Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Winter 2006Kellogg School of Management
In DepthIn BriefDepartmentsClass NotesClub NewsArchivesContactKellogg Homepage
Siebel Scholars named
Kellogg hosts national Net Impact Conference
Room to write
CEO Perspective Program reveals view from the summit

Kellogg summit reveals leadership keys

New asset management program a Kellogg priority
Central bankers convene for Kellogg workshop
Alumni Newsmakers
EMBA showcase touts advantages for women who pursue Kellogg degree
CMC 'Success Workshops' offer practical advice for interns
Cahill milestone
Birt named director
Guest speakers
Kellogg teams victorious in turnaround competition
Happy Birthday, Mr. Marketing!
In memoriam: Professor Emeritus Lawrence "Gene" Lavengood
Full engagement: the power of the Kellogg Alumni Network
Address Update
Alumni Home
Submit News
Internal Site
Northwestern University
Kellogg Search
Professor Louis Stern and Philip Kotler
Friends and colleagues: Louis Stern, left, congratulates Kotler during an August celebration honoring the marketing guru. Photo © Nathan Mandell
Happy Birthday, Mr. Marketing!

At 75, Kellogg scholar Philip Kotler is still making contributions to the profession he helped develop. Now his legacy is spurring a philanthropic push to keep the school's Marketing Department the world's best

By Matt Golosinski

He may not have invented marketing, but Philip Kotler has done more than any other person to reinvent the discipline.

With more than a half-century of academic leadership, dozens of hugely influential books and more than 100 articles, the Kellogg School marketing expert is internationally preeminent.

To honor Kotler's contributions, the school has hosted celebrations marking his 75th birthday this year. In August, about 150 colleagues gathered for an academic retrospective of his career, while on Nov. 6, alumni, friends and family shared a dinner at the James L. Allen Center to highlight the importance of continuing the Kellogg School's marketing expertise.

"For decades, Phil Kotler has been a big part of marketing at Kellogg. Now it's important to extend that legacy by making the case for why our entire Marketing Department deserves support," said Whit Shepard, associate dean and director of development and alumni relations. "Our professors must continue to have the resources that enable them to produce groundbreaking results."

Kotler and his wife Nancy have contributed $100,000 toward an initial goal of $500,000 to support Kellogg marketing scholarship. The school will allocate these resources to attract top marketing students. The Marketing Department is determining how best to leverage the financial gifts to advance the school's strategic advantage. Under consideration is a new research center that would bring together marketing thought leaders by providing an "umbrella" for scholarly work in the discipline.

"The scholarship of Phil Kotler, Sid Levy, Lou Stern and many others provided the basis for building the Kellogg School's leadership position in marketing thought," said Alice Tybout, the Harold T. Martin Professor of Marketing. "The challenge before us is to sustain that position in the face of our competitors' growing strength. To do so, we must fund the research of our highly productive young faculty and to attract more scholars like them. We can meet this challenge, but we'll need strong support from our alumni and friends." 

During the celebrations, Kellogg Dean Dipak C. Jain noted that the economist-turned-marketing-guru has "added so much glory and recognition to Kellogg" that, in some ways, he has "become the [school's] brand."

Marketing legend keeps producing

A decade after many professors would retire, marketing guru Philip Kotler continues racking up professional honors — a clear indication that the talent and passion he has displayed toward his subject remains undiminished even as he turned 75 this year.

Indeed, the legend shows few signs of slowing down.

Among his recent publications is another text, The Elusive Fan: Reinventing Sports in a Crowded Marketplace (McGraw Hill, 2006). Co-authored with Irving Rein and Ben Shields of Northwestern University, this title is one of 46 books in Kotler's extensive bibliography, which by last count also boasts 133 scholarly articles.

Here is a sampling of other Kotler kudos.

Voted the fourth most-influential business thinker by Financial Times. Only Peter Drucker, Bill Gates and Jack Welch appear higher in this ranking.

His seminal text Marketing Management was listed as one of the 50 best business books of all time.

Recipient of 11 honorary degrees from universities around the world.

ASEAN countries established the Philip Kotler Center for ASEAN Marketing in 2005.

The Great Lakes Institute of Management in Chennai, India, established the Kotler-Srinavasan Center for Research in Marketing

Kotler will receive the Telecom Italia Prize for Leadership on Business and Economic Thinking in Venice, Italy, on Nov. 28.


But Kotler has been one figure — admittedly prominent — among a remarkable team of Kellogg marketing scholars in a department that repeatedly has been No. 1 in national rankings. For decades, the school's research-based faculty has delivered groundbreaking insights that have shaped the discipline. Some of the earliest marketing scholarship, dating to 1903 and the publication of Walter Dill Scott's seminal Theory of Advertising, emerged from Northwestern University. Throughout the last century, Kellogg professors have been among the field's most prominent.  Today, that legacy continues as Kellogg boasts experts in key marketing areas.

Kotler's role in helping elevate the school's profile internationally is also difficult to overstate.  When he speaks in China, India, Russia, Brazil, and other places, huge crowds of executives attend his seminars. 

Born the son of a merchant in Albany Park on Chicago's Northwest Side in 1931, the same year the Empire State Building was completed in the height of the Great Depression, Kotler would achieve towering regard as a trailblazing thinker who brought his economic training to bear on marketing, a field that in the 1950s was still largely descriptive rather than scientific.

Before he would pen landmark texts such as Marketing Management (1967) or co-author "Broadening the Concept of Marketing" (1969, with Sidney J. Levy), Kotler demonstrated an unquenchable curiosity. "Phil has the unbelievable ability to synthesize material and an unbelievable appetite to learn about things," said Irving Rein, a Northwestern University communication studies professor and a Kotler co-author.  "It is amazing that such a person, who was born long ago, knows so much about cutting-edge technology," Rein added at the August celebration, where he noted that Kotler's expertise extends to marketing high-tech products as well as nonprofit organizations and even nations.

On faculty at Kellogg since 1962, Kotler, today the S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, is perhaps best known for bringing academic rigor to marketing and extending the frameworks for what the discipline could be. He, along with colleague Sid Levy, introduced the idea that all organizations market, not simply for-profit businesses.

Levy, one of several colleagues who delivered testimonials during the August celebration, recalled the seminal collaboration.  "'Broadening the Concept of Marketing' created a sensation" when it was published in the Journal of Marketing in 1969, said Levy. Some considered the article too radical in its claim that marketing could, and should, be among the tools leveraged by government organizations, hospitals and nonprofit groups. 

The critics were proven wrong.

Kotler would go on to develop the "broadening" concept, said Levy, applying insights that transformed how professionals in arenas as disparate as the arts, education, healthcare and public policy formulated strategy and communicated their messages. In so doing, he influenced a generation of scholars, inspiring them to "do more exciting, forward-thinking work," said Alan Andreasen, professor of marketing at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, and co-author with Kotler of  "Strategic Marketing for Non-Profit Organizations."

The scholar's influence remains "wide-ranging and voluminous" today, said longtime colleague Louis Stern, the John D. Gray Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Marketing. And, he added, Kotler shows few signs of slowing down. (In fact, Kotler's actual birthday was May 27, a date that found him traveling and lecturing in Prague, necessitating scheduling the August event.)

"Phil seems to write a book or article a month," said Stern. "I get exhausted just being his friend."

Despite Kotler's fame, Stern said that the marketing guru demonstrates "indiscriminate generosity" to others, sharing insights — even as Kotler himself continues a lifelong habit of taking down observations in a notebook, where the musings develop into ideas for yet another publication.

For Kotler, the praise was part of  "a wonderful trip down Memory Lane."

"It was a joy to have my co-authors, former and current colleagues and my former doctoral students who have become eminent, all gathered in one location at the same time," said Kotler. "This will be one of Nancy's and my most treasured memories."

  To learn how your philanthropy can contribute to Kellogg School marketing scholarship, contact Derek Truesdale at 847.467.1632 or
©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University