Graeme Atha: Vision of vibrant marketing sector set to change view of its role and value

Earlier this year the Marketing Society Scotland launched our new vision: to build a vibrant marketing community renowned for enlightened thinking, innovation and creativity. We thought long and hard to select the adjective that best reflected the type of community we want to build and vibrant seemed to fit perfectly. A community full of life and energy – dynamic, stimulating and determined.

We also had a lot of discussion on the three platforms we thought we could to use to build our reputation.

Scotland is already known for our enlightened thinkers. In the 18th and early 19th century intellectuals gathered at our ancient universities to assert the importance of human reason leading to improvement, virtue and practical benefit for individuals and society as a whole.

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While this radical new thinking helped inform the philosophers, scientists, engineers and economists of the day, these concepts remain central to effective marketing today.

Likewise innovation and creativity are also at the heart of marketing strategy and areas where Scotland also has as an enviable worldwide reputation.

With our vision in place we set out our objectives for the next three years.

As a membership organisation we must keep our members at the centre of everything we do, ensuring we increase numbers while keeping our membership engaged and supported. We also believe we play an important role in building the reputation of marketing as a discipline, profession and as a career. We realise there is still much work to be done in promoting a better appreciation of the role and value of marketing – from the classroom to the boardroom.

Our third key objective is to promote Scotland as a great place to study, work and invest in marketing talent. We are working with universities across Scotland to help support Student Marketing Societies which we think will help with perceptions of marketing as a profession.

We have also developed Employer Brand awards to recognise leading organisations to attract, retain and develop talent in Scotland.

Over the years we have developed four flagship events: 
In the spring we have Digital Day – this year on 24 April at the Technology and Innovation Centre at Strathclyde University. This event will be hosted by Georgie Barrat, presenter of the Gadget Show, who will introduce a wide range of speakers and leading brands examining who is doing what and what is coming next in the digital space.

Our biggest event of the year is our Star Awards, where more than 500 marketing professionals will gather at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow on 13 June to recognise and reward the leading companies and individuals who have performed the best in 2018. The awards presented range from our Star School and Star Student Awards and Rising Stars to our 
Agency and Marketing Team of the Year as well as our Inspirational Leaders.

As part of the Edinburgh Fringe we have our Amplify Marketing Festival at the University of Edinburgh Business School on 23 August. Events include the Ogilvy Lecture (a tribute to David Ogilvy – advertising legend and a proud and passionate Scot) the Badger Debate (as a tribute to Kenny Harris – a local legend and a proud and passionate debater) as well as our Client vs Agency Creative Challenge. After the events there is our legendary Mad Men and Women Drinks Party.

We round off our year with our St Andrew’s Day Dinner on 28 November where as well as a keynote speaker and after dinner entertainment, we award our new Fellows and Honorary Fellows together with our Employer Brands of the Year.

We also run a full programme of development events across the year.

These include Future Leader events for members aspiring to leadership roles where some of our senior members provide insights on their careers and the lessons they have learned.

Inspiring Minds is a series of events where world class speakers are invited to provide insights on the latest thinking in our industry.

Trendspotting events are hosted by top agencies presenting on the recent trends, tools and marketing techniques and Industry Insights events are hosted by leading brands presenting on their sectors and activities.

One of the pleasing aspects that runs throughout our event programme is the enthusiasm our members and their organisations have for sharing their experiences and learnings; playing their part in building a vibrant marketing community in Scotland.

To keep updated on our activities and industry matters visit

Graeme Atha, Director of The Marketing Society