ORLANDO, Florida — Despite the divide currently facing not just the country but the world, brands can inspire consumers to a higher version of themselves, says Mazda North American Operations CMO Brad Audet.
“The chasm I’m talking about is a fundamental lack of understanding and it comes from an experiential disconnect,” Audet tells the audience at the ANA Masters of Marketing Thursday morning, where he showed a 90-second brand ethos video with the tagline "Move and Be Moved."
“How do we reach across, make people feel more human, how do we make them feel more connected?” he asks. “I think the answer is purpose. Not the trendy, hollowed out buzz worthy version of purpose, but the kind that ignites the spirt.”
Audet crossed another kind of chasm when he left the agency (where he had been serving Mazda for seven years) and moved to the client side right before the pandemic took hold of the country in early 2020. He says Mazda was just one of three auto companies to grow during the global crisis.
“The chaos of a global pandemic forced rapid revolution of thinking and capability,” he says. “I mean, we’re talking about year when car sales went from 18 million to 4 million in four weeks with the supply chain wreaking havoc that continues to raise hell in our industry even now.”
He quickly discovered in his new role that working with his former agency is only a small part — about 10% — of his duties as CMO.
He has learned how to be a better client and suggests that those on the client side consider the importance of standing for something and understanding your role in driving creativity.
Clients should work to create a shared culture galvanized by purpose, speak a common language and be an active listener, he says.
Agencies and clients should work to understand where each is coming from and to take the time to give positive affirmations like saying “thank you.” It’s also important to take responsibility for shared work.
“Often times we want to blame the agency, when we gave them a shitty brief,” he said during a Q&A after the presentation.
Mazda’s point of difference is that “everything we do comes back to our shared purpose. We define that purpose this way: Enrich the life and motion of people we serve.”
“Transformative marketing can’t just be about safeguarding brands from disruption,” Audet says. “It has to be about how we safeguard people, how we support people, how we orient ourselves around the human focus in the work we do. This is a true differentiator in my industry, the car industry.”
A brand isn't a logo or a slogan or a campaign, he says.
“It’s every experience people have with that organization, what they make, what it says and what it does,” he says. “That starts with our employees. You know what happens inside a company is a very central part of brand experience. … The simple truth is if your focus is on people first, everything else is more likely to fall into place.”