It’s been a big few months for Danny Bass. The former Mediabrands, GroupM and News Corp exec resigned from Snap to focus on his Berry Hill Farm property, which then flooded – multiple times. Now, he’s joined Dentsu as CEO of Dentsu Media. Dentsu isn’t the beast it once was, having taken a turn towards tech and consulting services in the past few years. Bass unpacks the advantages and challenges facing the group, which is “and always will be” a media company, while exploring agency culture, remote working, talent shortages, the net zero push and the future of holdcos.
The venture capital crunch is putting a hard brake on the ad industry’s start-up funded gravy train, calling into question growth at all cost mantras and some of the digital metrics used as growth proxies. The washout may be painful both for brands and agencies. But for those with cash to spend – and firms that can crack attribution – there's opportunity amid the turmoil. Agency bosses, VCs and consultants outline what lies ahead.
Social market researchers think the deepening cost of living crisis will play out very differently to Covid. But there are parallels with previous bust cycles. The “lipstick effect” comes into play, and certain categories – homeware, necessities, some everyday luxury branded goods – should hold up. But home renovations could end up consisting of nicer taps than a whole bathroom suite. While 70 per cent of Australians report making some cutbacks, a quarter of the population will keep spending – and brands shouldn’t think about discounting to that cohort. For the broader population, retailers must communicate price hikes honestly or lose community trust earned during Covid, fast. Roy Morgan’s Michele Levine, SCA’s Jasmine Beech, and veteran qualitative consumer researcher Neer Korn unpack what’s coming down the track – as far as anyone can tell.
Nestle’s Milo brand is in danger of losing its status as an iconic brand in Australia, Brand Finance Managing Director Mark Crowe says, unpacking the leaders and laggards in the latest Top 100 most valuable brand rankings, where 66 brands rose and 22 fell. But brand value and strength are more than just 'soft metric' leaderboards – they’re being leveraged in hard financial terms by CFOs and CEOs in M&A negotiations and Crowe thinks marketers should be brought into those deals much earlier. A case in point, he says, is that analysts hungry for future cashflow indicators are driving demand for brand valuations. Meanwhile agencies and marketers have woken up to the fact they can demonstrate their direct impact on a brand by measuring the change over time – a major factor in NRMA landing the 2021 Grand Effie.
Ten years into a data-analytics career, ANZ CMO Sweta Mehra pulled a u-turn and took a demotion to learn brand marketing from the ground up. She says it’s the smartest move she ever made, with marketers in narrow swim-lanes - think either brand, demand generation or CX - at risk of obsolescence. Mehra says ANZ’s push to bridge the skills gap within its own four walls via self-built Brand Academy and Marketing Masters programmes have shielded it from increasingly attritional talent wars while future-proofing the business – and she has a few tips for those wondering how to get ahead in marketing. Meanwhile, the bank’s martech stack overhaul and bid for personalisation at scale is starting to move the needle, with conversion rates heading north, and ‘nudge theory’ doubling account holder saving rates. With economic headwinds incoming, Mehra expects pressure to pull different levers. But she thinks budgets, for now, are safe.
Aussie expat Nicole Taylor jumped ship from managing international creative firms to lead Lego’s in-house agency, with 400 people around the world driving a content factory, plus powerful creative, digital and production capabilities. Now, she’s leading a review of the company’s agency roster – and thinks indies are coming up with the smarts. “I love the fact that they're not thinking of a P&L outcome,” she says, instead bringing genuinely new ideas to the table. Meanwhile Lego is flying, posting record profits and sales in 2021 and outstripping major rivals Mattel and Hasbro. Taylor, who started in Sydney agencies in the late 90s, says in-housing can work wonders – speed is key, and businesses are starting to recognise the benefit of having creativity close by. Creatives are now in high demand among corporates, who see financial incentives to different thinking.
Australia is Toyota country and the brand holds similar clout and market dominance across 17 key markets in Asia. But there were looming clouds on the horizon that some Toyota APAC execs could see would become an imminent challenge for the region’s leading carmaker. Toyota’s “humility” around spruiking its innovation and future of mobility vision and tech, risked being too conservative and out-voiced by more aggressive, louder rivals attempting to own these new greenfield areas. Toyota knew its next generation of customers was being lured away. Here’s how Toyota’s APAC VP of Sales and Marketing, Jérôme Louis, and an Australian firm, Houston, mapped and delivered a four-year program to unify, for the first time, 17 highly-autonomous countries, all with their own market positionings, brand strategies, taglines and imagery. After four years in the making, a sweeping overhaul is now being operationalised. It’s an instructive case study in how Toyota's new line. “Move your world”, will shape everything across APAC.
Election and fundraising strategists for former US President Barack Obama accidentally invented the now booming “experimentation” industry which takes the ubiquitous A/B testing concept to new levels – and business is going large. Personalisation has got too much corporate attention and investment at the expense of experimentation, say Deloitte Digital Partner Nima Yassini and Coles’ Fallyn Lowe, Product Manager for Growth and Optimisation. They outline what’s next, including Google’s rapid rise to the top in experimentation software ahead of Adobe and Optimizely.
The global ad industry faces a three-pronged threat to its stated ability to drive growth, warn ad effectiveness, attention and creative cut-through luminaries Peter Field, Karen Nelson-Field and Orlando Wood. Long-standing marketing rules such as ESOV and mental availability are being undermined by the mistaken collective belief that left-brain, short range techniques - read performance marketing - will drive growth and encode memory structures, and that all channels are equal in delivering attention. "The mental availability fuel supply is being drained," warns Field. But there are fixes, and the three are heading to Cannes next week to unpack them. Here's a sneak preview.
Marketing is a dirty word for some – look no further than the ‘Scotty from Marketing’ jab. But Suncorp has spent three years building, quite literally, a powerful response to that. Its One House launch last year and recent Resilience Road project are entirely marketing-funded and led research projects with universities and architects that are changing the way Queenslanders build disaster-proof homes. Moreover, the campaign is flowing through to Suncorp’s bottom line, driving a 38 per cent rise in enquiries and more than 100,000, four-minute-long website reads. As CMO Mim Haysom and Leo Burnett Chief Client Partner Amanda Wheeler explain, there’s more to come.
Brands and agency holdcos are restructuring for efficiency. But WPP says it’s done with post-Sorrell surgery and out the other side, proving the former CEO wrong in the process. Its “open source” integrated set-up landed the $4bn global Coca-Cola account and means other agency groups can feed-in. It could prove a template for consolidation plays to come, per global Chief Growth and Marketing Officer Laurent Ezekiel. WPP ANZ’s Rose Herceg is equally bullish on the holdco’s growth prospects after leadership overhaul and smashing an unwieldy list of business units into nine networks; she says both staff and clients are “loving” a story simple enough to articulate. Ezekiel meanwhile reckons the marketing industry is past “peak complexity”… until the “untapped” metaverse arrives. But he’s unapologetic for the daunting privacy challenges industry faces, and shrugs off concerns around Big Tech’s dominance, given the growth he suggests the platforms are driving.
Adam Ballesty has just returned from Las Vegas and his global pizza peers; the marketing conversation was dominated by media mix modelling, media ROI, linear versus connected TV and franchisee angst over the universal challenges of rising prices, crunched supply chains and staff shortages. Ballesty spent most of his career building big brands at spirits business Diageo, with the luxury of time. Now he leads a team of 60 through the tail end of the pandemic and the pace is mind-boggling, he says. Food aggregators like Uber Eats and Menulog were non-existent three years on Domino's ledger but now are changing customer expectations and eating culture. Domino's still has some secret sauce though - it's own delivery fleet and first party data.