NEW YORK: Kimberly-Clark is giving its marketers "the freedom and the licence" to take intelligent risks, as the personal care company attempts to overcome the "insanity" which currently characterises the discipline.

Speaking at the Advertising Age Digital Conference 2014, Clive Sirkin, the CMO of Kimberly-Clark, argued marketing conversations are dominated by talk of change, but marketing practice lags considerably behind.

"In an industry of arguably the most creative, most innovative people, we're still locked in an old model – and we can't get out of it," he said. "It's insanity in the sense that your behaviour, and our behaviour, defies logic."

Elaborating on this theme, Sirkin suggested all the facts and figures point to the need for a profound shift in brand strategies, but something greater is required to translate these statistics into new behaviours.

"That's not a logical exercise," he said. (For more, including the three main areas Kimberly-Clark is "attacking" to enhance its communications, read Warc's exclusive report: Kimberly-Clark tackles the "insanity" of modern marketing.)

"We've tried the logical exercise. We've gone through all the presentations of the data, we know how many mobiles there are out there, we know all about all the data points; it's not changing behaviour."

One reason for this state of affairs is a natural concern about making dramatic shifts away from the tried and tested, and towards the less certain world of digital.

"At the end of the day, there is a presumption in human beings that change equals more risk, and that where we are, based on knowledge, is a safer place," said Sirkin.

Inaction, however, will only lead to marketers "falling through the ice", as their communications become less and less relevant to consumers. Actively encouraging them to take intelligent risks is, therefore, vital.

"A lot of what we do at Kimberly-Clark is not being prescriptive, but giving our brand builders the freedom and the licence to take chances and move forward," said Sirkin.

"Until you get your organisation to accept that where you are is more risky than moving forward, you're not going to move forward. And, ultimately, when you do move forward, you're going to be too late."

Data sourced from Warc