ANA CMO’s: It’s Not About Social Marketing. It’s About Marketing in a Social Era.

An edited version was published in Ad Age on October 8, 2013

Bob Liodice (CEO ANA), Olivier Francios (CMO Chrysler, Fiat N.A.)

ana 2ana 3

The ANA annual meeting is our TED Conference for brand marketing.  It’s a forum to bring big ideas to the fore that serve to inspire us to think and act bigger.

To me, if there was one overarching idea from last week’s conference, it was this notion that Social has flipped from being marketing candy, to being a central core driver to a brand’s strategy.  That when marketers discuss Social, it’s not really just about the tactics they’re employing on a Facebook, Twitter, Vine or Snapchat.  Social is being owned by the CMO, and is now becoming the engine that’s powering substantial market share driving campaigns for grown up brands.

Google’s North America President Margo Georgiadis, on the first morning’s breakfast started the ball rolling citing that a remarkable 24 of the top 100 brands have had a viral video on YouTube already this year.   Ms. Georgiadis implored the need for marketers to create content instead advertising.  She heralded brands that are inserting themselves into social moments of the day, citing Pepsi’s Jeff Gordon’s Harlem Shuffle spot that hit 7 million views and importantly delivered topical street cred for them.

Well of course, you’d expect the Pepsi’s and Coca-Cola’s to tap into the social zeitgeist.  Joe Tripodi didn’t disappoint sharing how their marketing team in Australia personalized Coke Cans and bottles with 150 first names showing that content can come in many forms including a products packaging.  This helped reconnect the brand to reconnect with millennials by increasing its social currency, growing consumption by 7%.   But what really impressed the audience was Olivier Francois, Chrysler’s CMO, presentation that showed how Social was powering the automotive makers overall approach to marketing, and with that a helped a remarkable revival of the company’s brand that just five years ago was in near ruin.  He unveiled at the conference Ron Burgundy/Will Ferrell as Dodge’s newly appointed spokesperson and the shooting of some 67 spots that will no doubt be the backbone of an integrated television and social program that is sure to build a lot of buzz.  He exhibited that this was more than just a one-off.  The Clint Eastwood voiced Imported from Detroit Super Bowl half-time spot for Jeep and the edgy work for Fiat, shows that the automotive company has institutionalized Social by Design as its go-to marketing play book.  Mr Francois claimed that Jeep is now the strongest growing automotive brand in the country.

As much as CMO’s cling onto ROI, and advocate data informed decision making, what became apparent is that unlocking social media magic is much more art than science.  There is a fine line between Social gold and YouTube obscurity.  In a moment of refreshingly candidness, Mars’ Debra Sandler revealed they had made two potential Snickers spots for the Super Bowl, and at the last minute despite some concerns expressed internally, made the call to run the Betty White spot.  The spot stole the show at that year’s Super Bowl and created a social media storm and Snicker bars flew off the shelves.  I doubt the campaign would have gained such fame if they went with the Aretha Franklin spot.  And I thought it big of Tony Pace at Subway to admit that he initially rejected the idea to create a competition, dubbed #ProjectSubway to have designers create outfits made of recycled Subway waste.  The 70 million impressions they garnered through earned media, illustrated to me that Social is about putting the ideas back in the forefront, something that I’m excited about.

There was much discussion on Purpose based marketing.  Consumers and employees are increasingly valuing brands doing the right thing.  Promoting this is a tricky proposition. Step over the line, and credibility could be lost.

ConAgra’s initiative to raise awareness and help counter the 17 million kids in America that don’t know where their next meal is coming from was clearly a personal passion project for their CMO, Judy Chow. But when she convinced the company that it fit the food manufacturer’s corporate mission, it became a more substantial program internally and externally.  Their efforts on the ground, at retail and through content provided the stimulus for consumers to build a more positive opinion of the brand.  As Ms. Chow demonstrated it also helped the business too.  USAA’s Roger Adams proffered that authenticity is even more important in a world of social media.  “Building opinion, builds trust.  Building trust builds advocates,” he aptly stated in his presentation.

So what were the lessons I took away from the ANA’s top marketers in 2013?

  • That social isn’t just a single channel or a tactic … it’s increasingly a core principal behind the marketing strategy.  Having a campaign idea that’s Social by Design offers so much more strength to the marketing effort.
  • Social’s success is being measured by overall marketing metrics.  Sales.  Brand opinion. Reach and Impressions.  Not just follows or likes.
  • That the CMO is owning Social, not the social team.
  • Content over advertising.  That’s shifting how the media and communications need to be planned.
  • Judgment and ideas are probably going to be more important than logic and data for the time being.
  • Integrating paid with the owned and earned, not the other away around is the new hierarchy.

To summarize, the top marketers are demonstrating, that it’s not about social marketing.  It’s really about marketing in a social era.


A Small Upstart to Oversee Ad Agencies (NY Times – August 25, 2013)

Craig and Antony WCG
Craig Woerz, left, a managing partner of the Water Cooler Group, and Antony Young, who will become its president.

Published: August 25, 2013

A WELL-KNOWN senior Madison Avenue executive, Antony Young, is leaving the biggest agency holding group for one that, if not the smallest, is certainly the newest.

Mr. Young is becoming president of the Water Cooler Group, which is being formed to be the parent of four agencies — Bolt, Hip Genius, Maude and Media Storm — that specialize in tasks like media planning and buying, social media, creative and content development and interactive television. Clients of the agencies in the new holding group include Connecticut Tourism, Food Network, Fox Sports 1, FX, Major League Soccer, MLB Network, MTV, Open Road Films, TV One, Viggle and WE tv.

Mr. Young’s hiring is to be formally announced on Monday by the principals of the Water Cooler Group, who say the new agency holding company has been in the planning stages for more than a year. The Water Cooler Group will have offices in New York, where Mr. Young will be based, and Los Angeles.

Before joining the Water Cooler Group, Mr. Young held top posts at Mindshare, a media agency owned by the GroupM division of WPP, which is the world’s largest family of agencies — at least until the completion of the merger, announced last month, of the Omnicom Group and the Publicis Groupe to form the Publicis Omnicom Group. Before his work at Mindshare, Mr. Young held a top post at Optimedia, part of the ZenithOptimedia Group division of Publicis.

“I’ve spent a lot of my career in giant holding companies,” Mr. Young, 48, said in a phone interview last week. “Joining the Water Cooler Group is a zag,” he added, as in zagging when everybody zigs.

“What Mindshare and GroupM are doing is some of the best work in the marketplace,” Mr. Young said. “But there are clients — and, frankly, agency people — who are looking for something different, an alternative,” he added, particularly on a smaller scale than the giant media agencies that keep “getting bigger.”

Mr. Young and his new colleagues hope that one of those alternatives will be the Water Cooler Group. The name was chosen, said Craig Woerz, a managing partner at both the Water Cooler Group and Media Storm, to invoke a holy grail among marketers: stimulating conversation, word of mouth, buzz and social sharing among consumers, a k a the water-cooler effect.

“We’re trying to be a challenge to the big-agency model,” Mr. Woerz said. “Antony came through and really blew us away. I felt I was talking to myself a little bit. He shared our entrepreneurial mind-set and had a big-agency background but is not set in the big-agency way.”

Mr. Woerz, 42, founded Media Storm in 2001 with Tim Williams, who is also a managing partner at Media Storm and the Water Cooler Group. With Mr. Young’s arrival, Mr. Williams, 56, will move into a nonexecutive role, Mr. Woerz said.

Another executive, in addition to Mr. Young, is joining the Water Cooler Group from the outside: Chassar Howell, 35, as managing director for strategy and ideation; he previously was managing partner at the New York office of Naked Communications.

Other senior managers at the Water Cooler Group include Benson Hausman, 44, as executive director for marketing and development; he has worked for agencies that include KraftWorks, Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners, Leroy & Clarkson and Lipman.

Mr. Hausman was “our first Water Cooler Group employee,” Mr. Woerz said, as he was hired while the company was being planned.

Mr. Young’s arrival at the Water Cooler Group is the most recent job switch for a senior agency executive in a spate of such changes. Most of those moves have involved executives who specialize in creative work, but there have also been some top managers of media agencies in the mix — including a previous change for Mr. Young, who was named last month to a worldwide business development role at Mindshare after serving since September 2011 as chief executive for the Mindshare operations in North America.

The Water Cooler Group joins the ranks of smaller agency holding groups that also include MDC Partners and Project WorldWide. They are dwarfed by the likes of WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, the Interpublic Group of Companies, Dentsu and Havas.

And the big keep getting bigger: according to the trade publication Advertising Age, the Publicis Omnicom Group would own three of the world’s five largest media agencies, including the four largest media agencies in this country.

Mindshare’s Antony Young on Cannes: Smart Brands Find Ways to Plan Campaigns Less

Reflecting Events in Real Time and Adapting to Consumer Response

 Published in Ad Age: June 25, 2013

The music business was arguably the first industry to be totally disrupted by the internet. It’s had to re-invent itself to be more lean, more relevant, more creative and more savvy about marketing. And at one of the most interesting sessions I saw last week during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, I began to think other kinds of marketers could learn a lot from the music industry’s eventual response.

Interscope Records doesn’t over-plan its campaigns, said Jennifer Frommer, a senior VP of branded content and culture at the label, whose artists include Gwen Stefani and Eminem. Listening to the social signals and reaction on the street very much steers its next steps. Unlike most major marketers in other categories, which demand and exert total control over new product rollouts, Interscope almost always “leaks” a song or video — and tries to adapt its plans based on the response. The label had three goes at marketing Robin Thicke, for example, each time making adjustments, before “officially” launching “Blurred Lines.”


When Interscope was promoting the soundtrack to “The Great Gatsby,” Fergie and Q-Tip’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” started getting pick-up. That helped the label convince Samsung to co-promote it, shoot a full musical video within a week and release it as a single. The mantra, according to Ms. Frommer: “Listen, adapt, adjust and shift.”

I saw some evidence at Cannes that many brands are already following similar paths. During the red carpet lead-in to this year’s Oscars, for example, Pantene had an artist on hand to sketch pictures of stars’ hairstyles, originating and posting content in real time on how to replicate the stars’ look with Pantene products.

One Cannes panel described Miller Lite’s work with Brad Keselowski, the Nascar driver who added more than 100,000 new followers on Twitter by tweeting photos from inside his car during a delay in the 2012 Daytona 500. Nascar had responded to his Daytona stunt by banning smartphones from race cars, so Miller Lite let him dictate tweets during this year’s race.miller

But marketers’ new approach is broader than a social media stunt; we are starting to see more sustainable programs that contribute to hard sales. Our team in the U.K. picked up a Gold Media Lion for Kleenex work using Google data on searches for “flu and cold remedies” to help understand where to shift TV and radio media budgets. These efforts were rewarded with 40% uplift in sales. Getty Images’ campaign by R/GA also capitalized on searches, evaluating the images people were looking for and inserting relevant images into ads.

Twitter Chief Media Scientist Deb Roy, meanwhile, used Cannes to pitch its new product allowing brands to target promoted tweets toward people who tweet about particular shows — and therefore probably saw brands’ commercials there.

In many ways the industry is shifting toward planning campaigns lessCoca-Cola Global Content Director David Campbell said in one Cannes workshop that that execution should shape strategy in real time. And as a planner — okay, a former planner — I’m excited how this emphasis on response and speed is challenging conventional norms of planning. We all need to be more fluid. How you respond could well be more important than what you plan.

What Makes a Great Brand

great brands


I wrote this about five years ago … it seems to still make sense today.

What is a great brand? A great brand is a badge that customers, employees, and shareholders want to wear. It should steer and shape a culture and aspiration of how a product or company should behave. Brands are what people buy into, not just buy. They spark the emotional and the irrational, and that’s what helps to create a premium in perception and often in price. Finally, a great brand helps a company withstand bad news, awkward service, and lapses of judgment.

Print advertising alive and well …

Some of the best of the best examples you can find @CreativeBloQ

Here are my favs:

print ad - m&M

print ad sharpieprint ad - legoprint ad - mcdprint ad - bic glue

Native Advertising Is Making Media Brands Count for More, Not Less

The Media World Is Going ‘Native’ and That’s Good News for All of Us

By:    Published in : May 29, 2013


You’ve no doubt heard the term “native advertising” in the past few months — possibly far too often for your taste.

Internet Week, most recently, teemed with native-ad mania; I counted at least half a dozen panels entirely devoted to the subject last week in New York. Some pundits are heralding native advertising as the commercial savior of social media and mobile advertising, while others make the (related) claim that native ads will mean the death of the banner. BuzzFeed’s president and COO boldly declared that “Native advertising is going to be the only advertising.” …. All this when few can actually event agree on the definition.

I personally like the description, from Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg, of “ad strategies that allow brands to promote and weave their custom content into the endemic experience of a website or app.”

Native ads differ from traditional ad formats by adopting the visual design and content feel of a publisher’s site or technology. Examples include Facebook’s sponsored stories, Twitter’s promoted tweets and of course BuzzFeed’s sponsored posts (in which BuzzFeed now offers a program to train agencies).

But I would not limit it to digital media. Broadcasters have been effectively doing something similar for brands. Take for instance ESPN’s play for Coors Light, working its “Cold Hard Facts” into game coverage. Radio has helped deliver very localized forms of content to national brands. And advertorials and sponsored sections within magazines and newspapers have always been an option for brands.

Does that mean the media business is trying to affix a new label onto an old idea? Perhaps some may be, but overall I’m seeing some fresh views of how the media, marketers and agencies are choosing to evolve the business. Existing media are challenging long-held, idealistic lines between editorial and advertising. Emerging media are inventing new forms of brand messaging. Whatever label you want to use, I very much like the idea of native advertising and where it potentially is taking our business.  Here’s why:

Marketers will truly have to think about putting consumers first. 
The premise of native advertising is for brands to lead with content. To succeed, marketers need to develop content that consumers actually want to see in the context of the environment where they find it.

The most successful example of native advertising is Google Adwords. Consumers recognize it as advertising but respond to it because it’s useful to them in the context of what they’re searching right then. Native advertising starts with the question, “Why are consumers spending time here, and what can we do to engage them in this place and time with our brand?” That’s in stark contrast to the pure advertiser-driven model of putting the brand first and pushing it at them.

Media brands are going to count for more.
Forbes BrandVoice works for advertisers because of the equity that Forbes has established with its audience. The location within and the print edition lends credibility to companies that participate in this program — but only so far as Forbes’ credibility remains. Intelligent consumers also know that Forbes won’t want to damage the trust in their brand.

This approach is valuable to the media brands looking to distinguish their offering and value and that fear they are being commoditized in a marketplace where real-time bidding on ad inventory and automated ad networks are growing.

Native advertising is generating innovative ways for brands to partner with media.
When American Express partnered with Twitter, it looked to identify areas where the brand and the medium might marry. The result was Amex Sync, where card members could get products and special offers with their synced American Express Card by tweeting special hashtags. (Amex is a Mindshare client, but we didn’t handle this specific program with Amex Sync.)

Native advertising is helping drive adaptive marketing. 
I’ve written on numerous occasions here about adaptive marketing, where marketers respond rapidly to events. AOL’s Huffington Post development of its Newsroom product is a great example of how native advertising can facilitate this. In case you missed this, the Huffington Post is allowing brands to tap into topical and relevant news content that breaks, by developing related native brand messaging and posting it on the site’s home page within two hours.

The ad industry has successfully built a business out of being highly creative with a handful of standard formats … the 30 second spot, the full page print ad, the 10×20 billboard. Native advertising challenges us all to be as creative in thinking outside of those boxes.

If you have any examples of great native advertising, feel free to share them in the comments box below.

Antony Young is CEO of Mindshare North America, a WPP strategy and media investment agency. He recently wrote “Brand Media Strategy,” a Palgrave MacMillan and Advertising Age publication offering strategies on communications planning in the Google and Facebook era.

Camel Print Ad From 1951



It’s remarkable how advertising has changed.  Can you imagine now a print ad for Camel Cigarettes promoting “More Doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette?

Sigh … the Mad Men days.