By nickjohnson - January 17th, 2014

Cammie Dunaway is a marketing leader with a formidable set of experiences. With previous roles as Chief Marketing Officer at both Nintendo and Yahoo!, she now works as both Chief Marketing Officer and US President of innovative children's theme park company KidZania.

Cammie is one of our collection of leading CMOs contributing to the Incite Summit:West, taking place in San Francisco on May 13 - 14. At the event, she'll be discussing building unique customer experiences, alongside former TopShop CMO Justin Cooke.

We took some time to get a sneak peek of Cammie's views on the topic, and also discussed how she sees the role of the marketer shifting, and how important it is for marketers to focus internally as well as externally.

Could you describe your role, your responsibilities at KidZania, and what you’re doing on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis?

Cammie Dunaway Cammie Dunaway, Chief Marketing Officer and US President at KidZania

I have the privilege of wearing both a marketing hat, and an operations/development hat. So let me focus on the marketing side.  As Global Chief Marketing Officer, I am responsible for building the KidZania brand around the world; partnering with our owned and operated facilities, as well as with our franchisee partners.  Some of the components of my job are to oversee our loyalty program, which engages consumers both through experiences within our facilities, as well as through our customer contact strategy. I also am responsible for our interactive division, which tries to extend the experiences that kids have with us in the park, into some out-of-the-park channels.  Finally there is the general marketing/communications through traditional and social media channels.

How do you split your time between those different areas of responsibility?

It truly depends upon the day, and what the business challenge is. I think that’s one of the common themes for a lot of marketers today - frequently your responsibility can span a number of areas, and the best laid plans have to adjust to what business needs are in that particular week or quarter.

Right now for example,  we have a lot of markets rolling out our loyalty program, so that is requiring more time and attention. And we have also launched our first mobile app, so I’ve been spending a little more time working with that team. So it really does vary.

There’s an interesting juxtaposition between the role of a CMO and the role of an Operational President. How have you found that has impacted for you? Have you always worn both hats?

"It’s no longer enough to have great communications. You really have to be developing great experiences"

When I came into the role, I had both of these hats - primarily because of the phase we’re at in the US; it’s really a planning and development role.   I think as we move forward into full US operations; the role will need to be segmented.

But I have found throughout my career that moving between marketing and sales and general management, has given me a broad view that has proven extremely beneficial.  Particularly because of today’s consumer, who has such high expectations about the quality of the experience or of the product. It’s no longer enough to have great communications. You really have to be developing great experiences, and so as a marketer, you have to engage with the operators in the business, and you have to be able to influence, if not directly control, how the experience is delivered.

Absolutely. Companies are increasingly finding they need to change internal structures and organization so they are able to work better together to deliver that heightened customer experience.

Have you found you’re able to make changes in this space more successfully with the dual responsibilities you have?

A KidZania Park A KidZania Park

We have had success with that, yes. In the case of KidZania, it starts from having a very deep understanding of what our brand is all about.

And making sure that we think through the expression of that brand, in all touch points - from the way we train our front line employees, to the way our offices are decorated, to the way we deliver the experience to the kids. But really having those deep brand stories, and spending a lot of time packaging and communicating them - throughout the organization, not just to external consumers - is very important to us.

Which did you find was harder? Was it harder to get your brand message out to your consumers, or get the requisite buy-in internally?

You know, I think each has unique challenges. But what I have frequently seen is that marketers just don’t spend the time on the internal piece.

And so I don’t think it’s necessarily difficult - particularly when you have a brand like KidZania that employees are naturally passionate about - but making sure that you’re devoting the time to training, making sure that you are communicating in ways that are consistent with the brand image, it’s well-worth the investment of energy.

Given that increasingly employees are becoming the public face of the company, and through various social media tools are now often the main proponents of a brand, would you suggest marketers need more of that internal focus?

I absolutely think so. You hear a lot, rightly so today, about the relationship between the CMO and the CIO, and that has certainly been very important to me, particularly in the area of loyalty and analytics.

But I think one relationship that probably hasn’t got as much coverage, but is critically important to the role, is the partnership between the CMO and the Chief People Officer or Head of HR.

"One relationship that probably hasn’t got as much coverage, but is critically important to the role, is the partnership between the CMO and the Chief People Officer"

What’s the biggest thing you learned over 2013?

I think - continuing on the conversation we’re having - internal branding and influence, and selling in your internal organization, is critical.  The importance of clear, simple messages repeated frequently.

Sometimes I think that people have gotten things before they really have. And when you feel like you’ve said something so much that you’re being redundant, you might actually just be breaking through.

So that’s one personal lesson that I’ve learned.

I think that a lesson that we have continued to learn as an organization, and that I certainly believe in, is the value of really understanding who your most loyal consumers are, and creating unique experiences that drive value with them.

"When you feel like you’ve said something so much that you’re being redundant, you might actually just be breaking through"

How have you gone about doing that - understanding who those customers are, and delivering value to them?

KidZania has always been very data focused. But in the past it has been aggregated data. Our B·KidZanian loyalty program - which was launched in 2012, but really grew in 2013 – enables  consumers to opt-in so that we can understand behavior at an individual household level, and  consequently tailor experiences and tailor communications.

What are the new data points and metrics that this new loyalty programme can now track for you?

We certainly look at how we are creating incremental revenue, both through repeat visits, as well as purchases of additional products and services. So now we’re really able to pinpoint people and trends more accurately.

So essentially we’re looking at the same metrics, but in more granular detail?

Yes, and they’re more actionable.

In terms of that ‘actionability’, you said that it’s incumbent upon you to build unique experiences for customers. How have you gone about doing that?

"All of us today are so bombarded with messaging that if it doesn’t feel extremely personal and extremely relevant, we tend to tune it out"

Children in the driving seat Children in the driving seat

A simple example would be when a child comes to KidZania, we are able to have our supervisors address them by name, and know if they are very close to achieving a new level in our loyalty program - and so to congratulate them on that.

We are able to communicate to parents about new activities coming up that are specific to their child’s interest.

And I think all of us today are so bombarded with messaging that if it doesn’t feel extremely personal and extremely relevant, we tend to tune it out. And so this is enabling us to get that degree of personalization that is required.

You’ve touched on the fact that consumer expectations are increasing a couple of times - and that when it comes to the role of the marketer, the job is getting that much harder, in that people are tuning out anything that is not valuable/relevant to them.

Why do you think that is? What has changed in the eyes of the consumer that means they’re more demanding than they were even five years ago?

I think that the change to digital content, new channels for brands, etc., has given so many more choices to consumers - they can shop online, shop at the store, they don’t have just three news channels, they now have an infinite number of sources for news and information. There’s a complete transparency of information about pricing, about customer satisfaction. It’s really that openness of information and the ability for  consumers to have access to it in their pocket.

So data begets more data!

And it’s certainly tougher for both brands and consumers to distinguish the signal from the noise!

How about 2014 - what do you see as the big opportunity for you as a CMO, and what will be the key impacts on brand marketers in the next 12 months?

Mobile is a big one. We do business around the world, and so there are some markets where mobile has been very central to the consumer’s experience for several years now, but all the other markets are rapidly catching up. So figuring out how we can make finding information, purchasing a ticket, getting the best out of an experience/visit, and making all that easily accessible on mobile - that’s a big focus.

Around mobile - the tactical and execution-based challenges are relatively clear. Could you set out what you feel the more strategic issues are around mobile adoption?

I think really understanding the user experience, understanding the context in which consumers are seeking information on mobile, trying to make sure that we give them what they really need - not just what we would like them to have.

Consumers are in a different frame of mind when they are doing research or making a purchase on mobile, relative to when they are sitting at home or at their desk. So really trying to understand that, and create experiences that honor that, is a challenge.

Looking back over your career as a marketer, the job is by common consensus getting more complex every day, with an increasing number of channels to manage, an increased ‘need for speed’ in terms of response, and far more datasets that one needs to manage. Do you find the job is getting harder, or are there an awful lot of opportunities and technologies that are making the marketer’s job easier?

"You’re more than ever an orchestra conductor, trying to get all the musicians playing together beautifully"

I think it’s getting more important to surround yourself with really good people, that work directly for you, and to spend time in building relationships with cross-functional partners and teams. Because it’s now definitely a far more complex job. So you really need to be able to rely on the expertise of others. You’re more than ever an orchestra conductor, trying to get all the musicians playing together beautifully.

There’s a relatively low level of trust amongst consumers at the moment around how governments and corporations are using their data. And yet at the same time, for the majority of marketers that I speak to, they’re very very keen to build broader data sets in an attempt to understand their customers better. How do you think that tension is going to be resolved? How are we going to get beyond that problem?

Let me speak first for our situation and myself. We have a product that is for children, from 4 to 14 years old. And so it is critically important that we always maintain the trust of parents.

We do business around the world, and there are various laws and standards relating to privacy. We made an internal decision that we would hold ourselves to the toughest standards in the world, even if it meant foregoing opportunities in markets where you weren’t required to do so.

Because for us as a global brand, trust is critical.

I think that becomes pretty obvious when you’re dealing with children, but I think that that same True North, of making sure that you never undermine the trust that a consumer has in your brand, is something that should guide all marketers in this area. Because you really need to be thinking about building long-term relationships with consumers, not just maximizing today’s sales.


That concludes our interview with Cammie Dunaway, Chief Marketing Officer and US President at KidZania. For more from Cammie, check out the Incite Summit:West, where she'll be speaking alongside 7 other CMOs and 20 other large brands on marketing innovation.

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