Marketers From Hilton, Fidelity and Belvedere Share the 3 Most Important Lessons They’ve Learned This Year

Brands weigh in at Adweek's first Ignite conference

Jill Matthews Photography

Brand marketers continue to face pressure from every direction—from adopting new technologies into their marketing strategies (including everything from Snapchat to AI) to keeping their brands away from major controversies on social media and being inclusive to all customers. There’s clearly a lot to think about.

This week a handful of them spoke at Adweek’s first Ignite conference, held in Cincinnati, and shared what they’ve learned in their roles in the past year.

Speakers included Carlos Zepeda, vp, Belvedere, Moet Hennessy USA; Heather Shultz, vp, participant marketing at Fidelity Investments; and Andrea Richardson, director, multicultural and diversity marketing for Hilton Hotels. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Don’t be afraid to get real

In 2016 Belvedere took its holiday campaign to a whole new level with a fully integrated marketing campaign that was also designed to give back. It told real stories of people affected by AIDS. Zepeda noted that when his team proposed the idea of doubling down on the topic of AIDS (Belvedere has worked with Project Red in the past) and really exploring that in its marketing, there were a lot of raised eyebrows and questions. The team went ahead with it anyway.

“We wanted to keep it real,” Zepeda said. “We are telling you we are contributing X amount of profits to AIDS so I’m not going to be afraid to talk about AIDS.” He added that it can take a lot of courage to be a marketer today, but you always have to be willing to try new things and push boundaries.

2. Personalized messaging is key

At Fidelity Investments, Shultz and her team wanted to teach consumers about asset allocation without using the financial jargon. The team launched an email test that was highly personalized for customers. If a customer was off track in their savings, the email told them that. It also provided a simple solution to get back on track and a number to call if they had more questions.

“It worked. More people were opening the email, clicking through, calling,” she said.

3. Multicultural consumers are powerful

At Hilton, Richardson is responsible for heading up multicultural and diversity marketing for 14 different Hilton Hotels brands (with Hilton being the flagship property). In her role, Richardson tasks herself with reaching out to the growing multicultural demographic and thinking about how she can make herself a truly transcultural marketer.

According to Richardson, multicultural consumers’ buying power grew by 415 percent from $661 billion in 1990 to $3.4 trillion in 2014. She also noted that by 2043 the U.S. Census Bureau said people of color will become the “majority-minority.”

“All in all, what this means specifically is this is a huge opportunity for us,” Richardson said. “I would highly recommend that brands really take a look at the power of multicultural consumers and really begin to develop strategic campaigns, not just targeted strategic campaigns, but also finding ways to integrate multicultural relevance into their total marketing campaigns. That is all predicated on the growth we are seeing in buying power.”

Adweek's Danny Wright fires up the crowd.
All photos courtesy of Jill Matthews Photography
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