Marketing Leader of the Year 2018: Direct Line's Mark Evans

Leader of 2018: Mark Evans

Mark Evans is a marketing leader who relishes a challenge. By refocusing Direct Line on customer experience and injecting it with a dose of vitality with the “Winston Wolf” campaign, he turned it from a struggling brand to one in rude financial health.

According to Larissa Vince, managing director of Direct Line’s agency Saatchi & Saatchi London, if there were one word to describe Evans, it would be “competitive”. Arguing the case for his becoming Marketing Leader of the Year, she wrote in Campaign: “He’s competitive about anything and everything. The performance of his brands. His career. Sport. DLG team-building days. Everything.”

But just as revealing of his character is that his competitiveness is tempered with an appetite for philanthropy and a genuine interest in people outside the alpha business type. He set up annual event Sprintathon, which raises money for Stand Up To Cancer, and is fascinated by people whose brains are wired differently, those with autism, dyslexia and ADHD.

But it’s not just a personal fascination. Evans is able to take this enthusiasm and apply it to his role as a marketer. He is convinced of the “superpowers” of those with neurodiverse conditions and believes they have the ability to drive innovation and creativity from the fringes.

Innovation is an oft-abused term in marketing. But Evans and his team at Direct Line have conceived some truly groundbreaking schemes. Campaigns such as “Fleetlights Legacy” (drones adapted for sea search and rescue) and “Smart Crossings” (the world’s first responsive road) demonstrate a convention-defying, eccentrically brilliant approach to marketing.

For all his marketing successes, kicking back and presiding over his achievements is not on Evans’ agenda, and the Direct Line marketing boss shows no sign of losing his momentum.