When you ask marketers to rate their peers and pull together the nominations, the outcome is pretty predictable. It appears that marketers are captivated by high-flying entrepreneurial businessmen, rather than by the great and good of the day-to-day world of marketing. A poll of marketers commissioned by Marketing Week for Horizons – a special supplement published this week in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the magazine – is topped by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, with easyGroup’s Stelios Haji-Ioannou in third place. In building up their business empires and extending their brands – Virgin and easy – both have championed the consumer.
But both appear to be running out of steam. Branson has been relatively quiet for the past year or so – his last big burst of activity was the launch of Virgin Mobile – while Haji-Ioannou is busy jumping from one project to another, without repeating the success of easyJet. So, where are the entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow? The dot-com bomb blew the chances of many, and the subsequent poor state of the economic environment has not helped. Will the next 25 years of Marketing Week produce new names to provide inspiration for future generations of marketers?
One fact is for sure: the next quarter-century will throw up plenty of issues for marketers to grapple with. Should globalisation be embraced or should due regard be paid to consumers’ differing perceptions of brands and products country by country? Will there be a return to the days of all-out war between brands and retailers? Will retailers become the new media? Will advertising agencies have to change their structure in order truly to take on the concept of media-neutral planning? Will marketers ever be taken seriously in the boardroom? While it is not clear what the answers to these debates are, a number of industry figures offer their opinions on these and many other issues facing marketers over the next 25 years in Horizons. Perhaps these nuggets of wisdom will help stir up the entrepreneurs of tomorrow?