January 24, 2023

The need-to-knows for CMOs in 2023

Sam Huerkamp

Account Director

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Adage Next CMO conference, and hear from some of the top CMOs about their key learnings from 2022 and their predictions for ‘23. Session topics spanned everything from influencer strategy to tips for building a strong agency/client partnership to strategies for entering a potential economic downturn. If you’re a marketer at any level, these are the can’t-miss themes in 2023.

When approaching an upcoming economic downturn, trust your playbook

The consistent sentiment we heard throughout the day from several of the key CMO speakers in regard to a potential recession was that brands should 1) trust their playbook, and 2) be willing to listen to consumers and adapt to meet their needs. Brands who have a successful playbook shouldn’t start from scratch in the face of turmoil but instead should lean into what they know has been successful, and stay in tune with their core consumers so they can be agile. These leaders have seen this approach carry them through times of uncertainty in the past, and they believe it will again.

When it comes to celebrity partnerships – you need more than a thumbs up

Michael Kassan (CEO, MediaLink) spoke about the current expectations of brands and celebrity talent. Now more than ever, brands expect their key celebrity talent to not just simply endorse their brands, but to actually be a part of the creative. And similarly, talent is seeking to have a seat at the table with the brand and agency teams weighing in on the direction of the creative they will be a part of. Kassan noted that in order for this to work well, brands really need to ensure alignment of values when selecting a celebrity.

Strong agency/client relationships require open communication

We heard from duo Heidi Cooley (CMO, Crocs) and her agency partner Caroline Winterton (President NY Region, Digitas) about the importance of a strong start to a working relationship. The first 90 days are crucial, and the key to their success was grounded in their early honest conversations about what was and wasn’t working in their process, as well as the willingness on both ends to be agile and adaptable. Crocs knew they needed an agency that shared the same values, and who easily aligned with their culture. They also tribute their successful partnership to Digitas being willing to respectfully challenge Crocs' strategy, positioning them as a partner that Crocs didn’t just want, but that they needed.

As I look ahead to partnering with my clients in 2023, these are the three learnings I’ll be taking with me. 1) Lean into the pieces of our playbook that have proven successful. 2) Stay in tune with our core audience and their needs. 3) Establish and stay true to the values we share with our clients. How will you prep your clients for the new year?

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