NEWS1 November 2019

Obituary: Michael Brooks

News People UK

Michael Brooks, an agency and client-side researcher since the late 1950s died at home 26th October 2019 after a short illness. He was 84.

Michael Brooks_crop

Following National Service in the mid-1950s and a short-lived career as a quantity surveyor, Michael saw an advert for a junior executive at a market research firm, Attwood Statistics.  Market research was a little-known subject at the time, but he joined the firm in 1957 and worked for Doug Brown, a man who had a big influence on his career.

Doug went on to leave Attwood’s and co-founded AGB, at its height the second largest market research agency in the world.  Doug soon made contact and given the opportunity to work with him again, Michael made the switch to become the seventh employee of AGB in 1962.

Michael had always had a strong desire to travel, so when he saw an ad for a consumer research superintendent working for the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) – the forerunner to British Airways – he applied. His application was successful, he joined the airline in 1966 and over the next 18 years made a huge contribution to developing the British Airways brand.

This included supporting the launch of commercial operations for Concorde.  Market research was used very early in the development phase to gauge passenger reactions and was responsible for the introduction of the Mach Meter into the passenger cabin.  Michael also played a big role in providing research evidence for the Washington Congressional hearings on Concorde landing rights in the US.

He was responsible for buying market research to understand business passenger needs, to help develop the Executive Club which comprised at that time of just 32,000 members and attracting passengers to First Class.  At one stage, he was responsible for 90 projects a year.

Michael presented at travel conferences throughout the world, and his work for British Airways meant his desire for travel was fully realised.  In 1984, he left the airline, returning to AGB once again, where he ran Travel Research International with Hugh Welburn. 

Hugh and Michael left not long after to set up Travel Trends International (TTI), they continued working with all the major airlines, running a series of long-lasting and hugely successful syndicated studies as well as undertaking ad hoc research for airlines, tourist boards and governments throughout the world. TTI became part of the large Australian and Asia-Pacific market research business, Frank Small & Associates in the early 1990s.

Michael continued working in market research up until his retirement in 2007 at the age of 72.  He held a life-long passion for steam locomotives and not long after retiring from research, he established Masterpiece Models, working with a model-maker in Korea to produce replica model trains.  Of course, this venture required frequent trips to Korea, which he continued doing right up to his early 80s.

He died in the early hours of Saturday morning, surrounded by his family.

Michael Brooks, a life well-travelled!