Coca-Cola, NatWest, Tango: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Coca-Cola brings in a new UK marketing director

Coca-Cola Great Britain has appointed European marketer Kris Robbens as its new marketing director. Robbens, who has spent 15 years with Coke, is no stranger to how the brand works but he comes at a period of change for the company – especially in the UK.

Coke GB has been speeding up its innovation, launching water brand Aquarius in the UK and introducing its first range of mixers and Coke-branded energy drink all within the last three months.

In the case of its signature mixers, the pipeline from concept to launch was just 18 months, but Robbens will have to decide whether this current rate should continue.

Some will call for him to continue this current speed in order to keep up with changing consumer trends, but there is a strong argument for letting the dust settle. A total beverage company doesn’t mean pushing out products a mile a minute. Instead Robbens would do well to incorporate a mix of long-term campaigns and new releases.

That’s not to say that the current strategy isn’t serving Coke well but Robbens should use his new job as an opportunity to take stock and assess what the future strategy should look like. MF

READ MORE: Coca-Cola appoints new UK marketing director

Tango returns to TV with bizarre ads

When you think of Tango, you probably think of those classic ‘You know when you’ve been Tangoed’ ads from the 1990s, which is what brought the fizzy drinks brand its widespread fame.

Its latest campaign, however, sees a dad find his daughter’s vibrator and the daughter accidentally send a ‘sext’ meant for her boyfriend to her dad, saved only by a wise advice-giving ‘Tanguru’ and, of course, a can of Tango.

Tango says it wants to become part of the national conversation again through “bold and irreverent humour” and that it has “a right” to push boundaries.

But these ads feel like they have been written by an adult trying (and failing) to ‘get down with the kids’.

Yes, they’re meant to be awkward but these spots border on the wrong side of uncomfortable.

Tango is going after 16- to 24-year-olds – a demographic research suggests is having less sex – with ads about sex. In 2019, do young people really want to be advertised to with this kind of ‘sexually awkward’ humour?

More problematic: the juxtaposition of the typically stiff white middle class family with a laid-back and hippyish woman of colour feels like lazy stereotyping – whether unconscious or not.

Tango claims the ads scored “exceptionally well” for branding, engagement and humour when it did some pre-launch research.

But the carbonated drinks category is competitive and growing. And, even though it is promoting its sugar-free flavours, Tango still has a reputation for being full of sugar compared to its rivals.

It is going to take a lot more than vibrators, awkward texts and Tanguru to put some fizz back into the brand. EH

READ MORE: Tango returns to TV with vibrators, sexts and Tanguru

The first anniversary of GDPR should be a wake-up call for brands

Tomorrow marks one year since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force, and despite much furore at the time it seems most consumers haven’t seen any improvement in the way brands communicate with them. Very disappointing given the endless discussions, first about the challenges of data management and then the supposed opportunities it would create.

In actual fact, just 31% of consumers believe their overall experience with brands has improved, according to an exclusive survey by Ipsos Mori on behalf of Marketing Week. More worrying is the fact 46% have seen no change, while 17% think things have actually got worse.

A look at specific forms of communication reveals an equally bleak picture. Tidying up customer data should have enabled brands to send consumers fewer, more personalised emails, yet 34% think emails have become less relevant. Conversely, just a quarter of people have seen an improvement.

Likewise, when it comes to frequency, 39% think the situation has got worse, compared to 29% who believe things have got better.

The threat of GDPR did give many brands the kick up the backside they needed to get their data in order, and it has certainly moved data up the agenda for marketers. But 25 May 2018 was not the finish line, it was just the start. In order to improve communication and better engage consumers brands need to think more about how their actions will impact customers rather than doing the bare minimum to comply. LT

READ MORE: Has GDPR improved brand experience? Most consumers aren’t convinced

NatWest tackles stereotyping in banking but campaign proves polarising


NatWest is aiming to tackle a noble cause in its new marketing campaign – the stereotyping and gender bias apparent in banking and investment.

The campaign, called The Banker, kicked off with a PR stunt that saw men dressed like traditional images of a bank manager in pinstripe suits and bowler hats handing out letters of apology to commuters. This accompanied with a feature in magazine Stylist highlighting the issues and what NatWest would be doing to address them.

That there is a gender imbalance in banking and investment is well known. While women are more usually in charge of household finances, they are much less likely to invest.

YouGov figures cited by NatWest show that 83% of women don’t feel banks make products easy to understand. Separate data from Kantar finds just 24% of women would describe their engagement around financial investments as ‘high’, compared to 43% of men. Closing that gap by improving women’s engagement by just one confidence decile represents a market worth £12.4bn for millennial women and £24.4bn for Gen X women.

The campaign has proved polarising, with some criticising NatWest for a campaign that aimed to tackle how women patronise by speaking to them in a patronising manner. Yet there’s no doubt it has got people talking, key when so often campaigns on gender issues are ignored.

NatWest is also following up its words with actions. It has launched a collective, called ‘A Woman’s Worth’, that will enable women to discuss their thoughts when it comes to finance and make suggestions on what banks can do better.

Alongside this, NatWest has pledged to “smash the stereotypes” that exist in the financial industry, be more representative in-branch and across its comms and help to close the investment gap.

This is an area all banks need to address. Kudos to NatWest for coming out and saying it like it is. SV

READ MORE: NatWest tackles ‘patronising’ way banks talk to women in new campaign

Pret gobbles up Eat brand

veggie pret

Ever feel like everywhere you look there is a Pret? On every corner of most major cities it seems that there is an option to buy a classic Pret sandwich.

This is now only set to increase as the brand has bought rival sandwich chain Eat. Pret has promised to turn “as many as possible” of Eat’s 94 locations into vegetarian-only stores as it wants to “turbo charge” Veggie Pret.

It’s a smart move from the brand that started the vegan and vegetarian-only shops two years ago after its CEO Clive Schlee was inspired by his daughter’s plant-based diet.

Schlee wrote in a blog that the Veggie Pret had been opened as an “experiment, never imagining it would be around for more than a month” but what the brand did was tap into a key consumer trend.

According to Nielsen, spending on plant-based food in the UK was up a fifth to £315.2m in the year to April, while overall spending on meat fell 2% to £8bn.  As concerns about keeping fit and climate change mount, this is only set to increase and Pret’s latest acquisition means it can quickly keep up with demand.

Buying Eat stores take out much of the hassle of opening new locations but it will not be free of problems. Unlike Pret, Eat uses centralised kitchens that deliver sandwiches to stores so Pret will need to assess how many of the new stores are able to have kitchens added.

In a testing time for the high-street food and dining sector, this Veggie Pret is an experiment for both the brand and wider market. If a success more chains might start considering their own veggie branches to combat the decline of the high street. MF

READ MORE: Pret confirms the end of the Eat brand to ‘turbocharge’ Veggie Pret

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Russell Parsons: When it comes to data, there’s too much emphasis on company and not enough on customer


Cast your mind back a year and it is very likely most meetings you attended began with four letters that would have sent shivers up your spine. GDPR. It was the topic that dominated conversations in marketing departments and boardrooms throughout the land, all united by one goal – getting to 25 May with policies in place that would satisfy anyone that would come knocking and questioning.

One year on, we thought it time to take stock. To begin to assess the legacy of GDPR. Our feature attempts to do exactly that. We look at the impact on the job of marketing, data management and collaboration with peers.

READ MORE: Why GDPR is no longer the wolf at the door

There are plenty of positive outcomes. GDPR focused minds in a way only regulation that carries a big stick can. For all the pain, there is evidence of more productive relationships between marketing and IT, and better training. There’s a general sense that GDPR has proved a cathartic experience. If I were to produce a word cloud of sentiment, “sharpened minds”, “upped our game”, “sense of responsibility” and “better framework” would feature heavily.

So far, so positive. One of the things that struck me during the weeks building up to deadline day was just how much an esoteric, European Union-derived piece of regulation had broken into everyday conversation. After receiving tens of emails every day from brands explaining the need for her to green-light a continuing relationship, my mother – the ultimate barometer of whether something is an actual thing or a marketing thing – was phoning me eager to know more about this “GDPR thing”.

GDPR helped achieve two things – force the hand of companies to get their house in order, and prompt interest and unease among the public. One of the contributors to the piece sums up the dual impact nicely. “We’re more transparent than before. That said, a year on, as to whether Joe Public notices or cares, I’m not sure.”

A marketers’ modus operandi should not be managing risk it should be putting the customer at the heart of everything their company does.

We decided to find out. Earlier this week, as part of our look at its impact, we unveiled the results of exclusive research that should make for uncomfortable reading. My analysis of the results is one of a general public unconvinced that much has changed. Indeed, a huge chunk offered the rather damning conclusion that brands’ use of data is the same as it ever was, and it wasn’t particularly well thought of to begin with.

READ MORE: Has GDPR improved brand experience? Most consumers aren’t convinced

The introduction of GDPR was one of the first things I ever reported on for Marketing Week (although I won’t mention how long ago that was). Following its unveiling, the industry went from indignation to acceptance to reflection. Among trade bodies, the attitude at the end was almost utopian. An opportunity for a fresh start, a new data dawn, the spark for a new value exchange and/or social contract were all sentiments rightly expressed.

I sense for many, however, that 25 May was the end, rather than the beginning. That it was seen as a job of compliance rather than an opportunity. It is absolutely necessary for companies and for marketers to get their house in order. To work more closely with legal, IT and data teams. Processes need to be tighter and training more embedded. As we reported earlier this month, big companies are increasingly looking to build data security and other risk responsibilities into marketing roles, as well as creating new positions.

This is sensible and very necessary for some companies in some vertical sectors. A marketers’ modus operandi, however, should not be managing risk, in this context at least. It should be putting the customer at the heart of everything their company does. When it comes to data, there is still too much emphasis on company and not enough on customer.

GDPR and other key moments in the last 18 months that have called into question the use of data by brands should indeed be the beginning of a new chapter in data-driven marketing.

That might still prove to be case, the operational and role changes may encourage businesses to be more sensible and ultimately more productive, but only if brands balance satisfying regulators with satisfying customers.

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Why GDPR is no longer the wolf at the door

data gdpr

Much was written about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) ahead of it coming into force last May, and while the opportunities were highlighted, the overriding reaction from marketers was confusion, frustration and fear.

One year on, and much of that scepticism has dissipated as marketers realise GDPR need not be the monster many made it out to be.

HSBC’s Simon Kaffel, who is head of data, reporting, information and control, believes brands are better off as a result of GDPR, both in terms of data management and from a training perspective.

“I hear horror stories about some companies using archaic processes to manage data. There are still major concerns about data breaches that need to be addressed, but GDPR has brought in an enforcement of training and also a requirement that data is held in a secure way,” he adds.

“While there are significant penalties for not being data-compliant, so much of GDPR is just good data management practices. This is good from an IT perspective and means the customer will trust [brands] more.”

READ MORE: Russell Parsons – When it comes to data, there’s too much emphasis on company and not enough on customer

He believes it has also pushed data up the agenda for marketers, resulting in better collaboration between teams.

“As a result of GDPR, marketing needs to be significantly more aligned to IT, legal and operations departments to ensure the whole supply chain of data, from capture through to storage and ultimately use, is efficient, effective and auditable,” he says. “Data is now a high consideration for marketing, when perhaps it wasn’t before.”

Another benefit, according to Dom Dwight, marketing director at Taylors of Harrogate, is the fact brands are able to take a more considered and selective approach to marketing. He says his team now “probably does fewer things better”, such as sending fewer, more relevant emails. “GDPR challenged a previous, slightly complacent mindset,” he admits.

This is in keeping with recent research from the Data and Marketing Association (DMA), which reveals 56% of marketers are more positive about the effects of GDPR, given they have seen a marked increase in returns on every £1 spent on email, from £32.28 in 2017 to £42.24 today.

The majority of marketers have also seen an increase in email open rates (74%) and click-through rates (75%) over the past 12 months, while a large chunk have reported a reduction in opt-out rates (41%) and spam complaints (55%) over the past year.

A separate study by the DMA shows a greater proportion of marketers now feel the benefits of GDPR outweigh the cost, with the figure rising from 16% prior to 25 May last year to 32% in late 2018.

So while Dwight says this time last year, when the law came into force, was an “intense” period involving the scrutiny of decades of data, that work has now been done and today GDPR compliance is no longer a major undertaking.

Many marketers agree on this point, although they freely admit that a renewed focus on the experience of the end user is still required. Mojo Mortgages’ director of digital, Andrew Gorry, says that an element of mistrust still exists between brands and consumers.

“Marketing can prove a useful tool in rebuilding trust that has been lost, by operating in a transparent manner,” he says. “Explicitly asking for customer consent, clearly stating why and what information is needed as well as how it will be used is the only way consumer trust will be restored.”

READ MORE: Has GDPR improved brand experience? Most consumers aren’t convinced

HSBC’s Kaffel adds: “GDPR has provided a framework for correctly managing customer data, which should be good news for the customer, who will trust the company and for the company, which should be able to maximise the value received from its use.”

However, as the policies do provide “wiggle room” he says alignment with legal teams is vital, while also ensuring data is used in an ethical way.

“Any lawyer worth their salt will look at interpretation while following the letter of the law, so you can ensure you adhere to the guiding principle but also do what’s best for your company,” he says.

Keeping audiences engaged

In order to offer personalised experiences that keep audiences engaged, Aimee Treasure, marketing manager at international recruitment company VHR stresses that marketing teams must be involved in the data acquisition and management processes. She believes that marketers “definitely” have the potential to have more impact as a result of GDPR.

“The new legislation forces them to be creative, and to create the kind of content that will draw people to them. We have seen higher engagement, higher website traffic and higher satisfaction as a direct result,” she claims. On the other hand, she warns that flouting the rules by claiming ‘legitimate interest’ in any and all communications sent out will result only in brand damage.

A focus on actively enticing prospects is echoed by Stuart Kelly, head of data and technology at Reed Exhibitions. He took the lead on the global event organiser’s response to GDPR and says: “It made us accelerate our transition from a push marketing approach to pull. To enable this we are undergoing a restructure of our marketing function, to enable sharper focus on channel and content strategy, driven by analytics and insights.”

The data function has moved away from being seen simply as a support function, he says. While ultimate responsibility for GDPR sits with the data and legal functions, marketers have to spend much more time on devising a considered approach and interaction with customers.

Certainly GDPR compliance was a complex exercise, involving numerous stakeholders across all industries. While aligning a number of teams can be a challenging, Phil Tennant, operations director at estate agent Countrywide, says the changes it has made to its communications approach as a result means marketing has become more strategic.

Countrywide worked with IT services company Technology Blueprint to streamline its communications, allowing customers to select from a variety of preferences, meaning its approach is now much more “conscious”.

Ad veteran Guy Phillipson, chairman elect at JICWEBS, the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards, however, believes the vast majority of stakeholders left it far too late to prepare. He also believes that the giants like Google and Facebook will find it much easier to get consumer consent, partly by asking “for a whole bunch of services in one go”. As a result, he suggests “the continued growth of the duopoly has arguably been helped by GDPR”.

Phillipson also points to a tangible nervousness around fines, on the part of CMOs. In his opinion, there is now increased emphasis on digital marketing techniques which have no GDPR ramifications, naming search and influencer marketing by way of example.

Nevertheless GDPR was “the right thing to do”, he says. “We don’t know what tech will come in the future. It’s forced us to be clever about first-party data, too, which is gold dust.”

Communications expert Stefano Hesse agrees that it is a very positive thing if technology giants need to think more carefully about the wider impact of their services. Having worked in senior corporate communications roles at both Facebook and Google for many years, he says Facebook’s policy team is now “driving” the business. He is adamant that GDPR will have a positive effect, globally.

Smooth transition

Those who have found the transition to compliance easiest are perhaps unsurprisingly the brands which already took privacy and engagement seriously, even before the new laws came into force.

Nicola Smedley, director of supporter engagement, individual giving and loyalty at Cancer Research UK, says the charity had already taken a lead by asking people to opt in to receive fundraising communications in July 2017. “This meant we were ahead of the game,” she says.

“By putting our supporters’ wishes at the heart of our marketing communications and contacting them only in the way they ask us to, we are achieving a greater level of engagement, loyalty and quality of data.” Nevertheless, she admits that GDPR still required a “substantial” programme of work, across the entire organisation.

READ MORE: How Cancer Research UK is preparing for GDPR

However, businesses with more questionable databases – comprised largely of contacts with whom the business may not have had any recent contact, or individuals who had given details simply to enter a competition – will have found this period particularly challenging.

Gemma Bacon, brand and marketing director at broker Mortgage Advice Bureau, which handles £14bn worth of loans annually, says: “For many businesses GDPR meant their databases diminished overnight, generating a sense that valuable data had been washed down the metaphorical drain. But how valuable was that data really? These were likely to be customers for whom your emails had popped into their inbox and they speedily swiped delete without a second thought.

“Undoubtedly the pond we’re all fishing in now is smaller but the quality and therefore the conversion are likely to be much better,” she adds.

Gracia Amico – who is a non-executive director and board advisor for a variety of retailers and brands, having worked in global ecommerce roles at a number of fashion and ecommerce companies – says: “Often you couldn’t target those on your database and you had to start all over again.”

Nevertheless, she believes GDPR has “sharpened the minds” of marketers, forcing them to “clean up, and to be more effective”.

Viewpoint: Jim Muir, head of marketing, Best Western Hotels GB

“There was a fair bit of work in the run up to GDPR implementation but if you were reasonably consistently applying the principles of the previous Data Protection Act, the key difference was the more severe implications of getting it wrong, and the need for a positive opt-in [by consumers to receiving marketing].

“We had an added complication in that our reservation system is global and hosted in the States. It was our responsibility to find out where all the data was going and to document it.

“The most work for us was around a massive education piece for our hotels. I did a one-hour presentation last January and we ran a series of seminars on topics such as privacy statements and how to capture data.

“It was quite good housekeeping. For instance, we were able to build in a process to delete redundant data and only pass on what’s needed. That’s a really useful approach. Now we only share what we actually need. Some businesses were emailing people they last spoke to 10 years ago and they had no idea whether they are even alive or not. So in this respect it was useful.

“I got lots of good information from the DMA’s legal team. We were always quite cautious anyway. We did not have a huge legacy database. Re-permissioning was probably the biggest annoyance. We had to update a few contracts and it felt like a lot of work at the time. But we’re a lot more transparent than before. That said, a year on, as for whether Joe Public notices or cares, I’m not sure.”

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England focuses on ‘excitement’ of cricket in World Cup marketing push

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is kicking off a marketing campaign that aims to build excitement among young cricket fans as England prepares to host the World Cup for the first time in 20 years.

The campaign was created in close collaboration with the captain Eoin Morgan, with head of marketing Jenny Smith sitting down with him almost 18 months ago to talk about the team’s “philosophy, culture and transformation” so it could create an “authentic” campaign.

The ‘Express Yourself’ campaign, created with agency Matta, features a hero film that puts the focus on the players and the excitement of the one-day format that is played in the World Cup. It will run across digital platforms and cinema and is accompanies by both static and digital outdoor.

Alongside this, the ECB is producing content, created by its in-house digital team, that aims to reveal more of the players’ personalities. Working with influencers, it will show batsman Jason Roy with a drone racer as he has a keen interest in drones and bowler Tom Curran with a travel photographer, for example.

England are currently ranked number one in the world for one day cricket, with a tournament on home soil seen as a great opportunity for the team to win a competition they have only previously managed to come runners-up in. However, Smith says the campaign has tried to steer clear of speaking about tournament expectations or piling more pressure on the players.

We want to make people think differently about cricket through the lens of this exciting, diverse England team.

Jenny Smith, ECB

“The campaign was designed to bring to life [the team’s] journey, philosophy and culture,” she explains.

“The way we have built this campaign it is not about the success of the team, it is about communicating their approach to cricket and them as people. That insulates us against whether they win or lose, although of course we would love them to win.”

The campaign is focused on engaging a young audience, particularly those aged between 16 and 24, as the ECB looks to the long-term health of the game. Marketing activity will target core fans as well, but the ECB sees this summer with a home World Cup and home Ashes tour for both the women’s and men’s teams as a key moment to talk to newer audiences.

There can still be a perception of cricket as being more boring than other sports, with the campaign hoping to showcase the excitement of the one-day format.

“What we are trying to do is communicate the diverse nature of the team and the exhilarating cricket they play,” explains Smith. “We want to make people think differently about cricket through the lens of this exciting, diverse England team.

“Among people further from the game there is that perception [that cricket might not be as interesting]. We have a huge base of fans who know just how exciting cricket is. That perception is rooted in some of the historic associations of the game. Part of this is us presenting [cricket] to them in a manner that might not be expected.”

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Adidas reduces focus on short-term metrics as it looks to protect brand health

Adidas is trying to reducing its focus on short-term metrics as part of a major effectiveness drive aimed at protecting the long-term health of the brand.

Speaking to Marketing Week, the sports brand’s global media director, Simon Peel, says every aspect of marketing is moving away short-termism to a “better balance”.

“Short-termism is always going to exist,” Peel says. “But what we’re trying to do is to make sure that while we’re doing that we also look after the long-term health of the brand and know that behind those short-term deliveries, the brand is the one that ultimately delivers against them.”

Like many publicly-listed companies that have to deliver quarterly earnings to shareholders, the pressure to perform means the bulk of Adidas’s spend is going on short-term activations.

This is something Adidas is looking to redress, with the media function trying to “push the 60/40 rule” – the optimum ratio of long-term brand building versus short-term sales activation according to work by Peter Field and Les Binet – as a base across all its markets.

“We’re gradually beginning to invest much more in our brand,” Peel says. “As we’ve done that it’s correlated with our growth. I don’t think it’s necessarily been the cause of it; it’s representative of a new way of thinking within the organisation which is about brand desire and looking after the long-term health of the brand.”

Peel believes it is a combination of legacy infrastructure and siloed KPIs, meaning teams often aren’t focused on the same outcomes, which have made it difficult to find the right balance in the past.

“And it’s a really big company and it’s old, so that cultural shift takes a long time,” he adds. “It’s not any one person or any team that’s against it, it’s just there’s a lot of legacy, structure, culture that you need to begin to effect and it’s a slow burner.”

Fitting business KPIs such as revenue, profit and NPS into media can be a challenge too, Peel says, which is why Adidas uses “proxies”. This means the media team can change the KPIs it is working against if it doesn’t believe they are delivering against the main business objectives.

Changing agency relationships

A lot has changed internally at Adidas since Peel joined the business five years ago. At the time it only had an internal media procurement team but now it has a centralised media team and media strategy, as well as local media teams in its largest markets – the US, Europe, China, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

“It’s an ongoing restructure,” Peel says.

Adidas is not the only brand looking to do more itself. According to new research from MediaSense, 66% of brands are looking to reorganise their internal operating model for marketing, while 59% plan to bring more media functions in-house and 61% are reviewing their agency model.

Of those looking to bring more in-house, 42% intend to do their own comms plann, 27% their own programmatic buying and 17% are considering in-housing media buying.

We set out an approach all about cost-effectiveness, and with that comes transparency, which means you have to change the way you operate with the agency.

Simon Peel, Adidas

Peels says the Adidas works with agencies has “definitely changed” over the last five years too, although he still sees partners as key.

“When I joined it was all about cost-efficiency. So we were trying to change this internal mindset of seeing media and marketing as an investment to growth,” Peel explains.

“We set out an approach all about cost-effectiveness, and with that comes transparency, which means you have to change the way you operate with the agency. If you’re looking at cost-efficiency metrics, there’s a lot of short-termism in that. Superficially, it looks like you’re doing a great job efficiently, but actually when you’re looking at measuring the success of it in terms of the business impact you’re not really doing a very good job at all.”

Adidas is trying to “delineate” the traditional client and agency relationship so it can focus on a “proper” media and marketing strategy.

This means Adidas is responsible for its own media strategy and infrastructure, including all of the ad technology, marketing technology, and technology and transparency contracts, while the agency’s remit is limited to the tactical delivery and bringing campaigns to life.

“The idea is that it frees up the agency to focus on campaign activation rather than having to upsell different products internally,” Peel says.

“I don’t know about the rest of the industry but one of the things [Adidas] is certainly trying to redress is strategy a lot more. We’ve become overly obsessed with shiny things and digital has been a representation of that.

“We’re very interested in activation ideas and we’ve forgotten about proper marketing strategy and media strategy as well. We mistake media strategy with campaign strategy or activation or tactics. That’s an area that definitely needs to be addressed.”

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Vodafone brings together marketing and digital teams as it renews focus on innovation

Vodafone is bringing together its consumer marketing and digital division in new offices in Southwark, London, in a bid to increase the rate of innovation and get the product and marketing teams working closer together.

The move means Vodafone staff relocating from their current office in Newbury in Cambridge to a new building in the south of the capital. Speaking to Marketing Week, Vodafone’s consumer director Max Taylor says the hope is Vodafone will be able to tap into the digital talent in London, with plans for a major recruitment drive.

“This will be a really exciting new office, it will be digitally-centric. We are co-locating engineers, marketeers, commercial product managers to innovate at a faster and in a more agile way than ever before,” he explains.

“All marketing, digital, brand, communications, advertising, product teams, even website engineers will be here. The whole consumer business.”

Vodafone sees innovation as key to the strength and success of its brand. Its strapline, ‘The future is exciting. Ready?’ already hints at this, and Taylor cites the examples of its Tobi chatbot and tools such as holographic calling as area where Vodafone has taken a lead.

“It is important Vodafone is innovating. It is in our heritage, we want to be first with new technologies and demonstrating those experiences to customers,” he says.

The next major area will be 5G. Vodafone is turning on its 5G network on 3 July in seven cities, including London, Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow with plans for 12 more towns and cities by the end of the year. Customers will also be able to roam on 5G in Italy, Spain and Germany from this summer.

READ MORE: 5G is about to usher in yet another new marketing era

It has now revealed plans for the first devices and mobile plans that will be available on 5G, which include the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 and Samsung Galaxy S10. Vodafone has also partnered with game streaming service Hatch to offer customers three free months of access to more than 100 mobile games.

Vodafone is not the only mobile operator in the market touting its 5G network launch. EE has revealed plans for its service, as well as the phones and price plans that will be available. Taylor claims the focus on 5G from the industry is “good for the UK” as a whole, particularly as it is one of the first markets to launch the network compared to 4G, where it was the 53rd.

Vodafone hopes a focus on “differentiated plans and the customer experience” will help it differentiate in the market. Customers will not be charged a premium for 5G, which Taylor says will make it “as easy as possible” for customers to choose 5G. And he believes its Red entertainment plans – which offer access to one of either Spotify, Sky Sports, Amazon Prime, Now TV – will work “even better” on 5G because it should allow for faster downloads and lower latency.

Taylor says there will also be benefits for businesses and the ad industry. He points to the potential around virtual and augmented reality and better product search on mobile, as well as improved ad personalisation.

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NatWest tackles ‘patronising’ way banks to women in new campaign


NatWest is aiming to tackle the “huge” financial confidence gap between men and women with a campaign that apologises for the way banks have spoken to women in the past and promises to lead change in the sector.

The campaign kicked off with a PR stunt this morning (22 May) that saw men dressed as traditional bankers in pinstripe suits and bowler hats handing out letters to commuters. The letters admit the banking sector owes women an apology for “patronising you, ignoring you, talking to your husbands, fathers and brothers instead of you and making far too many suggestions that your earnings and expenditures are meaningless and trivial”.

On the reverse is a pledge from NatWest to “lead the change in the way banks talk to women”. Through a partnership with Stylist, it is launching a collective, called ‘A Woman’s Worth’, that will enable women to discuss their thoughts when it comes to finance and make suggestions on what banks can do better.

Alongside this, NatWest has pledged to “smash the stereotypes” that exist in the financial industry, be more representative in-branch and across its comms and help to close the investment gap.

The campaign is based on data from a YouGov survey, which finds 83% of women don’t feel banks make products easy to understand. Separate data from Kantar finds just 24% of women would describe their engagement around financial investments as ‘high’, compared to 43% of men. Closing that gap by improving women’s engagement by just one confidence decile represents a market worth £12.4bn for millennial women and £24.4bn for Gen X women.

Women feel they haven’t been spoken to by banks in the past in a way that they have been able to engage with. NatWest wants to play a leading role in fixing that.

Emma Isaac, NatWest

Speaking to Marketing Week, Emma Isaac, NatWest’s director of brand marketing, says: “Women feel they haven’t been spoken to by banks in the past in a way they’ve been able to engage with. NatWest wants to play a leading role in fixing that.”

NatWest believes it should play that leading role because its own data shows women “have a preference” for its bank. Its wider brand platform ‘We are what we do’ also positions it as a “proactive bank”, says Isaac, meaning it feels it is important to “take an active stand”.

“We have an opportunity because we have insight that shows women already have a preference of NatWest versus our high street competitors so we want to build on that to ensure our female customers do become advocates,” she explains.

“We feel it is really important to take an active stand and do something that will really make a difference, both at a societal level but also at a level where we are connecting ever more deeply with our customer base. It makes both ideological and commercial sense for us to do this kind of campaign.”


As is often the case when brands take a stand, reaction to the campaign has so far been mixed, with some praising the bank for taking on the issue while others have called the campaign itself patronising. Isaac says the brand was prepared for this and despite some negative feedback “will carry on”.

“[The campaign] is courageous and with courage comes vulnerability. We acknowledged this could come with some polarised views, however it is only the beginning, we are committed to the campaign as much as we are committed to becoming the bank that is really leading the change in the way we talk to women.”

NatWest hopes its own track record on equality can add authenticity to the campaign. It already has more than 500 women in business who help female entrepreneurs overcome barriers to starting a business and has done work on the ‘imposter syndrome’ women can feel.

Plus it champions women’s voices through its sponsorship of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, has targets for female representation at senior level (and a deputy CEO and CFO who are women) and works with Free The Bid to ensure women directors are always shortlisted in creative work.

The hope is the campaign will boost the appeal of NatWest among women.

“We want NatWest to be seen as the bank that is really making banking better for women. The internal work we are doing gives us the authenticity to truly stand behind that. The two things work together because it has to be genuine, from the inside out, otherwise we know our customers would see through that,” says Isaac.

The post NatWest tackles ‘patronising’ way banks to women in new campaign appeared first on Marketing Week.

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Pret confirms the end of the Eat brand to ‘turbocharge’ Veggie Pret

veggie pret

Pret A Manger has bought rival sandwich chain Eat in a move that will see the latter brand disappear from the high street as Pret looks to “turbocharge” its Veggie Pret format.

Eat owned 94 locations across the UK, with Pret planning to turn “as many as possible” into Veggie Prets in response to growing consumer demand for more vegetarian and vegan options. The rest will be turned into normal Pret formats.

A spokesperson for the brand tells Marketing Week: “Our plan is to convert as many of Eat’s shops as possible into Veggie Pret, while others will become classic Pret shops. This means that the Eat brand will ultimately be absorbed within Pret.”

The decision to shutter the Eat brand in favour of Pret makes sense, with the latter the much stronger of the two brands. According to YouGov BrandIndex, Eat has an ‘index’ score (a combination of metrics including quality, value and reputation) of 1.8, putting it 27th on a list of 48 fast food and pub chains.

Pret, by comparison, sits at fifth with a score of 10.4. Pret similarly beats its rival on consumer perceptions of quality, satisfaction and recommend. Consumers are also much less aware of the Eat brand, which has an awareness score of 44.4% compared to 86.7% for Pret.

Pret opened its first Veggie outlet in 2016 in London and has since opened two more in the capital and one in Manchester.

READ MORE: How Pret used customer insight to shape its new veggie pop-up strategy

Schlee, who came up with the idea, says: “The acquisition of the Eat estate is a wonderful opportunity to turbocharge the development of Veggie Pret and put significant resources behind it.”

The majority of Eat branches are in London, but there are stores across the UK including in Birmingham, Manchester, Cambridge, Edinburgh. While store staff are unlikely to be hit by redundancies, the future of Eat’s marketing team is unclear given there will no longer be a brand to promote.

Andrew Walker, CEO of Eat, adds: “Eat’s passionate and talented team are what make the business; their commitment to providing our customers with great food and excellent service is at the heart of the company’s outstanding recent performance. I am delighted that their efforts have been recognised through this transaction.

“It has been a privilege to lead Eat for the past three years, and I believe this acquisition creates new opportunities for employees and customers alike.”

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Carlsberg brings its ‘Probably not the best beer’ campaign to TV

Carlsberg is bringing its ‘Probably not the best beer in the world’ campaign to TV as it ramps up efforts to drive reappraisal of the brand and the beer following its relaunch in April.

The TV spot shows Carlsberg’s Danish brand ambassador Mads Mikkelsen rowing a boat across a lake while confessing that “in the UK, Carlsberg pursued being the biggest, not the best and the beer suffered”. After enjoying a pint of the new Carlsberg Danish Pilsner, Mikkelsen hints at what “probably” happened to the person responsible for the old beer in the UK while looking into the depths of the lake.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Lynsey Woods, Carlsberg UK’s director of marketing, says the company wanted to “dramatise” its acknowledgement that its old beer hadn’t been the best while also showing the brand’s humour.

“If you think about the messaging before it was quite a serious message, obviously done with a bit of wit. This TV ad actually shows people that we haven’t lost our sense of humour,” she explains.

“TV, it’s still the best way to tell a great story to a mass audience and gives us the reach that we need and want.”

Carlsberg admitted that it is “probably not the best beer in the world” last month, inverting its famous tagline in outdoor ads and social media activity highlighting that it has prioritised “quantity over quality”. At the same time it introduced a rebrewed version of its beer, as well as new packs and glassware aimed at reinforcing the changes and its new, more premium, positioning.

READ MORE: Carlsberg admits it probably isn’t the best beer in the world as it overhauls the brand and the brew

The TV ad, created by Fold7, will air tomorrow (23 May) during Hatton Garden on ITV. It will then run throughout the summer on TV and digital channels.

“It feels big and cinematic and nothing drives emotion to quite the same degree as a film can”, Woods adds.

‘Probably’ the best reaction

Despite initial nerves about the campaign, Woods says the brand has been “overwhelmed” by the response from consumers so far. Certainly it drove conversation, with awareness of Carlsberg’s advertising among British consumers increasing by three percentage points to 9.7% and word of mouth exposure up 2.7 points, according to YouGov BrandIndex.

Woods says: “We were nervous [before the launch] because we haven’t done anything like this before. We hadn’t really lifted the lid and spoken so honestly, and I don’t think many brands do, but actually we’ve been overwhelmed with the positive response.

“All of us have been constantly on Twitter watching the campaign and conversation unfold. It’s exceeded our expectations in terms of the sheer amount of conversation that it has driven among consumers.”

However, initial figures suggest that so far the campaign has had a mixed impact on Carlsberg’s brand metrics. Consumer perceptions of its quality have fallen by 1.1 points, according to YouGov BrandIndex, while perceptions of value are up 1.5 points over the last six weeks.

Yet it does appear to be getting people to try the beer again. Consideration is up 0.5 points, with this rising to 3.1 points among former customers.

Wood says Carlsberg is still in the early stages of getting the new beer into people’s hands and acknowledges it is too early to see if the campaign will result in long-term success.

“It takes a huge amount of time to turn around a brand. This is a really big brand and we’re trying to do something monumental but right now things are on track and delivering in line with our expectations,” she says.

The post Carlsberg brings its ‘Probably not the best beer’ campaign to TV appeared first on Marketing Week.

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M&S boss: We must get back to being a value retailer

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer is focusing on boosting its appeal to families and “getting back” to being a “value-at-heart” retailer as part of a turnaround plan aimed at transforming the retailer into a digital-first business.

Work across both its clothing and home, and food businesses is aimed at widening its appeal to attract more customers more often. In clothing, that involves improving its style credentials and availability, as well as making its stores more contemporary and digital, with plans to pilot new formats in the autumn.

In food, while CEO Steve Rowe says it has a “fantastic brand based on innovation and quality”, it wants to increase market share by investing in lower prices, boosting its family appeal and trialling new formats. This includes slightly bigger and more accessible products so it “becomes more of a weekly shop”. The joint venture with Ocado to begin selling M&S food online will also help the retailer tap into the “fastest-growing part of the food market”.

Chairman Archie Norman, speaking at a media briefing this morning (22 May), said: “We think of ourselves as a value for money business, not a low-price business.”

He added: “We need to get back to being a value-at-heart retailer.”

Over the past year, M&S says it has removed 70% of its “confusing” promotions and instead invested in lower prices on more than 400 lines, meaning its price positioning is the “most competitive” it has been in four years.

While Rowe admitted there is still a price differential with the big four supermarkets, he believes that difference is “backed up” by its focus on quality and the different ingredients and recipes it uses.

We need to get back to being a value at heart retailer.

Archie Norman, M&S

Norman added: “We don’t like the idea of being a premium retailer. Our pricing is in line with the big four, adjusted for quality. [We want people to say they get] great value for what they pay for.”

To communicate these changes and begin speaking more to families, M&S has brought back its ‘This is not just food’ campaign and launched its sponsorship of Britain’s Got Talent on ITV.

Work to improve that value positioning does appear to be paying off. According to YouGov BrandIndex, consumer perceptions of the value of its food offering have increased by 2.2 points over the past 12 weeks, although it is still just 23rd in a list of supermarket brands. That has not come at the expense of perceptions of quality, which are up 2.7 points to a score of 59.7 and ensuring it stays top of the list.

Turning ‘data pots’ in to a ‘data lake’

Work that is being done to its Sparks loyalty programme that aims to shift its focus away from discounts should also help in this area. Rowe said a revamped version of the scheme should launch later this year and is one of the areas of priority for chief data officer Jeremy Pee, who joined in December last year.

READ MORE: M&S boss – We’ve got to fix confusing Sparks loyalty scheme

Data is a key area for M&S, which has reams of information on its customers but has so far failed to align it across the business. It is hiring data scientists and putting staff through data training, and hopes work to create a single view of the customer can improve its digital marketing and communications with customers.

“[We want to] make sure we are exploiting data. [We need to turn] our data pots into a data lake that can be mined by everyone in the business,” Rowe said.

While improving its data function will help M&S better understand its customers, it doesn’t expect to find a definitive M&S customer. With more than 32 million shoppers, M&S reaches a broad church, although Norman said there is a group of consumers it needs to appeal to if it wants to return to growth.

“[We are not] a niche retailer, we do not have the luxury of being able to say, ‘this is the M&S customer’. What we do know is there is an epicentre. It’s about working mums and dads, people who are a bit time-poor, they’ve got money so they are not totally driven by discount and price, they are looking for a bit more quality and wearability, they have kids,” he said.

“We strongly believe that if we appeal to that type of person, that’s where our quality/price/value for money balance starts to come into play. If we have great, stylish clothing for a 35-year-old mum, we’ll appeal to the 55-year-olds too. If you try and do it the other way round, it ain’t going to work.”

Despite all the work at M&S, the business continues to struggle. Group revenue was down 3% to £10.4bn for the year to the end of March, while profits before tax and adjusting items fell 9.9% to £523.2m. Food like-for-likes fell 2.3% over the full year, but were up 0.4% in its fourth quarter and clothing and home saw like-for-likes down 1.6%.

Norman admitted that given all the work that has gone on behind the scenes, the results were “frustrating” because they suggested progress hadn’t been made. However, he likened its work to an “egg and spoon race”.

“We are early on in what we intend to do. It is like an egg and spoon race, the faster you run the more it wobbles, although every wobble is an opportunity to improve as well.

“It is frustrating because we can see what we could achieve but at the moment do we have a lot to show for it? In terms of the bottom line we don’t, but we believe we will. Our ambition is not to tweak the short-term numbers, it is to be Britain’s fastest-changing retailer.”

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