Where else can you find Shania Twain, Cheap Trick and 2,600 marketing executives hunkered down for three days of highly produced, and likely (but hopefully not) jargon-filled presentations from CMOs from some of the world's largest advertisers? It's the Association of National Advertisers' biggest event of the year, dubbed Masters of Marketing. Ad Age is here at the Orlando World Marriott to capture the highlights and lowlights, including whatever grabs our attention from the dinner parties and entertainment headliners. Follow along with this blog. And for an event primer, check out our preview, including a tip sheet on what we'd like to hear from the top marketers at Procter & Gamble, Walmart, Cadillac, Samsung and more.
After bowing out of speaking at ANA's conference last year—amid a barrage of phones catching on fire and exploding washing machines—Pio Schunker, senior-VP for integrated marketing communications at Samsung, tackled the issue of brand crisis head on. He walked the crowd through Samsung's playbook of regaining consumer trust -- taking accountability and introducing more stringent measures of quality control. "We knew we couldn't afford the luxury of curling up in a fetal position and lying there," said Schunker. He said the company took decisive action by enlisting 700 researchers testing 200,000 phones and 30,000 batteries and employing a third-party auditor. According to Schunker, the work paid off—the launches earlier this year of the Galaxy S8 and Note8 were both massively successful. Last week, Samsung moved to No. 6 from No. 7 on Interbrand's ranking of top global brands, with a valuation of $56.2 billion.
"Today, being a meaningful brand means also to be human," said Schunker, noting that it includes a point of view and purpose along with fallibility. "When you allow for that fallibility to show, you earn the very thing you set out for in the beginning—brand love."
After Samsung senior-VP for integrated marketing communications Pio Schunker spoke for more than a half hour about how the brand came back from its Galaxy 7 recall crisis, the audience had something else on its mind. "Where does Bob Liodice get his sport coats made?" That was the top-voted question flashing on screen from the ANA's interactive app, with more than 60 votes. Liodice, the ANA CEO, who was in a brown suit, took it in stride. "Off the rack somewhere," he said, with a big laugh. When it came time for Liodice to ask his usual question of what advice marketers should take with them back to the office Monday, Schunker, with a straight face, said, "Don't buy off the rack," drawing another chuckle from Liodice.
Cadillac CMO Uwe Ellinghaus keeps a list of pop songs that have "Cadillac" in their lyrics. He's up to 211 and counting, he said in a morning presentation, noting that when he was at BMW, "I never came across a single pop song that features [those] three letters."
It matters to Ellinghaus because he's been trying to use pop culture to get Cadillac's mojo back as it reaches out to millennials and Gen Z buyers. He prefers to market around design, art, fashion, traveling and culinary interests rather than the golf or motor sports-geared marketing that luxury auto brands have traditionally used to reach Baby Boomers. It's why Cadillac moved its headquarters to New York's SoHo neighborhood, where it runs the Cadillac House, which showcases up-and-coming artists.
His message to his fellow CMOs: "We need to do uncomfortable things," he said, noting that personally he is not an art enthusiast. As for all those Cadillac songs, lyrics.com offers this tip sheet, including Roxette's "Big Black Cadillac."
Why, you may ask, is there a nearly naked man in front of a green screen at an ANA booth? Is he here as a suggestive symbol to combat talk about the lack of positive female representation in the industry and in its ads? No. He represents GGP, which has a mall advertising portfolio of 120 properties across the U.S., including "over 100 Santa Sets" that in 2016 received visits by more than 420,000 families. We bet none of the retail real estate company's in-mall Santas was shirtless, which was good, because the nearly naked mall marketing man was attracting a lot of semi-scared sideways looks from women passing by. We're thinking moms would not want to take their kids to see him.
Still, a few women and men stopped to pose for photos with the Orlando-based model. In printed images, that green screen background is replaced by "I'm Dreaming of a Hot Christmas #GGPANA" versions, complete with the poser's choice of a tree or ornaments. And Santa equals big business for brands. More than $44 million in retail sales happen on the same days families visit those Santas, GGP says.
--Jack Neff, with Jessica Wohl
Walmart CMO Tony Rogers took the Masters of Marketing briefly through how the chain has evolved, a story he's told some before. But he had a few additional tips for marketers broadly to evolve.
Beware retargeting: Rogers went to the Academy Awards this year as part of Walmart's marketing effort, so he bought tuxedo shoes. "Now I get served every five minutes on the internet and ad for tuxedo shoes" Rogers says. "Let me promise you, I am absolutely the worst person in the world to try to advertise tuxedo shoes to." He didn't mention where he bought those tuxedo shoes, though no doubt Walmart.com or its newly acquired Shoebuy.com. Actually, retargeting has been a pet peeve for Rogers a long time. Years back, he recounted being chased around the internet by ads for Chicago Cubs apparel after buying gear for his son's Little League team – which also went by the name "Cubs."
Tell people when you do good: Purpose-driven advertising has been talked about incessantly at ANA events for at least a decade, but Rogers offered some evidence it works. An ad Walmart did around its Hurricane Harvey relief effort with the Red Cross, which has since expanded to two more hurricanes raising more than $35 million, scored in the top 1 percent of all ads in the month of August and as the top retail ad in consumer surveys by the Advertising Benchmark Index (ABX), which tracks consumer ratings of every ad it can find across all media. (The ad from Mono, Minneapolis, by the way was created in 48 hours.)
Multicultural works well in the general market: Rogers also urged marketers to rethink how they do multicultural marketing. He pointed to work last year from Lopez Negrete that Walmart eventually took to its biggest media stages, such as NFL broadcasts. "It was meant for Hispanic media, but what we started realizing with this ad is that it resonated everywhere, and it scored great," Rogers says. "You have to stop thinking in these silos. It's time to start taking an inclusive approach to multicultural advertising."
In his ANA keynote address, Procter & Gamble Co. Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard largely stuck to the script of his Dmexco talk last month, focused on the problems of digital marketing. But one topic addition was race – specifically P&G's recent effort to touch a third rail of American politics that just keeps getting more charged in the Trump era.
"Recent events have brought the issue into sharp focus," Pritchard said. "But let's face it, this is an ongoing problem."
P&G's recent "The Talk" video was an effort to reinvigorate its decade-old "My Black is Beautiful" program, focused on the conversation African American parents need to have with their children about all the aspects of bias they face.
"This has not been without controversy," Pritchard said. Most of the feedback P&G got was positive, but some was negative "denying the issue, or asking why are companies involved in social issues? Why don't you just stick to selling products? Our answer to that was if not us, then who? And if not now, then when."
In an interview yesterday, Pritchard said that despite that blowback, P&G will keep focusing on racial bias issues in ads. The company also is getting more diligent about diversity in casting for its broader range of brand ads, he says, and finds ads with African American actors tend to perform better.
Here's a brief Q&A on some other recent issues Pritchard, who chairs the ANA, dealt with at the group's board meeting.
Despite the work from the ANA on gender equality through its #SeeHer initiative, a recent analysis by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found no real progress at all. Is there progress?
I do think, based on what Stephen Quinn [the former Walmart CMO who heads the Alliance for Family Entertainment] was showing us that there's movement. You're seeing more and more companies at minimum evaluating their advertising, and that's leading them to change. We had several companies provide anecdotes about what they identified and how that's translated into how they changed things [including AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and Georgia-Pacific Corp. AFE membership has now surpassed 1,000 companies, which is leading more to evaluate their ads using the ANA's Gender Equality Measure]. We're seeing upward trends on GEM scores.
The ANA board also met with Google executives for an update on brand safety. How did that go?
They're making progress, moving along really well, taking it seriously. That was positive. But they still have plenty of work left to do.
Things got a little more circus-like than usual on Thursday morning during a presentation called "What's the New Marketing Playbook" by JP Morgan Chase Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Lemkau.
Speaking about the bank's recent Masters campaign with athletes, she brought an acrobat on stage who exhibited his gravity-defying ability to roll within a hoop. Lemkau was referencing the success of Masters, along with Chase's Sapphire Reserve credit card product-focused campaign last year, which started as social media and eventually brought on comedian James Corden as a spokesman, in order to demonstrate what's been working for Chase through both traditional and digital channels.
What wasn't working, according to Lemkau and multiple media reports, was blindly spending on sites that supported what she called "bad stuff"—primarily fake news sites and terrorism sites.
The Chase brand had been appearing on more than 400,000 sites, including one promoting "Hillary for Prisoner," and Lemkau has worked to bring that number down to 10,000 relevant sites. Lemkau, who in another carnival reference likened her job to a roller-coaster ride, is now a vocal proponent of brand safety for marketers.
"It's incumbent on brands themselves to figure it out," she said, noting that Chase did not see a deterioration in performance after making the changes. "As leaders of this industry, we should be the ones helping our teams through unprecedented change."
ANA CEO Bob Liodice wasn't blowing much sunshine as he kicked off the morning session here in Florida. Instead, he ticked off a laundry list of issues plaguing the industry, including what he called a "byzantine, non-transparent, super complex digital media supply chain." Yes, there has been "substantial technological progress," he said. "But is that progress really getting us anywhere? The answer is a decided no. Pardon my Brooklynese, but growth sucks."
Liodice lamented that 259 companies in the 2016 Fortune 500 had declining growth. "These depressing patterns are happening even with continued growth in media spending," he said, noting that only 25 percent of every digital dollar reaches the consumer.
Echoing a call made at last year's event, Liodice urged CMOs to "to take our industry back." He then plugged a range of ANA programs, including a new initiative called the "Alliance for Purposeful Brands" launching in 2018 aimed at helping marketing leaders link brand strategy with societal well being. He also touted the ANA's new talent initiative aimed at repairing what that group has called a "looming marketing and advertising talent crisis."
The band Cheap Trick, founded in 1973, returned to the Billboard Top 40 album chart last year for the first time in 27 years. They also headlined night one of entertainment at the ANA conference. Radio, meanwhile, is getting a new look from the likes of Procter & Gamble Co. and Unilever, Westwood One President Suzanne Grimes noted in introducing the group she was sponsoring.
And indeed, the CPG radio revival is for real, if not huge. P&G spent $6.7 million on radio in the first half, according to Kantar Media, more than a six-fold increase from the same period in 2016, and coming particularly from Tide. Unilever spent $5.1 million on radio in the first half, up slightly from 2016, and heavily on Dove Men+Care and Dollar Shave Club, the latter having been a significant radio spender before Unilever bought it last year.
These are only seven to eight-figure (annualized) drops in nine- and 10-figure budgets. But they are signs of interest from global soapers that haven't paid much attention to radio since TV came around in the 1950s.
P&G is seeing value in radio these days, said Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard in a recent interview. But he describes the interest more broadly as "audio," in which he includes Pandora, Spotify and iHeart Radio. And it's not just over dissatisfaction with how digital is performing.
"When people say 'blank – insert them medium here – is dead' it's not just not true," Pritchard says, noting that the company also has stepped up advertising on billboards of late. He also counts influencers among marketing channels growing in importance for P&G.
As of Tuesday, ANA organizers projected at least 2,650 attendees, which would be slightly below last year's record draw. Among agencies, as quick scan of the registration list reveals BBDO with a strong presence of 13 executives from various offices. Not surprisingly, the consultancies are here, too, as they try to woo marketing clients. Deloitte has 19 people here from various practices. IBM is repping with 14 people, while Accenture has three people on the list and PwC has four. Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard is speaking Thursday morning, but his company has a relatively modest showing of four people. On the other hand, Clorox, whose CMO Eric Reynolds also presents Thursday, checks in with a whopping 24 people on the ground. (All these numbers are based on the registration list, and don't include no-shows or late adds.)
For marketing execs gathered here, ad-skipping is no laughing matter. But that's not stopping Onion Labs from poking some fun as the sponsor of the WiFi. The conference WiFi password is "skipthisad." The network name: "Hooray for Marketing."