CMO50 alumni share their favourite marketing moments from 2021

12 of our 2021 CMO50 reflect on what's given them joy as marketing leaders over the past year

2021 has certainly continued to be a year of shape shifting for Australian marketing leaders, their teams and their marketing activities.

From state by state and local government area lockdowns to changing media consumption and behaviours, consumer sentiment, production schedules and remote working, marketing teams have had their hands full trying to create and orchestrate programs of work this year.

But while the challenges have been obvious, a lot of great work has nonetheless been accomplished in the face of the pandemic. So as part of this year’s CMO50 program, we asked a number of our CMO50 alumni to tell us what their favourite marketing moments over the past year have been.

Vanguard CMO, Louise Eyres

The creation and launch of Vanguard’s new brand strategy and brand campaign in 2021, our 25th year in Australia, was a key moment in 2021. At a time when trust, integrity and brand connection is as important as ever, it was incredible to see the impact the campaign had with both our crew and our clients.

For the crew, it was enormous personal pride in seeing our brand in market in new and innovative ways and for our clients it was a case of ‘finally’ you are sharing the Vanguard story in Australia.

CMO50 2021 #23: Louise Eyres

Uber senior director and head of marketing APAC, Lucinda Barlow

My favourite marketing moment has been bringing some love and joy to Aussies when they needed it most during a time of Covid fatigue.

We launched an ambitious campaign, ‘Tonight I’ll be Eating for Love’ at the Australian Open 2021, with the aim of bringing joy to Australians and giving away over 100,000 fun and free meals via Uber Eats. When the score on the tennis match was love, you could ‘eat for love’ on Uber Eats. To bring this to life, we featured Sacha Baron Cohen playing his first Aussie character in our campaign. He thrived as a grumpy umpire disrupting the tennis with Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios, in a determined effort to keep the score at Love and give everyone the best chance to win.

It was a technically challenging campaign - filming in Melbourne between lockdowns, cancelled crowds, challenging real-time integration, and most importantly bringing to life a real-time promo into live sport. This required operating a 24-hour x 14-day social and operations ‘war room’. We ended up giving away over 120,000 free meals from five enterprise partners and delivered bold business and brand results to compliment.

These included driving growth in trips (+4.8%) and basket size bookings (+4.4%) as well as increases in consideration (6pts Directional) & brand preference (+1.3 pts) - as well as delivering joy in a time when people needed it most.

CMO50 2021 #11: Lucinda Barlow

Menulog marketing director, Simon Cheng

It’s unorthodox, but my favourite moment was actually quite embarrassing for our business and myself.

We misspelt 'Wollongong' on an outdoor billboard last year and it garnered some interest from the locals and media including Channel 7. What makes this my favourite moment is that once we admitted it was a genuine error and not a marketing ploy, the locals were quite forgiving and good-humoured about it. We at least made sure it put a smile on people’s faces when they saw it afterwards.

CMO50 2021 #26-50: Simon Cheng

Officeworks GM marketing and insights, Jessica Richmond

As such a well-known and mature brand, one proud moment for us was Officeworks being named Fastest Growing Brand of 2020. It was a great acknowledgement of the teams’ work through a tough time, not just to survive but to continue to grow the business throughout the pandemic.

It was great to see how our marketing investments not only contributed to our short-term trading results, but also influence the increased value of our brand and resulting impact on our balance sheet.

CMO50 2021 #16: Jessica Richmond

University of NSW CMO, Sofia Lloyd-Jones

Having chosen UNSW as a school leaver almost 30 years earlier, when I returned as chief marketing officer, I was passionate about shaping the future of UNSW as a world top 50 ranked university. So, seeing the transformational impact and cultural shift of the brand project I lead across the institution has been a humbling and rewarding career highlight this past year.

The brand project has helped to create a new way of thinking about the role of universities in society. It has been wholeheartedly embraced by some of the world’s most brilliant academic researchers, and it has recently been reflected in an update of UNSW’s heraldic crest and Latin motto to mark the institution’s’ 70th anniversary, making for a very proud personal legacy.

CMO50 2021 #26-50: Sofia Lloyd-Jones

Mars Wrigley Australia marketing director, Ben Hill

My favourite marketing moment broadly was the initial outpouring and inevitable commentary that followed dozens of brands making ‘we are with you’ type COVID-19 ads.

It showed a real insight into our function globally. First, the ubiquitous insight that was obvious to all, then the way brands worked to outmanoeuvre one another with various executions. I would love to see a study on the performance of brands that followed this ‘trust’ model in 2020 versus their competitors that didn’t.

CMO50 2021 #17: Ben Hill

Australia Post CMO, Amber Collins

During NAIDOC week, we launched Traditional place names on our packaging. The response from the country was overwhelming and heart-warming.  

Our team members were so proud of this landmark change and its contribution to the National conversation. The positive media coverage was also more than we could have imagined.

CMO50 2021 #18: Amber Collins

Xero marketing director Australia, Vladka Kazda

My favourite marketing moment would have to be this end of financial year’s ‘Emotional Tax Return’ campaign, where we invited small business owners to submit an emotional expense claim for a chance to win back a curated experience.

We rewarded under-romanced small business owners with a night out with their significant other. It captured the sentiment of what our community had missed most in 2020, which we also explored through a survey. This revealed more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of Australians running a small business in the year to June 2021 felt it had been more emotionally draining than any other year they’d been in business.   

CMO50 2021 #26-50: Vladka Kazda

Freedom GM marketing, Jason Piggott

Absolutely the highlight of the past 12 months has been the ‘root and branch’ reinvigoration of the Freedom brand, an initiative that was supported at every level of the organisation and delivered across all touchpoints. And it was delivered under an intense approval and in-market timeline with a high level of executional excellence.

This doesn’t happen without real robust thinking, alignment and stakeholder engagement and great partnerships internally and externally. And the response from customer and team members alike has been overwhelmingly positive that something has changed for the better.

CMO50 2021 #26-50: Jason Piggott

APEX Tool Group marketing director, Kristin Viccars

We ended up casting one of my diesel fitter mining mates in our first major Gearwrench brand ad. Watching it appear on Kayo during the footy with him and other mates over a beer one Saturday afternoon was just awesome. The positive reactions and banter throughout the night was hard to beat.

CMO50 2021 #26-50: Kristin Viccars

Grays chief digital officer, Natalie Ashes

My favourite moment from the past year was when we sold 39 blocks of land in Kununurra, Western Australia in less than two weeks. Real estate was our ‘startup’ category and the land had previously been unsold for years. We put it on the Grays marketplace and watched it exceed all reserve prices.

This was a result of some highly targeted marketing campaigns by my team including pre-registrations, print media, social, search and drawing on our database of over 3 million. Every time I refreshed my screen as the auctions were closing it felt like I was winning on a pokie machine (even though I was not collecting the prize).

CMO50 2021 #13: Natalie Ashes

Fitness First head of marketing, Matt Fletcher

The Fitness First repositioning project, and specifically when I saw the new communications platform live on TV and OOH for the first time, was a favourite marketing moment for me. Surely seeing one’s creative work live is still the greatest pleasure for any marketer. The day I no longer get that buzz is when I know it’s time to look for a new career.

As with any major project, this was a labour of love. 2020 changed so much in terms of category, culture and context in which Fitness First operates. We knew we had to adapt our offering and our messaging and do it quickly. Early in the research phase, we unearthed a clear consumer tension in the fitness world: While people personally want to feel stronger inside and out, they put others first on a daily basis and are consequently too busy to care for their own needs and holistic fitness goals.

We leaned into this insight and came up with a concept that simply articulated: You’re a better parent, better colleague and better person when you ‘Put Yourself First’. We believe this is powerful, different and almost counterculture. This is especially true at times when everybody is asked to look after others first. With a quick turnaround we shot the campaign in time to be live in January 2021 to impact a key sales period.

The tremendous hard work from the marketing team and production partners, made all the sweeter when seeing it live and the positive impact to business performance that resulted.

CMO50 2021 #15: Matt Fletcher

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