ANA Creates a "Flywheel for Action" Led by Global CMOs

By Advancing Diversity Week Archives
Cover image for  article: ANA Creates a "Flywheel for Action" Led by Global CMOs

ANA's commitment to growth, equity and systemic change is transforming the marketing profession. On Thursday, December 10 AEF, the ANA Educational Foundation, will host a virtual fund-raising event in celebration of fifty talent champions from brand marketers and agencies. For details click here. The ANA AEF and AIMM programs are beneficiaries of the Advancing Diversity Education Fund, underwritten by AdvancingDiversity.org, MediaVillage and the media community.

The word "marketing" originates from the Latin word "mercari" (to buy) and our great profession harkens back to ancient Mesopotamia in the 4th century BCE, when merchants promoted products in wheeled carts, ranging from alcoholic drinks to cosmetics to textiles. Today, those categories are dominated by brands like Budweiser, L'Oréal and Gucci, which together account for $75 billion in brand value.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) was formed over 100 years ago to be a unifying voice for brand marketers, with the "singular mission to drive growth for marketing professionals, for brands and businesses, and for the industry". Bob Liodice, president & CEO at the ANA, joined the organization in 1995, after a successful career at Kraft, and was challenged with a trade association struggling for relevance. In the last twenty five years, Liodice has transformed the ANA to become a beacon of cutting-edge thought leadership, learning and best practices, arming discerning CMOs with an arsenal of resources to manage the incessant pressure for brand growth, while also delivering them tools to meet short-term expectations.

To help manage this short-term and long-term dichotomy, Liodice brought on board former Colgate marketer Elliot Lum as ANA's head of growth and community, to help the association deliver the "genius of the AND" as Jim Collins would put it. Instead of just focusing on short-term initiatives, the ANA has developed programs that also accelerate future growth through new customers, new markets, and new talent, using strategies that are grounded in equity and inclusion. On Lum's successes to date, Liodice comments: "Elliot has been brilliant at what he has done for the AEF and its role in creating the highly insightful research studies into diversity and inclusion – at the academic level."

In recent years, the marketing challenge of achieving short-term gains and long-term brand growth has become extremely complex.

The very composition of the marketplace has changed -- with 40% of U.S. consumers being BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) and a louder and louder drumbeat signaling that brands have to deliver growth with purpose -- equality, inclusion and sustainability have become purchase criteria and trust has become the new currency of commerce.

In response to these trends and the increased C-suite pressure for growth, the ANA CMO Growth Council was established by Cannes Lions and the ANA in 2018. Its mission is to galvanize CMOs to action that will "accelerate economic growth and advance societal good." Using the wheel as a visual metaphor and honoring its role in the early days of merchants and marketing, Liodice explains how the ANA worked with the Growth Council to determine which "machines we needed to activate to propel action".

To capture the complex capabilities, deliverables and priorities of a growth-driven marketing organization, the ANA created a cohesive flywheel structure driven by four priorities that shape the Growth Agenda:

  • Brand Experience, Creativity and Media
  • Data, Technology and Measurement
  • Talent and Marketing Organization
  • Society and Sustainability

This holistic and inclusive view of growth and the role of consumers is at the core of all ANA's platforms -- from the early establishment of the Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Committee more than a decade ago, to the ANA Educational Foundation (AEF) and Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM).

The leaders of the ANA's diversity, equity and inclusion movement over the past four years have been Group Executive Vice President Bill Duggan inside ANA and Gilbert Davila, Lisette Arsuaga and Carlos Santiago of AIMM, who Liodice credits for the significant gains the ANA has made in delivering expanded depth, breadth and value within the marketing community and engaging a wide spectrum of brand marketers in ANA programs.

Each key priority in the Growth Agenda has a comprehensive list of action items, supported by 360 degree support from the ANA including one-on-one peer learning forums, office hours and industry gatherings, all supported by an ecosystem of initiatives, pledges and metrics to drive equity and inclusion.

The center of the wheel captures the imperative to drive growth and Liodice describes it as "taking the universe of marketing and organizing it into logical buckets that enable intelligent conversations".

Those conversations kicked off on October 19, when over 300 CMOs gathered, representing thousands of the world's top brands and over half of global media spend combined, to create a blueprint that would "help brands step up both as a force for good and a force for growth," as Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at P&G and the chairman of the ANA and its Growth Council, highlighted during his opening remarks. Pritchard is an exemplary choice to lead these initiatives at the ANA -- P&G has seen sales grow in each of its business units, while at the same time the company has taken action on racial injustice through The Talk, The Look and The Choice and other grassroot campaigns.

Beyond the commercial lens of B2C and B2B, the new term Brands for Humans (B4H) was launched by the Council-- it is about marketers understanding consumers not just as purchasers, but as humans with broader needs, desires and ambitions. This renewed way of thinking about marketing has even been incorporated in the marketing program at Northwestern's Kellogg Business School. The COVID pandemic has accelerated this humanized approach, with brands like fashion brand LVMH pivoting to make hand gels for hospitals and Anheuser-Busch transforming their breweries into sanitizer-making facilities, with over 500,000 ounces of hand sanitizer donated to polling sites in New York State in the lead up to the Presidential elections. The human-driven approach has become part of the marketing playbook as Mathilde Delhoume, global brand officer at LVMH and Marcel Marcondes, U.S. CMO at Anheuser-Busch will attest, who both happen to also chair the Brand Creativity, Experience and Media priority of the ANA's Growth Agenda.

For the last twenty years, The Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) has committed to showcasing the humanity in our industry. Focusing on the dignity and equal rights of every person, they have focused on ending the "age-old virus of racism" in this country. Together with the ANA Educational Foundation (AEF), which serves as the bridge that connects the advertising, marketing and academic communities, the ANA has created "business machines" as Liodice refers to the programs.

Elliot, who oversees AIMM and the ANA Education Foundation, has an important mandate -- he is tasked with bridging the academic, industry and talent community for the AEF, while also bringing the whole industry together in a far-reaching and consequential alliance at AIMM.

This is a challenge that energizes Elliot, who as an Asian American, knows all too well that the road to true inclusion and belonging is going to take deep cultural transformation, measurable and decisive action, and courageous demonstrable leadership. The 7-point manifesto launched by the ANA and AIMM provides clarity and an urgent call to action on a number of fronts: from equity in representation to removal of bias to inclusion and accuracy of data.

Energized by the #SeeHer platforms, progress continues on gender equality and its measurement through the Gender Equality Measure (GEM) which has proven that accurate portrayal of women can result in a 10% increase in trust ratings and 25% increase in purchase intent. AIMM's #SeeAll industry-wide movement amplifies this effort by simultaneously ensuring the accurate representation of women and the BIPOC community in ads, programming and brand plans as measured by the Cultural Insights Impact Measure (CIIM). The recent collaborative Structural Racial Disconnect Research report, is a synthesis of three AEF annual studies that highlights disconnects across academia, industry and talent, specifically new hires and undergraduate students.

These initiatives underscore how the commercial profession of marketing is transforming into a nobler profession of societal transformation and economic growth. This is a tall order even for the most ambitious CMOs. The ANA's Growth Agenda provides a valuable blueprint not just of the what and the why, but the how -- it is the specific actions in the "how" that our industry has been missing until now. The interconnectivity, synergies, and interdependencies across the four strategic priorities and the underlying actions, mean that the flywheel of change needs to be dynamic, agile and in perpetual forward momentum. CMOs are increasingly seeing purpose as more than a nice to have, but as a responsibility they need to deliver on to achieve the growth agenda. It is no longer growth or good, purpose or profit, short-term or long-term -- it is all of the above, embracing the best diverse talent, the most inclusive technology and the most representative thinking, to escalate the impact of brands on our lives and solidify the legacy of the CMO as an agent of transformational change.

To support AEF and AIMM, support the Advancing Diversity Education Fund.

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