“Marketing Matters” CMO Spotlight: Live from AdWeek Part 2

In Part 2 of Marketing Matters’ special CMO Spotlight, broadcast from Advertising Week in New York City, WFoA Executive Director Catharine Hays and Forbes’ CMO Network Editor Jenny Rooney continued their discussion with four thought leaders in advertising:  Andrew Essex (former CEO of Tribeca Enterprises, author of The End of Advertising), Jonathan Craig (CMO of Charles Schwab), Diego Antista (U.S. Multicultural Agency Head at Google), and Brian Wong (CEO of Kiip).  Each offered his unique perspective on advertising’s future and effective leadership strategies in an era of constant change.

Key Takeaways:

  • Diversity and inclusion remain key considerations for brands, and agencies must demonstratively reflect appropriate knowledge and awareness in their practices.
  •          Consumers are tired of being bombarded by mediocre advertising – creativity and captivating storytelling are now more important than ever.
  •          Balancing data and technology in advertising is a crucial challenge that advertisers must figure out in order to remain competitive.
  •          Marketing is no longer simply a platform for messages but for services that create value for consumers.

Author and former Tribeca Enterprises CEO Andrew Essex emphasized the continued importance of authentic storytelling in crafting advertising that audiences truly want to see.  The rise of ad blockers and abundance of clutter in the market make it imperative that advertisers create captivating advertisements.  While Essex recently authored a book titled The End of Advertising, he believes that the continued value of agencies lies in their creativity.  Essex stated that ad agencies are “traditionally the guardians of the brand, they have the people in-house who understand how to tell stories for brands in a creative way, and I think the best ones…are going to thrive like never before, so [it’s] the ones that are in the middle, that are essentially proliferating or promulgating mediocrity, that are doomed.”  Both Jenny and Catharine agreed, with Jenny mentioning that industries with historically bad advertising have lots of room for innovation, and Catharine adding that advertisers should aggressively pursue and develop the next generation of great talent.

Andrew Essex, Former CEO, Tribeca Enterprises

On the topic of what brands must do differently to stay relevant, Essex referenced a discussion from one of his Advertising Week sessions, “Extending the Live Experience.”  In today’s world, brands must integrate themselves into experiences to be noticed.  Real-time events and experiences have unique potential to get consumers out of the house, and brands must take advantage of opportunities.  Advertising can also be helpful without being intrusive, as suggested by Essex’s proposal that brands sponsor utilities or services in public spaces.

Johnathan Craig of Charles Schwab shared his acute observations on Advertising Week attendees, noticing that everyone was struggling with similar issues related to technology and data.  Craig articulated one of the main challenges advertisers face: “At the core of it, marketing is still an art and a science, and how do you balance the science and the art, and how do you leverage the technology that’s out there” without getting “lost in the technology” and remaining focused on the client?

Jonathan Craig, CMO, Charles Schwab

Craig also discussed his Advertising Week session, “Principles for Success in Today’s Noisy, Connected Social Media Driven World” in which he championed the idea that “CMOs and marketers really need to be at the forefront of moving their businesses forward.”  He believes that marketing is a core driver of business, and actions matter more than words.  In his perspective, marketers must build trust with consumers and clients, and infuse the brand’s story in every interaction; data should be used to serve rather than to sell, and to make consumers’ lives easier.   Craig also emphasized the importance of brands disrupting themselves even when times are good, acknowledging that it may hurt in the short run but will pay off in long-term benefits to the brand.

Google’s Diego Antista also discussed the necessity for change in advertising, having participated in the Advertising Week panel “True Diversity: Walking the Walk.” In his opinion, advertising today still has a way to go before it can be considered inclusive, and clients are increasingly demanding that agencies step up their efforts in this regard.

Diego Antista, U.S. Multicultural Agency Head, Google

Multicultural-focused business sectors are booming, with large projected increases in various minority populations in the U.S.  Antista identified a major conundrum that clients and agencies have been experiencing:  Clients who need help in multicultural marketing often go to agencies that don’t have knowledgeable resources to suit their needs.   He feels that advertisers must invest in more diverse talent, and increase the number of people of color leading the conversation.

Finally, Catharine and Jenny welcomed back returning guest Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, a mobile advertising network.  Wong emphasized the importance of consumer-centric advertising, asserting that “marketers are not just here to communicate a message or to tell you about a product, but rather to service you and to give you value.”  He stated that so-called “annoying” advertising is hurting brands, and advertisers must refine their practices in order to keep up with consumers by leveraging all aspects of mobile.  He shared that TV remains the best place to create awareness and branding.

Brian Wong, Founder and CEO, Kiip

CMO needs are also changing, with increased concerns regarding fraud and viewability.  In this vein, Wong noted a need for customized experiences that are also scalable, something that the industry is still figuring out.  As expected, outcome-based/performance driven marketing, and being able to gather data with more precision remains a top priority.

You can listen to this show and past shows on our radio show page: https://businessradio.wharton.upenn.edu/bestof/marketing-matters/?h=r7z5

Access the recorded Advertising Week sessions at: http://newyork.advertisingweek.com/

 

“Marketing Matters” CMO Spotlight: Live from AdWeek, Part 1

Aired September 27, 2017

On the road again!  For this installment of Marketing Matters’ CMO Spotlight, hosts Catharine Hays and Jenny Rooney broadcast amid the hustle and bustle of Advertising Week in New York City, a week-long gathering of thought leaders, executives, and innovators shaping modern marketing and advertising.  In Part 1 of the show, Catharine and Jenny welcomed three guests: Mari Kim Novak (President of Advertising Week), Esther Garcia (VP of Marketing for Tecate at Heineken, USA) and Nigel Morris (Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at Denstu Aegis).

These lively conversations focused on themes and takeaways from Advertising Week, as well as perspectives on the changing landscape and current trends in advertising.

Key Takeaways:

  • Diversity of thought is crucial to the advertising industry, along with the growth of talent.
  • Risk-taking in advertising is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity – but it must be done in a way that is authentic to the brand.
  • The consumer is in control, which means executives cannot ignore the vital role marketers have in the growth of business.

Catharine and Jenny kicked off the interviews by inviting Mari Kim Novak, who was producing Advertising Week for the first time as the organization’s president, to give an overview of the massive event, which featured over 1,000 speakers and anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 attendees.   This year’s theme,  “Great minds think unalike,” embraced diversity not only in terms of culture but also in terms of thought.  

Mari Kim Novak, President, Advertising Week

Novak emphasized that “the greatest part of being creative is to think differently, to think out of the box,” an essential element of success in the current business climate. 

Novak also acknowledged that Advertising Week’s 14th iteration is a well-run machine, but shared that she had the opportunity to put her own touch on it in various ways, including the creation of TechX.  TechX is an interactive, educational experience that allows attendees to understand and test out how technologies such as AI and VR can be adapted to reach consumers. She implemented TechX to close the knowledge gap between engineers and executives in a time of rapid technological innovation.

Next, Catharine and Jenny spoke with Esther Garcia, who led the Advertising Week session entitled “Building an Authentic, Bold Campaign.”  Garcia discussed the boldness of Tecate’s highly talked about “The Wall” ad, in which Tecate takes Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and turns the wall into a place in which Mexicans and Americans can share a Tecate as friendly neighbors.   She also touched on the importance of brands injecting themselves into timely conversations, but also noted, “It’s critical that you are true to yourself as a brand…find something that is very true to you, to your DNA,” and make sure “that you have the tone of voice, and the right to jump into this kind of conversation.” 

Esther Garcia, Vice President, Tecate, Heineken USA

Garcia also addressed the challenges that come with risk-taking in advertising, stating that marketers “need to move the needle in a way, and it’s our responsibility as marketers to protect the brands but also to build the brands, and building the brands means you need to take risks, and you need to challenge yourself, and also have partners that challenge you.” Moving outside of comfort zones is necessary to break through the clutter, and she expressed that it’s critical to bring the brand’s communications and PR team to the table on new strategies from the beginning.  Communication within the company is key, as well as aligning with stakeholders.

Nigel Morris joined Catharine and Jenny as the final guest of the segment and provided insight into his Advertising Week session on the importance of understanding the Chinese consumer market, including the similarities and differences it has with that of the U.S.  Morris believes that the pace of innovation in China is much faster than the U.S.   He also shared how the modern Chinese consumer market grew out of mobile–because that was where the consumer was–whereas U.S. brands started on desktop and then migrated to mobile.   A key lesson from China is to understand the dynamic relationship between the creator and the consumer, and to invest in understanding first-party data to produce personalized content at scale for thousands of individuals.

Nigel Morris, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Dentsu Aegis Network

When asked how CMOs are navigating this new reality, Morris responded, “An existential challenge that we’ve all got is, ‘How does marketing actually become the most important discipline within business?’, because where we’re moving to, doesn’t matter whether it’s China, here, or Africa, it’s a consumer-led market.” Consumers today have more control and a vast selection of alternatives, something that brands and their boards must understand.

Audio from Part 1 of our Advertising Week interviews may be found here:  https://businessradio.wharton.upenn.edu/bestof/marketing-matters/?h=7GebK

Be sure to check our next blog post for a recap of Part 2 of our special Advertising Week broadcast!

“Marketing Matters:” The Lighter Side of the Dark Side

Our September 13 Marketing Matters show featured leaders in technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and marketing.  WFoA Executive Director and Marketing Matters host, Catharine Hays, had the pleasure of speaking with Andrew Malcolm (Chief Marketing Officer, Evernote), Oren Etzioni (Chief Executive Officer, Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence), Dan Briscoe (Chief Marketing Officer, HCSS Software), and Benjamin Spiegel (Chief Executive Officer, MMI Agency) regarding their insights on finding solutions amid complex situations.

Key Takeaways:

  • There is no playbook for solving challenges; solutions to all tough problems result from a passion for addressing the issue and a drive for continuing despite setbacks.
  • AI technology benefits society if its application is appropriately regulated.
  • During disaster situations, such as during Hurricane Harvey, relief projects should be handled very carefully to strike a sensitive balance between spreading the word to gain organic support and awareness of community needs.
  • Advertisements in disaster regions should be suspended if they do not contribute positively to the situation.

Catharine’s first interview was with Andrew Malcolm, CMO of Evernote, a multi-platform app that helps users take notes, organize ideas, and keep track of information.  Launched in 2008, Evernote was designed to be a note-taking app, with the ultimate goal of becoming an “extension of the brain.” The Silicon Valley startup saw its share of success, but in 2015, Evernote was labeled by Business Insider as the “first dead unicorn,” the Valley term for startups valued at over $1 billion. It was during this time that Malcolm joined Evernote as CMO.

Andrew Malcolm, Chief Marketing Officer, Evernote

Malcolm viewed reviving Evernote as a challenge.  Instead of a customer-centric model, he focused on an employee-centric model, or “marketing internally.” His idea was to “get everyone on the same page internally…before worrying externally” by using a number of methods, including reminding employees about their value to the company, rekindling employees’ passion for the company’s mission, and inspiring employees by demonstrating the impact of their product.

One example used to show the significance of employees’ work is the “Customer Story of the Week,” where an Evernote team member devotes one week to researching how a user has accomplished incredible feats with the use of Evernote.  Malcolm shared that “It’s hard not to feel inspired and connected to [Evernote],” after hearing the stories and seeing the impact Evernote can bring to the world. On the customer side, Malcolm mentioned that they have been actively evaluating customer concerns, and based on feedback, will be moving towards organizing teams and users via AI and cloud-based technology.

After reviving Evernote, Malcolm says the next steps for Evernote will be continuing their mission to be an extension of the brain and evolving Evernote to be capable of connecting and integrating ideas. Malcolm ended the interview by providing an essential piece of advice on identifying solutions amid tremendous adversity: “Find the things that are going to work for your specific situation…do that with a sort of passion for the problem and just loving the journey you are on even when it’s hard…those two things together will take you a long way through even the darkest of times.”

Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, joined Catharine to discuss his recent AI op-ed in The New York Times and his views on AI regulation. With advances in AI technology, the control of AI development has become a controversial topic among tech leaders. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, flamboyantly identified AI as “[humanity’s] biggest existential threat” and urged a need for AI development regulations, but Etzioni disagrees.

Oren Etzioni, Chief Executive Officer, Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence

Etzioni says AI development should not be confused with “science fiction” because it serves as an important tool for the “common good.” For example, self-driving cars using AI technology can significantly reduce accident rates. He also emphasized a critical distinction between regulating AI development and regulating AI application. He supports the regulation of the latter and believes the regulation of AI applications should be organized into three categories:

  • Liability.  He believes we cannot blame AI when problems occur, and we need to take responsibility for AI applications as creators and users.
  • Disclosure.  Etzioni stated that users of AI applications must be informed beforehand that they are interacting with AI rather than a real person.
  • Privacy.  Guidelines should be laid out to determine who has access to private information collected by AI.

Etzioni understands that AI has certain drawbacks, including potentially damaging the job market. However, he highlighted how AI can also enhance employment in other ways, such as improving education and work efficiency. For example, the Allen Institute’s Semantic Scholar helps researchers shorten time spent on reviewing journals by analyzing and displaying the most relevant findings for the topic of interest. For corporations hoping to use AI, Etzioni recommends reviewing the AI’s functionality, the impact AI has on customers, related corporate liability, and the disclosure for users who interact with AI.  He wrapped up his remarks with an optimist’s view: AI development and regulation should not be feared because it is “unknown, [a] Frankenstein,” but be embraced, with appropriate precautions, to bring significant benefits to society.

Next to join Catharine was Dan Briscoe, CMO of HCSS Software, a software company that produces construction project management applications.  Briscoe, the MarketingSherpa 2017 Best in Show recipient, found a solution for providing assistance to the Greater Houston areas recently impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  He recounted how HCSS Software was able to leverage the capabilities of their business to continue operations, shelter dislocated employees and locals, and to connect construction companies for disaster relief efforts.  Briscoe attributed HCSS’ success in continuing operations in the wake of the storm to the company’s culture and the CEO’s announcement to continue paying employees, even if they could not come to work or were dealing with other issues after the disaster.  HCSS’ successful relief project for the Houston community was the result of an employee’s volunteer initiative, which was fully supported by the CEO.

Dan Briscoe, Chief Marketing Officer, HCSS Software

Coordinating the project was a complicated task.  Briscoe remarked that marketing a relief project is skating on thin ice: It is easy to be viewed as “doing [disaster relief] for publicity when you just need to get the word out to gain support.” Instead of traditional marketing tactics, Briscoe used heartfelt video clips of employees and volunteers.  He says his strategy was to have “other people tell the story, rather than the marketing team.” By being very careful about projecting a proper tone and balance in HCSS’ message, Briscoe helped the disaster relief project avoid being mistaken for a publicity stunt.

Benjamin Spiegel, CEO of MMI Agency, a data-driven conversation agency with a focus on digital technology, discussed his op-ed on AdAge.com about advertisements in disaster regions. Thanks to evolving technology, people can whip out their mobile phones to check Google for the latest news or review the tweets from local governments for information during situations like Hurricane Harvey–all while traditional forms of communications are unavailable.  However, technology is not all positive when it comes to disaster regions. Spiegel felt compelled to speak out about advertising in disaster regions when he was forced to watch a “75-second pre-roll” ad before he could browse the announcements for Houston residents. He says too many ads are now running on “autopilot,” and that is taking out the “human element of advertising.”

Benjamin Spiegel, Chief Executive Officer, MMI Agency

Spiegel highlighted the ease with which advertisers can turn off these ads using geo-fencing, a geographical way to target ads. So, why are ads still running? He posited two reasons.  The first: The thought never crossed the advertiser’s minds. The second: The media does not want to stop broadcasting ads–after all, advertisements are their primary source of revenue.

Not all ads are made equal. Spiegel says ads with good intentions should continue to run. He highlighted a few ad campaigns that added value to the brand, such as Tide’s Loads of Hope and AT&T announcing a no-overage policy for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. These region-specific advertisements can be broadcast using geo-fencing technology and are beneficial because they are communicating messages relevant to the audience.

To end this week’s “Marketing Matters,” Catharine reminded listeners to think beyond advertising and to broaden the definition of advertisement to encompass a value exchange of consumer and brand that happens over time. In any challenging situation, there is always a solution and a silver lining to be discovered–it’s about finding the lighter side of the dark side.