Here Are Three Things Brands Learned at ANA’s Brand Activation Conference
The Social Media Link team headed to the windy city last week to attend ANA’s (Association of National Advertisers) annual Brand Activation Conference, an event aimed at showcasing inspiring and insightful case studies from top marketers, retailers and other experts. Today’s CMOs are quickly shifting their focus away from individual channels and the one-dimensional path-to-purchase to the entire customer journey. As with most conferences, common themes surfaced to help paint a broader stroke on the industry at large. Here are three takeaways.
1. Brand Activation Proves Enormous Impact for Brands.
One key focus of the conference was the début of ANA’s groundbreaking study examining the Brand Activation Marketing industry. Brand activation, described as “driving results to specific customer behaviors and/or actions” encompasses a massive share in the marketing stack. It is estimated that marketers spend 60% of their budget on brand activation. According to the new study, the total spend is estimated at $595 billion – three times that which is spent on media! Brand Activation is comprised of six pillars – promotional, relationship, influencer, retailer, experiential and content marketing. In the next five years, spending is projected to reach $740 billion.
2. Heritage and History Play a Powerful Role in Brand Messaging.
A reoccurring theme urged marketers to never overlook the brand’s original upbringings. In the presentation, “How Luxury Brands are Adjusting to the New Consumer Journey,” Jon Potter, CMO of Moët Hennessy advised marketers, especially luxury marketers, “in order to look forward for your brand, you must always look back.” When sharing about his experience working on Veuve Clicquot’s iconic Yellow Label or Hennessey ‘s commitment to cultural heritage, Potter insisted that marketers respect the timeless assets that makes a brand great.
Several case studies proved this point. Berta De Pablos-Barbier, Vice President of Marketing at Mars Chocolate shared the brand’s 75th anniversary campaign that revitalized its historic advertising. Most notably was the remake of its famed “The Candy Man” song original sung by Sammy Davis Jr., now remixed to modern melody by Zedd and Aloe Blacc.
No matter the company, paying homage to a brand’s heritage is a great way to establish staying power, authenticity and transparency; qualities consumers not only crave, but also have come to expect from marketers. The most challenging step is making a brand’s history relevant to today’s consumers. One of the most effective ways to infuse the message is to create authentic relationships with the right consumers who will then spread a brand’s message. Potter of Moët Hennessy recalled one of its most powerful awareness drivers: influencer marketing!
3. Stop Chasing the Consumer. Be Where the Consumer Is.
Joe Jordan, CMO of Dominos and Lori Senecal, CEO of CP+B demonstrated the power of innovation. One is hard pressed to find a marketer who isn’t amazed with the turn around Dominos has achieved. In 2009, Dominos was tied with Chuck E. Cheese for last place in taste. Today, it is undoubtedly recognized for its inventive and unstoppable mission to provide top quality and to practice transparency with customers. When Dominos launched its Pizza Turnaround campaign, sales shot up 14%. It’s clearer than ever that Dominos is no longer just a company that sells pizza. As one J.P. Morgan analyst puts it, “Dominos is a technology company disguised as a marketing company disguised as a pizza company.”
Throughout the presentation, Dominos showed its unwavering commitment to be where the consumer was, not where the brand wanted consumers to be. This was most pointedly shown in their new Domino’s Anywhere campaign, where a consumer can order a pizza through sending a text emoji, a tweet, a message through their car or an order through their television. Among key messages, the presenters capped with “Innovation is Advertising.” Other presentation callouts included “Embrace Revolution, Practice Uncommon Honesty, Define Your Way, Challenge Everything, Get Innovation Ready.”
The theme of “be where the consumer is” shone through as well in Dunkin Donuts mobile strategy. In the session “Keeping the Edge in Today’s Rapidly Changing World” we learned that 60% use their mobile phones when deciding where to dine and that 75% have not decided on a restaurant when they begin their search. Dunkin Donuts made a strategic effort to make mobile “first and best” when it came to their DDPerks program and their upcoming on-the-go ordering system. Paul Murray, head of loyalty marketing at Dunkin Brands said consumers want personal connections from brands, but they also want brands to embrace the rapid changes in media consumption.
Ultimately, one of the most resounding themes that stayed throughout each session was about relevance to consumers. Consumers interact with thousands of pieces of media everyday, and marketers have hundreds of options. Brand activation is about creating emotional connections with consumers in relevant, personalized settings that foster loyalty, social advocacy and spark action. As Bob Raidt of Arc Worldwide put it in his session “your hook is only as effective as your bait. True brand activation is equal parts attraction and action.”