Posted By Sarah Davy, Friday, April 15, 2016

Earlier this year, IABC Minnesota was lucky enough to partner with Maccabee PR to host the “Can Your Brand Change the World?” event featuring former General Mills Chief Marketing Officer Mark Addicks. Attendees were able to hear insights from the former CMO about what has made General Mills a leader in forward-thinking branding. Here are a couple important lessons from Mark Addicks:

1. It’s vital that brands live the values they are representing in their marketing.

When companies are true to their brand, they can galvanize employees and consumers. If a brand says that they’re supportive of a cause, but their actions don’t match up, employees and consumers will call them out. Consumers crave authenticity – give that to them.

2. Marketers have to do things long-term to make sure their brand stays meaningful and relevant.

Short term, every brand has to market their product day-to-day to get sales, but companies also have to do things long-term to make sure their brand stays meaningful and relevant. Price discounting isn’t a sustainable strategy. You have to build brand relevancy to get into the consumer’s consideration set.

Addicks argued that marketers should build brand relevancy for a coming generation. Under Armour gained a 28 percent sales lift with women from “I Will What I Want” featuring dancer Misty Copeland. Sales going up and more brand relevancy made this campaign a win-win.

3. PR and social media can help explain the context for why people should care about your brand.

Consumers are much more interested in news than in paid advertising. Addicks says that a marketer’s goal should be to “tell your brand story in a way that surprises, delights, intrigues or provokes me, in a creative format that I’ve never seen before.”

Another perk of PR: It can be just as successful as paid advertising for a fraction of the cost.

4. Everything old is new again in marketing.

Addicks used the example of spaghetti dinners to emphasize this point. Back in the 1960s, communities gathered together for spaghetti dinners; then that tradition fell out of favor.

Today marketing is all about local. So that old spaghetti dinner event could probably work again. He pointed that you’d have to make some tweaks like adding social media and reinterpret it based on what your target audience wants to rally around – maybe make it gluten free!

5. Redefine your brand by being interesting.

Honey Maid is a 90-year-old graham cracker company. A lot of people may argue that graham crackers are not exciting. Honey Maid’s “This is Wholesome” campaign redefined the world ‘wholesome’ in their ad campaign, which brought them back into the cultural conversation.

Interested in learning more? Check out these two posts on Maccabee PR’s blog: