Marketers at major multinationals say input from policy professionals is more relevant than ever

Marketers at major multinationals say input from policy professionals is more relevant than ever

5 minute read

Top marketers have an appetite for even more policy input on key issues such as sustainability, risk management and reputation.

WFA launches model Framework for Positive Marketing Behaviours to help foster collaboration and enable marketers to better manage risk and opportunity in a polarised world.

Article details

  • Author:WFA


NewsPress releases
15 May 2024

Marketers and policy leaders at some of the world’s largest companies are looking for closer collaboration as they seek to tackle complex issues in an increasingly challenging marketing environment, according to new WFA research due to be released at WFA’s Global Marketer Week in Toronto.

WFA Bridging The Gap
Please note that this research is WFA member content only. To know more about WFA membership, please contact

Bridging the Gap find that there’s appetite from both marketing and policy functions for greater collaboration in key areas such as environmental sustainability, reputation and risk management, brand purpose and responsible marketing.

The study identifies a much greater acknowledgement of the importance of policy developments and trends to marketing and marketers than there was in 2019, when similar research was last carried out by the WFA. Fifty-six percent of marketers (up from 45% in 2019) said they consider policy professionals to be ‘critical business partners and collaborators.’

Understanding of the need for better collaboration is also at an unprecedented level. Nine in 10 marketers and policy professionals agree policy is relevant to marketing, compared to 70% in 2019 and less than 10% claim policy priorities are not relevant. That figure was nearly three in 10 (28% for marketers and 29% for policy leaders) five years ago.

Three in four marketers think the current levels of collaboration could be improved even further, although a majority of policy experts are now satisfied. This, however, represents a major shift from 2019 with just 11% of policy professionals now saying they collaborate too little, compared to 65% in 2019.

The findings are based on 45 responses from 35 multinational companies, spending an estimated cumulative total of $52bn on marketing globally. Forty-two per cent were senior marketers and 58% were policy leaders.

WFA Positive Marketing Behaviours
Please note that this model framework is WFA member content only. To know more about WFA membership, please contact

In response to the demand for more effective collaboration between these two business functions, the WFA is launching a model Framework for Positive Marketing Behaviours at Global Marketer Week, designed to assist help marketing teams identify opportunities and manage risk on a number of critical issues. The goal is to help both functions deliver more systematic collaboration and ensure greater alignment.

The model framework includes sections on key topics like environmental sustainability, DEI, brand purpose, responsible media governance, marketing to children and data ethics and privacy. Each section outlines why they matter, the risks and opportunities, what good looks like, based on case studies from leading companies, and relevant tools, guidelines and frameworks developed by WFA and its members

WFA Positive Marketing Behaviours Infographic

This framework is an invaluable tool to help brands benchmark themselves against best industry practices to manage risk and identify opportunities in the spirit of building stronger, more resilient brands", said Aude Gandon, CMO at Nestlé.

All respondents to Bridging the Gap agreed that even more could be done to make policy priorities relevant to marketers, but the two professions disagree on how to do that. Over 80% of marketers feel that policy professionals need to develop a better understanding of how marketing works and the value it delivers, while only 36% of public affairs professionals think the same.

A majority of policy professionals (68%) think that collaboration between teams would improve with policy teams delivering punchier communications, highlighting the evolving expectations of regulators, consumers and important stakeholders when it comes to marketing, but only 24% of marketers think the same. At the same time, one in two policy professionals now think that systematic collaboration between the CMO and the Global Head of Policy is imperative to ensure alignment on key issues.

The truth is that closer co-operation doesn’t hide the fact that the two functions still have very different perceptions of each other and of their relationships. While only 18% of marketers believe policy priorities can stifle creativity and business growth, 40% of policy people believe that marketers think that to be the case.

When asked how policy people would describe marketers, the top terms were ‘creative’ (76%), results-driven (64%) and ‘in tune with consumer sentiment’ (56%). But 45% of policy leads still consider marketers to be ‘short-termist’, aligning with their perspectives from 2019.

62% of policy professionals say they collaborate with marketing teams on a regular basis, whereas only 32% of marketing respondents say they collaborate on a regular basis with policy teams. 48% of marketers feel that they only collaborate with policy teams when the need arises and one in five say collaboration between the two teams rarely occurs.

Among the other findings of the research are:

  • 52% of marketers believe that policy teams do not understand the challenges and pressures marketing teams face and two thirds (69%) believe that policy teams are not familiar with the marketing function and its role in driving business objectives.
  • 80% of policy teams believe they are familiar with the marketing function and its role in driving business objectives, while only one in four marketers believe that policy professionals understand the marketing function.
  • The vast majority of marketers define policy professionals as ‘compliance officers’ (75%) or ‘regulatory firefighters’ (81%). 37% of marketers think that policy act as an ‘internal police force’ and contrary to popular belief, only 25% of marketers define policy teams as ‘creativity blockers’ and 6% as ‘killjoys’.

“WFA has long called for greater collaboration between marketing and policy, so it is really encouraging to see that marketers consider policy professionals as increasingly relevant business partners and that collaboration is on the rise. As marketers will increasingly have to navigate geopolitics and culture wars while tackling a growing number of challenges, such as sustainability and environmental claims, smart marketers will look to new and innovative ways of systematically integrating policy thinking in order to mitigate risk and identify opportunities. We think that the WFA Framework for Positive Marketing Behaviours should be an excellent starting point”, said Stephan Loerke, WFA CEO.

The research will be presented at the Policy Forum during WFA’s Global Marketer Week in Toronto, taking place on 15 May. The session will explore practical solutions to unlocking more meaningful collaboration and look at how policy leads can transition their perceived value from ‘risk mitigators’ to opportunity seizers.

Download the Bridging The Gap research.
Download the Framework for Positive Marketing Behaviours.
Follow updates from Global Marketer Week in Toronto.

Article details

  • Author:WFA


NewsPress releases
15 May 2024