Marketing at the Speed of Humanity, Culture, & Influence
By Ray Romero
What do Elon Musk, LL Cool J, Bon Jovi, Gayle King, Steve Stoute, A-Rod, and Zainab Johnson, have in common? They’re all culture creators and influencers who spoke at the inaugural POSSIBLE conference in Miami, FL, on April 15 through April 17, and they shared their perspectives on the future of marketing possibilities with over 2,500+ attendees.
Before jumping into things, you might ask yourself, “What is POSSIBLE?” …POSSIBLE is the latest in industry conferences founded by Greg Stuart, CEO of the MMA, and Christian Muche, Co-Founder of DMEXCO. Their focus is to connect what’s now, new, and next in the world of marketing, innovation, technology, and creativity. Joining the celebrity talent across various stages were executives from dozens of the world’s biggest brands, such as Canva, Uber, Hyundai, and GM, to share their stories and best practices and spark intellectual conversation.
OMD USA attended on a mission to uncover what’s driving many marketers today in a world where The Conscientious Consumer is more attuned than ever to marketing practices, their data, and driving the new tech across an evolution of their consumer journey.
There was no denying the consistent themes that resonated throughout the conference stages across most presentations, discussions, fireside chats, and panels, all of which revolved around ensuring we build a culture at the core of what we do.
To boil it all down, four main themes from the conference were:
- Be Human
- Be Transparent
- Be Valuable
- Be an Agent of Change
Let’s spend a little time diving into each of these themes.
James Todd Smith or who the world knows as L.L. Cool J, Michael Kassen (Chairman, MediaLink CEO), and Jim Lanzone (Yahoo! CEO) was one of many sessions to speak to the need for advertising to humans or, as they called it “B2H – Business to Humans.” The notion of ensuring we’re recognizing the importance of authenticity in marketing to build relationships and support in building culture. This notion of authenticity was consistent across many sessions. Authenticity is what connects brands to people and people to culture. It was also emphasized that in an era of new tech and new platforms, we cannot lose sight that those we call customers or consumers are real people, and a simple label like “consumer or customer” should not distract us from the emotional need states of humanity.
This theme rang louder around the many conversations focused on AI, where it felt that marketing was being wrapped too deep in legal and feeling very robotic. Conversations then shifted towards the impact on culture, where marketers are looking to identify better capabilities to ‘actively listen’ to their audiences and not merely rely on syndicated research. A brand must make sure they provide the right value back to people as you bring them along your brand journey. At the end of the day, brands and marketing are about talking to people, not talking at people.
So, whether it was Steve Stout touting the speed of influence is the speed of culture, Elon Musk focusing on citizen journalism for you to create your own narrative, or Bonin Bough speaking to ‘being committed, not just about making commitments’ – everyone truly believed in celebrating humanity and being authentically connected.
In a parallel path to Being Human, authentic and genuine were coupled with being transparent, and transparency being critical to building loyalty. During Elon Musk’s stage time, as he was interviewed by Linda Yaccarino (Chairman of Global Partnerships, NBCU), Elon was brilliantly pressed by Linda to get a deeper look at the changes happening at Twitter, where Elon shared his thoughts around transparency. As we all know the challenges with Twitter at the moment, Elon’s ambition was made clear – “in order to build trust, you have to be transparent.”
Transparency also came true in a keynote panel delivered by Karin Timepone (EVP, CMO Major League Baseball), joined by Tiago Pinta (VP Marketing, Miami Marlins), Ed Romain (SVP, Head of Marketing + Brand Development, WB Discovery Sports) and Enrique Santos (President, CCO, On-Air Talent iHeartLatino), where the theme ran into the need for “putting power back in the hands of users” as physical and digital worlds (aka Phygital) come together with brands needing to remember three key ingredients for success 1) Accessibility – remember that fans come from a variety of economic variability and backgrounds, 2) Predictability – leverage data to unlock behaviors ahead of a consumers journey and 3) Frictionless – “there is a need to strip away barriers and make campaigns turn-key” says Tiago as he explains how to connect with fans. He also emphasized the need to know your audience as they’re not one size fits all, especially as you dig into local cultures. He explains how they focus on the varying ethnicities within what many clusters as US Hispanics and how “it’s about celebrating Latino’s right – know the difference between Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, etc.”
The Conscientious Consumer is busier than ever, and the excess of ads in front of them can be cumbersome. Consumers, more than ever, whether because of the financial climate, personal perspectives, or many other reasons, are looking for brands that deliver value back.
Sofia Hernandez, Global Head of Business at TikTok, spoke to the six universal truths for how to create TikTok assets that deliver effective stories around the simplicity of the narrative that deliver value and better engagement across the platform.
- Native: You must exist in a real authentic way. Partner with creators. Shoot on a mobile device. No heavy branding. Appear natural
- Structure: Experimenting with story structures that create impact
- Stimulation: Capturing audience attention with editing techniques – transition, emojis, text, etc. (speak their language)
- Sound: Using sounds to get deeper layered content. It’s the #1 requirement; voiceover music, etc.
- Trends: Sharpening content ideas with trends to create relevance; know your audience, know the culture
- Production: You don’t need to over-engineer assets. Use minimal rescues (i.e., upload settings, safe zones, creative refreshes, maximize shoots of all sizes, etc.)
Sofia emphasized active listening. She expressed the importance and rich data that is available from user comments. The comments are critical to know what people are saying and, as marketers, allow you to respond. TikTok stats show that 76% of community users feel that brands that participate in comments are seen as part of the community.
Lastly, the notion of value was well represented in a wonderful discussion between Gayle King (TV Personality, Journalist) and Steve Stoute (Record Executive, Translation CEO), who spoke about spending towards the value delivered, not just spending towards the scale of diverse audiences. They also emphasized the importance of not surrounding your brand around culturally adjacent content. Rather, you need to authentically be a part of it. “The speed of culture is the speed of influence,” says Stoute. This led to similar discussions to that of Tiago around knowing your audience. “You can’t predetermine your audience given the decline of demography data,” says Stoute.
Be an Agent of Change:
Whether it was Angela Zepada (CMO of Hyundai), Bonin Bough (CEO of Group Black), or Mark Grether (GM, Uber Advertising) in a session with Shingy (Marketing Executive) and many other speakers, most executives pushed on the notions of change and how you must embrace it in order to grow:
- Change in Tech – AI: Plenty of content on new technology, approaches, and data through AI was the talk of the town. There are many conversations about how organizations need to embrace AI (i.e., creating new competencies, new structures, etc.) to create safe marketing to people and transformative business practices. Much of the AI discussions focused on the dangers and the unknowns though transitioned to the massive potential AI can bring, such as its ability to create new and faster rates of engagements.
- Change in Culture & Cultural Adaptation: You must embrace the changes in culture to authentically speak to people. Conversations covered the need to ensure you don’t have preconceived notions about who your audiences are and think about how to use signals or tech differently to convey your message.
- Change in How You Run a Business: Growth at the end of the day – we recognize we’re in a for-profit business, and you must change to grow. The relationships between the CMO and CEO are more critical than ever to delivering long-term strategy wrapped around company KPIs, not just marketing KPIs.
For its first-ever conference, POSSIBLE truly made it possible for many thought leaders and executives to come together to talk about the growth and challenges that are ahead as we all look to the market too much savvier and diverse audiences (i.e., the Conscientious Consumer). As we wrangle the many opportunities in front of us, don’t forget that marketing is about being authentic – an authenticity that creates value and connects to culture. OMD is ready to partner with our clients in creating marketing that matters; are you ready for this journey too?
Managing Executive Director
Building Heat that Connects to Culture
By Elise Sherman
Welcome to Miami, Where the Heat is On
Last month, OMD US attended the inaugural POSSIBLE Summit conference at Fontainebleau Miami Beach. An event that brought together leading international marketers for an immersive and engaging celebration of creativity and innovation that democratized thought leadership across industry peers.
The summit featured keynote speakers from across the music, entertainment, sports, and business industries, who shared the stage with CMOs from the world’s most recognized brands. Brimming with endless creativity, disruptive energy, and vibrant culture, brands and marketers espoused on the immense range of innovative content and immersive experiences that can now be realized, leaving industry peers with a fresh perspective on what’s really POSSIBLE.
OMD left inspired.
A consistent theme from keynote speakers and industry leaders emphasized the need to connect to culture to build an iconic brand.
As we heard from Zach Kitschke, CMO at Canva, during a keynote session on Fueling Growth and driving Loyalty with Company Values as Anchors –it takes a village to raise a company, but it takes a loyal and passionate community to grow a brand.
So, what does it take to build and preserve an iconic brand?
It takes “heat,” as defined by the ability to connect to culture.
Historically, an icon has been described as “a person or thing widely admired especially for having great influence or significance in a particular sphere.” However, as we heard from icons, influence now sits in the hands of people who can impact culture overnight.
This requires brands to reimagine how they engage with consumers to build heat. We unpack this further through three key themes:
- Authenticity – matching brand value and superpowers to human needs
- Frictionless experiences – building meaningful relationships that last a lifetime
- Agility – moving at the speed of innovation and culture
Authenticity – Matching Brand Values and Superpowers to Human Needs
The balance of power and influence has shifted from brands to consumers. With a greater need for purpose, humility, and accessibility. People and communities are evolving the relationship they have with brands. It is more important now than ever for brands to have a clear vision and authentic voice that enables them to connect to human needs.
In a fireside chat with Steve Stoute, Founder and CEO of UnitedMasters and Translation, he spoke about “culture capital” as the single greatest force in driving financial capital for brands and stressed the importance of an authentic voice in connecting to culture. Similarly, during a panel discussion on Reimagining Modern Brand Partnerships, Aarti Thiagarajan, Head of Brand Partnerships at Netflix, and Heather Stewart, General Director of Global Media and Marketing Services at GM, reflected on the importance of authentic collaboration to connect to culture.
To achieve this, brands must embody a new marketing mindset, B2H – Business to Humans, which takes the place of Business to Consumers (B2C) and reshapes the way in which brands build heat and connect to culture.
Frictionless Experiences – Building Meaningful Relationships that Last a Lifetime
It is no surprise that today brands feel increased pressure to drive short-term sales while balancing long-term brand building. As marketers, we must find ways to not only deliver on the bottom line but also evolve beyond the transaction. Thus, by leveraging the data at our fingertips to unlock growth and build stronger human connections.
Michael Ahearn, VP of Customer Development & Strategy at Sinch, stressed the importance of the conversation era, where brands focus on building two-way dialogue, evolving from talking at people to talking with people and creating experiences that connect brands to humans.
In a fireside chat about Transforming the Customer Experience, we heard from Angela Zepeda, CMO of Hyundai, and Diana Haussling, VP – General Manager Consumer Experience & Growth at Colgate-Palmolive, on how two very distinct categories are using advancements in data and technology to create value exchange and build mutually beneficial relationships with people.
At the core of it, all is the feedback loop – it is what enables brands to remain relevant and drive heat through smarter and more intentional interactions. Whether that be sourcing growth through new data signals or building the infrastructure to create frictionless experiences.
Agility – Moving at the Speed of Innovation and Culture
With agility comes the need for innovation. We live in a world where technology impacts culture and powers an ecosystem for brand growth. It is also what enables us to increase productivity and effectiveness and empowers us to move in new directions at new speeds.
Unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence (AI) was a hot topic. We heard from Kirsten O’Hara, VP,
Agency and Brand Solutions at Google on how AI is helping marketers tell better stories and connect with audiences through the simple concept “anything you can imagine, you can create.”
Innovation also came in the form of Attention. Brand leaders Vinny Rinaldi, Head of Media & Analytics at The Hershey Company, and Joshua Nafma, VP of Data and Operations at Diageo, dove into how Attention is disrupting the industry and how planning with Attention powers stronger outcomes. Given OMD’s focus on Attention, we know that mental availability directly impacts brand growth, and the ability to plan, transact and optimize against Attention is what creates sustained growth.
As we look ahead, one thing is clear – moving at the speed of innovation and culture means marketers must be willing to adapt to disruptive technology, embrace new ways of thinking, and also find the balance between humanity and technology.
Senior Director, Communications Planning