NEWS1 February 2010

Noted marketing academic Michael Thomas dies


UK— Michael Thomas, a marketing academic and past president of the Market Research Society, has died after a battle with cancer.

He died on Saturday with his wife Nancy and son and daughter by his side. He was president of the MRS from 1999 to 2004, and was made a fellow of the society in 2003. On awarding the fellowship, the MRS described him as “an eminent academic who has contributed enormously to the theory and practice of marketing, and to the professions related to marketing”.

David Barr, MRS director general, said: “Michael Thomas made an immense contribution to MRS during his five-year presidency and indeed since then. He was a significant influence on re-building the MRS portfolio for professional development, particularly qualifications. He was very active on the ‘learned society’ dimension of MRS via chairmanship of the awards panel and membership of the editorial board of the International Journal of Market Research.
“Michael brought to many key debates not only his incisive intellect, knowledge, experience and understanding but also a delightfully mischievous wit and great wisdom. I know personally that he was a great mentor, an admirable man who was generous with his time and his talents. He will be greatly missed by everyone at MRS who worked with him.”

Sally Ford-Hutchinson was MRS chairman during Thomas’s presidency and continued to work with him as an awards panel judge. She described him as “a tremendous colleague”.

“I worked with him for two years when I was chairman and he was president of the MRS. He always gave the society and me his absolute support. He did it with great intelligence, great knowledge and most of all with a great sense of humour. The society will miss him and I will miss him even more.”

Ford-Hutchinson said she last saw Thomas in September, at an awards panel meeting. “He announced in a matter-of-fact, almost humorous way that he would not be able to continue as chairman of judges because he was living on borrowed time. In some ways that was Michael, very straightforward, very down to earth and always positive,” she said.

“He was not just interesting to talk with about marketing and market research issues. His knowledge on diverse subjects was fascinating. He was an extremely experienced bird watcher and had published some very erudite works on birds in his beloved area of the Isle of Bute. I will regret that we never managed to arrange a planned weekend for him and his wife to visit us and watch our local peregrine falcons.”

Latterly Professor Emeritus within the marketing department of the University of Strathclyde, Michael Thomas began his career as a market research manager at Metal Box in London in 1957.

He moved into academia in 1960 with his appointment as a research fellow, lecturer, assistant and associate professor at the University of Syracuse School of Management in New York, before returning to the UK in 1971 to head the School of Management at the University of Lancaster.

He moved to the University of Strathclyde in 1987, where he listed his research interests as new paradigms in marketing, the ethics of professionalism in marketing and management, and marketing measurement.

He was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Polish Order of Merit in 1994 for his contribution to the economic transformation of Poland, and became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in June 1999 for services to management education and training.


15 years ago

MIchael's passing is a great loss for us all: a loss of knowledge, huge, yet hugely accessible, intellectual breadth and, above all, a great and irreverent humanity. He was the first of the MRS grandees to recognise and support mywork in ploughing my semiotic furrow through the society and the industry as a whole and I shall always be grateful for his rocklike, sound, sound guidance. We will all have much to miss in Michael, but any of us who had the chance to know him will always be so glad to have passed within the orbit of that fine, big mind.

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15 years ago

I have very fond memories of Prof. Thomas, back in the 90's when at Strathclyde Business School. His knowledge and personable nature were great assets for us hungry MSc students, and he was respected enormously - yes, even by students! It's a sad loss to the industry; thankfully though he has left an immensely accomplished legacy, for which both the research indsutry and the wider marketing profession has to be extremely grateful for.

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15 years ago

Michael was in a group with me at the University College London Foundation Ball in 1954. Since then I have met up with him on occasion and we had a pleasant meeting at a MRS Awards ceremony when he presented me with my Fellowship Certificate. I never got to accept his invitation to visit him in Scotland which i regret. He was a delightful person.

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