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Kim Kadlec (left), worldwide vice president of Johnson & Johnson’s global marketing group, was among the speakers at Kellogg’s 2012 Marketing Conference. “The holy grail in marketing a brand is understanding the consumer,” Kadlec said.

Kim Kadlec (left), worldwide vice president of Johnson & Johnson’s global marketing group, was among the speakers at Kellogg’s 2012 Marketing Conference

2012 Kellogg Marketing Conference

Want your brand to stay relevant? Tune in to customers and “co-create” value, experts say

By Daniel P. Smith

1/27/2012 - At first glance, Domino’s Pizza and Cadillac have little in common. One deals in $10 pizzas; the other in $50,000 luxury vehicles.

Yet both share a story of 21st-century reinvention.

Faced with lackluster results and fading consumer interest, both Michigan-based companies reinvigorated their brands with bold changes in an effort to shift their market position.

The companies’ stories, along with tales from Johnson & Johnson, Target and Old Spice, characterized the intrepid spirit at the 2012 Kellogg Marketing Conference. The Jan. 20-21 event featured panel discussions and a host of prominent speakers in downtown Chicago and Evanston.

The conference attracted about 600 professionals, Kellogg alumni and students for a frank, multi-layered discussion about the challenges facing marketers, including those posed by mobile technology, social media and discerning consumers.

The conference theme — “Closing the Loop: From Conversation to Value Co-Creation” — resonated during the “Brand Perception Turnaround” panel, featuring representatives from the five aforementioned brands.

With a mix of art and science, all stressed the need to monitor and engage with customers and the market.

“The holy grail in marketing a brand is understanding the consumer. It’s the leading indicator that you may need to do something different,” said Kim Kadlec, worldwide vice president of Johnson & Johnson’s global marketing group. “You then need to translate those insights into value that adds to consumers’ lives.”

The conference also featured:

  • Keynote addresses from General Mills CMO Mark Addicks, Mastercard Worldwide CMO Alfredo Gangotena, Claudia Batten, COO of Victors and Spoils and Bridget Brennan, CEO of Female Factor and author of Why She Buys
  • A welcome address by Kellogg Dean Sally Blount ’92 
  • Presentations by Kellogg professors Andrew Razeghi, Alexander Chernev and Derek Rucker 
  • Panel sessions on social media ROI, neuromarketing, cause-driven marketing, creating dialogue with consumers and mobile marketing

Shirley Liu ’12 joined dozens of her fellow students in attendance on Jan. 21. Liu said the conference brought varied perspectives from professionals in and across the industry.

“We learn concepts in class, but here we have the chance to hear directly from those engaged in these matters and to do so in real time,” Liu said. “It creates a capstone feeling and insights we can take with us.”