ANA: On Authenticity, Social Responsibility And Letting Go

The resonating soundbite from the ANA annual conference that wrapped up in Orlando on Sunday remained P&G chairman A.J. Lafley's exhortation for marketers to "let go" of their brands because the only way to take control is to cede it to consumers.

It's not that the news was any big revelation, just that the era of consumer in control seemed to gain an official imprimatur from the most traditionally buttoned-up marketer in the nation.

Consumers' control of where, when and how they consume media and the explosion of user-generated content and tools allowing for the manipulation of brands are the new realities marketers must master to achieve their reinvention and innovation--dual themes of the upbeat gathering that attracted roughly 1,000 attendees, nearly half of them from client marketing companies.

Authenticity, social responsibility, consumer participation, and the viability of big traditional brands in the new world were all themes touched on over the four-day event. And yes, it was determined, there is still a place for television.



Veteran ANA delegates raved with no prompting about the quality of the speakers, their presentations, and the size of the event's audience--which has grown in leaps and bounds under the tenure of departing board chairman Jim Stengel, global marketing officer for P&G.

The event's leading buzzmaker was rocker Gene Simmons of KISS, whose entrepreneurial ventures include Indy Car sponsorships and co-branded credit cards.

Approached at a closing night cocktail party, Simmons whipped out his KISS Visa and KISS stamps and said: "These guys just talk about it. I do it."

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