and another one on the way, I need a slightly more secure and better-paying job, which is how I kind of started to diversify into other forms of journalism, like freelancing for the Yorkshire Post and things like that. I had a brief stint as an anonymous restaurant inspector for the Which Good Food Guide, which I’m probably not allowed to say, although it’s more than 10 years ago, so I’m sure it’s fine.

And through all that copywriting stuff, I basically made a connection with Bettys and Taylors, mainly because of Bettys and Bettys are the cafe tea rooms that are dotted around Yorkshire so conscious, people either know Bettys and then they’re obsessed with it, and it’s like a cult, or they’ve never heard of it. So, if you’ve never heard of it, the best thing to do is imagine, imagine a Yorkshire version of Fortnum & Masons, but smaller and more homely and welcoming. I think that would be how I’d describe it. And through Bettys, I found out about a potential job as an internal copywriter. That was in 2008, so I kind of landed on my feet there. That was a really like a beautiful moment of serendipity. And then I’ve been here for 15 years since then.

I think maybe the key thing to say, and then I’ll shut up for a bit, is that I joined as a copywriter. I came from a magazine company that was constantly trying to do more with less. Everything needed doing yesterday we were really short of resources. And then, I joined a business that was actually quite resource-rich, and its focus was on quality, so there was a real culture of take your time and do it correctly. Do it right, and it took me a while to adjust. I just kept doing every job I was given as fast as I possibly could, and that meant that even when I slowed down to try and do things to a higher standard, I still found that I had a bit of capacity, and I was quite restless.

And all of this kind of happened at the same time as the early days of social media. Twitter in the UK was just taken off, and I just happened to notice that I found conversations about tea taking place on this thing called Twitter, and some of those conversations were about Yorkshire Tea, and I went to my boss at the time and said this is really interesting. Do you mind if I set us up mainly with the intention of listening to the conversations and learning from how we’re being spoken about, occasionally maybe politely chipping into answer a question or help? And then I had the joy of about two years of being left like, surprisingly unattended, to do social media for a brand, before a marketing director in around 2010 paid attention to what was going on and invited me into the marketing team and from there really copywriting became social media, social media became digital marketing and digital comms. That then became all comms, including events and, PR and customer services. Until, when would this take us up to back 2016, when my boss at the time who was the marketing director at the time, left and I got the job as marketing director. So that’s the squiggly career. And then I’ve had seven and a half years as marketing director, during which time Yorkshire tea is just, you know, gone from strength to strength.

0:09:22 – Tamara Littleton
And what I love about that is it was that time where you could be more experimental because, as you said, you were sort of left fairly unattended for a couple of years, just proper digital native, just understanding exactly how it all worked, and then almost flipping that to the marketing approach, rather than the other way round of sort of coming through like marketing background as you, as it were.

0:09:52 – Dom Dwight
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think there’s a few things. One is the unique situation of the business where I was, that trust was extended to me. But also, you know, we were small enough that what I was doing didn’t feel like I had taken a global brand and was potentially going to wreck it, but it was. It was big enough that Yorkshire tea was a phenomenon, and when I did something, it could stimulate a reaction that you could build on. So that was one thing, I think.

The second thing is, could somebody join a business today and do what I did? Definitely not with X, not the state that X is in now. You know it’s, politely, it’s a bin fire, and I don’t know if there’s another social media equivalent that’s at that early phase. Or if you got started now, you’d really be able to do something wonderful because the whole world has woken up to social media and what it can do now. So, you know how long was TikTok around before people started to try and make it work for them? It was that early naive phase is actually very, very short. So, I don’t know what the equivalent would be now. You know it probably isn’t social. It might be AI or something like that.

0:11:01 – Tamara Littleton
Yeah, because I think even Threads, there’s a lot of sort of experimenting. Experimenting going on and lots of sort of brand tone of voice, but there is also a knowingness, because it is sort of part of Instagram, so it’s not completely brand new. So I think you know lots of people are doing a great job on there, but it’s still quite brand savvy if you see what I mean.

0:11:23 – Dom Dwight
Absolutely. I think that word knowingness is a really crucial one because it’s kind of the counterbalance to naivety, isn’t it? You know, it’s not so much about what brands know how to do as it is about the audience and what they now find normal or what their understanding of things is. So once upon a time, if you were an early user of Twitter and a brand that you quite liked popped up in your feed and said something to you, there was actually, I mean, it sounds sad to say this now, but there was a thrill. It’s like, oh yeah, that brand I like is talking to me.

0:11:54 – Wendy Christie
I still love it.

0:11:55 – Dom Dwight
That’s good. It’d be nice if more people were still in that world, I think. But I feel like nowadays there’s a kind of there’s a knowingness, and there’s a savviness which is like, even if you like the brand, there’s a bit of like OK, I think I know what you’re up to. You’re engaging me, aren’t you? You’re engaging me. I feel like I’m being engaged.

0:12:15 – Tamara Littleton
Yeah, I think, yeah. But before I let kind of Wendy loose on you with sort of taking you further back into your past, I do remember we used to look after the Andrex account, and we were the voice of the Andrex puppy for a little while, which was just hilarious, because on a Friday night, I think it was usually five o’clock, it was peak time. We’d measured it, and that was the best time, and we would just say woof and honestly, engagement was insane and it was about just being regular and just saying woof. But yeah, you probably couldn’t get away with that now.

0:12:51 – Wendy Christie
I wonder what it is about. Five o’clock on a Friday that’s making the time that people want to look at the toilet roll puppy.

0:12:58 – Dom Dwight
I mean that that, yeah, that would be an interesting Venn diagram to try and draw. What is the overlap between five pm on a Friday and a spike in interest in toilet paper and puppies?

0:13:10 – Wendy Christie
So, thank you for letting me loose Tamara to talk about Dom’s childhood. So we’d like to go even further back in your journey, if you don’t mind, Dom, and just talk about what you were like as a child and was there any? Were there any clues, do you think, from your childhood that would reveal? You know how you’ve ended up where you are so far?

0:13:29 – Dom Dwight
Oh yeah, I hadn’t thought of them in terms of clues, possibly because I think I was. I was always an avid reader and a drawer as well. So my, my, the artistic side of me never really extended any further than doodling, but I was a pretty committed doodler, and I think it’s taken me almost all my life to realise, like, that’s my level, don’t shoot for higher. You know, I went as far as I a level before I finally realised, ah, the other art people are actually technically quite a lot better than me, but I think, imagination-wise and ideas-wise, I can compete with the best of them. But yeah, I’m a doodler and I think as a kid definitely, I displayed that kind of living a lot in my imagination way of being the thing. I think I’m not sure if the clues were there.

Throughout my childhood, I think I fluctuated from periods of time where I was quite confident and therefore a bit more of an extrovert, and other times where I was definitely quite shy, and then the part of me that was very content to sit and read or to sit and doodle. You know, obviously, that’s an introvert’s paradise, isn’t it? To just be like so, my happy place. As a kid, actually, I’ve conjured this image in my head. Now I’m picturing my nan on my mum’s side had a top-floor flat in Tulse Hill near Brixton, and she would have had a rug on the floor with the fire going on a cold day, and we’d have gone to visit, and I would, my place would have been to lie on my belly on the rug in the front of the fire, either with a book that I was reading or with a pencil and a pad, and I’d just be doodling so that I think the clues in terms of the things that I’m interested in or the skills have developed were there as a kid.

Yeah, the only the story that I’m often told that sort of doesn’t quite square with my own version of my history is my mum sometimes recounts this thing of we were at a Butlins holiday camp when I was about five, maybe four, and at one moment they had this slightly scary bit where there was a, they were sort of sat there for the early evening entertainment, and they were looking around, and I disappeared obviously terrifying as a parent. Only when they scanned around to work out where I was, they looked up and saw me walking up on stage, having just been handed a microphone by some sort of MC character, and I’d basically self-nominated myself for a kind of talent contest, and I went on stage and told a joke. So I don’t know where that part of me comes from because most of the time, I am not chasing the limelight, but I do have occasional moments.

0:16:06 – Wendy Christie
That maybe squares with the youth that was in the band in Leeds. You know, maybe that was a precursor to that.

0:16:12 – Dom Dwight
That’s true. I think that’s maybe an adapted behaviour like I think my happy place is probably not on display in front of loads of people, but I have over time recognised what an amazing source of like positive energy it can be when you do that kind of thing. But I do think actually it does take a lot out of me to to sort of summon up the confidence to do that, but it’s worth it because the buzz you get afterwards is brilliant.

0:16:38 – Tamara Littleton
I’m going to guess classic ambivert, and it takes, takes one to know one because you sort of you need that time to recharge. But then, every now and again you can go out on stage or or sing, or do, or do whatever.

0:16:51 – Dom Dwight
I mean sorry, this is a tiny tangent. I will do this constantly, so please smack my wrist every time I do it.

But that ambivert thing resonates with me so strongly because I think about lockdown, and I was one of those really fortunate middle class people where lockdown for me was mostly good. You know, I had loads of time back. I had way more time to see my kids, I just felt happier and healthier mentally and physically and I noticed that basically the introverted part of me was being fed, and I was. But I think over a year, it was like a gluttony problem, and I was. I was consuming too much of that solitude and peace and quiet, and it wasn’t good for me. I think I actually went a bit mad and as we gradually started to reconnect and reengage with the world, there was a part of me that was like bristling. I was like, I don’t want to do this. I like things my way. But I do recognise that I think there’s a much healthier balance when you’ve got a mix of time alone and time spent socially. So yeah, I think you’re right with your diagnosis.

0:17:54 – Wendy Christie
Did you have any idea what you wanted to be when you grew up?

0:17:58 – Dom Dwight
Well, the stupid version of this answer is that when I was a kid and people used to ask me what I wanted to be, my answer was I used to say I want to be retired.

0:18:08 – Wendy Christie
That’s a great answer.

0:18:10 – Dom Dwight
Well, it often makes it sound like I lacked any ambition or I was just like some sort of lazy person, but actually, where it came from was, my nan and grandad on my dad’s side; my kind of early memories of them, they were already retired, and they just had such an amazing life like they were both really into their lawn bowls so they were busy, and they were both captains of their teams. They were really passionate about food, so they cooked and made wonderful food, and they loved their garden and they loved their house. So they just never seemed to have an off day from my childhood perspective, and I just thought, why would you waste your time going to an office? And you know, why can’t you just go and live that part of your life straight away, please, yeah, so that was, that was my original answer.

And then, as I kind of gradually understood that maybe there’s a time and a place for that bit of your life and you maybe have to have a career before that, I think the main, the main thing that happened this is kind of linking back to my thing about doodling. I had a real interest in comics, but I think I had a particular interest in kind of like those illustrating, you know, the cartoon cartoons like the Far Side by Gary Larson or even when I was a lot younger Garfield, those kind of things.

But it I had a real interest in. I wanted to be that kind of comic artist where I would put humour and illustration together. So, that was probably the earliest example of career aspiration that I had. But as I grew up, I think it morphed.

So, there was always an element of art and imagery and humour and imagination. But I actually think by the time I was about 15 – 16, I was really quite interested in advertising. I think I was basically raised on an unhealthy amount of telly. You know, this is like through the 80s. I could pretty much I think I could have sung back to you the words to most musical adverts that were on TV at that time, and I just loved ads. I am like one of those true believers that really remembers a time when ads were better than the programs they interrupted, and it was like it was also just a time when, when Brits were just like leading the world, I thought in kind of creativity in advertising.

So yeah, so it was very interested in advertising, which kind of came to a peak when I managed to blag some work experience at GCSE age at Saatchi and Saatchi because I grew up in, I was born in Bromley and grew up in a little town called West Wickham in the Southeast. Therefore, London was right on our doorstep. So I had that joy of when I was applying for work experience as a 16-year-old. I had the whole of London to try, and I just don’t really know what happened. I don’t know whether I just wrote a really good letter or what, but Saatchi and Saatchi replied and said yeah, you can come. And I turned up, and they were a bit shocked when I turned up because I think they’d misread my letter and thought I was a school leaver. And suddenly they were like oh, you’re quite young, we can’t really do what we were going to do. We actually have to supervise you. So I got like a guided tour of Saatchi and Saatchi for several days. In other words, I got sort of sat in with teams and I watched the art department at work, which is where I originally imagined myself doodling with markers all day long and had such a lovely setup. I thought, what a fab job. And then a bit later, I got sat with a creative duo, and I was sat next to art director and copywriter, and I watched these two people basically just spitball ideas, for I think it was for John Smith’s Extra Smooth, the bitter that was being launched at the time and there was doodling, there was ideas, but there was no idea. There was also like banter and just silliness, but silliness for a job, and that like left me with a “now I know what I need to do; that’s where I want to be”.

So, for quite a while, that was it. That’s what I wanted. I think the only thing that put paid to that is that not long after, I became pretty devoted to, well, I don’t know, influenced by the music I was into. So this is the early to mid-90s. So we’re talking bands like Nirvana, then Rage Against The Machine, Sound Garden and Faith No More, all this kind of basically alternative rock, aka grunge from the US. And I think I just rapidly developed a very anti-corporate, anti-commercial mindset, which meant pursuing a career in advertising suddenly was like no, no, not for me. But now look.

0:22:36 – Wendy Christie
The rest is history. Were there particular people that you looked up to when you were younger?

0:22:44 – Dom Dwight
Oh, loads, I think. In terms of kind of famous people that I didn’t know, for example, I think I was probably still there was an early stage, like I said, where I was very interested in that kind of comic art thing. So whether it’s folk like Gary Larson or, I mean, I was pretty much just a straight Marvel Comics reader and some of the art in Marvel Comics back then and today is just astounding, and it’s the rate at which it’s produced at that quality that’s also astounding. I think my favourite comic book artist was a guy called Jim Lee, who used to draw for X-Men, and it was. You know, I probably still got some of the pages cut out because the pictures are so incredible. So, for a while, that was everything to me. It was like, I want to be like that, and as I got older, I think I replaced that with musical icons and writers.

So yeah, I think for a while I think it would have been folk like Kurt Cobain that would have had a real influence on me, for good and bad. You know, I think it was always. Really, I find his story just so fascinating because, at the same time as railing against something, he became part of the thing he was railing against because he basically just couldn’t stop himself from writing a catchy hook, and unfortunately, that leads to pop music. That makes you successful, but so yeah, so those are the kinds of famous characters, I think.

Maybe around me, though, in my family, I think I would say on my mum’s side, I’ve got a lot of Irish and my, my granddad on that side, granddad Paddy cliche, but genuinely he was a Patrick. He just had such a sort of an inexhaustible supply of creative mischief in him and it would come out in like little sort of jokes he’d make or stories he’d tell. And I just think I’ve been so shaped by that that I, when I, if you spend too long in a situation and there’s an absence of it, I just feel like I’ve got to fill the absence. Then there needs to be a bit of fun, there needs to be a bit of mischief. So, yeah, I would say he was a big influence on me. But God, I could keep going. Really, I just think everyone in my life has been an influence on me.

There’s lots of my friends over the years, you know, whether it’s at school or university, who have really shaped my worldview, bit by bit.

0:25:06 – Wendy Christie
And how about sort of coming more up-to-date, have there been people who’ve been particularly influential or supportive from a work point of view? Yeah, definitely.

0:25:16 – Dom Dwight
I mean. So, firstly, before I came to Bettys and Taylors, when I was at the Leeds Guide, I worked with a guy who was editor before me, so he was my boss for a while, a guy called Dan Jeffery, who is now, you know, one of my best friends, and I just learned a lot from him about leadership, which I think I still utilise a lot of that learning today, you know, 16 years later.

And then, when I’ve been at Bettys and Taylor’s, you know, firstly, I think I’m really grateful to a lady called Laura Crisp, who was the PR officer here, because she was the contact. She was the one who I spoke to when I was saying I felt like I need to find another job somewhere, who had kind of started thinking about me and put me in touch for this copywriter job. So that was fab.

And then the bosses I’ve had at Bettys and Taylors. So, firstly, a lady called Mary Godfrey. She left a few years ago, but for many years, she was the creative director, and she’s the key person, really, because she appointed me. And then, back to that story, I was telling about the years when I was allowed to play with Twitter relatively autonomously. It was her trust in me that allowed me to do that, you know. So, things could have played out very differently if I had had a different type of boss.

And then, beyond that, I’ve had. We had an interim marketing director, a chap called Richard Tolley, who I think has now gone on to work for Kantar and is still there. Richard is probably the person who’s responsible for Yorkshire Tea landing on the idea of proper, which, you know, in the decade since then, we’ve really built on and solidified that. So, I think the business owes Richard quite a debt for that. And then, personally, I feel like I owe Richard quite a debt, because it was Richard who spotted what I was doing on social media and said I think you should come over to our team and join the marketing team. You want to make what you do part of what we do.

And at that, I think, was another moment in my life where somebody extended some trust in me but created a space that wasn’t mapped out and just said see what you can do with that, which worked really well for me. And then just a couple of other name checks, if that’s alright.

I think after Richard came, someone called Simon Iles, who was a marketing director for, I think, between 2012 and 2016, and what Simon did, I think, was he just really lent lots of confidence to the marketing team, which was then exuded through the Yorkshire Tea brand. So there was a period of time where I think we all grew in confidence in terms of how to have fun with the Yorkshire Tea brand in a way that befits the brand, and I just think he really laid the foundations for the work that I’ve been able to do since then.

0:28:02 – Tamara Littleton
So you know, what I really love about the fact that with the power of social media, is that, of course, it’s the voice of Yorkshire Tea, but there’s a little element that comes from you and from all of your influences, and from Grandfather Paddy as well, and all of that goes into the sort of how you create social and I think that makes it so very different. And I know that you’re really a believer in the power of social media. But how do you think that brand communications through social media actually influence people?

0:28:36 – Dom Dwight
Well, firstly, thank you. I really love the idea that I’ve kind of set Yorkshire Tea on a course, but the truth is I haven’t touched Yorkshire Tea’s social media for about at least seven years, if not longer. But it’s what’s been brilliant has been able to gather a crew of people and, in particular, one person, Tom, who is the main person that is behind the voice of Yorkshire Tea on social media nowadays. And it took a while to find Tom, because he needed to find exactly the right person who had the right grasp, and then for Tom to find his feet and learn like what works and what doesn’t work.

But what I love about it actually is I think Tom takes my kind of my attempts at creative mischief, which essentially constitute dad joke level, and what I think we’ve got in Tom is we benefit from somebody who really ought to be either a stand-up comedian or, you know, a writer for sitcoms and comedy shows, but he’s quite happy scratching his comedy itch working for Yorkshire Tea, so, but it’s nice. It’s that idea of a kind of continuum, rather than they’re feeling like there’s a severe change when you move from person to person.

I think maybe back to your question, I feel like the way that social media kind of influences people has really changed because, as we were saying earlier, you know, in the early days, 2008 to say 2012, I think there was just a period of time when we were in a relatively naive place. So, you know, even just making that first connection with people meant that people there’s a sort of buzz as people realise that their favourite brand was online and was there to be engaged with and stuff. And then I think, gradually, the world has wised up, and that is both a good thing in that both brands and audiences kind of started to learn how else social media could be used. So you know, I don’t know, a really simple example would be things like co-creation, crowdsourcing. You know, that’s great. That’s the positive side of things. My favourite bit because it’s the pointless bit that’s just fun and doesn’t really is just the layers of humour that build up on the internet. When you start to reference things that only make sense and are funny if you understand the thing that’s referenced behind that, you know, kind of meme culture. Really, I love how that has become. I feel like the internet is almost like a, it’s another country, and it’s great that Yorkshire Tea is like a citizen of that country, just like any other person can be.

What’s tricky is where we find ourselves now is it just feels like, I want to feel like there’s a way back from the tipping point that we’re at where social media, you know, at best, you’ve now got people behaving with extreme caution because they’re worried about upsetting someone or creating a Twitter storm that they can’t get out of, and at worst, you’ve got people causing that stuff on purpose. You know, bad faith actors that are either doing it because they get a kick out of. You know trolls they get a kick out of causing trouble. Or you know, something more sinister where you’ve got organisations and even countries that are flooding the internet with misinformation because that way you make it a less useful tool for freedom of speech and, you know, liberating people and that kind of thing.

So I don’t know, I don’t know how to answer that question anymore. I feel like social media has changed into quite a weird place. I’m not sure that well, I know that Yorkshire Tea couldn’t sort of fix this by itself, but I like to imagine Yorkshire Tea as one of a small crew of dedicated things that is trying to fight against that and try and bring back that positive, lovely aspect of social media.

0:32:31 – Tamara Littleton
That is why so many people have sort of stuck with it maybe there’s something to do with proper and social media that could be done, you know, yeah, absolutely.

0:32:42 – Dom Dwight
I, in fact, you know, I hope it’s not too sort of pretentious the thing to say. I guess, like what I’d really love is for anyone to be able to look at what Yorkshire Tea does and evaluate everything we do and say we’re doing it properly. And that would include when we do social media. Obviously we’ve got a strategy, we’ve got objectives as a brand for what we’re trying to do there. But above that, we’re also trying to make sure that the way that we do social media is proper, and I think for me that would be that we are a force for good. On social media, we’re kind of trying to demonstrate that not all companies are bad, that not all brands are disingenuous, and that there can still be like a really lovely way forward where audiences can engage with brands they like, and it can be meaningful and rewarding. You know, just try to behave like good people.

0:33:36 – Tamara Littleton
Yeah, I might need to speak to you separately on that, because I know that something that Wendy is very passionate about is perhaps bringing back some of this education back into schools about the power and influence and the risks of social media. But let’s pause that there, because another subject that I would love to talk to you about is sustainability because I know that that’s something that’s really important to a Bettys and Taylors group right across all of the brands in the company. What is it making you proud to work there and what could brands do more of around sustainability?

0:34:10 – Dom Dwight
I’ll tackle the pride question part of the question first, I think because I can think back to when I first considered the possibility of working for Bettys and Taylors. And one of the things is I, through Bettys, I picked up on the fact that this funny little family business was like passionate about planting trees. So they had a campaign called Trees for Life, and they’d actually planted like a million or so trees already. It had been in the local press, I think Prince Charles had come along to plant like a, it might have been the two millionth tree or something like that. And there was this wonderful story about Jonathan Wild, who back then was the family CEO because it’s a family-owned business, and he’d made a promise to his kids that if you find a way to plant one tree, I’ll find a way to plant the other trees and we’ll plant a million. I still think I had elements of my mindset that were set against corporate culture. So to see a business that had this kind of family story and this genuine desire to do the right thing for the environment and maybe go above and beyond what might constitute compliance or basic responsible behaviour really spoke to me, and I continued to be really proud of that because we carried on planting trees.

But more recently, I think what we’ve realised is, while planting trees has been an amazing thing, actually, in the face of climate change, we kind of have to do an awful lot more than that. Well, for one thing, plant all the trees you like, but actually, it’s really quite important we protect the trees that are already in the ground. So where we can, you know, what can we do about deforestation?

So I think a couple of things. One would be a few years ago, we achieved carbon neutral status, not just for our site but for our products, which is a pretty big deal, but the kind of sustainability-thinking kind of keeps moving on and actually really where we’re getting to is there’s too much within carbon neutral status that can be achieved by offsetting. So, really, the goal is net zero because within net zero there’s a real strict discipline around reducing your carbon impact in the first place, and it’s one of the things that makes me really passionate about working for this place that you know we are committed to things like we want Yorkshire tea to be a proper brew.

So if the average consumer’s engagement and experience with us goes no further than they’ve bought our product and enjoyed our cup of tea, and that cup of tea is just better than our competitors. So we’ve made a positive difference to that person’s life in that small, by, would argue, meaningful way, great.

But if that person is like a slightly more enlightened consumer who’s just wanting to know that they’re buying from a decent business that’s trying to do the right thing in the world, then we make sure that there’s information available so they can find out about our tree planting history, they can find out about our efforts towards net zero.

Equally, there is an overlap between environmental policy and ethical policy when it comes to tea and coffee workers. So you know, there’s a real overlap there between, like, how can we work with our suppliers so that they are helping us have a better environmental impact at the same time as do things that lead to a better livelihood for themselves? So you know I won’t go into detail because this could take up a whole other episode. But you know little things, like the type of fuel that’s used to fuel the stoves, that dry tea leaves out when they’re picked, and if that can be switched from unsustainable timber sources or coal to a more sustainable timber source or a fuel efficient stove, or in coffee. Coffee actually thrives and grows much better when it’s shaded. So are there efforts to ensure that coffee farms can be interspersed with native trees, which is good for coffee, leads to better quality coffee, which leads to a better price and more money in the pocket of the farmer, but it’s also good for the soil, leads to less degradation, is good from a carbon point of view. So, as you can see, I could talk about this stuff forever, and I’m not a sustainability expert, but it’s the side of the business that has always meant a lot to me, because I feel like, as a marketer I am happy to go out and make the promise that the brand makes, knowing that we back it up with the things that we do behind the scenes and in the supply chain.

0:38:38 – Tamara Littleton
And I think maybe that family business it can bring out that real passion as well. And I think it’s so great that you’re, that you are so passionate about the sustainability. You’re doing so much, and you’ve achieved so much. But have you ever thought about what you’d like your personal legacy to be?

0:38:56 – Dom Dwight
I mean, I suppose the notion of it. It makes me slightly uncomfortable, not from a mortality point of view of like I hope I’ve got a lot longer to go before I have to start thinking about that, but more I don’t know. It shouldn’t be about me, should it?

0:39:09 – Tamara Littleton

0:39:10 – Dom Dwight
But I think maybe I’d answer that by going back to some of the things I said earlier. I just feel like there’s something about the way that Yorkshire Tea has behaved where I hope what it’s demonstrated is that there is a way for business to be good and to do well. You know that we are demonstrating that you can be authentic and honest and warm and fun, and you can thrive, you can really bond consumers to you, and it’s a win-win formula. I think that’s it, you know, just because I just feel like there’s too much kind of disingenuous stuff in the world. So, if that could be, my legacy would be to sort of rail against that in some sort of tangible way. Then I’ll take that.

0:40:00 – Tamara Littleton
I love that, and I think, well, let’s move away from the very, very deep questions to the completely frivolous questions with a nice quick-fire round. So, over to you, Wendy.

0:40:10 – Wendy Christie
Sure, so nice, easy one to begin with. What’s your idea of a perfect weekend?

0:40:15 – Dom Dwight
I absolutely love the sea. Okay, there’s two versions of this. One is maybe kayaking or paddleboarding somewhere like Runswick Bay on the North Yorkshire Coast, so I do something that’s just for me, that’s adventurous, and then me, my wife and my two kids getting our boots on and doing a walk across the beach and down the Cleveland Way and just so happening to pass a really lovely pub where we can call in and have a nice meal. So, yeah, that’s it really, the sea and walking. But there’s an alternative version of this, which is, if I’m allowed to sort of wave a magic wand, can I have exactly the same experience, but can I be somewhere like Greece?

0:40:52 – Wendy Christie

0:40:53 – Dom Dwight
So then I’m in sandals and shorts, and we’re walking along the beach, and the sea isn’t cold, and yeah that sounds wonderful.

0:41:01 – Wendy Christie
So, if we were to snoop around in your fridge, what might we find in there?

0:41:07 – Dom Dwight
I’m going to say this, and I think it makes me sound like I’m showing off and I promise I’m not. Like I think I’m a pretty dedicated scratch cook but I’m not fancy. Like I never try and cook anything really complicated and posh, but I don’t really ever use pre-prepared jars and things. So in my fridge, I think what you’d find is a load of veg.

That sounds great, which is good, and then you know, maybe a pot of Greek yoghurt or something, but on the top shelf, what you’d find is just the most bizarre and mixed-up range of random condiments and curry paste, and my daughter developed a real interesting kind of South Korean food, so we’ve got a lot of incompressible packaging containing dark red spicy paste. Oh, and then the other thing that’s in my fridge is a small walrus that is actually it’s like, it’s a plastic carton of chocolate milk with a face of a walrus on one side. It’s a little souvenir from Japan that a friend bought us, and when it’s got batteries in and it’s working, it’s triggered by the opening of the fridge, and it says things in Japanese. So if you hold the door open for too long, it will say it’s getting warm. So it’s, yeah, sometimes you have a little chocolate milk walrus shouting at you. That’s what’s in my fridge, Lovely.

0:42:30 – Tamara Littleton
Everyone needs that in their life. How would you fare in a zombie apocalypse?

0:42:35 – Dom Dwight
I think maybe this is back to the ambivert thing, because, right, obviously, you’ve got the technical and the practical side. Like how well would you do? I think I’d have a problem whacking a zombie over the head with a piece of wood or a chair, or a baseball bat. No, I think I’ve watched, me and my son watched all 11 series of the Walking Dead last year. I feel really well-versed.

I think the real challenge with a zombie apocalypse is it’s over the long run, mentally, could you cope? And the ambivert in me is like, yeah, I know I could. Would I go a bit mad? Yes, sure, I would. But I think if you’re ever going to go mad, maybe a zombie apocalypse is the place to do it.

0:43:14 – Wendy Christie
I think you’re allowed. Yeah, how would your friends describe you?

0:43:19 – Dom Dwight
So I asked some. Actually, I asked two of my best friends, Dan and Steve, and the words that came in I feel really awkward even asking. And now I feel awkward reading them out, because they’re nice things but so encouraging, original, loyal was from one friend and creative, inquisitive and fun from another, which I like. Yeah, there’s nothing not to like about those six words and I don’t feel like there’s some part of myself I’m like oh, they haven’t really spoken about a bit of me that I wanted to, you know, celebrate. So I definitely I think that kind of thing about creativity and fun is a major part of me, so I’m pleased that that’s been played back. That’s what I hope people think about me.

0:44:07 – Tamara Littleton
I love that. What’s your favourite restaurant or food experience?

0:44:12 – Dom Dwight
My wife and I had a real fondness for a restaurant in Leeds that’s no longer with us, so it was called The Reliance. It’s been taken over and it’s kind of roughly the same, but it’s not quite the same because it’s not the same people.

And the Reliance was just like a kind of slightly arty, slightly gastropub in the middle of the city by before that kind of thing had really taken off. And in the early noughties in Leeds when we were just trying to find a place to eat, that wasn’t a chain or wasn’t kind of a bar, it was this, just this oasis of like kind of not, I don’t want to say shabby chic, because that sounds terrible, but it just was a slightly unkempt but sophisticated feel and I mean it’s been a long time since, you know, we were young enough to be going out in the town for dinner before kids and all that stuff. But it has a place in my heart, and now that doesn’t exist, I’m not sure what I do. I think maybe the other side of me is I’ve got just a real obsession with Japan and Japanese food. So, find me a sushi restaurant with a belt that’s going round and maybe a bowl of ramen, and I’d be very happy.

0:45:22 – Tamara Littleton
And preferably a little walrus that’s speaking to you at the same time.

0:45:26 – Dom Dwight
Always a walrus, yeah.

0:45:29 – Tamara Littleton
Karaoke. Are you a karaoke kind of guy? Obviously, you get up on stage and tell jokes to audiences, but do you have a favourite karaoke song?

0:45:38 – Dom Dwight
I mean, that was a long that was what was that? That’s like 40 years ago. So yeah, I’ve missed something out of the story. So the band part of me has come back in a small way in that we’ve got a charity band at Yorkshire Tea. It was instigated by a very motivated organiser of people who works here called Steve, who plays keyboards. Steve rustled up enough of us to form a band, and we basically play covers. We’re called Brew Unlimited.

0:46:05 – Tamara Littleton
I was going to say they got like a pun name. Has it got?

0:46:07 – Dom Dwight
I’m proud of the name, there are five of us. I play drums, and I’m the only one that doesn’t sing, and that’s for good reason because I shouldn’t. I think if I was forced to do karaoke, I’d probably pick something for my wife, who is a absolutely devoted Elvis fan, and I, in my on my wedding day, actually quoted a little bit of the Wonder of You, so I think that should probably be the number.

0:46:36 – Tamara Littleton
Old romantic. We’ve covered a lot today. Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you wanted to talk about? Or giving the platform to you? Have you got any closing thoughts?

0:46:48 – Dom Dwight
I think maybe it’s not so much that there’s something we didn’t cover. I think I really want to just pay tribute to the overall idea of this podcast, you know, because it really speaks to something that I believe in and that, hopefully, I’ve touched on a bit in my own way through this chat. I think there’s something about celebrating the human. I think the work that I’ve done on Yorkshire Tea has been, in many ways, about trying to get across the humanity of Yorkshire Tea and also to try and maintain the human connection between us and our customers. So that’s one thing.

But then I really like what you’re doing, because I think this idea of trying to highlight the human behind the stuff is just. I think that’s going to become more important. Actually, I think it’s already important. But if you think about the world’s obsession with technology and I’m not a luddite, I’m not saying technology is a bad thing, I’m just saying we need to we need to really maintain the balance. So if, if we’re all going to go away and get very, very excited about the metaverse and AI and everything, could we also make sure that we don’t lose sight of the kind of analogue bit that is, you know, us and what makes us tick?

0:48:03 – Host
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