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Q+A on The Magic of Marketing w/ Macy’s Martine Reardon


Martine Reardon_MacysWant to truly understand the complexity of being a modern CMO then skip my introduction to Macy’s CMO Martine Reardon and dive into her thoughts on everything from leadership to brand building, mix modeling to customer experience, mobile payments to Snapchat, charitable activities to testing a new social shopping platform called Wanelo.  The range of marketing activity alone is staggering yet thanks to a few overarching principles it’s fairly easy to see how Martine and her sizable team pull it all together and bring “The Magic of Macy’s” to life.

Drew: Congratulations on winning the The CMO Club‘s Leadership award. What are some of the lessons (about leading) you can share with aspiring leaders especially of the marketing variety? 

I think good leadership is a fine balance of setting a strategic vision and then creating an environment for innovation and collaboration to ensure you get the best thinking and execution from your team. We move very fast in retail, and the level and volume of work can be intense. It’s very easy to get caught in the day-to-day management, but we work hard to stay ahead and to also be flexible enough to be present and reactive in the moment. We can easily be working on 4 seasons at one time, so I have definitely learned to build consensus and alignment around the core strategies and initiatives, and then I trust our incredibly talented team to bring the Magic of Macy’s to life for our customers across America.

We also embrace a saying from Macy’s very own Margaret Getchell (the first woman executive in retail), who said “Be everywhere, do everything, and never forget to astonish the customer.” It’s a motto we live by here, and I think having a legacy of such pioneering executives is an inspiration to all of us. It has fostered an ambition and entrepreneurialism that is a part of our culture.

Drew: Macy’s owns some really big event properties including July 4th fireworks and your Thanksgiving Day parade that you have been doing for a long, long time. Can you speak to how these programs have evolved from a marketing perspective and what kinds of things you’ve done to keep them fresh?

The great thing about our events is that they reflect the very best of American popular culture. This allows us to keep evolving with audiences over time. Whether it’s a favorite celebrity from Tony Bennett to Usher or a beloved childhood character such as Snoopy or SpongeBob SquarePants, being attuned to the changing entertainment landscape allows our events to stay fresh and relevant. Additionally, as innovations in technology or other cultural shifts occur, we look to incorporate those into our events. For example, this year’s Macy’s Fireworks featured the incorporation of never-before-seen effects along the entire span of the Brooklyn Bridge, over the last decade we’ve introduced a Macy’s Parade mobile app, we’ve participated in a live rick-roll at the Parade, and we’ve added a new layer of art to the sky with the introduction of our artists balloons which have featured works by Jeff Koons, Tim Burton and Takashi Murakami, among others. Given the wide ranging audience of our events from toddlers to great grandparents, the shifts don’t have to be major, in order to entertain the entire spectrum of our audiences.

Drew: These kinds of big events ensure that Macy’s has high top-of-mind awareness and favorable brand associations but must be tough to translate into store traffic and sales. (If I’m wrong about this, please correct me.)  If I’m right, how do you evaluate the success of these programs—do you track brand health metrics (like awareness, favorability, etc)?   

Our iconic events are part of the DNA of the Macy’s brand. We are not only a retailer that offers customers incredible fashion and value, we are also an entertainment brand that creates magical experiences. For generations, Macy’s has been at the center of the traditions of millions of families across the nation and the world. This clear and visceral connection our brand enjoys with the general public is unmeasurable. We take great pride in producing world-famous events that are so widely beloved. It’s a truly unique place to hold in the lives of our customers, that through the lenses of our events, we have become a part of their family.

Drew: When many people think of Macy’s, they think tradition, but how important do you feel it is to take advantage of new trends and be among the earliest adopters of new technologies such as Apple Pay and Shopkick? Why? 

Our top priority at Macy’s is to serve the customer. With the customer at the center of every decision we make, it’s essential for us to quickly and effectively address their needs. This is why you’ve seen Macy’s at the forefront of testing new technologies and in some cases being early adopters of innovations that enhance our customer’s shopping experiences. Whether it’s more relevant, targeted marketing that cuts through the clutter and speaks to the needs and wants of that customer or a technology that speeds up the check-out process, we will look to test and adopt strategies and innovations that provide customer value and support.

Drew: What new things (if any) did you try in 2014 and how did it work out?

I’m very proud to say that Macy’s is excellent at newness! We think of each month, each season, each year as a brand new opportunity to re-inspire our customer. We see ourselves as an entertainment brand, and we know that today’s “experience economy” expects more from us than just great fashion and product. We’ve tried many new things this year – starting with a new spring campaign we called “Secret Garden” that took a floral fashion trend to new heights with store events, digital activations and a cause program to aid local parks and gardens. We also launched a new effort with Clinton Kelly in support of our bridal and registry customer; we hosted a very fun LipDub competition for schools during back-to-school season; and we partnered with Fashion Rocks for the return of the famous fashion and music event hosted in NYC and broadcast live on CBS.

Of course, we’re always testing newness in our omnichannel strategy and with technology – including our recent launch with ApplePay, rolling out shopkick nationally, launching Macy’s Wallet, enhancing our shopping apps, offering Macy’s Image Search, expanding buy online pickup in store, and testing same-day delivery.

Drew:  In what ways do you believe Macy’s admirable commitment to charitable causes, such as increasing research, awareness and education for diseases such as breast cancer and heart disease, has benefited the Macy’s brand?

Our My Macy’s approach to being a part of the communities where we live and work, and our passion for supporting causes that are important to our customers, have been cornerstones of our brand for more than 150 years. We believe deeply in our responsibility to make a difference, and we work with incredible non-profit partners like the American Heart Association, March of Dimes, Make-A-Wish, Reading Is Fundamental, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Got Your 6, Futures Without Violence, United Way, and many others. Last year, through our contributions and the generous support of our associates and customers, Macy’s gave more than $70 million to charitable organizations.

Our cause marketing programs are some of our customers most beloved events. They come out to shop and to support a great cause, and they tell us over and over again that they want and appreciate these opportunities to give in a way that is both meaningful for the charity and fun for them. It’s a simple principle, but the impact of what we can do together is so much greater. I believe that Macy’s was really a pioneer in this area – and we continue to trail-blaze fresh, new ways to engage and give back with our customers.

Drew: What have your experiences been with mobile marketing been to date? What’s working for you? What’s not?

We’ve made sure that our mobile media strategy is grounded in a deep understanding of how our customers are engaging with their smartphone and tablet devices. Our customers at Macy’s tend to be quite mobile-centric. To that end, we’ve invested in tactics such as mobile and tablet digital display, SMS, and mobile paid search. We’ve also evaluated mobile usage penetration in cross-device channels like digital audio and social media, and use those insights to drive a mobile-first approach to those channels. In addition, we’ve recently relaunched our Macy’s mobile app with significant improvements to the user experience and have launched a brand-new Macy’s Image Search app that leverages visual recognition technology to populate search results. We’re also continuing to explore the in-store beacons space.  Looking ahead, we see a lot of white space in mobile analytics and attribution, and look forward to developments that will help us better understand the impact of mobile media investment to total omnichannel sales.

We also run mobile and tablet-based digital retargeting campaigns and are testing into cross-screen retargeting in Spring 2015. This is a powerful tactic that capitalizes on connecting with customers who’ve expressed intent to purchase with us. As well, we’re launching a social shopping test in Q4 with Instagram, which will really help us better understand how to unlock the opportunity to drive sales through social media and potentially drive higher conversion directly on a mobile device.

Drew: What’s working for you these days in social media? Feel free to define what success looks like for Macy’s in SM.  Did you try anything new this year that you can share?   

We focus on a balanced approach between great publishing, meaningful engagement, and effective paid media. What’s important is clearly defining what success metrics to apply, based on the social media tactic being evaluated. Targeted direct response campaigns serve quite a different purpose than top-funnel branded publishing, but when planned and executed holistically, provide real value for our brand. We’re always testing, learning, and iterating in the social media space. We’re intrigued by the explosive growth of video on Facebook since the rollout of auto-play, and have run some campaigns over the last year using Facebook’s video ad product. We continue to explore how best to leverage Twitter’s natural affinity with TV, as a second-screen companion to broadcast and branded integrations. We’re working hard to grow our footprint on YouTube through targeted pre-roll, original content, and content collaborations with creators. We recently ran a very fun UGC- based campaign on YouTube as part of our Back To School efforts.

We’ve also recently begun publishing on Wanelo, with the objective of connecting with their fast-growing and incredibly valuable audience base: older millennials who are looking to convert on new product based on aspirational imagery. And we continue to focus on our Pinterest publishing and paid media strategy. We think there is enormous runway for us to utilize Pinterest not only as a means of showcasing great social publishing, but also as a visual search engine that allows us to facilitate product discovery and drive traffic to our ecommerce site. Pinterest is also a key means of connecting us with one of our most important customer groups: brides. We are among the top registry destinations in the country, so it’s critical that we maintain and grow our relevancy as a destination for millennial brides who are planning their big day.

Also as part of our millennial strategy, we recently launched our brand’s Snapchat account, Macyssnaps, and will keep a close eye on that platform as it rolls out its paid advertising suite.

America’s Most Courageous CMO Nominee — Ani Matson


Ani Matson_NEA Member Benefits

“Our time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

That quote pretty much sums up Ani Matson, who until recently was the CMO at NEA Member Benefits. Ani had the courage to rethink marketing in the context of the entire customer experience versus short term expedience. And I’m not being melodramatic.  Consider for a moment that prior to taking the reigns, NEA Member Benefits sent new customers over 50 separate pieces of communications, offering a wide range of products and services. While this approach allowed the company to achieve it’s marketing goals it ultimately had a deleterious impact on perceptions of the brand and response rates.  After considerable study and consensus building, Ani and her team reduced the number of new member communications to six touches.  The results were staggering–a 20% increase in participation and significantly improved customer satisfaction ratings.  Less turned out to be more. And while The CMO Club recognized Ani with its Officer’s Award, I think next year they need a new category, Most Courageous and here’s the first nominee!

Drew: Could you explain a little bit about the business model on NEA Member Benefits and its relationship to NEA?

NEA Member Benefits is a for-profit entity owned by the NEA, the National Education Association, which represents public school teachers and other staff who work in public schools. We research insurance and retirement plans and get benefit deals for teachers. We talk to top players, we rank them, then we offer the benefits and members enroll into these benefit programs.

Drew: NEA Member Benefits markets to three million members plus their families. Its certainly a very well defined target. What does marketing look like given that?

You still need an intentional strategy. In fact you have to be very precise because you are marketing to people who you want to have a relationship with for the length of their career and after they retire. It’s not just about finding an audience for your product, it is about serving a defined group with the best portfolio of products, in the most relevant way. The stakes are high, and if you become noise by acting like any other marketer out there, you’ll get turned off and you would have missed out on building a relationship that would last a lifetime.

You can contact members via direct mail, which is the way we used to market for many years, but you can’t just offer the same thing to three million people. So instead, as people go through their life stages, we try to give them relevant offers at specific times in their lives. We’re just trying to build offers and communications around member journeys.

Right now the secret is to get the attention because now almost everybody is doing customer-centric marketing. So now it’s about multi-channel marketing and building experiences versus just sending the information and waiting for the results. That’s the key.

Drew: What is a journey now?

Everything is set up and automated and triggered so that members can receive the appropriate information at the appropriate time based on their behavior, what they do, and what they tell us.

We’ve scored the whole membership file, and based on those scores, we decide which offers are most appropriate to market to whom. You have to watch members and understand them deeply and understand their behavior, understand their needs, understand their attributes to able to offer them the right thing. It’s beautifully analytical. They have children, they get married, they buy a car, and as they go through those stages we have different offers for them.

Drew: Lets talk about a win that youve had where suddenly you were able to get the right product in front of the right person at the right time with the right message.

The one that I’m most proud of the team for doing is the reimagining of the content strategy and the way we deliver the content to the members. What we are trying to do is optimize the content at the right gaps of a member’s journey. We have came up with a huge roadmap for delivering the right information to the right members.

The best results so far have been from the new member experience that we built last year. New members were cordoned off from receiving everything that other members would receive. Instead, we designed a different experience for them, basically welcoming them to the organization, showing them what’s available to them, giving some freebies to them and just inviting them to come and explore.

By not pushing, we were able to get better results than the way we had done it in the past. We touched them only six times last year and increased participation by 20%. In the past, we had touched their comparable cohort 50 times.

Drew: Thats an incredible story. Do you have brand health metrics tracking so you know how people perceive you?

We do. We were initially thinking of using Net Promoter Score, but then we came up with what we call a “brand index”. It is similar to the Net Promotor Score but it takes into consideration other factors we thought were important for our brand. We have a relationship with Harte Hanks, and they run a longitudinal study and the “brand index” for us once a year. So we take the pulse on perceptions of the membership once a year. We’ve been tracking member perceptions for the past, I think, seven years and seeing how their opinions about the organization have changed. That is amazingly positive for us.

Drew: So, if you were to sit down with a fellow CMO, what sort of advice would you give them in order to get started?

Get rid of funnels and think past the buying. If you don’t have a good experience after you buy, you’re not coming back for more.

Look at the stages of the experience, the journey that any human being would go through when they have a need and then as they look to fulfill their need. I would ask the question why, what do they use it for? Where do they use it? And then I would start to build the experience around that.

Q+A on Leadership with AMD’s Colette LaForce


Colette LaForce_AMD

When I was growing up, a surprising number of our local professionals had names that doubled as appropriate descriptors.  Dr. Gum was an oral surgeon, Dr. Smiley a delightful plastic surgeon. There were many others. Only Dr. Bonebreak messed things up as he was not an orthopedist but instead a rather feared pediatric dentist!  So when I hear a name like LaForce, I can’t help but wonder if the namesake is a force to reckoned with.  Read my interview below and you will know with certainty that Colette LaForce is indeed just that.

As CMO of AMD, the microprocessor company that is the David to Intel’s Goliath, LaForce quickly established a Marketing Operations to quantify activities, dealt with a major corporate restructuring and then relaunched AMD on a global basis.  Oh and did I mention she’s piloting an innovative marketing effort exclusively for the Chinese?  It’s never a dull moment when you’re working for a challenger brand and Colette seems to thrive under these circumstances so it’s little wonder she is also a recent recipient of The CMO Club‘s award for Leadership.

Drew: Congratulations on winning the Leadership award.  What are some of the lessons you can share with aspiring leaders especially of the marketing variety?

One critical trait I see in great leaders is an ability to simplify goals and objectives.  People can’t remember ten goals, or even five.  Great leaders, like great sports coaches, prioritize just one or two compelling goals for the team to commit to and focus on.

Drew: I love the fact that you have “transformative CMO” in your LinkedIn bio.  Can you talk a little about how you are being transformative in your current role?  

For me, the word ‘transformative’ represents a desire to be a steward of change.  Stewardship is really all about making lasting contributions that leave your environment in better shape than it was the day before.  Couple that with a leadership approach that encourages meaningful change and an outstanding team that can drive execution and consistency, and you get true transformation.

Drew: What advice do you have for your fellow marketers if they too wanted to transform their organizations, one way or another?  

To drive transformation, a team must to be aligned on the organization’s purpose, goals and values. Why do you do what you do?  What are you trying to do?  And how will you do it?  Once you get clarity on those points, true transformation can begin.

Drew:  AMD by definition is a challenger brand given Intel’s category dominance.  How has this shaped your overall approach to marketing?  Do you feel the need to be more innovative than you were at Dell or Rackable Systems?  

Innovation and creativity should always play a role in what we as marketers do, whether you work for an existing market leader or an emerging player.  Many of us are drawn to challenger brands because of the ‘underdog’ phenomenon.  Being the underdog can be a great motivational tool that builds character, forces innovation, fosters creativity and can be very rewarding.

Drew: AMD is considered an “ingredient” brand, but you have said that the customers’ relationship with your product is typically much more emotional than with other such “ingredients.” How did you come to that conclusion, and how has that realization aided your efforts to spark consumers’ passions for AMD?

We consider AMD beyond just ‘ingredient’ and more of an ‘enabler’ brand.  Semiconductor technology powers the devices we use every day, giving people very personal, rich computational and graphical experiences that literally enable us to change the world.  Our research with thousands of users echoed this sentiment, and we are actively building a more emotional connection with buyers.

Drew: What have been the biggest challenges you have had to overcome during AMD’s rebranding campaign, and how were you able to use the rebranding efforts to lead the brand back to profitability and align with the business goals?

We recognized that our multi-year business transformation needed to start with a global brand transformation. Evolving a brand while simultaneously cutting costs, completing a corporate restructuring and pushing into new markets with new competitors is quite challenging and might seem even counter-intuitive to some.  But without a baseline for purpose, values and mission and an outstanding team to execute, we could not have effectively united 10,000 employees and millions of fans worldwide.

Drew:  Marketing budgets are getting increasingly complex as new options and tools become available.  How as CMO are you staying on top of budget allocation and optimization?

One of the first things I did when I came to AMD was create a Marketing Operations team.  We now have centralized visibility to spending, metrics and ROI.  We have a great team that may not always have the fanciest new tools to govern with, but we are steadfast about how we measure and optimize marketing performance.

Drew: Have you made major changes to your budget allocation in the last year and if so, can you share what lead to those changes and how these changes have impacted results?

Like many marketing organizations, while our overall marketing budgets continue to shrink, we’ve protected funds for earned and owned media. We’re also setting aside funds for what I like to call ‘innovation marketing.’ For example, we will soon kick off a unique program in China, designed exclusively to engage with our Chinese fans. Too often, US-based corporations pilot programs in North America and then try to localize further. We’re starting in China and then will see where it goes!

Q+A on Marketing with Pentair’s Lisa Armstrong


Fort BelknapHow do you market products around a basic human need like water? For Lisa Armstrong, recent winner of a Rising Star award at The CMO Club’s CMO Awards, this is only one challenge on a long list of marketing initiatives. As the VP for Marketing and Branding at Pentair, Lisa is in charge of educating consumers about water conservation, while simultaneously helping to create solutions for communities without access to clean, safe water.

In the interview below, we talk about how she’s learned to tackle key initiatives like this, how to manage priorities in a changing organization, what the future of marketing looks like at Pentair, and how she tackles a topic that keeps many CMOs up at night: building credibility with your CEO.

Drew: What’s been your biggest challenge as a marketer at Pentair and how have you tackled it?

One of the biggest challenges I have is getting everything done on our bold list of initiatives. I recognized that dedicating time and attention to building processes, sharing knowledge and developing capability will help sustain all of our new initiatives.

Drew: Is there one marketing initiative in the last year or two that you are particularly proud of and if so, can you please talk a bit about it?

I’m proud of the work our team did to launch our new external website. There were a lot of new paradigms and new thinking that went into the design and development of the site. We mapped out a cross-business view of our solutions from the customer point of view instead of from an inside-out perspective. We also evolved our case studies to be impact stories that focus on the effect our solutions have on our customer, our customer’s customers and the environment.

Drew: What is the most important lesson you have learned during your career, and how has it helped you get where you are today?

I’ve learned that adaptability is a critical skill of being a leader. I keep myself open to new ideas, continuous learning and re-invention. I keep a pulse on the market, up-to-date on new trends and am continuously up-skilling to ensure that my skills and experience are relevant for today and rightfully positioned for the future.

Drew: Water is so fundamental to life that we often take it for granted, certainly here in the eastern part of the US. Does the role water play in our lives impact your marketing at all?

Absolutely. Even though most places in the U.S. have an abundance of water, at Pentair we do have marketing efforts aimed toward educating and promoting the need for conserving water and water re-use. In other areas of the world, however, access to safe clean water is still a struggle and becomes a human and women’s rights issue. In these markets we try to help build safe clean water solutions through our CSR efforts and community partners.

Drew: In your experience, how do you know when it’s time to make changes to an organization or department? 

You know the quote…”Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Anytime an organization or company goes through a fundamental change (growth, expansion, and/or maturity), you can’t apply the same organizational model. In my experience, I realize it’s time to make changes when I start seeing gaps in what needs to be done and the ability or capability to get it done.

Drew: What advice would you give to fellow CMOs when it comes to building credibility with your CEO? 

A CMO builds credibility by being connected to what the C-suite and board are facing each quarter and asking how marketing can help.  You can lose credibility by proposing initiatives at the wrong time. The challenge for marketers is that we often face the “what have you done for me lately” pressure so we have to be consistently maintaining our credibility.

Drew: What marketing nut would you like to crack in 2015?  

Two major areas I’d like to tackle: #1 is Digital – Integrated Marketing. We need to build a robust roadmap with the emphasis on levering digital to drive growth. And #2, Marketing Excellence. I’d like to build a process and curriculum to help build a world-class marketing organization that delivers innovation, revenue and leadership talent for the entire organization. (OK… so this one may take longer than 2015).

Q+A on Keeping an Eye on the Pie w/ Papa John’s Bob Kraut


Bob Kraut_Papa JohnsA conversation with Bob Kraut, CMO of Papa John’s, is a wonderful reminder that despite all the new communication channels and the potentially transformative power of big data, successful marketing can still be boiled down to a few simple truths: product quality matters, customer satisfaction is bellwether metric, employees are a critical part of the brand experience, get your message right and then, perhaps hardest of all, stick with it.

In our interview below, Bob expounds on all of these points in a way that is refreshingly matter of fact, sharing his insights while making them seem common sensical.  Of course, to borrow upon the wit and wisdom of Harry Truman, “If common sense were so common, more [marketers] would have it.”  The truth is that talking about these things is relatively easy, the hard part is implementing them and on that front, Papa John’s certainly has its “eye on the pie,” so its little wonder that Bob is a recent  of  The CMO Club‘s CMO Award for Customer Experience.

Drew: Customer experience does not always come under the control of the CMO yet can have a dramatic impact on the brand and ultimately the believability of your marketing initiatives. How have you been able to impact the customer experience in your current role?

For us, the consumer is at the center of all we do. We always “keep our eye on the pie”, so that the ultimate customer experience is bringing people together to eat great pizza at a great price with an exceptional ordering and service experience. As for marketing’s role in the customer experience, we do the heaving lifting in creating emotional connections with our customers in our branding, online experience and social media and engagement. The pizza business is dominated by heavy price promotion which I don’t think contributes to a sustainable customer proposition. At Papa John’s, we have incredibly loyal customers and they love the brand experience– the American Customer Satisfaction Index has ranked us the #1 pizza brand in satisfaction 13 of the past 15 years.

Drew: A lot of marketers are talking about employee advocacy – is this a priority for you and if so how are you going about it? If not, perhaps you could talk about how you as a marketer have had an impact on the whole customer experience.
When I came to Papa John’s a little over a year ago, my biggest surprise was how happy the people are and how aligned people are against our vision and positioning. Simply put, when you are in the service and delivery business, “happy employees equal happy customers”. So I think we count all of them to be great customer ambassadors. One of the ways that our employees feel like an owner of the business, is through our “open innovation” culture. We solicit and source product ideas and ways to make things better for our customers and I think it shows up in customer ratings and in our business results.

Drew: “Better ingredients. Better pizza.” has been your tagline for a while now. A lot of marketers of change campaigns too quickly in my humble opinion. What has allowed you to stick with this one for so long and what would inspire you to move away from it?
Papa John’s has done what is equivalent to the textbook case on how to build a brand based on quality and consistency. Quality is the core value of the company–I think its in our DNA and has given the company the strength to resist changes over the ups and downs of the business cycle.  And I think its a testament to the leadership of our Founder, John Schnatter–great leaders have discipline. “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza” continues to work well for us–I am type of leader that doesn’t try to fix things that aren’t broken–but I think we are making progress in enriching our brand promise and injecting a more contemporary currency to the brand.

Drew: How have you used social media to advance your brand’s overall marketing efforts? Are there any networks/platforms that are working better for your brand than others?
We use social media to talk to our brand believers and to reach broader audiences in ways that are authentic, real-time and meaningful to them. Pizza is the perfect platform for social media–at its core, pizza bring people together  as social platforms virtually. In 2014, we greatly expanded our social reach beyond Facebook and Twitter–we are now active on Instagram, Google Plus, Vine, the publisher platforms etc–and we have taken our highly visible NFL sponsorship into social media, especially on local level–where we sponsor 21 NFL teams.

Drew: What have your experiences been with mobile marketing been to date? 
We run an e-commerce with nearly 50% of sales coming from online–so we have a greater share of customers accessing our brand online than any other pizza brand-that kind of us makes the #1 digital brand.  An increasing share of our sales is coming from mobile so we have increased our investment in all-things mobile –advertising, apps, alternative payment and localization. And we are seeing all these initiatives work well for Papa John’s.

Drew: Loyalty programs can be tough to get off the ground. Can you talk a bit about Papa Rewards and how it is working for you? What advice would you give to a fellow marketer if they were contemplating a loyalty program?
We introduced our Papa Rewards Loyalty Program in 2010. The pizza market is so price sensitive and this creates a relationship and another point of connectivity to our most loyal consumers and gives us opportunities for segmentation and more precise marketing. Our customers love the program–Papa Rewards was recently named as the #1 loyalty in the restaurant category by Bond Loyalty. With that said, loyalty programs alone won’t work if the pizza isn’t good. We know our customers come back for our better ingredients and attention to quality – and it is important to us to reward them for their loyalty.

Drew: Finally and perhaps a bit early, what’s on top of your 2015 marketing resolutions list?
That’s easy– “eat more pizza!”  But seriously…  we love to top our best.  We’re committed to continuing our commitment to have better ingredient on our pizzas, leadership in online sales and deepening relationships with our customers, partners and employees.


Q+A on CSR w CMO Award Winner Alison Lewis of J&J


Alison Lewis_J&JAdmittedly, I’m a bit of a romantic when it comes to the notion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  I really truly want to believe that companies that are driven by a purpose that includes the betterment of the world will outperform those that simply want to make a profit.  As the theory goes, a clear mission translates to a more aligned and motivated workforce, a superior product/service offering that delivers against the “triple bottom line.”  

This is not just wishful thinking on my part. Robert Safian, Editor of FastCompany tackled this subject in his fascinating look at some mission driven companies that are indeed doing well by doing good.  So it was with great interest that I interviewed Alison Lewis SVP and CMO of Johnson & Johnson on the subject of CSR.  J&J has had its ups and downs in the last few years so I was quite curious to get an insider’s view on how a huge business can approach CSR without coming across as self-serving or insincere.  Read on and it will be clear why Lewis is a Social Responsibility award winner at The CMO Club’s CMO Awards.

Drew: “Doing well by doing good” sounds like a great idea but it is much harder to put into practice given the complexity of running a public company with quarterly earnings reports and ever-hungry competitors. How have you approached Corporate Social Responsibility? Do you have a distinct set of metrics for CSR (vs. product sales) that help rationalize these investments?

As a healthcare company, caring for the health of the planet and the communities in which we operate are natural extensions of who we are. Therefore, Johnson & Johnson has been setting goals to improve the sustainability of our business for decades. Currently, our Healthy Future 2015 goals are our broadest set of goals yet. They include goals related, but not limited, to:

  • Safeguarding our planet by reducing waste disposal, water consumption, and reduced fleet and facility carbon emissions
  • Commitments to responsibly source ingredients throughout our consumer supply chain
  • Including product sustainability information on all our beauty and baby care brand websites
  • Educating the public on recycling bathroom products
  • Engaging all employees throughout the company on how to live more health-conscious lives

We measure these goals in our annual progress report that is available at:

Drew: CSR activities are often handled outside of the marketing team’s purview yet the hope is that these activities will provide a positive halo for a company’s brands.  What is your role related to CSR and are there some initiatives that you think have been particularly effective?
Sustainability is an end-to-end value chain effort. When we make progress, our brand marketing teams can help translate that progress in a meaningful way to our consumers. Marketing can play a key role to engage consumers and help brands make a difference – Our NEUTROGENA® Naturals brand is an example of how a brand can build progress on sustainability into its consumer communications.

For the third year in a row, NEUTROGENA® Naturals launched its Every Drop Counts campaign, where the brand educates consumers on the importance of water conservation. This year, throughout the month of October, NEUTROGENA® Naturals will contribute 10% of the purchase price of the NEUTROGENA® Naturals Purifying Cream Cleanser to the Nature Conservatory to support its water conservation efforts*. In 2013 the NEUTROGENA® Naturals brand exceeded their goal of saving one million gallons of water by more than 300%, over 4.2 million gallons of water were saved based on consumer pledges – – that’s the equivalent of a swimming pool the size of nearly four football fields!
*up to $50,0000

Drew: J&J received more than its fair share of negative publicity before your arrival.  How did you make sure that your CSR initiatives came across as a sincere versus self-promotional? What advice would you give to fellow CMO’s who are just getting started on CSR programs?
The key is consistency. Regardless of the business climate, our values and commitment to social responsibility have remained steadfast. One of Johnson & Johnson’s early leaders, General Robert Wood Johnson, spoke about social and environmental responsibility long before the term “corporate social responsibility” or “sustainability” became well-known in corporate circles. My advice to other CMOs is to embed your CSR commitments into your core values (what you care about) and your business strategy (how you focus) and your brands will have a strong foundation to make a meaningful difference.

Drew: Handling organizational change can be tricky particularly if it involves reorganizing / replacing long-time staffers.  What advice do you have for fellow CMOs when it comes to handling reorgs?
Just as marketing must continue to evolve to keep pace with our consumers’ needs and expectations, so must marketing organizations. When it comes to change, the important thing is to always put the consumer at the center. At Johnson & Johnson, we have a long history of being guided by Our Credo values, the first tenant of which is our responsibility to the people we serve – everyone who uses our products. Change for the sake of change doesn’t work but changing to meet consumer needs is always right!

Drew: How have you used social media to advance your brand’s overall marketing efforts? Are there any social media channels that are working better for your brand than others? If so, please elaborate.
Social media is about connecting with your target audience, therefore, every Consumer brand at Johnson & Johnson has a different “formula” for how to successfully engage and connect on social channels.

One example of how a Johnson & Johnson brand has utilized social to evolve our marketing efforts is on our teen focused CLEAN & CLEAR® Brand – – here, we recognized that social media channels at the core of a teens world. Knowing this, CLEAN & CLEAR® was an ideal brand to build the interconnected ecosystem of owned, earned, shared and paid content that would enable the CLEAN & CLEAR® See The Real Me™ campaign. By launching and activating several social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), we are able to listen to what teens want, engage in direct conversations with them and entertain, educate and inspire them with authentic content.  By engaging with teens in the social space the brand is able to forge an emotional connection and become part of their everyday lives. We have coffee with them in the morning, provide advice to them on the go, and help them relax before bed while celebrating the confidence that they portray on a daily basis by just being themselves.

Drew: Storytelling is a big buzzword right now.  Is your brand a good storyteller and if so, can you provide an example of how you are telling that story for one of your brands?
JOHNSON’S® is one recent example of how we’ve enhanced the story of one of our most beloved brands. Increasingly, we heard from our consumers that they had concerns about certain ingredients in our baby products. All the ingredients used in our baby care products have always been safe, and meet or exceed government standards for safety. But trust is at the heart of our baby equity, and we wanted to communicate to our consumers that we listened to their concerns and we know their trust is something that we must continue to earn. We knew that our actions would speak louder than our words, and we made the decision to reformulate our baby products for trust. As our reformulated products hit shelves, we launched a new campaign, “Your Promise is Our Promise” to illustrate our heartfelt commitment to the moms, dads and families that use our products.

To tell the story behind our promise, we launched our biggest social media campaign with more than 40 informative and entertaining videos that speak to our JOHNSON’S® brand promises, baby care education and the parenting journey. We’ve seen millions of consumers interact with our video content, comment on our social channels and learn more about what our brand stands for due to our ability to connect through storytelling.

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