Mars was the most awarded company at the 2017 Cannes Lions with 44 Lions, an achievement that according to Jane Wakely recognises the journey the company has been on for the last decade.
"The creative excellence journey has been transformative for Mars and this year we really delivered," she says. Ad effectiveness has been trebled over four years and the company "exceeded our target of having 70% of investment reaching world-class standards. To really smash that target is incredible".
"I am particularly proud of the Cyber and Integrated progress with ideas like Snickers Hungerithm hitting the digital sweet spot," she says.
For Wakely , 2017’s one highlight has been the company’s identification and innovation at such digital sweet spots that apply data, integrated content and drive direct conversion. This drives digital innovation that is game changing.
Another has been the process of sharpening the purpose of each brand, setting a really high benchmark for the contribution Mars brands can make to the world.
"The question for every regional or global CMO is how you enable, direct and inspire the teams that work for you. That’s where purpose is so powerful; it helps people to navigate what’s the right thing to do using principles rather than rules," she says.
Purpose has always been at the heart of Mars, it’s not new
She cites the Maltesers UK ads around the Paralympics featuring disabled actors and real-life situations, the US’ Feed the Good Pedigree campaign where "we bring to life the good that the dogs bring to our lives" with stories such as breaking the ice between rival camps in the 2016 Presidential Election with a lost dog or New Zealand’s "Child Replacement Campaign" campaign for Pedigree’s dog adoption programme, as powerful examples of purpose-driven campaigns.
"We’ve been running adoption campaigns for some time on Pedigree but the ‘Child Replacement Campaign' in New Zealand was really fun and engaging. It does it tongue-in-cheek and delivers great business results (during the campaign NZ ran out of dogs to be adopted!) and it’s all based on a fantastic insight that pairs abandoned dogs with abandoned parents at the empty nester stage of life - proving adoption doesn’t need to be sad. That programme is now rolling out across the world," she says.
For Wakely, purpose is key to both talent management and engagement. "Purpose has always been at the heart of Mars, it’s not new. What we’re constantly working on is asking ourselves what purpose or change we can affect in the world with our brands," she says. "If we can secure the best talent and engage them in our business and purpose we know that results will follow. In petcare, our 70,000 associates are extremely engaged with our purpose to ‘create a better world for pets’. This purpose guides our ambition, our strategy and how we act every day."
Famed for its principle of mutuality, the company last year announced its boldest set of sustainability commitments to date. Wakely sits on the internal cross-company group that created the Sustainable in a Generation Plan , making a public $1bn commitment to tackle some of the most urgent threats facing our planet and its people; including a bold commitment to improve the lives of one million people in the company’s value chain.
She says anyone visiting her strategy team meetings would find it hard to identify who was in-house and who was agency. Nevertheless, while there is emphasis on long-term relationships, 2017 has also seen key changes around its external arrangements, notably:
Launching Flare Studios with BBDO, a completely new production model that seeks to harness creative talent beyond agencies. Wakely’s teams have already piloted five projects in the last six months.
Creating Launchpad, an innovation programme with MediaCom designed to create partnerships with digital start-ups that enable marketing teams to access the wisdom, energy, innovation and tools of much smaller, digital companies.
Introducing the lead integrator model, revamping contracts to put digital at the heart of marketing activity and naming BBDO and DDB as lead integrators.
Wakely argues that marketers should be truly excited about the challenges they face and the opportunities they can create to make a difference.
"We have got to use the resources and privilege of our investment dollars to create the world we want our children to inherit. It’s not good enough to be better than yesterday. We’ve got to identify the bold difference we can create," she says.
At the same time marketers should be growth-obsessed and evidence-based architects of business growth. "We’ve got to navigate the way between tectonic shifts in our industry that are real and differentiate these from what I call the #fakenews. There’s a lot of news and ‘innovation’ in our industry that lacks evidence and rigour and can distract us."
Delivering on these important areas means a rapid shift of resources. Ecommerce, for example, was a "small drop in the pond three years’ ago" in the pet category, now it’s a multi-billion-dollar business and the primary driver of growth. "My mantra for 2018 is to not hesitate to shift resource to the future and do it fast – you have to back the key category growth drivers of the future," she says.
Managing scale and agility
For Wakely, the shift to regional and global roles meant finding more collaborative ways to work. "You can’t be successful on a regional level or globally without substantial experience locally but you’ve got to recognise that a local manager can be very successful as an individual.
"Yes, you have a team, but you lead and architect that very directly," she says. Globally or regionally much of the success comes from delivering through others and mobilising movements internally and with your agency partners.
"As a global marketer, the number one decision you have to manage is between scale and local agility, you have to be very intentional about where you set that balance to drive competitive advantage where it counts – with local consumers and customers."
Wakely comments that success globally is all about providing "spark, structure and safety"; the inspiration, delivering something bold and big that needs the scale of multiple markets to deliver; the structure – the tools and capabilities that enable your teams in driving the change; but also the safety of an environment where people are allowed to fail and learn so you create a culture of continuous innovation and learning.
"If you get all three in place then you can create real movements in global. If not, you end up with pockets of best practice," she says.
The other nominees for the WFA's Global Marketer of the Year, in association with Campaign, are:
- Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer, Procter & Gamble
- Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing & communications officer and president – healthcare business, Mastercard
- Hans-Christian Schwingen, chief marketing officer, Deutsche Telekom
- Keith Weed, chief marketing & communications officer, Unilever
- Glory Zhang, chief marketing officer, Huawei Consumer Business Group