We need marketers, but 'not marketing' - former Samsung CMO

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 21 March 2017
Adobe Think Tank: Las Vegas

While the role of marketer isn’t going anywhere, the word ‘marketing’ needs to die, according to former CMO Samsung North America Steven Cook. 

Cook, who was also VP worldwide strategic marketing and planning at Coca-Cola for nearly seven years up until 2007, was speaking at an Adobe organised think tank event in Las Vegas, ahead of this week’s Adobe Summit.

While the live streamed nine-strong panel were there to discuss the experience business wave, given nearly 90% of people survey by Gartner indicated that they expect to compete primarily on consumer experience, the lengthy debate weaved into many hot topics.

Cook argued that despite the increased focus on customer experience (CX) and the growth and importance of customer experience officers (CXO), which some argue could take over the almighty CMO role, it’s the word ‘marketing’ that is doing damage and needs to be retired. He stressed the old words of marketing push and marketers need to "do the pull".

“We all definitely agree that marketing, as a phrase, is an outdated phrase and concept from 90 years of push marketing,” Cook said. 

“Marketing should be about pulling people not pushing. It’s an old term that forces you to think a certain way.

“Marketers are not going away; we just don’t need to use the word marketing as it takes you down a direction [that’s about pushing people one way].”

He added that marketers should know more about the consumer than any other department, given they are the “advocate, enabler, connector and evangelist” that enables that human to human experience between them and the brand.

Do we even need marketing? 

Managing director of design strategy at Accenture-owned design and innovation agency Fjord, Nandini Nayak, was quick to argue that if experience is the future and the priority for businesses, then surely that experience markets itself and that perhaps marketing is not actually needed in this new era.

“If experiences don’t market themselves then something’s wrong –  you shouldn’t need marketing to do that,” she said.

Nayak added that the challenge for technology companies is having a sound ethical understanding of the customer, an ethical understanding of the data, coupled with empathy – both of which are key steps in the right direction when it comes to ‘design thinking’ and ensuring the appropriate brand experience.

See here for: The tech adoption lifecycle is bollocks and most marketing is a trainwreck: Andy Lark


CEO of Broadsuite and Forbes contributor Dan Newman was quick to exclaim that “marketing isn’t going anywhere”.

 “It’s a huge mistake for us to think that marketing will go away,” Newman said, adding that just because experiences will sell themselves, when 90% of companies all selling themselves in this way too, marketing will have a clear role to play.

“How will people know about the different experiences? How will it be delivered?” he said.

Newman was also mindful that talk of marketing no longer being needed was also in danger of scaring those smaller businesses that tuned into the live feed of slipping into that mindset.

Keep an eye on AdNews for more on the think tank and this week's summit.

AdNews is at the Adobe Summit as a guest of Adobe.

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