Reengineering Goliath with data, and David with scale

Associate publisher Lisa Faktor on using science-side marketing tools to de-risk big, bold brand ideas.

Faktor, Lisa 2“Don’t be paralyzed by data, sometimes the reason someone doesn’t come back is, well, no reason.” Walmart’s Ben Baker’s comments are spot on when it comes to using data effectively.

Returning from Ad Week New York, I felt the conversation had shifted from having data for data’s sake, to using data to craft breakthrough narratives that shape culture and move the needle – and this is where we’re seeing a sweet spot for brands.

Another shift that’s taking place: the Goliaths are honing in on DTC turf (think Nike’s subscription service), while the Davids are quickly growing up and donning a top funnel strategy.

Digital-born players already have the data and they’ve been reading the tea leaves, so zeroing in on their audience comes with ease. I didn’t know I needed a new mattress until Casper paired one with sleeping baby animals. But they did, and now I do too.

Our 2019 Marketers of the Year all made shifts and took risks using data-fuelled strategies. They also doubled down on what their brands stand for and leaned into being bold.

Canadian Tire Corporation’s Susan O’Brien unified her retail banners and steered the ship behind Triangle Rewards, a program that modernized the company and brought mass amounts of data to its teams. She also used consumer insights to hijack Black Friday for SportChek shoppers and shifted perceptions of an entire nation to think of Canadian Tire as the place for “new” products.

Scotiabank’s Clinton Braganza pulled a hat trick where he miraculously managed to get sports fans to call its stadium by its new Scotiabank Arena name. He showed marketers how they can fast-track naming rights deals to get the most out of their investment and how to go against the brand bible by colouring outside the bank’s signature hue.

Fountain Tire’s Denise Gohl-Eacrett zeroed in on shoppers’ pain points by solving them. Tires aren’t an exciting or sexy purchase, but Gohl-Eacrett transformed her brand’s approach with a complete overhaul, putting marketing dollars where they count. Through this redo of the brand, she was able to reinvigorate the 63-year-old company.

Jackson Hitchon led Hershey Canada to become the number one brand in the country this year. The marketer drove brand love for consumers under its “Life is Sweet” platform, launched Reese into space and led Oh Henry! into the cannabis conversation at exactly the right time (4:25, of course). Through Hitchon, the company has created bold brands that are grounded in consumer insight. He says breaking through is about taking risks.

And finally, Clorox’s Matt Kohler has been on a mission to drive innovation at the CPG company and lead with sustainability via top-down action that allows his brands to succeed with purpose. Glad is pushing against single-use plastics and investing in education to reduce garbage (and ultimately garbage bags). Kohler attributes the eco transformation to the company’s acquisition of Burt’s Bees, and experiencing the impact first-hand of being purpose-led.

These brands are taking advantage of all the science-side marketing tools to de-risk bold new ideas, allowing them the freedom to make change quickly and confidently, and invest at a level that has real impact.

Using data is also no new task for the winners behind the Media Innovation Awards. This year’s cases were backed by insights that paved the way for true innovation across all media, so mark your calendars and come out to The Carlu on November 28th to find out which plans and programs will take home a gold M.