10 Things I Learned At The Association Of National Advertisers Masters Of Marketing Conference

October 21, 2015 By Pierre Bouvard

Last week America’s senior agencies, marketing, and media sales teams were out of the office. They were at the annual Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, Florida. With nearly 3,000 attendees, it is the “Super Bowl” of marketing. Here are 10 key takeaways.

1. Marketing disruption
In his keynote address, ANA CEO Bob Liodice cited six industry advancements:

  • Multiscreen and integrated marketing programs
  • Efficient programmatic media strategies
  • Addressable, interactive, and connected campaigns
  • Intelligent expansion of social media
  • Expansive strategies using outdoor advertising, digital place-based media, and real-time marketing
  • Connected TV — one of media’s hot buttons

The ANA chief cited its second annual study about marketing disruption, a collaboration with McKinsey & Co., as further proof that the “legacy marketing model is being disrupted.” Among its key findings, the study found marketers are moving to networked organizations and away from command-and-control structures, are more focused on the customer journey, and have recognized that “agile leadership” as a prerequisite for success.

2. Five advertiser red flags
Liodice also pointed out some “red flags” identified in the study, including:

  • Suboptimal data management
  • Limited customer understanding
  • Diffused focus — marketers trying to “do it all”
  • Inadequate staffing
  • Process sludge — takes eight months for an idea to see the light of day

3. Small advertiser? Take risks!
Rob Lynch, Arby’s brand president and Chief Marketing Officer, joined the company to relaunch the brand and grow sales. His advice to smaller players: “You have to be smart, you have to be nimble, and you have to be willing to take risks. And I emphasize that last one.”

Lynch told the conference instead of reacting angrily to Jon Stewart’s constant berating of Arby’s on “The Daily Show,” Arby’s took it with humor by sending the entire Daily Show crew lunch monthly. Arby’s even bought an ad during Stewart’s last show thanking him for his constant teasing and ribbing.

4. Use music for “memory lane marketing.”
Progressive Insurance CMO Jeff Charney shared how Progressive uses nostalgia as a tool for connecting with consumers. Progressive uses hit songs from the ’90s to stand out and tap into powerful memories — what Charney calls “memory lane marketing.”

Charney had the entire ballroom of 2,800 attendees stand up and sing along to Wilson Phillips’ ’90s pop hit “Hold On.” Radio advertisers can tap into nostalgia by using older hits to capture listener emotions and memories.

5. Radio showed up!
The U.S. radio industry had its best showing ever at the ANA conference. American radio companies such as Beasley, RAB, Katz, Townsquare, iHeart, Entercom, Cumulus, CBS, and Westwood One were all represented.

Seal performs at the iHeart Radio dinner at the ANA conference.

All over the massive event, radio people were talking to senior marketing executives. iHeart sponsored the dinner on Thursday night and the crowd was entertained by Seal. Tim Castelli, iHeart’s president of National Sales, Marketing and Partnerships, stunned the crowd by showing a Nielsen chart depicting radio as America’s number one mass reach medium, beating TV 93% to 87% in weekly 18+ reach.

The takeaway? Learning is repetition. Radio needs to get in front of marketers and state its case often.

Friday night, Westwood One partnered with Meredith to present music star Leona Lewis and Broadway star Jessie Mueller, who won a Tony award for her role as Carole King in “Beautiful.” The event was hosted by Erika Grace Powell from Cumulus’ NASH “America’s Morning Show.”

Leona Lewis performs at a dinner sponsored by Westwood One and Meredith at the ANA conference.

6. Focus on the APT — the “age people think” — not demographics.
Progressive’s Charney gave the example of two employees on his team who don’t fulfill age stereotypes. The 45-year-old employee is into new gadgets and devices and is all over social media. The 25-year-old employee is never on Facebook, reads the Wall Street Journal cover to cover, and checks the status of his IRA. Demographics do not capture the age people think.

7. “Old people are a growth market.”
Continuing the theme of upending demographic stereotypes, Harley-Davidson Chief Marketing Officer Mark-Hans Richer presented a session entitled “Fake Fight: Millennials vs. Boomers.” Richer admonished, “get out of your generational generalizations and park them at the door.”

He made the strong case against the idea that growth comes solely from marketing to young adults. “Youth does not own cool. Youth does not own growth. Youth does not own innovation or disruption,” he said. “Old people are a growth market, too.”

8. Use adventurous consumers and disrupt with love.
One of the most important ways brands can be successfully disruptive is to harness adventurous consumers, said Lyft Chief Marketing Officer Kira Wampler. However, he said, the hard part about disruption is driving change internally, she says. To do that, brands should educate internal allies, such as legal and accounting, use real metrics that matter for the business, and celebrate and explain successes.

When a brand marketer is leading his or her team through disruption, it’s important to beware of shiny objects, celebrate failures, escape internal silos, and always be recruiting, said Wampler. She also urged to “disrupt with love.” Consider programs and initiatives that make the world a better place.

9. Walk in your customer’s shoes. Robert Tas, CMO of Pegasystems, urged the crowd to experience what it is like to be a customer of your company. Call your call center. See what it’s like to place an order. Or get a bill paid.

Wampler asked the audience to participate. “Experience what your customer’s experience. There is no way to fully understand and bring back disruption unless you can participate.”

10. Agencies need to reinvent — diversity is key. PepsiCo’s Brad Jakeman, president, Global Beverage Group, went on a tirade about the industry’s lack of diversity. “I am sick and tired as a client of sitting in agency meetings with a whole bunch of white straight males talking to me about how we are going to sell our brands that are bought 85% by women,” he said. “Innovation and disruption does not come from homogeneous groups of people.”

Jakeman continued: “The agency model that I grew up with largely has not changed today,” and “global alignment agency is a dinosaur concept.” Jakeman questioned the level of agency innovation. “I am really worried that this model is not going to bend — it’s going to break if we don’t really think about how to innovate,” he said. In prior years, a marketer would create four pieces of content that took four months to develop each having a $2MM dollar budget. Today, they are creating 400 pieces of content that takes 4 days to develop with a $20,000 budget.

In summary, disruption is on the minds of marketers, who brought fresh insights on the challenges and opportunities ahead. It was inspiring and heartening to have radio show up and be a huge part of the discussion!

Pierre Bouvard is CMO of Cumulus Media | Westwood One
Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.