CMO Insights: Innovative Marketing

an interview with
Mayur Gupta Global Head of Marketing Technology and Innovation, Kimberly-Clark

The job of the detective is to not simply to take the facts as they appear but instead to dig for hidden clues and ultimately reassemble these into a cohesive fact-based narrative of what actually happened.  With this in mind, I would propose that Mayur Gupta, the Global Head of Marketing Technology and Innovation at consumer goods giant Kimberly-Clark, is the Sherlock Holmes of digital marketing.  Though our one conversation transcribed below hardly qualifies me for the role of Watson, I will say that if you read our Q+A, you too may finally have a clue what programmatic marketing is all about.

You will also come to understand what big data can actually do for big brands, especially if (and this is a big IF) you can shift the internal conversation from channel-centricity to customer-centricity.  As Mayur sees it, opportunities abound for the marketers who “break the channel silos and drive seamless or so called “omni channel” consumer experiences.”  Read on.  It won’t take any detective work on your part to see why he received the Programmatic Marketing award at The CMO Club’s CMO Awards.

Drew: This is a great quote from you: “We don’t believe in digital marketing; we believe in marketing in a digital world.” Can you explain what you mean and how it impacts your planning process?

Actually, that was me quoting our CMO, Clive Sirkin, who has gone on record to say “we don’t believe in digital marketing but brand building or marketing in a digital world.” As an organization we have adopted that mantra as a founding principle behind all our marketing strategies. It’s quite simple if you think about it – we are engaging a consumer who is living in a massively digital world, she is dependent on digital technology, which is now part of her daily life. She no longer differentiates between the analog and the digital world in her expectations from brands and how they engage, she expects the same value and experience seamlessly across the board. However, on the flip side, brands continue to consider digital as a “thing” or a “silo” which breaks and fragments that experience. We at Kimberly Clark believe in breaking these silos by driving convergence that eventually builds legendary brands in this digital world. It’s a shift from being multi-channel (channel focused) to truly becoming “omni-channel” (consumer focused).

Drew: Also, the same article mentioned you had eight principles for innovation in the corporate ecosystem—can you talk about the top 3 principles your fellow marketer’s should concentrate on first and why?
Sure, will share 3 of them, not necessarily the “top” 3 but I think these are most fundamental in context to driving innovation:

*   #BeConsumerObsessed — For the most part, marketers and, in fact, the entire industry is “channel obsessed”, from strategies to operations we think about channels and touch points first and consumer second. The way plans are laid out, technology landscapes are orchestrated – it’s all channel driven. For marketing and innovation to be successful, it needs to be consumer driven and consumer obsessed, solving consumer needs and desires and when you do that, you organically break the channel silos and drive seamless or so called “omni channel” consumer experiences. Technology and innovation can very easily overshadow this simple fact.

*   #DontKillTheButterfly — I don’t think any explanation can do more justice than this video itself:

Innovation is about letting the ideas fly which can be challenging in a corporate world that is increasingly driven by ROI from day one

*   #ConnectTheDots — Finally and most importantly, I strongly believe that creativity and innovation is all about connecting the dots. Most times, it’s all out there; all it needs is wiring.

Drew: What innovations are you proudest of leading in 2014?
We are still in early stages of driving disruptive innovation in a digital world – we introduced our Digital Innovation Lab (D’LAB) at CES in Vegas in 2014. We have a number of pilots that are currently in flight, some of them are in market right now and some ready to launch in early 2015. But personally I am most proud of innovating how we drive and orchestrate the complex data and technology ecosystem across marketing. We have established a global marketing technology organization within marketing reporting into our CMO while working very closely with our CIO and her organization. We have innovated our organizational model that has allowed us to drive innovation across the board with data and technology, launching capabilities like programmatic, data management platforms and other content and eCommerce capabilities with speed, agility and nimbleness across the globe.

Drew: Can you talk to one area of innovation you’d really like to crack in 2015?
Don’t know if I can share the actual ideas on this forum but a big area of focus for us in 2015 is driving data convergence, an ability to stitch the fragmented data ecosystem across 1st party, 2nd party and 3rd party data. In order for us to drive relevant, personalized and frictionless consumer experiences across channels and touch points, we need this universal data set just in time and the ability to make decisions and predictions relevant to our consumer as she hops from one touch point to the other. This is more critical for us than “big data”, in fact we put big test and big learning far ahead of big data which for us is a good “buzzword”.

Drew: How has programmatic marketing helped you reach your overall marketing objectives?
It has helped us become smarter as well as more relevant and personalized from a media buying and consumer engagement standpoint across paid channels. Having utilized and scaled the obvious benefits of programmatic, we are now in the next horizon where we are starting to leverage the impact of programmatic across rest of the ecosystem including our owned and earned channels as well as weight our retailer partnerships. The early horizons of programmatic have helped us optimize our media buying efforts and maximized the ROI but the subsequent horizons will include leveraging consumer data and insights in driving stronger consumer engagement and inspiring behavior across the board which arguably is the most under utilized and ignored benefit of programmatic buying.

Drew: What were some of the challenges of adopting programmatic and what advice would you give to another marketer who is just getting started?
Programmatic has been at Kimberly Clark for a few years now even before I had joined, so the credit goes to our media leadership and Clive Sirkin, our CMO. We were clearly one of the early adopters and pioneers in the space. The challenge for us now is to go beyond the obvious and scale the capability globally. We have already seen tremendous success with our current trading desk and programmatic buying capability, we are now challenging ourself to take it to another level and impact the broader marketing ecosystem, smartly leveraging consumer data and insights that will drive seamless experiences and inspire consumer behavior across paid, owned and earned.

Drew: Have you leveraged any new technologies or platforms in the last 12 months and if so what were the results relative to your expectations?
We have spent the last 12-18 months to establish a marketing technology ecosystem at Kimberly Clark that includes technologies in three broad buckets – 1. enterprise capabilities that need to be globally scaled, 2. tactical and localized capabilities that need agility and speed and pertain to local market and consumer needs, 3. lastly technologies and start ups that we need to partner with to drive innovation. Underneath these buckets, there have been a number of new capabilities that have successfully been launched this year but more importantly we have focused on wiring these technologies, ensuring it’s a connected ecosystem and not isolated technologies.

Drew: Storytelling is a big buzzword right now.  Is your brand a good storyteller and if so, can you provide an example of how you are telling that story?
Sure it is and don’t we love these buzzwords, I think storytelling is the “big data” of 2014. On a serious note though, we believe in the power of having a brand story but not necessarily in “storytelling” because that still represents the old mindset that lacks participation and engagement. We believe in “story building” where as brands we share stories that are connected to our brand promise; these stories inspire consumer behavior and participation where eventually our consumers end up creating their own stories on a canvas and foundation that we provide. That is the ultimate state for us that we call “story building.”

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