Campaign India Team
Jun 18, 2013

Cannes 2013: 'Marketers must hang out with their most difficult customers'

Tata Communications' Julie Woods-Moss and Georgia Pacific's Douwe Bergsma spoke on the topic ‘How CMOs find and foster the best talent’, moderated by MSL Groupe's Renee Wilson

Cannes 2013: 'Marketers must hang out with their most difficult customers'

Julie Woods-Moss, CMO, Tata Communications, and Douwe Bergsma, CMO, Georgia Pacific, spoke about the increasing importance of the role of a chief marketing officer in a session on day two at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2013.

The session was inspired by Changing Mo founder MaryLee Sachs’ book on CMOs which goes on sale later this month in Europe. The book is based on a research conducted among 26 CMOs.

Dual role

Moderator Renee Wilson, president, MSLGroup North America, began by stating out that marketers now needed to play a dual role. She said, “Business and marketing leadership are the dual roles a marketer has to play now. There’s a changing modus operandi; companies now need 'super hero' CMOs for global growth. Yet, only 63 per cent of the companies globally have CMOs.”

Woods-Moss added, “A CMO will control more of the technology budget than a CIO in a company by 2017.”


Woods-Moss spoke about her challenges as the CMO at Tata Communications. She said, “The Tata Group is a 100 billion company present across eight segments. The Tata way is, ‘Do and not talk’. We contribute 70 per cent of our profits to charity. One in four people who access the internet are doing so thanks to Tata, but we are still not a well known brand. Other than in the Asia-Pacific, we are a challenger brand. I was the first CMO of the company. When I took over, the marketing team was so close to the sales team,  I had to bring out a new entity, without breaking the bond between sales and marketing.”

This was addressed by launching a few initiatives in-house, she explained. One of the things she did was a crowdsourcing initiative. "I encouraged anybody in the company to participate in Innoverse (a combination of innovation and universe) where we asked people to post a challenge to anyone in the company. The good sign was that 30 per cent of the 30,000 winning ideas came from cross-teams,” Woods-Moss explained.

Bergsma too spoke about the importance of innovation: “Innovating with a product is easy. But what needs to be done is innovation going beyond product (packaging etc). Our innovation was taking our toilet-paper business to e-commerce."

Critical peer relationship

“We have a tendency to encourage our team to reach out to other CMOs to talk about processes. That’s how they’ll get to know what’s going wrong. We also got two-three different agencies to combine to make a 30-second spot. Agencies think of it as a competition, we get the best work,” explained Woods-Moss.

'Everyone thinks they can enter marketing'

Speaking about the sought-after characteristics of a marketer, Woods-Moss said, “Intellectual curiousity and honesty is a must. Every marketer must ask why and look for answers. Marketers need to be thick skinned; everyone thinks one can be a part of a marketing and communications team. The days are long gone when marketers only need to read papers and sit behind the desk. I encourage marketers to hangout with their most difficult customers rather than indulge in official activites."

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