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Key Takeaways from Mark Lethbridge’s presentation at MA’s 2022 Marketing Disrupted: B2B Edition

Key Takeaways from Mark Lethbridge’s presentation at MA’s 2022 Marketing Disrupted: B2B Edition

Written by Sam Irvine, Member of MA’s B2B Special Interest Group


We were honoured to hear Mark Lethbridge, CEO of Gravity Global, speak to us about the power of emotional engagement in a B2B space. Mark discussed Gravity’s highly awarded campaign for Embraer, using it as a case study to illustrate the agency’s philosophical principles of brand building and demand generation.

Gravity Global is the most awarded and admired B2B agency in the world and specialises in helping clients develop marketing programmes that demand a disproportionate share of attention. The agency has built its reputation on distinctive work that is built on the belief that brand demand can only be increased in combination with consistent and regular emotional engagement activity.

Getting more attention is FAB!

Mark’s view is that in order to attract attention, marketers need to tick three boxes: fame, admiration and belief (aka FAB). Fame – your audience needs to know who you are and what you stand for. Admiration – your audience needs to love, not like, you. Belief – in your proposition and its power to drive purchase behaviour. With this heavy lifting done, marketers are in the position to drive an increase in attention that optimises their activity and gives them the biggest return on investment.

Gravity’s work with Embraer, a regional jet manufacturer in Brazil, had a huge impact on the airline’s results across both share of market and share of voice. It was Gravity’s most awarded campaign to date and elevated Embraer to the dizzy heights of first place for positive sentiment, reach and recall – outranking giants like Boeing and Airbus.

5 challenges you need to address
For Embraer, as for all their clients, Gravity began by asking 5 questions:

1: How FAB are you?

Any organisation can take a benchmark of this using tech tools to help you understand how your brand is performing against competitors. This is very useful for getting stakeholders to pay attention and realise that they need to do better. For Embraer, Gravity saw that they ranked 5th against their competitors for fame, but 3rd for market share, so their share of attention really needed to be improved.

2: Do you understand your wall of prejudice?

Brazil is known for many things – football, Carnival – but not necessarily for advanced aerospace innovation. And while Embraer may be very famous in Latin America, the market for regional aircraft goes East (Europe, China) and in these markets there was little to no recall.

3: What are you willing to sacrifice to stand out?

Mark found that the aircraft industry was pretty much describing their aircraft in the dimensions – fuel burn, cabin design, reliability etc. And livery was always plain white. Also naming conventions throughout the industry are not proposition-led (e.g. A380, B747 etc). Gravity reminded Embraer that their audience’s biggest concern was achieving sustainable profits in a small margin business. And they convinced them to sacrifice the model name “E2” in favour of leaning into their audience’s mindset and renaming the aircraft “The Profit Hunter”. Aircraft were then painted as predators (e.g. sharks or lions) rather than the plain white industry standard. This decision to be distinctive put Embraer aircraft on the front pages of newspapers around the world, even in articles that were focused on Airbus or Boeing. Eschewing the conventions of the industry immediately gave Embraer the stand-out fame that the brand needed.

4: How can you get loved and not just liked?

The aim was to drive admiration (Embraer ranked 5th when Gravity was appointed as their agency) and the vehicle for this was content. This is how Gravity proposed to engage audiences emotionally when the rest of the industry was opting to take a more rational approach. For example, when “comfort” was the message, a video showed a cat walking along the aisle of the aircraft and curling up on a seat, falling peacefully asleep. When “technology” was the message, a Disney-esque Transformer-style lion video was released. Both videos went viral and were awarded for being distinctive and creating disproportionate share of attention.

5: Do you have belief in the value you’re delivering to your customers?

When Gravity was first introduced to Embraer, sales of the E2 model were disappointing, partly because the competition was spinning the aircraft as an evolution of the E1, which wasn’t true. The Profit Hunter was a bold move based on a very real and believable proposition. It overshadowed the evolution argument and drove $15.3b of sales. When you have a credible and compelling proposition – in this case that The Profit Hunter was the most efficient single aircraft available – you can express it confidently and it is more likely to drive purchase behaviour.

Mark wrapped up by emphasising that the strength of the idea is vital. But so is understanding where your brand stands on these five conventions.

Q&A summary

  • Two easy and inexpensive tools for measuring brand love are https://netbasequid.com and https://www.pulsarplatform.com/what-is-brand-monitoring-top-brand-monitoring-tools/
  • Marketing and brand cannot operate in a silo. The key component for the success at Embraer was that everyone from the CEO to the factory floor were committed to the programme.
  • To work out how much you should invest in brand v demand marketing you need to calculate your share of market v share of voice. So, if you want to grow your market share you need to increase spend on brand to increase your share of voice. Too many brands overspend on demand.
  • Only way to achieve long term business growth is by investing in Brand.
  • “Be rational with emotion and be brave”.

If you missed Mark’s presentation, you can purchase recordings of all 3 sessions of our Marketing Disrupted B2B edition by emailing us at events@marketing.org.nz

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