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Marco Mäkinen

Born February 11, 1965, Helsinki

MA 1990, University of Helsinki
Executive MBA 1991, Helsinki School of Economics

Vice President 2013–, TBWA Helsinki
CEO 2012–13, TBWA Helsinki
Board member 2012–, Vallila Interior
Managing Director 2007–12, SEK & GREY
Director of Strategy, SEK
Chief Strategy Officer 2000–05, TBWA/PHS
CEO 1999–2000 Ego Taivas Media Lab
CEO 1997–99, AMG Helsinki
Customer manager 1999, Taivas

Bulkista brändiksi - käsikirja kasvuun ja kannattavuuteen (‘From bulk to brand – a handbook for growth and profitability’) Marco Mäkinen, Anja Kahri, Tuomas Kahri, Ossi Ahto. Docendo 2016.
Brändi kulmahuoneeseen! Marco Mäkinen, Anja Kahri, Tuomas Kahri. WSOYpro. Porvoo 2010.
Nokia saga: kertomus yrityksestä ja ihmisistä, jotka muuttivat senI (‘The Nokia saga: a story of the company and the people who changed it’). Gummerus. Jyväskylä, Helsinki 1995.

Written by Tiia Niemelä and Marco Mäkinen
Translated by Matthew Billington

From humanities scholar to adman

When the Vice President of TBWA Helsinki, Marco Mäkinen, was growing up, “nobody did any real work” in his family. His father, Timo Mäkinen, was a rally driver, and the only job he saw besides rally drivers was reporters. His Swedish teacher encouraged him to write, and it was obvious to him that writing would figure in his future one way or another.

Mäkinen had a keen interest in culture and human behaviour. Having discovered that you could study this at university, he leafed through the application guide and chose aesthetics for his major. The young Mäkinen, then working as a sales assistant in a record store, was intrigued by questions on the nature and definition of art and beauty, so aesthetics felt like the most interesting university subject.

Mäkinen kept working at the record store, Tunnelin levy, all through his studies, about three and a half years.

– I'm sure I could have graduated even faster if I had realised how many courses it was possible to pass simply by sitting the examination. I wrote my Master's thesis on the non-fiction novel.

Photo: Henry Liddon.

During his studies Mäkinen gave little thought to his future employment; only after graduation did he pick up a newspaper and start looking at the vacancies on offer. He remembers answering three job advertisements. The first was for a photo editor, the second for a post at the Finnish Nature Leagueand the third for an ad agency looking for a “thinker, writer and information specialist.”

– I didn't even know what an information specialist was but I sent in my application anyway, he smiles.

In his job application Dr Mäkinen quoted extensively from Nietzsche, which apparently struck a chord with the ad agency people, since he got the job. The humanities graduate was able to market himself in a surprising fashion.

If he were about to begin his studies today, Mäkinen would still pick his major from the Faculty of Arts, since history is extremely interesting from a marketing perspective. He has caught himself making use of history at work time and again. Historical examples make it easier to explain things to people.

– History helps you understand where things come from and how to set them in their context, both are crucial skills in the business world. The most valuable brands are often quite old, with a rich history behind them, and for successful marketing that must be understood first.

Marco Mäkinen fishing. Photo: Timo Mäkinen.


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