Marketers at ANA Vote "Aye" For Apple As Marketer Of The Year! — Ad Age

Advertising Age
15 October 2007
Marketer of the Year; Marketers at ANA give top honor to Apple; GEICO, Unilever and Nike and Al Gore are also favorites among 1,200 conference attendees

So Ad Age chose Nintendo as its Marketer of the Year, but the question at this year's annual Association of National Advertisers conference was who would become the inaugural marketer's marketer of the year? As it turned out the attendees bestowed the CMO Choice Award on Apple, although voting was also hot and heavy for the newly Nobeled Al Gore and for GEICO, famed for cavemen, lizards and insurance.

Rather than rely solely on the editors' judgment, Ad Age turned to the collective wisdom of the ANA attendees-1,200 people, including more than 600 marketers-to ask who they would have picked from the shortlist of six: Al Gore, Apple, GEICO, Nintendo, Nike and Unilever.

At the opening-night dinner of the conference, co-hosted by AOL and Ad Age-and including entertainment from comedian Kevin Nealon and Jim Belushi's blues band-attendees watched videos of six Ad Age reporters and editors making their case for these companies, before making their selection with hand-held voting devices.

Al Gore, despite being an unusual choice as a marketer, came in with 24 percent of the total votes. But he'll have to console himself with his Nobel Peace Prize, as he was pipped to the post by GEICO, which also ended up with 24% of the vote, and the eventual winner, Apple, with 25 percent. In total, however, only, five people's votes separated Mr. Gore in third from podium-topper Steve Jobs. The remainder of the votes were divided among Unilever, Nike, a perennial favorite, and Ad Age's choice, Nintendo.

After the voting Ad Age's Matthew Creamer and Alice Z. Cuneo asked some of the attendees who got their votes and why:

Pam Hamlin, president, Arnold Worldwide

Selection: Dove

Why: "It's so hard to create differentiation in the consumer-product category, particularly in package goods-it's much harder to sell a bar of soap."

Leeza Slessareva, Marketing Manager, Cisco

Selection: Nintendo

Why: "There was a lot of marketing strategy [involved in the campaign.] They got hold of people who were not previously interested in video games.

Mike Sheldon, President, Deutsch, Los Angeles

Selection: GEICO 

Why: "They took a low-interest, irrelevant category and came up with stellar results. It doesn't get any better than that."

Nick Feimer, VP-marketing insights, Levi Strauss & Co.

Selection: Apple

Why: "Apple is more innovative and consumer-focused than we have seen anywhere in the industry-they have a really good read on where consumers are today and where they are going tomorrow. And they're all about innovation."

Eric W. Leininger, corporate senior VP-global consumer and business insights, McDonald's Corp.

Selection: Apple

Why: "Their product speaks to so many people in so many different ways."

Other marketers: "Gillette. They keep improving their products, and they do a great job. Now that I shave my head, I appreciate them even more."

Ian Beavis, VP-marketing, PR and product planning, Kia Motors America

Selection: Al Gore

Why: "Al Gore has done more to change marketing than anyone. His inconvenient truth permeated every business and he did that."

Other marketers: "GEICO should not have been included. There is no strategy and they are all over the place. Nike has a difficult task [in competing for the award] because expectations are so high."

Michael Persaud, president-brand development, Muse Communications

Selection: Apple

Why: "Apple is no longer [just] a computer company. That's considerable."

Jim Stengel, global marketing officer, Procter & Gamble Co.

Selection: Al Gore

Why: "Gore was transformational. He got people to think about an issue in a different way. Great marketers do that."

Nick Brien, CEO, Universal McCann

Selection: Al Gore

Why: "It's phenomenal what he's done without a big budget. He used the internet, event marketing and Hollywood to get people to engage with a social cause. He's not just an evangelist. He's not a tree hugger. He's a marketer."

Mike Hard, VP-U.S. Sales, Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions

Selection: Al Gore

Why: "He took something that no one thought was possible and, through film and concerts and media, showed it was possible."

Joanne Davis, Joanne Davis Consulting

Selection: Unilever

Why: "With Dove, online led the way. Digital is the future and anyone who doesn't get that is a slacker."

Mitch Caplan, CMO, Y&R North America

Selection: Nike

Why: “Nike takes a commodity product and creates an emotional attachment across multiple platforms and drives consumer engagement."

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