Why Leo Burnett's CEO Creates Assets, Not Ads

Hal Conick
AMA Annual
Current average rating    
Key Takeaways

​​What? Consumers are telling marketers what they want but marketers are not listening.

So what? Marketers who spend their time producing too much and not listening enough are not giving the consumer what they want.

Now what? Marketers should design around the consumer, not technology, according to Swinand.

​Sept. 12, 2017

Consumers are giving away mountains of data, but marketers aren't listening as they should be

Consumers are giving away large swaths of data about what they want by starting off Google search queries with “I want,” “I need” and “where is” questions, but many marketers spend their time boasting rather than answering consumers' needs.

“We live in an era today when people are actually telling us what they want,” says Andrew Swinand, North American CEO of Leo Burnett Group.  “We're producing more and more but listening less and less." Swinand addressed the 2017 AMA Annual Conference. To appeal to the modern consumer, he says, this equation should be flipped.

Marketers should listen to what consumers are saying to figure out what consumers' problems are, Swinand says. Done correctly, this can lead to companies giving consumers better solutions. “How do we better know what people are looking for and provide creative solutions that inspire prosperity?” Swinand asks. The answer, he says, is to design around the consumer, not technology.

An example of using technology to design around the consumer was a Leo Burnett campaign for hair care company Pantene. During the research stage of the campaign, Swinand says his team found an interesting challenge that many w​omen switched hair care brands during “bad hair day” moments.

To become more appealing in one of these bad hair day moments, Pantene partnered with Watson and the Weather Channel app to give people geotargeted notifications triggered by weather to show when conditions may lead to a bad hair day. When the conditions were right for a bad hair day, customers were directed to Pantene products at a local Walgreens. Swinand says Pantene saw a 24% sales increase.

“It was knowing the moments that matter and utilizing technology,” Swinand says. “I like to think about production now as assets not ads. [In this campaign], we created thousands of assets.”

The Best Use of Technology

To figure out how to use technology to serve people, Swinand says marketers should do a little but learn a lot. By this, he means marketers should not adopt more new technology than they can possibly learn.

Marketers should have technology experts help them learn the technology so the marketers aren't learning how to use new technology in key moments. And, as always, technology and campaigns need to constantly be tested.

“Test and learn, test and learn, test and learn,” Swinand says. Marketers need technology and intelligence to reach consumers in 2017, but without testing they may end up “burning gray matter” to solve the wrong problems.

Key Takeaways from Swinand

At the end of his talk, Swinand gave marketers some words to remember:

“Creativity has the power to change human behavior.”

“Understated human behavior so you know what creative problem you're going to solve.”

“Technology can help you customize content to the individual.”

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Author Bio:

Hal Conick
Hal Conick is a staff writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at hconick@ama.org or on Twitter at @HalConick.
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