“Pardon my Brooklyn-ese, but growth sucks,” Bob Liodice, CEO of the ANA, said in his keynote address for the Masters of Marketing conference on Thursday.
More than half of the 2016 Fortune 500 list posted shrinking revenues this year, he claimed, and poor leadership by CMOs is to blame, Liodice added. After praising brands such as NASCAR and Oreo for their marketing strategies, the speaker turned on the rest of the marketers in the audience.
“It boils down to a lack of effective marketer leadership,” said Liodice. “As leaders, we, as an industry, have refused to make the tough calls—calls that would take us out of the cesspool of suboptimum growth. For example, we as leaders should not accept this byzantine, non-transparent, super-complex digital media supply chain. No one can understand it.”
Liodice isn’t the first to complain about the opacity of digital media buying: the IAB announced substantive efforts to simplify mobile ad verification earlier this week.
“These depressing patterns are happening even with continued growth in media spending,” said Liodice. “Yet we keep feeding the beast by pouring incredible sums of money into this unproductive, unmanageable abyss. Remarkably, we keep doing so even though we know that only 25 percent of every digital dollar reaches the consumer.”
To solve this crisis, as well as a talent crisis the ANA describes as “looming,” Liodice urged the marketers in attendance and CMOs in general to join his organization’s latest initiative, the Masters Circle. He put forward a 12-step program, which includes initiatives such as “Gender Equality,” “Brand Safety and Ad Fraud” and “Advocacy and Self-Regulation.”
“CMOs can no longer let others do the heavy lifting,” Liodice concluded. “It is time for chief marketing officers to seize ownership of the industry’s growth agenda.”