Marketers must embrace the commercial realities

The quote of the night at last week's Marketing Society homage to chief executives came from O2's Ronan Dunne.

Asked about his tips for corporate success, he told the gathering of senior marketers: 'We're a brand that runs a business, not a business that runs a brand.'

The words rolled off Dunne's tongue with an easy Irish charm that suggested this mantra had been carefully honed, rather than smelted in the heat of the moment. But it was delivered with conviction, and should be seized upon immediately as a totem for long-term business growth.

The theme of the evening was what makes a great CEO, and I hope the subtext for ambitious marketers in the room was what makes a great marketer into great CEO material. Choosing to work only for companies that put their brand (and their customer) at the centre of all they do, as Dunne claims, is a good start. These are the companies that invest in marketing and marketing talent, that give marketing a voice in the boardroom and enshrine a respect for marketing's contribution throughout the organisation.

But Dunne was also clear that being a good marketer is no recipe for being a good business leader. 'Applying what makes you great in your functional role won't make you into a good CEO - in fact, possibly the opposite is true,' he said, casting a gauntlet at the feet of the audience.

It's a gauntlet that L'Oreal is forcing its marketers to take up. L'Oreal's UK and Ireland managing director Jeremy Schwartz told delegates at last week's ISBA conference that marketers can be fully equipped for general management only if they also have experience of the commercial department (page 5). At Diesel (page 14), they've gone all the way and brought sales and marketing under the remit of Scott Morrison, whose brief now is to build 'both the brand and the business'.

This isn't about merging sales and marketing, although Diesel is closer to that; it's about driving marketing through the DNA of a business. The point all three leaders are making, I think, is that, if marketing and marketers are isolated from some of the commercial and corporate issues of their businesses, neither the discipline nor those who practice it will contribute their full potential to business growth. And for as long as marketing fails to do that, marketers will continue to see their status eroded.

Claire Beale

Follow @MarketingUK


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers