At the Cannes Lions, one of the world’s largest gatherings of communications pros, CMOs Raja Rajamannar of Mastercard, Marc Pritchard of P&G and Andrew Clarke from Mars* candidly discussed how they are tackling their biggest marketing challenges. I’ve summarized 4 key learnings that inspired me and that communicators can apply to their work:

  1. Talent - Finding the right new hires who understand data and can analyze what drives the business continues to be a challenge for marketing leaders. College curriculums are not giving graduates the tools they need to succeed.

    How can brands help? Offer robust internship programs to provide hands-on learning. Interns have the opportunity for full time jobs when they graduate and companies have the benefit of shaping them. We can also help by teaching through guest speaking opportunities and investments in helping build curriculums with case studies and support.

  2. Mass Disruption – Proliferation of ad blockers and lack of transparency is troubling for traditional advertising models. The need to reinvent the marketing playbook was central to this discussion. Growth of direct-to-consumer communications and more pull communications pose a huge opportunity, especially for strategic communications firms.

    Mastercard’s solution is more experiential marketing and story-making (including content creation and earned media) to inspire consumers through their passion points. Leveraging influencers was unanimously supported as creative partners and co-content creators to authentically support products that they love. Particularly in the FMCG category, communicators, including APCO are developing robust influencer and content strategies.

  3. More Test and Learn – All panelists agreed that deploying new ideas in local markets and scaling the best ones globally is a strong path forward. Including AI as part of the equation was strongly supported by Mars with a qualifier that “we have to remember that machines can’t come up with ideas that touch human emotion and the humanity of creative can’t be replaced.”

  4. Purpose – Purpose can drive new conversations with consumers when infused into the core of the business plus supports internal communications by making employees better brand ambassadors. All panelists agreed that the causes have to be authentic to your brand and not just a ‘bolt on’. APCO helps brands find their purpose and communicate it to all stakeholders as a way to support business strategy. Read more about our research into corporate advocacy here.

If brands can address these challenges they will be well poised to drive growth, engagement and inspire brand love. 

*APCO client

Kas Rigas
Kas Rigas

Kas Rigas is a senior director in APCO Worldwide’s consumer practice and based in the firm’s New York office. Read More