Building Better CMOs
Building Better CMOs
David Mogensen (Uber) Transcript, Part 2
Greg Stuart: This is Building Better CMOs. Let’s get back to my conversation with David Mogensen, the vice president of marketing at Uber.

I mentioned earlier, too, David, we'd be remiss not to talk about this because I know you love the topic. It's not enough just to try to do a good creative that hits the mark and to pretest those ads, but to your point, ongoing measurement becomes pretty critical, too. Because you don't really know how anything's going to do until you're out in the marketplace. If you're an advertising person like I am, you get that. So what have you had to do from a measurement standpoint, measurement, infrastructure, platform to put in place to be able to sort of manage this? And then obviously I'm going to ask you about managing that kind of complexity in the individual markets and so on. So talk a bit about what you guys have done there.

David Mogensen: I'll be very honest. I'd say we're on a journey as it relates to measurement. I will not stand here and say we have it all figured out. As much as I would love to be able to sit here and say that. And again, I talk to a lot of folks that lead marketing for other companies and there's comfort in knowing that this is a challenge that many of us have. Especially, like I say, more with the mid-funnel and upper-funnel marketing. We're on that journey as well, and I think that a benefit of digital is obviously that you can measure better than historically we could with more traditional media, like I was doing when I first started my career. You can do a lot more of the brand lift type of studies where you have actual experimental design and you can have holdout groups versus exposed, and we're doing more and more of that.

We're taking advantage of all of our partners' solutions to understand what is the lift that we're driving. We also look at market level holdout tests to see what happens if you run in a particular geo and you don't in another, and can we learn from that? That actually is one of the best ways we have to, at a broad scale, understand the impact of a campaign. Not only upper funnel but also lower funnel. And then we're obviously looking at other ways that we can try to model out the impact of the work that we do. The hardest part for us, I think, is how do you take all of those distinct results and put them together into a holistic story on how did a campaign perform? Which sounds easy, but actually it's maybe a little bit more challenging than folks might think. And so I would say we have good signal at this point based on those different types of analyses we're doing, but we're still working towards getting to the perfect holistic story of this is exactly how this campaign has impacted the full funnel.

GS: The MMA last week had its annual—as we do in the third weekend of July every year for everyone—our CMO/CEO summit. And as we have done in years, we did more this year than ever. We brought a whole series of new MMA insights to the marketplace. All focused on this concept of really promoting growth, sales. Absolutely. I mean, everything MMA does is incredibly focused on how do we make marketers better at selling for the investment that we're making. And so you sent me a note afterwards, I'm going to ask you to articulate some of what you saw there. So there's this study that the MMA has done, which we call brand as performance. How do you understand brand as performance long term? Because there's a tension in the organization between short and long term, that some people believe that you... In most organizations it seems to be a performance short-term group and a long-term brand group, and there's tension between those organizations.

So we were trying to bring math to understand the dynamic. So you saw the most recent results now from Kroger that we have and it follows on from Ally earlier this year. Ally Financial. You said like, "Yeah, guys. Good underlying research, but you're not asking exactly the right questions or getting to the right conclusion in analysis." As I kind of read your email note. Is that fair?

DM: Yeah.

GS: So talk a little bit about what do you think broadly we need to understand, and feel free to give as much specific direction to the MMA here as possible around this. I'm hoping... we got to get it right, too. Yeah, go ahead.

DM: I think brand as performance and the concept of understanding what is the impact of brand on fundamental business impact is the right territory. So then it gets into what are we actually asking and trying to solve for? And I think the work that was shared looked at the fact that people that are favorable towards your brand are better customers than people that are unfavorable, and sort of quantified that in terms of purchase behavior.

GS: In fact, it lowered the cost of acquisition by 85 percent. If somebody's converted to favorable, through the brand investments that we've been made that consumer is converted, then we could see an 85 percent lower cost to convert them to customer. So you're right, that's a pretty substantive value for brand. But it's not enough. But go ahead. Yeah.

DM: The challenge I have with that is it's somewhat intuitive. I think that most people are not going to question that people who are favorable towards your brand will be better customers than people that are unfavorable to your brand. And so I think it's a good step in the journey towards answering the question around what impact does brand have on ultimate performance, but I would love for us to push further and to start to look at things like, how do you optimize across performance marketing and brand marketing? How do you understand the short-term and long-term benefits of brand relative to performance? For me, what I struggle with more is this optimizing the levers between the two, and how do we do that? And I think that that's where the work done to date isn't going quite deep enough yet. But I am sure it will get there.

GS: I think that data... I think the first view that Kroger had of that data was Wednesday before the event. So barely a week for them. So we're still digesting. So agree with that. I love that people say, they don't treat brand as sales. Like everybody runs a brand campaign and then they measure current sales. So we all know that's going on. So we call a brand, we know we're looking at sales.

But we didn't know previously—because the measurement techniques didn't allow it and we had to come up with a new one to do that—is that we now know if you make a $100 today from that brand campaign, that over the next nine to 12 months, is as far as we've measured out, you should make another additional $140, $150 plus. So you're 2.5Xing the initial value.

That's information for the CFO, for she or he to go, "Oh, okay. I know that if I get sales now I'm going to have a lingering tale of sales. So I can evaluate that in terms of this investment." But I agree with you that the original thesis of this research is just what you said, was to understand how do I balance between those two recognizing that businesses have different needs and how do I learn to pull those levers? I mean, in some regards it's probably the same as you trying to figure out how you put a driver on the corner where passenger is about to step forward and hit an Uber app to say, "Come get me." We need that optimization.

DM: Yeah, I think we need to better understand the opportunity costs as well, right? To your point, if you want to use the analogy, if I can put a driver on this corner or on that corner, which is the better corner? I understand that a $100 on brand might get me another $150. What does a $100 in performance get me? Because some of the assumptions in long-term value of brand also apply to performance, but perhaps at a different rate. And so what is that difference? Is it only a $100 extra on the performance side because performance tends to be shorter term? How do we make those comparisons is where I think it gets really, really interesting.

GS: Well, and just maybe for the listener's sake around this, just because people are probably going to wonder, we did find out from Ally. And we had to model this because remember our research short and long term we're looking at current. And then we were able to measure another nine, 12 months away. So in some, that's a shorter term than five years. But when we model the behavior, we find that if you were to invest in performance over a two-year period and you were to invest in brand over a two-year period, that brand would outperform performance by plus 40 percent. Now the challenge then for CFOs is that do they have the patience to wait for higher returns 18, 24 months from now. Businesses have different needs at different times and with shareholders it changes that whole game. So we're also managed against that element of the business, I think. Right?

DM: Always.

GS: Always.

DM: It's always that trade-off of how do you optimize between short term and long term? I think that is the name of the game.

GS: I'm not sure if I'm in risky territory here, David. It just kind of occurred to me. Let me try to ask it. How often does finance, and if you want to pick on Google maybe here, broader companies than just Uber, how often does finance come to you and say, "Hey, we really need you to dial this up." I always hear the stories about where they say, "Hey, I need you to dial this down because we are trying to make earnings this quarter." But how often does finance come and say, "We need you to dial things up because we're going to have challenges later on." Or, "We need to see something happen." You get that much?

DM: It goes both ways. You get either finance or, within my world, operations has a very close relationship with marketing and our operations team will be keeping a literally hourly view on how we're performing on different things. And so yeah, we have those discussions on a regular basis around, hey, should we actually be dialing up here in this market? We see that there's momentum happening on this particular product area or what have you. What would happen if we were to really light the flame under this particular product or geography? Or similarly, hey, things aren't working out quite the way we thought they would in this area. We need to be able to balance our various levers and we need to see is it possible to pull back in a given market for marketing for some period of time and see what happens, and what have you.

So those are discussions that happen certainly a number of times, on a quarterly basis. Again, because we're looking at 70 countries. I think if I were looking after just the US, probably that would be a little bit less common because the reality is it takes time to put plans into place and these aren't necessarily all fast levers to change. But when you look across a global company that has pretty broad distribution, then inevitably you're going to have some of those conversations on a pretty regular basis.

GS: David, as much as your orientation is to drive sales, and so I'm sure you look at everything that you do, the systems, the measurement, the creative, to try to understand that. Here's a funny one for you. How often do you feel like you're still surprised by how advertising performs?

DM: Surprised? In what way?

GS: Do you feel like you kind of got in dialed in and figured out at this point? Or do you kind of go, "We just didn't expect that once we got in the market"?

DM: I would say that the challenge with understanding how advertising performs when it doesn't look like it's performing well is understanding why. I think it can be surprising when you see a campaign where you feel like you nailed it on the creative and you felt like you had a sound media strategy, and then you're just not seeing the results in the data. For us, it's often trying to diagnose why is that? Is it the creative? Is it the media strategy? Is it product market fit? There's a number of different things that could be at play.

And so, yes, it can be surprising, but often more than being surprising, it's perplexing. And trying to figure out what is causing the lack of results on this one when we thought we got everything right. That can be a really challenging puzzle to solve. Sometimes you just didn't have enough media weight or you spread yourself too thin, or the targeting was off. You know very well, there's a million things that could lead to that. And so trying to isolate what actually went wrong is the hardest part of that.

GS: Right, right. Mickey Rourke, in his first movie called Body Heat, had a very funny line I've never forgotten. He said, basically he's speaking to William Hurt and his point was, he goes, "There's 50 ways you can screw up a murder. You're lucky if you don't miss half of them." So I've always thought of marketing kind of that way. There's 50 things you can get wrong. You're lucky if you don't miss half of them sometimes. Last question on this here, then we're going to move on to some other career advice you might have. It's a funny one. Why do you think marketers are embarrassed about the sales thing? Go back to your original thesis. What's going on?

DM: I should probably caveat heavily. I think plenty are not. I think it's at an industry level, I sense this kind of reluctance and this embarrassment around being seen as people that just sell stuff. And it probably has to do with the fact that a lot of advertising is bad. Being closely associated with advertising when a lot of the advertising you see is bad is challenging. And frankly, we live in a world now where everyone has a microphone and everyone can critique advertising as well. And so you are hard pressed to run advertising that doesn't have someone on a social channel lambasting it.

GS: I've heard it put this way, those doing marketing as a side hustle. That's how I've heard it explained. Yeah.

DM: Yeah, exactly. Well, I always joke that you don't tell your surgeon how they should perform the operation, but everyone is an expert on marketing.

So look, I think that all of that plays into it a bit. And I think that nobody wants to be associated with bad advertising or being a used car salesman. And I think as a result there's this false meme that's like you can either do great work or you can sell stuff. And that's where I just want the industry to think about it as, look, we can do both of these things. Both of these things can be true. Great entertainment, great advertising can very much still happen without us having to be too shy about the fact that we're selling.

The other thing I would say is consumers ultimately know that most marketing is trying to sell them things. And so if you try to hide that fact, a lot of them will read through that. Today's consumers are so much savvier than they were generations ago. And so I don't think you're fooling anyone anyway. So I would just say let's embrace it and let's lean into it and let's just do great work that also sells stuff.

GS: I love that. And I did love your Super Bowl ad. "Diddy don't do jingles." That was very funny. "Diddy don't do jingles." Okay. Hey, let's talk about some career here. I have a thesis here within Building Better CMOs that I don't think a lot of people—the opportunity for me to get to work with a lot of CMOs like yourself—they don't really understand how hard it is to get to these jobs, how hard it can be to actually continue to perform at the level of a C-suite executive, especially in a company the size of Uber, let alone many, many others.

So let's start with this. You have one of, I think, the more unusual paths I've seen. You got started in America with BMW. You end up going to Europe at some point with Google, switch over to Uber, come back in charge of Uber globally to America. I am not sure I've seen that path by anybody else. Can you talk a little bit about either the decisions you made now or your reflections back on that now that you've experienced that as a positive career trajectory for you.

DM: I went to Europe for both personal and professional reasons. On the personal side, I just thought it'd be fun, candidly.

GS: Good for you.

DM: Which it was. It's an amazing opportunity and had all kinds of benefits personally. And I'm one that loves to travel and the travel opportunity when you live in Amsterdam like I did is phenomenal. You can get anywhere pretty much in Europe within about two hours. And so I took full advantage of that. And then professionally, as you said, I was working at Google. Google is obviously a huge company and I knew that I wanted to get to a CMO type of role. And if you work for Google in the US, it's very hard to stand out just because of the sheer size of the organization. Whereas if you go out into the regions, you have basically what's a light version of a CMO role.

And so for me, I was doing basically a CMO type role for Northern Europe. Looking after consumer marketing, B2B marketing, our reputational marketing. It really was sort of a prep course in being a CMO, and I think only because I left the US and had that opportunity did I get the next role, which was to lead marketing for EMEA for Uber. I don't think I ever would've gotten that kind of a role had I stayed in the mega organization that is Google marketing in the US. And so I am a huge advocate for folks to take those kinds of chances and those types of career moves because I do think that it gives you a different perspective. And also frankly, just getting out of the mothership and seeing what it's like to be in a region, which anyone who's worked in a region and worked at a headquarters knows there's a lot of different dynamics between those two.

It gives you a really good perspective that actually makes me better at my current job because I've done that work as well, and I know what it's like to be in a region reporting to a US-based headquarters kind of situation. So for me it was, I think, something that really accelerated my career because I could sort of stand out from the large organization that exists in the US and have something that was, like I said, closer to a CMO kind of role by doing that. Which wouldn't have been possible in the US.

GS: But David, it's got to be a testament to you, too, at some level. Because I think going to be in any other culture is hard. To take on leadership in another culture can be really difficult. And then I think US has a certain amount of snottiness about its marketing and advertising. Running a worldwide organization, I do think US is pretty darn sophisticated in many ways around measurement and data and the kinds of work that we do. Internet started here. There's just a lot of advantages. I guess the question, I think... If there is a question there, I think the question might be what do you think you personally brought to the table to be able to pull that off? I would've thought the cards could be stacked against you and it didn't just happen once for you. You've done this in a couple of different paths, so very interesting. What do you think you're doing? I don't know if it's a style question. I don't know if it's a just raw intelligence question. I'm not sure. What do you think?

DM: First of all, thank you. It is very generous of you. I don't know that I've ever thought about it that way, but I'll certainly graciously take the compliment. I think that probably I had the benefit of working for US-based organizations abroad. Which I think is probably different than working for international companies. At the end of the day, there's a bit of a cultural mix between the culture of the company and the culture of the country. And the fact that the culture of the company was still Google and then Uber, those are cultures that are founded in the US and there is a sort of US predisposition, I suppose, to the way that you work. So that probably made it easier from a cultural standpoint than if I had jumped into a local Dutch company. I'm almost certain. And I had been at Google for seven years at that point, so I knew how to succeed at Google and I knew how Google worked.

And so I think the transition was easier for me as a result of that than it could have been. There's a great book, I don't know if you've read it, called The Culture Map, which talks all about different ways of working in different cultures around the world. I highly recommend it to anyone that is going to work abroad because the reality is even though I have some international experience now, it doesn't mean that I can just plop myself into another country and be successful there. They're all so different. And that book does an outstanding job of actually isolating the differences between different cultures. I suppose another one on that point is that one of the things that The Culture Map shows is the Netherlands is a very direct society. Which anyone that's spent time working in the Netherlands would probably know. Dutch people are infamous for being very direct.

I tend to be pretty direct. I believe in transparency, I believe in honesty. I believe in sort of saying what I think. And so perhaps I also had a bit of a benefit from my own style of working and leading and the fact that that lined up pretty well with the Dutch style. I don't know. Though I did have to adjust across Northern Europe because it's not all the same. The Dutch style is not necessarily the same as the Swedish style or the Norwegian style or what have you. So I guess the last thing that comes to mind is just appreciating those cultural differences. But at the end of the day, the way that I try to manage is really at an individual level more than at a cultural level. You can have multiple people from the same country. They all work very, very differently. And so for me, I guess it's about understanding how each person likes to work and trying to figure out how we can best work together based on that.

GS: Very impressive. Listen, then maybe I would do well being in New York City. We love that kind of direct thing. I'm not sure it's appreciated everywhere in the world.

DM: Yeah. Well, New York is New Amsterdam, right? So it probably comes from some vestiges of Dutch culture from many, many years before.

GS: That or just really hard living here. I'm not sure exactly how the city got to where it is or a life of the mob. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but something made this city particularly tough or whatever. So you worked for two very product-focused companies. I think Uber and Google are both very product focused, typical for tech companies. And they're two tech companies all based out of the Valley at some level. Google is older but not that old even still. What about the differences in the two different cultures and dynamics that you had to learn as being a senior executive. And I'm not looking for you to comment particularly about the dangers of it, or the difficulties of any one of them. That's not it. I'm just looking at what the differences are between those companies that are otherwise similar.

DM: And I would actually say I've worked for three product companies because BMW is very much a product-led company as well.

GS: BMW, too. Yeah, totally.

DM: I think that if I think about all three of them, the biggest difference between each one is speed, to be honest. BMW works on a seven-year product life cycle, very long-term planning. As it needs to, given all the engineering that goes behind developing a new vehicle. Then you get to Google where obviously speed of tech is much higher. Uber is literally, and someone told me this before I went from Google, they said, "Going to Uber is shifting into a seventh gear." It's one more gear.

GS: Oh, really?

DM: Which at the time I was very skeptical of. I sort of put it to the side and just laughed it off, and then I got to Uber and I realized, oh, he was right. This is yet another gear. The speed at which we work at Uber is really on a different level than just about anywhere I've ever heard of.

It's certainly on a different level than anywhere I've worked. Which is, I think there's good and bad to that. I think the good to it is, incredibly agile. It means that when we had a pandemic, the executional excellence that was able to respond to that was phenomenal. The bad to it or the downside to it is just, not everyone can hang at that speed. It just frankly is a really, really quick culture. And there's an emphasis on performance and impact and getting things done at pace. Which I've seen brilliant people not able to really do well in that kind of an environment. So for me, that's been the biggest difference across them. I think what's common across them is really smart people, very passionate, driven by the work we're doing, and believing in the products. It's really more the pace at which that's being done that I would say Uber is at that seventh gear.

GS: Wow, that's very interesting, David. And I would, not having worked at either one of those companies, but being a startup guy, you're right. It's all about making better decisions as damn quickly as you can and get stuff done at a high rate of speed. And you're right, I've also seen people I think are just intellectually gifted, like unbelievably smart, but the pace would've killed them. It felt like. I mean, I don't know, maybe that's a little overdramatic. That could be... It can be tough. Not everybody adapts to that.

DM: That's right. And like I say, I've seen people that have been highly successful in careers not do well at both Google and Uber. It's a cultural thing and some people work well at that. And there's also, I think when you work at that pace, there's not necessarily the same established processes and what have you that you have at a CPG or an auto or what have you. I think also you touched on the fact that both those companies are pretty new, Uber and Google, in a macro sense.

Which if you compare that to a BMW or P&G or whatever, they've been doing this for decades and decades and decades. And so they have really rigorous processes and they know how they do it, and it's all very well defined. We are not always well defined. And some people thrive in that kind of an environment where you're kind of making the rules as you go and other people, again, it's uncomfortable and not the kind of environment they want to work in.

GS: Yeah. You and I have never talked about this, but I went as the head of marketing to launch Which is one of the still remaining online classifieds for used and new cars. And it was interesting, I had to explain, I was in Chicago to do that out of New York. And I'd done a couple of startups here, so I had some sense of the thing, of that pace and speed. And was always wired that way anyway. But I went to Chicago and I used to have to explain to people, your job is not to finish your email box today. Your job is to create some measurable difference in the business today. And by the way, we're going to ask you to do that tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. You have to think in terms of, "What am I doing to move the business forward today?" Yeah. Not very many businesses operate that way I don't think.

DM: I love that. Yeah. We talk a lot about bias to action. What are you actually getting done and shipping out? It's not about who did the best internal PowerPoint presentation. It's about what is the work in the world and how is that impacting things?

GS: But one of the complexities of that, too, is that you also have a monster business that could be dramatically affected by getting it wrong, or even just a little bit wrong. I mean, look at our friends here at Bud Light who made the decision around a particular influencer that really turned against them. And that had huge significant business effect to them. How does Uber manage... When you move fast, you can break things unknowingly or unexpectedly. Or how do you work around that?

DM: Yeah. Look, I think that there's a lot of testing that takes place to try to figure out these things before we roll it out globally to everyone. There's very few things that we just flip a switch and hope it works. You can still do that at a pretty high velocity. We have a new product called Uber Teens, which is enabling, as the name sounds, it's enabling parents to put their teenagers into Ubers and it has a number of parent-friendly features so that you can monitor the trip and what have you, so that you feel comfortable doing that. And that's a product that if you get that wrong, that could be really a problem. And so we rolled it out in a couple of small cities in Canada and saw that it was working really well. And we've sort of been slowly rolling it out further as we're able to ensure that it meets all of the criteria that we set that you would expect of a product like that.

And so while we have been quick in starting to scale it once we saw a signal that it really can deliver on what it needs to, we were very deliberate in making sure that it had all the criteria that parents want. That we've worked with parents organizations and we've done focus groups with parents and what have you. So it is a balance between speed, but also making sure that we've really vetted everything that we do to the extent that we can and usually we do that through small-scale pilots to make sure that it delivers on the promise.

GS: Nice to hear you're doing that as a father who's raised teenagers in New York City. And by the way, I will say I find one of the common conversations around Uber that just randomly would come up with people is around some of your safety measures. The fact that if I'm stalled or the car is stalled, that you'll reach out to me and ask what's going on, or if the trip's taking too long, you ask me what's going on. And I mean, it's really incredible to the degree at which you have built real safety into the system it feels like now.

DM: It is fundamental to our company and our culture. Safety is the heart of what we do. And I mean, if you think about it, it has to be.

GS: Has to be.

DM: You're getting in a stranger's car. If safety goes away, then the whole thing starts to fall apart. And so thank you for saying that. We spend a ton of time doing everything we can to make sure that the rides are as safe as humanly possible. And as you say, if it detects any sort of anomalies, there's all kinds of interventions that you can take or that we can take, and that's a core part of the way we work every single day.

GS: It's kind of interesting, you sort of mentioned that—and I'm off on a tangent here—but I was meeting with some friends over the weekend who aren't in the tech space. And they were bemoaning things, how terrible it is that tech is advancing the world. I don't know if it was AI or social media that they were focused on. It didn't matter, but there was a sense of fear that came around it.

I'm not saying that we as tech people, and if I could put myself in that group, that we're perfect at it, but there really has been a lot of good done to try to put trust into systems. I know it might not feel like that. I looked at eBay early on to be the first head of marketing for them way, way, way back. Just before Meg Whitman came in. And I was like, I just don't trust how consumers can trade back and forth with each other. Now obviously they had started to solve that problem. They figured out. Airbnb figured out that problem. Uber needs to figure out that problem. It really is kind of the power of it when I think there's still a lot of just general fear about tech. So it's a funny duality at some level, I guess. I don't know.

DM: One of the things I've observed, and I think this was most acute when I was at Google, is there's this kind of life stage, life cycle thing that happens with tech. Where companies start out and they're kind of the darlings and everyone thinks of them as innovators and wonderful, and when I first started at Google, the best thing you could say at a cocktail party was you worked at Google. Because everyone thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

GS: Totally.

DM: And then Google got bigger and bigger and more and more successful and all of a sudden the narrative started to change around, "Well, what's Google doing with my privacy and with my data?" And you see this with... I think Microsoft went through something similar and I think the history of tech companies that went from small and became big is always like this. Where it starts out as this darling and then it becomes... The narrative really starts to shift and then you need to figure out, okay, how do you operate within that new world if you're working at one of those tech companies? But it's really interesting to see how we go from sort of hero to villain for the majority of large tech companies in the US. That's a pretty pervasive life stage, life cycle evolution.

GS: It's funny, you're right, because often we'll talk in tech about crossing the chasm. If I say that to anybody in tech, they know what I mean. They're talking about going from a small company to accelerating into being a bigger company, that you've crossed into... I don't know if it's mass at that point, but it's an indication of somehow that mass is coming. But you're right, there actually is another chasm you have to cross that once you start to get past that phase is the trust chasm. You're a 100 percent correct. And you're right, there's so many companies that have been brutalized by that. Every one of them. Snap, Microsoft was probably the most famous. All of them.

DM: Almost all of them, Facebook, Amazon, all go through that.

GS: Coinbase is going through it right now at some level. Exactly why they're getting sort of picked on. So very interesting. Okay, let's do a little lightning round, then we're going to wrap you up and get you out of here. Who else in marketing, person or company, do you most admire? Anybody recent you've seen that you go, "Wow, I wish we did their work." Maybe it's your team. I don't know. You can go anywhere you want.

DM: The company that comes to mind for me, and it's in part because I've been thinking a lot with my team around who's doing really great product marketing? Not just brand marketing or overall company marketing, but product marketing. Ikea is doing some really cool work. I think they have a campaign right now that's proudly second best. I don't know if you've seen this, if folks haven't, Google it. And it's all about how their products are great, but they're proud to be second best to basically parents.

It's about this sort of relationship between parents and their babies. And so you see the crib and instead of the baby being in the crib, it's in the mom's lap, right? And it's like, proudly second best. It's just lovely realization of their place in sort of family life and the fact that they can make these products, but at the end of the day, mom and dad will always come first. It's really just beautiful and lovely and I think a really good example of product marketing. So Ikea is one that definitely comes to mind for me.

GS: Boy, that's a little self-effacing on their part, too. I love that.

DM: Exactly. It's not... Exactly.

GS: Okay. What do you think today or in the recent past year has been most over-hyped in marketing?

DM: I don't want to take any shots at anything or anyone. Maybe instead of answering your question, I'll say...

GS: David, I was waiting for somebody to say that because most people just answer exactly what they dislike the most, but I think you're right. We don't necessarily want to pick on them. But go ahead.

DM: I think what's appropriately hyped is AI.

GS: Oh my god.

DM: It's definitely the talk of the town.

GS: Oh my god.

DM: You can't go to any marketing event, you can't read any marketing publication without AI being front and center.

GS: Or a global board meeting like a week ago.

DM: Or a global board meeting, or a CEO, CMO MMA...

GS: Summit, exactly.

DM: Exactly. I think we're all figuring it out. It's definitely a watch this space moment for AI.

GS: Okay. Well, listen, my other question was going to be what's most underappreciated? Same thing?

DM: I think actually on that, I go back to the basics on that. I think about things like email and out-of-home. And I don't think anyone's paying attention to the more fundamental marketing channels and how do you make them better. For every email I get that's good, I get about a thousand bad ones from marketers. And so I think it's underappreciated the extent to which we can use traditional old-school channels much, much better.

GS: Oh my god, David. Spoken like a real economist. So I have always believed that. And so tell me if this is what it is for you. When I see the other world zigging, it's time to zag. And if you have an economics orientation to the marketplace or an investment orientation, you want to buy around with a market. I still remember when I went to Procter & Gamble, I worked on P&G business for years as a media guy.

And this is back, this is when I'm in the '80s. Way back when. And I recommended radio. And this had not happened for anything else we'd ever done, but I told a very compelling story about how that worked for their business and the way it worked, especially around multicultural. I was at one point the largest Hispanic television buyer in the country. But I recommended radio. I'll never forget the brand manager says, "How much more could we really spend behind that?" They really got that that was a huge opportunity to drive the business in ways that others just weren't. I mean, to recommend radio for Procter & Gamble with their beautiful TV ads was heresy back in those days. So very funny. Yeah, I knew radio was underappreciated and therefore was undervalued. It was going to be the deal of century.

DM: I think there's a lot of examples like that.

GS: Same with internet. Internet was the same thing in the '90s. Consumer adoption was so fast, it was underappreciated inventory. It was available everywhere. In fact, that was our problem. We had too much inventory for the business. That was it. Same thing happened with mobile too early on. So yeah, no, I agree. Well, listen, this is excellent, so there we go. Spoken like a couple of good economists. David, you're the best. I really appreciate you helping out on the board and listen, we're going to go figure out that AI thing together, I think. That's going to be our big opportunity here for the MMA and for Uber and you know the project we're trying to work on together with you guys and others. So I look forward, but I can't thank you enough for doing this.

DM: Thanks so much for having me. I really enjoyed it.

GS: You bet. Take care.

Thanks again to David Mogensen from Uber for coming on Building Better CMOs. Check the show notes for links to connect with David.

And if you want to know more about MMA's work to unlock the power of marketing, please visit Or you can attend any one of our 30 conferences in 15 countries where MMA operates. Or if you want, write to me,

Now, thank you so much for listening. Tap the link in the show notes to leave us a review. And if you're new to the show, please follow or subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeart, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find links to all those places and more at

Our producer and podcast consultant is Eric Johnson from Building Better CMOs’ researcher is Aneta Palevska. Artwork is by Jason Chase. And a very special thanks to Lacera Smith for making this all happen. This is Greg Stuart. I'll see you in two weeks.

Recent episodes: