Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Blackwell myth destroyed by convictions

Don't mourn for Roger Blackwell. After being convicted on 19 counts of insider-trading, the career of the so-called marketing guru is over. Gee, maybe he'll have to sell the Chihuly chandalier that hangs in his house to cover his legal fees, his alimony and the $1 million dollar fine he might face.

In fact, Blackwell has been a mediocre marketing professor whose ass reporters (and others who didn't know any better) kissed for reasons we could never fathom.

We understand why OSU kissed his ass. He earned millions serving on various corporate boards and doing lucrative consulting gigs, and he had shown a willingness to give a few mill to the university where he nominally still worked (teaching one class a year to ga-ga biz majors and drooling pre-MBAs hardly qualifies as teaching). But Blackwell's one consistent marketing genius has always been in marketing, guess who? Blackwell!

Thus, when OSU agreed to call its boutique hotel "The Blackwell" after getting a pledge of $7.2 million, we suspect that Blackwell knew he got the better part of the deal.

Blackwell's reputation - largely a myth - was built in the 1980's and early 1990's as an advocate for customer-focused marketing and retailing. Now, it's true that paying attention to the customer was somewhat of a vanguard issue back in those days. It certainly made him the darling of Les Wexner crowd. Blackwell rode the "customer-driven" horse for two decades and leveraged his ideas into well-paid seats on the boards of directors of one-time corporate regional power-houses like Max & Ermas, Applied Technologies and Airnet Systems.

But, for the last ten years Blackwell has plowed no new marketing ground and, as far as we are concerned, displayed little sense of modern competitive business strategy. Indeed, many of the brands he is most closely linked with were struggling to grow - or even survive - even before he was indicted.

Nationally and internationally, marketing academics dismiss Blackwell's impact marketing influence on the business community, and consider recent books like Brands That Rock dated jokes. They are right.

Blackwell should've quit while he was ahead.


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