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Crystal Ball

We asked CMOs of 15 top consumer brands to predict how digital media and technology will impact brand marketing in 2012. The feedback we received ranges from proving that mobile and social are no longer just hype to confirming that content can still be King. Regardless of their point of view on which electronic medium is preferred, the consensus from each CMO is that digital is critical to the survival and success of their brand. In this third series, marketing chiefs from General Mills, Gogo, L’Oréal, NASCAR and Visa explain why they’re ranking content at the top.

Ash ElDifrawi of Gogo

There’s no doubt that mobile and social media – two things that have dominated the headlines for marketers for many years now – will continue to play a huge role in marketing. However, the leading buzz in 2012 will be about content curation, which has been necessary as the convergence of content, advertising, media and devices has accelerated. According to Ash ElDifrawi, EVP & CMO of Gogo, the media outlets who can best sort through the massive amounts of content being generated throughout the connected world and curate it into something meaningful and relevant to consumers will have the largest impact on brand marketing. “There are many companies that are doing a good job of it now, but I believe there will be a huge focus on this in 2012 and beyond.”

Mark Addicks of General Mills

At General Mills, content curation has been an obvious strategy for brands like Betty Crocker and Pillsbury where they provide an inspired idea daily to answer the question ‘What’s for Dinner?’ But the CPG company is also injecting content marketing into its cause initiatives such as Nature Valley and their passion for preserving national parks. A new online tool from Nature Valley named Nature Valley Trail View will allow consumers to explore specific trails in three national parks from where they are at that moment. Mark Addicks, SVP & CMO of General Mills, explained that the content lets consumers experience the unspoiled beauty of nature and will, hopefully, inspire visits to these majestic places. Additional content, such as educational tips, will be found along the journey. “In 2012, many marketers will start with content as a way to engage their best customers and grow their business versus advertising. They will realize the power of content to enhance the brand experience, deliver the brand’s purpose and extend the opportunities for the brand to serve,” predicted Addicks.

Antonio Lucio of Visa

Consumers expect to share valuable, entertaining and authentic experiences and a marketer’s job is to deliver content that meets and exceeds these expectations. We asked Antonio Lucio, Global Chief Marketing, Strategy and Development Officer at Visa, to share what’s working for his brand. We’ve found tremendous success creating share-worthy content, particularly utilizing assets and relationships from our sports sponsorship portfolio: Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup and NFL,” explained Lucio. ‘Care enough to share’ is the principle Visa follows for development of content in social media. Lucio suggests that, in the year ahead, marketers will need to place even more emphasis on understanding their audience’s behavior and media consumption patterns. “Before venturing into creative development – in order to create content that’s entertaining, relevant to them and, most importantly, provides consumers with an outlet to display their passion and drive the conversation – make sure you’ve done significant behavior and consumption analysis.”

Steve Phelps of NASCAR

NASCAR has a five-year industry action plan that includes developing and deploying a best-in-class digital/social media strategy and improving the fan experience at their events. “What I see happening over the next 12 months are brands becoming more adept at successfully translating their digital content to the out-of-home and live event experiences,” predicted NASCAR CMO, Steve Phelps. Phelps provided Panasonic as an example of a brand doing that extremely well. “Last year they installed the world’s largest high definition television screen at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which immediately provided fans with an enhanced experience that ignited a conversation about the brand online and via mobile.”

Marc Speichert of L'Oréal USA

Marc Speichert, CMO of L’Oréal USA, addressed how content can directly result in what all CMOs and business leaders are ultimately evaluated on – revenue. “For 2012, I do see a big acceleration of the ‘digitalization’ of retail. We saw what Tesco did in South Korea last year with their homeplus virtual stores in the subway – to go where the shoppers are (vs ‘forcing’ them to go into a retail destination). We have seen many initiatives around the globe since and I do believe we will see many more in 2012, including in the US.”

The lines between what happens in the traditional brick and mortar stores and what happens online are blurring and will continue to converge very rapidly. Content is the constant. ‘Those of you who will look at it holistically will win! In the end it’s about ONE consumer journey that includes both an online and offline experience – and the weight of the online piece is growing exponentially,” said Speichert.

Follow Brandon on Twitter at http://twitter.com/brandongutman

Find more of my content about brand leaders at http://brand-innovators.com

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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