Marketing Society Awards for Excellence 2011: Marketer of the year

Craig Inglis
Craig Inglis

WINNER Craig Inglis (Director of Marketing, John Lewis)

The Marketing Society Marketer of the year award is an opportunity for the wider marketing community to vote for the individual they feel deserves recognition for their achievements over the past year.

While 2010 was challenging for marketers, there was still stiff competition for this award, which also took into account the views of an expert panel. However, it was Craig Inglis' role in boosting retailer John Lewis' performance through outstanding marketing that won him the accolade this year.

Inglis joined John Lewis in 2008 and has made his mark on the business, which has thrived despite the tough economic climate. It has significantly increased its investment in marketing, strengthened its fashion credentials and relaunched its 'Never knowingly undersold' proposition around quality, service and price.

In recognition of his contribution to the business, Inglis was promoted from head of brand communications to director of marketing in a February 2010 restructure.

One of his first actions when he arrived at the retailer from Virgin Trains was the appointment of creative agency Adam & Eve. This has proved a wise decision, with the partnership resulting in some of John Lewis' most successful advertising campaigns to date.

While John Lewis has built up a reputation for powerful communications under Inglis, last April's relaunch of the brand's 85-year-old 'Never knowingly undersold' proposition, through the much-lauded 'Always a woman' ad, boosted the retailer's popularity and fortune further.

The cradle-to-retirement TV ad has since been viewed more than 2.5m times online and garnered extensive media coverage.

John Lewis came relatively late to advertising compared with other retailers and, until Inglis' arrival, had been slow to capitalise on its emotional potential. However, its recent work has clearly captured the imagination of customers and boosted its performance in the marketplace.

Following the campaign, six-month profits soared 77% year on year, while online sales rose 36%.

Under Inglis' direction, headline-grabbing advertising, combined with a stronger focus on ecommerce, contributed to a bumper year for John Lewis, with pre-tax profits in 2010 rising 20% to £367.9m. The outstanding performance of John Lewis (in combination with Waitrose) during a difficult time for retailers led to a record 18% bonus being paid to partners in March.

Inglis, an affable Scotsman with a strong presence on the marketing scene, even found time to make an appearance in a fly-on-the-wall BBC documentary on the retail chain that aired last year.

One judge said: 'Under his stewardship, marketing has become pivotal to John Lewis. Inglis has ensured that it is making a demonstrable difference to the business.'

Another added: 'He hasn't just simply changed how John Lewis markets, but how brands market to Middle England.'

Marketer of the year finalists: Neil Blakesley vice-president of marketing, Global Services, BT; Sally Cowdry marketing director, O2; Amanda Mackenzie chief marketing and communications officer, Aviva

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