Marketing Innovation Tips From Jordan Brand, Church’s, Ferrero, Mattel, Focus Brands & Good American Execs

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At a recent Brand Innovators Marketing livecast on Marketing Innovation, executives at Jordan Brand, Church’s Chicken, Ferrero, Mattel, Focus Brands, and Good American talked about what innovation means to them.

Innovation means a lot of things to different brands. For some brands it is about data strategy, for others it is about storytelling and for others it is about internal workflow.

At a recent Brand Innovators Marketing livecast on Marketing Innovation, executives at Jordan Brand, Church’s Chicken, Ferrero, Mattel, Focus Brands, and Good American talked about what innovation means to them.

Jordan Brand is focused on a test and learn mindset, which helps empower the marketing team to pivot along the way. 

“When we all started working from home, we were hit with this idea of “How do we connect with people? How do we create marketing with meaning?” We had this beautiful opportunity around The Last Dance to bring the sneaker community together so we stood up an Instagram Live show,” said Maria Civitate, Global Manager at Jordan Brand. “We did it quickly, we weren’t really sure if it would work, how people would react or if they would be engaged, but we felt like it was a great opportunity to try. Culturally, everyone was trying new things to connect with friends and family, and as marketers, our job is really to create moments of human connection. So, we leaned into that, we gave it a shot and it performed really well for us.” 

For Church’s Chicken, innovation is about modernizing a brand with a rich tradition with new technology.

“Church’s, being an almost 70 year old brand, was very traditional in marketing strategy, from traditional media to branding,” said Alan Magee, VP Digital Marketing & Technology, Church's Chicken. “We’ve really modernized all of our approaches within the last couple of years. We think about it as just our marketing now, so we focus on putting our guests’ eyes on it. Our guests don’t differentiate between if it's a video on Youtube, if it’s a TV ad, if it’s something they’ll get through the mobile app, or something that they see on merchandising at the restaurants. It’s all together for them, and this is why you have to have continuity. Also, people are okay with having things be a little different. We talk a lot about how it doesn’t all have to look like the same room in the house. Every room can look a little bit different as long as people understand that it’s still inside the house.” 

Product innovation is key to innovation strategy for Ferrero. “In the CPG world in particular, when you hear the word innovation, people tend to instantly think of a new product or that new shiny item,” said Miguel Zorrilla, Senior Marketing Director, Butterfinger at Ferrero. “But by definition, innovation really is any new way of doing things, a new method, idea or tactic. So innovation can be a new product but it also can be a new way of approaching things like artwork, advertising, partnerships, influencers. When I think about when Ferrero acquired Butterfingers 2 years ago and asked me to lead and revitalize this brand, I knew I had to think innovatively on multiple fronts to renew this iconic brand, because I was solely focusing on the core business and revitalizing that, and rejuvenating it for a new generation of chocolate consumers. I really had to think innovatively across all touchpoints.” 

Casey Terrell, Sr. Director of Marketing at Schlotzsky's, Focus Brands, is a big believer in data, which can help marketers identify the changing consumer landscape. 

“There are certain things we knew we wanted to take on and certain things we knew we couldn’t,” said Terrell. “For example, we contracted with an agency and had them build certain things. There were things that we did want to build in house. It comes down to resources. It comes down to what is the cost benefit of us buying or using a partner versus doing this ourselves. The user experience and UI, what the consumer sees is what we tend to focus on with the brand versus the back end.” 

Apparel brand Good American is focused on telling stories and works with influencers and celebrities to help tell their story and reinforce brand values. 

“I think it’s important to go where your consumers are, so we’re going to go where the people are,” said Patrick Buchanan, VP Marketing, Good American. “That’s one of the things I really admire about the brand, we really listen to what consumers are saying. We really look at every DM and comment, and try to make sure that we’re creating product and marketing that our fans and followers want to see. I think this is exciting because as a marketer, you don’t always get the chance to be in front of the people who are supporting the brand and helping you. I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity, and it’s always my favorite part of the job.” 

Mattel delivers innovative experiences to consumers by working across teams internally.

“We deal in cross-functional synchronicity,” said Andrew Goodman, Director, Global Franchise Marketing at Mattel. “We make sure that the short to mid and mid to long term plans are all in line and that everybody is communicating. Better connecting some of the franchise foundational elements, like building out the franchise bibles, and making sure that the DNA and framework of everything we do across all these lines of business really connect and make sense to the consumer. The consumer doesn’t care if it's coming from one division or the other, they just want to make sure that it works. Consumers are very savvy and they can smell when it's not right. So we make sure that it always feels right, foundationally correct, we’re leading with purpose and that everything makes sense.”

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