How important was AG Lafley?

It already feels like Christmas in the marketing world. Festive commercials dominate our screens, festive fayre adorns the front covers of magazines and my Starbucks latte is served in a jolly red paper cup. Better still, the party season is upon us.

The early years of my marketing career were blessed with an entire month of parties sponsored by our roster of agency hosts. It was a special time, though quite how I coped with the pace I will never know. These days I am happy with a mince pie, a glass of sherry and coming in on forecast at the year end.

On the subject of mince pies and sherry, I was delighted to attend The Marketing Society’s 50th anniversary annual gala dinner last week. It was great to catch up with old friends and colleagues.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, the society honoured those brands that have made the greatest impact during the past half century. Microsoft was voted the brand that most changes our lives and few could argue with that. Meanwhile, Apple was acknowledged as the brand most loved by consumers.

Whether you agree with these results or not, there is no doubt that events such as this serve as a great reminder of how fortunate we are to work in an industry where examples of world-class marketing can make an immense impact.

The event also celebrated the contributions of talented marketers – Procter & Gamble’s godfather AG Lafley scooped the “greatest contributor to marketing” award. In the words of The Marketing Society CEO, Hugh Burkitt: “It is generally accepted in the UK that marketing in its modern sense really began in the mid-50s with Procter & Gamble.”

Having never worked for P&G, I have never quite understood the hero-like status which Mr Lafley commands. I have no doubt that he is a talented man who made a massive contribution to P&G, but he didn’t get my vote.

Upon chatting to my brand team this week about the awards, none of them had even heard of Mr Lafley and I found it difficult to explain to them exactly why he was chosen. I have no doubt that those Proctoids among you will despair at these comments. So I look forward to some enlightening feedback from readers on why I’m missing out on learning from Lafley.


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