Key Takeaways from the 2017 ANA Conference

I had the honor of attending the 2017 ANA Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando last week with several leaders at Pace. I attended nearly 20 sessions, hearing insights from top marketing executives at companies such as Samsung, State Farm, MGM Resorts, The Clorox Company, Lane Bryant, Google, Facebook, KFC, Walmart and Cadillac.

The conference reinforced key lessons in marketing such as the importance of social advocacy, risk-taking and emotional storytelling, spreading words of wisdom from one marketer to another.

“If not us, who? If not now, when?”

Conference speakers emphasized the imperative role brands can — and should — play in impacting public discourse and evoking positive change.

Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, reminded attendees of the famous quote above, after showing a number of inspirational campaigns like “Love has no labels” and “We see equal.”

“Inspire through purpose. Lead with inclusivity. Create a culture of change.” — Pio Schunker, senior vice president, integrated marketing communications, Samsung

In the session “Plus is Equal: How Body Equality Became a National Conversation,” Lane Bryant Chief Marketing Officer Brian Beitler spoke about his personal crusade for women’s health, which began when one of his five daughters struggled with an eating disorder. “Gender equality is not a feminist issue. It’s a human issue,” he said. His request to his agency partners? “Redefine sexy.” The result has been a bold partnership with Sports Illustrated to introduce plus-size models in its 2016 swimsuit edition and a daring campaign, “I’m no angel.” “Courage is the only path to change,” Beitler said.

#ShortTermitis

Eric Reynolds, SVP and chief marketing officer at The Clorox Company, said if brands are dead, it’s because we killed them. He claimed that #ShortTermitis is causing marketers to focus only on immediate gains instead of continually prioritizing the bigger picture.

“Put solving ahead of serving.” — Randall Harbert, chief marketing officer, State Farm

Kevin Hochman, president and chief concept officer at KFC, knows this all too well. His slogan? “Sales overnight, brand over time.” He told the audience how KFC almost killed their brand by steering away from their tried-and-true Colonel branding and “finger-lickin’ good” messaging. He admitted that in bad times marketers “don’t think clearly and can make mistakes.” Today KFC has launched an innovative marketing campaign with multiple actors playing the late Colonel Sanders, sending their new Zinger sandwich into outer space and incorporating virtual reality.

Brands must inform and engage (with purpose)

Google Vice President Jim Lecinski pointed out that brands have a responsibility to inform and engage with their users through an optimized and personalized experience. JPMorgan Chase Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Lemkau took it a step further by stating, “You can’t just be customer-centric. You have to be customer obsessed.”

“Define your brand’s purpose and role in consumers’ lives.” — Lili Tomovich, chief experience officer, chief marketing officer, MGM Resorts

Failing fast and taking risk

Schunker detailed the painful year after the Samsung smartphone disaster, when his company conducted a recall with extensive testing and ultimately re-entered the market with “a successful” Galaxy C8 launch last month. They supported the product launch with the new “Do what you can’t” campaign, proving that it’s possible to do the impossible.

“The biggest successes often start with the biggest failures.” — Maurice Herrera, senior vice president of marketing, Weight Watchers

Inspiration for the long term

Even though the conference was only three days long, the energy and inspiration I brought home will last for months. It’s rare to hear from so many impressive executives, and to witness the candid and many times emotional stories they told.

I look forward to challenging my team, in our day-to-day work for our clients, as these marketing leaders have challenged all 2,000+ ANA attendees.

As St. Jude Chief Marketing Officer Emily Callahan said, you have a voice and a platform, so use it wisely and for good!

Keep reading in News and Events