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Maersk’s Anne With Damgaard on how B2B marketing can be innovative and creative
December 20, 2022
Anne With Damgaard is the head of marketing for A.P.Moller – Maersk. She is proving the value of committing to emotive storytelling, and building propositions and campaigns around deep customer understanding. Here she talks about how Maersk won its second consecutive B2B Grand Prix award at Cannes Lions by continuing to employ innovative and creative brand-building tactics to reinvent itself.
Connecting all the dots doesn’t sound like a particularly innovative or creative endeavour. For Maersk, it’s transformative. It’s moved the company from being one of the world’s oldest and best-known shipping brands to being an end-to-end logistics company, seeing customers all the way through from booking a pick-up online to getting notification their goods have arrived. Through a data-driven view of the buyer journey, it’s also enabled a transformation in the style and impact of Maersk’s marketing, making it one of the B2B world’s most consistently boundary-pushing brands.
Peer into the heart of these transformations and you’ll find Anne With Damgaard, who first joined Maersk in May 2018 when its business transformation was just getting moving. When she stepped up into the role of head of marketing in December 2020, it was in full swing, accelerated by events that had turned the once-stable logistics sector into something volatile, dynamic – and essential for a wide range of businesses.
“The pandemic created a volatile situation where our customers needed even more attention, even more transport and even more solutions and products,” Damgaard recalls. “And at the same time, we were building a company better able to do that. It helped speed up our transformation because it showed that customers really needed what we were doing. The situation right now is a bit different. We’ve gone from everyone buying TVs and sofas to people being able to travel again and holding back on that kind of spending. In the past, it was easy to say, I know what the customer needs because I know what they did last year and five years ago. That’s no longer the case, which is why it’s so important to build customer understanding.”
Moving goods as smoothly as moving people
That need fits with Damgaard’s long experience in B2C marketing, for brands such as the Arla Foods and Orkla Confectionery. “One of the things that you learn in that world is how crucial it is to get closer to your customer and understand what motivates them,” she says. “Being customer-obsessed has become a bit of a buzzword, but it’s central to what we’re doing at Maersk. We have so many people taking care of customers from different angles. Marketing needs to help bring all of that together to create the right solution, looking at the whole buying journey. One of the things we’ve talked about a lot is that it should be as easy to buy a container, or book logistics, as it is for a passenger to book an airline ticket.”
It’s not just the booking process and customer journey that Damgaard has been re-imagining for Maersk. Her influence runs through the distinctly provocative, sci-fi-style films that the brand has used to define its ‘All the Way’ promise since launching it four years ago. “At the beginning we had a debate internally about whether there needs to be any difference between business to business and business to consumer,” she recalls. “The view had been that we needed to focus on rational arguments around price and delivery, and we turned that on its head and said this is about people wanting to engage with something that’s intriguing, interesting, maybe even scary. It’s a way of talking to hearts as well as brains – and the comments that we get in the LinkedIn feed every time we launch a new campaign show how powerful that can be for starting conversations.”
The superheroes of the supply chain
Intriguing and unnerving audiences started with ‘Disconnected’, a film that involved trucks being swallowed by forests and mysterious objects appearing in warehouses – and which captured a moment by showing the need for joined-up experience of logistics. It’s continuing with ‘The Upside’, a similarly Marvel-style Maersk movie, that positions supply chain professionals as heroes plucked from their desks to overcome the forces of disorder.
“We want to take these guys from zero to hero,” says Damgaard. “Instead of being in the basement of the building, we need them on the top floor – because they can really, really make a difference. We’re seeing the realization that supply chain management can be a competitive advantage. ‘All the Way’ captures how, as one company, we can deliver all of that. We need to tell that story again and again and again.”
Such creative commitment hasn’t always been a feature of B2B marketing in general – but it’s not at all surprising, given Damgaard’s own background and passions. She’s tried her hand as an artist, finds inspiration strolling around a Matisse exhibition, and would love to run a gallery of her own – combining the creative and commercial in the way she’s already doing at Maersk.
Connecting the dots for creative thinking
“Connecting the dots isn’t just fundamental to how we transport goods,” she says. “It’s also fundamental to the new mar-tech ecosystem that we’re building. We know that brand and demand can’t exist without one another. We’re tracking brand awareness across different regions and verticals, and we dig into product awareness and how we develop those campaigns as well. What we see when we look at all this data is that the brand is really working. Those big campaigns have a definite impact on customer interest, customer engagement and visitors to our homepage. When we look at product understanding, those numbers are racing too.”
It's a fine example of connected marketing in action – and the transformative impact of going all the way with creative thinking in B2B.