Mumbrellacast Live: Mim Haysom, Nick Garrett on the evolving CMO; why we should be playing a ‘bigger game’

“We’ve become short-term and tactical,” says Deloitte Digital’s Nick Garrett in this Mumbrellacast Live edition, recorded at last week’s Mumbrella360 summit. “We’re hiding behind technology instead of being strategic, bold, and brand driven and using brand as a business strategy, not as a marketing strategy.”

Garrett and Suncorp Group CMO/EGM for brand and marketing, Mim Haysom spoke to the Mumbrella audience about how marketing for brands has changed in such a short period of time, as the complexity of a marketer’s role becomes increasingly stretched, with the expectations, and resulting output sometimes not matching up.

Haysom and Garrett on stage at Mumbrella360

For Haysom, success with her agency partners has come from finetuning the setup, rather than making large, wholesale changes, and this was exemplified with the brand’s suite of wins at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where it brought home five of the 16 Australian wins.

“I want [my agency partners] to understand the business strategy, and then the brand strategy to be able to respond to the briefs appropriately, to get to great work. From my perspective, to do that there has to be consistency, trust and a strong relationship. Sometimes that takes a bit of time to build, so for me, the consistency of partners is really important, but at the same time, I’ve got a portfolio of nine brands. So I don’t want to get shackled to only one agency or only one creative partner. I want to have some choices.”

Earlier this year, Suncorp shifted its production to a centralised hub at WPP’s Hogarth, away from its two key creative agencies, Leo Burnett and Ogilvy, both of which delivered award-winning work this year.

“That was enabling us to build more capability to deliver better effectiveness,” continued Haysom. “Again, the value that I get from Ogilvy and Leos is their strategic firepower and their creative ideas, and centralising production made sense for us. Our model might not be for everyone, but for our requirements, requirements are going to be different to a single brand fashion online retailer.”

Garrett: We were the apple of the eye in terms of integration

Garrett, in what seems a consistent opinion of the Australian industry, doubles down on comments he made four years ago at the same event. 

“I think the quality of Australian communication’s been declining for 10-15 years at a pretty rapid rate. I said that I think on a stage like this a few years ago. I think we’ve reduced the role of marketing in the boardroom as a driver of growth, and innovation has diminished. We’ve become short-term and tactical. We’re hiding behind technology instead of being strategic, bold, and brand-driven, and using brand as a business strategy, not as a marketing strategy, and all of these things are happening at a glacial pace.”

“Quarter by quarter, six months by six months, we can’t see it and what you do, and I’ve done it myself is when you aren’t doing your best work on your biggest client, which is what you should be doing every single day because it’s the thing that matters, you start playing on the fringes and we’ve deluded ourselves creatively by winning awards by doing good creative, but not on the big things, doing for NGOs, small tactical things or doing the slice of work on the side of a client versus doing the fundamental big thing that matters.”

“We should be playing a bigger game,” Garrett continues. “Australia was once the apple of the eye in terms of integration. We’re a small market. We’re fast. We’re agile. We didn’t create a line between direct digital and brand, because the same people had to do the same work on the client side, because we were multitaskers and we were the envy of the eye as generalists, thinkers, and solvers, particularly agency side.

Haysom: Different brands have different requirements

“An Aussie person could get a job anywhere in New York, LA, London, and now I don’t know if they can.”

During the conversation, the pair speak about how they came to their respective roles, with Haysom telling the audience once she got the job she was after running an agency in her past role at M&C Saatchi, she “absolutely bloody hated it”, leading her to quit and look across to the client’s side of the table.

Haysom says the CMO role, which she has been in for the best part of four years, is evolving really quickly, alongside the expectations. But to understand why, you have to consider the context the role operates in.

Garrett adds: “I think we’ve got two roles, I know I do, and I think all CMOs do. Your role – and this is horizon – is: one, is to make customers more valuable for brands, but big picture you’ve got to make brands more valuable for customers and we’ve forgotten the latter. And it’s a lesson that a decade of emerging industry people, both marketing and agency have forgotten, and the two go hand in hand, they cannot be separate.”

Listen to the full session now on the Mumbrellacast. 


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