Strategy Profile

Mary-Ann Lanyondirector, tourism marketing branch,Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation- Developed 'business partner relationships with clients during her early years at Scali McCabe Sloves that led to breakthrough creative- Demonstrated to Ontario Tourism the value of a well-researched strategy as it...

Mary-Ann Lanyon

director, tourism marketing branch,

Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation

- Developed ‘business partner relationships with clients during her early years at Scali McCabe Sloves that led to breakthrough creative

- Demonstrated to Ontario Tourism the value of a well-researched strategy as it is practised in the private sector

After graduating from Toronto’s York University in 1975 with an mba in marketing, Lanyon joined General Foods as a member of the product management team with responsibility for pet foods.

A year later, Lanyon, who also has a ba in political science from McGill University in Montreal, shifted to the agency side, joining Benton and Bowles as an account supervisor on Procter & Gamble.

In 1979, she took an account supervisor position with Scali McCabe Sloves, where she remained for the next decade. During that time, she rose through the ranks to become executive vice-president, general manager.

Lanyon struck out on her own in 1989, setting up shop as a strategic planning consultant.

In 1991, she accepted her current position as director, tourism marketing branch, Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation.

We asked:

Q. Are you a believer in marketing by science or intuition?

A. ‘Great marketing is part science, part intuition, and part magic. The art of marketing is to collect and understand the factual information, and to translate that into a product, service or message that inspires consumers to take the action you want them to take. You can never lose sight of the importance of creativity, and the power of a wonderful idea.’

Q. Was there a significant turning point in your career?

A. ‘Returning to the client side after 12 years of working at agencies. As a strategist who understands great creative, I can have the kind of impact I enjoy, and remain focussed on a particular industry.’

Q. Who or what influenced you the most in your marketing career?

A. ‘Richard Kelly, who, by his example, taught me the importance of strategic thinking, which leads to a truly effective positioning.’

Q. What is your favorite marketing campaign (not including campaigns with which you have been involved)?

A. ‘Leon’s Furniture’

Q. What is your favorite ad (not including ads with which you have been involved)?

A. ‘A Volkswagen ad from the 1960s, I think, which featured a snowplow in the midst of a great deal of snow, and the headline ran something like ‘Ever Wonder How the Driver Gets to the Snowplow?’

Q. What do you do in your spare time?

A. ‘Enjoy my kids, spend time with friends, go to movies, read.

Q. What is the most recent book you’ve read?

A. ‘Revolution from Within, by Gloria Steinem.’

Q. What book influenced you the most?

A. ‘Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout.’

Q. What do you love most about the marketing business?

A. ‘You are constantly exposed to the information and ideas on what motivates people to make decisions and choices. You are always on the leading edge of influencing human behavior.’

Creative/Strategic Sense

‘She’s a very good strategist. She’s very capable of looking through the clutter.

‘Mary Ann comes from a very strong advertising background. As a result, she has a lot of faith in the creative process and likes to work closely with the creative people.’

‘She has been working to make Tourism Ontario much more of a marketing-driven organization. And that is a difficult job, given that Tourism is a government agency and so must be accountable to many, including the travel industry at large.’

Management Skills

‘[At Scali McCabe Sloves,] she used to give people a lot of rope, a lot of autonomy, yet she was always there to provide direction when asked.’

‘She has great skill at positioning an argument in order to bring people around to her point of view.’

‘Mary Ann developed quality relationships with her clients. She was one of those people who most clients wanted on their business.’

‘Mary Ann was, and is, a wonderful role model for women. She was one of the early females to reach the general manager level at a major agency in Canada.’

‘She’s very quick, very witty, great in a meeting. When the client begins to say `what if,’ about the creative, she was able to step in and get things back on track.’

Business Skills

‘She has that combination of being an extremely well-trained person in packaged goods and a person who other people want to be around.’

Corporate Outlook

‘Mary Ann is very good at big-picture and she is very adaptable. She very definitely has the quality to provide leadership in our industry on into the future.’

‘She is very much behind Tourism taking a leadership role in the tourism and travel industry. Under her direction, we are now sharing our experience and expertise with the other stakeholders in the industry.’

‘Mary Ann’s focus [at Tourism] has been on long-term thinking, on figuring out where we are going to be in the future. She leaves most of the day-to-day operations to the marketing sections.’

Next issue: Kirsty Henderson, marketing manager, Nintendo of Canada, Richmond, B.C.