Last week, Adweek brought together 50 top marketers for two CMO Symposiums. We called it The Great Marketing Reboot in an effort to find out what’s changed in the past three months, what’s changing in the next three months and what’s forever changed from what we once knew.
We issued a quick survey developed in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA). The results were both expected and surprising in different ways. Here are some of the key findings.
We all suspected that advertising budgets had been slashed in the past three months. That has been pretty obvious as marketers pivoted from their previously planned big campaigns and turned to social media to simply listen and apply resources in response to the immediate real-time needs. What we didn’t see coming before the storm was the pivotal and historic moment for marketing to rise in importance across their organizations as CEOs took a renewed interest (and dependence) on the role of marketing in shepherding the brand and company through these turbulent times.
- 68% of survey respondents said the role of marketing had elevated in the past three months.
- 8% said marketing had taken a step back.
For those marketers who pivoted successfully leveraging social media as key community connectors, revenue grew, which then leads to another future challenge—making the case to keep the big ad budgets. (This will be tackled in upcoming research co-led by Adweek and the MMA as the need to completely re-think budget allocation is here and the need to redesign the expected outcomes have shifted, from immediate conversion to short and long-term brand reputation.)
No longer are brands allowed to tell their own story devoid of purpose or societal stands. The actions of brands need to be louder and clearer than ever before as the communities in which they participate demand responsibility, accountability and progress. And, it’s not ok to simply interchange brand purpose and cause marketing. They are different, but the push to have them further integrated has never been higher and communities are watch-dogging for authenticity, not just in messaging, but how these brands’ companies are living.
Case in point: A few days after the killing of George Floyd, Nike came out with a strong ad message to bring racism to the forefront during the Black Lives Matter protests and in record time. Reminiscent of their 2018 Colin Kaepernick ad, this ad is rumored to have been created three years ago and shelved for the “right moment.” The moment they aired the campaign they were met with both love and blast. The ever-controversial Cindy Gallop quickly pointed out that there wasn’t a single black person on their executive team. Nike got called to the carpet, not for their brand purpose or their cause marketing, but because of the inauthentic connection of the outside to the inside.
Lead from the inside out
Who is responsible for the inside? This topic came up several times last week as part of the ongoing discussion around diversity and inclusion, as the CMO is 100% responsible for ensuring their teams are diverse, the culture is inclusive and inequities are addressed to provide an equal opportunity for all. The CMO’s influence over the entire composition of their companies has become increasingly important to ensure that it doesn’t just apply to the marketing teams. And control of the partner ecosystem provides the power to enforce principles across the supply chain—with the agencies companies choose to work with to the creators who are employed to communicate with the communities they serve.
Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of P&G and chair of the ANA, has been a consistent advocate for ecosystem reform and responded a few days after Nike’s ad to bring forward “The Choice”, in which he hired one-week old, black-owned agency, Cartwright, who partnered with Grey. In his words: “The deep problems of systemic racism and inequality have been institutionalized over centuries and will not be solved unless the white community steps up to help. But many people are frozen, uncertain of what to do, having avoided the issues or never dealt with what is now inescapable. It’s time for us all to make the choice to take action. Read. Listen. Donate. Plan. March. Vote. Speak out. Step in. And Step up to dismantle systemic racism and inequality once and for all. The Choice is about helping to shine the light on the path forward for those who want to join the fight for an equal, just and better world.”