CANNES – Big brands are far from dead, according to the Chief Marketing Officer of Mars Pet Nutrition. But they need to winnow out “fake news” about their supposed widespread demise and establish an evidence-based philosophy and operating model for driving growth, says Jane Wakely.

“Accountability in marketing to me means growth. Ultimately, I think marketing are the growth architects of the business. Every thing we do should inspire, lead and shape towards that growth vision,” Wakely adds in this interview with Beet.TV at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Being a self-described “evidence-based marketer,” the company has made it “a bit of a life mission to identify what are the key levers of growth at Mars,” says Wakely, who expects her marketing teams to be “enterprise-wide leaders and to really influence the growth agenda at the board.”

Having consulted with Wharton and other institutions, Mars did a deep dive on what makes some 50 global product categories grow, along with the brands within them, according to Wakely, who spent several years at Procter & Gamble before joining Mars in 2001.

“And from that we’ve tried to distill a very clear philosophy of growth, which of course advertising plays a big part in, but it’s certainly not the only lever for growth,” Wakely explains.

The company codified its resulting “Laws of Growth” philosophy into an operating model that identifies “all the key levers we think that grow categories, that grow our brands, and our whole business now cross-functionally is geared toward driving into that operating model for growth.”

Asked about established brands versus startups, Wakely dismisses provocative headlines proclaiming, among other things, the death of big brands or the demise of mass advertising.

“The question we asked ourselves as an evidence-based marketing company is what is real, changing dynamics in the marketplace that we need to address and what is hashtag fake news,” she says.

Having analyzed its 20 top markets and 35 categories, Mars found on average that about 50% of category growth is being driven still by big-scale brands and the other 50% by small, more disruptive players.

“That is a dynamic we need to respond to. But what I would say is that big brands are certainly not dead. There are big brands that are winning and there are big brands that are losing.

“To win, we really have to harness what we know drives growth. Mass penetration, mass reach, mass distribution. But we also have to be very agile and innovative to respond to the new digital age.”

This video is part of a series produced by Beet.TV at Cannes Lions 2018 about advertising accountability presented by Mediaocean. Please find more videos from this series here.