There’s a buzz in the air of the vast space of the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel in Orlando: marketers and industry players from across the US are delighted to be back at the ANA’s flagship event, the Masters of Marketing. For many, it’s three years since they were last here in person. And what a return it is: with more than 2000 people attending in person and 1500 virtually, it’s safe to say that the industry has officially reconvened. The enthusiasm for three days of conversation, learning, inspiration and good old-fashioned fun was palpable.
Setting the tone: a call to arms
The ANA’s CEO, Bob Liodice, opened the conference as always with his reflections on the state of the advertising industry in the US. He spoke to the feeling of excitement with a call to celebrate all that we have come through – the pandemic but also stagflation, social strife, global unrest and rising crime. He quoted Unilever’s Esi Egglestone Bracey: ‘We are sprinting through an endless obstacle course. Take a recovery break and reflect on what the world needs now and what we can do as marketers and business leaders to help. The world is ripe for even more purpose and positivity’. Esi’s words set the tone for Bob’s presentation and indeed the whole of day one: marketers and brands have the power to be a real force for good in a world that so desperately needs it. The key is ‘Brands for Humans’ or ‘B4H’ – finding the humanity and purpose in a brand and using that to deliver purpose and drive growth.
Using a powerful graph that showed in black and white the disparity in growth between companies that invest in their brands and those that don’t, Bob reminded the audience that ‘highly-branded companies’ consistently outperform their competition by a wide margin – so resisting calls from CFOs to cut budgets is crucial for both short- and long-term growth.
Driving multi-cultural market growth
Next up on the stage was another well-known figure: P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard. His presentation reinforced Bob’s focus on humanity. He took the audience through P&G’s seven habits for market growth, which center on inclusivity, diversity and creativity. He pointed out that 100% of population growth in the US in the last decade came from increases in Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native, Indigenous, multiracial and multi-ethnic segments of the population. These groups have a combined buying power of more than $5 trillion, so it’s clear that marketers need to reach them effectively in order to drive sustainable growth. This cannot be done by using old marketing habits: brands need to speak specifically to these people and to meet their unique needs. The one lesson that Marc wanted us to take from his presentation? Multi-ethnic marketing is mainstream marketing – so it’s time to transform our strategies at every level.
Creativity is the rocket fuel for growth
The importance of creativity in marketing is another key theme at this year’s Masters of Marketing. Soyoung Kang, CMO of Eos, showed us how Eos has embraced risk-taking, smart experimentation, honesty, creativity and, crucially, truly listening to their consumers, to find new ways to communicate and grow their shaving range. We received a ‘mature content’ warning at the start and it’s fair to say we heard about strategies and messaging that haven’t graced the ANA stage before! Soyoung’s presentation was invigorating and inspiring, encouraging us to find the edges of our comfort zone and then ‘gently and respectfully push boundaries’. It was the Eos team’s willingness to embrace discomfort and really listen to their consumers on social media that allowed them to evolve into a multicategory, 360-degree personal care brand, with some remarkable growth and expansion statistics.
Purpose at the heart of it all
The ongoing theme of the Masters of Marketing conferences is ‘Force for Growth. Force for Good’ – and it is brand purpose where those two forces overlap. The morning’s sessions concluded with engrossing presentations from two prominent CMOs talking about how their brand’s purpose lies at the heart of all they do.
Ford’s Suzy Deering explained how the brand activated its newly defined purpose statement by ‘evaluating company decisions using it, investing on behalf of it and making sacrifices for it’. Faithful adherence to this new purpose – ‘To help build a better world, where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams’ – allowed the company to take what appeared to be risks without fear. This included creating the electric version of the iconic F-150 truck and making plans to build Blue Oval City in Tennessee.
Bob Liodice introduced Chipotle’s CMO Chris Brandt with some impressive results: they have added $3.8 billion in annual sales by implementing a new marketing strategy and embracing the digital ecosystem. Chris took to the stage to talk about how Chipotle harnessed its purpose of cultivating a better world as the foundation for this growth. The brand has put its money where its mouth is, literally, to promote what it calls ‘real food’, support organic farming practices, help feed communities in need, train the next generation of young farmers and support current ones. And it’s working, for both the planet and the bottom line.
Breaking through the clutter
In the last session of the day, Mastercard’s well-known and well-respected Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Raja Rajamannar, started his presentation with the observation that we are living through the most significant paradigm shift in history, with a ‘tech tsunami’, a ‘data deluge’ and huge cultural change. Consumer attention is spread incredibly thin as a result, and they are turning to tools such as ad blockers for some respite. How can brands capture their attention in this brave new world?
For Mastercard, it has been about harnessing science, psychology, technology and experimentation to explore new, exciting ways of reaching consumers. They observed that marketing focuses on two of the senses – sight and hearing – but that there are three more that barely get a look in. This led the Mastercard team to create ‘priceless’ moments; they worked with scientists to optimize the colors in the logo; they created taste experiences with innovative chefs and food brands; they collaborated with artisan parfumeurs to create bespoke fragrances; they innovated in credit card design to create cards that are more accessible for blind people; and they worked with world-leading musicians and musicologists to create a new sonic identity. Raja’s presentation was fun, invigorating and no doubt inspired his audience to consider new ways of reaching their audiences.
Day 1 at the Masters of Marketing was as inspiring, thought-provoking and fun as everyone expected it would be – and it didn’t hurt that it ended with an electrifying performance from none other than Michael Bublé! The bar has been set high for day 2, but the ANA never disappoints…
ECI is the proud sponsor of the Wi-Fi at the ANA Masters of Marketing.