McDonald's Europe CMO: "Strive to be a better marketer, not an MD"

McDonald's Europe CMO: "Strive to be a better marketer, not an MD"

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WFA News

Article details

  • Author:WFA


30 April 2015
Too many of today's marketers want to be Managing Directors when really they should focus on being better marketers, says Pierre Woreczek, chief brand and strategy officer at McDonald's Europe.

I truly believe marketing is the best job on earth. Rather than always seeking to move into a different role, marketers should want to generate clear business benefits using their marketing skills.

Too many marketers just want to become MDs. The idea of marketing as a career has partly lost its lustre. If you are an engineer, you're not dreaming about becoming an MD, most probably you want to become a better or more famous engineer. One of the challenges today is that I don't think a lot of marketers think they will stay on in marketing and that is a big mistake.

A big part of the problem is that marketers need to be empowered to take on a much broader remit that includes all areas that have a very strong and clear link with consumer experience to give the role its true and deserved influence.

When I was appointed by Denis Hennequin, the head of McDonalds Europe in 2005, he said I will not call you head of marketing I will call you Chief Brand and Strategy Officer and I will put you in charge of all the things I consider that have a very strong and clear link with consumer experience, going from consumer business insight to design and sustainability.

Marketers need to feel they are valued, that they can be paid at the level that can compete with other jobs, even CEOs and MDs, and that they can expand their role into different categories that have a direct link with consumers, such as consumer business insight, design and merchandise. The best marketers should have the capacity to do that because they understand consumers better than anyone else.

Offering such extensions to the current marketing remit will also keep marketers in their current roles for longer than the traditional 18 months.

People believe that in 18 months they can make their mark then move on. Our role should be to help redefine this job, inform business leaders about the critical role that people will play in the future and how they will be even more critical in the future.

Too many CMOs try to change the brand DNA rather than do what I call "understand the past to better build the future." I look at other companies and see their DNA changing regularly and the brand fails as a result.

More than ever, people want to understand what makes your brand unique and powerful. Those DNA should remain at the heart of what you do. What needs to change at an amazing pace is what you need to do to keep those DNA strong.

In our case, that means continuing to democratize quality food, provide everyday convenience and create fun, even if what the consumer understands and how the brand delivers these messages has changed thanks to technology.

If you keep the DNA strong, then the question becomes about execution: what should I put in place to make sure my execution is relevant? For 'everyday convenience' that could mean kiosks, mobile ordering or ibeacons, for example, while 'fun' can be delivered via in-store or off premises via digital or gaming, for example.

Today, the key to success for any brand is to move from "brand design" to "experience design." You don't build success on what you say. Most importantly, you build it on what you do.

What creates love, what creates buzz what creates attractiveness is the experience. For McDonald's, it's critical that the in-store experience becomes perfect, which is not the case today if I'm speaking honestly. But we're working on it.

For instance, we've introduced books in children's happy meals as an example of how the brand can help engage kids and the family. We launched the idea in Sweden then rolled it out to other European markets.

In France, the scheme has been taken to a new level. Since January this year, the brand has made a formal partnership with a leading literacy organization. With every Happy Meal offered, there is a choice between a book and a toy and the store opens on some days to run reading sessions.

In the past, we would have mainly created a nice ad to say we have books, today we say we want to stand for literacy and will act accordingly. We will invest time and money to support it and we will tell our different stakeholders, predominantly parents, about it.

That said, many of the really important aspects of marketing haven't changed, despite the advent of digital technology. In fact, I'm convinced the values and skills that make a great CMO will never change.

CMOs still need to have a great vision, to be inspiring and create the right storytelling. They still need to surround themselves with the right talent and create a learning culture around them.

A learning company keeps the company on the move; it is never arrogant. It always wants to be sure it grabs the right information. Marketers need to be surrounded with the right people to help us with the how.

The future is about marrying stability with agility, the central conundrum around the need for brands to stay true to the past while also changing all the time, via rapid and constant AB testing based on what consumers tell them.

Agility comes from two major things: the ability to understand the consumer faster and then to have the right intuition to execute based on this understanding. It also informs the way brands interact with their customers, today brands have to move from creating ads to generating great content very fast.

Great marketers are passionate about consumer understanding and story-telling. In the digital age, the boundaries are limitless. The customer is the most important asset of any company. If the marketer is the one in the company who best understands the consumer, then they are a prize asset and should be valued as such.

If that's the case, perhaps fewer would aspire to being MDs.

About Project Reconnect:
Marketing can be a dirty word. Too often marketing falls short of what people and society want and expect from companies. At the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), Project Reconnect champions what's good about marketing and showcases what an impact it can have on the lives of the people we serve. We hope to raise the bar just a little in terms of some people's perceptions of our industry. Follow us @WFAReconnect and @WFAmarketers

Why I think WFA's Project Reconnect is important
"Project Reconnect can have an impact on the top management of companies. It should aim to influence management so that they understand how they should evolve and how they should understand the increasing importance of the role of marketing in the organization."

An abbreviated form of the interview is available in Marketing Week.

Article details

  • Author:WFA


30 April 2015