Dear CMO, This One’s For You…

The future is bright for the creative CMO

Whether you’re people watching at your 5-star hotel on the Boulevard de la Croisette, sipping on your Moët Chandon Ice Imperial or trying to take a break from the line of people at your lofty office door, create a moment to read this. Reflect on what creative codes you represent and live by to deliver business results and really give justice to that C-M-O title of yours.

The blue chairs on the Croisette in Cannes help conjure inspiration from where you sit

Throughout the years, I’ve observed Cannes Lions become an attraction center for CMOs globally.  In fact, it was my CMO at Procter & Gamble in 2005, Jim Stengel, who made my first Cannes experience as a delegate possible. A few years later, after setting up my Brand-Building Communications Company, Idea Bakery in 2009, I made it a personal mission to influence all the CMOs I train and consult with to arrange to attend Cannes every year. And to my amazement, I’ve observed that once they did experience Cannes, the rest of their organization followed – to the extent that the next year, the delegates from that company doubled at the very least.

The 2013 CMO Accelerator training team - Idea Bakery founder and Idea Chef Serfi with tutors Susan Tosolini and Jim Stengel

The 2013 CMO Accelerator training team – Idea Bakery founder and Idea Chef Serfi with tutors Susan Tosolini and Jim Stengel

So step into the shoes of the next generation CMO and accept that creativity in your company is your business. No one else’s. What’s more, it is creativity that will build your business.

Just take a look at the business results of Mars, Ikea, Unilever, VW, P&G, Honda, Adidas and Sony that flourished with the world-class creative campaigns that won each of them an “Advertiser of the Year” award at Cannes Lions. In his book The Case for Creativity, James Hurman reveals a significant increase of business performance above market average in correlation to these brands’ high creative standards of marketing.

We now live in a world where success requires exactly this kind of right and left brain union. Your biggest buyers in 2015 will be the infamous millennials, the ‘generation of impatient and amazing’. You will need to rely on creatively collaborating and curating with them. Your greatest tool will be what you do with big data in a creative and mobile context to strike a meaningful conversation. It comes as no surprise that the 1500 top CEO’s of the world have identified creativity as the #1 leadership competency of the future based on a global CEO survey by IBM.  The C in C-suite is evolving, and so should you.

What can you do to embrace creativity?

Inspire to be Inspired! Build your brand into an inspiration zone.While you do, forget ‘out of the box’! Instead, define the ‘right box’ for your people and agency to create within.  To do so, ask yourself which human truth your brand is built on. What is your brand’s purpose for existence? What would the world miss if your brand got wiped off the earth, social web and cloud overnight? What makes your team want to get up and come to work everyday? In one word? Has it been the same for the past 10+ years? Does your brand have a distinctive and consistent personality? Or does it have “wishy washy” disorder? Does it have executional equities like sound, color, slogan, smell, texture, shape or a temple that don’t require your logo for consumers to know it’s you? Be a champion of big brand ideas that can last through decades. Inspire your agencies to create and sustain your own ‘Keep Walking’, ‘Axe Effect’, ‘Real Beauty for Real Women’ idea.

Dove continues to urge us to rethink our definitions of beauty. 

Enable creativity within your organization. Create an environment and systems where creativity can flourish. Raise the bar high, very high! As Leo Burnett said – ‘Reach for the stars, you may not touch one, but you won’t end up with a handful of mud either!’ Eliminate layers as great ideas get lost in layers. Be there at the key stages of creation as the approver. Be the simplifier . Take things out rather than ask things to be added in during the creative process. Live by the philosophy of ‘single-mindedness’. Have the courage to accept work that may make you uncomfortable in a good way. Ensure all your work evokes intense emotions!

Be a role model! Live in the shoes of your consumers and encourage your team to meet eye to eye with them regularly. Be friends with your agencies.. Approve creative work with no revisions once in a while. Be open, honest, applaud great work with compassion, talk with them and nip it in the bud when things are off. Be involved in planning and join training sessions with your team. Know what they’re learning. Continue training yourself – go intern at Google! Stay connected, join co-creation communities, collaborate. Be a curator yourself.

You will be setting the creative bar at your company. Accept this role with zest. Whether you prefer ‘Creative Miracles Officer’ or better yet,  ‘Creative Mentor Oracle’,  ignite your inner creative lion. Ask yourself: ‘Do I have the courage of a lion to make it all happen?’ Then roar, ‘Yeah!’.

Enjoy creating your new vision, dear CMO – it’s high time to lead by inspiration!

For You:

 CMO Accelerator Programme with Jim Stengel -  The Next Generation CMO

This year, I have the pleasure of contributing to the organization of the 1st ‘CMO Accelerator’ Programme in Cannes under Jim’s leadership. This exclusive program is designed for a select group of CMOs with some of the below inspirational, interactive and actionable focus areas:

  • ‘The Key Themes of Cannes 2013’ curated by The Guardian,
  • A Panel on ‘how big data and technology will shape the CMO role in the future’ moderated by AdAge,
  • A behind the scenes with the big winners of Cannes Lions 2012,
  • Leadership discussion with the iconic Jean Marie Dru,
  • What it took to be the marketer of the year by Joe Tripodi of Coca-Cola
  • Ideas worth spreading and their impact on the Next Generation CMO with TED.
  • Individual CMO ‘nightmare’ presentations and group work to resolve issues
  • Personal Action Plan creation to put learning into action.

Make your plans for 2014 ahead of schedule!

For Your Team

Young Marketers Academy – Raising the Bar for the Future

In my second year as the co-tutor of the ‘Young Marketers Academy’, we will be hosting 60+ top talent young marketers from all over the world across a variety of blue chip companies like Google, Unilever, Diageo, Adidas, P&G, Ülker, Arçelik, Eczacıbaşı to immerse them in a week of inspiration and learning.

We will cover exciting topics on the case for creativity, communication strategy excellence, the modern brand (innovation, interaction, integration) and best in class agency client relations. Keynote speakers will include Jonathan Mildenhall of Coke,  Michael Wall of Lowe, David Shing of AOL,  Laurie Coots of TBWA. We will interact with our guest speakers from Google, Twitter, Instagram and learn from world-class CMOs at two separate custom panels.

Most importantly, the participants will build strong relationships, learn from each other and leave Cannes with the energy, passion and inspiration to change the world  : )

Visit the academy’s page for more information and start planning for 2014.

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