The atmosphere at this year’s ANA Masters of Marketing was a combination of excitement and caution. Excitement because this was the first time since 2019 that most of the delegates had travelled to Orlando for the conference; caution because these are difficult times to work in marketing, with budgets threatened and consumers cutting costs. But top marketers from the US ad industry took to the stage to share their insights and experience in not just surviving, but thriving through adversity.
ECI Media Management was proud to sponsor the Wi-Fi at the conference, and attended the sessions to hear first-hand from some of the industry’s leading lights. Here are our key insights from the three days.
Invest through the recession
The looming global recession was top of mind at the conference. Everyone was questioning how best to manage their advertising investments over the next few years – and some were anticipating having to cut their ad budgets. The ANA’s CEO, Bob Liodice, was very clear that this was the wrong strategy in his opening remarks on the first day of the conference: ‘In the next few months, you’re going to be asked to cut your budget. You’ll be asked to find ways to save money. This is not the time to do that’. He argued that successful brands can only win when they differentiate themselves from the competition – and that this can only happen when budgets are protected, no matter the economic conditions.
At the Masters of Marketing, United’s Head of Global Advertising Maggie Schmerin described how the airline maintained its advertising spend throughout the most difficult days of the pandemic, despite a dramatic loss of revenue. They saw it as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to gain share of mind and emphasise its mission to be a force for good. The campaign was its biggest in a decade, and allowed the company to ‘make leaps and bounds in terms of where we were prior’.
Read our recent whitepaper for tips on how to market during economic uncertainty.
Be clear about your brand purpose
The longstanding theme of the Masters of Marketing is ‘Force for Growth. Force for Good’, so it’s not surprising that a common thread linking the talks at the conference was how activating brand purpose has led to increased sales. Chipotle’s Chris Brandt described how the company brought its purpose – ‘cultivating a better world’ to life across their business by sourcing their ingredients responsibly and supporting farmers. This approach added $2.8 billion to their sales over five years, as well as having tangible impact on the lives of farmers and the health of their supply chain. Chris and all his fellow speakers emphasized that brand purpose must be authentic and have real-world impact – ‘greenwashing’ or ‘whitewashing’ is not good enough and, what’s more, consumers can see it a mile off. Marcel Marcondes, the Global Chief Marketing Officer at AB InBev, talked about the importance of not just talking about what we stand for or only about what consumers care about; it’s about finding the intersection between the two.
Confirming the key role that media and advertising have to play in the battle against climate change, Cannes Lions CEO Simon Cook announced that entries must disclose the C02 footprint of the work in question. This is an important step towards a more sustainable ad industry, but will leave many marketers scratching their heads over how to measure a carbon footprint.
Balance investment at the top and bottom of the funnel
In times of economic uncertainty, it’s tempting for marketers to focus on bottom-of-the-funnel efforts to drive immediate sales. This is sensible, but shouldn’t be at the expense of investment into the upper funnel and brand equity measures. A downturn is an opportunity to drive loyalty and share of mind. Gary Osifchin, CMO and GM, US Hygiene at Reckitt, told delegates in Orlando how Lysol harnessed the cash and brand equity generated from increased sales during the pandemic to invest in new channels and reach new audiences. This approach allowed the brand to maintain sales at 56% higher than before the pandemic.
Multicultural marketing is mainstream marketing
Procter & Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard, used his annual keynote slot at the Masters of Marketing to urge fellow marketers to step up their efforts to serve minority ethnic audiences. Not only do these audiences deserve to have products and messaging that resonate with them, but it also makes financial sense for brands. Minority ethnic audiences represent 100% of American population growth in the last decade, and $5 trillion in spending power. Tailoring messaging to these individuals can only reap benefits for both business growth and society.
Be open to experimenting
Several of the speakers at the Masters of Marketing shared their experiences of considered risk-taking in their marketing campaigns, and the rewards that have resulted. Soyoung Kang, CMO at Eos Products, shared how their ground-breaking campaign for their shave range would have likely been less successful if they hadn’t taken risks and been open to experimenting. The campaign – which focused humorously on body parts that others might shy away from – drew its success from the team’s willingness to really listen to fans and followers. They constantly checked and monitored responses to avoid straying into vulgar territory, and used what they learned to drive new campaigns. Kang described their use of creativity as ‘rocket fuel’.
Mastercard’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Raja Rajamannar spoke about how Mastercard has created ‘Priceless’ moments for consumers across the world by experimenting with multisensory marketing, including by creating touch cards for the visually impaired, Mastercard-sponsored culinary experiences, a sonic logo and bespoke fragrances.
Don’t panic about the metaverse
The metaverse received less attention than might otherwise have been expected at a marketing conference – largely, one suspects, because marketers have more pressing things to think about right now. When it did come up, the message was reassuring: it’s ok to feel uncertain about it, because it’s uncharted, confusing territory. Jeff Charney from Mkhstry said ‘I know the metaverse is hard to understand. You don’t have to be in it today. Just be aware of it… Be knowledgeable’. Soyoung Kang said that Eos Products is equally measured when it comes to its approach to the metaverse: ‘There are pockets where our consumer is actively engaging. And we just want to make sure that we are testing in a measured way our ability to connect with our audience in those places. It’s all about learning and awareness right now and, if it feels right, dipping your toe in. The metaverse still has a long way to go, so there’s no need to go all in yet.
This year’s Masters of Marketing from the ANA provided, as always, a plethora of opportunities to learn and connect.
ECI Media Management was the proud sponsor of the Wi-Fi at the ANA Masters of Marketing.