Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: A Year of Maestros and Muppets

Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: A Year of Maestros and Muppets

Article excerpt

So that was 2007. As usual, there were a host of marketing mistakes and a few moments of genius. Let's celebrate the latter first, as they are rare gems.

My first pick is AG Lafley, chief executive of Procter & Gamble, and still the world's greatest marketer. Another stellar year for him saw P&G continue to grow profits and share price while reducing the number of brands in its portfolio. Lafley is the antidote to the financially oriented chief executives on this side of the pond. He came from marketing, and has driven P&G forward with a simple message of focus on customers and innovation around their needs. He's no slouch when it comes to organisational issues, either: the mission of absorbing the 30,000 employees and 50,000 product codes that came with the acquisition of Gillette is complete, one year ahead of schedule.

My next pick is Robert Polet, the chief executive of the Gucci group. No one expected the former Unilever executive to be able to walk into the world of luxury branding and be so successful so quickly. But by introducing leaner production systems and encouraging the great house of Gucci and its other luxury stablemates to incorporate consumer insights into their strategies, Polet is proving phenomenally successful.

My final pick for the maestros is the eight-strong brand team at Innocent. It has been a hot brand since its inception in 1999, but 2007 marked its maturity into a real player in FMCG. The founders have chosen not to sell out, believing their brand has the legs for the long term. A wise move, as 2007 saw the brand grow its share of the sector to 72% and break through the pounds 100m revenue figure.

This is all despite its key competitor PJ's having been acquired by PepsiCo in 2005. A recent survey of 100 marketers revealed more would like to work for Innocent than any other brand - no wonder. Let's hope it stays independent and keeps showing the rest of us how to build brands.

But who are the year's marketing muppets? Let's start with the 2012 logo debacle. The client, LOCOG, got it wrong by stipulating a brief based on access, participation and making the games belong to everyone, and then hired exclusive London design agency Wolff Olins. The agency chairman, Bryan Boylan, got it wrong by going into hiding and not defending his work after his company's design was met by public uproar. …

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