5 Lessons Learned from ANA’s 2019 Brand Masters Conference

The Pace team is still energized from our attendance of ANA’s Brand Masters Conference last week. We had the privilege of learning from the top global CMOs and marketing leaders, who shared their inspirational approaches to effective, results-driven brand marketing tactics that drive sales, profitability and ROI. And the absolutely beautiful weather in San Diego, CA, was definitely a plus!

So what stuck with us as we flew back east to continue driving our data-driven strategies?

1 – Start with Your Brand’s Truth

Jim Taylor, CMO at Arby’s, told the story of an amazing business turnaround that started with a brand backed against the wall. Starting in 2008, Arby’s experienced a steep decline and dropping sales. But when new leadership took hold, in 2013, they decided to launch a fresh strategy based on research and investigated what quick-service restaurant customers typically desired most in their meals (i.e., MEATS!). After talking to their in-store teams and thinking about how to bust the myth that you can only get roast beef at Arby’s, they shifted to simple, authentic creative that clearly stated the brand truth for Arby’s: We Have the Meats!

Reset the perception

The talking points can be very simple.

You can even turn an actual operational mistake, like forgetting to feature a partner brand, into something fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oz5Po3z2N0

Arby’s has now gone from steep decline, and being sold off in 2013, to consistent growth and two acquisitions of their own in 2017 (Buffalo Wild Wings) and 2018 (Sonic).

2 – Don’t Sell Your Consumers Products—Better Their Lives Because of Your Brand

Dave Edelman, CMO at Aetna, Inc., is committed to driving his brand from a Health Insurance Company to a Health Company. It’s more than policies and products—it’s services to help improve the lives of their members.We love this recent video that tells the story of wellness coaches who develop plans to keep members fit and healthy, so that when their “moment” arrives, they’ll be ready!

Their revitalized brand messaging of “You don’t join us, we join you” is a great example of the brand’s commitment to making it easier for people to live healthier. Edelman talked about his company merging with CVS to better serve their audience, and the importance they place on innovative, simple-to-use tech to track personal data, allowing them to share in and enhance their consumers’ lives—not just their policy coverage.

3 – Look at What’s Happening in Pop Culture, and Use It!

Eduardo Luz, the Global Brand Officer and U.S. CMO at Kraft Heinz, talked about how he managed more than 200 brands in his portfolio by giving his individual brand leads huge freedom. In the case of Devour, a frozen food brand launched in 2016 to fight against the rise of small, private-label brands, Luz’s brand team looked for ways to get the attention of a narrow target audience that’s very hard to reach: men 25 to 35. In order to break through the clutter, they looked at what was already present in food culture and decided to spoof the concept of “food porn.”

They created a TV spot, complete with a censored version to air during the Super Bowl and an uncensored version on YouTube that takes the jokes even further. The sales results are pending, but the spot generated huge social interactions and impressions.

4 – Using Data for Motivation, Engagement and Retention

Customer data on purchases and habits is one of the most important tools for any marketing program. Kevin Keith, the Chief Brand Officer at Orangetheory Fitness, also talked to us about how they use data to motivate habits in their members. Orangetheory’s goal is to give people a longer and more vibrant life. That means getting them to the gym, which means trying to solve the incredibly difficult problem of keeping people consistently going to the gym despite our natural tendency to do the opposite.

Orangetheory does this by tracking progress in every way they can. Through their data-driven member experience platform, they can track and display data in-gym, in mobile apps, and through targeted emails with individualized information sent to each recipient. Here is a sampling of the data types used:

  • Overall workout count
  • Miles covered and reps achieved on each machine in the gym
  • Heart rates: patterns and overall stats
  • Personal records and individual studio records
  • Calories burned
  • “Splat Points” (given for those who stay within a certain range of their max heart rate) and Reward Badges Earned

As Kevin puts it, they are “obsessed with retention,” and they are seeing the results of that obsession in metrics like having 60 percent of new members coming from existing member referrals and having a net promoter score around 80 percent.

5 – Be Customer Experience–Obsessed

Nick Drake, EVP, Marketing & Experience at T-Mobile, outlined how the brand continues to get market share by focusing on consumer needs and experiences. Nick told us that the main to-do list for him and CEO John Legere was to listen to their customers’ requests, set priorities from those items, and then get to work. Based on that strategy, they’ve invested quite a bit in their consumer-facing app, and they’ve created customer service teams full of real, local employees who never have to transfer people to other departments to solve a problem. This has also led to the brand’s T-Mobile Tuesdays Campaign that strives to make member rewards and perks (like free Netflix) highly visible and accessible, so that people are sure to use them. T-Mobile customers don’t have to deal with separate passwords or have to hunt for how to redeem points they earn.


Those are just a few of the key takeaways we brought home, and we’re excited for the next ANA conference event!

For more information about ANA, discover it here: https://www.ana.net/

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