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Articles - Marketing Strategy - July 8, 2020

How many marketers does it take to sell a lightbulb?

One, if she has a great communications strategy. 

Two weeks ago the global marketing profession, fronted by its lead singer and ‘CMO’ Marc Pritchard at P&G, presented its marketing strategy and 2020 tactics for ‘selling the lightbulb’ to corporate leadership and markets that marketing does drive growth. 

Actually, $500bn of growth by 2022 is the massively ambitious goal that the global marketing community – and therefor every cog in the marketing supply chain – has set itself. Brands, marketers, agencies, media and tech firms are all locked into this new mandate although most have probably not been paying attention. More on that shortly.  

Pritchard, through his roles as Chair of the Association of National Advertisers in the US (ANA), Chair of the Global CMO Growth Council (co-founded with Cannes Lions) and Chief Brand Officer of the biggest advertiser in the world, P&G, delivered the growth roadmap together with CMOs from Mastercard, Lego and LVMH on the Cannes Lions Live digital platform.

The Global CMO Growth Council features 25 CMOs from some of the world’s biggest global brands representing the collective agenda of  global marketing leaders to activate the worldwide community of CMOs to drive business and brand growth. 

The 2020 strategy update (where we play and how we win in the market), remained true to Pritchard’s first year at the ANA in 2016. It’s the consistency you get when a CMO tenure actually endures.  

The CMO Growth Council’s ultimate objective is to increase revenue for marketers worldwide by one percentage point, or more than $500 billion by 2022 – set last June. It was on track until the world changed at the beginning of 2020, in Pritchard’s words. The tactics (how we deliver on the strategy and execute for success), unsurprisingly, have been tweaked to account for the ‘unprecedented’ (sic) market conditions of 2020.  

It’s lofty and important stuff driven by a powerhouse of expertise that has invested considerable time and effort behind marketing’s cause.

But, outside the US (is there such a thing?) is anyone aware of the four-year strategic priorities? The tactics? The calls to action? They are the global CMO mandates made on our behalf that bind us to the reshaping of the industry and require us to play our part to make a difference on the issues we all lament and tweet about?

How many marketers does it take to sell a lightbulb? Perhaps it’s time to brief an agency…

My Takeout

 ‘If marketing were a brand, you would fire the CMO’ were Thomas Barta’s words in Marketing Week, 2018. They still echo loudly.  “The marketing profession needs an urgent relaunch; a relaunch that will revitalise the profession’s standing both inside the C-suite and with talent. And, like all turnarounds, this relaunch will require top marketers to make painful decisions.” 

Marc Pritchard is Marketing’s Chief Marketing Officer.  

Under his stewardship, the Global CMO Growth Council has set its sights unequivocally on re-establishing the credibility of the marketing profession. 

Pritchard’s last four years as our Global ‘CMO’ have seen a systemic assault on exposing questionable, business growth-inhibiting practices in the marketing supply chain and detailing an action plan for how marketers should “get fit” to reclaim accountability for growth. 

He hasn’t shied away from unpopular, painful decisions or admitting that he wasn’t in the weeds.

In 2016, as the newly elected  ANA Chairman, he triggered intense global industry debate by commissioning an investigation by K2 Intelligence which included former FBI Officers looking into media rebates, advertising arbitrage and  trading and transparency around media buying practices. 

In 2017, he put marketers ‘on notice’ challenging them to probe deeper into the ‘murky’ media supply chain.  Igniting conversations globally about media transparency, agency contracts, viewability standards, accredited third party verification measurement and ad fraud. 

In 2018, he urged marketers to ‘take back control’ of a marketing system that they had divested too much responsibility to external partners and suppliers. His call was to stamp out waste, do more with less and to “reinvent media, reinvent advertising and reinvent agency partnerships”.  

All the while he was imploring marketers to ‘cut the crap trap’ and raise the bar on creativity. 

In 2019, the agenda targeted the need for a responsible media supply chain that is built for the year 2030 – one that operates in a way that is safe, efficient, transparent, accountable, and properly moderated for everyone involved, especially for the consumers we serve. The Global Alliance for Responsible Media, was launched, firmly targeting the tech giants. 

Unarguably, the actions from our Global Chief Marketing office have been stronger than our recall or indeed awareness of the strategy or stated tactics.  

But Pritchard wants us all to lean in globally, ‘If we can galvanise everybody on certain actions the whole industry gets better. And that’s good for all of us.’ 

So, back to the need for a great communications strategy.

Who knows what the pre-COVID agenda or comms plan was for 2020? Irrelevant now because the world changed. 

The four strategic priorities for 2020 remained true to the commitment in 2016.

  • Drive more human brand experiences, creativity and innovation.
  • Harness the true promise of data and technology. 
  • Unlock the full human potential of talent and making changes in the industry to allow us to reflect the diversity of the world we live in. 
  • Foster more equitable and sustainable societies.

Underpinning these, were 12 tactics delivered forcefully, as mandates. They were of the times. They signalled a sign of things to come. Relevant industry wide, calling for a systemic intervention to reshape our businesses. 

All of them delivered with accountable measures. 

But beyond the Cannes Lions Live presentation, there are no comms about this plan anywhere, not even in industry or business editorial pages. Strange. 

It begs the question, do we even want to sell ‘lightbulbs’?

Regardless of the seeming industry indifference, there are four mandates absolutely not to be missed. And especially if you are a CEO of a creative agency, media agency, media owner, tech platform or one of the ‘zillion Martech companies’ as they were referred to in the presentation. 

If you want my notes on the detail behind the four, and the other eight, post a comment below or shoot me a message on LinkedIn. Here’s the four big mandates:

1.  The development of universal, industry wide data and tech standards, particularly for the Martech ecosystem. The regulators are coming.

2.  All content to now be…

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