&THEN DMA Conference – Boston (Video)

October 5, 2015

Presentation Summary

Kevin Roberts was invited to the &THEN DMA Conference in Boston in 2015 to speak about emotion - a critical factor in today's marketing. He argues that we live in the Age of the Idea. While technology is all around us, all great ideas are fueled by passionate emotion. He introduces four ideas that help Big Data and BIG LOVE come together.

“Big Data, Meet Big Love”

We live in a Connected World. We live in a Connected World. A world where the number of mobile devices exceeds the number of people. Where machines talk back to people and where cars learn to drive themselves. Where Reason meets Emotion, and Big Data meets Big Love.

And at the heart of all these connections is the ultimate driving force… The Idea… We live in the Age of the Idea… Ideas are reframing every industry there is. Technology is enabling them, but it is the Idea which is the currency of today… And all great ideas are fueled by one thing: passionate emotion.

I know practically nothing about Data. I have experts who do though, thank goodness. The reason I’ve been invited is because I know a thing or two about emotion.

Emotion is especially critical in marketing today, because as the Pentagon has told me, we live in a VUCA world.

To delight customers in a VUCA world, we need to start with what inspires people. This is a realm that leads with emotion, not algorithms.

We’re moving to a post-automated world where the valuable thing about people will be their emotional content.

The more embedded quality, service, distribution and performance become, the more the degree of emotional experience is the difference.

Algorithms can read the lines, but not between them.

Here’s an ad that appeared smack in the middle of a New York Times story about their current calamities headlined: Massive Volkswagen Sale on Now!”

Programmatic advertising has a thing or two to learn!

It’s the perfection of a marketer’s spreadsheet versus the imperfection of consumer behavior. People think with their hearts, decide with their hearts, commit with their hearts—and this is beyond reason.

Big data can turn up at the perfect moment, but not ignite it. Until big data is made flesh and blood, it will be the incalculable factors, the unexplainable pulses and the mind-blowing ideas, that fly the machine over the line.

Our first job as marketers is not to analyze or to strategize… As chess Grand Master Savielly Tartakower said, “Strategy is what you do when there is nothing to do. Tactics is what you do when there is something to do.” In our fast-changing world, analysis, at best, is always 24 hours behind.

Our #1 job is to turn VUCA into SuperVUCA— Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy, Astounding.

Because while people like technology, they love people.
Quite a challenge.

SUPERVUCA takes us into the “Age of Now” world, a real-time,
on-demand, see-through eco-system of connectivity, community,
and conversation.









Return on Investment

Return on Involvement

Pumping Markets

Creating Movements

Marketing today is experiencing not an evolution but a revolution. Everything is moving lightning fast and the consumer is leader. The consumer is boss. They’ve got the universe at their fingertips in a mobile-first world.

And of everything they seen on their screens, they ask three very
basic questions:

  • Do I want to see it again
  • Do I want to share it?
  • Do I want to be in it?

The ROI of Gorilla was three times the average for packaged good marketing campaigns. This was an idea bigger than an ad.

The breakout of any deadlock is creativity. The more unremarkable brands get, the more valuable ideas become.

Creative cultures that have the most ideas are the best placed to win, because only creativity has unreasonable power.

Ideas have reframing power, talking power and sharing power.


Here are four IDEAS that will help Big Data and BIG LOVE come together.


Martin Luther King did not say “I have a mission statement.” MLK shared a dream.

Dreams are inspirational not analytical. Revolution begins with language. Language drives purpose and direction, which creates belief in something bigger than oneself.

Apple is a tech company that adopted the language of artists:

Think Different; Stay hungry. Stay foolish; Insanely Great.

I believe that “marketing is dead.” Marketing was something that was done to consumers by marketing departments, imposed on viewers through perfect media distribution systems. The Web and social blew all that up, and hijacked control from marketers to consumers.

People can choose to block you, ignore you, scorn you, embrace you, applaud you. Brand managers no longer own “their brand.” Brands are owned by the people who love them.


Reason leads to conclusions; Emotion leads to action.

80% of decisions are based on emotional response.

Emotion generates premium returns and Loyalty Beyond Reason.

I reinvented brands as Lovemarks not around what people say or do, but how they feel, because Emotion can be built without limits.

Brands are built on Respect. Lovemarks are created out of Respect
and Love.

Brands are owned by management, marketers, and stockholders. Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.

Lovemarks aim to make the world a better place with what people care about, not jog people’s memories with what they care less about.

Great Brands were Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.

Lovemarks are emotionally-tuned, emotionally capable and emotionally executed.

Lovemarks deliver three things people love: not an Offer, some Information and a Mechanism, but Mystery, Sensuality, and Intimacy. They are not about building a brand but about creating a movement.

MYSTERY is inspiration, dreams, icons, myths, and stories, past / present / future together. . . It’s what we don’t know, that has the most value.

SENSUALITY is sight, sound, scent, touch, and taste, the enthrallers of emotions. Consumers operate on all five senses, and most brands do not.

Is your customer experiencing a sensual journey? Restoration Hardware recently opened huge “design galleries.” The result: last year same-store sales grew 20%.

INTIMACY is empathy, commitment, and passion. It’s the small touch, the perfect gesture. Personal user data is not the same as intimacy!

Intimacy enables us to answer the only question people have of brands today: “How Will You Improve My Life?” 

To deliver on this is to deliver Priceless Value.

The Ritz-Carlton nailed it when they changed their idea, from “Stay with us” to “Let us stay with you. That’s an invitation to create lasting memories, lingering relationships, and unforgettable experiences.


We’ve entered an era of data mining, excavating, crunching, modeling, targeting, predicting, visualizing, automating, tracking, sensing, monitoring and measuring.

Is this the perfect marketing moment? Gartner says that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.

The future threatens CMOs becoming the “Chief Metric Officer.”

CMOs need to become the “Chief Magic Officer” operating with a very simple equation:

IQ + EQ + TQ + BQ. (Fix fast learn fast fix fast)

All powered by CQ: Creativity.


People need stories, not explanations. Since the beginning of time, making sense of things through stories has been as instinctual as seeking food, clothing, and shelter.

Ten years ago I wrote a book called Sisomo: The Future on Screen. “Si-so-mo” stands for sight, sound, motion, the greatest combination of sensory elements ever put together.

Whether you call this television advertising or social video, whether you’re watching network television or Facebook or YouTube or Instagram, whether you’re facetiming or chatbotting, whether it’s embedded in an email footer, the screen is the epi-center of today’s story world.

There’s a growing body of research proving that emotional ad campaigns are more effective than rational ones in driving purchase.

People’s search for emotional benefits is constant over time, and the job is to know which emotions to engage. Shouting for attention – selling by yelling – won’t get a brand on a shopping list or in the shopping cart.

The most effective SuperBowl ads are proven to have a story at their heart, not humor or sex. The more complete the story the higher the commercial performs in the ratings; the more people like it, the more they want to share it

Because the emphasis is less about storytelling and more about story-sharing. Sharing must be part of the operating system

Technology, information and hardware enable, but human, emotional storytelling converts.

I ask myself every day: what makes a great ad? The answer is simple. It’s got to make me laugh, make me cry, or make me think.

And it needs to make me want to pass it on, share it, comment on it, participate.

But Big Data needs Big Emotion, Big Humanity, and Big Storysharing.

To win you need Apollo and Dionysus. Butch and the Kid. Spock and Kirk. You need the strictly rational and the passionately emotional.

The future of marketing is Big Data AND Big Love.

Because neither of us is as good as both of us.


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