Leaders Offer Myriad Lessons at ANA Conference

Replies to same question range from instructive to cheeky

As many times Bob Liodice asked the question, he got a different answer.

When questioning presentators today at the Association of National Advertisers' conference in Phoenix, Liodice, the group's CEO, asked each leader for a key takeaway or lesson that they wanted the record crowd of 1,700 to carry back to work. The answers ranged from instructive to cheeky.

Stephen Quinn, the chief marketing officer of Walmart—the world's largest corporation—urged marketers to listen to everyone, including haters, and build coalitions inside and outside the company.

"Embrace those folks. Get them together," Quinn said. "You've got to create an ecosystem."

McCann Worldgroup CEO Nick Brien called on companies to examine their agency relationships with an eye toward improving them. "Be honest on whether it's being managed effectively," Brien added.

Like Quinn, Weight Watchers svp of marketing Cheryl Callan extolled the virtue of collaboration even when it's painful or frustrating.

Referring to a major rethink of her Weight Watchers' positioning in the marketplace—the subject of her joint presentation with Brien—Callan asserted that "because we learned together, we were able to do something inspiring."

And while Kraft Foods' Dana Anderson took a soft-sell approach, AT&T's Esther Lee simply cut to the chase.

"Go buy the iPhone from AT&T," Lee said, eliciting chuckles from Liodice and the audience.

After all, as Liodice responded, "You've got to sell."