Meet Marketor - Vanella Jackson

The Worshipful Company of Marketors is delighted to introduce Vanella Jackson. Vanella ran Hall & Parnters, Omnicom’s largest strategy, data and insight business, for 18 years. Before that she had a career in some of UK’s best advertising agencies, including Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Abbot Mead Vickers, J Walter Thompson and Y&R.

An innovative leader and advertising strategist, with an international career. 

Career Background

Vanella’s entry into the marketing world was inevitable. She cites both her father and mother responsible. Her father’s claim to fame was as the Marketing Director responsible for bringing Planters peanuts into the UK. And her mother set up her own research business from the eight-year-old Vanella’s bedroom, forcing her out to share with her sister.  These early experiences lead her to study Business Studies Advertising and Marketing before getting her first role in the advertising agency Cherry Hedger Seymour, as an advertising planner.

Her career developed working in a range of different agencies, including Y&R, BBH, JWT, and AMV. She describes her most formative experience, as the time she spent at BBH under John Bartle’s  wing. As the 33rd employee at BBH, in the mid-eighties, she went on to see the agency grow rapidly into a large international player.

She then had a stint of running her own business, the strategic consultancy Spanner. Spanner offered strategic planning to the design industry She was lucky enough to work with some great design agencies, including Lewis Moberley and Jones Knowles Ritchie.

She and her husband then decided to take a career break. They travelled to 36 countries, over two years in order to interview and photograph the oldest people in the world they could find. Her husband then wrote a book and Vanella returned to the world of advertising, joining J Walter Thomson and then Abbot Mead Vickers/BBDO.

Then one day someone called her about a job as CEO of Hall & Partners, an insight agency that had recently been acquired by Omnicom. Hall & Partners had always worked closely with advertising planners and they wanted to find planner to run the business Vanella leapt at the opportunity and never looked back. A successful career as European and then Global CEO saw her establish Hall & Partners as as Omnicom’s largest insight business, working in the US, UK, Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Involvement in the Worshipful Company of Marketors

Vanella joined the Worshipful Company of Marketors in 2013 inspired by her father, Liveryman Mike Hopkins. Vanella has experience organising events for the Legal committee and for past Master David Pearson. She has mentored through the University of Greenwich. She also currently mentors two entrepreneurs introduced via the mentoring scheme. She is an active member of the Outreach committee and has recently joined The Court as a new Court Assistant.

Insights on Current Marketing

Vanella recognises how digital innovation and AI continues to transform marketing practice and the ways consumers interact with brands, products and services. Rapid change is giving rise to new opportunities for creativity and innovation. The challenge however Is to remember that the task is still to build powerful, committed relationships and not only to use marketing tactically to drive immediate sales. Data driven marketing is valuable, but also seductive. It can lead marketers to forget the harder task of brand building. And it is brand building where the power of creativity is truly felt.

Addressing Marketing Challenges

Unsurprisingly, Vanella believes the start place for any great marketing to know your audience. Not just through the data, although this is increasingly important and can offer rich and surprising insights. But also qualitatively, as this is where sparks of insight can seed exciting ideas. Also to trust creative inspiration and creative people. It is important not to over rationalise a response to creative work, but instead trust your instinct. It is too easy for campaigns to blend into the crowd. True creativity needs a bold vision and a courageous ambassador 

Professional Development and Advice for Aspiring Marketers

Be bold. Learn from the best. Ask lots and lots of questions. Trust your agency team. Meet the creative and design teams working on your business. Ask how will we know if it is working. Do not just accept the social media metrics as proof that it is. Ask is the relationship with the brand getting stronger. Ask whether the work will be award winning i.e. the best work as judged by the industry. Awards do matter! They demonstrate creativity and innovation. And it is these that drive business growth.

Personal Interests

Vanella is a passionate swimmer and likes to swim every day. This year she is completing in the 6k estuary river swim, The Swoosh with her daughter, for the charity Level Water. She loves to paint wild landscapes and enjoys abstract printing, using a variety of print techniques. She also loves the theatre and cinema, enjoying something every week. Her annual trip to The Edinburgh Fringe has also become a must. She is currently learning Spanish, so that she can enjoy more holidays in her favourite island, Menorca.

Liveryman Peter Rees, Chairman Comms & PR Committee