CANNES — Marketers need to wean themselves off a reliance on advertising, heard delegates today at a CMO discussion hosted by the Economist in Cannes.

MasterCard chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar noted that effectiveness is compromised by his observation that "consumers hate interruption", which explains the rise of ad-blocking software.

"They are paying money to keep these pesky marketers out," said Rajamannar. "Somewhere as marketers we have to realise that advertising is not the way going forward."

Instead, Rajamannar is shifting MasterCard's budgets towards experiential marketing. "We have moved heavily into sponsorships," he said. "We are creating and curating experiences that [people] can get through Mastercard."

Rajamannar made the comments during a panel discussion that considered the challenges facing marketers. P&G CMO Marc Pritchard pointed out that marketers must reinvent their brands in the face of massive disruption, or risk being left behind as they grapple with the rise of ecommerce, startups and zero-based budgeting.

Those changes, said Pritchard, had forced P&G to confront the issue of wasted digital media spending. The company slashed $200m from its digital media budget, focusing in particular on the major platforms.

Reinventing a brand, however, is not always an easy proposition when growth is also required. Mars CMO Andrew Clarke, promoted today to lead global confectionary, believes this signals the biggest challenge for markets, who are constantly "sifting through opinions on where to take the business and drive growth."

Driving growth, added Clarke, need not come at the expense of purpose, despite the trend towards faddish social good campaigns. "Purpose can really add value," said Clarke. "It can help to create a story and a platform. Big corporations have a responsibility to drive purpose."

They also have a responsibility to improve diversity and inclusion, heard delegates. "We can never donate enough money to have an impact," pointed out Pritchard, but "brands that touch five billion people" can create real change through their products and campaigns.

"Brands can be a force for good and a force for growth and you have to make a case for that," said Pritchard. "There's a business case for equality."