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5 September 2016

Conference at New College, Oxford

Tag(s): Worshipful Company of Marketors, Marketing, Sustainability
Last week the Marketors held its first full day conference for over ten years. The subject was “Is Marketing for Good the Future of Marketing?” a variation on my theme for the year: “Marketing for Good is Good Marketing”. I chose the venue not just because it’s my alma mater or one of the most beautiful conference venues one could imagine, but also because of its founder’s philosophy. Despite the name New College was founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham, one of the most remarkable men in England at that time. He was the son of a modest farmer and rose to be one of the richest and most powerful men in the kingdom. He was Chancellor to the king and held the bishopric of Winchester which at that time stretched all the way up to Southwark Cathedral.
His motto was "Manners Makyth Man," which was not about etiquette but behaviour. In other words you should judge a person by the way they conduct themselves, not by their family background. That was quite a revolutionary idea at that time as was the fact that he wrote his motto in English, not Latin,  so that everyone could understand it. In the spirit of William of Wykeham I challenged our delegates not to be afraid to think radical thoughts.

We assembled an impressive group of speakers, each of whom presented a different aspect of the theme. First was Tony Stratton DL, Chairman Emeritus of CPM and former High Sheriff of Oxfordshire. Tony is involved with Reciprocate which works with SMEs in Oxfordshire. They help the SMEs to make contributions to good works. Tony made the point that “Marketing for Good” is not just for the large corporations, it’s important for all businesses.  Local needs tend to be drowned out by high profile international issues. Local activities and collaboration build understanding and community spirit.

Jack Lundie joined Oxfam in April 2014 as Communications Director after three and a half years at Save the Children.  He is committed to engaging audiences using the power of multi-channel, social engagement.  Jack demonstrated his passion for doing good describing projects that make a positive difference on an ambitious scale. It may seem obvious that charities are about doing good but Jack admitted there are pitfalls and many charities have been criticised over their aggressive attempts at fund raising or their lack of efficiency in delivering on their mission. They all need to be accountable. Oxfam says that poverty has halved in 15 years and can be ended in 15 more. That will be tough however, because some of the easier targets have been dealt with. But Oxfam admits to being political – a movement for change - because it’s cheaper to change the system than pour money down the same holes.

Jim Carroll joined BBH, the well-known advertising agency, in 1991 and became chairman in 2004, leaving in 2015. He is an adviser to The International Exchange (TIE) which since 2007 has been developing conscious leaders who are shaping the future of the communications industry and helping to find revolutionary solutions to some of the world’s most intractable problems. Its goal: To change the world, one brief at a time. Jim told us about its work and how it benefits both the project leaders as well as those who receive the help. He quoted the great former P&G CMO, Jim Stengel who said” Maximum growth and high ideals are not incompatible, they’re inseparable.”

Keith Weed is Chief Marketing & Communications Officer for Unilever. Unilever is famous for its commitment to a sustainable future but Keith told us that not only is this good for the planet and the community but it’s also good for business. Unilever is committed to a Sustainable Living Ten-Year Plan. This includes Improving Health and Well Being for more than 1 billion people; Reducing Environmental Impact by half; and Enhancing Livelihoods for millions. One of his first actions was to close the CSR department as a CSR department gets everyone else off the hook.

The internet makes everything open so marketing needs to change. Marketing and Communications can no longer be separate. Keith is clear that this commitment to sustainability is not a moral issue but an economic one. He wants to make sustainable living common place and those Unilever brands that can’t make the grade will be ditched. This policy works for employees with exceptionally high levels of engagement. And what’s more it sells. The share price has more than doubled since 2009. Across the world the majority of consumers will choose the sustainable brand if it’s at parity prices. And last year the sustainable living brands in the portfolio grew 30% faster than the rest.

The delegates then broke into groups, each group considering what this all meant for a different sector; public, voluntary, corporate, service and SMEs. In reporting back the public sector group said that there was an opportunity for a new kind of citizenship, but it needed a long term focus because the 5-year electoral cycle gets in the way. The SME group reported that there was now convergence between ethics and economics. SMEs might be part of a bigger corporate’s supply chain and have to comply with their requirements.  The Corporate group asked what was there not to like about the Unilever model of increasing revenue, improving social impact while reducing environmental impact. The services group fed back through the two youngest delegates who asked “Good for Whom?” and thought that a commitment to good is good for the staff. People are your brand in the service sector. The charity group stated that you can’t market for good without good governance, nor can you market for good without permission.

Amanda Mackenzie OBE was until recently on the Executive Committee of Aviva and as the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer she was the guardian of the brand, customer and reputation. In November 2014 she announced that, with her company’s backing, she was taking a two-year break from her CMO role at Aviva to take on an executive advisor role at Project Everyone.  Started by Love Actually director and Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis, the purpose of Project Everyone is to contribute to the effort to achieve the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals on poverty and climate change. Mackenzie was brought in to make the entire planet – that’s seven billion people – aware of the goals. The first Sustainable Development Goals for 2000-2015 were not well known. The new ones would go the same way unless they were marketed. Effectively Richard Curtis created an unofficial marketing arm of the United Nations. He said let’s make them famous as Global Goals. Over a seven day period from the launch in New York in September 2015 the Goals were seen or heard in various media by 3 billion people, 40% of the world’s population. Possibly the most effective was a single classroom lesson for children aged 8 to 14. This was taught to 500 million children. What has also changed is that businesses are getting on board to help deliver the Goals. Standard Chartered Bank is changing its investment strategy, which will bring pressure to bear on businesses to look at the contribution they can make.

As a special feature of the conference we were fortunate to have the new Warden of the College speak. Miles Young was in only his second day in the role. Miles was educated at New College, where he gained a first class degree in Modern History. He has enjoyed a stellar career in advertising rising to be Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather worldwide.

Miles told us of some of the global trends in marketing he has observed. Firstly he thinks the BRIC concept is no longer valid as a description of so-called emerging markets. Brazil and Russia were in trouble while China’s rate of growth has slowed down. Only India has maintained a strong rate of growth. Ogilvy and Mather had commissioned research in to what could replace this. The key factor is the growth of the middle class, defined as incomes per head of $4k - $40k, adjusted for purchasing power. They looked at 27 markets for both share of growth and rate of growth and combined these two factors into Velocity. On this basis India will take the lead with China second and Pakistan third. In the next ten years 397 million new middle class citizens will emerge in India, 190 million in China and 60 million in Pakistan.  South Asia will be the centre of global growth and western based firms needed to adjust for that.  The market model will be more Global vs Local than the traditional Global vs Global.

I then asked Jonathan Reynolds, Deputy Dean & Director of Graduate Studies, Saïd Business School, to bring it all together. He came up with six defining concepts of the day’s contributors: Core, Care, Collaboration, Creativity, Complexity and Convergence.

·         Core: social purpose will be at the core of business
·         Care: authenticity is critical
·         Collaboration: there will be joint enterprise, both internally and externally
·         Creativity: give your people a chance to contribute
·         Complexity: global problems defy simple solutions
·         Convergence: between ethics and economics

The conference was ably chaired by Court Assistant Roz Morris. Roz is Managing Director of TV News London, the leading media training and communications training agency which she founded more than 20 years ago.  I concluded the conference by asking everyone to vote on the Exam question. “Is Marketing for Good the Future of Marketing?” 100% of the delegates present voted “Yes”. Motion carried.

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