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Intelligence Briefs

How many marketers does it take to sell a lightbulb?

Industry Contributor

Sunita Gloster, Founder
Gloster Advisory

7 July 2020 5min read

One, if she has a great communications strategy. 

Two weeks ago the global marketing profession, fronted by its lead singer and ‘CMO’ Marc Pritchard at P&G, presented its marketing strategy and 2020 tactics for ‘selling the lightbulb’ to corporate leadership and markets that marketing does drive growth. 

Actually, $500bn of growth by 2022 is the massively ambitious goal that the global marketing community – and therefor every cog in the marketing supply chain – has set itself. Brands, marketers, agencies, media and tech firms are all locked into this new mandate although most have probably not been paying attention. More on that shortly.  

Pritchard, through his roles as Chair of the Association of National Advertisers in the US (ANA), Chair of the Global CMO Growth Council (co-founded with Cannes Lions) and Chief Brand Officer of the biggest advertiser in the world, P&G, delivered the growth roadmap together with CMOs from Mastercard, Lego and LVMH on the Cannes Lions Live digital platform.

The Global CMO Growth Council features 25 CMOs from some of the world’s biggest global brands representing the collective agenda of  global marketing leaders to activate the worldwide community of CMOs to drive business and brand growth. 

The 2020 strategy update (where we play and how we win in the market), remained true to Pritchard’s first year at the ANA in 2016. It’s the consistency you get when a CMO tenure actually endures.  

The CMO Growth Council’s ultimate objective is to increase revenue for marketers worldwide by one percentage point, or more than $500 billion by 2022 – set last June. It was on track until the world changed at the beginning of 2020, in Pritchard’s words. The tactics (how we deliver on the strategy and execute for success), unsurprisingly, have been tweaked to account for the ‘unprecedented’ (sic) market conditions of 2020.  

It’s lofty and important stuff driven by a powerhouse of expertise that has invested considerable time and effort behind marketing’s cause.

But, outside the US (is there such a thing?) is anyone aware of the four-year strategic priorities? The tactics? The calls to action? They are the global CMO mandates made on our behalf that bind us to the reshaping of the industry and require us to play our part to make a difference on the issues we all lament and tweet about?

How many marketers does it take to sell a lightbulb? Perhaps it’s time to brief an agency…

My Takeout

 ‘If marketing were a brand, you would fire the CMO’ were Thomas Barta’s words in Marketing Week, 2018. They still echo loudly.  “The marketing profession needs an urgent relaunch; a relaunch that will revitalise the profession’s standing both inside the C-suite and with talent. And, like all turnarounds, this relaunch will require top marketers to make painful decisions.” 

Marc Pritchard is Marketing’s Chief Marketing Officer.  

Under his stewardship, the Global CMO Growth Council has set its sights unequivocally on re-establishing the credibility of the marketing profession. 

Pritchard’s last four years as our Global ‘CMO’ have seen a systemic assault on exposing questionable, business growth-inhibiting practices in the marketing supply chain and detailing an action plan for how marketers should "get fit" to reclaim accountability for growth. 

He hasn’t shied away from unpopular, painful decisions or admitting that he wasn’t in the weeds.

In 2016, as the newly elected  ANA Chairman, he triggered intense global industry debate by commissioning an investigation by K2 Intelligence which included former FBI Officers looking into media rebates, advertising arbitrage and  trading and transparency around media buying practices. 

In 2017, he put marketers ‘on notice’ challenging them to probe deeper into the ‘murky’ media supply chain.  Igniting conversations globally about media transparency, agency contracts, viewability standards, accredited third party verification measurement and ad fraud. 

In 2018, he urged marketers to ‘take back control’ of a marketing system that they had divested too much responsibility to external partners and suppliers. His call was to stamp out waste, do more with less and to "reinvent media, reinvent advertising and reinvent agency partnerships".  

All the while he was imploring marketers to ‘cut the crap trap’ and raise the bar on creativity. 

In 2019, the agenda targeted the need for a responsible media supply chain that is built for the year 2030 – one that operates in a way that is safe, efficient, transparent, accountable, and properly moderated for everyone involved, especially for the consumers we serve. The Global Alliance for Responsible Media, was launched, firmly targeting the tech giants. 

Unarguably, the actions from our Global Chief Marketing office have been stronger than our recall or indeed awareness of the strategy or stated tactics.  

But Pritchard wants us all to lean in globally, ‘If we can galvanise everybody on certain actions the whole industry gets better. And that’s good for all of us.’ 

So, back to the need for a great communications strategy.

Who knows what the pre-COVID agenda or comms plan was for 2020? Irrelevant now because the world changed. 

The four strategic priorities for 2020 remained true to the commitment in 2016.

  • Drive more human brand experiences, creativity and innovation.
  • Harness the true promise of data and technology. 
  • Unlock the full human potential of talent and making changes in the industry to allow us to reflect the diversity of the world we live in. 
  • Foster more equitable and sustainable societies.

Underpinning these, were 12 tactics delivered forcefully, as mandates. They were of the times. They signalled a sign of things to come. Relevant industry wide, calling for a systemic intervention to reshape our businesses. 

All of them delivered with accountable measures. 

But beyond the Cannes Lions Live presentation, there are no comms about this plan anywhere, not even in industry or business editorial pages. Strange. 

It begs the question, do we even want to sell ‘lightbulbs’?

Regardless of the seeming industry indifference, there are four mandates absolutely not to be missed. And especially if you are a CEO of a creative agency, media agency, media owner, tech platform or one of the ‘zillion Martech companies’ as they were referred to in the presentation. 

If you want my notes on the detail behind the four, and the other eight, post a comment below or shoot me a message on LinkedIn. Here’s the four big mandates:

1.  The development of universal, industry wide data and tech standards, particularly for the Martech ecosystem. The regulators are coming.

2.  All content to now be created with 100% accurate, respectful portrayal of humanity. Eliminating all racism, bias and stereotypes. For the US, it was spelled out that all content was to represent 50/50 gender and 40% race diversity.

3.  Doubling down on the commitment to not place any advertising near content that is hateful, denigrating or discriminatory activity.  Wide reaching implications for media agencies, media owners and platforms.

4.  Equality in the representation and economic investment, ie who we choose as partners, in all areas of the supply chain, production crews, agencies, platforms. 

Pritchard called out his agencies, where diversity is almost non-existent.  He’s not shying away from anything.

As clients, ‘we get what we ask for’ he says, so ‘it must start with an expectation from us’. 

He went on to say he never wants to attend another meeting or see another storyboard where he sees a group that does not represent the population we serve. 

Beyonce would be smiling.

As a current student of Professor Ritson’s ADMA WFH 12-week Marketing Masterclass, all this reminds me of a story the Professor tells about A. G Lafley, CEO of P&G till 2015. 

In short, Lafley makes the argument that most companies have 12 objectives. They’re not really objectives because they have no real date or means of delivery. And there’s 12 of them. 

He says, they’re not objectives, they’re dreams that won’t come true.  

The parallels and irony are rich. 

I have detailed the 12 ‘mandate tactics’ below. 

Dreams or not, judging by the ripple effect that Pritchard, the ANA and the Global CMO Growth Council’s previous strategies have created, these new 12 will impact us in some way soon.  And they absolutely should.

Maybe they already are? 

Because  if you work for or with Unilever, P&G, LVMH, Lego, JP Morgan Chase, Accenture, Amex, IBM, HP, J&J, Deloitte Digital, Diageo, Verizon, AB Inbev, Samsung, Mars, eBay, Shell, Cisco or Mastercard  - it was implied that you’ve signed up to these mandates globally. 

Truth be told, we are an industry motivated by an award. 

Perhaps, the aspiration should be set for Pritchard’s strategy to win a Gold Effie. The industry’s measure of ultimate marketing effectiveness. 

The path to Gold, is a formula clearly documented: a well-defined strategy, focus on short-term wins and long-term health of the brand and MORE media channels. 

Repeat: more media channels.  

The Cannes Lions Live digital platform on its own, clearly didn’t deliver the reach. Enough said. 

Ultimately, creativity is the catalyst in marketing.  

Given Pritchard’s desire to harness and motivate the tremendous power in the collective force of our industry globally to demonstrate and defend marketing as a driver of growth, a brilliant communications strategy is now what the Global CMO Growth Council needs. 

Not a lightbulb moment by now, surely? Here’s the burning question: which agency group, media company or even tech vendor is ready to take the brief and embrace the mandates? All the evidence suggests their future depends on it.

Attention: Australian CMOs and their partners at Unilever, P&G, LVMH, Lego, JP Morgan Chase, Accenture, Amex, IBM, HP, J&J, Deloitte Digital, Diageo, Verizon, AB Inbev, Samsung, Mars, eBay, Shell, Cisco and  Mastercard  - are you signed up to the Global mandates from your leaders on the  CMO Growth Council? Significant impact on how we work locally if you are. 

Let’s go. What do you think?

Industry Contributor

Sunita Gloster, Founder
Gloster Advisory

Sunita has 28 years experience in professional services having held senior leadership roles in the media, marketing, advertising and consulting sector in Australia and internationally. Her significant roles include Worldwide Business Development Director for Lowe Lintas, Chief Operating Officer for M&C Saatchi Europe, Director at PwC’s CMO Advisory, Chief Customer Officer WPP AUNZ and CEO of the AANA where she drove a strong industry agenda that inspired and equipped brand owners to embrace the growth agenda.

Sunita has been widely recognised for her industry contributions, having been voted as one of ‘Top 35 Businesswomen under 35 in the UK’ for two consecutive years by Management Today.