The jury for Global Marketer of the Year ponder whether the unique conditions of 2020 will result in a very different future for the profession.
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From left to right. Top row: Atul Agrawal (Tata Services), Nick Broomfield (Dentsu SCHEMA), Rupen Desai (Dole), Mary Gerzema (Shiseido). Second row: Stephan Loerke (WFA), Sandra Martinelli (ABA, Brazil), Charlotte McEleny (The Drum), Debbie Morrison (Ebiquity). Third row: Eloísa Moscardó (Santander), Lucinda Peniston-Baines (The Observatory International), Bobby Simborio (PANA, Philippines), Brian Yuyi (MASA, South Africa). Full jury available here.
Change has affected many things, not just the marketing organisation, argued many of our jurors.
Some of the most critical changes have been in consumer behaviour and will have serious implications for marketers, argued Mary Gerzema, SVP Regional Digital Marketing and Media at Shiseido:
“It’s the consumer who has fundamentally changed. The pandemic has created stress, alienation, anxiety and disruption to every aspect of life. People are acting and thinking differently in all aspects of where and how they shop, how they prioritize discretionary spending, how they think about safety in packing and the store experience, their media consumption and what’s influencing them to buy. They are also shifting their expectations of brands as it relates to corporate responsibility and the role in helping to address societal issues.”
This analysis, which puts an even stronger pressure for brands to build purpose and empathy, was also backed up by Eloisa Moscado, Corporate Advertising Director at Santander, and Charlotte McEleny, APAC Publisher at The Drum.
“In the medium term, it will affect all dimensions of our life: the way we treat others, the way we work, our relationship with technology, trust in the future. We are now more aware of our vulnerability and our priorities as human have changed. The role of marketing going forward should be focused on solutions around this new paradigm. Brands will have to be more committed than ever to society and people’s needs,” observed Eloisa.
Similarly, Charlotte added: “Change can be good. I have spoken to so many marketers that are using the word empathy as a driving mantra for their communications this year and that’s an incredible step change in attitude.”
This call for marketers to think more about how brands contributed to society was also echoed by Sandra Martinelli, Executive President at the Brazilian Assocation of Advertisers (ABA):
“The pandemic has changed the way we see life and how we prioritize things. Our customers needed us more than ever to bring them messages of hope, to facilitate their lives and to actively bring solutions to the challenges imposed by the pandemic.”
Rupen Desai, Global CMO at Dole Packaged Foods, went further, arguing that given the inequalities revealed by Covid-19 meant that brands had to embrace social improvement.
“The inequalities in our world have fundamentally got worse due to the pandemic. The divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, unemployment numbers, access to healthcare, the divide between food and feed, the rise in both obesity and starvation numbers, the impact we are leaving on the planet and more... have become increasingly unequal over the last year. It is the defining moment for brands and marketers to decide on what role they play in making the world a bit more equal, day by day.”
At a more granular level, many of the jurors argued that 2020 has accelerated the rise of digital.
“It’s well documented that digital transformation at an enterprise level and marketing level has been accelerated at an astonishing pace by the pandemic,” said Lucinda Peniston-Baines, Co-Founder of The Observatory International. “There is no going back to the days where digital is an afterthought. Additionally, however, I also hope that the short-termism and budget reductions we’re seeing some brands adopt out of necessity during the crisis, doesn’t undermine planning for continued brand investment for the longer term.”
Atul Agrawal, SVP Corporate Brand and Marketing at Tata Services, argued that technology would be a more vital part of the future:
“Marketing has to adapt with speed to ever-evolving supply chain dynamics and ever evolving consumer behaviour and expectations. Technology on one end and relevance and value proposition on the other have intertwined for newer ways of marketing, many of which are likely to stay, while fundamental principles and many earlier home truths continue to be relevant or many may come back later,” he said.
Debbie Morrison, Managing Partner, Global Partnerships and Events at Ebiquity, added that the shift to digital was an opportunity to reset ways of working:
“As the world shifts and changes on a near daily basis, agility is at the tip of everyone’s tongue. Brands are using this opportunity to reset how they work – internally and across partners – forever,” she noted.
The need to future proof the marketing role in the face of severe change was also highlighted by both Bobby Simborio, Executive Director at Philippine Association of National Advertisers, and Brian Yuyi, CEO of the Marketing Association of South Africa.
“Marketers should also need to learn how to future proof not only their brands but their business as a whole for this kind of crisis will not only affect marketing but operations and the whole business as well,” said Bobby.
“This pandemic will leave an indelible mark that will last many generations. Long term, consumer behaviour will certainly shift and so will general commerce. Marketing as the connector between consumers and producers will have to reposition itself to continue delivering on its mandate in the ‘new normal’,” added Brian.
But there were those who were slightly more sceptical about the notion that 2020 changes everything. Stephan Loerke, WFA CEO, noted that the fundamentals of marketing were unlikely to change, what had changed was the consumer’s perception of value:
“What may well change is the consumer and the potential to re-assess value – we’ve witnessed an inversion of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in terms of what is truly important in their lives. This will no doubt change their perspective of a value exchange with marketers, which only serves to underline the importance of brand owners contributing to people’s lives and society at large.”
Nick Broomfield, Director and Global Client Lead at Dentsu SCHEMA, was also more cautious:
“The definition and purpose of marketing remains the same as ever as does what is proven to be effective…no need to re-write the rules…just do it quicker, better and more widely.”
However, he also recognised that the marketing department would have to change.
“Covid-19 has been the ultimate disruptor and accelerator of change and perhaps biggest wake-up call that organisations have seen in recent times, negatively impacting sales for many. This has led to pressures on the marketing department to step-up and deliver new sources of growth, value and often innovation for the business…perhaps an opportunity for Marketing to be seen as a true growth driver rather than a cost centre,” he added. “I also feel that good business and doing good are no longer separated as they were and there will be a real need for tangible purpose-driven Marketing and models (i.e. walk the talk or suffer). The Marketing department needs to be more agile, uncover more actionable consumer insights, reduce complexity to drive more consistency and be more joined up in operations.”