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Industry Honorees Cited Human Connection And Empathy As Most Critical Factors In Marketing Success- and Their Own Success
On May 3rd, four marketing luminaries were inducted into The Marketing Hall Of Fame produced by the American Marketing Association New York. They were lauded for their “outstanding contributions to the field of marketing.” The 2022 Honorees were Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of Procter & Gamble; Ann Mukherjee, CEO Of Pernod Ricard, North America; Bozoma Saint John, Former Global CMO Of Netflix and Antonio Lucio, Former CEO Of Facebook, Visa And HP.
The comments made by each of the honorees reflected both the unique global challenges of the last two years, and their view of marketing’s role in driving positive change in uncertain times. While each honoree’s career path was different, all shared the belief that there is one factor above all that is critical for marketing success today. Not coincidently it was a factor in their own success. And that is this; there is nothing more important than the value of human connection and empathy.
The value of human connection and empathy as a success factor, both in business and on a personal level, was the theme that resonated in each of the honoree’s acceptance remarks.
“Know the people you’re serving, what they need, what they want, their hopes and dreams.” Marc Pritchard
As a top brand builder and P&G veteran for nearly four decades, Marc believes in the power of brands to be a force for growth, while also being a force for good. Talking about some of P&G’s most memorable campaigns, he noted that they were most memorable because of the people with whom he had the privilege to work, and “the endless creativity of these people.” He went on to share thoughts on the future of marketing, a few “immutable laws,” as he called them.
“First, know the people you are serving, what they want, what they need, their hopes and dreams. There is no question that there will be a lot more analytics and data that will help us solve problems for people, but there will never be a substitute for human connection. Talk to them, visit with them, shop with them, look for the deep human insights that inspire the creativity and brand experiences that will make their lives better.”
He closed by saying that the number one immutable law of marketing is that “you will know you’ve got something that connects when it makes your spine tingle, your eyes well up, and you smile from ear to ear. Marketing is in your heart and in your soul. Marketing, past, present and future, is about people, always has been and always will be. It’s one of the most human professions in the world. The privilege of my position is not lost on me.”
“There is a gift in everyone. Learn their gift.”
Joining Pernod Ricard North America as Chairman and CEO in December 2019, Ann was the first industry outsider and woman of color to take on this role. From the start, she demonstrated her ability to deliver both ROI (return on investment), and ROR (return on responsibility). Among her first initiatives, Ann led the Absolut team in taking a stand on consent, forcing a critical conversation on a taboo topic for the alcohol industry. In addition, Ann directed the company’s $1 million investment in racial justice nonprofits, and has been integral in calling on brands and social media platforms to join a movement to help stop hate speech online. Before joining Pernod, Ann made a decade-long impact at PepsiCo where, as CMO for Frito-Lay North America, she created a mantra of “Transform Tomorrow Today” to inspire breakthrough marketing and societal transformation.
“My mother said you’re going to meet a lot of people in this world,” Ann began. “Some you’ll like, some not so much. There is a gift in everyone. Learn their gift. Help make the impossible possible.” On her industry, Ann remarked, “I think marketing is, at its core, creativity. It’s the oxygen for growth. Creativity is also the oxygen for the growth of humanity. Every day humanity is faced with crisis, but creativity allows people to reframe their circumstances. People aren’t looking for brands to buy, but brands that share their values. We have a responsibility to our stakeholders, but also a responsibility to give back to society.”
Ann shared that reframing her own circumstances allowed her to turn “pain into power.” And that “everyone who is here tonight who knows me, knows that I was able to face my challenges because we are all in this together. I couldn’t have done it if you weren’t there to lift me up. It is a team sport. We must help others not just survive, but thrive.”
“Making a difference means being the change.”
Bozoma Saint John
Overcoming incredible odds, Bozoma has earned a formidable reputation as a trailblazing marketing executive. From her first break as Spike Lee’s assistant, she rose to the top levels of marketing management across a broad spectrum of industries. In 2021, Bozoma was named #1 on Forbes Most Influential CMO’s list.
Having broken through many glass ceilings, Bozoma gives credit to the formidable black women who came before her, most notably her mother, who she said, “was a beacon for me.” She emphasized that “only 1.4% of the leadership in this country looks like me. I know there is an opportunity for all of us in this room to change that. This is not about some golden pathway that comes from the heavens. It’s not about policy, or a rulebook. It is up to each and every one of us to make the difference and be the change. How is it that you are making a difference?”
As she has remarked in the past, “Diversity is being asked to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” She exhorted those in the audience to “understand their impact,” to “not sit idly by.” Relative to the marketers’ opportunity to create societal change, she said “It’s our responsibility. Use it as a moment of action.”
“In order to capture the possibilities, there is no more time for ‘I’ – it’s all about ‘we.’”
Antonia has worked with some of the most recognized companies and iconic brands and is recognized as a global influencer in marketing transformation. Known for his success in driving business growth, he is also recognized for his inclusive leadership philosophy. For Lucio, diversity is a business imperative.
“I left the formal corporate world a few years ago giving me time to reflect on what marketing is and should be,” he said. “In marketing, success is about growth. When we do our work right, people can live their lives and fulfill their dreams. While building brands is more significant and more important than ever before, we have to build brands that are not only preferred, but trusted.”
“Consumers today want two things. Sustainability and social justice. That’s what consumers are expecting, not from government anymore, but from corporations. In all the research done on “trust,” consumers are expecting us to play a more active role. Each of the people given awards today is amazing in their craft. More important, they have transcended their craft to do good. They have shown that in this industry, there is no more time for “I,” it is all about “we.” In closing, Antonio spoke about legacy. “You are building your legacy every day, which is nothing more than impact you have on the things and people you touch. You are the person that is left when all of the companies and titles are removed from your business card.”
Each of the new honorees spoke to the challenges of marketing in a time of uncertainty. Role models, all, they spoke of how they came to be where they are, and the people who influenced them along the way. While their backstories were each different, they shared a belief that the value and importance of “human connection” cannot be overemphasized as a factor in success, whether organizational or personal. They gave voice to this belief in their remarks, but their legacies will reflect the tangible results of their work, and their reputations.
This article originally appeared in Forbes.
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