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25 January 2020

In Memoriam Professor Martyn Davis

Tag(s): In Memoriam, People, Marketing
This week I attended the funeral of Professor Martyn David who passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 90. The occasion was more a celebration of his rich and full life with the glorious music of Bruch’s Violin Concerto as contemplation music and Verdi’s magnificent Grand March from Aida as exit music. Martyn was a very active Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Marketors of which I am a Past Master. Martyn had served on Court and was one of just two Court Assistants Emeritus in the Company. The current Master Andrew Cross addressed the congregation and there were no less than six Past Masters also present. Martyn would have been very pleased.

Born on 1st September 1929, Martyn graduated from the London School of Economics with a BSc in Economics specialising in industry and trade. After National Service he took up various jobs in sales and marketing and them in 1960 he joined the College for the Distributive Trades, then part of the London Institute, changing direction to take a leading role in Marketing Education, becoming Head of Marketing Services and later Head of the Department of Marketing and Advertising Studies. Blessed with a formidable intellect, he gained the professional membership qualifications of the Advertising Association, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Institute of Public Relations. He was also awarded the Honour Diploma of the Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation, later becoming a Governor.

In 1961, with the help of a bursary from the US State Department, he attended the international Marketing Institute Programme at Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. He would later say that this was one of three life transforming events. The other two were the work he did overseas for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office teaching marketing in developing countries, and joining the Marketors. On returning to the UK he became a Founder and Executive Director of the Cambridge International Marketing programme, a British-based version of the Harvard course.

Professor Davis was an examiner for the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Institute of Public Relations and Henley Management College. He published several successful textbooks on business including A Career in Advertising (1963), A Handbook for Media Representatives (1967), Effective Use of Advertising (1981) which ran to six editions, and Successful Advertising – Key Alternative Approaches (1997).

He joined the Marketors in 1984, became a Liveryman in 1985 and later joined the Court. Given his extensive experience in Marketing Education it was fitting that he should chair the Awards Committee for many years extending the range of awards for deserving students, academics and practitioners. He strengthened the protocol of these awards so that every major award comprised a cash sum from the Trust, a certificate of merit and a gold medallion engraved with the winner’s name and the Marketors’ crest. These were presented at a Ceremonial Court usually held before a Great Event. At the dinner the Master would announce the Award, requesting that the winner stand and be recognised and congratulated. To complete the evening the winner, who was invited with a partner and/or employer or tutor, would receive a photograph to act as a souvenir.

Martyn underwent major surgery in 2009 and later suffered from immobility and other illness. His friend of over 50 years, Kay Coombs OBE, former British Ambassador to Honduras and Mongolia, looked after his affairs. Martyn planned to leave a substantial legacy to the Marketors’ Trust the income from which would support a bursary to be offered every five years for a Liveryman of the Company to go on the Harvard Advanced Management programme. To ensure that this would run properly it was trialled in 2015 while Martyn was still alive. The winner Lesley Wilson also had a life transforming experience and will be installed next week as Master! This year’s candidate has been selected and will be recognised at the Installation Dinner, but Martyn was informed of the decision before his passing and was reportedly very pleased.

I only knew Martyn in the last fifteen years during which he became increasingly frail and lost his mobility. But I was always intrigued and impressed that when he attended our Great Events his companion was usually a glamorous blonde artist who was his neighbour. In his youth he was a keen ballroom dancer and also enjoyed martial arts, skiing and sailing. He was something of a polymath whose tastes varied from high opera to Westerns and Carry On films. He loved good food and dining out, was a connoisseur of antiques and could often be found in the museums and art galleries of this country.

He was a stickler for detail and when I was editing the History of the Marketors I asked a few members to help proof read. Most did but only came back with a few minor comments. Martyn, however, drafted a five page letter which Kay managed to prune to two and a bit pages. Nevertheless, there were still twelve points which Martyn wanted me to correct or amend. I worked carefully through them and while I did not fully agree with them all I was impressed with the rigour and vigour of his mind at the age of 88.

Right to the end his mind remained sharp. His last achievement was to publish a novel. It is a Science Fiction fantasy called The Doomsday Dossier. The proceeds of any sales will go to Age UK.

Source: I am indebted to fellow Past Master Sally Muggeridge for some of the material here from her obituary of Professor Davis in Marketor magazine Winter 19/20 Issue. Sally herself was introduced by Martyn to the Marketors as an Award Winner.



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