NEWS1 March 2024

Obituary: Geoff Allan

News People UK

Geoff Allan died on 2nd December 2023 at the age of 79 following a short illness.

Geoff Allan

After completing a degree in economics at London University, Geoff started his working life briefly as an actuary. Desperate to pursue a career in market research he eventually secured his first position in the research department at Rank. This proved to be the springboard for a research career spanning five decades across a variety of client side and agency roles in which he helped pioneer continuous tracking methodologies and founded his own agency.

Following his time at Rank, Geoff went on to work on the agency side at Research International and MAS before becoming market research manager for chocolates at Cadbury. Famed for his poor sense of direction, Geoff was teased about being put in a cream egg because he kept getting lost in the Cadbury building.

It was during his spell at Cadbury that he commissioned Millward Brown’s first ever continuous brand tracking survey. He went on to co-author a paper on the subject with Gordon Brown at the 1979 Market Research Society annual conference, before being enticed to join Millward Brown the following year.

Geoff went on to become a board member in the years running up to Millward Brown’s acquisition by WPP, eventually leaving in early 1995.

In April of that year Geoff set up his own agency Researchcraft with his wife Joan, with a ‘Lunchtime U&A’ becoming the first of many projects with Boots. Geoff’s commercially astute approach saw the agency grow successfully over the next two decades working with many large and enduring brands. Researchcraft was later joined in 1997 by fellow business partners Jeremy and Barbara Atkins and then in 2004 by Jon and Sara Wilkins. Geoff and Joan retired from the business in 2017.

Throughout his career Geoff touched the lives of many colleagues, clients and suppliers. He took great pleasure in giving newcomers to the industry a strong grounding in both market research and business. Many have gone on to enjoy successful careers in senior research and business roles.

Geoff also had a genuine passion for working with statistics, a hobby that he was able to combine with one of his other great loves, cricket. Famously he helped developed a huge cricket database that was used regularly by the late Christopher Martin-Jenkins (at the time the longest serving commentator for Test Match Special on BBC Radio) to support his radio commentary.

Geoff leaves Joan and their two sons Jonathan and Laurence. Both sons followed their father’s footsteps into the industry, and Laurence still works today within the insights team at Three.

Geoff’s funeral service took place at Mid Warwickshire Crematorium, near Royal Leamington Spa on 20th December 2023 and was officiated over by the late Gordon Brown’s wife Jackie. Donations, if desired, can be made in Geoff’s memory to Crisis UK.

By Jon Wilkins and Jeremy Atkins

@RESEARCH LIVE

2 Comments

3 months ago | 1 like

R.I.P. Mr. Allan. Not sure how many people know that, at least in the United States, during the 80s and 90s, if you were male and worked in a Millward Brown telephone call center, your nom de plume when speaking to respondents on the phone was "Jeff Allen" in honor of Geoff Allan. "Hello, I'm Jeff Allen, calling from Millward Brown Research" was intro'd by us MILLIONS of times doing surveys. He was our "I am Spartacus".

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3 months ago | 1 like

I am very sorry to read this. When I joined GM and R, the research department of the Rank Organisation in August 1968 I shared an office with Geoff so that I and not he was then the youngest and newest research assistant. We carried this on till he left. Our paths have crossed very occasionally since but not for many years.

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