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BP: To futureproof marketers must unite data and brand

Marketers looking to future-proof their business need to live in “both worlds”, balancing data-driven opportunities and brand building, says BP senior vice-president of global marketing and Castrol CMO Nicola Buck.

Speaking at Advertising Week Europe today (15 May), Buck urged marketers to seize the opportunities presented by automation, CRM and targeting, while also acknowledging the importance of brand.

“If you’re not driving that, there will be no future,” she said of the tech and data opportunities presented to marketers, while also acknowledging the risk if marketers only focus on data.

“You’ve got to do the brand stuff to keep your brand relevant for the decades and generations to come,” she added, noting Castrol has a 125-year history.

If we can make today’s marketing as efficient and effective as possible, it frees up the space for the longer-term challenges.

Nicola Buck, BP

Buck acknowledged the challenges of deciding where to allocate attention and budget, emphasising that it’s about navigating both long-term and short-term journeys.

“If we can make today’s marketing as efficient and effective as possible, it frees up the space for the longer-term challenges,” she added.

When asked about the company’s competitors and the emergence of convenience-first brands entering the mobility space, Buck emphasised the importance of being “ruthlessly focused” on who you are targeting and why.

“In a world where there are so many new entrants, be ruthless on who your customers are, why they come to you and if you are delivering what they need,” she advised.

Claiming customers choose BP for its “high quality” fuels, Buck explained the company has been pushed to “stay ahead” and remain competitive in the face of competitors entering the space with a digital-first approach.

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“It’s a time when there’s so much change for us to step into. It’s also terrifying, but what better career to go after with those kinds of challenges,” she said.

Hindsight, insight and foresight

Reflecting on the role for marketing leaders, Buck claimed that in a rapidly changing world the role of CMO is more important than ever.

“The world is changing so fast and at such a pace when nobody knows the answers,” she said, adding that the best place for the customer to sit is with the CMO.

The BP marketing boss was joined on the panel by L’Oréal chief consumer and market intelligence officer, Edwin Taborda, who echoed Buck’s comments about future-proofing brands. He spoke about combining hindsight, insight and foresight to drive transformational change.

According to Taborda, while it is important to learn from the past, looking to the future often gets left behind.

“In very few cases, we are thinking about what will be happening,” he said. “That’s where we need to really focus and have a clear point of view on how our brands will take the next steps towards the future.”

With 37 brands under the L’Oréal banner, Taborda discussed the group’s intention to become a “beauty-tech powerhouse”. He used Maybelline’s AI-powered virtual make-up feature, accessible on Microsoft Teams, as an example.

“That’s our obsession as a group,” he said. “Really trying to be able to see what is just beginning and adopting it really early.”

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