WFA’s Stephan Loerke on Why Marketers “Need to Lead” in 2024
6 mins read

WFA’s Stephan Loerke on Why Marketers “Need to Lead” in 2024

Stephan Loerke, CEO of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), is unquestionably an optimist when he talks about the potential for marketing to drive outcomes and even reshape business goals. However, he is also tremendously pragmatic when he discusses the importance of embracing key marketing initiatives.  He believes that CMOs “need to lead,” and given the global complexities of the year ahead, he asserts, “the time to lead is now.”  

With his passion for championing climate issues and his belief that marketers are pivotal to encouraging new sustainable behaviors for both brands and consumers, Stephan Loerke foresees a Sustainability Transformation that will be as sweeping as the Digital Transformation we have all experienced.

He recently attended COP28 in Dubai, his third annual Climate Conference, to gauge how brand leaders around the world can make better decisions to lead on climate action. He feels that both CMOs and CSOs (Chief Sustainability Officers) need to work more closely together.

According to Loerke, “The marketing industry must act at a scale and pace commensurate with the challenges we face. We need to rethink who we collaborate with, how we work with partners, and how, as an industry, we can come together collectively to solve the systemic challenges at hand.”

He believes that leading CMOs can drive meaningful change– both within and beyond their organizations. And, perhaps most importantly, Stephan Loerke asserts that marketers must be part of solution for a sustainable future as their assets of creativity and innovation can help bring about transformation. The WFA’s Planet Pledge is one means to drive these actions forward. 

Issues of Climate and Sustainability are not the only topics of concern to Loerke. Interestingly, Marketing Effectiveness has been a leading concern of WFA members for many years. In 2024, the organization will embark on it own means of Cross-Media Measurement. Plus issues like increased Transparency, an acceleration of Responsibility, and managing the multiplicity of CMO challenges— particularly on a global level– are shaping the WFA’s programs and tools for solutions in the coming year.

Of course, technology, especially Artificial Intelligence, is on the mind of every marketer throughout the world. Interestingly, a new survey conducted by WFA finds that three in four companies already use GenAI or plan to use it soon. While most marketers surveyed are “cautiously optimistic” about AI’s potential, an equal number are concerned about its risks to brand reputation. Eight in ten respondents in this WFA research say they have already developed or are now developing internal policies on use of GenAI.

To learn more from Stephan Loerke about pivotal lessons from 2023 and the significance of 2024 in marketing, watch the video interview on Internationalist Marketing TV (IMTV) on YouTube by CLICKING HERE.

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Listen to Stephan Loerke, CEO of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), and The Internationalist’s entire Trendsetters podcast series here on iHeartRadio’s Spreaker or wherever you download your podcasts.

TRENDSETTERS: The WFA’s Stephan Loerke Discusses Why Marketers “Need to Lead” in 2024

In our conversation, we discuss the following:
  • Before we start with your thoughts about the year ahead in marketing, you’ve just returned from COP 28 in Dubai. Talk a little a little about what this means to marketers in terms of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and other “green” issues. 
  • Were there any events or issues in 2023 that you would describe as “pivotal” to marketing?
  • One can’t have a conversation about marketing today without mentioning two letters—AI. Do you have any comments on Artificial Intelligence— in terms of how it may relate to marketing, procurement, or other aspects of data… 
  • No doubt, issues surrounding climate change and technology will continue in the coming year. What other challenges is the marketing industry facing on a worldwide level? What are the most important issues on a Global Marketer’s 2024 agenda?  
  • Do you think the role of marketing has changed in our post-COVID world? 
  • As I recall, you go to Davos for the World Economic Forum every year. What do you plan to accomplish there in 2024? 
  • What’s next for the WFA? I’m sure that plans are underway for your Global Marketer Week in Toronto this April. Anything else that you can unveil? 
  • Finally… I know you consider yourself an optimist. What ONE WORD (or phrase) do you believe will characterize the coming year?
Stephan Loerke manages the World Federation of Advertisers from Brussels and is the WFA’s principal spokesperson. He has been the organization’s CEO since 2003.

During his tenure, WFA has tripled its corporate membership and has extended its network to 60 countries, significantly reinforcing the organization’s presence in the world’s fastest emerging advertising markets. Through an alliance of multinational brand marketers and national advertising associations, he has forged a global network which helps build marketing leadership, expertise, and inspiration. 

Prior to joining WFA, Stephan worked for L’Oréal in Paris and Brussels. He studied business economics at the Saint Gall Business School in Switzerland, after which he worked at the United Nations in New York.
The World Federation of Advertisers is the only global network for marketers, representing over 150 of the biggest global brands and more than 60 national advertiser associations. Together, they create a peer-to-peer network of the world’s best marketers, offering a unique source of expertise, inspiration and leadership. The WFA’s goal is to make marketing better through more effective and sustainable marketing communications.