Don't Just Market. Matter.

Consider this: data shows that 52% of S&P companies disappeared during the past 15 years. Then consider that consumers wouldn’t care if 80% of brands went away tomorrow. It’s safe to say: the consumer is in control. That’s why marketers can no longer focus on trying to change consumer behavior, instead they need to focus on changing the brand’s behavior.

Consumers are, rightfully, insisting that brands earn their attention by providing more meaningful interactions. While this fundamental shift feels fearsome, it shouldn’t. All of the foundational elements still apply. That was clearly on display at this year’s conference as marketers reflected on what it means to be relevant today. The conversation that rose above the din was about becoming more emotional, more personal and, yes, more creative.

Proof Points

Emotion Wins the Day. Whether it was Disney, Ally Bank or a B2B brand like SAP, infusing emotion into marketing was by far one of the biggest themes. Doing so builds meaningful connections and creates separation from the competition. “Emotional attraction is still the No. 1 driver of preference” said Andrea Brimmer, CMO for Ally Bank. “Marketing’s job is to make people care.” For Ally, that includes a surprise-and-delight program called “Banksgiving” that grants consumers unfulfilled wishes to build deeper bonds while driving all-time high consideration, brand sentiment and business growth.

Disney Gets Closer to its Guests. Mass is out – making it personal is in. Top marketers showcased their efforts to connect with consumers, not as demographics, but as actual individuals. Disney Parks is putting data at the core of their ambition to get “closer to fans than ever before.” It is delivering personalized planning tools and real-time recommendations to reduce the complexity of the park experience. “Personalization is built into every aspect of the park. So, data is at the core of our relationship building,” said Jill Estorino, EVP, Global Marketing and Sales, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Creativity Comes Back in VogueIn a departure from last year’s performance marketing focus, this year’s ANA had plenty of talk about how brands can reimagine creativity by merging the ad world with other creative genres at the heart of culture. Anheuser-Busch InBev U.S. CMO Marcel Marcondes said Bud Light’s “Dilly Dilly” ads are not a campaign but a content series full of characters. “The beauty of being connected with culture is people start to talk about you spontaneously.”

If you’re going to be a customer-centric brand, you have to cultivate the relationship beyond just shoving product down customers’ throats.

Andrea Brimmer, CMO, Ally Bank

Our View

The very role of the CMO is changing before our eyes. We live in a consumer-led world that’s defined by an opt-in culture. It’s now about connecting with consumers around things that are relevant to them, and around their agenda, rather than the marketing agenda. This is now the primary remit of today’s modern marketer.

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