Pete Markey, CMO at Boots, has been named Marketer of the Year at the 2023 Marketing Week Awards.
Markey was selected from a competitive shortlist of the highest rated marketers in the Marketing Week Top 100, sponsored by Digitas.
Since joining the retail giant in 2021, Markey has led widespread, research-driven changes at Boots that have seen its loyalty proposition become a core part of the brand’s strategy as well as a new positioning for the brand moving away from its famous ‘Feel Good’ to ‘With You. For Life’.
This, in addition to the work he does for industry bodies to try and lift standards and status of marketing and marketers – Markey is the vice president at ISBA, a role he has held since 2019, and is the chair of the Front Foot Network – made him the clear choice for our jury of some of the UK’s most prominent, and experienced figures in marketing.
Speaking about the award, Markey said it was proof that “we’re doing a good job at Boots” and that the endorsement from the judges was “amazing”.
“This award is wonderful, I’m slightly shocked and humbled,” he says. “Often in a brand you can end up in a little bit of a bubble where you’re creating for your customers in your own world. But when your peers see the work you’re doing and recognise it that’s the cherry on top of the cake.”
Russell Parsons, editor-in-chief of Marketing Week, says: “Pete is a marketing leader who has had a demonstrable impact on the success of Boots, gives back in his involvement in industry bodies, and is someone very generous with his time, always willing to share his experience and insight and fly the flag for marketing.
“In other words, he ticks every box necessary to be named marketer of the year. Huge congratulations to an excellent marketer.”
Markey joined Boots during a challenging time in its 150-year history, in wake of the pandemic, and looking to re-establish itself as one of the UK’s best-loved brands. He told Marketing Week earlier this year that his first task was to undertake a diagnosis of the Boots brand so as to not rely on his “preconceptions” of the brand but rather – “how the customers feel about it”.
From that diagnosis came a few key findings. One, that the brand was severely under-leveraging its loyalty proposition, something Markey has addressed over multiple campaigns leading to over one million new, active Advantage Card holders being added during his tenure. Two, that its long-standing ‘Feel Good’ brand positioning no longer felt of the moment as the nation emerged from the pandemic, a fresh wave of diagnosis and insight led to its new positioning ‘With You. For Life’ which launched in 2022 to industry acclaim.
Best in class brand building: Top marketers on getting brand diagnosis and positioning rightThirdly, Markey wanted to add a creative spark to Boots’ campaigns in an effort to modernise the brand. His two main summer campaigns ‘Feel Good as New’ and ‘Summer Better Be Ready’ released in 2021 and 2022 respectively to immediate industry praise. Both campaigns generated over £2.50 ROI on a £1 investment, according to Markey, and laid the platform for its even more successful Christmas campaigns which generated £4 in ROI on every pound spent.
The results from all this hard work speak for themselves. Markey claims brand health has improved across all key measures compared to both 2021 and pre-pandemic, and that success is showing through in the retailer’s commercial results. Sales increased by 11.7% in its most recent results for the fourth quarter, leading to its tenth consecutive quarter of market share growth. Results its owner Boots Walgreen Alliance described as “towards the top end of expectations”.