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Execs Talk Consumer Engagement, Data Management and Challenging the Status Quo at Variety’s Cannes Lions Studio

Execs Talk Consumer Engagement, Data Management and Challenging the Status Quo at Variety’s Cannes Lions Studio

Variety is back to host the second annual Executive Interview Studio, presented by Canva. The industry’s top business and marketing execs stopped by during the 2024 Cannes Lions Festival to chat about how they are navigating the ever-expanding worlds of media and entertainment. The first day of conversations included discussions from the minds behind the biggest streamers in the business and our second studio day included talent such as the voice of Spotify’s AI DJ, CMO of Walmart William White, and the women behind 7th Sun Productions Yara and Keri Shahidi.

The industry leaders who participated in the third day of conversations included Disney’s EVP of sales Adam Monaco, chief marketing officer and chief data officer at Paramount streaming Domenic DiMeglio, CMO of PepsiCo International Beverages Mark Kirkham, CMO of iHeart Media Gayle Troberman and CMO and VP of analytics at Meta Alex Schultz. Check out some highlights form their conversations below.

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Alex Schultz – CMO and VP Analytics, Meta

The media landscape has never been more digital-focused and for Meta’s CMO and VP of analytics Alex Schultz, that means translating copious amounts of data for Meta’s marketers. Schultz explained how he and his team manage the ever-increasing amounts of information in today’s technology-first market.

According to Schultz, “the absolute single most important thing” when working in data analytics is setting clear goals about what you’re looking for. That way, once the information starts flooding in, it becomes much easier to establish a “simple set of metrics.”

“For each product group lead, we have a very clear set of goals that we’re super clear on. That enables us to say, ‘Okay, so what drivers are there to help the goals move?’” Schultz explained. “Once you’re clear on the goals, you build an experiment, you run the experiment and you analyze what comes out of it. That combination of things enables you to handle lots of data coming in.”

Gayle Troberman – CMO, iHeartMedia

As CMO of iHeartMedia, Gayle Troberman manages 860 radio stations, covering topics such as music, entertainment, news and sports. As part of Variety’s Cannes Lion Studio conversations, Troberman sat down to discuss how she is bridging the gap between the consumer and marketer mindsets.

The iHeartMedia team’s focus at Cannes Lions was to “challenge” marketers’ preconceived notions and to better understand audiences. To do this, Troberman and her team conducted a study asking consumers “what they love and hate, think and feel, believe and are influenced by” and then compared their answers to those of marketers who were asked the same questions.

“When it comes to influence, real people are influenced by their family and friends, twice as much as marketers. Marketers are three times as likely to be influenced by fear and fame and fortune,” Troberman said. “We can’t help as humans but bring the things we think are normal and interesting into the equation. And sometimes we’re chasing trends way too far ahead of consumers.”

Domenic DiMeglio – Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Data Officer, Paramount Streaming

Through the aftershocks of global pandemics and industry-wide shutdowns, streaming has remained the king of content distribution. Chief marketing and data officer at Paramount Streaming, Domenic DiMeglio, stopped by to discuss how Paramount navigates an increasingly crowded streaming market.

In the current entertainment landscape, it seems every studio has a streaming platform. To remain competitive, DiMeglio is always on the lookout for new ways to leverage Paramount’s expansive slate of content and opportunities to connect with audiences.

“We have a palette of amazing content that we lean into and try to bring to life in the best way possible to reach consumers. We’re also taking advantage of every medium out there to connect with fans,” DiMeglio said. “Our team tries to push the envelope, innovate, and find new ways to put a dent in pop culture with all of our campaigns.

Adam Monaco – EVP, Sales, Disney

EVP of Sales and Disney Adam Monaco discussed what goes into gaining and maintaining an audience and the benefits of live content as a fantastic way to hook consumers’ time and attention.

“Not just sports, which is obvious, but also news inclusive of all of our tentpole entertainment opportunities around the Academy Awards, the Emmys which we have this year and we’re very excited about, Country Music Awards, these are all cultural moments that matter, and our clients have the opportunity to take advantage of those, and no one does that better than Disney,” he said.

Monaco spoke about the challenges Disney could face with global advertising decreasing. “Advertisers are still interested in taking advantage of the pricing benefit they get in the upfront but also securing those premium positions in advance,” he said. “We also still see consistent demand on our entertainment linear platforms. It’s been well documented. The audience capacity has been decreasing but still delivers a significant ROI for our clients. So they want to secure that volume in the upfront.”

Mark Kirkham – CMO, PepsiCo International Beverages

Pepsi has a long history of working with celebrities like Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Sofia Vergara, Cardi B, and more on their marketing—especially in the entertainment sphere. Mark Kirkham, PepsiCo’s CMO, spoke about connecting with audiences through pop culture.

“We’ve been able to fuse sports and entertainment,” Kirkham said. “Finding those crossovers, which are very relevant passion points, and we’ve been doing it for a long time. I think what’s amazing is what we’re now able to do internationally and expand some of the great work we’ve had in our many partners, like the NFL, the NBA, Manchester City and others.”

Kirkham also added what goes into the storytelling aspects at PepsiCo.

“We have this brand idea or campaign called Thirsty For More, and how do we bring that to life in music experiences? How do we take that through our football experience? We’re all about the fun and entertaining side of sport,” he said. “I think that just gives us a really unique angle to bring different artists, use Champions League, and bring also other programs that are important to us, like our sustainability initiatives.”

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