At the NFL and Moët Hennessy, collaboration leads to insight and impact

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Chief marketers at the NFL and Moët Hennessy reveal how camaraderie enables a shared understanding of customers that leads to better marketing decisions.

NEW YORK — Fostering collaboration and pushing for collective change take effort and planning. Both are worth it because they lead to shared customer insight that better informs marketing initiatives. Those were among the main themes in a spirited talk at The Economist's Marketing Unbound conference here.

"Marketers don't spend enough time thinking about how to create teams," said Jon Potter, CMO and EVP at Moët Hennessy USA. Potter pointed to sports players as models that marketers can pattern their team culture after. "The great thing about sports teams is that they have … a collective vision. They understand the competition but don't try to be the competition. But they do create moments. As marketers, we don't do enough of that. Find ways to learn from the competition, keep your own identities, and make moments," he said.

Not surprisingly, NFL CMO Dawn Hudson said her organization thrives on a team-oriented culture. She noted that its marketers need to meet same collaborative and cooperative expectations as are on the field. One of the best ways to promote team spirit, Hudson said, is to evolve and work through changes together. "In fact, we're on a journey to do things differently — we have to do things differently," she explained. "And when there's disruption, turmoil, and change people are more receptive to doing this differently."

One change the NFL is working to make, Hudson said, is to correct the wrong assumption that the organization has a small female fan base — a perception that she says is dated and untrue. "Actually, the NFL's fan base is 46% female and has grown 7% in the last five years," she said. "Females make up 37% of our avid fan base."

Understanding the true makeup of the NFL's fan base enables its marketers to create the right messages and content. Women [statistically] place more value on escaping and spending time with friends," she said. As part of marketing to its female-heavy fan base, the league's marketers embraced cause marketing, focusing on issues such as domestic violence and physical health that are important to women.

Hudson and Potter agreed that a deep understanding of an audience allows marketers to target with agility. "But don't let traditional practices limit who you're identifying as your customers," Potter warned. He said the marketing team at Moët Hennessy USA works to connect with the more intangible elements that bond people together. "Connect timeless aspects with modern-day culture," Potter said. "That's when you connect the mind-sets."

Hudson agreed, saying that marketers should target mind-sets, not demographics. "You can't really segment on demographics and age brackets," she said. "Segment by mind-set, behavior, and attitude. Attitude is important because those connect you. Brands connect with emotions."

Both Hudson and Potter said that with the right goals, resources and understanding of an audience, marketers can uncover what's most important and impactful to consumers.

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