CHICAGO: Brands should not forget the power of "presence" in making a long-term impact with consumers, according to Ivan Pollard, the newly appointed CMO of General Mills, and previously a strategic marketing leader at Coca-Cola.

Pollard discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2017 Brand Activation Conference, when he still served as SVP/Strategic Marketing at Coca-Cola, a role he left on June 1. His tenure at General Mills starts on July 10.

He placed "presence" into context by distinguishing the "active learning" which products and services deliver from "implicit learning" – namely, "the stuff you're doing and remember as you're walking around".

"Our brain is processing all of the signals we put out in the world," he said. (For more, read WARC's exclusive report: How Coca-Cola balances advertising with activation.)

In his position at Coke, these signals ultimately could be "the very lightest touch", such as an advertising billboard in the back of an NFL stadium, or "an advert that sometimes we think we haven't even seen".

Pollard left no doubt that advertising which captures attention is the preferred course of persuasion. "But it isn't necessary for advertising to work," he said.

"In this attention-deficit world that we're living in, perhaps there are ways that we can make our advertising work without getting attention – and ways that we need to work harder to get attention and make the advertising work harder still."

Doing so, Pollard proposed, may "unlock the value of all of those permanently partially-exposed messages that are somewhere in our brain … [and] turn them into greater sales".

Coca-Cola, in fact, has long been an expert in "presence marketing", largely by ensuring that its bellwether brands are connected with consumer passion points.

For Pollard, that approach can be described as tapping into "those moments that really matter in society – in places that people love when they're together with people that care for them".

Data sourced from WARC