Brands look to creativity

08 September 2011

NEW YORK: Brand owners such as Ford, Kraft and Heineken are leveraging new approaches to creativity as they seek to engage consumers and drive revenue growth.

Ford, the automaker, works with several WPP Group agencies - like JWT, Y&R, Wunderman and Ogilvy - together forming a bespoke unit, Team Detroit, and has consolidated its creative activity within one major network.

"The benefits around having dedicated teams of creative genius mean that we have many different options on the table when we are considering our next moves under the 'One Ford' mantra," Jim Farley, Ford's CMO, told Marketing Week.

"Without the savviness of our dedicated agency team, we would struggle to find a creative idea that we could really have a good run with, and that would suit all our customers."

Heineken, the beer brand, recently rolled out a worldwide campaign from Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, using themes applicable to young, cosmopolitan and digitally-engaged men globally.

"Our agencies draw in the customers and the creative thinking behind this approach is pivotal. We rely on them to tap into the right insight across multimedia platforms at all times," Cyril Charazat, senior director of the global Heineken brand, said.

Kraft, the world's second biggest food company, is also focusing its efforts on identifying agency partners that meet strict criteria, Mary Beth West, an EVP and CMO at the firm, argued.

"We have to continue to connect with our consumers to understand how they define value, create compelling value propositions, and then spend into them," she said. "Our agencies are pivotal to us connecting both intellectually and emotionally with the consumer."

Castrol, the oil brand, has produced a documentary featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, the footballer, and believes strong measurement and efficient media spending can help offset budgetary restrictions.

"While we do place more rigour around what our agencies do to make sure that the ROI is there, creativity keeps the Castrol brand relevant," Sean Rahaley, global brand manager for Castrol Edge, said.

However, Joel Ewanick, CMO at General Motors, the carmaker, last month only gave agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners' a "C" or "B" grade for its work on behalf of Chevrolet, as it "hasn't been consistent".

Glenn Murphy, CEO of Gap, the retail group, has similarly described recent marketing for Old Navy as somewhat "ineffective", because it "did not pull, did not drive traffic as much as we wanted."

Data sourced from Marketing Week, AdAge, Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff