Clients create the eco-system in which our contributions develop, mature, and flourish. Bad clients diminish the world, scaling it back to match their own limitations. It doesn’t matter how good we are, their limitations become our limitations. Good clients are good to work for because they oxygenate the world with their own intelligence and creativity. We can do our best work and then some.
The present clients have been a special pleasure. I didn’t ever have to grit my teeth and worry whether an idea was too difficult or strange. I could work with the confidence that they were up for my best efforts, and the knowledge that my best efforts would be made better.
What I didn’t suspect that there is a hidden explanation here…not until the last hour of the last presentation (today). It turns out that several of my clients are ex-P&G. Hmm, I thought to myself, is it possible that all of my best clients have been ex-P&G? (I’ll have to go back and check.)
More generally, is it possible that P&G is the best marketing program for people interested in the intersection of anthropology and economics, in a cultural approach to marketing?
There was a time that Northwestern’s bschool was best. On the heritage created by Chicago advertising, strategy and research in general, and the particular accomplishments of Philip Kotler and Syd Levy in particular, the Kellogg ranked first in the BusinessWeek ratings for good reason. A knowledge of culture mattered here and it was built into the curriculum. But with the departure of Rob Kozinets and John Sherry, the school effectively turned its back on anything like an anthropological point of view. Canvassing the other top schools, there’s a person here and there. No program has made a thorough going commitment.
Is this event, the world of marketing should have been turning away from a cultural approach for some time now…and perhaps it has. But there are still lots of cultural sophisticated marketers out there…and now, I am beginning to wonder whether this might not be because P&G is a defacto marketing program that has produced many (hundreds? thousands?) of graduates who make up the deficit that business school programs now systematically create.
This is in fact a nice book opportunity here. Call it the P&G diaspora. We would want to capture what marketing is like at P&G now, and over the years, how it works as a bschool, how it improves on a bschool, how it embraces a culturally sophisticated point of view, how it kept the flame alive even as so many bschools have systematically sought to extinguish it.
But there is a more immediate benefit to this revelation (if it’s true): when students write us to ask which business school is best for marketing, we can say, "there’s a really good program in Cincinnati."