Naomi Staff, MD, Core Research, Alana Devitt, Maynooth University winner of the Lepere Award 2019 and Chris Upton, Chair of The Marketing Society of Ireland
2018: Louise Hare, DIT
2017: Ciara Delaney, DIT
2014: Catherine McManus, DCU
2012: Sinead Foye, DCU
The LePere Award was created in memory of the late John LePere. The annual award recognises and rewards academic excellence in the field of Marketing and celebrates the future leaders of the industry. The award includes a generous bursary of €1,000, along with the industry recognition it will generate for the student.
At a recent anniversary of the awards, Marc Lepere spoke about his father and the foundations of the Lepere Awards.
"My father, John Lepere, was a big man. Big in frame and big in character. Everywhere I went in my
first job at O’Connor O’Sullivan Advertising, I was met with “oh you’re John’s son”. And I am. But I
am also Marc. And at least from a professional point of view, it was important for me to step out
from under his ample shadow to work in the UK and US.
So, I hope you can understand my enormous professional pride to be here representing my fellow
judges, the Council and the Marketing Society of Ireland – past and present. And my deep personal
pride, and gratitude to the Society, and each of you, for commemorating the values and skills of my
father and his colleagues with this award, which incidentally, my mother and I first presented in
2000 to the top student at the Smurfit Business School.
In the 1970s Dad was one of the founders of the Marketing Society. He and his colleagues were
concerned with marketing as a field rather than as a set of functional skills, important though they
are. So, let’s consider marketing in the broadest sense.
“Marketing today is not a function – it’s a way of doing business”. The ‘today’ referred to in this
quote is from 25 years ago. The evening of 21 March 1991 to be precise. Speaking at a Marketing
Society event, Dad was quoting from Regis McKenna’s famous article, “Marketing is everything”
published a month previously. He also quoted Peter Drucker, “Marketing encompasses the entire
business...from the point of view of its final result”.
If marketing is the “final result” of “the entire business”, then I suggest we have become duty-bound
to consider the social and environmental impact of our core business activities, and not just their
Governments and philanthropists cannot cope with the scale and complexity of the social and
environmental challenges facing mankind. OECD governments are now spending around 20% of
GDP, more than $10 trillion, on social issues annually. Philanthropists are donating about $500
billion a year. But it’s not enough - nor could it ever be.
Businesses, both large and small, are beginning to recognise that they have a role to play in
alleviating disease and hunger, in redressing inequalities of income and opportunity, in repairing and
protecting the planet...and by helping to solve these problems, in turn, the business can ensure its
continued prosperity and sustainable success.
If the next generation of marketers are to rise to the challenge, I believe there are two skills they
need to focus on...Data and analytics and Strategic vision. Let’s consider them one at a time...
In the context of changing media habits and competitive pressures have the quieter disciplines of
data collection and analysis been overshadowed by the inherent glamour of communications and
the short-term focus on sales revenue?
The Marketing Society grew out of the Market Research Society of Ireland. As its first Chairman, Dad
and colleagues quickly realised, and I quote from the 1974 IMJ; “they must broaden the base and
include marketing managers, brand managers and advertising men”. Apparently, businesswomen
were yet to be invented.
As we consider the power of big data, the growth of Artificial Intelligence and the potential of
machine learning, it’s worth remembering us Humans. Our capacity for empathy and judgement of
peoples’ needs, motivations and behaviours is indispensable. The best use of emerging technologies
will be a partnership of Artificial and Human Intelligence – a partnership that only the true marketer
can provide. We as marketers need to put data and analytics back at the heart of what we do.
Another key skill of the true marketer is Strategic vision. It was a strength of my father in his many
roles as Chairman of PJ Carroll’s, Erin Foods and Irish Marketing Surveys, and as Board Director of
Irish Sugar, Dublin Gas, Tedcastles and the National Maternity Hospital amongst others.
It can be argued that since the mid-1970s, the pervasiveness of the idea of Maximising Shareholder
Value (MSV) has had two key outcomes on business. Firstly, because it is focused on the quarterly or
annual demands of financial markets, MSV has forced businesses to become more short-term than
they would wish, and certainly than they need to be in the future.
Secondly, MSV requires the redirection of profits to shareholders, often via financial engineering,
away from other productive investments like R&D, skills development, higher wages or technology
upgrades. The consensus now, after 40 years of maximising shareholder value, is that it is having a
detrimental effect on the health of companies worldwide.
If marketing is “a way of doing business”, that way clearly needs to change. Marketers need to re-
discover their role as strategic visionaries of the organisation. Leaders who inspire a different way of
doing business, motivated by the external impact on society and the environment. We as marketers
need to allow ourselves to be driven by the market and not just the stock market.
An analytical mind, visionary thinking and the ability to inspire - are the hallmarks of marketing.
Never have these skills been more needed by business and mankind. Never has there been a better
time to be a marketer. And that is the Council’s aim in relaunching this award; to recognise and
reward an outstanding talent from the next generation of marketers. So, I am delighted, on behalf of
three generations of Leperes, to present the 2017 Lepere Award to Ciara Delaney, BSc in Marketing DIT."