WFA’s Global Marketer Week 2021 brought together industry experts and other influential voices from other sectors around the world for an exclusive online event across four days. The three main themes of the event were Better Society, Better Planet and Better Growth. These themes included topics such as diversity and inclusion within companies and marketing, the issues around marketing and climate change and marketing adaptability, solutions and growth.
Uniting Against Hate – Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL
Jonathan Greenblatt, a former White House adviser and head of the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), points out that 2020 was unique, not just in terms of the pandemic but in terms of the resurgence of copious amounts of hate facilitated by mass-media and the Internet.
He attributes it to unchecked and disorganized top branches of social media companies that have allowed the spread of hatred on their platforms to go unchecked and the proliferation of algorithms reinforce it. Facebook is the bigget culprit of this. Through his StopHateForProfit campaign he has pushed platforms to act on rooting out the poison being spread on their platforms, rather than allow it to fester to increase their revenues. He sees marketers as holding significant power to stop hatred online. These websites can only survive thanks to advertising and brands do not want to see their products alongside posts promoting white supremacy for example. Therefore, the executives must pressure the social media companies to stamp it out or they should withdraw funds, cutting the lifelines of these companies. As well as the revenue pressure, he argues that advertisers can apply reputational pressure to these sites in order to force them to act for the good of society. He finishes by saying that companies can be public about their commitment to DEI, but they need to be true to this ethos and push social media to tackle this problem.
Stepping up for Good and Growth – Marc Pritchard, P&G
Marc Pritchard of P&G sets out their journey, spanning several years, towards better growth and driving diversity and inclusion within their company and through their products. He lays out 5 key pillars that companies can follow to achieve better growth.
Brands should commit to diversity and inclusion in the long-term and cement from top to bottom rather than simply adding it on as a short-term fix. He argues diversity is not just good for society but also for business. Then brands must, once committing to driving this internally, emulate this drive for inclusion externally and use the powerful arm of advertising for good. Another pillar of P&G’s approach is advertising must be accurate in its representations to destroy everyday biases. This involves having a diverse creative supply chain that reflects what your company is trying to portray, and which reflects the makeup of the nation in which you are portraying it. He adds that the system is not broken, it was designed for the majority and therefore a pillar of their approach is replacing it with a more inclusive system built on equal representation. This is why P&G have set about investing meaningfully to widen horizons, create opportunities and challenge biases. If companies begin to act accordingly, the marketing industry can be an incredible force for good.
Marketing and the Climate Emergency – Prof. Johan Rockström, Stockholm Resilience Centre
Prof. Johan Rockström, the world-renowned climate scientist, had a stark warning for the marketing sector: the challenge we face is a communication one. Advertisers and communications experts have a moral responsibility to accurately and sufficiently report on the climate crisis.
He assures us that we are still within the realm of possibilities to stop the crisis, but it involves a huge effort from everyone. He uses what he calls his ‘double frustration’, a term to denote how the way out of this is clear and backed by evidence, yet there is a huge reticence on behalf of companies to change and not risk the lives of future generations. The pandemic highlighted what is possible but also that we are inter-connected, and our actions implicate everyone. His message to marketers is that companies do not need to sacrifice profits for sustainability. On the contrary, he argues sustainability allows for better competitiveness and resilience for companies in the face of a volatile market future that we all know is coming. His new Netflix documentary with Sir David Attenborough, “Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet” will be released in early summer.
Make the Complex Simple – Conny Braams, Unilever
Conny Braams, CMO at Unilever, explains how Unilever is leading the charge on making sustainability an integral part of their overall brand proposition. The key is to make the messaging simple and to make consumers’ sustainable choices simpler.
She insists that companies must be simple without being simplistic, however. Companies must set bold and ambitious targets, but not be afraid to admit to the consumer any shortcomings. She adds that change cannot happen externally until companies tackle sustainability internally. Unilever have found out that sustainability leads to less waste, less risks, better talent and more growth. Challenges of climate change and social inequality have got bigger and the COVID pandemic has triggered an increased level of awareness around sustainability and consumers are looking more towards shopping sustainably from ethical brands. Buying is now a vote for brands that match their values, and so brands must not make it difficult for them to choose theirs. Marketing is an incredibly powerful tool and she believes that companies must harness its power, through creativity, storytelling and engaging platforms to lead on sustainability issues and make it less confusing for the consumer.
China Reflections – Andrew Wu, LVMH
Andrew Wu of LVMH gives his insights into the rapidly changing consumer landscape in China and the cultural trends that lies behind it. He explains how there has been a visible shift from quantitative appreciation towards qualitative over the last 30 years. More Chinese international students returning home, an increase in Chinese economic prosperity and entrepreneurial talent, mixed with a new generation of homegrown celebrities and influencers, has brought about significant changes to consumer behaviour that international brands and businesses need to be aware of.
When it comes to the pandemic, China has not been affected in the same way as the rest of the world. There has been explosion in e-commerce and a much more China-focused approach to consumption, especially amongst the younger generations. However, he warns that China is growing at an exponential and unsustainable rate. It will up to the younger generations in China to force a more sustainable model of growth. Furthermore, in order to successfully tap into the Chinese market, companies need to mindful of promoting causes that matter in the country and not forcing their agendas onto the Chinese consumer.
Growth and the Peril in Purpose – Mark Ritson
Mark Ritson, an expert on marketing, gives a humorous take on the shortfalls and failures of the marketing and advertising profession, due to what he perceives as an increasing dislocation from reality and from the genuine and impactful roots of advertising.
He believes that in advertisers’ often well-meaning drive to be purposeful they lose sight of the bigger picture and thereby lose impact and credibility. He points to studies that show that ad effectiveness is declining and with it the ability to recognize and award good work. The loudest voices in the industry are now those who know very little about good marketing and it is therefore not surprising, in his view, that advertising is one of the least trusted professions. He flips the main themes of the GMW, sustainability, diversity and marketing as a solution, and applies it to the challenges marketing faces itself. He suggests that sustainability in marketing is crucial, not in terms of the planet but that too many marketers are obsessed with short-term goals at the detriment of sustainable, longer-term brand building. He applies the term diversity in this context to the marketing discipline to explain how the effectiveness of campaigns increases when you diversify the number of channels and media used and that both societal and marketing diversity both produce the best impact.