Authenticity & Curiosity: Ferrero, AT&T, Foxtrot & People.ai Leaders Talk Values

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At a recent Brand Innovators livecast on C-Suite & Marketing Leadership, experts from Ferrero, AT&T, Foxtrot and People.ai discussed how their values are translated into their brand leadership.

Marketing leaders guide the direction of their brands by establishing and executing the brand’s key values, whether it is a focus on authenticity, curiosity or seeing consumers as humans.

At a recent Brand Innovators livecast on C-Suite & Marketing Leadership, experts from Ferrero, AT&T, Foxtrot and People.ai discussed how their values are translated into their brand leadership.

Miguel Zorrilla, senior director of marketing at Ferrero is on a mission to rethink the buzzwords that marketers use to describe reaching younger consumers and put  a different spin on them.

For instance, when it comes to experiences, “it’s almost taken for granted at this point that millennials and Gen Zers value experiences over things. But we want to deliver more from these experiences,” said Zorrilla. “When we think about experiences, especially as millennials, we want novelty, we want choices from these experiences. We don’t want the cookie-cutter experience. We want something cultivated, something unique for us.”

When it comes to knowing your audience, Zorrilla admits that your budget often dictates how effective you can be and suggests exploring communities within a particular audience. Authenticity is another buzzword that marketers like, and Zorrilla talked about the growing impact of parasocial relationships. 

“A parasocial relationship is when you feel like you have a relationship with someone, but that person may not actually know who  you are,” he explained. “I know it sounds a little weird but if you think about this particular moment in history, it makes sense, that if you want to feel some kind of connection with the content, and those who are creating the content that we consume.”

Kirk Heinlein, AVP, Corporate Brand Marketing, Global Marketing Organization at AT&T agreed that authenticity is an important value for her brand.

“It’s never been so true in the world of first responders. When you’re selling Butterfingers, there’s a certain level of commercialism that’s expected but when you’re selling products and services that help people save lives, they really expect you to be authentic,” Heinlein said. “That’s a key aspect of what we do. In each case we try to get down to the level of the individual users and best understand what they need, what their challenges are, and how to reach out to them. To get that close to your customer is challenging, but things are changing. The digital environment makes it easier now than ever before to be able to get close to your customer without having hundreds of feet on the street to do that.”  

Curiosity for the culture as a whole is a key value for Carla Dunham, CMO at Foxtrot.

“The best marketers are ultimately highly curious about culture, and connected to how the world is visually represented and how it’s communicated,” said Dunham. “In many ways, that transition from being an art historian to being a leader in business was much more natural than you might suspect. In the world that I’m in today, we often describe ourselves as being the next generation brand, a brand that is anticipating customer needs and wants. In doing that, you really have to be highly curious about what trends are emerging and how your customer is connecting with you. That ability to connect with possibility and potential from a business standpoint is rooted both in my art history background as well as my business degree.”

Seeing the humanity in the other side of an ad will almost certainly get a customer’s attention and that is the approach of Mariana Cogan, CMO of People.ai.

“At one point B2B was considered selling to buildings. It’s big companies, big buildings. But now the way I see it, it’s B2H, business to human,” said Cogan. “If you think about it, we do sell into very large enterprises, with that said, it’s not the enterprise that you’re engaging with. You’re really helping an individual to excel at their job, to find a solution to a problem, and maximize the potential of a new opportunity. In order to help people, you need to think customer centric. It means to write content that delivers that human connection.”

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