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Remembering Professor Peter Doyle

Professor Peter Doyle
Professor Peter Doyle
Originally Published 01 April 2003

Professor Peter Doyle, of WBS, sadly passed away on Sunday 30 March.

Peter was an eminent marketer long before some of us started our academic careers and the 'Doyle' brand has been a deciding factor over the years for many of our MBAs choosing to study at Warwick.

Peter's teaching skills were envied by many and his sessions were renowned for their 'wow' factor. His research prowess and his record in services to the profession were equally strong. Few in the UK have mentored more PhD students and junior colleagues who subsequently became professors.

All of us in Warwick Business School have much to thank Peter for. Back in the mid-1980s, George Bain had a vision for the School of Industrial and Business Studies (now Warwick Business School) and this required a world-rated MBA programme. George persuaded Peter to move to the School at a time when there was no Distance Learning MBA, Evening MBA or Modular MBA - only 25 Full-time MBA students per annum. Peter put the Warwick MBA firmly on the map and created the core product around which much of the School's expansion, reputation and income were to be based.

Peter was an exceptional academic and a wonderful colleague. Our thoughts now are with Sylvia and Peter's two sons.

Howard Thomas, Dean of WBS, Robin Wensley, Deputy Dean, Jenny Hocking, Assoc. Dean (Admin)

As a young professor he was one of the first British business academics to make an international mark and remains one of the few that Britain has produced who is widely recognised across the world. He produced several seminal works on marketing, including competitive strategy, company performance, branding and perceptual mapping. Many of these are often quoted in the discussion of any further contribution to these areas. Although many people have made contributions, what made Peter Doyle so original is his insights. His was not a marginal contribution but the development of ideas which had terrific impact, both on fellow academics and practitioners.

Although a young professor himself, he introduced many young academics to planes of thinking well beyond those other people were contemplating at the time. At his time at Bradford, he nurtured a group of young people who dominate the business today. Virtually every one of the people he employed is now a senior professor in a British business school or elsewhere in the world. He was therefore the academic father of many professors, and in another sense the grandfather since those professors have gone on to develop other leading researchers and teachers based on Professor Doyle's example.

Perhaps Professor Doyle was known by most people as a masterful teacher. For decades he had been THE highlight of Graduate Master of Business Administration programmes at Bradford, INSEAD, Stanford and more recently, Warwick. His skill was not just communicating but taking students on an exciting journey that questions, stimulates and excites. His sessions have been likened to a revivalist meeting and had such clarity and impact I can still remember many of them decades on.

In addition to being a business academic and a great researcher, Professor Doyle's originality extended to creating and invigorating whole programmes. He drove Bradford forward in its early days and his leaving there to help found Warwick Business School was a critical moment in the survival of the Management Centre at Bradford.

At Warwick he launched the MBA programme which has become the foundation of that great business school and a driving force globally, and an example of British excellence.

His contribution extends well beyond that of a trainer and coach to managers at the most senior level in Britain and internationally. He was one of the few people who work with and develop board level executives. It is impossible to judge how many of these he will have inspired over the years but I suspect not one major British company has been untouched by his thinking. Throughout his career he continued to produce excellent academic work, very often working with young people in the discipline. More recently this was developed into books on marketing strategy and strategic planning that have excited business thinkers the world over.

John Saunders
Dean of School, Aston Business School and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Aston University


BA(Econ) First Class Hons, University of Manchester, 1964
MA(Econ) University of Manchester, 1965
MSc Carnegie-Mellon University, USA, 1970
PhD Carnegie-Mellon University, USA, 1971

Career moves:

1965-66, Economist at Unilever's Head Office, London
1966-68, Senior Research Fellow, London Business School
1968-1971, Doctoral Fellow, Carnegie-Mellon University, USA
1971-1973, Lecturer in Marketing, London Business School
1978-1979, Professor of Marketing, INSEAD, France
1973-1985, Professor of Marketing, University of Bradford
1985-2003, Professor of Marketing and Strategic Management, Warwick Business School

Visiting Professorships:

Stanford University, USA, 1981-2
INSEAD, France, (as Adjunct Professor) 1975-1985
University of South Carolina, USA, 1976
University of Hawaii, 1978-83

Peter's public service record is second to none, having played a significant role with the Economic and Social Research Council as a member of both its Employment and Industry Committee and its International Activities Committee. He was also an advisor to the UK Government's Cabinet Office, British Overseas Trade Board, and also to the Singapore Department of Trade and Industry, the Irish Export Board and the Irish Development Authority.

He was a member of the small founding group which created the European Marketing Academy and was awarded a Fellowship for his contributions to the profession by the Chartered Institute of Marketing ? the UK's largest organisation of marketers.

Peter Doyle led theoretical development of the field of brand management and brand identity, and uniquely built an equivalently strong reputation in the profession of marketing and advertising. Rita Clifton, CEO of Interbrand, a worldwide brand consultancy, has described him as the leading figure in promoting an awareness of brand image and identity in the UK over the last 20 years.

He published extensively on marketing strategy and brands, including the best-selling textbook, Marketing Management and Strategy, and widely-referenced articles on 'Building Successful Brands' and 'What are Excellent Companies?' He published in most of the top US and European marketing journals, and was a regular presenter at the annual conferences of the American Marketing Association, European Marketing Academy and Marketing Educators' Group, where he won a series of best paper awards and the President's Medal of the Operational Research Society on more than one occasion.

His last book, Value-based Marketing: Marketing Strategies for Corporate Growth and Shareholder Value, is described as 'path breaking' by Philip Kotler, the leading authority on marketing at North-Western University in the United States.

He wrote a regular column From the Top on topical business matters for The Guardian from 1996 to 2000, and has published in most of the leading international journals. Described by the Marketing Society as the 'undisputed doyen of marketing' in this country, he has been voted Outstanding Teacher on numerous programmes and conferences throughout America, Asia and Europe.