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The Economist

PepsiCo: "Ad-blocking is something that we all have created"

PepsiCo: "Ad-blocking is something that we all have created"

At Wake Up With The Economist, advertisers and marketers discussed how to reach empowered, tech-savvy millennial consumers

Empowered consumers are taking control of their digital world – with ad-blocking on the rise, the question of how to reach tech-savvy millennial consumers is top of everyone's minds. At Wake Up With The Economist, adland's big brains gathered to discuss how marketing needs to change to meet this new challenge and win over consumers.

"Ad-blocking is something that we all have created, just bear that in mind," said Brad Jakeman, president global beverage group, PepsiCo. "We write a cheque to a television network, we can put whatever we want in that 30 seconds, and we expect people to watch it. And now everybody is looking like ad-blocking is this most horrible thing: 'How can it happen?'." The solution, Jakeman argued, is to change the way marketers engage with consumers: "Produce stuff they actually want to see."

The priority for brands is to deliver better value for consumers, said Lori Lee, senior executive vice president and global marketing officer at AT&T Inc. "It raises the bar for us and our partners to give them value added content and meaningful, wonderful advertising so they will engage."

Osama Hirzalla, vice president brand marketing & commerce Europe at Marriott International, agreed that brands need to put the consumer's needs first: "We want the creative to connect with what consumers are engaged with rather than doing what I want."

Jonathan Mildenhall, CMO at Airbnb, argued that marketing directors have become stuck in their ways – and suggested a novel solution to the problem. "If there were awards for shitty marketing directors, I genuinely believe that the quality of marketing across the board would improve," he said. "Then you wouldn't have young millennials trying to avoid all of the marketing that's put out there, especially on their mobile phones."

All agreed that the industry needs to change its approach. "We're a 140 year old company and we do so many things the same way because it used to work,"  said Lee. "We really have to segment, we have to deliver the right message to the right customer that delivers value for them and we really have to engage new platforms to hit millennials."

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