Inclusivity, Gen Z Overriding Themes At ANA Conference

Photo Courtesy of ANA

ORLANDO, Fla. — Chipotle CMO Chris Brandt recently asked a 19-year-old employee how she had come to work at the fast-casual Mexican restaurant. 

The employee said the only three places she applied to work were Chipotle, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, because they were the only companies with values that aligned with hers.

“I don’t know about you, but when I was 19, if I had been offered 50 cents more per hour, I would have rolled cigarettes at the asbestos factory,” Brandt joked with the audience at the Association of National Advertisers' Masters of Marketing annual conference.  

However, Brandt said he has learned the employee’s attitude is common among Gen Z and young millennials.



Understanding and reaching younger consumers, along with producing marketing that is truly inclusive, were two of the themes of presentations by CMOs from Target, Ally, Disney, SAP, Dunkin’ and Pearl Vision on Thursday.

ANA President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Liodice talked about the organization’s efforts with #SeeAll, an initiative that expands the efforts of #SeeHer to reach, include, celebrate and validate African-American, Hispanic, Asian, senior, disabled, LGBTQ+ and non-white Hispanic consumers.

“It’s not a campaign but a movement,” Liodice told the 3,000-plus at-capacity crowd. By 2020, over 40% of the U.S. population will self-identify as multicultural: African-American, Hispanic, Asian or a combination of two or more races.

Ally Financial is one company on board with the effort.  Ally CMO Andrea Brimmer talked about the success of the company’s “Moguls in the Making” program, a collaboration with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Sean Anderson Foundation that helps young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs from publicly supported, historically black colleges and universities across the United States.

Brimmer got a round of applause when she revealed the online banking company paid the agencies that competed in an agency review. “They put a lot of work and time into answering the brief,” which was actually quite simple: “Make Ally a famous brand.”

In crafting the company's brand promise, she asked the question “If our brand went away tomorrow, would anyone care?”

“As marketers, it's our job to make people care,” Brimmer said.

Senior marketers stand at a crossroads: They can either continue to focus on gathering more and more data or else take the more more-difficult-to-quantify emotional approach, said Kai D. Wright, global consulting partner at Ogilvy and lecturer at Columbia University. 

The author of “Follow the Feeling” kicked off the ANA conference on Wednesday in a discussion about the intersection of technology and culture. He joined a chorus of CMOs in reminding decision-makers not to get lost in data and the Internet of Things, but to relentlessly pursue sparking a positive emotional connection with audiences. 

“A recurring theme keeping senior marketers up at night is how they manage the growing division in creativity between humans, artificial intelligence and algorithms,” Wright told Marketing Daily

Having analyzed over 1,500 fast-growing brands, Wright made a case for the ROI of emotion-based marketing.

Brimmer’s remarks echoed the learning that emotion trumps data. 

“Building a brand is a journey,” she said. “Emotional attraction to brands is still the number-one driver of preference. This is a business of the heart  -- and always will be for the best brands. People are inundated, consumers are distracted, nobody wants a vanilla brand. Our brand attracts heat because we are real and authentic, and it’s born out of bravery.”

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