Thursday, May 18, 2006

Inspirational marketers

This week's Marketing Week contains a a great feature about the 100 most influential marketers. Not surprisingly, Richard Branson ranked Number 1, with entrepreneurial spirit being cited by the survey as a key inspirational attribute.

I was privileged to be a guest of Hill and Knowlton's at the recent Institute of Directors Annual Convention, and saw Will Whitehorn, the President of Virgin Galactic, present. I have to say I was truly inspired by Virgin's vision of space travel. To talk about the challenges of commercialising space really is an example of thought leadership and setting lofty goals.

Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks was voted Number 1 in the Readers' Choice and Number 10 over in the Marketing Week report. His co-founder, Adam Ballon also spoke at the IoD event, and was equally inspiring. There was a real contrast in approach between the big established brands and the "young guns", represented by guys like Adam, who spoke on the entrepreneur's panel.

The Innocent story is such a good one. I loved the anecdote about the basis on which the co-founders took the decision to chuck in their "real jobs" and start Innocent full time: they asked punters at a market day to vote by throwing their empty Innocent smoothie bottles into one of two bins. Fortunately for Richard and Adam, the punters voted that the smoothies were good enough, and the "yes" bin got more votes than the "no" bin. The rest, they say, is history. The Innocent website is also really cool - it's funky, lists and shows all their employees, and screams of personality. Innocent really seem to know what they want their brand to be about, and live it consistently.

You can follow the link from the IoD event page to download podcasts of both Will Whitehorn's and Adam Ballon's appearances - both of which I recommend.

Marketing Week also used exclusive research generated by Factiva Insight to compare the rankings of top marketers in their survey, with the rankings of the the same marketers across the UK media. Interestingly, British Airways' Martin George topped the rankings by media coverage, followed by Barclay's Jim Hytner and Innocent's Richard Reid.


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