Bayer’s Chief Marketer on Defending Budgets and Breaking Taboos

CANNES, France — With continuing economic challenges, marketing budgets will be under scrutiny for the remainder of 2023, which tests the relationship between the chief marketing officer and the chief financial officer. For Bayer Consumer Health CMO Patricia Corsi, a hands off approach works best.

“He doesn’t ask my permission when he’s doing tax and auditing. I don’t ask his permission when we are doing brand building,” Corsi told Adweek’s Rebecca Stewart during an Adweek session here at Cannes Monday. “If you are trying to do that then you are trying to compensate… you must be clear on the problem you’re trying to solve,” she said.

She continued to add that “the worst marketers didn’t act responsibly” making it easier for the finance team to conclude that it is wasted marketing spend rather than building brand value.

Corsi, who is an Adweek 2023 Brand Genius honoree, advises that for marketers to be able to defend their budgets, they must build a relationship of trust and show that they are financially responsible.

I cannot imagine a robot making me laugh by itself

Patricia Corsi, chief marketing, digital and information officer at Bayer Consumer Health

“If you are trying to convince the CFO of the CEO to do this, the problem is something else – either a lack of trust or a lack of perception of value generated. Bring them on a journey with you… what you’re doing is helping the brand to win share, it’s helping the brand to sell more or having more consumers or getting consumers to have more access to brands.”

Corsi also discussed her strategy to bust taboos within healthcare, being more blunt in the messaging around human conditions that people generally do not discuss with one another, including their own doctors.

“It’s so important because people will not treat the things that they feel ashamed to talk about,” she stated. “I’ve lived on three different continents. I’m quite educated. If I wasn’t comfortable, I wonder how many other people that didn’t have all the blessings that I had would feel. When you look at the data, it was very much similar. But taboo breaking can happen in any of our projects, not on the ones that are intimate.”

One of the trends at Cannes Lions this year is the potential impact and uses of generative artificial intelligence within marketing and creativity. Corsi is unconvinced that the technology will be able to produce content that drives emotion in audiences.

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