This Much I Learned: Boots’ CMO Pete Markey on marketing leadership

In the latest episode of Marketing Week’s podcast series, Boots’ chief marketing officer and Marketing Week’s Marketer of the Year Pete Markey discusses the importance of being choiceful, his approach to career management, breaking silos and how to avoid being ‘typecast’ as a marketer.

Pete Markey’s credentials as a marketing leader are beyond question. He recently took home the Marketer of the Year title at the Marketing Week Awards 2023, and his track record at Boots over the past three years speaks for itself.

Talking at Marketing Week’s Leadership Summit in November, he spoke to an assembled audience about increasing the influence of marketing, improving relationships with senior stakeholders and the management of his own career and the importance of moving categories.

Prior to Boots, he worked as CMO for TSB Bank, and states that moving between verticals should be encouraged: “When you have a really good strong marketer who loves customers, passionate about brand and customer experience. I genuinely believe you can hop between industries and add incredible value.”

He also made the case for being choiceful.  When he joined Boots in February 2021, his remit was as much about selecting which marketing activities to discontinue as it was to identify new opportunities.

He said: “So we were category sponsors for the England women’s football team. England’s women’s football team are amazing. They have done amazing things. But we were not the right partner.”

He explained that the partnership – and the pre-existing marketing plans – boiled down to simply “telling people ‘you know the thing you already know we do? We’re still doing that’.” His marketing strategy for Boots, then, revolved around identifying new growth opportunities and committing marketing spend to achieving them.

One of those key areas of growth is the Advantage Card, which lies at the heart of Boots’ strategy for personalisation and retail media spend.

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Another was the brand’s partnership with flagship ITV programme Love Island, which saw Boots’ products prominently displayed within the show. He said: “I’ve never known a sponsorship like it. But that was a way to introduce something new and be a bit disruptive: we got Boots in front of an audience that needed to see us with a bunch of stuff that they didn’t know we did.”

Other topics Markey discussed  – some inspired by audience questions – include how to break traditional and digital marketing teams out of their silos, his worries about the fragmentation of marketing roles, and the changing nature of the CMO role.

From opening up about career moves to deep dives into strategy gleaned from years in the marketing industry, you can listen to previous episodes of Marketing Week’s This Much I Learned podcast on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud and Spotify.