WFA’s Global Marketer Week 2021 - Can global brands create a better world?

Freedman is a proud sponsor of WFA’s Global Marketer Week 2021. In this blog, we roundup 3 days of thought provoking talks and Q&As all focusing on the role marketers can play in improving the world.  Here are our notes:

Day 1

The first day of WFA’s Global Marketer Week 2021 followed the theme of Better Society, asking how brands can use their position to drive positive change within the world.

To open the event, Jonathan Greenblatt (CEO Anti-Defamation League) and Raja Rajamannar (CMO Mastercard) spoke on the topic of Uniting Against Hate.

This event examined how society is becoming more and more polarised. Greenblatt and Rajamannar explored how social media companies continue to fall short of their responsibilities, allowing the spread of hate-speech, racism and antisemitism on their platforms.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Using social media platforms who profit from hate often undermines a brand’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • Advertisers need to put pressure on social media giants and force them to reform, including pulling their ads from these platforms.
  • Advertisers must commit to the fight against hate speech, and use their own platform to encourage other companies to do more.
  • There is a gap between when activists demand change and policy comes into place, businesses need to bridge this gap by vocalising the need for action against hate-speech.

In the second event, The Value of Better Marketing, Jane Wakely (Mars Lead CMO) revealed the power of purpose-driven marketing, saying that “Campaigns that cut through emotionally are more effective.”

Plus she shared her 5 top tips for creating purpose-led marketing:

  • Dream big – what’s the biggest most meaningful difference you and your business can make that’s relevant to your customers, employees and stakeholders?
  • Keep it real – be authentic with your purpose.
  • Make it count – brands need to make a meaningful and measurable difference.
  • Power up your partnerships – find partners who share your values and goals, and work together
  • Creativity is the fuel – involve your agency partners on the society challenge you’re trying to solve and use that creativity to be a force for good

During the event’s Q&A, Isabel Massey (Diageo Global Media Director) shared an interesting thought: Most advertisers have pivoted digitally, but we can only do that if digital is safe. Brand and digital safety is vital to the marketing and advertising industry of tomorrow – to grow our brands today and to allow our industry to flourish tomorrow.

The day came to a close with the Stepping Up for Good and Growth talk, where Marc Pritchard (Chief Brand Officer P&G) discussed how brands can make a positive change in society, and grow themselves in turn.

He revealed P&G’s steps to drive purpose and growth:

  • Leadership intention – committing to make positive change from the top
  • Use our voice – using the brand’s position to start meaningful and impactful conversations
  • Accurate portrayal – representing all people fairly and accurately in ads
  • Equal representation – ensuring that everyone from agency creative to on-set crew come from a range of diverse backgrounds
  • Meaningful investment – investing in initiatives that are actively making a difference

Pritchard spoke about P&Gs diversity and inclusion initiatives, and past campaigns that sought to change the conversation around issues such as gender inequality. He discussed some of P&Gs more polarising ads, like Gillette’s ‘The Best Men Can be’, stating that brands should “be prepared to take the heat” 

If you want more examples of purpose marketing campaigns that got people talking, read our blog: How to Create Woke Content That Resonates Locally. 

Day 2

The second day of WFA’s Global Marketer Week asked whether marketing can be the catalyst towards a sustainable future.

Prof Dr. Johan Rockström (world renowned scientist and climate expert) set the tone for the following discussions by sharing some hard hitting facts about the climate emergency.

In Make the Complex Simple, Conny Braams (Unilever Chief Digital and Marketing Officer) spoke about Unilever’s approach to sustainable marketing.

She shared her 3 key learnings for brands:

  • Set ambitious and bold targets: even if you don’t know how to reach them, challenges spark innovation
  • Measuring success is really difficult: don’t underestimate how challenging it is to monitor progress in terms of sustainability
  • Consumer behaviours are hard to change: the right solutions and incentives still need to be found to convince consumers to lead more sustainable lives

For Braams, the biggest challenge brands face when it comes to tackling climate change is making sustainability less confusing and more appealing to consumers.

Her advice? Brands must combine creativity, compelling storytelling and an engaging use of platforms to both inspire and inform consumers.

In Global CMO Planet Pledge, Gail Gallie (Project 17 Co-Founder) detailed how the marketing community has the power to both speed and scale up the drive towards sustainability.

Rupen Desai (Dole Global CMO) added to this idea, revealing that by collaborating with government bodies, policy makers and even their competitors, brands can speed up the search for sustainable solutions.

When thinking about making sustainability affordable for both consumers and companies, Desai closed the day’s proceedings with a sobering thought: “we can hardly call our planet right now an affordable planet.” 

If any of the points regarding a brand’s role in tackling climate change resonated,  download our latest report Global Brand Purpose: Embracing The New Cultural Era for our section on sustainable global marketing. 

Day 3

Day 3 of WFA’s Global Marketer Week took us to Singapore (albeit virtually), with events exploring purpose marketing in Asia.

To start the day, Chatri Sityodtong (One Championship Founder) spoke about One Championship’s journey to becoming Asia’s largest sports property, and how his company is helping to change the world for good.

He shared  the most important KPIs for purpose marketing –

  • Reach – how many people are we connecting with?
  • Frequency – how often are they watching?
  • Engagement – how much of their heart have we won over?

And, gave us some food for thought when it comes to content marketing, stating that: “The whole world has become a giant content factory.” For Millennials and Gen Z, their first window into the media industry is their phone. If you can’t create content that connects with them digitally, you’re missing out.

In China Reflections, Andrew Wu (Group President, Greater China LVMH) revealed some truths about China yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Chinese consumers are increasingly taking a qualitative, not quantitative mindset.
  • Over the last 5-6 years, there have been more and more conversations around food safety, air quality, and environmental discussions.
  • The boundary between e-commerce and e-retail is very blurred in China. E-commerce is becoming more about entertainment/media, and less about selling.
  • Print media – especially fashion magazines – is diminishing. Fashion bloggers and livestreamers dominate when it comes to engaging consumers.
  • There is a stronger sense of national pride emerging among younger generations; international brands need to be sensitive to this rising sentiment.
  • For China to continue growing so quickly, it has to change in terms of sustainability. Young talent within China is driving this push for a sustainable future.

On the topic of Driving Growth and Social Change, Cheryl Coh (Group VP of Marketing at Grab) revealed that to achieve social impact at scale in the fragmented region of South-East Asia, Grab had to take an extremely hyper-local approach. A solution in one country doesn’t always translate to another – something that global brands operating in Asia should consider.

And finally, for the WFA’s closing event, Growth and the Peril in Purpose, Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson zoomed out of APAC and examined the state of marketing as a global industry.

True to his provocative style, he shared some hard truths we all needed to hear.

Here’s what he had to say:

  • Marketing is mutating into a discipline that doesn’t actually take into account the minutiae of everyday life. We are increasingly “full of shit”, which is why we’re the least trusted people on the planet.
  • Advertising is less effective than it used to be and our ability to reward proper, effective work is in decline.
  • The marketing industry is increasingly rife with charlatans who make a lot of noise on social media but rarely know what they’re talking about.
  • We are all stuck in short-term thinking, and forget the key ratio of 40% activations, 60% brand building. A small selection of companies went into 2021 thinking about lengthening their reporting cycles but most don’t measure beyond 6 months.
  • Arguing for digital vs TV (or vice versa) is a waste of time. Data shows that more channels = better results.
  • We need to move away from our media obsession. Creative and strategy need to be considered as equally important.

And he didn’t stop there. When thinking about purpose, Ritson revealed the 3 Cs test that proves whether a company can be true to their purpose.

1 – is it what the customers want? Is the brand purpose driving purchases?
2 – is it something the company can and will actually do?
3 – is it competitive? Does the brand stand out by pursuing this purpose?

He continued by arguing that most marketers who talk about values come from a privileged background, while most everyday consumers can’t afford to worry about these things.

After Ritson’s talk, it was apparent that brands need to get back to delighting and satisfying customers through great marketing first and foremost. After all, brands can only achieve their purpose goals if consumers are on-side.

We hope you enjoyed this round-up of WFA’s Global Marketer Week 2021. If you’d like any help in delighting and satisfying your local customers with hyper-relevant content, get in touch.