MetLife, Estee Lauder, Unilever, The New York Times and eos Share 2022 Plans

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At Brand Innovators’ 2022 Kick off Day 1: Setting The Stage for 2022, leaders from MetLife, Estee Lauder, Unilever, The New York Times and eos Products, shared what they are planning and thinking about for 2022. Tune in all week for more great insights from brand leadership.

Digital innovation, brand values, purpose, social and engagement are just some of the key elements brand marketers are thinking about as they kick off the new year.

At Brand Innovators’ 2022 Kick off Day 1: Setting The Stage for 2022, leaders from MetLife, Estee Lauder, Unilever, The New York Times and eos Products, shared what they are planning and thinking about for 2022. Tune in all week for more great insights from brand leadership.

Honesty, transparency and trust have become core to the MetLife brand over the last couple of years and are leading the brand into 2022. MetLife uses trust to drive customer relationships and has found that consumer emotions and behaviors around trust could either build or destroy these relationships. 

“Even though we had seen some earlier signals, we were surprised at how rapidly and to what degree people were seeking honesty and transparency and even authenticity in our category,” said Michelle Froah, SVP of marketing strategy & sciences at MetLife. “And when we looked at that across generations, it was super consistent. We were also surprised about how we could change those perceptions as a brand. 

As the brand navigates the next year, the agility that shined last year will continue to be important. “2021, the need to stay ahead of those global shifts and customer needs and expectations, it definitely didn’t change for any of us, did it?,” said Froah. “I think it was a really important element of last year and now it feels like we have a real demand for these insights. When I look ahead to 2022, I don’t think our focus is going to slow down at all. But earlier on in the pandemic, we learned a lot in real time about customers’ rapidly changing needs and expectations, such as the acceleration of digital adoption and even the rapidly changing perception around protection, especially when it pertained to the definition of what is long-term and short-term protection for us.”

For Roxanne Iyer, global vice president of integrated consumer engagement at Clinique, Estee Lauder, digital innovation is key to retaining talent.

“I love that so many brands and companies are starting to think about this idea of the chief metaverse officer,” says Iyer. “If you are a digitally forward, social-first brand today and you are not talking about NFTs and the metaverse and the future of where human engagement is going, it is almost impossible to recruit and keep the interest of the talent that you have because I think it is going to change pretty dramatically in the months to come.”

Debora Koyama, global growth operations officer at Unilever said that purpose is core to everything at the CPG giant.

“Unilever has been not only a pioneer but a leader in sustainability and I think what is incredible to see when I got here two years ago, is that purpose is really the North Star and it is embedded in the business strategies,” said Koyama. “I think championing of sustainability and social impact, it is all under the same umbrella for a very long time. Purpose to drive business growth, that was my belief, my motto and what I championed for, so I am very aligned with the vision of the company. Even when I was very fresh in joining the company, I was highlighting that purpose would be even more critical in this pandemic context, as people have begun a reassessment of values and how to live their lives and what brands and companies align with their values. I believe the biggest opportunity to Unilever is to put purpose at the center of everything that we do.” 

The New York Times has had to navigate engagement over the last year as social media engagement dwindled. “Up until 2021, engagement with the news was at an all time high. You might have read recently though that some studies are showing that engagement fell off a cliff with the election and the height of the pandemic. A recent report showed that engagement with news on social media apps declined by 65% from 2020 to 2021,” said Amy Weisenbach, SVP, head of marketing at The New York Times. “While we've had a strategy for our marketing that was working really well up until now, we knew we needed to take a closer look at the relationship between our readers and the time to make sure that our marketing is really meeting the moment as the moment is evolving.” 

Holly Harnisch, director of brand marketing at The New York Times’ role is to oversee earned media. “What I actually started as one of the first embeds from marketing in the newsroom to really understand how we promote this ever evolving product that changes every day,” she said. “How do we do that to the news cycle? During my time here I’ve tried to figure out how we align that to our truth campaign or how we do that when we want to get more people talking about our food journalists,” she said. “What I’m really looking to do is how we earn awareness and credibility for our brand.”

“The creative challenges in marketing our brand are manifest,” added Laura Forde, vice president of creative at The New York Times. “How do you show our product? Do you show it on the phone, do we show someone looking at it or engaging with it? Do we show the newspaper? You start to build and assemble a whole thing that results in the story itself and the headline itself. We started to think: instead of talking about ourselves and the work that we do at the Times and that our newsroom does, we wanted to turn the attention on the service we provide and how we show up in people’s lives. And how do we do that?”

Soyoung Kang, chief marketing officer at eos Products shared how the brand activated an engaging TikToker named Carly Jones when they saw some user generated content she posted about highly engaging content about their shaving products.

“An amazing young TikToker named Carly Jones, her handle is KillJoy, posted this TikTok about how much she loves our shave cream. It is in response to somebody said, how do you avoid razor bumps?,” explained Kang. “The beauty of TikTok, for those people who are really deep in it, a lot of people get their information from TikTok. We have to make sure that we don’t turn TikTok into Wikipedia because maybe there are some places where you need to get some more legit information, but in this case, this TikToker was highly educational, highly informational. She posted this really unbelievably funny authentic profanity-laden, in-your-face, hilarious TikTok about how she uses shave cream to bless her f-ing cooch.”

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