PepsiCo president Brad Jakeman was lucky last to speak at the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ RESET conference in Sydney yesterday, and it was well worth the wait for attendees.
Jakeman’s presentation was a challenge to marketers – in order for the brand they represent to be disruptive, they have to be the driver’s seat.
“If the marketing people in the organisation are not going to be responsible for developing the ideas, the process, the culture that enables a company to survive and thrive through disruption, then who is going to do that?” he said.
“Disruption can happen to any of us. We may not see it coming, it may reach scale faster than we could possibly imagine, and if we haven’t been thinking about alternative business models and alternative ways of doing things, then chances are we’re going to be on the back foot trying to catch up and play defence.”
“As marketers, we have to think ‘Are we just on autopilot? Are we doing things that worked last year or the year before, or maybe even last quarter? Are we really appreciating the fact that the world is moving at a pace and at a scale that is really unprecedented?’”
Jakeman warned marketers not to confuse disruption for innovation.
“Innovation is what we have to day every day – it keeps the business growing and it keeps the business going – but innovation is really innovating within the same kind of system, process, category that we operate in,” he said.
“Disruption is taking a step back and fundamentally changing the business model, and very few of us do that.
“Sometimes when we’re on the path of innovation, we think we’re actually disrupting ourselves and our category, but really we’re only incrementally moving it forward, and there’s some kid at Harvard – about to graduate or not – who has an algorithm or an idea that’s going to come along and take on this $155 billion market cap company in my case and fundamentally disrupt us in ways that we didn’t see coming.”
Jakeman then criticised marketers and ad agencies for still being hung up on the 30-second TVC.
“Television has a precipitous decline in most developed markets of viewership, and the media has stripped it as technically incapable of any form of interaction with its audience,” he said.
“It’s a one-way media, yet still marketers cling to the 30-second television spots, agencies cling to a model where that’s the centre of creative development, and we are not moving fast enough to change that.”
“At PepsiCo now, I only hire marketers from companies with very small marketing budgets, and the reason I do that is because they don’t have the luxury of being able to make a $2 million television spot and put it on the Super Bowl. They have to think about being more nimble – being more creative. They’re more thoughtful about distribution through earned media rather than paid media which they can’t afford to do.”
Driving diversity in the workplace is another way that PepsiCo is trying to drive disruption in its marketing, and is somewhat of a passion project for Jakeman.
“As a client whose consumer base is 85 per cent women – 85 per cent of the purchase decisions in the category that I run are made by women – why is it that every time I show up to a room of partners, I’m confronted by a sea of white, straight men? I don’t understand,” he said.
“Make sure you’re thinking about the diversity of your teams when you’re building organisations to be disruptive.”
Embracing Ad Blocking
Jakeman went on to bag out digital pre-roll advertising, and sing ad blocking’s praises.
“Ad blocking is the best thing to happen to our business,” he said. “It is the burning platform that as marketers and agencies we need to make content that consumers actually want to seek out rather than scream out.
“Digital pre-roll is the most insidious pollution that the marketing industry has ever created. This is a model that is not sustainable and ad blocking is an invention inspired by consumers who don’t want to see the pollution we have historically produced. It is an invention that we now have to live with as an industry, we have to deal with as an industry, and I hope it will drive us to create actual content that people want to seek out and not scream out.”