David Bills, Chief marketing and sales officer, DuPont

Published on .

Title: Chief marketing and sales officer
Company: DuPont
Years in current job: 3
Quote: "We're trying to strengthen our awareness and brand image in emerging markets."

At American Business Media's annual conference this spring, DuPont's global brand director, Heide Rowan, was a keynote speaker. She emphasized that a fast return on marketing investment was paramount for the chemical giant in 2009. "The CMO wants to know what we're going to deliver this year, not next year," Rowan said.

DuPont's chief marketing and sales officer, David Bills, confirmed that point of emphasis. "Every dollar gets scrutinized," he said in an interview. "We have to justify every dollar we spend. In the past, we took it on faith. Now, there's a bigger effort to prove it works. ... Clearly, there's an emphasis on short-term revenue generation. We serve some industries that have been pretty hard-hit, like automotive and construction. A lot of others, like agriculture and energy, are doing fine."

Bills acknowledged that DuPont has cut some marketing spending, such as trimming the budget for its hospitality for NASCAR, where the company is a longtime sponsor of driver Jeff Gordon. "Like everyone else, our budgets are challenged," he said. "We have cut back the investment we make in marketing our products, and it's driving us toward digital, which tends to be less expensive."

DuPont's digital spending encompasses a broad array of techniques. "We use e-mail marketing selectively, and that's working," Bills said. "Paid search is working."

Bills said DuPont has been aggressively moving into emerging markets. "The campaign we did in India and Brazil worked well," he said. The company emphasized ROI and lead generation in that effort, which included online and print elements created by DuPont's agency, Ogilvy New York. "We keep working on ways to improve measurement," Bills said.

"We were very careful to put in place both pre- and post-measures of our brand, and to track sales leads. We were able to show clear direct business results."

DuPont has also worked to communicate a green marketing message that emphasizes the brand's sustainable products, particularly in the construction industry. The company showcased its products, such as Tyvek, in a Discovery Channel documentary, "Greensburg," which chronicled the sustainable rebuilding of Greensburg, Kan., which was devastated by a tornado in 2007.

"The initial idea was more [one] of "We want to help this community,' " Bills said. "It kind of grew into a marketing campaign, but it was more for our people to help. We have volunteers [who are DuPont employees] working with Habit for Humanity and helping to rebuild the community."

DuPont, which ultimately provided about $750,000 in construction materials to the town, understood that the rebuilding also offered "an environmental showcase for our products," Bills said. Gordon was also interested in the effort, and the NASCAR driver visited the town and helped with the rebuilding.

"ESPN did 6½ minutes on Jeff, and DuPont and Greensburg," Bills said. "Leveraging our relationship with Jeff and his family, we were able to get a lot more out there about the effort in Greensburg."

—Sean Callahan

Most Popular
In this article: