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CMO50 2020 #26-50: Yves Calmette

  • Name Yves Calmette
  • Title Chief marketing officer
  • Company World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)
  • Commenced role February 2016
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 3 direct reports; 24 staff
  • Industry Sector Not-For-Profit (environment)
  • 2019 ranking 18
  • Related

    Brand Post

    In the last 12 months, Yves Calmette did something he’s never done before, shifting the entire business to a single mission and focus overnight when the bushfire crisis peaked in the first days of 2020.

    “We stopped everything to allocate all our resources, energy and passion to save, rescue and protect wildlife. All marketing activities pivoted in 48 hours,” Calmette said.

    And then came the coronavirus pandemic. “I am incredibly proud of the team which has been demonstrating exceptional levels of resilience and motivation, and has been able to perform and deliver even more and better than prior Covid. Even if we may return to the office one day, the ‘working from home model’ has definitely proven its benefits and there is no turning back,” he said.

    The challenging events of 2020 have underscored the importance of being agile like never before. “While my team has proven to be very agile by pivoting multiple times over the last 10 months, it’s now critical to keep building this skillset as there is no other option: the world and our ways of working have definitely changed for good,” he said.

    And when it comes to the essential ingredients to marketing innovation, they include AI, data and BI. “A very challenging equation between short- and long-term, yet a vital one,” he said. ”Innovation through AI and data while nurturing the brand is my mantra."

    Marketing effectiveness

    In the first days of January, WWF took the radical decision to dedicate its entire resources and capacity to the unprecedented bushfire crisis, one of the largest ecological disasters ever recorded anywhere on the planet.

    As CMO, Calmette's leadership was crucial in finding innovative ways to generate and process the incredible outpouring of support and donations received from around the world.

    The team launched a new brand platform, the Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery (AWNR), within a 48-hour period to act as a funnel for the unprecedented level of donations and support. All performance marketing activities (digital, social and fundraising) were aimed at promoting the AWNR Fund, generating $8 million in the first 10 days.

    This entailed content across the global media landscape, delivering daily stories to internal, local and international stakeholders, corporate partners, donors, supporters and media. Editorial reach grew by 2000 per cent and exposure spiked by a factor of 12.

    "Agile ways of working providing clear and simple pathways for communication, collaboration and decision on a daily basis while enabling deep and wide cross-organisation integration," Calmette says.

    "WWF marketing department’s pivot radically lifted the organisation above the market and strengthened its ranking as the leading and most reputable environmental NGO both locally and internationally in both influence and trust."

    Influencing change

    The staggering blow dealt to the natural environment from the bushfires required action at a vast scale and recognition that “business as usual” is not the best way forward. WWF’s new AWNR Fund allowed the organisation to take critical steps forward. However, the scale of the solution really needed to better match the scale of the problem at hand.

    "I realised that WWF, as the most trusted leading environmental organisation, had the impetus to seize the moment: if we are to regenerate Australia’s environment, we will need significant input from all sectors of society, with WWF well poised to lead on several key fronts," Calmette says.

    The CMO set up a plan to reshape the agenda of the organisation by embarking on a multi-year integrated communication and fundraising platform, with the ambition to mobilise all Australians to construct the largest native species and landscape campaign in Australia’s history. A multi-year $300 million effort will allow WWF to help repopulate  cherished native species, restore their natural habitats and future-proof Australia against further climate disasters.

    After an extensive internal consultation over six months, comprehensive consumer market research and in-depth business modelling, the executive team with the support of the board agreed to redesign the organisation’s vision and mission and build the FY21 business plan and budget around Regenerate Australia. The plan included integrating communications, advocacy and fundraising activities under the Regenerate Australia umbrella and leveraging the strategy for the organisation's financial resilience and growth during Covid-19 uncertain economic times, bringing relevance, precision and financial sustainability.

    Data-led marketing

    The bushfire crisis generated an unprecedented amount of data due to new donations from all over the world. "We also knew from research that the user experience delivered by our systems was poor. I knew WWF had to address its technology debt urgently and optimise its data/digital ecosystem to make the most of the new influx of supporters," Calmette says.

    This included infrastructure to scale the martech platforms (in parallel to the BI strategy implementation) such as platforms upgrade including headless CMS and data ecosystem upgrade. And digital marketing capability to improve customer journeys, segmentation, automation and personalisation such as anonymous login, recommendations engine, email auto-scripting.

    The digital campaign tools to increase engagement, such as form-triggered email campaigns and step-up forms for click rate optimisation. "The first round of test and learn implementation of the ‘one-click plan was applied for one of our most critical advocacy campaigns to lobby the Federal government during the review of nature laws, a once-in-10-year opportunity to strengthen and properly enforce the laws meant to protect our wildlife," he explains.

    This included a floating call-to-action button driving supporters to take action at any time while browsing relevant content on WWF’s website without directing them to another page. Automatic fully personalised emails generated, for users when ready to act, to send directly to their local MPs inbox based on their postcodes. And immediate donation capability directly from the website without having to fill out a second form along with data collection enabling it to contact supporters who didn’t complete the donation process.

    Customer-led thinking

    "In the aftermath of the bushfire and Covid-19 crises, data and business intelligence (BI) became part of my portfolio in order to accelerate the design and implementation of the BI strategy, one of WWF’s priorities," says Calmette.

    The first three key decisions were to support the primary system and data assets to provide business users with a single source of truth, quick and easy data flow, and enhanced insights. This involved setting up KNIME, an innovative central workflow and analytical tool that drives automation and data transformations; creating the Enterprise Database (EDB) to house data from key data assets such as Raiser’s Edge (RE), online donation platform, Marketo and Google Analytics.

    In addition, it involved implementing PowerBI and Tableau data visualisation tools to view dashboards. "This new BI structure allows users to access trusted information quickly and easily, manipulate and pull in data in any format from any source, write or send the data to any file or database and create easy-to-understand visual workflows," says Calmette.

    The communications and fundraising team can now deliver optimised customer experiences by improving performance marketing and supporter engagement by having the right data in the right place at the right time by connecting the data flow between systems and into the EDB, cleaning and standardising the data and creating new information from existing and new sources of data.  

    "Reliable and clean data, critical for the continuity of the business: by cleaning, merging and correcting data to a maximum level of data quality, the supporter engagement team is able to provide a highly personalised care to our donors."

    Commercial acumen

    The marketing function has been instrumental in FY20's exceptional growth. Despite the tragedy of both the bushfires crisis and the global pandemic, the strategic pivot taken by the marketing department lifted the organisation far above the market and resulted in 300,000 new supporters and 200,000 new social media followers.

    "Given WWF’s very limited media budget, the strategy mainly focused on driving growth and commercial outcomes from owned media [in particular social] and earned media," Calmette says.

    While most environmental NGOs also grew their reach and level of engagement, WWF outperformed other organisations significantly, with a +263 per cent increase in reach and +1785 per cent increase in engagement led by its aggressive Facebook and Instagram strategies.

    "WWF-Australia had more than 1500 editorial mentions in Australia, which was a 317% increase on the previous period. Online media was huge, accounting for 62 per cent of these articles, with no negative media stories about WWF’s bushfire work," Calmette notes.

    "Additionally, WWF-Australia had more than 5500 editorial mentions internationally. The increase in volume and reach was over 1000 per cent compared to the previous period."

    COVID-19 innovation

    Founded by WWF-Australia in 2007, Earth Hour (EH) is a great example of how we were able to radically pivot its proven format, Calmette continues. With the Covid-19 crisis sending shockwaves around the world and a lockdown impending for Australia, all planned activities for EH based on physical community events across the country on 28 March  were set to be cancelled.

    "Instead of settling for a diluted campaign, the team implemented a bold and innovative idea: to take EH 100 per cent digital and host a live stream lockdown party so supporters could unify at home in a much-needed moment of hope and solidarity," he says.

    The team, working remotely, had just 11 days to shift every element of the campaign to #EarthHourLive. This encompassed the entire creative, media, PR, web and social program and the production of the two-hour online livestream hosted live by TV presenter, Patrick Abboud. To achieve this result with such a tight lead time required the team to "prototype in public".

    "The calibre of artists secured through our efforts ensured significant media coverage and general public engagement. This reaction to rapidly changing external factors, arriving in the aftermath of the bushfires which had kept the team at critical capacity, was exciting, energising and resulted in key innovation," Calmette says. #EarthHourLive was nominated as a finalist for the 2020 AMI Awards for Marketing Excellence and exceeded all KPIs.

    "We generated over 800 pieces of media coverage for a reach of 153 million in the peak of Covid-19 media saturation, up from 124 million in 2019."

    Cross-functional collaboration

    Calmette has been leading WWF towards a 100 per cent integrated organisation model for conservation, fundraising and marketing to work more efficiently together and deliver on ambitious growth targets. It has been implemented with a phased approach over four years.

    Year one saw a change team set up to support this massive organisational shift. The team used the 'Kotter’s 8 steps' change management model to enable the marketing function to take the lead on all communication strategies and agenda, instead of only servicing the other departments.

    In the second and third years, governance groups coordinated by marketing were created to deliver all campaigns. Agile methodology and project management tools such as Slack, Trello and data dashboards were implemented.

    "A digital unit was set up under marketing to manage all digital marketing activities for marketing and fundraising," Calmette says. In the fourth year, the first integrated campaigns with unified content and messaging were amplified across all channels to seamlessly integrate into digital and revenue messaging and execution.

    The other key cross-functional development was having the data team join the marketing department. "This transformation has proved instrumental to not only manage the bushfire crisis successfully but also adapt very smoothly when all teams moved to working remotely from 17 March 2020," he says.

    Despite the challenges of coordinating all projects remotely, thanks to a very supportive and positive culture, great use of agile marketing and fully integrated teamwork, all our campaigns were delivered and exceeded KPIs set before the pandemic, with no COVID-19 concessions required.

    "I am very proud of what WWF has achieved here and even more so I am incredibly proud of the team which has been demonstrating exceptional levels of resilience and motivation in particular since the beginning of the pandemic," Calmette adds.

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