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Deep Dive 7 Dec 2020 - 5 min read

Mi3's biggest marketing stories of 2020 in five minutes: Top CMOs' Covid survival stories; how to convince CEOs to back brand; avoiding the marcoms deathtrap

By Paul McIntyre - Executive Editor

CommBank's CMO Monique Macleod: Taking more in-house, but the value of agencies - and individuals - cannot be discounted.

The myth of rationality in business decision-making; the hypocrisy of CEOs and boards paying billions to acquire brands only to squeeze marketing budgets; why digital supply chain ignorance costs marketers half their budget; CX and e-commerce overhauls; in-housing, outsourcing and hybrid models; deafening silence on social media ills; one or two Covid pivots; and why you should skip the futurist's session at your next conference, if they ever return. Mi3's most read marketing stories of 2020 distil the good, the bad and the innovative, corralling insight from some of marketing's top minds and practitioners across the issues that matter most. Here's to 2021...


“Once you become marcoms, rather than marketing, you are doomed.”

Rory Sutherland, vice chairman, Ogilvy UK

Behavioural science is the trojan horse marketers need to get psychology back into business and the boardroom for innovation and growth. Citing cases from Boeing's return to supersonic travel, FedEX and how investment bankers pitch deals, if you only believe in logic, you can’t perform magic, says Rory Sutherland, vice chairman of Ogilvy UK and a founder of its behavioural science practice. This is a must read for both B2B and B2C marketers that want their tenures to go beyond the average. Better still, listen to the podcast below - Sutherland is a force of nature.



“A simple example to get the CFO to take you more seriously is to say: ‘You spend billions of dollars acquiring a company because it has a great product and a great brand. Yet when marketing comes to you for money, you say 'not unless you can prove it.' Once you point out this inconsistency, it's pretty obviously a language issue."

Jann Schwarz, global director, the B2B Institute

Marketing and media's troubled future: Mark Ritson, LinkedIn-backed global think tank and IPA UK's Fran Cassidy have a solution

Short-term tactics have trapped marketers into just one ‘P’ – promotion – in marketing's “4P’s” lexicon of Price, Product, Place (distribution) and Promotion (communication). But even “Promotion" is in credibility decline with senior business management. In a tour de force for B2C and B2B professionals, Mark Ritson, Jann Schwarz, global director of the New York-based B2B Institute and IPA advisor, Fran Cassidy, nail what needs to happen - now - for marketing to reclaim its place at the top table. 


“We’ve been hooked on the performance marketing drug, instead of attempting to insert our brand in the more traditional above the line media. Now, being part of Wesfarmers, we’ve begun to see where that chasm between brand and performance exists.”

Ryan Cracie, CMO, Catch

Getting off the ‘performance marketing drug’: Catch CMO Ryan Gracie on building brand equity, going above the line for customer acquisition and spending more on marketing

Catch is the third largest online retailer behind Amazon and eBay. But you'd hardly know it. Since Wesfarmers bought the brand for $230m in 2019, it's been pushing Catch to become more famous and fill the top of the funnel, a prescient strategy, given how 2020 turned out. So Catch shifted media spend from 95% performance and 5% brand to 70% performance and 30% brand. So far, it's paying dividends.


“Anyone who says ‘yes and no’, who says ‘definitely and definitely not’, who says ‘this will work and this will not’, is full of shit, because they don’t know. Understanding that we are dealing with likelihoods and probabilities is one of the deep insights that marketing people need to get.”

Bob Hoffman, Ad Contrarian

Marketing iconoclast Bob Hoffman: Advertising's 'lost decade' now moving into dangerous territory; why industry conferences are 'bullshit'

Bob Hoffman has made a second career calling bullshit on the ad industry's rush to digital mediocrity. But now it's becoming a danger to itself and society, he warns. The one-time Mojo USA boss skewers the collective gullibility that has brought advertising and marketing to its current nadir, but also offers some solutions: Don't fire older people; Hire top notch creatives and let them do what they do best; Accept that precision guessing is as good as it gets. And never listen to people being paid to talk about the future at conferences.

This one is a cracker...


"The indy brands are having a huge impact on our business right across the board ... They go to market really, really quickly, and they are setting the trends."

Lyndall Campher, media director, L'Oreal

L'Oreal's media director Lyndall Campher on her problems with YouTube and the upside to TV, Instagram and influencers

L’Oreal’s ANZ media director Lyndall Campher unpacks why the company will cut YouTube spending; take programmatic in house; open an eBay store - and make influencers click-to-buy affiliate marketers.


“It’s good to finally see the industry and clients taking tangible action in holding Facebook accountable for the content on their platform. Sadly, as I said previously, the only way to get this sort of positive change is by brands withholding advertising dollars.”

Mat Baxter, Global CEO, Initiative

IAG CMO Brent Smart quits Facebook Client Council as 160 brands join global ad boycott

Brent Smart cutting ties with the social platform’s elite industry advisory board was the first public move by any Australian marketer or brand on Facebook since a boycott started in the US in June, pressuring the social media behemoth for greater controls on misinformation and hate speech. But few other Australian marketers were brave enough to have the courage of their convictions. Mi3 Executive Editor Paul McIntyre says brands should start walking the talk if they genuinely believe in making positive contributions to society.


"There's a big responsibility for a brand like Menulog - our success is completely tied to our restaurant partners, so we took money out of a large campaign and invested it back into supporting them. There was also a relief program setup to support our couriers, many of whom were exempt from government schemes."

Simon Cheng, CMO, Menulog

Menulog CMO Simon Cheng: Orders up 20-40% as budget sticks for TV, social; 1-in-5 people use food delivery

As Covid hit, food delivery service Menulog, "never considered for a second going into hibernation" on marketing and media spend, says CMO Simon Cheng. But it did have to do things differently, pausing a major launch with Snoop Dogg and channelling the money into helping its restaurant partners and couriers. Meanwhile, did somebody say "just eSports?" 



“When I came into the role at Suncorp, I was really keen to shift the dynamics so marketing wasn't seen as a cost centre but as a revenue growth driver. So, having done a really solid education piece over last 18 to 24 months, the automatic response to Covid was not to go straight to marketing to save costs.”

Mim Hayson, Suncorp CMO/EGM Brand & Marketing

Behind Suncorp’s Covid scramble on AFL, netball sponsorships; no marketing or ad cuts

Mark Ritson says Suncorp’s brand and marketing boss Mim Haysom is a “1-in-100 marketer”. She secured board and C-suite backing for no marketing cuts through Covid-19 while up-weighting Suncorp’s brand investment over performance and lower-funnel tactics. Suncorp’s AFL, netball and other paused sponsorships have also quickly been recut and recast to help build its brand portfolio. Here's how she did it.


“When we join the dots between everything that’s out there, we start to see some really interesting patterns and themes. To get to that point, unfortunately, you need to read. A lot.”

Jon Bradshaw, founder, Brand Traction

Cheat sheet: Why you don't have to read Byron Sharp, Binet & Field, BJ Fogg, Daniel Kahneman et al to keep up with leading marketing and media science and effectiveness

The collected works of arguably the sharpest minds in marketing, consumer and media science require a shedload of reading time. For those too busy trying to keep their jobs to read the instruction manuals, this podcast and feature is for you. Volvo GM marketing Julie Hutchinson, KPMG partner Sudeep Gohil, AANA chief John Broome and Brand Traction's Jon Bradshaw get their geek on for an important - and fast - update on the leading global thinkers and thinking in marketing science and effectiveness and why it really matters.  


“Increasing your investment rate with non distinctive advertising is not going to be a great investment for you. It comes down to what people see in your brand – and whether or not they notice it in the first place.”

Martin Brown, director of e-business, strategy and marketing for Nestlé Oceania

Nestle: E-commerce a permanent post-Covid consumer shift but 'patience' needed as supply chain, communications adapt

Martin Brown, director of e-business, strategy and marketing for Nestlé Oceania, says the post-Covid 'new normal' brings many uncertainties. But he is clear on two things: Cutting brand investment is not an option, if brands can afford it; and marketers need to plan for between two and 10 quarters of negative growth. 


“If I was to be in a different a business, Aldi is a brand I would like to be working with. They've done a really great job of both short and long term effectiveness.”

Jo Feeney, Director of Marketing, McDonald's

McDonald’s Director of Marketing: creative trumps media in driving results; so why are so many brands getting it wrong?

What makes effective advertising? McDonald’s Director of Marketing Jo FeeneySaatchi & Saatchi CEO Anthony GregorioBrand Traction Director Jon Bradshaw and Nine Director of Effectiveness Jonathan Fox debate the good – Aldi – and the not so good, which in their opinion, includes Darrell Lea's attempt to ape Cadbury's advertising. Plus they discuss where brand marketers go for 2021 as part of Mi3's Fourcast series, supported by Nine.


“As we come through and start to look at the other side of this, of industrial rebuilding, our assets are the humans. Culture is how we not only show up for clients but how we show up for our teams.”

Peter Horgan, CEO, Omnicom Media Group

Top Priorities: Preserve jobs, recast employer-employee contracts, consider community, cashflow critical

As Covid's impact started to become clear, Australia's marketing industry began planning for the unknown and moving at speed to execute. One of the very few knowns was the need to hold onto talent, and do everything possible to preserve jobs across brands, agencies and publishers. Telstra CMO Jeremy Nicholas, PwC Chief Economist, Jeremy Thorpe, Omnicom Media Group CEO, Peter Horgan, and Executive Channel Holdings and OMA Chair, Charles Parry-Okeden offered their thoughts on surviving the first wave intact.


“Chris brings extensive leadership and commercial experience to the McDonald’s system. He will play a critical role in driving and delivering our marketing vision.”

McDonald’s Australia CEO, Andrew Gregory

McDonald’s names new CMO: former DDB Australia chief executive Chris Brown takes over as marketing boss

Six years after leaving Australia for New York, former DDB Australia CEO, Chris Brown, swapped agency life to take his first brand-side role as Vice President and CMO of McDonald's Australia. Two decades with the agency responsible for the brand's creative special sauce should serve him well, as McDonald's backs creativity to drive growth.


“I would say the marketing industry in Australia would seriously benefit from investing in building their [digital supply chain] knowledge. And if you do not … it puts you in a poor position to complain about poor outcomes afterwards.”

Martin Brown, AANA chair and director, eBusiness, Strategy & Marketing, Nestlé Oceania

Follow the money: Marketers must finally step up on digital ad supply chain, say Nestle, AANA, IAB, OMD and MFA - or no complaints when their ticket gets clipped

Nestle's Martin Brown says 50% of advertiser digital budgets going to working media is "not good enough" - 70% should be the baseline. With Canberra digging into the digital ad supply chain and PwC finding half of digital ad dollars are eaten up before they get to publishers, marketers must get a grip on where they are spending their money. If PwC's numbers are right, north of half a billion dollars can't be accounted for each year in Australia alone. OMD's Aimee Buchanan, Guardian Australia boss Dan Stinton and IAB chair and Pedestrian Group's Matt Rowley join the debate on quality media, transparency, remuneration, brand safety - and suggest cutting out programmatic middlemen.


“The evidence is really clear that, if you hold your nerve, you at least maintain your share of voice in market. Or if you can find the resources to boost share, you'll be able to do so for less money. It's a great time to invest and these should be seen as times of opportunity.”

Peter Field, consultant, ad effectiveness guru

Peter Field new report: AUNZ marketers 'showing signs of panic' as recession looms but there is a path to safety

Most marketers and CEOs weren't operating during Australia's last recession in 1991. Lacking the experience of overseas counterparts, many panicked, slashing spend faster and deeper than markets that have been much worse affected by Covid-19. That's a big mistake, says advertising effectiveness guru Peter Field in a new Australian and New Zealand study with the Communications Council. Field, plus Comms Council CEO Tony Hale and LinkedIn's Prue Cox outline how B2B marketers might have had a 'better Covid' than their consumer marketing peers.


“We can genuinely say we saw at work some of those downside impacts that Binet and Field talk about. So we've had good reason to implement some of their strategies”.

Monique Macleod, CMO, CommBank

CommBank marketing chief Monique Macleod on in-housing, the kind of marketers she needs, blending art and science, and brand building out of Covid

CommBank's analytics chief Andrew McMullan recently credited CMO Monique Macleod as a major influence in driving the alignment of marketing and technology functions, creating stronger outcomes for customers via a balanced blend of art and science. For her part, Macleod believes transcending silos is enabling the bank to unlock greater value than the sum of its parts. Now she says the bank is actively focusing on hiring talent with "a growth mindset" as its 200-strong marketing team continues to do more work in-house. But agencies on CommBank's roster shouldn't panic just yet...


“Many brands have talked about making a connection, then stuck with typical performance and digital marketing. We think now is the time to develop that brand value for existing and future customers.”

Nikki Warburton, Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, Audi

Audi CMO Nikki Warburton on 85% sales lift, e-commerce evolution, luxury auto Covid boom and new focus on brand

New car sales for luxury auto brand Audi were up 84.6% in June and 53% in July. Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, Nikki Warburton, says numbers have been boosted by the company’s digital overhaul, new e-commerce experience and brand ad campaigns – delivered while onboarding The Monkeys as its new lead creative agency. Now she's mapping the road ahead in a bid to power out of Covid.


“It’s still important to understand the customer. But that doesn’t mean actually asking the customer. We are really bad at telling the truth about our own motivations. So don’t ask the customer. Ask somebody else about that customer.”

Adam Ferrier, Chief Thinker, Thinkerbell

A Show called Brandin’: Who is your customer; which brands do CMOs personally rate most highly as consumers - and why we should stop asking customers what they want

In the first episode of our video series on brands in culture, creativity and commerce, CMOs from Suncorp and Australia Post get personal, while a futurist and a farmer talk "the new customer". Former adman and Gruen panellist Dan Gregory and his Behaviour Report co-founder Kieran Flanagan take a fast and occasionally funny ride through Peter Field and Les Binet's famed work on marketing effectiveness - all the while channeling Ted Talk's third most popular speaker of all time, Simon Sinek. What a guy.


“Everyone likes to be called a content creator, but I would rather be called a content killer. I think what you don't publish is the art of content marketing.”

Zara Curtis, Director of Content & Customer Engagement, IAG

Content marketing: How Coles and IAG are navigating the tsunami of mediocrity

Marketers poured money into content marketing as Covid crimped above-the-line options. Great news for the likes of News-owned content marketing outfit Storyation, whose Head of Content, Lauren Quaintance, says brands are rushing to build out content machines. But bad news for those marketers struggling to rise above the sea of junk. So how are Australia's big brands cutting through? IAG's Director of Content & Customer Engagement, Zara Curtis, says she's become as much a content killer as content creator. Meanwhile, Coles' Senior Content Manager, Jill Tenner, is taking a smarter post-Covid approach to reuse and recycling. All three think journalists have a bright future, which is music to Mi3's ears.


“It takes us on average, 66 days to form a habit so when you have people in lockdown throughout the country for 100 days, new patterns have been established, new ways of working, new realities for people and the way that they live their lives, it's a fundamental shift.”

Prof. Karl Treacher, CEO, The Brand Institute

Treacher v Ritson: The fundamentals have changed - consumers won’t 'snap back' to pre-Covid behaviour

The debate du jour: how deep and lasting will the impacts of Covid-19 be on consumer behaviour? Mark Ritson says spending and behaviours will unquestionably “snap back” -  after hard recession. But another marketing professor and CEO of The Brand Institute, Karl Treacher, argues attitudes and behaviour are fundamentally shifting. Here’s why.

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