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Volume 21 No. 2
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With rise of the millennials, calls for a new kind of marketing

Terry Lefton
Adjusting to the shifting media and marketing landscape is an eternal concern for marketers. Still, the record 2,200 gathered in Phoenix for the Association of National Advertisers annual conference were more perplexed than ever, not only because of the splintering media landscape, but by the new, elusive millennial consumer. Those 13- to 25-year-olds value
social over traditional media and are the first “digital natives,” seemingly born with lifetime Netflix subscriptions and iPhones in their pockets.

So the call to action by CMOs to their marketing brethren was not only for them to come to terms with social and digital marketing and the millennials against whom many of those efforts are targeted, but to create entirely different marketing organizations for a new and somewhat uncomfortable reality.

“In my 30 years of marketing I have never seen change on this scale,” said Stephen Quinn, Wal-Mart executive vice president and CMO, who detailed how America’s largest company had shifted from a one-size-fits-all advertising policy across the merchant’s 4,118 U.S. stores to shooting 1,500 ads a year in 70 markets in an attempt to show consumers real shoppers facing real comparisons and finding that Wal-Mart’s pricing beats local grocery stores.

“We’ve had to turn our marketing into a local effort and we’ve had to restructure our whole marketing department to do that,” Quinn said.

With brands struggling to find the right combination of digital and social in the marketing mix, marketers were told to revamp their organizations with an emphasis on being more nimble and reacting with the speed of a Facebook post.

“Change is happening faster than ever before, so agility is more important than ever,” said

Stephen Quinn of Wal-Mart (top) and John Costello of Dunkin’ Brands (above) were among the marketers addressing the massive changes they’re seeing.
John Costello, Dunkin’ Brands president of marketing and innovation. “We all need to react and change so quickly now.”

Antonio Lucio, Visa global chief brand officer, cited increasing the social/digital portion of his marketing budget from 11 percent to 30 percent domestically and from 5 percent to 20 percent globally, while simultaneously combining the payment card company’s marketing, corporate communications, charitable giving and public affairs departments. “That certainly added partners and complexity to the equation,” Lucio said, “but it is the only way to the future. Every communications platform must be integrated.”

Subway Restaurants CMO Tony Pace said it was a new kind of speed to marketing, requiring marketing that is both surgical and extemporaneous. “With the right assets, you can be like Peyton Manning at the line of scrimmage and audible,” Pace said. “In the past, 80-plus percent of your marketing plan would be executed the way you originally planned. Now, it’s like 20 percent, so it’s completely flipped, so you had better be agile.”

Subway's Tony Pace (left) and Visa's Antonio Lucio
With structural change comes changes in job responsibility. So the new role of the CMO was also much discussed. At a time when the marketing chief has a hand in everything from technology to customer service and corporate responsibility programs, the CMO’s chief concern is no longer riding herd on the advertising. “That certainly has defined us in the past, but it doesn’t now,” said Wal-Mart’s Quinn. “What the CMO needs to be today is the chief innovation officer.”

Chrysler CMO Olivier Francois detailed his company’s turnaround, through the help of a campaign that included a Super Bowl ad with Eminem celebrating what was then a much-maligned Detroit auto industry. “There is no magic,” said Francois. “There is just the will to change.’’

Joe Tripodi
, Coca-Cola’s chief marketing and commercial officer, said the millennial road map leads to “TAOS,” since that group is best described as being Transparent, Authentic, Organic and Sustainable.

“They expect unlimited choice and personalization, delivered through multiple channels at maximum speed,” said Tripodi. “The way people communicate in this digital age is really rewriting the rules of our marketplace. … We are

delivering products to consumers more on their terms than ours.” As examples, Tripodi cited “personalized” Coke bottles in Australia, produced with 150 of the country’s most popular first names on them so consumers could seek out their own Coke. Perhaps the ultimate millennial Coke marketing ploy is its Freestyle fountain vending machine, which uses a mobile app, directing consumers to the nearest Freestyle machine and saving favorite soda mixes. “What we have now,” Tripodi said, “is real-time consumer co-creation.”

> SNICKERING: David Lubars, BBDO chairman and chief creative officer, said it was a simple idea — “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry, and Snickers sorts you out” — which led to the Betty White Super Bowl ad for Snickers and the associated campaign. The campaign is now running in more than 80 markets around the world and has helped Snickers grow to be Mars’ second billion-dollar American brand. Keeping the millennial focus in mind, Lubars detailed the test of a new creative concept. “If you can’t write the [campaign] idea as a tweet or a text, you probably don’t have an idea,” he said. Lubars also amused with an anecdote from the shooting of the Betty White ad, in which she laid down in a mud puddle with a man on top of her, simulating a tackle in a football game. “As we were putting the guy on her, [90-year-old] Betty said, ‘I like it when a guy buys me drinks first,’” Lubars said.

> COKE’S WEIGHTY ISSUE: With Coke a scapegoat for the mounting obesity problem, Tripodi said the brand would use, among other weapons, its biggest sports marketing assets to attack the problem. “Olympics, FIFA, NBA or whatever: These are very significant efforts and we are going to use these platforms to help inspire optimism, but also healthy, active lifestyles,” he said. “You’ll see more and more go toward motivational communication that gets people to understand that they need to move. It’s all about calories in, calories out as a balance.”

Tripodi pledged that Coke would stop advertising to children under 12, plainly show nutritional information (including total calories) on the front of packaging, and use a variety of marketing assets to encourage a healthy lifestyle. However, “we reject categorically the demonization of our company, our products and our category. Our products are healthy for anyone, as long as they live a healthy, active and balanced lifestyle. If they do not, we strongly encourage them to have a Diet Coke or a Coke Zero,” he said.

Terry Lefton can be reached at