x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Philip Kotler eyes capital for marketing forum

Abu Dhabi could be home to annual global gathering of industry leaders, US expert says.

Philip Kotler says his role in the forum would be to advise on speakers and agendas.
Philip Kotler says his role in the forum would be to advise on speakers and agendas.

The marketing expert Philip Kotler says he is in talks with Abu Dhabi officials over the launch of a World Marketing Forum event to be held in the capital. The forum, which he said could take place as early as March next year, may be complemented by the foundation of a Museum of Marketing, which would honour practitioners and historic developments in the field.

Prof Kotler will today give a training seminar entitled Marketing 3.0 - Values Driven Marketing, in Abu Dhabi, in which he will discuss his latest theories. The event is being organised by the Higher Colleges of Technology. It is expected that an announcement regarding the marketing forum will be made then. "I am working with some people in Abu Dhabi on an idea of starting an annual event called the World Marketing Forum," said Prof Kotler.

"There is a World Economic Forum at Davos, a World Business Forum … But a World Marketing Forum has never existed before. And it's quite possible it would be based here in Abu Dhabi." Prof Kotler, the author of Marketing Management, lectures at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and is credited with inventing the renowned "four Ps" marketing mix of product, price, place and promotion - which he later upped to seven Ps to include people, process and physical evidence.

He said the high number of people living within easy flying distance of the UAE would make Abu Dhabi a good choice to host the marketing forum. "One of the hopes is to put in one part of the world an annual event that would bring the best new ideas about marketing … the best speakers and the best exchanges that can occur," he said. "Marketing is everywhere and everything. You market ideas, you market causes, you market personalities, you market places."

Prof Kotler said his role would be to advise on speakers and agendas, with officials and partners in the Emirates involved in other aspects of the project. He said he was in discussions with senior UAE figures over the matter. He said his Marketing 3.0 model centred on companies being more "caring". "Marketing 1.0 was based more on the model of the rational customer and 2.0 was based on the model of the emotional customer," he said. "But still something was missing. And that is a customer who wants the company to be a caring company, one that cares about sustainability and the environment.

"Marketing 3.0 brings in the human spirit. It's saying that you want to appeal to the mind, the heart and the soul of a customer." He said companies that embraced such an ethos included The Body Shop, formed in the 1970s by the late Anita Roddick, and a footwear store in the US that donates a pair of shoes to charity with every retail purchase. "There have been some firms that touch us in a deeper way - and Marketing 3.0 is to help companies do that. It sounds like corporate social responsibility but it's at a deeper level," he said.

Prof Kotler has worked as a marketing consultant with many top US companies. He also runs the global consulting and training firm Kotler Marketing Group, which has operations in the US and China, and said it was a "possibility" that he would look to form a business presence in the Middle East. "I'm very excited about this area and I think it's in a transition. It is a possibility that some work will be done here but it's too early to tell. I think there's a lot of economic growth … The Middle East is itself changing into a place that is opening up."

bflanagan@thenational.ae