This new act of disciplinary nihilism on LinkedIn was therefore not a surprise. As someone who has taught brand management for 20 years and worked with brand managers for just as long, I was depressed at the column, but with the kind of philosophical, relaxed depression with which you miss the last tube or step in a puddle wearing new shoes. It’s a pity, but you expected nothing less.
But as I read the next part of the post, my mouth dropped open in shock and bewilderment. So sudden was the sensation that I actually rubbed my eyes and concentrated on the text like a cartoon character. Was my jetlagged brain playing tricks on me?
The author of the post was Hanneke Faber. You may not know the name, but you certainly know where she works: Unilever. And she is no junior executive either. Faber is the president of Europe for Unilever. That makes her, in branding circles, a double-VIP.
First, Unilever is one of the great homes for brand management. After arch rival Procter & Gamble, it is probably the next great repository for the people, thinking and practice of branding. And then there is Faber’s seniority. She is literally one of the top five people at the company.
Faber denouncing brand management as “dead” is a bit like Lenin questioning the practicality of socialism. Or the Queen proclaiming a constitutional monarchy irrelevant and archaic in the 21st century. It is a cut of the very deepest, most serious kind because it comes from within, and high up.