Claire Beale is the editor of Campaign
Claire Beale is the editor of Campaign
A view from Claire Beale,

Claire Beale: Adland should applaud the marketing heroes

I met a senior marketer the other day who told me he wanted to be famous. He wanted to achieve this by doing marketing that everybody talked about, and that got everybody talking about him. "I want to be a celebrity marketer," he said. I'm not kidding and I don't think he was either.

Perhaps that's the sort of thing a senior marketer thinks the editor of Campaign wants to hear. Or perhaps he was just angling for some nice editorial coverage. Either way, he was thoroughly unabashed about wanting the limelight. But why? Celebrity marketer? I think I've known a few, but I'm sure they didn't consider themselves to be such, or work at it.

Being "famous" won't help this particular marketer sell more of his product and it won't make him a better marketer. But he believes it will. You see, the more he can build a name for himself as a smart, shrewd and effective marketer, the more confidence his company will have in his decisions. He'll have fewer battles to get approval for brave marketing and ad initiatives because his colleagues will trust him more. Or so he thinks.

How strange. Surely his company knows he is smart, shrewd and effective (which he is) without having to learn it from glowing profiles in the business press or from the conference platform? No. His board, he says, is trying to institute a more creative agenda, but doesn't yet have the self-belief required to abandon the comfort blanket of caution and take more creative risks. They need licence to be braver and he needs licence to push them. Fame, define it as you will, could give him that licence, he says.

I applaud the ambition. We need more hero marketers to set the standard high. So though we've naturally profiled the creatives behind last week's Big Award winners (page 12), we should also champion the clients who pushed through the work: Anna Crona from Ikea, Craig Inglis and Anna Braithwaite from John Lewis, Chris Payne from Tower Hamlets Council, Jane Burton and Sarah Briggs from Tate, Nicola Carver and Tim Dixon from More Th>n, and Stephanie Day from the Metropolitan Police. All of these marketers believed in the power of advertising and fought to push through excellent, agenda-setting work that should inspire fresh advertising bravery. We're aiming to throw a spotlight on all of them over the coming months.

Of course, buying great advertising is only one very visible route to herodom. At this week's IPA Effectiveness Awards, I saw Boots' Elizabeth Fagan and Procter & Gamble's Roisin Donnelly, both of whom have built formidable reputations as true marketing heroes without armfuls of sexy creative awards. But whether it's for brave advertising, effective advertising, or the passionate pursuit of all the other marketing responsibilities that are less obvious, celebrating brilliant clients is something we should all do more.

Claire Beale is the editor of Campaign