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Humanity and Insights Still Priority: Facebook and Clorox CMOs Align at AIMM Meeting on Power of Cultural Relevance

(Originally published ANA Blog)

October 24, 2017

By Rochelle Newman-Carrasco

What does a 150-year-old CPG brand have in common with a 13-year-old social network that has almost 1.2 billion people active everyday? The CPG brand is Clorox, a company that “makes everyday life better, every day.” The social network is Facebook and their mission was recently revised to not only connect people but to “bring the world closer together.” Clorox is based in Oakland and, as a result, is part of one of America’s most diverse cities. In contrast, Facebook is part of the Silicon Valley area, notoriously lacking in diversity. At the latest Alliance for Inclusive & Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) membership meeting, both companies’ CMOs, Eric Reynolds of Clorox and Gary Briggs of Facebook, sat down to discuss their companies’ views and efforts on multicultural marketing and diversity in a panel moderated by Michael Lacorazza, EVP at Wells Fargo and co-chair of AIMM. The day-long AIMM meeting was held on the Facebook campus in Northern California.

AIMM members, a group of nearly 40 founding members comprised of brands, agencies, media companies, research firms, and trade associations, are in the process of developing a set of best practices that can aid marketers in more effectively connecting with today’s diverse consumer segments. The alliance is also committed to bringing multicultural to the C-Suite and vice versa. As part of that journey, the alliance spends time with CMOs like Reynolds and Briggs and taps into their perspectives on everything from metrics and measurement to internal alignment. Reynolds, as an example, reflected on the value of a multicultural Center of Excellence to organizations that are earlier in their development as culturally fluent organizations. He went on to say that while the COE structure is no longer employed by Clorox, it is likely they wouldn’t be where they are today without having had a separate multicultural group.

“That expertise has to be incubated before it is integrated,” Reynolds added, explaining that cultural expertise has been embedded into the brands themselves. Success stories bear out the wisdom of the approach. “80 percent of Kingsford Charcoal’s growth comes from Hispanics,” Reynolds shared. “Even Burt’s Bees is demonstrating strong appeal to Black and Latino segments.”

Briggs acknowledged that Facebook has not been as focused on a structure that fosters multicultural expertise but they have been working on diversifying their organization and ensuring that Facebookers feel that they are in community and not a group of one. “We have been vocal about our commitment to the rights of immigrants, women, and the LGBTQ community. We are globalists and optimists,” Briggs said, acknowledging that politics is not something Facebook can avoid. Reynolds also addressed the ways in which Clorox navigates the line between commerce and social responsibility by keeping conversations going internally and staying aligned with core values.

The two CMOs were also aligned on the importance of speed and agility when it comes to generating creative work and quick wins that could “walk the halls.” In the area of hiring, speed was viewed as more of an obstacle than an asset. The desire to fill openings often leads to more homogeneous talent pools but both CMOs agreed that homogeneity is ultimately in conflict with a drive for innovation. Citing the NFL diversity hiring practice known as the Rooney Rule as inspiration, Briggs made it clear that diverse slates are a requirement and any deviation from this mandate requires his sign off. Reynolds underscored how important retention is to his organization and how much of Clorox’s focus is placed on making sure the company culture is inclusive and inspiring.

Personalization was a shared area of interest for the CMOs, both recognizing the consumer ability to control more in terms of how they tune in or tune out advertising messages than they ever have before. According to Briggs, “Everything gets better when a brand becomes more human.” Reynolds underscored how important it is to their brands that they don’t rely exclusively on big data and on squeezing out information on such an individualistic basis that they lose sight of the humanity needed to really connect in emotionally compelling ways. “If we lose our people mission we’re in trouble,” Reynolds stated.

As the AIMM meeting unfolded throughout the day, many of the themes from the morning CMO panel reappeared as part of committee initiatives. As an example, the Total Market Committee had begun to explore structures that lead to better multicultural marketing outcomes. Early indications from a directional study point to Centers of Excellence as a structure that correlates with growth. Additionally, the Talent and Education Committee announced a partnership with the AEF, via the creation of the MADE (Marketing and Advertising Education) Internship program that would help to bring diverse candidates into the advertising and marketing arena as part of their education, exposing them to real-world scenarios in ways that academic institutions have not been able to emulate.

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