Duel is a 2018 Gartner Cool Vendor!

Summary of Article

  • Duel is the only UK Marketing company to make the 2018 ‘Cool Vendors’ list.
  • Fundamental challenge to the Adland status quo.
  • GDPR sparks Customer Portal launch.
  • Read the full release here.

Gartner’s Cool Vendors

We are pleased to announce that Gartner, Inc. has selected Duel as one of three Cool Vendors for Retail Merchandising and Marketing. Gartner are one of the premier research and advisory companies in the world, and their Cool Vendors in Retail reports focuses on the best new vendors.  In essence (in our minds), it’s like the best up and coming artist, but for Retail Vendors. In accordance, past nominees are some of the most famous, household names you could imagine (click here to see the list). Obviously we’re proud - not only for the inclusion in the list, but also as we are representing as the only British company in this year’s list.

Why do we think that we were included on this list? Because we’re honest, and this world is getting really dishonest. That's special, because honesty in marketing both more effective and more ethical.  

Paul Archer, our CEO, has talked about the trust crisis, saying,

"Clickbait, fake news, a complete Wild West of data privacy and a totalitarian marketing duopoly of Facebook and Google have left us all, as consumers, in a state of mistrust, desperately clutching at anything that’s honest and stands for something. I believe the Cambridge Analytica scandal and GDPR heralded the beginning of this, but there’s a lot more to come - there is a change in the air and the dirtiest players in ad tech and agency-land will be the ones to suffer.”

This isn’t just conjecture by Paul - the wider world of marketing is suffering a knock-on impact from the loss of trust triggered by the ‘post-Brextrumpian’ climate. The U.S. Trust Index crashed by 23 points this year, marking the steepest trust decline in any territory ever (Edelman) - a trend which is reflected across advertising, with almost 70% of admitting they don’t trust advertising and 42% stating they distrust brands (IPSOS Connect & Trinity Mirror). At Duel, we think its scary that these numbers aren’t surprising, they reflect what we as consumers have experienced online.  Never fear, however, we’ve got something better: Advocacy Marketing.

Advocacy Marketing

Gartner define Advocacy Marketing in their IT Glossary (Gartner Glossary):

“Advocacy marketing is a discipline for activating a brand’s advocates with unprecedented scale over the social Web. When advocacy marketing is enabled with digital techniques and advocate stories, then endorsements and recommendations are amplified to potentially millions of people, given the exponential nature of social networks. Advocacy marketing has been used effectively to acquire new customers but is now actively being used in loyalty and retention initiatives.”

Gartner also seem to imply that they believe software will become essential in driving this discipline, with Oracle quoting Gartner writing,

“Intelligently engaging brand advocates through analysis and automation will lay the groundwork to forge on-going, collaborative relationships with customers.”

Simply, therefore, Customer Advocacy Marketing is therefore about turning customers into advocates. You can leave behind your mundane and generic product pages, and pump your ads and product pages full of authentic marketing material. Expensive customer acquisition campaigns?  Forget about it! Let your customers do the talking. Not only is this approach more effective, it also results in a far more trusted, honest customer experience - as the customers are advocating with honest, positive experiences of brands.

Paul has also discussed how this effects the adland status quo,

“If a brand or retailer can cut out the downstream middlemen and redistribute some of those bloated advertising budgets towards rewarding customers for advocacy and providing a better customer experience, they will reap the benefits in much increased loyalty, advocacy and, most importantly, sales. Surely that beats the hell out of financing awards and Rosé on a beach in Cannes?

At the end of the day, would you rather give your customer the best possible experience, or fund someone else’s massive yacht on La Croisette. I know where I would invest if I were a modern, ROI focussed CMO."

The old practice of hoodwinking customers doesn’t work with advocacy - customer advocacy is simply something companies can’t buy and advertising agencies can’t sell.

Good Damn PR Day (GDPR's Arrival)

More than just adopting the innately honest approach of Customer Advocacy Marketing, and being fully GDPR compliant already, Duel also celebrated ‘GDPR Day’ (Good Damn PR Day) by launching the Duel Customer Portal with Progressive Permissions.  

Duel’s Customer Portal is a way for customers to control every element of their data and content when working with a brand, giving them the ability to opt in and out at will and ensuring they are appropriately rewarded every time a brand uses them. It provides full transparency on both sides, creating new standards in the fight for data privacy.  


“Great!” we hear our hypothetical audience scream, but if you’ve clicked on this article you’re still wondering about one important point - “are we actually cool?”  

Duel isn’t sure much about retail marketing and merchandising is ‘cool’ (least of all us) - we’re hardly talking James Dean or an ice cold pint on a summer’s day! What is cool, however, is that brands and retailers are starting to become more conscious of the need for them to return to an honest, authentic way of marketing that centres around the customer.  We think it’s great.

According to a summary of the report, “this research introduces retail CIOs to three vendors that are innovating merchandising and marketing with advance machine learning and automation” (Gartner). That's Duel in a nutshell, so expect to see more of us in 2018.


Duel is Customer Advocacy Platform which turns customers into advocates - we automate that lightning-in-a-bottle moment of a friend endorsing a brand. You should probably get a demo booked… (click me!)

If you want to look more at the theoretical background - take an intellectual swim by diving into a Customer Advocacy Marketing Workshop run by our consultancy arm (click me!).

Introvert? Voyeur? Watch Paul give a speech here or sign up for our newsletters to get monthly Customer Advocacy Marketing emails on tips, statistics and the science behind it.  


Disclaimer: Gartner, Cool Vendors in Retail Merchandising and Marketing, 30 April 2018

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in our research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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