In every marketing decade there are a couple of brands that everyone follows. Not just because the brand is brilliant, but because those in charge of it are so far ahead of everyone else that you have to keep an eye on what they do next.
Three decades ago we all looked to Levi's, then to Boddingtons and to Tango, then Gillette, on to Skoda and First Direct, and then spectacular work at Stella Artois and Häagen-Dazs and Cadbury, to Dove, then Tesco and most lately John Lewis.
Each brand, and the team behind it, had its moment in the marketing sun. A six- or seven-year spell when the brand could do no wrong and its strategic excellence begat tactical effectiveness, which built brand equity, which fed more tactical effectiveness. A super-collider of marketing effectiveness that built and built and built.
At the moment, it is very much Direct Line that is building the energy and deriving the most attention from savvy marketers. Mark Evans and his team of flying effectiveness monkeys are smashing it and, as various industry gongs and effectiveness prizes testify, they have their shit well and truly together.
Eventually, as history teaches us, this team will diffract and defect across the industry and the brand will fade from its current power place. But not for a while and certainly not yet.