They Rose; Will You?
There are two kinds of people in this world:
• There are those who’d read the Steve Jobs biography and its horror stories of impossible demands, brutal deadlines, 180-degree turns and sky-high expectations and groan, “Oh. My. God.”
• And then there are those who read the Steve Jobs biography and all the stories and think: “Oh my god … cool!”
Most people don’t like challenges. But I bet most of the people reading this magazine do, and that somewhere, deep down, they also envy the folks who got to work at Apple Computer way back in those insane, insurgent, innovative and industry-transforming years.
Well, envy no more. The CPG industry is on the verge of a transformative shift of its own, rejecting the conventional product-centric approach of the past in favor of enterprise-wide, consumer-centric strategies. And it’s still a ground-floor opportunity for anyone willing to step up to the challenge. If you’re looking for role models, I represented this magazine and the Path to Purchase Institute last month in honoring four mold-breaking people who’ve set a very high bar.
Take, for example, Jody Kalmbach, vice president, digital experience, at Kroger. With a college degree in psychology and several years of relatively conventional marketing experience, this 2019 Hall of Fame inductee nonetheless transformed herself into a technology leader at a place called Amazon and under the watchful eye of a guy named Bezos. No pressure there, eh? And as if that weren’t enough, she’s now in the midst of another high-wire act: Helping Kroger vault from being almost nowhere digitally five years ago to the envy of the industry today.
Or how about Peter McGuinness, chief marketing & commercial officer at Chobani? He was a career ad agency pro who, when brought over to the CPG side, decided to revolutionize management inside the yogurt company. He’s taking down the walls separating marketing, sales, insights, product innovation, creative, and commercial finance and realigning them into a unified “Demand Department” with an elegantly straightforward mission: Put Chobani’s dollars where they’ll generate the most demand.
Or consider the breadth of April Carlisle’s contributions to marketing over the past 30 years. This Coca-Cola exec broke into a business that put her out on the road yet insisted that she still wear high heels. She became an industry speaker, educator, innovator, pioneer and all-around agitator for getting shopper marketing that proverbial “seat at the table.” She was the “sine qua non” contributor for our very first industry wall charts, helped develop and popularize “Store Thought Clinics” at P&G, and today is training and creating a global network of next-generation shopper marketers as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. Try following the footsteps of this Hall of Famer … in high heels.
And then there’s my old boss – and maybe to some degree the Steve Jobs in my extended analogy up top – Peter Hoyt, founder of the Institute. I joined Hoyt Publishing in 1994 and witnessed all his innovations first-hand: shows, awards programs, industry data, educational programming, PRISM, the League, P2PI, glossaries, wall charts, and on and on.
But I don’t think anyone can describe his contribution better, and with more credibility, than another industry pioneer, Dina Howell: “Most will never know just how instrumental you were in the adoption of shopper marketing as an industry standard,” she wrote last month. “But for those of us who do, we sincerely thank you!”