Monday, 15 October 2012

CMOs Take Stage to Push Value of Marketing at ANA Meeting Final (AdAge, By E.J Schultz)

Is it a profit-seeking business or a social cause for good?

If you walked in cold on the Association of National Advertisers' Masters of Marketing conference last week, it was a logical question. The record 2,056 attendees heard presentations from the likes of Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Unilever on what J&J's Worldwide VP-Global Marketing Kim Kadlec called "the intersection of marketing and social responsibility." Speakers danced between the concepts in presentations that played up their benevolence as much as their brand strategies.

A common theme was storytelling and defining a brand's story. As Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed said, "we have to stop looking at consumers as armpits that need deodorizing."

J&J is a health-care brand that connects people who are suffering. McDonald's wants to position itself as a nutrition-education advocate. Unilever champions sustainability. And more and more of that story is being told via social and digital media. "I didn't bring a sizzle reel," said Ms. Kadlec. "So much of what we do is outside that box."

Ms. Kadlec's presentation included a long look at the marketer's "Campaign for Nursing's Future," which she said helped produce the first increase in young nurses in two decades. She tugged on heartstrings, showing more than a few emotional spots. "I did not expect to cry at this conference," one attendee was overheard saying as Procter & Gamble Global Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard showed off the marketer's Olympic-themed "Proud Sponsor of Moms" campaign.

Of course, promoting a higher mission and building profitable brands are often one and the same, a point driven home the last time the ANA met in Florida two years ago, when "purpose-driven marketing" was the buzzword.

Twenty-four months later, it seems marketers face even more pressure to prove their societal worth—one need look no further than Alex Bogusky's scathing satire of Coca-Cola's polar bears for that (see page 6).

And it's a tough sell for some marketers. Neil Golden, senior VP-chief marketing officer for McDonald's USA, spent a lot of time rebutting criticism that the fast feeder has contributed to the nation's obesity epidemic. He highlighted changes to the Happy Meal, which now includes apple slices.

But with much talk about causes, there were few hard results. One of the better-received presentations was from Ford Group VP-Global Marketing and Sales Jim Farley, who gave a straightforward talk with case studies and frank discussion of what has worked for Ford in digital marketing. The company, taking a cue from video-gaming, now "prelaunches" new models months in advance, spending 20% of the launch budget before a car hits showrooms.

Oddly, the company that was the most unabashed in discussing good works as a means of making money was Luta, a sportswear marketer launching in the U.S. that earmarks 50% of profit for battling youth violence. "Is it a charity, a business? I want people to be confused," said Luke Dowdney, CEO-founder. "That's how we'll deal with some of the social problems we have."

Sunday, 14 October 2012

In A 'VUCA' World, Unilever Bets On 'Sustainable Living' As A Transformative Business Model (Forbes, Avi Dan)

In 2010 Unilever committed to doubling the size of its business in 10 years while reducing the environmental footprint and increasing its social impact. They have embedded a new business model called Sustainable Living through a new marketing strategy called ‘Crafting Brands for Life,’ which puts people first, builds brand love, and unlocks the magic of brands.

Keith Weed is Chief Marketing and Communication Officer of Unilever, and a director of the company. Prior to his present post he served as Executive Vice President of Home Care, Oral Care, and Water. I spoke to Mr. Weed following his keynote at last week’s ANA’s annual conference in Orlando, Fla.

AVI DAN: You were very outspoken about how ambitious your plan is from the beginning. What was the strategy behind this approach?

KEITH WEED: We felt that in order to be accountable, and have our employees and partners accountable, the scope has to be established publicly, and that we have to set up specific goals and timetables. Otherwise it is just too easy not to meet these goals, especially when the scope of the plan is as transformative as this.

AVI DAN: How did your approach to sustainability evolve and inform your new business model?

KEITH WEED: We are not trying to make sustainability a separate agenda; we’re trying to make it a central agenda. We didn’t want it to be a couple of pages in a magazine but a commitment that the whole company could get behind.

AVI DAN: Why change the business model in the first place?

KEITH WEED: We look at the world through a lens, which we call VUCA, which stands for “Volatile, Unstable, Complex, and Ambiguous.” So you can say, “It’s a very tough world”, or you can say, “It’s a world that’s changing fast, and we can help consumers navigate through it.” Two-and-a-half billion more people will be added to the planet between now and 2050, of which 2 billion will be added in developing countries. The digital revolution, the shift in consumer spending, all this suggests that companies have to reinvent the way they do business.

AVI DAN: One of the interesting features of “Sustainable Living” is that you extended it throughout the whole supply chain. How did that come about?

KEITH WEED: When we researched improving sustainability in our own organization, we realized that our own footprint in things like reducing waste in electricity, water etc., would be only 6%. But a quarter of the resources come from the supply chain, from sourcing raw materials. And another 50-60% in consumer use, in people using water to wash clothes, for example. The model had to be comprehensive to be successful.

AVI DAN: Is there a financial benefit to sustainability?

KEITH WEED: We have saved in eco-efficiencies in our factories €250 million. Similarly, to our suppliers, there’s a savings as well.

AVI DAN: In this VUCA world, what other skills should marketers adopt?

KEITH WEED: I would advise marketers to look to the future more. There are enough people in business, and probably finance, who spend a lot of time counting where the money goes. But in a fast changing world, marketers need to focus more on foresight and insight. Both are important of course, but I would argue that foresight is even more important.

AVI DAN: What keeps you up at night?

KEITH WEED: Lack of integration. With all the new avenues of communication there is a proliferation, which is very difficult to manage. I would love one-stop shopping but I refuse to sacrifice quality.