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April 3, 2014

Ad Age Digital Conference: Reimagining Marketing

For the past two days, I had the pleasure of chatting with and learning from smart folks who happen to share a common love of the evolving marketing landscape. Where was this magical place? The Ad Age Digital Conference in New York City. The conference brought together brand marketers, advertisers, media, start ups and tech companies to talk digital. While a plethora of topics were discussed, a few key themes stood out.

Reinvention

Educate to Innovate

Before corporations can truly embrace the current state of marketing, there needs to be emphasis on internal education and transformation. Peter Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital & Social Media at Nestle, and Mark Brodeur, Global Head of Digital Marketing Innovation at Nestle, discussed the corporation's goal of sharing information to educate and inform. The company houses an internal social network, digital blog, and video sharing platform to keep employees around the globe aware of brand innovations, emerging trends and platforms. Nestle's measure of success as a leader in the digital space is to walk the talk.

Benefits of Agility

General Mills' CMO, Mark Addicks, acknowledged the company's innovations are a result of an agile mindset of 'test, learn, scale.'? Their brand builders are comfortable being 80% right and evolving.

Clive Sirkin, Kimberly Clark's CMO, shared a similar mentality. His team believes in pushing the status quo by breaking down traditional testing models and siloed roles and processes.

The Talent: Art Meets Science

Lynn Vojvodich, EVP & CMO at Salesforce, shared her path to marketing circa engineering, business school, consultancy, venture capital, entrepreneurship and technology. Her message was clear. The new CMO is not the traditional, born and bred ad man. Today's industry leaders mirror the converged space ' an amalgamation of technology, engineering, mathematics, design and business.

Carolyn Feinstein, SVP, Global Consumer Marketing, EA, stated it takes a team comprised of the 'what'? and the 'how'? people. The 'what' are the storytellers and the strategists. The 'how' are the people who create the distribution channels and platforms ' the developers and the engineers. All these people have one thing in common ' a 'voracious intellectual curiosity'? with a shared belief that disruption is a necessity.

Purpose: Breaking Out of the Box

Belief + Purpose = Success. Mark Addicks of General Mills emphasized the importance of marrying a belief, defined as a truth or POV, with a purpose, defined as what a brand exists to do, in order to win with customers. The brand fundamentals matter more than ever. By understanding your brand belief and purpose, General Mills' products can transcend the box.

For example, KiX believes 'all kids are creative, all they need is a place to start.'? To reinforce this brand belief, KiX embraces a maker mentality ' developing content to stimulate creativity across the web. The brand also partnered with Makers Faire and hosted kids for a day long event at the KiX Creativity Lab, which featured a variety of activities and crafts designed to jump start the imagination of the children who took part.


Peter Koechley and Eli Pariser, Upworthy Co-Founders, agreed with the notion that successful brands are driven by a shared purpose between brand and consumer. Upworthy strives to marry brand value with meaningful content for its core audience.

All the presenters touched on the need to reimagine the marketing function internally to resonate with audiences externally. Focus on the fundamentals to drive innovation.

Stay tuned for more posts covering learnings from the conference. 

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