Last week I had the pleasure of hosting the Kantar Marketplace Hexagon Stage on Day 1 of MAD//FEST.

The stage was home to many brilliant speakers who gave great insight into what successful brands do to stay ahead of the pack and how they embodied MAD//Fest's 2022 theme, 'no guts, no glory'.

As ever, context is everything, and so at the beginning of the day I gave a 'state of the nation' presentation that outlined the environment within which all brands and firms are having to operate in 2022 and beyond.

There are many macro forces working against marketers right now. We are faced with rising inflation, (market & media), which is predicted to continue to rise into 2023. The obvious effect of this is that everyone, (meaning all our customers), is dealing with a severe cost of living crisis. In addition to this, supply chain hold-ups now seem to be common across all industries. The ever quickening pace of technology and 3P cookie depreciation only heighten the sense of unease that firms have.

However against this backdrop, there are brands that continue to grow faster and win. What is their secret? These are my key findings from spending a day listening to and quizzing the likes of Burberry, Boots, Dominos, Ford, and KFC.

Their marketing teams have a mandate for change and are leading from the front, baking purpose & inclusivity in to everything they do.

+ Cristina Diezhandino, Diageo's CMO, beautifully demonstrated this with examples from Johnnie Walker & Don Julio.
+ Pete Markey, CMO at Boots UK, shared Boots' commitment to tackling issues like the menopause and Pride Week as they matter to its customers.

Rachel Waller, Global VP Innovation at Burberry, takes to the main stage, last week.

They are taking bold transformation decisions and marketing is at the top table
+ Peter Zillig, Marketing Director for Ford Europe, candidly shared the radical transformation that Ford Motor Company is undergoing to sell cars online and take more risks with its communications.
+ Pete Markey talked about the importance of CMO's being statesmen/women and elevating the value of marketing.

They are committed to innovation & testing
+  Rachel Waller, Burberry's VP Global Innovation, showed us some tangible ways that the metaverse is helping Burberry connect the virtual & physical worlds and engage their existing community & new curious audiences.

Being truly customer centric and insight led   
+ Sarah Barron, CMO at Domino's, shared how Domino's leverages insight through connected data to understand customers and how investing in the brand & value for money has helped them grow market share.

They are more agile within their marketing teams – cross functional, flatter structures that move fast
+ Jack Hinchliffe, CMO for KFC, shared how this has helped KFC UK & Ireland generate incremental revenue and that he believes we are already under estimating the long term impact of the metaverse.

They are building the right data and tech stack foundations for the future where 1st party data is king:
+ Boots UK is pioneering this in the retail media space but also connecting data to buy their own media more intelligently.

At the end of the final CMO session, in which the panellists were asked to articulate what 'no guts, no glory' meant in practice, I asked each of them to share some advice to budding marketers:

+ Pete Markey advised to immerse yourself in as many marketing disciplines as possible and to find ways to make a big impact.
+ Jo Blundell, Vice President of Marketing at Papa Johns International, reminded those in agencies that the influencing skills they learn there are highly valuable inside a brand.
+ Jack Hinchliffe told the audience that there are all different shapes and sizes of CMO’s and don’t believe you have to conform. BE BRAVE!

All of these marketers are leaders in their businesses and the industry and ably juggle stakeholder management, listening to customers, strategy, innovation & their creative craft.

Over the next few weeks and months MAD//Insight will be providing a summary of MAD//Fest London 2022 and many of the great presentations from stellar brands who appeared on the Kantar Marketplace Hexagon Stage.