Tom Denford
By Tom Denford
Mar 11, 2013 7:11:42 PM

WFA Global Marketer Week 2013


Last week, ID Comms was in Brussles for Global Marketer Week - the annual conference for WFA (World Federation of Advertisers) member CMOs.

This year's conference was held in Brussels (the home of the WFA) to celebrate their 60th birthday. We attended alongside our Marketing FIRST Forum partner Trinity P3.

Tuesday 5th March - Global Marketer Week #gmw2013

Our GMW experience started with an invitation to the CMO World Tour, a session of interviews conducted by Frederic Colas who undertook a world tour interviewing some of the most high profile CMOs. The focus was on the impact of digital and how senior marketing leaders can be best positioned to use digital in the right ways for their business. My feeling was that this was perhaps focused a little too much on the execution rather than the infrastructure of digital. I think at this level of marketing seniority, the debate (and learnings) need to be focused more on how to structure marketing departments and agency rosters to use these digital and social tools properly and how to construct an agency roster that is aligned and able to do great work supporting that clients structure. Nobody really discussed this. However, the CMO WT is a great initiative, you can follow more here.

Up to this point, there was notably no mention of agencies or their work apart from a supportive cheer that erupted when someone on stage mentioned "My agencies create rather than solve problems"... Go figure.

Perfect timing then for our friend and ex-client Ben Moore, now the new Partner at creative shop Anomaly to present his thoughts on a "new creativity" in a 30 minute journey through some iconic examples.

Wednesday 6th March - Global Marker Week #gmw2013

Today's session The Global Marketer Conference was opened by Stephan Loerke

Karel De Gucht - European Commissioner for Trade - The European Trade Commissioner stopped by briefly between flights from Boston but on his way to Hanoi. He gave a compelling argument for Open Markets; the protection of European trade agreements and the need to stick together in the region to be able to remain competitive and assertive with powers like China.

Chris Burggraeve then gave the keynote as he prepares to hand over the reigns of his Presidency after a successful 2 years a the helm of the WFA.

Next up was the charming Kim Kadlec - global VP Marketing for J&J who presented a summary of some of their most successful, celebrated and non-traditional approaches to connect their brands with consumers. Kim challenged the traditional 4 P's of marketing as per Mr P Kotler, with a focus on purpose: brand storytelling which was based upon a universal truth and that helped consumers understand motivations behind marketing. There is naturally a risk, using this approach for some brands, especially big corporates, sounds hollow or worthy, especially in more contentious areas such as putting HiV victims on a YouTube channel and calling it an education programme. However, better this than TV broadcast alone and clearly the structure and culture in J&J is allowing creativity to be executed and brand communication to be modernised. I hazard a guess that they creative roster is pretty happy (even if their media agency may not be)....

Over lunch we had a chance to speak with many of the guests including Debbie Morrison (ISBA), Bob Liodice (ANA), Hans Merckle (WFA), Maarten Albarda, Martin Riley (Pernod Rickard), Mike Bell (ABInBev) amongst others.

Marc de Swaan Arons - the chairman of Effective Brands stepped in to present on behalf of the absent Visa CMO Antonio Lucio. Incredibly difficult to present someone else's material but excellently done by Marc a great presenter in his own right, he brought some of EB's theory into Antonio's presentation. A big focus of the story was Visa's considerable success in tracking success of social activity, especially around the Olympics 2012.

Miguel Patricio - the new Global CMO for AB InBev, newly installed following 5 years as GM of China (which he mentioned accounts for 25% of global beer consumption) highlighted the strength of the business performance of the grip, one of the largest consumer companies on the globe. Refreshing, I thought, to give some business context to a marketing presentation. Made easier of course of those results are frankly stellar. Miguel has an infectious enthusiasm for marketing, critical to be able to rally the troops across AB InBev's next ambitious marketing frontier.

Then the marketing rock-star everyone was talking about in the breaks.... Mr Rory Sutherland - gave us a guided tour through his infectious wisdom; a journey through behavioural economics, with gusto and passion for topic, referenced the great modern thinkers and dismissed modern business (over) reliance on traditional economic models which are logic and numerate to the detriment of understanding human behaviours and its effect on decision making and prediction / forecasting. Rory's theme is about having leverage and that by having leverage you can extract better value from a situation. His example, called "Don't Go To Grenada for a Week" rest on the idea that if you want value from something then you need some form of leverage. Because Grenada is full of day trippers, the restaurants are terrible because no one has any meaningful leverage because they are unlikely ever to return. This is an asymmetrical relationship.

This thought resonated strongly with us and how this relates to the priority story - that you get more value from your agencies by being more important to them that other brands, if you can "inflict pain" (Rory's words) either financial or reputational then the more likely that you will be well treated and not ripped off.

Finally he offered his recommended reading list which caused a flurry of smartphone photography.

With the worst slot of the week, following Rory Sutherland, Edelman and the WFA then combined bravely to showcase results from a marketers survey conducted in January 2013 about purpose. Findings included some positivity from marketers about their commitment to defining and communicating purpose as part of their strategies. Consensus seems to be (unsurprisingly given the theme emerging from these sessions) that "having purpose" was a key driver of success for brands. Purpose leaders included Unilever, Coke, P&G, Nestlé, McDonald. Results will be posted on the  WFA website.

The excellent Andy Fennel finished up the day. He explained that the value of Diageo is wrapped up hugely in the reputation that exists between consumers and brands. Investing in emerging market growth, over-investment in recession was the "biggest decision this company made in. 10 years".

Andy explained some key parts to their strategy: emerging markets focus, price points north and south (aspirational at many levels), consumer groups (breaking paradigms such as "target boys and girls are free" and "the cohort theory"), product innovation (change from occasional blockbusters to more frequent innovation mostly line extension to premiumise), marketing innovation (try things you've never done before, don't drive by looking in rear view mirror).

Dinner at Palais d'Egmont

In the evening we attended the gala dinner, honouring WFA 60th birthday which involved bringing 7 of the previous presidents on stage.

Also the baton of President was handed from Chris Burggraeve to Martin Riley of Pernod Ricard. By all accounts Chris has done a fantastic job in his two years as President.

ISBA won the President's Award for The Good Pitch website resources and a thrilled Debbie Morrison was cheered up to take the award. Congratulations Debbie.

Nick Manning from ebiquity gave a welcome speech playing on the P's and Purpose alliteration, we had seen plenty of already that day. A quick sales pitch for the company would probably have been sufficient.

Thursday 7th March - Global Marker Week #gmw2013

The "Contagious Inspiration" session was hosted at Google's Headquarters

This was an inspiring session by the clever chaps Alex and Katrina at Contagious, a chance to see some of the most innovative marketing uses of technology in recent years.

Google also gave us a 30 minute timeline narrative which took us through Google's innovation story. Brought up to date with demos of Google Glass and their driverless cars, currently having done 500,000 on the roads of California with only one accident which they reassured us was due to a 3rd party error. The recurring message in this session was that Google was not innovating for fun, they were doing it for survival.

Congratulations to Stephan, Rob, Steve, Matt and the whole team at the WFA for a hugely successful week. We found it incredibly helpful to share in senior marketers stories and be able to network at leisure in such pleasant surroundings.

Thanks to Darren and Nathan at TrinityP3