Welcome to Episode 2 of The CMO Show, a podcast about brand storytelling and the future of marketing. Our guest, Wayne Arnold, co-founded creative agency Profero in 1998.
Back then, he was sure digital would become fundamentally important to the marketing industry. It turned out he was right.
Now the global CEO of Lowe Profero, Wayne joins Mark Jones, chief storyteller + CEO at Filtered Media, to talk about APAC marketing and the challenges CMOs face in the region. They also chat about how Unilever used old-school Nokia mobiles to win most effective campaign of the year, and the attributes a CMO needs to become CEO.
Host: Mark Jones (MJ)
Guest: Wayne Arnold (WA)
MJ: Tell me about some of the work that you’re doing at the moment, and particularly some big campaigns that have caught your attention.
WA: I guess when I look at all the activity that I like it tends to have quite a strong digital focus. But when I look at what’s going on it’s actually less about campaigns to be honest with you Mark, because I think the idea of people having campaigns is kind of dying a bit of a slow death.
What’s really happening is campaigns and clients are being far more agile and creating ideas with purpose. I love campaign activity that one; stays agile, so where it starts may not be where it finishes. And two; there’s this bigger, purposeful idea sitting behind that. It’s not necessarily about trying to save the planet, but there’s normally some kind of human element that makes it far more interesting than something that made you smile for the day.
MJ: So you’re talking about the idea of brand as social good ambassador.
WA: Yeah. But I also think it goes further than that. They’re brands that have values. For example, a washing powder is a washing powder but you’re more likely to pick a washing powder that encourages your kids’ education through ‘play’ than a washing powder because it’s ‘whiter than white’. That’s very different to ten years ago where every single commercial seemed to be racing to be the whitest sheet rather than toward a bigger brand idea like play.
MJ: Tell us about the big campaign that Unilever won ‘best campaign’ for, it was Kan Khajura?
WA: It just won the most effective campaign of the year, so taking all the campaigns around the world this one was number one in terms being the most effective. What I love about this is that we spend relentless amounts of time as marketeers trying to discover the next new thing, what’s the latest technology, should we all be racing towards smart watches right now. But sometimes the best ideas are right in front of us and using very low tech. So the challenges are like if you take rural India – one hundred million Indians have eight hours of no electricity on average a day. So if you’re trying to communicate via TV or radio that’s pretty much useless because for eight hours of the day they haven’t got electricity yet alone being able to afford the TV set in the first place.
So the idea is quite simple, the one thing they do all have is a mobile phone and normally sort of a very low tech mobile phone, so maybe the kind of phone, Mark, you had maybe ten years ago…
MJ: Yeah I suspect that’s where a lot of phones ended up actually.
WA: I think they did get recycled. So the idea was to create a radio station, so ultimately by dialling a good old fashioned free phone telephone number you get a phone call back and you get fifteen minutes of entertainment, whether that be music, jokes or news, for free. So in a land where you can’t get electricity twenty four hours a day but you’ve got a mobile phone twenty four hours a day let’s create a radio station that basically entertains the audience but at the same time there’s some commercials there because it’s brought to you free, in that case by Unilever and the Unilever brands in India.
MJ: So how is the CMO mindset changing? How does it work?
WA: Ultimately they all want to sell more fizz in a can and more gloop in a jar, that’s what they get paid for and that’s what drives shareholder value. But the smart marketers are now saying: Look this is my business problem, my business problem is I need to move half a billion more units of gloop in a jar for example, and I’ve been pretty open as to how we actually achieve that and that may be done through basic traditional communications or maybe by that case reinventing a completely new medium.
MJ: What’s your view of the CMO as a future CEO in that context?
WA: Increasingly CMOs are moving into those CEO roles and there is definitely a movement and an opportunity for CMOs – if they can understand the business side, and the data side, and the technology side, I think they are well equipped to become the next CEO generation because basically at the end of the day with a transparency of accessing information via the internet your product and your brand is one. Before we could hide away a little bit and say look at this shiny brand I have and then not be accountable for the fact, for example, you use lots of bad palm oil. Now those two things actually interlink. So the CMO who understands the business data and technology side has a huge opportunity as a CEO, and I think Steve Jobs is probably the best example of that where a technology driven marketeer has created the world’s most exclusive and expensive brand.
MJ: When we see that innovation in marketing do you suggest that we’re going to get this east to west transfer of knowledge, of ideas, instead of this pervasive mindset that says it’s the west that’s teaching the east how to do it?
WA: I think what I’d love to see is ideas that are being tested, whether it be in China, or Indonesia, or Australia and then brought to the west. But that won’t happen until more global talent spends more time here in Asia. There’s still a shortage of brilliant senior talent here in the region that have the ear of the global CMOs based in New York, on the west coast, or in London, or Berlin.
So it’s a big change and Singapore is probably the best example of where you’re seeing more senior talent move to. But until more talent moves here and that talent has the same kind of equal say and is being listened to as much as a colleague sitting on the east and west coast of the States in particular, I fear it will always be a little bit of a push down mentality rather than an east to west mentality.
The CMO Show production team
Producer - Nikki Majewski
Design Team Manager - Daniel Marr
Audio Engineering - Jonny McNee
Graphic Design - Chris Gresham-Britt