ANA Masters Day One: What Brand Marketers Need to Know

By Media in the Age of Algorithms Archives
Cover image for  article: ANA Masters Day One: What Brand Marketers Need to Know

Many of the presenters during the first full day of ANA's Masters of Marketing conference provided perspective on the organization's "Force for Good, Force for Growth" mantra which has guided much industry conversation over the last few years. Key provocative thoughts and important initiatives follow:

  • ANA CEO Bob Liodice identified key initiatives to challenge the industry's most pressing "why can't we" questions, including measurement, transparency, training and the multiple dimensions of diversity. These include the currently active RFP for programmatic media transparency, along with work in cross-media measurement and responsible addressable media (identity initiative).
  • P&G's Marc Pritchard nailed the underlying truth by calling out that marketing for good "must come from a foundation of ethics and corporate responsibility."  He further highlighted how far we have to go with the fact that less than 1% of industry spend goes to Black-owned media.
  • "Get focused on who you serve -- you will find your way" is the advice of Amazon Prime's Ukonwa Ojo. She challenged all to "don't forget the magic" in a world obsessed with measurement and defined that magic as where "brand meets culture."

  • J&J's Manoj Raghunandanan stressed that marketers know that "diversity is not an altruistic thing. You know it's good for business." Manoj acknowledged that "May of 2020 changed everything" and offered a series of compelling images from inside and outside J&J to bring that home. He featured this compelling positioning image from Neutrogena that shows the essence of modern marketing:

  • Unilever's Esi Eggleston Bracey spoke of the burnout and flood of resignations happening in the industry and what it has felt like to be a marketing leader in this time. "We've been springing through an ultra-marathon obstacle course, and we've been blindfolded in all that's been going on," she said. She highlighted the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair) Act that has passed in 14 states, where marketing has driven change in the law of the land.
  • Lowe's Marisa Thalberg shared how she found herself in a challenging place -- entering a new industry in a leadership "agent of change" role -- in February 2020 on the cusp of the pandemic. Lowe's found itself in a unique position as a "home" brand at a moment when "stay at home" was the headline in every major medium. She underscored that "conventions don't have to be conventional" in sharing Lowe's programs to re-create key moments like Halloween coupled with bold transformative moves like the brand's "Fashion Week Goes Home" effort that united home fashion with the return of New York's Fashion Week.
  • Morgan Flatley, CMO of McDonald's, epitomized the situation of a brand coming to grips with some harsh learning during the era of brutal honesty brought on by the pandemic. Another relatively new CMO, Flatley confronted consumer research that revealed that the brand's customer perception did not match what was believed inside the enterprise. While the brand proudly believed family and trust were are the center of their client relationships, it stung to learn that customers themselves used far more mundane language: fast, cheap, convenient. They have learned key lessons and instituted programs to "bring the swagger back" to the brand experience.
  • Tim Ellis, CMO of the NFL, closed the day by revealing the stunning breadth of programs launched by the league and Players Coalition in the COVID/George Floyd era, including:
    • "Stay Home, Stay Strong"
    • "Draft A Thon"
    • "Take off your helmet"
    • "My Cause, My Cleats": a localized program that is a platform for the NFL's non-superstar players.

    Quotable Quotes of the day

    • "What we can do is commit to one another that what's good for business is diversity, and what's good to do is to advocate for it in the right way." -- Manoj Raghunandanan
    • "If you don't love it, no-one else will." -- Ukonwa Ojo, speaking of evaluating marketing programs.

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