Today I'm sad. I'm sad that we seem to be taking one step forward and two steps back. And I'm sad that our factions are fighting each other. All movements need a combination of radical action and patient reinforcement to work. But it feels like we've gone from being a collective body of Suffragettes and Suffragists (who disagreed but played different roles), to being like the white women who left black women behind after they got the vote and then denigrated Black Feminism as 'dividing their movement'. We cannot create progress in this environment. Recent events and misfires have caused hurt and anger to surface. These emotions are real and so is their cause - in this instance sexual harassment. So the question is what should we do with them? How can we harness them constructively to create action? As an aside, saying 'tangible action' is not the same as taking it. And research is not the same as action.
This was my first time attending a Marketing Society event. I was a little nervous heading there on my own. However, I was glad I did, as I had the good fortune to meet the lovely Aimee Bryan in the cloakroom queue. We found out we had a lot in common with my background in the women’s network Bloom UK and Aimee’s new tech startup Project Kitchen Table. Watch this space… So the fireside talk was part of the #braveleaders series featuring 2017’s Marketing Society’s Leader and Young Leader of the year with Barnaby Dawe, Just Eat’s global CMO and Bo Jakubenko, global marketing manager, Treasury Wines. The combo of leaders from both spectrums of their careers laid the foundation for some pretty open and honest conversations…. My top 10 takeouts: 1. You won't get anywhere unless the business supports marketing as a function, and you (as CMO) have the backing of your CEO.
Who are you and where did you come from? That was just the opening question posed by Margaret Molloy (global CMO, Siegel + Gale), the moderator at The Marketing Society’s “Under the Spotlight”. And it got harder from there. How does a news organization survive in the era of fake news? How does a sports league manage a brand when every player has a personal twitter feed? What was the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? What was your biggest failure? How is your organization impacted by and addressing the #MeToo movement? In a no holds barred session Doris Daif, SVP customer data strategy, NBA and Meredith Levien, COO, The New York Times, gamely addressed these pressing issues with insight, grace and good humor. While Daif and Levien would seem to come from different spheres, news and sports occupy important and related spaces in our lives. Both are intricately connected in ways that run far deeper than merely scores and recaps.
Thursday 10th May was the time for uncomfortable conversations. The Marketing Society held a forum to push boundaries and make braver decisions, to help each other to address the toughest issues, this time on gender at work. Chief executive Gemma Greaves introduced the session by talking about the time that I called her out on the gender diversity of The Marketing Society Conference in 2016. I’d praised the sessions at the conference in a blog for Campaign, but I had also counted and critiqued the gender balance on stage.
‘The single greatest marketing chart since the century began’. So said Mark Ritson. And I’m inclined to agree. Finally, unequivocal proof that the big/long/transformational ideas that our industry prides itself in can have a big, robust and sensible business case. Les Binet and Peter Field achieved the unthinkable - a rational argument for the slightly magical, occasionally airy-fairy nonsense that we’re lucky to call an industry. High-fives in every agency. Handshakes in every boardroom. But not really. Yes, it’s undoubtedly the most useful chart we have at our disposal. And yes, it’s the jewel in the already outstanding Binet and Field back-catalogue. But if we are to take full advantage of their toils we have to view it in context.