CMOs Take Stage to Push Value of Marketing at ANA Meeting
Is it a profit-seeking business or a social cause for good?
A common theme was storytelling and defining a brand's story. As Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed said, "we have to stop looking at consumers as armpits that need deodorizing."
J&J is a health-care brand that connects people who are suffering. McDonald's wants to position itself as a nutrition-education advocate. Unilever champions sustainability. And more and more of that story is being told via social and digital media. "I didn't bring a sizzle reel," said Ms. Kadlec. "So much of what we do is outside that box."
Ms. Kadlec's presentation included a long look at the marketer's "Campaign for Nursing's Future," which she said helped produce the first increase in young nurses in two decades. She tugged on heartstrings, showing more than a few emotional spots. "I did not expect to cry at this conference," one attendee was overheard saying as Procter & Gamble Global Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard showed off the marketer's Olympic-themed "Proud Sponsor of Moms" campaign.
Of course, promoting a higher mission and building profitable brands are often one and the same, a point driven home the last time the ANA met in Florida two years ago, when "purpose-driven marketing" was the buzzword.
Twenty-four months later, it seems marketers face even more pressure to prove their societal worth—one need look no further than Alex Bogusky's scathing satire of Coca-Cola's polar bears for that (see page 6).
But with much talk about causes, there were few hard results. One of the better-received presentations was from Ford Group VP-Global Marketing and Sales Jim Farley, who gave a straightforward talk with case studies and frank discussion of what has worked for Ford in digital marketing. The company, taking a cue from video-gaming, now "prelaunches" new models months in advance, spending 20% of the launch budget before a car hits showrooms.
Oddly, the company that was the most unabashed in discussing good works as a means of making money was Luta, a sportswear marketer launching in the U.S. that earmarks 50% of profit for battling youth violence. "Is it a charity, a business? I want people to be confused," said Luke Dowdney, CEO-founder. "That's how we'll deal with some of the social problems we have."
Contributing: Jack Neff, Judann Pollack, Natalie Zmuda