The CMO Growth Council’s Leadership Coalition on COVID-19 has released a new report, “Turning leadership into action during the pandemic,” which offers advice and insights from some of the world’s leading marketers. 

Contributors to the study include top marketing and media executives from Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bank of America, CVS Health, Facebook, General Motors, GSK, iHeartMedia, LVMH, Mastercard, PepsiCo, Shell, State Farm, Tencent, The Walt Disney Company and Xandr. (WARC subscribers can read the full report here.)

The report, based on one-on-one interviews and virtual group meetings of the Coalition, details the lessons marketers have learned as they responded to the immediate challenges presented by the pandemic, and guidelines for how they can equip themselves for changed consumers – and, indeed, changed societies – as the threat recedes and a new normal emerges. 

A headline finding is that CMOs increasingly have a new role to play within their organizations as people who can provide insights with ramifications for areas that are usually outside of marketing’s scope.

“The role of marketing has become more expansive. We’re using analytics not only to determine communication timing and messaging, but also to inform decisions across the company,” Meredith Verdone, CMO of Bank of America, the financial-services provider, said in capturing this perspective.

Recommendations for the future

Among the guidelines offered in the report from the CMO Growth Council – a joint venture between the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Cannes Lions, a sister company of WARC – are the following:

  • Ensure marketing leads the path forward for companies, putting consumers at the center of strategy.
  • Employ scenario planning tools to map out different potential futures.
  • Keep ecosystems healthy – from employees to media partners – as they will be needed to accelerate recovery.

Antonio Lucio, global chief marketing officer at Facebook, the social networking company, summarized the importance of pooling together advice during a once-in-a-lifetime crisis. “There is no playbook for what we face today. The best thing we can do as an industry is to share best practices – and even worst practices,” he said. 

Lessons learned as COVID-19 spread

Additionally, CMOs said they had learned the following lessons in the first stage of the pandemic: 

  • The importance of leaning into purpose and challenging sacred cows.
  • The need to use their company’s entire infrastructure to bring its core purpose to life.
  • The mission to make sure communications are useful (and not self-congratulatory).
  • The opportunity to address the human need for empathy, but also for entertainment, during a stay-at-home age.
  • The urgency to fast-track projects that uniquely fit the current situation.
  • The necessity of leveraging social listening and other customer research tools now more than ever. 

As Mathilde Delhoume, global brand officer at luxury specialist LVMH, observed: “Forward thinking is the most important thing we have learned. We need to be even more sensitive to what is happening globally and to plan [going] forward how this crisis is going to impact our new normal in the post-COVID era.”

Sourced from WARC