Industry pays tribute to ethical business pioneer Anita Roddick

Leading figures from the PR industry have expressed their admiration for Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop and environmental campaigner, who died on Monday at the age of 64.

Roddick: inspired a generation
Roddick: inspired a generation

Burson-Marsteller UK chairman Gavin Grant was The Body Shop’s head of communications for seven years.

He said of Roddick: ‘She was magical, extraordinary, brilliant and sometimes frustrating. Anita was a visionary. She invented ethical business and understood ins­tinctively PR’s ability to change the business world without advertising or direct marketing.’

John Grounds, director of comms at NSPCC, is also a former Body Shop head of comms. ‘Anita was a fantastically exciting and inspiring person to work with,’ he said. ‘She gave me the opportun­ity to be part of something that fundamentally changed the way that business operated.’

Roddick’s former spokesperson and now founder of Redhead PR Sara Tye said: ‘In terms of communications, she was an absolute pioneer. Most of the things she was doing 20 years ago, everyone is doing now, from CSR to understanding and communicating with stakeholders. Her legacy is massive and she will be hugely missed.’

Jilly Forster, founder of Forster, was a close personal friend who worked with Roddick both in-house at The Body Shop and on the agency side. She said: ‘Anita has been my soulmate since 1983 when I first started working with her. I understood her shorthand, and she mine, and together we made mischief. 

‘She wasn’t always the most original thinker – and her attention to detail was sometimes dire – but she had the human touch, of interpreting what was happening from the grassroots up, a unique talent for setting people alight, of making the political personal.

‘She was a true champion of the oppressed, the marginalised, the underdog. And her irreverence, her sense of fun, her enormous energy set me alight. I’m going to miss her, most sorely.’

Roddick is best known for her tireless campaigning on social and environmental issues. She opened the first Body Shop in 1976. At the time, the business was bran­ded radical for being ded­icated to the pursuit of social and environmental change.

By attempting to benefit people other than just shareholders, Roddick is widely credited with demonstrating that businesses can be both profitable and ethical.

 

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