Michele Martin discovers how the KLP chief juggles his demanding
post with the chairmanship of SPCA.
Appearance: Tall, slim and fitter than I really am.
Lives: Parsons Green, London
Income band: Enough to support a scary overdraft.
Occupation: Chief executive of the KLP Group and incoming chairman of
the Sales Promotion Consultants Association (SPCA).
Before we start, let’s get one burning issue out of the way. Shelf
wobblers. What’s the best one you’ve ever produced?
We’ve done some of the finest wobblers known to man, but I can’t
remember half of them.
Does it bother you that people often see the industry in this light?
Actually, no, because there aren’t many people like that around any
Just over half of total worldwide marketing spend goes outside
conventional advertising so anyone who says things like that is either
stupid or naive.
That’s put me in my place. Moving along, tell me about the tortuous
career path that led you to two plum jobs at such a young age
I began my career in 1977 at Grand Metropolitan Brewing in sales, joined
BAT a decade later as marketing manager in West Africa and finally moved
to KLP in 1988. I’ve been group chief executive for three years and took
on my SPCA role in January.
Can you manage both at once? After all, KLP has almost doubled in size
to become the UK’s second largest such company since you became chief,
with a pounds 27 million turnover
There’s an old saying that goes: ’If you want something done, ask a busy
man.’ If I didn’t think I could do it, I wouldn’t have volunteered. And
don’t forget, there are 12 people on the SPCA board.
But why not just sit back and enjoy your KLP bonuses instead of taking
on extra responsibilities?
Perhaps if those bonuses had been even 10 per cent of those of friends
in the City, I’d have thought about retiring. But they’re not, so ...
The serious answer is that I think it’s vital for top consultancies to
have a voice. We’re going to be the most important part of the
communications mix in the next few years and I’d like to define where we
What issues burn a hole in your agenda?
Several things. There will be a lot of changes in EC legislation during
my two years as chairman and we need to ensure no unfairly
anti-competitive laws get through. The UK has the most mature
promotional marketing industry in Europe and we want to encourage our
model as a standard. That way, we are more likely to be allowed to
compete in other countries.
We also need to get top graduates into the business and make sure that
the best clients have access to the best agencies. We already run
Portfolio Service, our own AAR, and we’ll be improving that.
All good, solid stuff, but what really gets your juices flowing?
My hobby horse is getting to the bottom of remuneration by results. A
good agency should be prepared to share some of the business risks with
a client and the first step is finding a good measurement standard.
If you weren’t doing all this, how would you earn a crust?
I’d like to run something small and profitable on a tropical island,
preferably in the Indian Ocean, because I haven’t been there.
And do you have any hobbies?
I shoot a bit and love travelling. And, of course, there’s the SPCA.
Don’t worry - only kidding.