Marketer of the Week
Putting the Boots Man on the Front Foot: Pete Markey
The Boots CMO is making the case for trusted, inclusive, sustainable advertising
23 February 2023
The brief: find a marketer with the respect, confidence, profile and track-record to be the credible face of our industry’s drive for trusted, inclusive and sustainable advertising.
The answer: Pete Markey.
The chief marketing officer of Boots UK has just been appointed chair of the Advertising Association’s Front Foot initiative, which brings together advertisers, media owners, agencies and tech companies to advance the voice of the UK ad industry. And he’s a perfect fit for the post.
Pete, as you almost certainly know, is one of the UK’s highest profile, most garlanded and respected marketers, with a CV that also includes TSB, Aviva, the Post Office, RSA and MORE TH>N. He’s also one of Creative Salon’s Most Creative Marketers.
So what really makes Pete Markey such a standout marketer? The answer is grounded in his humanity and empathy. “Pete really loves people and he loves life – and my goodness he lives life to the full!,” says Justin Pahl, the joint CEO of VMLY&R who works with the Boots' marketer through WPP’s The Pharm. “With boundless energy he completely participates in all the things his customers do and experience – in every spare minute of the day he eats where they do, watches the same movies, visits the same theme parks, laughs at the same gags. He has a rare humanity and it is infectious. His empathy is his superpower.”
And no surprise: really understanding what makes people tick is the foundation on which brilliant marketing is built. “Pete can then translate that deep understanding into powerful brand platforms and super smart commercial plans that drives the business he serves,” says Pahl. “He has a constant voice of positive challenge – we have to meet the needs of customers and drive the business. He takes great ideas and backs them. He is restless when he thinks things aren’t as good as they could be. He is always interested in ‘new’.”
At Boots Pete’s not only given the retailer a powerful new positioning - “With you. For life” - but he’s launched an in-house agency with Oliver, a retail media operation, Boots Media Group and is working with the dedicated WPP-wide team The Pharm to give Boots a more data-driven, personalised edge.
Pete knows creative excellence when he sees it too, and with VML Y&R’s creative team (part of The Pharm partnership) now has a string of great Boots ads in his portfolio.
But if advertising is to get a better hearing from the public and the politicians alike, it needs to make a wider case than a purely economic or creative one. In pursuing its mission, Front Foot will also benefit enormously from Pete’s experience as an executive sponsor for Boots’ Marketing for Change initiative, which helps to foster diversity and inclusion across its marketing activity, and as the Executive Sponsor for Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Pride Alliance (LGBT+) group; he won the Diversity Ally award at the European Diversity Awards in 2019 and the Corporate Ally award at the Rainbow Honours Awards in 2022.
As chair of Front Foot, Pete will now be one of our industry’s most important voices around the issues of public trust, talent, inclusion and climate action. We’re in good hands.