Disclaimer: this is just my personal POV. Off the top of my head. I took some mental notes here and there but this is just what stuck in my mind, which I’m hereby hastily putting together for your perusal. Congrats to Gilbert Dávila and team for once again putting together a marquee of first-rate talent coordinated with clockwork care.
The conference started with an unwitting funeral: “CREATING CONTENT AND ENGAGEMENT WITH SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS. A PANEL.” Which could’ve also been titled: How the marketing community murdered another golden goose with its flat-footed tactics while doing away with the nascent livelihoods of a bunch of internet content creators in the process. See, I don’t think I’m greatly exaggerating when I say influencer marketing is dead. With our help, of course. We marketers & advertisers pushed it over the cliff. It was fun while it lasted, for a little under a decade. The ROI was great. But it’s got no credibility whatsoever left so it is officially defunct now. Credibility was its one and only asset and it is gone for good. Hey, celebrities have been hawking products since forever, you might say. Yeah, but that was then, this is now. People were more naïve as recently as ten years ago. Not anymore. Let’s put it this way: I know full well that Roger Federer is getting paid handsomely to wear a Rolex. He is a walking billboard. NASCAR with less surfaces to stamp a logo on. Now then: if you are some nobody who somehow gathered 100,000 rubberneckers to follow you on Instagram, what is your claim to fame? Can you even hold a racket, a golf club, something? Same applies to bloggers, who INMHO, have a little more dignity than Instacelebs. Bloggers write. I am a blogger to some extent. But would you read me if you knew I’m being paid to sugarcoat reviews of products? Whatev. I was somewhat of a fan of Annie Vázquez, aka The Fashion Poet, but watching her in the flesh was a bit of a disappointment. I hate to say this because I was under the impression that she was a smart, savvy, hardworking Latina. Never meet your heroes. Familiarity breeds contempt.
INCLUSIVE MARKETING MATTERS by P&G’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard. When you have the deepest pockets in town you don’t need to brag. Mr Pritchard, as usual, was a class act. Not sure I’m a big fan of P&G’s work, I tend to find it a bit too staged. Too insight-y but in a fake way. Hey, it’s P&G. Them folks ain’t not in the risk-taking business. They’ve got to protect their turf and their leadership. Hedge their bets and play it safe. I totally get it. Running that ship can’t be easy and taking unnecessary chances would be foolish. If I had to sell billions of gallons of shampoo & detergent meeself, not sure I’d do anything different. Mr. Pritchard is the man for the job, dude oozes leadership and grace under pressure.
LEADING AND CHANGING THE INDUSTRY THROUGH AIMM: A FIRESIDE CHAT featuring Gilbert Dávila -CEO of Dávila Multicultural Insights- and Tont Rogers, Sam’s Club Chief Member Officer and recently appointed chair at AIMM (Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing). AIMM’s goal is to push for a more inclusive agenda in America’s executive suite. Way to go. Mr Rogers spent a few years working in China. Talk about getting outside your comfort zone. Mr. Dávila, as usual, flaunted his talent to ask the hard questions with a disarming soft touch.
WAKANDA FOREVER! BLACK PANTHER’S JOURNEY TO SUPERHERO ROYALTY. Three very senior executives from the Walt Disney conglomerate showcased their colossal marketing machinery. They call it “the Disney difference”. Hollywood, as usual, is 30 years ahead of the rest of us in this game. Yes, it is indeed easier when you own a bunch of marketing vehicles and media outlets, but still. I’d dare say that this was the second most memorable keynote of the event.
MULTICULTURAL & DIVERSITY CHAMPIONS AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL by Roger Solé, CMO at Sprint. A telco owned by Japanese investors and headquartered in Kansas City pretty much casts its lot with Hispanic management and US Hispanic consumers to show auspicious results. Not sure it gets anymore multicultural than this. Remains to be seen what will happen when & if the merger with T-Mobile takes place (last I checked, Sprint’s CEO, Marcelo Claure was selling his $10 mill estate in KC, possibly to move back to Miami and get more involved in his passion project: Inter Miami (Club Internacional de Fútbol de Miami) in partnership with David Beckham and Miami’s own captains of industry, the Mas brothers.
OUR MUSIC, OUR CULTURE: BLACK MUSIC'S INFLUENCE ON POPULAR CULTURE. By Nidia Serrano, Director, Multicultural Marketing at Pandora. Forgive me for stating the obvious but multicultural marketing floats around three passion territories, to wit: family, food, sports and music. Pandora -soon to be fully absorbed by Sirius XM if authorities approve- seems to have the latter all figured out and Nidia Serrano made some very strong points in this direction. Spotify notwithstanding. Problem is, marketers and advertisers have never quite figured out how to properly use music and musicians to their mutual advantage. Mutual being the key word. I happen to have a bunch of ideas, should you be interested in exploring something new. You know where to find me.
A DIVERSITY REPORT FOR THE ADVERTISING/MARKETING INDUSTRY by Bill Duggan, Group Executive Vice President at ANA. Picture’s looking better. Minorities still underrepresented though.
DIVERSITY IN AMERICA by Susan Goldberg, Editor in Chief and Editorial Director at National Geographic Magazine and National Geographic Partners. Possibly the best keynote I’ve seen in years in a gathering of this nature. Even if the magazine Ms. Goldberg runs seems to be erring on the side of pandering. Did you know no other brand has more followers on Instagram than National Geographic? Neither did I.
UNCOVERING GROWTH BY STAYING IN STEP WITH THE MARKETPLACE by José E. Vélez-Silva, Vice President, Multicultural Marketing Communications, Comcast. Mr. Vélez-Silva seems to be an accomplished schmoozer (and I mean this I the best imaginable way, schmoozing one’s way around is essential in our line of business). Naturally, schmoozing must be backed with great work and solid results, which is clearly the case at Mr. Vélez-Silva’s tenure at Comcast. The war for acquisition & retention doesn’t get more brutal that in his line of business. Dude knows his racket inside out and has evidence to boot in the form of multiple memorable campaigns. Loved his line: “we’re not in charge of multicultural, we are in charge of growth cuz multiculti is where the growth is at.” Or something like it.
TOYOTA’S APPROACH TO MARKETING TO MULTICULTURAL CONSUMERS by Ed Laukes, Group Vice President, Toyota North America. The Japanese auto manufacturer not only mass produces some of the highest quality and most reliable products in the world: its advertising is quite remarkable and crowd-pleasing too.
CASE FOR CHANGE: MULTICULTURAL AND INCLUSIVE MARKETING AS A BUSINESS IMPERATIVE FOR LONG-TERM GROWTH by Michael Lacorazza, Executive Vice President at Integrated Marketing at Wells Fargo and co- chair at AIMM. It must be noted that the San Francisco-based financial institution Mr. Lacorazza works for has a lot of soul searching and apologizing to do after the scandals that clouded its reputation in the recent past. The brand is strong though and it appears to be re-building trust with focus, professionalism, hard work, humility and a deep involvement in multiculturalism. Where was I?
CÎROC AND DIAGEO “GET IT” WHEN IT COMES TO UPLIFITING SPIRITS AND CULTURE by Dia Simms, President, Combs Enterprises. Great work by Sean Combs, Puff Daddy, P Diddy (or whatever his latest name is) in the liquor category. His organization, Combs Enterprises, seems to be run with serious acumen by Ms. Simms.