10 Questions with… Karin Hayhow of Mackie’s of Scotland

by Chris Fairbairn

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Food and Drink PR photography for Mackie's of Scotland

Get to know the family firm’s marketing director as she speaks to our Scottish PR agency

FEW Scottish brands can match Mackie’s place in the nation’s heart.

A frequent “Top 10” food and drink brand and makers of the best-selling ice cream north of the border, it’s now also the UK’s fifth largest selling takehome ice cream, beaten only by international giants.

It also produces five chocolate bar flavours on its Aberdeenshire farm, as well as becoming famed for its crisps, created through a joint venture with the Taylor family in Perthshire.

We took a moment to catch up with Karin, to find out a bit more about what drives and interests her – and why her own inspiration, as well as her advice for the next generation, both hail from close to home.

  • 1) What is your job (in a nutshell)? 

I’m essentially tasked with telling the stories about Mackie’s to the world, through words and design.

  • 2) What is your source of inspiration?

I’d have to say that my Dad (Maitland Mackie) remains an important driver. He was always very energetic, and never stopped wanting to learn.

As such he was an avid listener to people. He also always wanted to do some good.

Maitland was founder and chairman of the ice cream business and also started the company’s sustainability journey – with a particular interest in wind power. He died in 2014.

Image showing the Mackie's family, including L to R Mac Mackie, Kirstin, Maitland and Karin in front of the waterwheel at the family farm

Karin with her father and siblings, (L to R, Mac, Kirstin, Maitland and Karin)

  • 3) What is your favourite social channel and why – and who do you recommend following? 

This may sound scandalous, but on a personal level I am not sure I like “social” and I really don’t have a favourite channel. Certainly not among the most popular social media platforms. I feel there’s just too much going on and far too much rubbish to wade through. Everything is, but should not be, reduced to soundbites.

I’ll look at Facebook, Instagram and twitter but mainly as a check on our company pages and not as a way to keep up with friends and family.

I do like Foodim however, an app set up by Nigella Lawson as something of an antidote to Instagram. Foodim makes it easy to take nice pictures of food – and the content feels like it is being shared by real people genuinely enjoying making and eating all sorts of different food – from everyday to special. I guess that is a social channel, but one with a lot less noise!

  • 4) What is your go-to news outlet?

I still like the familiarity of listening to Radio 4 news in the morning, however much it vexes my husband – and read The Telegraph online predominantly. Like most people now I’m bombarded with push notifications from my phone, a mix of BBC and whatever else. So I do get breaking news (or keep up with Covid) there too.

As I now live in Edinburgh, I like to keep up with the Press & Journal too, to stay clued up as to what’s going on at home in the North East. It’s great that it is still going strong compared to so many papers out there.

  • 5) What is your current boxset/book/film obsession?   

I love reading and have always read a lot of fiction. The annoying thing is that I can barely remember what I’ve read!

I’ve Just finished Days without End by Sebastian Barry. The language and descriptions are amazing.  It’s described as “a deeply harrowing journey into America’s past and the brutality waged on indigenous people”. Not for the faint of heart but I seem to like sad or even tragic books!

In terms of boxsets, I love all the Scandi noir, perhaps a nod to my Norwegian mum, but also like gentler programmes, for example The Detectorists is good.

  • 6) What is your biggest frustration in the world of work? 

It’s what I call “the shrapnel”, the little jobs that take a lot of time and mean you can never get enough time to focus on one thing. I perhaps let my work be too easily dictated by my email inbox too, which feeds much of the shrapnel!

  • 7) What is your definition of success? 

A tough question. From the business’s perspective it would be to make another product that proves as popular and successful as our Traditional real dairy ice cream. It was our first flavour, has barely changed in more than 30 years and has been our bestseller ever since. It is still what we are renowned for, especially south of the border.

  • 8) What is your favourite advertising/PR/marketing campaign?

I’m fascinated by the evocative power of music. My favourite campaigns are maybe those with music – it’s impressive how they can make you feel – and even join in to sing and repeat the strapline. In Scotland, the Caledonia ad for Tennent’s Lager was great, as was the Irn Bru snowman advert. And who doesn’t remember Club biscuit’s “If you like a lot of chocolate…”?

  • 9) What is your top trait you look for in a colleague/supplier 

Someone you can trust who will get things done!

  • 10) What is your number one piece of advice to the next generation entering the workforce?

Keep going, keep trying, things will go wrong and nothing matters too much!

I’d also bring it back to my own inspiration though and think of Dad. So  – make an effort to stay energetic, keep listening and learning – and try to do something good!

Looking for a Scottish PR agency?

For several years we’ve helped Karin and Mackie’s to tell incredible stories to the world. If you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for you, call us on 0131 561 2244 or by using the form below:

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    Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

    Chris Fairbairn

    Chris Fairbairn is an Account Director with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood PR. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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