Over four days in Orlando, marketers played golf, watched commercials from top CMOs and attended concerts. But when P&G marketing chief Marc Pritchard took the stage, he reminded the thousands of marketers in the audience that there’s a lot of real work to be done.

“We — the collective we — are taking back control of marketing to lead disruption and drive growth. This isn’t a panel for entertainment. This is a panel for action,” Pritchard said. Here’s what we learned from the presentations at this year’s ANA conference.

Consumers should be called humans
Human marketing was the buzzword of ANA with presenters arguing that with all of the talk on targeting, many brands seem to forget their customers are people. “In the Bay Area, you hear [marketing is] growth hacking. I think all of this gets to getting back to where the industry started, being useful to real people, humans,” said Eric Reynolds, CMO of The Clorox Company. “If anyone in your building says ‘consumers,’ make them say ‘person.’”

Brands need to know what they stand for
Nike — despite not having its own keynote — got some of the most free press at ANA with Progressive, eBay and Facebook all mentioning the brand during their presentations. Just one of its recent compelling moves: the Colin Kaepernick ad. “Customers are looking for more meaning from brands. We’re operating in a really competitive environment. We’re all essentially going after the same customers, and with the digital age, the barrier to entry is zero,” said Greg Revelle, CMO of Kohl’s.

The D2C movement is an argument for in-housing
The rise of direct-to-consumer brands are threatening big brands and retailers. One reason companies have embraced in-housing is for transparency and cost-cutting, but others have shared that it simply allows them to work faster. “Proximity to the business gives you the opportunity to not only get involved but get to outcomes faster,” said Warren Marenco Chase, vp and COO for 140, Verizon’s in-house agency.

Marketers are far from really being smart about data
Data can be super useful for marketers, but each brand needs to figure out how and why. Suzy Deering, CMO of eBay Americas, said her company has been looking at data — particularly what people are searching for and buying — to understand what stories they could be telling in their ads. “We have to look at our data through the lens of what matters to the customer,” Deering said. Alicia Hatch, CMO of Deloitte Digital, said between 30 and 40 percent of her time is spent studying data and technology. “We’ve not yet connected data and technology to help us brand build,” she said.

Companies should commit to diversity goals
Verizon’s in-house agency has 145 employees where 52 percent are female, 48 percent are male. According to Verizon, 48 percent of employees are considered to be diverse. Part of that diversity stems from being 18 months old but also as a commitment from the top. “Equality is limited by bias. When you get gender-equal advertising, it performs better. It’s good for business. We can use our reach and voice in advertising to affect bias,” Pritchard said.

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