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By Aimee Pearcy, Journalist

May 15, 2024 | 6 min read

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Deloitte’s global and US chief marketing officer Suzanne Kounkel explores why B2B is now a hotbed of marketing innovation, creativity and growth.

Suzanne Kounkel, global and US chief marketing officer at Deloitte, Stein IAS’ Global President Craig Duxbury in their fireside chat at B2B World Fest in London

Suzanne Kounkel, global and US CMO at Deloitte and Stein IAS’ global president Craig Duxbury in their fireside

We’ve reached the decade of B2B – at least, that’s what Tom Stein, the Creative B2B Lions jury president declared at Cannes.

With this in mind, B2B enterprises are looking to ramp up their innovation, creativity, and growth in an effort to humanize their brands and increase brand value.

For established brands, guarding against complacency by constantly thinking about what the market needs has become more important than ever. “Brands should always be in a state of evolution,” Suzanne Kounkel, global and US chief marketing officer at Deloitte, told Stein IAS’ global president Craig Duxbury in their fireside chat at B2B World Fest in London.

For Deloitte, this means continuing to focus on building trust and delivering value to its clients, while also leveraging its employees to modernize the way it talks about its brand. “A big part of that is talking much more about who we are and how we're different,” says Kounkel.

Unlike B2C companies which can rely heavily on their products to carry their message into the marketplace, most B2B companies must rely on employees. “Our people are the ones who will carry our message into the marketplace,” says Kounkel.

Playing the long game

When it comes to creating the perfect insight-led message to send out into the marketplace, striking the right balance between creativity and analytics is imperative. Kounkel explains. “When you’ve got the facts, and when you’re very clear about the outcomes you’re driving for, it actually frees you up to be more creative.”

A stellar example of Deloitte’s insight-led marketing is its ad campaign promoting its sponsorship of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). Released at the end of 2023, the campaign envisioned a parallel universe that treated businesswomen with the same level of devotion and admiration as prominent sports figures.

By featuring a combination of actors and professional basketball players, Deloitte leaned heavily into its brand messaging that calls for a more diverse, inclusive and equitable society. “The campaign really came from the notion that Deloitte has been and will always play the long game with respect to developing, advancing and cheering on professional women,” says Kounkel.

The campaign set out to achieve three main aims: to emphasize Deloitte’s long-term approach towards the advancement and development of professional women, to communicate to the right audience that is culturally relevant, and to solidify trust with clients by sending out a constant message amidst change.

Doing great work

For B2B companies looking to follow Deloitte’s example, Kounkel’s advice is straight to the point: “Do great work.”

“For me, ‘great work’ is work that you want to see over and over. It’s very human. It’s very relevant,” she says. “B2B work can be great and it can be extremely creative. So really lean into that.”

Finally, Kounkel advises engaging key stakeholders across organization for support. “The experience in B2B is really important, which means that there are lots of touch points with that brand outside of the things that marketing itself says,” she explains. “The broader [the] coalition and collaboration that you have in the C-suite, the better.”

Catch up on the full conversation between Kounkel and Stein IAS global president Craig Duxbury at B2B World Fest 2023, here on The Drum TV.

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