Russell Parsons: Marketing needs to pull out all the stops to attract the best talent

Not unlike the citizens of Copenhagen, employers need to create a caring and collaborative culture to encourage both professional and personal development.

I recently visited Copenhagen with my family and was diverted to distraction by analysing why the city had been garlanded “happiest in the world”. This does not appear to be a completely specious moniker, going by the random acts of kindness by helpful strangers, the almost unnerving helpfulness of public sector workers and the immense pride all service staff demonstrated in explaining the virtues of the place to hapless tourists.

I could have just asked what it was that spurred them to skip around their city but given I was supposed to be in the moment with my family, I thought quiet contemplation the more diplomatic option.

So what was my hypothesis? That a caring and collaborative culture, a greater freedom for individuals to achieve, honest discourse and solid governance coalesce to make contented citizens.

Now, I appreciate this picture of Scandinavian utopia is not the experience of all Copenhagen residents and that my solitary week there arguably renders my analysis crude, but still, there is definitely something in the culture of the city that makes its people such willing ambassadors.

For marketers, it is companies that create environments that are conducive to professional development, personal improvement and shared purpose that are considered good places to be.

READ MORE: What makes a good marketing employer?

Destination employers

The companies we profile in our Employer Brands list all have strong internal advocates willing to act as ambassadors in a way that the good people of Copenhagen were for me. We know this because their marketers have taken the trouble to tell us, nominating and providing testimony for those included.

What makes a destination employer for marketers, and indeed a place where you can continue to happily ply your trade, is a subject that has been in the spotlight in recent years. Talent, it is argued, that might have once gravitated towards marketing is being lost to tech-driven upstarts with esoteric names.

There is no evidence, anecdotal or statistical, that I have seen that even hints of an active choice being made to eschew marketing for sexier-sounding vocations. What is the case, however, is that companies that might have unfairly been seen as old-fashioned, ‘establishment’ or corporate have had to redouble their efforts to attract and retain the best – as demonstrated by the number of mature companies we profile.

These companies and the others featured have realised that they need to employ the same principles to finding, keeping and developing marketers as they do when attracting and nurturing the customers of the brands they are the guardians of – establish a compelling proposition, engender loyalty and grow with them.

READ MORE: Employer Brands 2017 – The profiles

Marketing is as compelling a vocation as it has ever been. Indeed, with digital and data opening up new opportunities, today is arguably up there with the best of times to be in marketing. However, there is more competition for the best marketers and there is greater expectation among employees, particularly young bucks who demand more social responsibility and sense of purpose than I and many of my easier-to-please generation did.

Marketing employers need to market themselves better than they have. It’s not just about talent; it’s about fostering advocates who will embrace the day with vigour and not a sense of inevitability, because they have a work-life balance, an environment of wellbeing, a place where their development needs are considered.

Not unlike the residents of Copenhagen.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here