Navigating The Marketer's Dilemma

It's not easy to be a marketer in today's landscape. Why is it so hard to connect with consumers despite the proliferation of supply? And how can brands thrive when there are now so many ways for consumers to avoid all marketing messages?

PopSugar's Anna Fieler, Diageo North America's Venky Balakrishnan, Seventh Generation's Joey Bergstein, AOL's Marta Martinez and Frito-Lay's Pat O'Toole joined moderator PwC Strategy&'s Chris Vollmer for a discussion about the current state of advertising during Advertising Week 2016. 

"The concept of focus is outdated. We need to think like portfolio managers," says Fieler. "If you are focused on one thing, you can miss the next thing." She notes that it takes .3 seconds to catch attention among mobile consumers, or the rate the hand moves.

For all panelists, there are several key priorities to make sure they remain relevant to today's consumer. First, it's important to maintain propriety insights. They need to know more about their consumers and motivations. Then, develop integrated brand experiences. Third, create breakthrough content. This includes making and producing, as well as introduce some experiments. Lastly, enact versification and measurement. There needs to be a right set of practices to see if things are working.



"Frito-Lay's challenge is to reach consumers at the right time with the right message," says O'Toole. "It's a crowded environment competing against cat videos." He says his company is constantly looking across different partners and media with a 70-20-10 framework. 70% of its budget goes to tried-and-true tactics, 20% are near-term projects that push the envelope, and the final 10% might fail but are viewed as 'lean in' moments.

"We hope they will move up the chain," says O'Toole. One concept that hopes to become part of its 70% is the trick soccer team Los Cheetahs. Because the snack brand is extremely popular with Hispanics, Cheetos introduced this sports team as an "authentic way to bring the brand to life" with "wacky" events. They include players and mascot Chester, an online website, video and social media support. 

One key concern for Diageo is small brands competing against bigger brands like itself.

There have been more than 800 new vodkas introduced last year and there have been over 5,000 new craft beers in the U.S. over the past five years. "The pie is growing at an exponential rate," says Balakrishnan. "For us, [a priority is] investing in new models of discovery." The old way of tapping into bartenders and influencers isn't as effective in today's world. Now, content via partnerships with tastemakers like Thrillist are more popular.

Diageo also struggles with optimization across the value channel. "How to close the loop since channel fragmentation is just like media fragmentation," he asks. For Diageo, making sure the object is fully integrated is one solution. Endemic pieces of content is another. "We want to come at consumers with fresh new ways in as many ways at possible."

Even though Unilever purchased Seventh Generation earlier this month, Joey Bergstein spoke about the company's scrappy start-up roots. The home cleaning brand microtargets its audience with a clear set of objectives. The brand recently took out a full page ad in TheNew York Times seeking regulation over cleaning product.

Then it followed up with a press conference featuring US senators."We know our consumers are interested in those issues, as advocates," he says. "For us, it's about focus knowing and how to tell stories succinctly."

There is also a clear path driving consumers to its brand. People typically turn to natural food, then home care and then personal care products. Hence, it's messaging focuses on "why it matters and educating that green isn't clean is a myth."

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