By Joanna Seddon, co-chair Marketing Hall of Fame & Managing Partner, Presciant brand consulting
The Marketing Hall of Fame’s purpose is to celebrate the thinkers, doers and role models, who are inspiring others and shaping the future of the profession. It recognizes brilliance in marketing. It’s about the true innovators, those who are really making a difference, whether this is through dramatically accelerating growth, pioneering new tools and approaches, mentoring future leaders, or promoting diversity and sustainability.
There are three things about the Marketing Hall of Fame which make it different from other awards.
First, it is the only award which recognizes brilliance across the whole of Marketing – brands, agencies, and academia. We honor great marketers of all kinds, no matter what discipline they come from or what type of marketing they do.
Secondly, it is democratic. The inductees are chosen through a robust voting process which involves hundreds of marketing professionals in the nomination, initial selection and final judging process. The four outstanding marketers inducted on May 3 were elected, not selected. For the Marketing Hall of Fame committee it’s a nail-biting process. We have no idea who will be chosen until the final results come in from the Judging Panel.
And, the Marketing Hall of Fame is future-facing. The profession is evolving dramatically, and we are changing with it. Almost 10 years ago, I led the team which reinvented the Hall of Fame in a modern format, replacing white tablecloths and rubber chicken with a more interactive event. In the pause caused by COVID, we have reinvented it again to reflect the changes in the world around us, to be more embracing of diversity and sustainability and created a fresh vibrant new look and feel.
The return of the Marketing Hall of Fame on May 3 was inspirational, motivational and educational. We can all learn from the inductees, make these learnings part of everything we do and use them to ACT.
The four outstanding marketers inducted on May 3rd embody the Marketing Hall of Fame’s purpose.
Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of Procter & Gamble, is the longest serving chief marketer ever at P&G, in charge of one of the biggest budgets and some of the best brands in the world. He’s the uncrowned spokesperson of the industry, and extraordinarily modest about it. Grey New York’s introductory video summed this up beautifully.
Ann Mukherjee is transforming Pernod-Ricard North America as Chairman and CEO with an approach simultaneously dramatic and incredibly effective. Before this she was the first-ever Global CMO at S.C. Johnson, and at PepsiCo created the mantra of ‘Transform Tomorrow Today” and spearheaded “Crash the Super Bowl”, the first-ever campaign to air fan-made ads.
Antonio Lucio has held Global CMO roles for Facebook, HP Inc, and Visa. He’s known for his serious commitment to innovation and transformation, the next chapter of which is his own company, committed to developing a more diverse and representative next generation of marketing leaders.
Bozoma St. John (“Boz”), forceful and formidable, is a badass who has overcome incredible odds. From her first break as Spike Lee’s assistant, she shot up to head of brand and marketing for Beats and Apple Music, followed by Endeavor, Uber and, most recently, Netflix.
Our Marketing Hall of Fame format asks that inductees deliver remarks which have real content, not stilted acceptance speeches. And how they delivered! They were inspirational, motivational and incredibly moving. The inductees and many of the audience shed tears.
I’d like to share three key themes that came through.
The first one is People.
People means making human connection. As Marc says, “Know the people who you are serving. What they need…what they want. Their hopes, their dreams… what job they want you to do…what problem they want you to solve.” This is something you can’t get from data. You need to talk to your customers, visit their homes, shop with them, observe their behavior. Only this will enable you to surface the insights that will enable you to create a brand experience that makes their lives just a little better every day.
People means seeing talent in others – and getting the most out of them. Ann believes that people don’t know their own gifts, and it is her job to show them what gifts they have. “And then it’s not about just making the possible possible. It’s about making the impossible possible. Pam Forbus, Ann’s CMO, has experienced this, “Ann shows you that greatness IS possible and that greatness also resides in you. She gives you a call to adventure…mentoring, guiding, sparring… and throwing you into battle on your own. You come out forever changed – a better, stronger self, realizing your own potential”.
Antonio feels we must do a better job of developing people.
There are four pillars that need to be built, especially for women and people of color. These are: Capability: not just functional, but more importantly, leadership training; Community: across industries where people at the same level can share “the good, bad, ugly and extraordinary of the leadership experience..: It can get lonely at the top”; Mentoring: people outside your company who can guide you in safe places through the hardquestions that we all need to answer; and finally, Sponsoring: ‘The people inside the company that will advocate for you and get you the stretch assignment we all need to get better and move forward’.
Every inductee gives credit for their success to other people. For Boz, it is ‘black women who have come before me’— her mother, who has been ‘a beacon’ for her and taught her to be confident and ‘never to bow’, her daughter Lael, age 4, who supported her when her husband died.
For Ann, it is “everyone who is here tonight that knows me, ..this is not my award, this is our award. Because I could not have faced my fears and my pain if you weren’t there to lift us together. It’s a team sport”.
Marc summed it up: “Marketing—the past, present and future—is right here, in this room, because it’s all about people. It is one of the most human of professions. It’s why I love this industry, because I love the people in it…Tonight is an honor for all of the people who have had a hand in creating brilliant work.” He is simply the lucky person who gets the opportunity to represent what they have created.
The second theme is Creativity.
Creativity is vital to marketing. More important than anything else.
Antonio’s provocation: We have too much STEM education. We should reduce it and add more Humanities and Ethics. This doesn’t mean that STEM isn’t important. As we move into the future, both analysis and creativity will be needed to answer fundamental questions, some eternal, some new: Who are we? Why are we here? What is the world we want to build? What is a reality in the Metaverse? How do we maintain free expression and safety? Who determines Truth? How do we balance growth with the environment? It is a question of balance. Math, Science, and Technology will help us solve problems at scale. The Humanities and Ethics will enable us to do it within the societal values we want to preserve. “We need a balanced brain between analysis and creativity, anchored in values and soul.”
Despite her highly quantitative background as global head of insights at PepsiCo, Ann believes in creativity above all. Creativity is what marketing is. “Creativity is the oxygen for growth. And yes, we can commercialize it in our brands, so they do good. We can commercialize it so businesses can do what’s right and that is true. That’s what makes impact. Every day humanity is faced with crisis, with entropy, with hopelessness. But it’s creativity that it is underpinned by imagination that allows people to reframe their circumstances.“ As Pam puts it, Ann IS art AND science—and sees no line between them. She is neither left-brained, nor right-brained. She is whole brained.
Marc says there is nothing that compares to the feelings evoked by the ‘endless stream of creativity’ agencies have brought to him – from his first brand, “Who can forget, ‘Raise your hand if you’re Sure’, to ‘Easy Breezy Beautiful Covergirl’, to the Moms campaign, to ‘Olay Face Anything’. His advice to future marketing leaders, “Never forget the power of bringing the promise of your brand to life with a brilliant creative idea”. Technology matters, but only in the support of creativity. Creative ideas should be expressed in every conceivable way made possible through technology – video, print, social, app, in-store, influencers, PR, radio, audio, podcast, augmented reality, virtual reality, films, stories, events, experiences. But it is the feelings that matter. “Despite all of the wonders of technology, remember this one immutable law…you will know when you’ve got something that connects – because your spine will tingle…your eyes will well up…or you’ll laugh out loud…or you’ll smile from ear to ear. Because marketing is right here – in your heart and soul. It’s not rocket science, but it can take you to the heavens if you try. “
The final theme is Purpose.
Marketing is not just about growth. It must also be about purpose. As Marc says, “Growth in the future needs to lead to the greater good”. Marketers have the power and the responsibility to change the world.
Urgently, this means to drive diversity, inclusion and sustainability. Boz is a living, fire-breathing embodiment of this. As she says, ‘Marketing does not look like me’. Black women form “only 1.4% of the leadership, yet there are 21.7 million of us in the United States of America”. She stands ‘in the gap’. And it’s tough. She has been made cruel fun of. CMO tenures are famously short, and shorter for black women. Boz sends out the call “there’s an opportunity for us in the room to change that”.
Purpose starts with the person. As Antonio says, to have marketing teams that clearly represent the communities we serve, we must be anchored in Purpose. “Purpose is the only way to navigate the divide between the spiritual self, or the person that we want to become, and the material self, the person that we are in our day today. Living a life with purpose and finding purpose in our lives is what makes us whole. Purposeful people will drive purposeful work… Remember. First that you are the person that is left when all companies and titles are removed from your business card. Second, that purpose will drive your legacy, and you are building your legacy every day. Because legacy is nothing more than the impact you have on the things and people you touch.” Every marketer, Boz says, should ask themselves, “How is it that you are making a difference?”
Ann’s daughter, in Ogilvy’s introductory video recounts how her mother channels her personal experiences in to marketing. ‘Not just to sell Fritos and Windex and Absolut Vodka but to bring empathy, hope and a positive change to people’.
The brand must reflect the Purpose. Purpose is inseparable from innovation. In Marc’s words, “Your brand must be the best performer on the market..that means innovating to consistently offer benefits that are noticeably better than any alternative.” Star Candles were better because they burned longer than ordinary candles. During the pandemic, people hoarded Charmin toilet paper because they discovered they really didn’t want to live without it.
Purpose means driving inclusion and sustainability, helping communities in need. But it is even more fundamental than that. According to Marc, the best brands use their innovation and creativity to help markets grow. They don’t steal share from other brands, they make the entire market bigger through innovation and creativity, so all boats rise. “Market growth through innovation and creativity is the best growth – it’s good for consumers, retailers, suppliers, employees, partners, economies and communities.”
Good intentions are not enough. Getting awards is just an indication we are on the right track. Marketers must act. Boz urges, “We should take this moment not to sit by idly and celebrate ourselves. But use it as a moment of action. What does the future look like? It needs to look like Lael”. Let’s give Ann the last word: “Job’s not done. Now it’s time to really get to work. Let’s change the world together”.
See more on the Marketing Hall of Fame website.