A business focused on the wrong narrative and metrics, with marketing teams operating in silos, left little option but to “blow the whole thing up [and] start over”, according to the CMO of New Zealand retailer The Warehouse Group.

Speaking at the recent Advertising Week APAC conference in Sydney, Jonathan Waecker sketched a picture of a business where the executive team was focused on measurement efficiencies and customer acquisition rather than an end goal of making customers happier and solving their problems.

At the same time, the different aims of the physical and digital teams “meant the company was “creating friction in the system [as] we were effectively running two different businesses”, he said.

“And then you multiply that in a portfolio business like ours, where we have multiple brands, and it was just getting ridiculously complicated, and nothing was coming together,” he added.

Drastic remedies were needed so the retailer “quarantined” 25 people for 12 days in order to come up with a new marketing approach. (For more, read WARC’s report: How The Warehouse Group NZ built a performance marketing culture.)

“We stopped everything. And what we ended up having on the other side was a unified set of behaviours,” said Waecker.

Alongside that, the team identified core areas to guide their future work. Audience targeting and messaging, for example, is now built out of people’s needs, not just campaign requirements.

And metrics align with the business objectives that are shared across all partners, and that feed into attribution modelling.

Creative, meanwhile, is built for performance channels that dynamically adapt to consumer-intent signals at scale.

This also depends on following certain best practices, such as bringing the brand to the foreground early in a message, regularly introducing new ads, and using a message cycle that runs from “priming” a consumer through to providing them with an offer.

It’s a journey that has necessitated breaking the “cultural codes” within TWG, said Waecker: “just because we’ve always done it this way, it does not mean it’s how it needs to be done.”

And while that has been an “uncomfortable space” for the team, “they’ve created something great that we’re pretty proud of”.

Sourced from WARC