Marketing strategists at Lufthansa, Unilever and vente-privee.com win CMO of the Year awards

London, 23 November 2009: International jury honours the ‘Champions’ League’ of European marketing at the “CMO of the Year” award presented for the fourth time, in Frankfurt.

Thierry Antinori, Executive Vice President Sales Lufthansa AG, Simon Clift, CMO Unilever, and Jacques-Antoine Granjon, CEO vente-privee.com, are this year’s winners of the CMO of the Year 2009 awards. A top-ranking international jury comprising representatives from business, the media and the academic world selected these three exceptional heads of marketing, and they received their awards at a gala evening in Frankfurt on Thursday 19 November.

This is the fourth year that international strategy consultancy Booz & Company has awarded the prize. The ‘CMO of the Year’ award highlights outstanding marketing performances that have made a vital contribution to a company’s success, and underlines the growing importance of strategically-oriented, innovative marketing. Gregor Harter, jury member and partner with Booz & Company, commented: “The prize-winners this year reflect both the strategic importance of, and also the wide-ranging options for, visionary marketing management. The right strategic approach, combined with consistent implementation, is every bit as vital to success for an established major company group as it is for a start-up.”

British Simon Clift transformed the traditional consumer goods group Unilever into a successful, market-oriented organisation, following massive restructuring.

French Thierry Antinori further strengthened Lufthansa AG as a premium brand in an extremely competitive market. His fellow countryman Jacques-Antoine Granjon succeeded in making vente-privee.com, an online marketplace for brand-name merchandise, the European market leader. Smart business models coupled with a clear marketing strategy are inseparably linked to these success stories.

The jury selected the winners from a total of 17 nominees via a three stage process. Jury members were:

  • Hugh Burkitt, CEO, The Marketing Society
  • Gerhard Berssenbrügge, Board Chairman, Nestlé Deutschland AG
  • Harald Eisenächer, Segment Board Member for Personal and Social Networking, Products & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom AG
  • Mikhail Gerchuk, Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, MTS OJSC
  • Markus Gotta, Executive Board Member, Deutscher Fachverlag publishing group
  • Dr. Olaf Göttgens, CEO at Rodenstock GmbH
  • Christoph Hardt, Head of Companies and Markets Division, Handelsblatt
  • Gregor Harter, Vice President, Booz & Company
  • Amanda Jobbins, VP Technology & Corporate Marketing European Markets, Cisco Systems Ltd.
  • Prof. Laurent Maruani, Professor at the HEC Graduate School of Management
  • Ewald Manz, Senior Client Partner, Kom/Ferry International

The candidates were chosen on the basis of the marketing excellence criteria developed by Booz & Company. These criteria assess the influence of the CMO on strategy and organisation, brand communications and marketing communications, product design and pricing, and customer relations. This year, the online competencies of the marketing managers came under particularly close scrutiny.

The prize-winners 2009

Thierry Antinori is largely responsible for the fact that Lufthansa AG, with turnover in 2008 of €24.9 billion, is the number one airline in Europe and ranks amongst the world’s leading airlines. Since 2003, Antinori’s professional and systematic brand management has defied the intensely competitive environment in this industry. His objective is to have a strong internal and external brand with an emotional appeal to complement its robust technological affinity. In addition to setting up a department for professional brand management, Antinori is turning employees into brand messengers through targeted internal communication measures, such as the Lufthansa Brand Academy. He also focuses on customer loyalty, for example targeted data mining is increasing efficiency across the entire scope of customer communications and the established frequent flyer programme, Miles&More, is becoming even more attractive under his leadership. The introduction of tailored product development sees Antinori rounding off the customer-oriented brand profile.. New campaigns are reinforcing the external impact of the Lufthansa brand. Antinori is increasingly shifting marketing budgets into the online sector. This highly strategic and precisely-focussed brand management is strengthening Lufthansa in its leading position and has been appropriately acknowledged by the jury via a “CMO of the Year” award.

Simon Clift can look back over an extensive and successful career at Unilever. He has held a number of senior marketing positions with the company – including a period heading up the Global Personal Care Category, and more recently as CMO. In this role, he has  helped bring about directional change within the company, effectively moving it away from being a holding company of largely autonomous local businesses to a company built around a portfolio of true global brands, thereby unlocking synergies of excellence and scale. This has culminated in a leaner portfolio of more powerful global brands. He has  led the process to raise the profile of Unilever and giving meaning to the overall company brand as a mark of trust and responsible behaviour. The product brands are thereby supported and underpinned by the Unilever company brand. This programme of simplification and cost and complexity reduction was achieved by introducing a new organisational model of global brand management, built around the appointment of Global Brand Directors with direct accountability for the innovation, brand equity and communications programmes wherever that brand is marketed.

This required the simultaneous development of best practice tools and processes to enable a common language, common measures and shared ways of working across the 120 or so countries in which Unilever operates. In so doing he has also led the raising of the company’s marketing capabilities and communication and promotion of this externally. This simplification and globalisation has been achieved without losing momentum in the market place, margins have improved and growth is continuing to accelerate. New communications models have been trialled with a roster of ‘traditional’ and ‘new media’ and PR agencies, and Unilever has been rewarded with the highest number of creative and effectiveness awards of any advertiser over the last decade. These achievements are being rewarded by the jury with a “CMO of the Year” award.

Jacques-Antoine Granjon founded the first online shopping club, vente-privee.com, in 2001 in Paris. Using exclusive sales promotions, internationally-known brands are offered for sale at greatly reduced prices for two to four days each time. This pioneering e-commerce enterprise now has 9 million members and an annual turnover of €650 million, making it the European market leader. Granjon has succeeded in developing a quasi-revolutionary “B2B2C business model”: end-consumers and brand manufacturers benefit in equal measure from it. Products are 50 to 70 per cent below the store price. Selling off high-value leftover stock is achieved quickly and discreetly. The evidence from 2008, with 1,800 sales promotions involving 850 brands, is compelling: Granjon has built up a trusted online brand. To that end, right from the start his focus has been on credibility: the club’s internet presence, professional throughout in look and technology, wins over buyers and sellers alike. Sellers receive regular and extensive feedback about end-consumers and their consumer behaviour. The figures show that online shopping also encourages consumers to make visits to bricks-and-mortar stores and does not simply have a cannibalising effect on sales. The principles of personal recommendation and viral marketing are driving the rapid escalation in membership numbers and sales. No investment is diverted into traditional advertising. As well as operating in France, vente-privee.com already has an established presence in Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK, and is expanding further. It is because of this innovative business model, inseparably linked with strategic brand positioning, that the jury is honouring Granjon as a “CMO of the Year”.