USAA’s Tony Wells On Marketing & Diversity

On this 229th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Tony Wells, Chief Brand Officer at USAA.

We begin with an inside look into Wells’ basketball days playing alongside David Robinson during The Naval Academy’s magical Elite Eight Run. Wells then dives into his unique transition into the corporate world from his military service. “I love this idea of engaging with consumers or members,” Wells says regarding his attraction towards the marketing function. After a handful of positions at various top companies, Wells found his home at USAA. “One of the challenges in marketing…is you want to talk to everybody. We’ve been able to narrow this thing down to those who have served.”

We then discuss how and why USAA has brought the function of Diversity & Inclusion under the organization that Wells runs. Wells describes how important it is to the company’s future branding because “the pie can get bigger and deeper for everybody when we all seek to win and live and succeed together.” Wells believes that if you can put your ego aside and know your role, you can help your team achieve something greater than individual success!

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Tony had the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament alongside NBA HOF David Robinson. 1:32
  • Committing to The Naval Academy was inspired by a plethora of factors. 2:55
  • You have the option of going to The Marine Corps out of The Naval Academy, and that’s exactly what Tony did. 3:54
  • Making a transition from a career in military service to the corporate sector 4:42
  • USAA is a brand with a purpose, which made Tony feel at home when he started there. 6:02
  • Tony’s success can be partly attributed to his ability to speak the same language as those in his company. 8:20
  • A promotion to Chief Brand Officer has changed Tony’s role in the company, though the storytelling has stayed the same. 9:39
  • USAA was formed almost 100 years ago by 25 officers and has experienced a plethora of changes along the way. 10:50
  • Tracking a wide range of metrics has allowed USAA to stay connected with its members at a personal level. 12:27
  • Customer satisfaction is based on so much more than the numbers. 13:26
  • Due to being a member-driven company, USAA has given back massive dividends to its members during the pandemic. 14:25
  • COVID has forced all companies to change their marketing techniques, and USAA decided to focus on the things that mattered. 15:53
  • Remote production has been a challenge but has allowed USAA to learn about its capabilities. 17:51
  • Diversity & Inclusion has been brought into the marketing side of the company, which is unusual in large corporations. 19:15
  • It only makes sense that D&I be included in the branding and marketing of a company. 21:40
  • Tony’s bad and good experiences as a black male have helped fortify his diverse mindset in the boardroom. 23:57
  • People want to be their authentic selves at the workplace, and Tony is trying to promote that. 26:22
  • Uncomfortable conversations need to be had so that everyone has an opportunity to be successful and included. 29:08
  • Technology has caused the marketing and branding space to undergo a dramatic change. 31:39
  • Tony’s experience playing basketball taught him the importance of playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not on the back. 34:00
  • If Tony could go back, he would take more risks on his way up. 35:20
  • Environmental Societal and Governance (ESG) are only going to become more important to consumers in the future. 37:51
  • The pandemic has forced a digital transformation and could shrink the number of brands in various spaces. 38:58

Resources Mentioned:

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Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

What We’re Reading—Week Of October 12th

A glimpse at the articles we’re sharing behind the scenes at AList.

A Complete Guide to AI Digital Assistants for Marketers

Neil Patel

Automating a majority of your workflow via artificial intelligence (AI) allows you to target individuals rather than generic groups, optimize content marketing workflow and streamline SEO strategy.

Why it matters: Artificial adoption among marketers is up 186 percent from 2018, according to the Salesforce State of Marketing Report.

The App Industry’s Reckoning With Privacy, Control, And Consumer Empowerment


The best way to drive profit in a post-pandemic era isn’t to raise prices or churn through users, but to show consumers you care through enhanced privacy and security measures.

Why it matters: Two out of three consumers are willing to delete an app if it collects information unrelated to the app’s main offer unless they receive real value in return, according to a survey by Anagog.

Why Every Brand Should Be Anti-Capitalist

The Drum

To be more pro-consumer, brands must become anti-capitalist and communicate in a human-centric way.

Why it matters: This means not using your competition as a template for your point of view, challenging established systems that act against inclusivity and recognizing you can’t reach every audience but still honoring intersectionality.

Adidas Hosts Digital Festival Featuring Karlie Kloss To Launch New Trainer Styles


As Adidas prepares to launch 70 new designs of its sneakers, the brand is hosting a week-long digital festival starting October 14 featuring panels with musicians, sportspeople, supermodels and designers, as well as 30 surprise raffles.

Why it matters: The festival marks Adidas’ first-ever members’ week as the event is limited to members of the brand’s free Creators Club loyalty program.

Walmart Will Host Socially Distant Trick Or Treating And Tailgate Events At Stores This Fall


Walmart is extending its virtual summer camp into fall with a range of Halloween-themed activations including virtual tutorials, contactless trick-or-treating at 100 of its stores around the US starting on October 15 and tailgating events that kick off in six college towns across Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Utah.

Why it matters: The pandemic has prompted 75 percent of consumers to change their Halloween plans, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Advertising Wake-Up Call With GWI’s Carrie Seifer

On this 228th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Carrie Seifer, the GM of GlobalWebIndex in North America. The company is a market research SaaS company founded by Tom Smith in 2009 that provides audience insight to publishers, media agencies, and marketers around the world.

We start the conversation about how Seifer’s mindset has shifted throughout her career, going from focusing on the present to centered around where she wanted to go. Seifer then dives into the plethora of complex factors that go into purchasing decisions for Americans in today’s world.

There is mistrust across the board in America right now. In fact, “only a third of Americans trust what the government tells them.” Seifer and GWI recognize this mistrust and are working to change the fact that “only 9% of Americans feel like they are represented in the advertisement industry.” GWI believes that consumer interests, rather than demographics, should be the focus of all businesses. Seifer claims that “we’re not seeing shifts in behavior, just more and more of it,” and gives some insight into where that behavior is headed in a post-COVID world!

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Carrie was interested in what was new and exciting early in her career. 1:50
  • Think about where you want to go to avoid moving backward. 2:33
  • GWI helps companies all over the world tap into consumer perspectives. 3:35
  • The motivations that were behind the American-consumer focus. 5:04
  • Purchasing decisions are made based on a plethora of complex factors. 6:05
  • Habits that consumers are trending towards right now. 7:00
  • Boomers and older consumers have begun to embrace new technology. 8:22
  • There is a mistrust of advertisements because consumers don’t feel that they are represented. 10:30
  • People are tired of hearing fake news on social media and want it policed. 11:30
  • There is an opportunity to build trust with consumers, given the state of distrust right now. 12:55
  • People seem to be lumped together by generation or other characteristics when, in fact, people are very complex. 14:27
  • Common interests, instead of demographics, should be what advertisers consider when making assumptions. 15:58
  • Media companies are beginning to question their audience’s areas of interest. 18:24
  • This consumer data can be used by all leaders to motivate their teams better. 19:50
  • Safety is on the mind of everyone right now, which has slowed the mistrust of technology. 21:19
  • Everything that happens on a screen can be measured, which makes for smoother adaptation. 24:00
  • Carrie’s experience door-to-door experience taught her all about the great mix of data and storytelling. 25:36
  • Babbling shows guilt, and if you feel it, you need to learn to be more concise. 28:00
  • How the Roomba has helped Carrie appreciate the option of outsourcing to technology. 28:56
  • Digital concerts are being performed inside of video games, and it’s incredibly innovative. 30:57
  • Big brands are working towards making technology an equalizer for as many people as possible. 33:00
  • The lack of trust across the board may seem like a threat, but it is an amazing opportunity to come out of COVID with more sales. 33:47

Resources Mentioned:

Subscribe to the podcast:

Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

How To Be An Ally At Work

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, the need to call out microaggressions in the workplace and be an ally to people of color has never been more important. Countless headlines and empty promises from leaders later, it’s become clear that allyship is simpler in theory than it is in practice. For advice on how to be an effective advocate of people of color, the digital workshop at Advertising Week, “How To Be An Ally At Work” is a must-watch. Elaine dela Cruz and Gary Rayneau, co-founders of Project 23—a consultancy that helps organizations build diverse and inclusive cultures—along with Project 23 D&I consultant Hayley Bennett, share the dos and don’ts of being an ally at work.

The first step to becoming an ally in the workplace is ensuring the conversation about race is front and center. Research from BITC found that 38 percent of black workers feel it’s never appropriate to discuss racial bias experiences at work. For some colleagues, the topic of race elicits memories of traumatic experiences. For that reason, Cruz and Rayneau say it’s important that people don’t rely on people of color to speak up about microaggressions. Rather, keep white colleagues accountable to speak up if they hear or see racist behavior.

Speaking up also means being mindful of banter, which as the co-founders note can sometimes veer toward racist. Be it brazen jokes or subtle comments, microaggressions must be called out—and the earlier, the better. If you’re not sure where to start, carve out time to commit to self-learning around anti-racism, but make sure you follow through and apply what you’ve learned.

“Part of being an ally is being brave, admitting you’ve done something wrong and apologizing. Do extra learning if you need to and continue being an ally,” said Bennett.

A few different ways you can call out microaggressions are one, by asking someone “Could you say more about what you mean by that?”; two, by sharing your own learning with, “I noticed that you said X, but I have learned from my research that Y”; three, by removing the heat from the situation with, “I used to say that but I found out I should say it like X.” Bennett notes that if you find yourself on the receiving end of getting called out for racist banter or behavior, remember to not make it about yourself. Instead, think of the situation as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes.

Another critical ingredient of effective allyship is mentoring and sponsoring people of color. BITC’s data show that 31 percent of black employees want a sponsor compared with 12 percent of their while colleagues. For those in leadership roles, this means casting a wide net when looking for mentees then connecting them with relevant connections and helping carve out opportunities for them to progress.

Lastly, Project 23 advises to hold leaders accountable to the diversity and inclusion commitments they made at the start of the Black Lives Matter movement. For example, circle back with chief executive officers or supervisors who outlined efforts and ask them to provide an update on the progress they’ve made.

As for the diversity and inclusion goals companies should aim for, Project 23 says it’s important to choose something you can measure and go from there. For starters, measure how inclusive people feel your organization is. Or collect data on how people are progressing in recruitment stages and throughout the organization rather than solely focusing on how many people of color you hired.

The speakers also share the don’ts of being an ally at work. These include taking a job where all the staff are white; attending or speaking at events with all white speakers; assuming you know it all because you have a few black or brown friends; likening your hardship to that of someone who’s experienced racism; and directly referring to colleagues as BAME, or black, asian and minority ethnic, and POC, or person of color.

The Challenger Retail Brands Thriving Amid The Pandemic

While the rise of the digital economy has put some retailers out of business, it has helped others exceed their performance goals. Two challenger retail brands that come to mind are Elvie, a British femtech company helping support women in all stages of their lives through smart technology, and Naked Wines, a direct-to-consumer wine business in the US that boasts 500,000 customers worldwide.

During a virtual panel at Advertising Week entitled “Against All Odds: The Challenger Retail Brands Thriving Amidst A Pandemic,” Beth Horn, Facebook’s head of industry, retail and ecommerce, hears from Aoife Nally, global marketing director at Elvie, and Jo Gunn, growth director at Naked Wines, on how they navigated the crisis and connected with communities amid the changing retail landscape.

Despite the pandemic, Elvie was able to launch digital-first in seven European markets this year. At the peak of the crisis, consumers showed an increased interest in the brand’s two products, a pelvic floor trainer and a silent wearable breast pump, given the items are focused on health, Nally says.

The brand still had its share of challenges, including updating its pre-pandemic tagline, “Pumping on the go,” doing more frequent forecasting and maintaining prudent cash management. For Elvie, this meant balancing the short-term health of its business while protecting its future growth, namely continuing investments in R&D and its workforce.

Leaning into digital community-building initiatives helped Elvie overcome some of these hurdles. To lay the groundwork, Elvie conducted a survey to understand how the crisis was affecting their target audience’s mental health. The results revealed that 51 percent of British moms were struggling with their mental health, 67 percent of which didn’t know where to get help. Based on these findings, Elvie launched a digital content series called #AtHomeWithElvie, which offered postpartum depression tips, comedy sessions, cooking tutorials and poetry readings.

Elvie’s research also showed that 48 percent of women were turning to exercise as a form of escapism. In turn, the brand teamed up with UK’s leading pregnancy charity, Tommy’s, to launch a purpose-driven campaign, #TheBigSqueeze, which involved a nationwide pelvic floor workout on Elvie’s Instagram Live. Participants were encouraged to follow the workout, share a selfie of themselves mid-squeeze, nominate friends and donate to Tommy’s. Elvie pledged to match donations in the first 48 hours, up to £5,000.

“The true winners need to have their finger on the pulse constantly, continue to grow their digital offerings and lean into data. So getting as close as possible to the customer, whether that means launching new target campaigns that focus on health and safety, adapting pricing and promotion based on customer feedback or reevaluating spend and optimizing what’s working,” says Nally.

Nally adds that in order to future-proof their brands, retailers must adopt a health-first strategy to keep up with the rise of conscious consumption.

For Naked Wines, the biggest challenge posed by the pandemic was serving its customers, or “Angels,” as demand shot through the roof across the board overnight, according to Gunn. So much so that the company had to shut everything down for a few days to ensure its warehouse and logistics were operating safely.

While some brands have observed a drop in consumer spending, Naked Wines has seen the reverse. Gunn notes that its customers are less price conscious, perhaps because lockdown life has inspired them to treat themselves to more affordable luxuries or because they’re happy to spend more to shop locally.

In addition, the pandemic helped Naked Wines attract a new demographic—wine drinkers in their early 30s who pre-pandemic didn’t really consider buying DTC wine. With unprecedented levels of demand and a better-than-usual return on acquisition spend (ROAS), Gunn says she’s been able to test and learn in areas that originally were too costly.

Cultivating community has also been top of mind for Naked Wines, according to Gunn. In the early stages of the pandemic, the company heard from its Angels that they were feeling isolated. To lift their spirits, Naked Wines hosted a “Thirsty Tuesday” wine night on Zoom. Thousands of people joined the call, and the activation became so popular that the company made it permanent.

Furthering its mission to give back, in April Naked Wines announced a $5 million support fund for independent winemakers worldwide affected by the closures of restaurants and bars. The fund was deployed to purchase stock that was previously destined for restaurants, tasting rooms and retail stores. The brand also gave winemakers who applied and were selected access to its 500,000 customers in the US, UK and Australia, plus the chance of a permanent listing.

Reimagining Retail For A Post-COVID Era

For retailers, mastering COVID-19 means acknowledging consumers’ demands for more meaningful shopping experiences and brand interactions. In a virtual panel at Advertising Week, “Reimagining Retail for a Post-Covid Era,” Dr. Antonia Ward, global director of advisory services at Stylus, shares how brands can engage tomorrow’s customer by reimagining retail through the lens of racial and social justice, the current economic state and climate change—a necessary approach to empower communities and survive the pandemic.

The first step to cultivating community is thinking about how your brand can help consumers be part of the solution to achieving social and racial justice. Doing so will require retailers to change their localization strategies, as 63 percent of US Gen Z and millennials want brands to demonstrate local knowledge of their communities, according to Dr. Ward.

As far as brick-and-mortar retail goes, a more meaningful shopping experience starts with a store that has a point of view, says Dr. Ward. For example, in February Vans opened its first community-driven retail store in Downtown Los Angeles, a two-story, 11,500 square-foot space that celebrates Los Angeles’ skateboarding culture and community.

The ground floor features Vans shoes, apparel and accessories, as well as a dedicated shake shop with hard goods from other local brands. The second floor houses a gallery, lounge and workshop space called Studio808 where shoppers can experience hands-on art and design workshops, free of charge. According to Vans, Studio808’s aim is to educate and uplift underserved members of the community.

“It’ll be necessary to decentralize responsibility for brands to evolve from global to regional, from ‘cities’ to ‘communities’,” says Worth Darling, director of innovation at Vans, per Dr. Ward.

As consumers demand action beyond headlines and black Instagram squares, retailers can cultivate community by enabling conscious consumption. Dr. Ward points to Target, who achieved this by introducing a badge on its ecommerce site that indicates which brands are black-owned. Google, Yelp and DoorDash have all introduced tools for businesses to identify as black-owned as well. Plus, Glossier gave away $500,000 in grants to black-owned beauty businesses and $500,000 in donations to organizations fighting racial injustice.

A more data-driven approach has contributed to other brands’ success in delivering personalized experiences. For example, with the UK food market expected to grow 27 percent by 2024, Sainsbury’s in February opened its new digital-driven convenience store format where 90 percent of the stock is based on real-time analytics that monitor the preferences of local customers.

Another example of a retailer changing the way consumers shop is S Group’s Alepa grocery store in Finland. Earlier this year, Alepa introduced a hyperlocal digital initiative called “Alepa Block Wishes” to enable customers to request their favorite products to be added on the shelves of their local Alepa through a Facebook Messenger-enabled chatbot. Since launching, 70 percent of customers’ wishes were fulfilled within 48 hours and Alepa has expanded the program to over 90 neighborhoods.

As retailers look ahead, Dr. Ward advises that brands embrace COVID-19 and learn to be agile, view staff as community because consumers will judge them on their treatment of employees and invest in your handprint in addition to managing your footprint.

“This is a concept borrowed from sustainability where the idea of the environmental footprint, or the mark that you leave on the planet when you use resources, is matched with the handprint where you can do things to increase the positive as well as reduce the negative,” says Dr. Ward.

Red Bull Promotes Ken Turner To Chief Marketing Officer

This week in leadership updates, Red Bull promotes Ken Turner to CMO, Hyundai Motor America appoints Kate Fabian to CMO, Facebook promotes Alex Schultz to CMO, Loop Industries hires Sheila Morin as CMO, Penske Media names Mike Monroe as CMO and Piano appoints Ashley Deibert CMO.

Red Bull Names Ken Turner As New Chief Marketing Officer

According to Business Insider, Red Bull has promoted its brand marketing head, Ken Turner, to North American executive vice president and CMO, making him the company’s highest-ranking black executive.

Turner’s appointment comes as the company recently laid off more than 50 people around the world following controversy over a racist deck slide that leaked. As a result, chief executive officer Stefan Kozak and CMO Amy Taylor were fired.

Hyundai Promotes Kate Fabian To Director Of Marketing Communications

Kate Fabian has accepted a promotion as director of marketing communications for Hyundai Motor America, per a press release.

Fabian was most recently the senior group manager of marketing at Genesis Motor America. Prior to Genesis, she served as the brand communications manager for Hyundai Motor Company.

Facebook Makes Alex Schultz Chief Marketing Officer

Facebook’s vice president of product growth and analytics, Alex Schultz, has accepted a promotion as the company’s CMO.

Schultz replaces Antonio Lucio, who exited recently after two years as CMO.  

In a Facebook post, Schultz, who’s also the executive sponsor of Facebook’s Pride@ resource group, says that he hopes to build on Lucio’s efforts to “tell meaningful, culturally relevant stories with our family of brands.”

Loop Industries Appoints Sheila Morin As Chief Marketing Officer

Sheila Morin has joined Loop Industries as the company’s CMO.

In her new role, Morin will oversee the sales and marketing team under the leadership of Loop’s founder and CEO Daniel Solomita.

Morin most recently served as CMO at Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.

Penske Media Hires Mike Monroe As Chief Marketing Officer

Penske Media has named Mike Monroe as CMO, head of PMC Studios.

Before joining Penske Media, Monroe served as chief marketing officer for Sundance Institute. Prior to that, he was vice president of marketing for The Atlantic.

Piano Appoints Ashley Deibert Chief Marketing Officer

Piano has announced the appointment of Ashley Deibert to CMO.

Deibert joins from Taplytics, where she served as senior vice president of global marketing.

Microsoft Advertising Debuts A New ‘Marketing With Purpose’ Playbook

During the Advertising Week panel, “Marketing with Purpose,” Kya Sainsbury-Carter, vice president, global partner service, Microsoft Advertising, announced the company’s new “Marketing with Purpose Playbook.” At a time when people’s expectations of brands are in a state of constant flux, the guide aims to help marketers reimagine the brand experience through purpose and people, proven catalysts for trust, loyalty and brand performance.

Companies that lead with purpose are more trusted and loved. In fact, 85 percent of consumers say they’ll only buy from a brand they trust, according to a study from Microsoft Advertising and LRW Research, “Uncovering the Trust Drivers 2019.”

The key drivers of trust are responsibility, values and inclusion, Sainsbury-Carter notes. Consumers expect brands to protect their personal information, be honest about how their data is being used, support ethical practices, take an explicit stand on social issues and proactively solve issues if products or services don’t work.

But above all, the important attribute of consumer trust and loyalty is being genuine and authentic. Seventy-two percent of respondents are more likely to support brands that are authentic in their advertising, according to Microsoft Advertising’s, “The Psychology of Inclusion and the Effects in Advertising 2020.”

Inclusion in advertising is a prerequisite for authenticity. Ensuring people feel seen, heard and understood enables brands to naturally weave purpose into their strategies. For example, 63 percent of consumers say brands representing inclusivity in ads are more authentic and 64 percent consider them more trustworthy.

In addition to boosting a brand’s authenticity, inclusion in advertising drives purchase intent and increases a consumer’s likelihood to recommend. As a case study, Microsoft Advertising asked consumers to rank a variety of Tommy Hilfiger ads based on level of inclusivity. Thereafter Microsoft mapped that to purchase intent. Upon closer look, what they found is that the ad featuring a model in a wheelchair and a black model beat the non-inclusive ads with a 28 percent lift.

For a brand to genuinely become more inclusive, Sainsbury-Carter notes that marketers must shift their focus from being product-centric to people-centric. This requires long-term strategies meant to build trust and inspire customer advocacy but also equitable experiences, not merely compliance.

One brand that has successfully strengthened its commitment to purpose in recent years is Crocs. In March, the brand launched “A Free Pair for Healthcare,” a program that gave healthcare workers a free pair of Crocs, plus free shipping, through its website. Since launching the initiative, Crocs has given away 860,000 pairs of its Crocs Classic Clogs, valued at over $40 million in retail. 

In Q2, Crocs’ global revenues were $331.5 million, declining 7.6 percent from Q2 2019. The brand’s global ecommerce revenues saw 67.7 percent growth.

“Inclusion is not just a marketing campaign at Crocs. It is in everything we do. It is how we treat each other as employees and how we come to life every single day with our consumers and fans around the world. We like to think of them as a global tapestry and we love to celebrate what makes them all unique,” says Heidi Cooley, head of global marketing at Crocs.

How The Pandemic Is Transforming The Brand-Agency Dynamic

As brands try to keep up with changing consumer behavior, agencies are being met with demands for diversified services, forcing them to adopt a new business model. While there’s no one-size-fits-all playbook to address this new brand-agency dynamic, there are steps agencies and advertisers can take to align their goals and drive agency transformation.

During the panel, “Agency Transformation: Building for the Future, Now,” presented by Think with Google, at this week’s virtual Advertising Week, Matt Bush, Google managing director of agencies and partners, hears from Forrester principal analyst, Jay Pattisall, and UM Worldwide global chief client officer, Trish Chuipek, on the growth opportunities and barriers in driving agency change.

To help agencies understand how to best cater to clients’ evolving needs, Google commissioned Forrester to conduct research with 300 brand marketers and 500 agency executives across EMEA. The surveys were conducted in February before lockdowns and were conducted again in May with 30 percent of the original respondents.

As per Pattisall, the report found that brands need for their agencies to be strategic partners, the result of a growing disengagement in consumers’ online behavior, namely a ‘messy middle’ funnel where consumers skip ads online and jump across channels on the path to purchase. According to Forrester, 77 percent of brand decision makers are looking to agencies to provide customer-first strategies to address this new behavior.

“Consumers easily navigate between our retail commerce, mobile commerce and desktop commerce, and it’s incumbent upon brands to think about this in a connected way that optimizes performance,” says Chuipek.

Another byproduct of this new brand agency paradigm is a discrepancy in perceptions of value exchange—agencies are expected to do more with less. While 77 percent of agency leaders expect agencies to prove commercial outcomes, agencies are facing financial struggles with delivering on client needs because of marketing budget reductions. For example, 72 percent of brand leaders reported having to downsize.

Forrester’s data show that both brand and agency leaders expect a shift from a fixed-free structure like retainers and project models to outcome-based fees such as performance- and commission-based models. In fact, over the next three years, between 51 percent and 63 percent of brand leaders expect to move to either a performance-based model or a commission-based model for most of their agencies.

To build compensation models around outcomes, Chuipek says agencies and clients must discuss the key performance indicators (KPIs) to which they’ll collectively hold themselves accountable.

Despite tightened budgets, 63 percent of brand leaders are ready to invest in agencies that can engage disconnected consumers. Nearly half, or 43 percent, of brand decision makers say the top expected benefit of enlisting an agency is to increase company profits, followed by to increase a return on investment of digital marketing tactics (41 percent) and the ability to keep pace and adapt to shifts in consumer behavior (37 percent).

Other enhanced capabilities brands expect from agencies include creating seamless digital/mobile experiences with visual and display media, building meaningful customer relationships via loyalty programs, safely leveraging customer data to its full potential and utilizing martech to streamline processes. In fact, 68 percent of decision makers expect to increase budgets for emerging martech—like voice/conversational marketing, automation and artificial intelligence—and will need support for those operations.

“Rather than being hyper-focused on driving down the cost of media, we have to flip the script and focus on accelerating growth. We’re coming out of the race to the bottom. The opportunity in front of us is the race to the top,” says Pattisall.

What We’re Reading—Week Of September 28th

Study: 26% Of Adults In The US Get News On YouTube


About one-quarter of all US adults say they get news on YouTube, 59 percent of which say it’s an important way for them to consume news, shows a new study from Pew Research that surveyed 12,638 US adults from January 6 to 20.

Why it matters: 44 percent of the 377 most popular YouTube news channels that Pew analyzed were oriented around an individual, namely a journalist or independent host.

Meet The Rising Stars Of Brand Marketing

Business Insider

Business Insider has released its inaugural list recognizing the rising talent reshaping marketing for brands like Procter & Gamble, Frito-Lay, Uber, SkinnyPop and Walmart.

Why it matters: As The Hershey Company’s youngest VP, 36-year-old Kyle Banahan, SkinnyPop vice president of marketing, helped the brand’s ecommerce grow by 200 percent during the pandemic by promoting the popcorn as a healthy choice for remote workers.

LA Comic Con Is Moving Forward With An In-Person Event In December

NBC Los Angeles

LA Comic Con is set to hold its annual in-person event from December 11 to 13 at the LA Convention Center. The organizers say fans will receive a full refund or roll-over of their ticket if the event gets canceled.

Why it matters: To ensure guests maintain a six-foot distance, organizers have reduced headcount to 13,500, down from 42,000 in 2019. The event will still feature over 400 vendors, but to avoid bottlenecks, the aisles will be one way. Fans who attend are required to wear masks.

Reach Sees ‘Strong Recovery In Digital Advertising Growth’ After H1 Covid-19 Hit

The Drum

Between January and June, Daily Mirror owner Reach saw pre-tax profits plummet from £58.2m to £25.2m, while its revenues declined 18 percent to £290.8m.

Why it matters: Digital advertising helped the firm see a 12.9 percent increase, in addition to a 27.2 percent year-over-year increase in average monthly loyal users between March and August.

These 5 Leaders Are Transforming How America Works, Plays And Invests

Business Insider

Business Insider’s 100 People Transforming Business in North America includes activists, entrepreneurs and leaders shaping the future of investment.

Why it matters: After Hurricane Katrina, Rashad Robinson became president of Color of Change, an online civil rights advocacy organization that has over 1.7 million members today and spearheaded the Facebook boycott.