On an unusually warm Fall morning on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a packed house of curious marketers convened to listen to a panel of senior marketing leaders talk taboos.
The occasion was The Marketing Society’s “Elephant in the Room” session, part of Advertising Week New York. In line with The Society’s Brave agenda, I led an honest and open conversation with these leaders about significant societal and cultural topics.
Here are some of my takeaways from our five panelists.
Doug Melville, Chief Diversity Officer, TBWA\North America
Nike’s new Colin Kaepernick advert has been effective at provoking the desired political controversy and polarised opinion: 30% of US consumers feel more positive about Nike after seeing the ad, but 39% feel more negative, according to brandgym research over the weekend. Nike is attempting to show it retains an ‘edge’, especially for younger consumers, on the 30th anniversary of ‘Just Do It’.
However, I disagree with most marketing commentators who claim this is a great example of ‘purpose-led branding’. I actually suggest that the ad strays AWAY from Nike’s brand purpose, “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete,” for reasons I explain below.
In case you missed it, the ad features American football player Colin Kaepernick with the text, ‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything’. He achieved fame not for footballing feats, but for kneeling during the pre-match playing of the national anthem in 2016, in protest against racial injustice in the USA. He opted out of his contract with the San Franciso 49ers to become a free agent after the 2016 season and has not played since.
The latest NY Under the Spotlight was a stimulating evening of lively conversation between CVS Health’s Norman de Greve and Siegel & Gale’s Margaret Molloy. Recounting his Leadership journey, Norm brought to life some important lessons in being brave whilst balancing the challenges of staying relevant and driving growth.
Read on for a selection of top tips based on Norm’s journey.
Context is king!
Brave acts are most likely to succeed when values align. Norm described the importance of working in a culture that aligned with his beliefs and the power of the CVS culture of ‘Humbition’ (humble ambition), characterized by:
Never sitting still
Stay close to consumers and don’t judge
Maintaining consumer connection and relevance is critical to driving growth. The challenge is to identify their needs and pain points and maintain emotional connection.
On a rainy, humid, foggy Wednesday night in NYC, 100 people came together to be part of a conversation between Norman de Greve, CMO at CVS Health and Margaret Molloy, Global CMO at Siegel+Gale. It was an insightful and thought-provoking evening with de Greve providing a candid, humble and revelatory look at his leadership journey. And in sharing his personal story and his company’s strategic growth plans he provided a road map to career and business success.
Aligning customer-driven growth with purpose-driven business is not only possible, it’s essential
Knowing that it’s always best to “begin at the beginning,” one of Molloy’s first questions was to define marketing. And from de Greve’s answer we immediately knew that this would be a strategic and expansive conversation. Marketing, he advised, is not advertising or digital strategy or even brand building. These are tools. Marketing is “customer-driven growth.” That is the role of the modern CMO and this is the lens he uses to evaluate all strategies.
This week we meet with our newest board member in the States.
What’s your golden rule?
I’m pretty partial to “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
The power of this is really evident in technological innovation. The CD did not provide better music quality than the LP, the mobile phone was not as reliable as a landline, the iPhone did not take photos as well as a point and shoot camera. Yet all of these items have created massive disruption and change. And over time, have themselves become better products, which have (or will) be disrupted by another good alternative.
And so it is with ideas: a good idea that is timely and can be executed is always better than a perfect plan.
What is your most hated business expression?
“I just have one small tweak …”
Great, bold ideas are often killed by a thousand little cuts. To be a successful leader you have to be the champion and protector of great ideas.
Nike’s new Colin Kaepernick advert has been effective at provoking the desired political controversy and polarised opinion: 30% of US consumers feel more positive about Nike after seeing the ad, but 39% feel more negative.