The past year's relative dearth of high-profile marketing moves suggests an encouraging stability, given the profession's reputation for short tenures. But some notable job changes that have taken place reflect the rise of what Keith Mackenzie, head of search and selection at Fitzroy Executive, part of The SG Group, calls 'the knowledge nomad'.
One notable trend has been high-level switches between the client and agency worlds. Rupert Howell and Lee Daley took the leap from agency to client this year, while David Patton, Sony's senior vice-president of communications for Europe, joined Grey London as chief executive.
Mike Sommers, marketing consultant and DMG World Media's interim marketing director, says these moves are risky at a senior level, given the very different challenges faced on each side of the divide. For his part, Mackenzie believes executive searches are now taking longer because clients are seeking out less obvious candidates with strong consumer knowledge. But Sommers argues that many such switches, including those to and from Manchester United, ITV and even Tesco, 'are signs of corporate stress, and evidence that the industry still doesn't know what marketing is for'.
One notable exception is John Lewis Partnership's promotion of long-time marketer Mark Price to managing director of Waitrose, which reflects the group's understanding of the importance of marketing and internal succession planning, and helps the supermarket pursue its ambitious growth strategy.
Thompson's decision in March to leave his job as European marketing director at Motorola after a year to take up the chief marketing officer role at Lastminute.com raised a few eyebrows, but his career has always been unconventional. After a stint in computing, he joined Honda in 1990, working in most departments before landing the top UK marketing job in 2002. He will long be associated with Honda's award-winning advertising. It is said that the ambitious Thompson became frustrated at being unable to do things as quickly as he wanted at Motorola; at Lastminute, the greater influence he will be able to exert is reflected in an equity stake.
Many viewed ITV's September appointment of Howell as its managing director, brand and commercial, as an odd choice. His career hitherto had been spent on the agency side, most recently as regional director, EMEA, at McCann Erickson - not obvious preparation for the top commercial spot at a closely scrutinised media owner. Howell will redevelop the ITV brand and exploit its activities commercially. But despite his contacts and ability to schmooze advertisers, if ITV is to successfully reposition itself, he will need the strategic vision that C4 chief executive Andy Duncan showed in a similar role at BBC One.
Hytner's appointment as commercial director of Top Up TV, announced in August, represents something of a homecoming for the TV veteran, who was at both BSkyB and Channel 5 before becoming commercial and marketing director of ITV in 2001. He moved to Barclays in 2004, but found it difficult to make headway there. Top Up TV launched in 2003 to offer subscription channels via Freeview; it now has 22, including Setanta Sports. Hytner previously worked with Top Up TV chairman David Chance at BSkyB.
Just a couple of weeks after the phased analogue TV signal switch-off began this autumn, Digital UK chief executive Ford Ennals announced he is to leave the body overseeing the digital switchover in February to join Nike division Cole Hann as president. The self-possessed Ennals has had a career characterised by frequent job switches, having held marketing roles at Mars, Reebok, BA and Lloyds TSB; even so, his latest move is surprising. One explanation for the timing might lie in a former colleague's assertion to Marketing, when Ennals joined Digital UK, that if it started to 'go smelly', he would get out.
Whitton, previously vice-president of consumer card product management at American Express, joined BA in August as general manager for marketing communications, responsible for developing global marketing communications strategy and delivering its marketing in the UK and Ireland. Her challenge is to restore faith in the airline after a year of pay disputes, baggage problems and confused brand positioning. 'BA is clearly still figuring out how to fill the gap left by the departure of Martin George (its commercial director, who resigned following the discovery of price-fixing) last year,' says Sommers.
Purnell, who took over from Tessa Jowell as secretary of culture, media and sport in June, was head of corporate planning at the BBC from 1995 to 1997, then Tony Blair's special adviser on culture, media and sport and the knowledge economy. He became parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in May 2005. Purnell recently announced the formation of a think tank to help formulate the government's media policy and scrutinise the future of public-service broadcasting.
Salmon's return to financial services, as group strategy, marketing and customer director at insurer Royal & SunAlliance (RSA), will no doubt feel more comfortable than her bruising time as director of marketing and commercial strategy at ITV. She joined RSA in June, and has a seat on the executive board, leading the global development and implementation of strategy, sales and marketing. The former consumer managing director of AA Financial Services had joined ITV when falling audiences were forcing a fundamental rethink of what it stood for, but left before Michael Grade's arrival this year.
The appointment of Lee Daley, chairman and chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi, as global commercial director at Manchester United in April was reminiscent of Adam Crozier's 1999 move from being joint chief executive of the agency to the chief executive's seat at the Football Association. But, unlike Crozier, Daley's stint in the sport lasted only four months; he left the club in August 'by mutual consent' with no job to go to. Daley's remit had been to push the club's brand, particularly in the Far East and US, and increase its profitability. But working with its US owners, who wanted to raise revenues by 52% to £245m by 2010, presumably proved too much.
As the only marketer here appointed via internal promotion, Mark Price's elevation to managing director of Waitrose, after 25 years at the retailer, is a tribute to the importance it accords both to marketing and growing its own talent. A former marketing director of Waitrose, in 2005 Price became development director of John Lewis, to oversee its expansion from 10 to 36 stores, manage its Green Bee division and its shareholding in online grocery service Ocado. His challenge is to steer Waitrose's expansion as it tries to take on the big four supermarkets and boost sales from £3.7bn to £8bn over the next 10 years.
Batchelor's appointment as Tesco's UK marketing director in August signalled a break with tradition; the supermarket prides itself on growing its own. Previously a board-level marketing director at Vodafone UK, before leaving to help set up computer repair firm The PC Guys in 2006, Batchelor trained in marketing at Procter & Gamble and has held senior roles at Amazon.com. Sommers believes Batchelor's appointment could signify a chink in Tesco's armour. 'Has its global expansion over-stretched its management capacity, and how well will Batchelor adapt to the Tesco culture?' he asks. 'It is a big test.'
This article was first published on Marketing