5 Key Takeouts: Marketing in a Polarised World

June 18, 2024

The World Media Group kicked off the first of three sessions in partnership with the Washington Post this morning in Cannes discussing the value of trusted journalism in 2024. World Media Group CEO Jamie Credland chaired the discussion with a panel featuring Joanna Wiseman-Souza, VP of Global Brand and Marketing at UNICEF, Daniel Wong-Chi-Man, Global Service Line Leader, Audience Measurement at Ipsos and Johanna Mayer-Jones, Global Chief Advertising Officer at The Washington Post. Today’s panel was about how marketing strategies are impacted in a polarised world, and the role trusted journalism plays in building advertiser confidence.

  1. The Restless Decade

Jamie Credland began by asking Daniel Wong-Chi-Man if it was true to say that the world has become more polarised. Wong-Chi-Man said that we’re living through what Ipsos describes as “the restless decade”. Because of the interconnectivity of the world, what’s happening in one part of the world is impacting on other parts at the same time. Factors such as economic disparities, infrastructure, political tensions with different governments, lingering effects of the pandemic, and technological impacts are all contributing to this increase in global polarisation.

  1. Brand safety concerns 

This polarisation is feeding into how advertisers view the news environment. Johanna Mayer-Jones explained that the current negative news cycle has affected advertisers’ confidence in associating with news content. She said this was not specifically tied in with political / election news but with hard news more generally. Mayer-Jones emphasised the responsibility of publishers to provide a safe environment for brands and to advocate that news is a brand-safe space, a claim that can be backed up data. 

  1. Audiences devouring hard news 

Despite advertisers’ concerns, Mayer-Jones explained that audiences continued to turn to news outlets for coverage of significant events. This creates an unusual situation and a missed opportunity: quality news outlets have cultivated a large, highly engaged audience hungry for news and yet brand safety concerns are discouraging brands from advertising next to the very content their potential targets are devouring.

  1. Actionable Content

Both Mayer-Jones and Joanna Wiseman-Souza agreed that content offering actionable intelligence, such as climate impact advice, resonates well with audiences seeking to make informed decisions. Wiseman-Souza  explained that UNICEF’s marketing aims to inspire action and provide hope, showing that collective efforts can lead to significant changes, even in a restless world. She detailed UNICEF’s efforts in working with quality international publishers to highlight significant global progress, such as the reduction in child mortality rates and vaccination achievements.

  1. Authentic Partnerships 

Wiseman-Souza and Mayer-Jones discussed the benefits of successful partnerships that align corporate, NGO, and media efforts to drive impactful change. Mayer-Jones cited the Washington Post’s collaboration with Rolex for a campaign highlighting the brand’s climate work, as an example of a partnership that leveraged the combined expertise of both brands for broader influence.

Both panellists emphasised the importance of brands being authentic in their partnerships and transparent in their messaging because audiences, especially younger generations, tend to fact-check and seek genuine brand commitments.

The session finished with the panel discussing how important it is for brands to work directly with a publishers’ editorial team, and for everyone from the C-suite down to be involved in the work so that they feel connected to it. The 360-degree ecosystem that quality news publishers can offer, combining content and storytelling with events and digital expertise, can deliver the substance required to create both informative and authentic campaigns.