From In-Housing and Mentorship to Loyalty and Purpose, Our Takeaways From Advertising Week NY

We spent Advertising Week inside glorious Viacom HQ on Times Square in New York. We broke bread with our Viacom friends and welcomed in marketers from dozens of other brands for a fast-paced three-day program designed to channel everything that’s happening (and it’s a lot) in the marketing world.

We spent Advertising Week inside glorious Viacom HQ on Times Square in New York. We broke bread with our Viacom friends and welcomed in marketers from dozens of other brands for a fast-paced three-day program designed to channel everything that’s happening (and it’s a lot) in the marketing world.

A couple weeks have passed but here are five things we can’t stop thinking about…


Our quality time with a bevy of big brands confirmed something we already suspected: the march to bring creative resources in-house is more than a blip or a momentary trend–it’s an avalanche. And while cost savings may explain the initial appeal (particularly to the c-suite), the benefits go well beyond the bottom line.

“For us, the journey to bringing things in house was predicated on how we could drive performance,” says Josh Palau of Bayer. “It was about how quickly we could have access to data, then take that data and increase the speed of turning insights into action.”

When the brand team at Lenovo brought its creative function in-house, they didn’t start out trying to save money (though they did). Instead, they set out to create an agency that could compete with the best. Five months into it, VP-Global Marketing Quinn O’Brien (above) is pleased with his new team. “They understand the DNA of the company, they understand the business intimately and they have access to all the decision-makers in house so there’s no question that can’t get answered.”


Everyone in the world knows we still have miles to go in the march toward gender equality. What was interesting in New York was the theme that emerged from within the discussions on how to get to a better place. In a word, that theme was mentorship. The importance of mentorship to women, particularly early in their careers, came up repeatedly.

“I had the tremendous privilege of working for Stephanie Gallo, who is the CMO of E. & J. Gallo Winery,” JetBlue’s VP-Marketing Elizabeth Windram (below, at left) told us. “Her leadership had a profound impact on the professional that I’ve become. I can only hope that I’m able to model the same kind of leadership for the people who work on my team.”

Crowd favorite Jill Baskin, CMO of The Hershey Company (below 1st row, 3rd from right), gave a keynote on leadership that was full of terrific advice. Afterwards she lamented how slowly culture moves and she challenged women to make waves. “I think women are very grounded but I need them to soar. Too often they underestimate what they are capable of. A lot of women who get through MBA school and into brand management have been at the top of their class, the best-performing student, sort of goodie two-shoes. I say loosen it up a little bit and make some noise. Make some trouble.”


Loyalty cuts through clutter like a knife cuts through butter. Nope, not a hip-hop lyric but instead something many of our speakers noted on the link between customer loyalty and retention. Mark Messing, Director of Loyalty Programs for Domino’s (below), spoke passionately about the need to connect with customers in unexpected ways. Domino’s Points for Pies & Delivery Insurance programs are two shining examples.

“Loyalty matters because people have more choice than ever before,” Messing said. “A loyalty program creates a mechanism for your customers to have a reason to choose you. At a conscious and subconscious level, the program motivates them to buy your product. It’s so important in a world where customers have a million choices. It establishes that deeper connection with your brand.”


If you think the future of marketing looks chaotic, complicated and more prone to shifting than a San Andreas tectonic plate, you are not alone. But before you despair, be sure your brand seriously considers what emerged from our New York audience as the thing most likely to bring focus from the fuzziness. That thing–that anchor–is purpose.

Just after delivering a passionate keynote about Panera’s ongoing efforts to “fix America’s broken relationship with food,” VP-Marketing Scott Nelson (above at left) had this to say about brands and purpose: “Having a reason to believe in the company you work for, a reason to get out of bed every day, a reason to feel excited to go to work? To me that’s the heart of brand purpose from an internal standpoint. Obviously from an external customer standpoint, brands that stand for something, that believe in something–brands that want to do good and do good–are valuable in today’s cultural landscape.”


Feel free to take this last takeaway as the shameless plug that it is. Here’s the pitch: if you really want to help drive your brand forward, then get out of your cubicle or your corner office and talk to people in your community. Go to a coffee place and strike up a conversation, soak up some high or low culture and–yeah–please attend the next Brand Innovators event in your area. (Upcoming event listings can be found here.)

The future is less uncertain when you fill your head with the collected knowledge of as many smart people as possible. We leave you with a couple of transparent testimonials from BI event regulars who make a case for why you should consider becoming part of our community.

“I’ve been to a number of Brand Innovators events over the years,” says PepsiCo VP-Marketing Todd Kaplan. “It’s been great watching it grow and change. What I like most about it is that you are free to speak candidly and have honest dialogue. People keep it real. It’s very informal and casual–it’s not stuffy.”

“Brand Innovators events address real topics that we are, day by day, focusing on,” adds SAP CMO Alicia Tillman. “What are the topics and strategies we need to focus on as innovators and leaders in our space? Being able to come together on topics that matter but to do it in a community setting where everyone takes value in building new relationships and reigniting old ones–that’s the beauty of this community. You walk away feeling inspired and refreshed.”

Her words, not ours.

(photos: Kat Papera)

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