Cannes 2011: Marketing has changed from bowling to pinball: Andy Fennell

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising | June 21, 2011
Diageo's Andy Fennell delivered a talk on how the consumer ought to be at the epicentre of every creative idea to make it work.

At the second last session of Day Two at the Cannes Lions festival, Diageo's chief marketing officer Andy Fennell, spoke about the changing face of marketing in today's fast-paced world. According to him, the consumer must be at the centre of every creative idea generated by advertisers in order for it to work.

Speaking about how, in his opinion, most purchase decisions are driven less by consumers' grey matter and more by their emotions, he said, "People need to fall in love with a brand on a daily basis for its marketing strategy to work." The relationship between the brand and the consumer is thus a pivotal one. In fact, this is a tenet that the greats of his organisation (such as Vladimir Smirnov, Arthur Guinness and Alexander Walker) propagated in the past.

'FACE' acronym

This relationship between the brand and the consumer, he added, must stay true to the four fundamental principles that are summed up in the acronym 'FACE'. The letters stand for Flair, Agility, Consumer insight and Execution.

Explaining these terms, Fennell said, "You cannot analyse your way to greatness; this is where flair comes into play. We need to appeal to the consumers' emotional side. Agility is important too-- a good idea that you can't execute for a year is, well, a bad idea! Consumer insight helps you to keep the consumer at the core of your creative idea. Execution is important because, come to think of it, a dodgy strategy can survive with the help of great execution, but a great strategy can fall flat on its face if the execution is poor."

Social impact

Fennell then spoke about how various social trends are impacting brands today. With particular reference to Diageo, he identified demographics, female empowerment, corporate responsibility, health and wellness, and technological innovations as factors that most affect the industry.

"The emerging middle-class is a game-changing opportunity for us, as the more this group's disposable income grows, the more it aspires to purchase our brands." Citing Abraham Maslow's theory on 'Hierarchy of Needs', Fennell explained that when the basic needs of any given consumer segment are fulfilled, they then move into the space occupied by aspirational brands, such as Diageo's brands. He informed, "A third of our business depends on emerging markets, where per capita income is growing steadily."

To conclude his presentation, Fennell spoke about Diageo's campaigns that held the consumer at the core of the entire campaign. He named the 'House of Walker' innovation for the brand Johnnie Walker (retail space at Shanghai that helps reflect the nation's relationship with status, something that the brand stands for), Johnnie Walker Red Label's 'Step Up' initiative in South Africa (one that made 200 ml bottles of the product available because consumer insight studies revealed that the bigger bottle wasn't affordable in the region), brand Guinness' football-driven effort in Kenya (a TV show that tested participants' football skills and knowledge), and the 'Walk with Giants' consumer engagement programme in Africa.

To explain the rise of new marketing, Fennell enthused, "Earlier, marketing was like bowling (that is, like a one-way street); today, it's like pinball (with room for back and forth exchange of ideas and lots of consumer involvement). We must, therefore, shift the centre of gravity to the consumer in his or her cultural context!"

To view interviews from Cannes 2011, click here.

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