Agility and purpose are top of the list for WFA’s expert jury when it comes to assessing marketing leadership in 2020.
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Clockwise, alphabetically: Atul Agrawal (Tata Services), Nick Broomfield (Dentsu SCHEMA), Rupen Desai (Dole); Stephan Loerke (WFA), Sandra Martinelli (ABA, Brazil), Charlotte McEleny (The Drum), Debbie Morrison (Ebiquity), Lucinda Peniston-Baines (The Observatory International), Brian Yuyi (MASA, South Africa)
The bulk of them flagged up both the need to be purposeful during what has been a challenging year for many people both inside and outside the marketing bubble and the demand for agility that rapid change in lifestyles driven by Covid restrictions has created.
Navigating uncertainty with agility
Rupen Desai, Global CMO at Dole, summed up this dual focus for many when he said: “I will be looking for two things: AQ, the adaptability quotient for marketing plans and their impact, given the year we are all living; and, second, the level of #purposeful. How did they pivot their plans to be of utilitarian value to the world, the needy, the unequals, the communities and society we serve and even more important, the planet we leave behind for our future generations.”
The emphasis on agility was also highlighted by Atul Agrawal, Senior Vice President, Corporate Brand and Marketing at Tata Services: “The nominees should have been able to get their marketing organization to adapt quickly to new realities, build a sustainable relevant marketing funnel, and deliver on their core objectives and consumer connect consistent with the new realities.”
Similarly, for Stephan Loerke, CEO of WFA, key is the ability to adapt to everything that 2020 has thrown at businesses, the economy and people. “The key criteria for me in this year’s edition is agility – how marketers have adjusted to the unexpected and managed to make their brands relevant – both in terms of tone and of content.”
Responding with empathy in a challenging year for people and businesses
Purpose was a major issue too and many jury members will be looking for signs that brands have responded empathetically. “I want to see humanity at the fore of work done. I want to see marketers who did more than just talk about their brands/services ‘purpose’ but actually walked the talk and really did something with long-term sustainability and not just to win awards or for short-term viral hashtag trending purposes. I want to see evidence of genuine and deep-seated compassion and care at a time the world has been at its most vulnerable,” was how Brian Yuyi, CEO at the Marketing Association of South Africa, put it.
Lucinda Peniston-Baines, Co-founder and Managing Partner at The Observatory International, focused on marketers’ ability to deliver empathy via insight. “I’m looking for the ability to not just follow the marketing crowd but to use deep insight and empathy to cut through the challenge and connect with their consumers in a way that delivers real benefits for both the consumer and the brand’s health,” she said.
This was echoed by Charlotte McEleny, APAC Publisher at the award’s media partners, The Drum. “I think that perfect mix of having empathy and purpose, while having an eye for innovation, is the marketer that needs to take the crown this year. Understanding the customer truly on an empathetic level, while being able to find the channels to reach them at the speed of change required is a mammoth task, but one I am sure the nominees are up to the task of,” she said.
Other factors as mattering in 2020 included creativity, highlighted by Sandra Martinelli, Executive President at the Association of Brazilian Advertisers, who also stressed the importance of collaboration in 2020: “successful marketers find opportunities even in the most adverse scenarios, and work together with partners and sometimes even with competitors to better serve society”; while Debbie Morrison, Managing Director, Global Partnerships and Events at Ebiquity, was on the lookout for “agility, honesty, hope, a conscience, adaptability, fluidity, intuition, effectiveness and evidence that their organisation has purpose at its heart”.
Balancing the short- and long-term
Nick Broomfield, Director and Global Client Lead at Dentsu SCHEMA, flagged up the need for a long-term timeframe that stretches beyond the pandemic and balances the demand for short-term performance with long-term brand building in the most challenging of environments.
His number one demand of nominees, however, is the ability to “balance commercial delivery and driving consumer connections at such a hard time to achieve this and cut through. If this can also include a lens on corporate responsibility and good for society, then even better”.
Nominations for Global Marketer of the Year 2020 can be submitted until October 25th.