The Executive Vice President (EVP) of Unilever Ghana and Nigeria, Yaw Nsarkoh, has stated that the essence of marketing is the creation of strong brands that provide real solutions that improve people’s lives.
Taking a global overview in his remarks, Mr. Nsarkoh referenced modern marketing dilemmas that were done by Kantar for 2023, which refers to data on the supremacy of evidence, facts, and science.
“My brother, Dr. Mzamo Masito, an outstanding marketing brain and human being sent me this review and I’d like to thank him for it. In my judgment, it qualifies as one of the most stimulating marketing reviews I have come across in a very long while. It is evidence-based and empirical. It is not reliant on old housewife tales. The review leaves enough room for creative judgment and for human intuition. And it is when that magic is put together that marketing is at its best,” he said.
Speaking further, the business leader noted that Byron Shop’s work is referred to a lot in the review, which obviously plays to his biases and prejudices.
“I consider Byron Sharp to be one of the best thinkers in the marketing profession at present. I’ve been fortunate, through Unilever, and specifically through Paul Polman, to listen to Byron Sharp and to read his books. And I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that at least, by my criteria, he is one of the lead thinkers in marketing of all time.
“Yet even one of the best reviews, one that merits very sincerely all that I have said to praise it. That does not make it perfect, and I do have some critical comments to make about it,” he noted.
The corporate titan and thought leader, while interrogating the review, stated that it makes a distinction between profiteering and profits.
“The review says clearly that it backs profits, not profiteering. If so, what does the verbatim quote that says and I quote, ‘Although the very essence of marketing is to sell more stuff to a greater number of people at higher prices. What does this mean?” he questioned.
Maintaining that the essence of marketing is the creation of strong brands that provide real solutions that improve people’s lives, Mr. Nsarkoh mentioned that, for the marketing profession to accept the argument of the review without challenge will be to capitulate to neoliberal capitalism, and to head back to the days of Milton Friedman.
“That really is the essence. The Apple brand, a great example of a strong brand, captures this with its tenets, when it says, ‘simplicity, creativity, humanity’. I stress humanity. Marketing must concern itself with serving humanity in order to secure the long term health of society.
“If it does this well, it can legitimately accept a return as reward, what some call profits. That is a very different causality to saying, and I quote again,’ the very essence of marketing is to sell more stuff to a greater number of people at higher prices’,” he said.
For Mr. Nsarkoh, taking the very essence of marketing as selling more stuff to a greater number of people at higher prices at face value will portray marketing as a very unethical and antisocial profession. Despite what he described as fundamental disagreement on the essence of marketing, applauded the review highly as an outstanding and stimulating contribution to the field.
“I recommend that all practitioners study it – all 55 pages of it. Given that I prefer to organise than to agonise, I will take some steps, in addition to this recording of my views which will go viral by end of the day.
“One, I will send my views to three big voices in the field. Paul Polman, Alan Jope, Dr. Dr. Mzamo Masito. Though I am aware they have made this point repeatedly, that essence they have defined must be relooked and reviewed. Two, as soon as I can make the time, I will send an e-mail to the global Chief Executive Officer of Kantar, both to thank him for this very stimulating and useful review and to make the point that the essence needs to be redefined if marketing is to thrive,” he stated.
“For they did say themselves in the review, and I quote, ‘Profit is not a dirty word, not even in inflationary times.’ Although many of us feel somewhat frustrated by the growing cases of profiteering versus profit, my clarity on the role of the marketer remains intact,” he emphasised.
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