ANA Masters of Marketing Recap - Community Engagement, Gender Equality, & Making a Difference

Attending conferences in the marketing and media industry can sometimes be a whirlwind of celebrity speakers, top-rate cuisine, and shaking hands until your wrist hurts. However, we find the most beneficial conferences are those with impactful content.  The ANA Masters of Marketing was three days of some of the best we’ve seen.
Our team decided to write a three part recap, built with three very different but very insightful perceptions from the conference.
1. Community Engagement
Oh, the classic rivalry that exists between Chicago and NYC… From sports teams, architecture, the arts, and particularly when it comes to cuisine, the competition can get quite intense. As a native of the Windy City, I’ll take a Chicago dog, deep dish pizza, or a Portillo’s beef sandwich any day of the week.  So when it was announced that a New York burger chain would be opening up just a block away from our downtown Chicago office – no surprise – the sentiment around town was a bit sour (myself included).  And ironically, for the months just following the restaurant’s opening, lines were hours long out the door.
How could this be you ask? The answer is unsurpassed: community engagement. This was a continuous theme at this year’s ANA Masters of Marketing event and here are two examples of brands that were willing to share their locally-focused tales.
Being “bold” and connecting to the local nuance
CMO of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Brands, Alison Lewis, gave a great lesson on the concept of “ambidextrous marketing” – part of which includes the importance of competing globally while at the same time acting and considering local culture. This is exactly what J&J did with their recent Listerine “Bring Out the Bold” global campaign.
Sharing TV executions from across the globe, Lewis highlighted the practice of heavily researching individual market audiences, and tailoring a global brand message to reflect local humor and behaviors. Let’s face it, influences and tastes vary widely market to market, and this locally-focused mindset optimized brand relevancy in key local markets, such as Listerine in Japan and also in the United Kingdom. As a result, J&J saw an impressive 1.1 point rise in share in particular global markets.
Connecting burgers to local communities
Finding a way to connect to local audiences is already a difficult task for globally renown brands that requires extensive commitment. But what about for younger brands experiencing a meteoric rise at the global level? If you weren’t able to guess from my earlier Chicago vs. NYC rant, Shake Shack is a perfect example of a brand engaging the local communities they enter. Edwin Bragg, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Shake Shack, engaged the audience with the story behind the chain’s global success. But make no mistake, it wasn’t by accident, but rather a commitment to become an integral part of every community it enters beforehand.
Examples given on the brand’s pre-opening engagement included the formation of the #HappyWall In Los Angeles, which served as an interactive analog pixel screen created specifically for the community of West Hollywood. In South Korea this past summer, Shake Shack took to Gangnam Avenue with art installations during construction and complimentary mobile charging stations and nightly hang outs. Back in fall 2014, the Shack shook up Chicago with six interactive life-size sliding puzzles with locally-focused artwork. The result? Lines of thousands of curious, anxiously awaiting, and hungry “Shack fam” patrons on opening day across all of their new locations. Bragg brought it home by stressing:
The bigger we get, the smaller we have to act.”
The lesson: think big, act small
It’s okay to think big, but don’t neglect acting small and engaging locally as that has its advantages when it comes to audience perception. As for Chicago, city-wars aside, we now consider Shake Shack a part of our town, and from a personal standpoint, a weekly spot for lunch (which I’m off to now).
2. Advertising & Gender Bias- Time for a Change
When I arrived at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando last week for my first ANA Masters of Marketing conference, I expected to be blown away by all of the creative advertising campaigns that are driving some of the best brands forward. I expected to see a ton of data and stats to support huge bumps in revenue and increases in ROI. And yes, there was certainly a good amount of that, but I walked away knowing that marketers are making strides to improve their advertising by listening to what society wants. And that was even more powerful.
Kicking off the conference, ANA CEO Bob Liodice, urged marketers to “take their industry back.” He cited many of the common issues that have been prevalent in the industry such as a lack of transparency, ad blocking and fraud. What I didn’t expect him to talk about was the need for brands to recognize the importance of how the media and advertising industry portrays women and girls. He even called it a “moral imperative” to move the industry towards gender equality.
The Female Disconnect
According to Unilever’s EVP of Global Marketing, only 3% of the ads they analyzed showed women in leadership roles, which is pretty sad, if you ask me. This is becoming a big missed opportunity for brands. The ANA and Alliance for Family Entertainment (AFE) developed the first Gender Equality Measure (GEM) and found that by removing conscious or unconscious gender bias from advertising, the purchase intent increases by more than 26 percent for all consumers, and more than 45 percent among women. That’s a pretty crazy increase considering that women account for 80% of all purchases.
The ANA, AFE and The Female Quotient’s (TFQ) Girls’ Lounge hosted a CMO Roundtable discussion about this topic and introduced the #SeeHer initiative. The goal will be that every woman and girl will see herself 20% more accurately portrayed in advertising and media by 2020. This also happens to be the centennial of women’s right to vote.
Luckily for us, we got to see what some brands are already doing to change the conversation.
In a Barbie World
From Proctor &Gamble to Mattel, you can tell that there’s a wave of change happening. P&G’s Marc Pritchard showed us how Always is championing girls’ confidence through sports in their “Like A Girl” campaign. They are even challenging women’s traditional roles in the home in India by introducing #ShareTheLoad, which encourages men to help out with the laundry.
Growing up as a Barbie girl myself, I was excited to see what EVP and Chief Brand Officer, Juliana Chugg has done to evolve the brand through reducing gender stereotypes and changing the perception. Mattel listened to their consumers and changed Barbie’s iconic features to include three new body types, seven different skin tones, and 24 hair styles. This positive change has turned the brand around and driven Barbie’s sales to increase by 23 percent in the second quarter and 16 percent in the third quarter.
During the CMO Roundtable Shelly Zalis said it best,
“How we perceive people now will be how the next generation perceives people.”
And it’s the marketer’s responsibility to pave the way.
3. Make a Difference
Full disclosure, I’m avoiding tech talk, marketing talk, or any sort of advertising talk for this recap. I’m going to go off base and discuss something that means much more to me - making a difference. At the ANA Masters of Marketing, I spent a week listening, meeting, and talking to brands and advertisers changing the  world one feel-good initiative at a time. We are all under extreme pressure to perform and exceed expectations at our respective jobs, and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we, as people, can help bring about change within our own companies and ultimately the world.
One great example of this is CVS Health; Norman de Greve, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at CVS Health, spoke about how brands can create a sustainable brand by activating purpose. CVS changed their name and strategy to be more focused on healthy living and providing that to all. To back it up, they left $2B on the table and stopped selling tobacco products in their stores two years ago.
Another great example is American Greetings, with their creation of the Thank List. According to American Greetings, 95% of Americans believe we have a civility problem. They are trying to change that by helping us, as a world, think about the people that molded us into the people we are today by  writing them a thank you note. Mine went out to my parents, American Greetings even postmarked it and sent it!
How about the WWE? You might think it’s only men and women running around in tights beating each other up, and at the surface, you’d be right. But I bet you didn’t know how involved they are in the community. I knew they were a great organization, but I had no idea of the breadth. They grant more Make-a-Wish requests than any other sports organization in the world. Your move NFL.
How about, Deluxe Corporation, and how they have paired up with Small Business Revolution to help revitalize the Midwestern town of Wabash, Indiana. Or Dixie & Georgia-Pacific, yep, the toilet paper people, that turned “dead zones” into restaurants and let people reconnect through real conversations. They created Dixie Deadzone Diners, pop-up restaurants in places with no cell signal so people could disconnect to reconnect with loved ones over a free meal. This helped mealtime turn into a bonding time for families instead of disconnected family members tied to their phones; during meals, there are 0 posts, 0 tweets, & 0 likes. Meredith joined Good Foundation, Safe Kids Worldwide and Partnership for a Healthier America through a new initiative designed to engage millennials and influence change in measurable and significant ways.
All this good comes through in a business sense to provide real impact to not just the community, but for companies as well. This theme also resonated during Diego Scotti, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer - Verizon Communications, as he discussed being a more collaborative partner with agencies, advertisers, and vendors. We’re all in this together. The ANA Masters of Marketing eloquently and powerfully displayed how brands & companies prove that with some creative thinking, we can all make a bit of a difference.
Interested in learning more or finding out where we will be next?
Send us an email at
By Marketing Team
About the Author:

For any questions or queries, please contact

Contact Us Now