“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!