Brands’ pricing shouldn’t be bound by their categories

price categoryImagine you’re doing your weekly shop. You’ve been pushing your trolley around for half an hour and bought nearly everything on your list – one of your last stops is in the soft drink aisle. You scan the bottles and spot an interesting new brand nestled between the Ribena and the Robinson’s. You fancy treating yourself, so you check the price tag.

Now, how much would you be prepared to pay? A fiver maybe? Well this brand wants £26 for a 700ml bottle. Still interested?

FMCG giants test their pricing power

I doubt it. It’s an eye-watering 15 times more expensive than the surrounding drinks. It probably feels like a complete rip-off. No one in their right mind would fork out that much, however many berries and herbs it contains.

Price is relative, not absolute

But now imagine your shopping trip took a different turn and instead of visiting the soft drinks you find yourself in the booze aisle. Next to the small batch craft gins you spot a new brand – a non-alcoholic spirit for £26 per 700ml bottle.

Is that a reasonable price? It’s pricey certainly, but not mind-bogglingly so. In fact, it’s exactly the price that the non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip asks for.

Now, why such a different reaction to the price? Seedlip – which is essentially an adult cordial – feels reasonably priced in one situation but not the other.

Do everything you can to change the field of reference shoppers have to one that is more profitable to you.

The reason for this anomaly is that we don’t perceive value in an absolute sense. We don’t have a single scale by which we measure the merits of all purchases because it would require too much effort. People are busy and so they rely on simple rules of thumb when judging price, not complex calculations.

Shoppers ask themselves: how much did I pay for something similar in the past? If I’m being charged more than the comparison product, then this new brand is expensive; if I’m being charged less, then this new product is a bargain.

Customer experience is as much about perception as reality

That should interest every marketer as it means that price is relative, not absolute. If you change the comparison set, then you can shift willingness to pay by orders of magnitude.

Seedlip has harnessed price relativity by performing a sleight of hand. By describing itself as a non-alcoholic spirit and designing a bottle that mimics premium gins, it has shifted its comparison set away from cheaper squashes. This frees it to charge five times as much as an upmarket adult cordial could reasonably ask for.

Price relativity can be observed under more scientific conditions

Of course, Seedlip never launched as an adult cordial so my thought experiment is conjecture. But I’ve also run price relativity experiments which support this argument.

In one study I told participants that a 250g box of PG Tips cost £2.29, while the same weight of Tesco own label tea cost £1. When questioned about the price, 31% of the respondents rated PG Tips as good value.

I then asked another group the same question but with one tweak. Rather than compare PG Tips to own label it was contrasted with Twining’s, priced at £3.49. In this scenario, the number who thought PG Tips represented good value jumped to 65%.

Brands can apply price relativity in two broad ways. First, don’t accept your comparison set as fixed. Do everything you can to change the field of reference shoppers have to one that is more profitable to you.

My favourite example of this has been doing the rounds on Twitter:

Second, why not introduce a premium version of your main brand. The high-end variant will then make the original brand look cheaper by comparison. So, continuing our tea example, Twining’s could introduce a Platinum Reserve blend at a higher price to improve the perception of the main brand. For well-established brands this is a simpler tactic than shifting your comparison set.

Behavioural science identifies a range of profitable pricing tactics. Test which one works best for you.

Richard Shotton is founder of the consultancy Astroten and author of The Choice Factory, a book about applying behavioural science to advertising. He tweets at @rshotton.

Sue Benson is managing director of The Behaviours Agency.

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Why corporate-NGO partnerships are now as much about knowledge as cash

partnershipPartnerships between brands and charities are becoming increasingly strategic, as both parties focus their attention on developing fewer, more impactful tie-ups that are built on problem-solving, according to C&E Advisory’s 10th annual Corporate-NGO Partnerships Barometer.

For NGOs that means partnerships are now about far more than a simple cash injection, while for businesses, pressure to demonstrate societal change is driving the shift.

Indeed, 94% of businesses believe NGO partnerships will become more important over the next three years, up from 86% last year, as pressure increases to prove they are about more than driving profit.

The vast majority of brands (89%) cite the need to show they are invested in driving change around societal issues as a major reason for the importance of NGO partnerships rising. Companies are also under increased pressure to enhance brand reputation, with 80% suggesting this will encourage them to invest in corporate-NGO partnerships over the next three years, a 13% rise on last year.

Other factors increasing the significance of partnerships for brands include pressure on resources, which has risen to 55%, up 22% compared to 2018; pressure from internal stakeholders to engage in more partnerships (39%, up 63%); and more evidence to suggest these partnerships are effective (70%, up 15%).

“Brands and NGOs want to leverage as much value as possible from their investment in partnerships. To do that they are focusing more on fewer, bigger, better relationships that are material to the brand and company,” says Manny Amadi, CEO of C&E Advisory.

Brands want access to knowledge

As purpose moves up the corporate agenda, the data also shows a clear rise in the number of brands forming partnerships as a way to gain access to knowledge, with 71% citing this as a key motivation for collaborating with NGOs, up 31% on 2018.

Likewise, corporates are also using NGO partnerships to gain insight about new markets. More than half (56%) of businesses cited this as a driver, an increase of 47% compared to last year.

Amadi says this is reflective of the changing environment in which brands operate in the UK and around the world.

“The more people you have around the board table the richer you are, because in an uncertain world, the more diversity of views and voices you have, the more you are able to navigate change and see it coming,” he says.

“NGOs and charities touch different stakeholder groups across the value chain. Whether it’s in emerging markets and economies or in the UK, NGOs’ mission is to understand those issues really deeply, so companies are looking to gain that knowledge and use it to inform their decisions in terms of what to do and how to move forward.”

These partnerships are helping charities deliver their mission more effectively.

Manny Amadi, C&E Advisory

He predicts it could also be a precursor to brands looking to set up purpose-driven initiatives without the need for charity partners.

“NGOs have a natural mission and mandate to address social and environmental issues. Companies are increasingly taking on the role of addressing those issues, essentially driven by self-interest. Their chosen model has been to do that in partnership with NGOs and charities, but as they do that and they get more authentic and better at it, the question that is now arising is will companies go it alone in future?” Amadi asks.

“In five or 10 years from now will they say, ‘we know this stuff ourselves, we’re a trusted brand, why don’t we go ahead and run programmes ourselves, why do we need charity x or y?’ What will the model of the future look like? It’s a question some are now beginning to ask.”

Partnerships built on more than cash

Just as businesses are looking to gain knowledge from NGO partnerships rather than seeing them simply as a CSR exercise, charities are putting far greater emphasis on their corporate partners’ non-cash assets.

Some 81% suggest they can make much more of an impact by building relationships that go beyond the transactional, a rise of 45% compared to last year.

“These partnerships are clearly working and adding value in a number of ways,” says Amadi.

“On the NGO side, there is greater recognition that in addition to the staple things that they want out of these partnerships, which is largely cash, they are increasingly recognising the non-cash support, the competencies and assets that they can harness from their private sector partners.”

Innovation becomes key driver of corporate-NGO partnerships

He believes this is down to charities’ confidence increasing as companies take this agenda more seriously, particularly as they see their partnerships having an impact on brands’ understanding of social and environmental issues, and the fact they are changing their policies and practices in response.

Indeed, 96% of corporates believe their key NGO partnerships have helped improve their understanding of social and environmental issues, and 67% suggest they have changed their business practices for the better as a result.

Charities concur, with 90% suggesting they have played a role in educating their brand partners and encouraging them to make necessary changes.

“As many more NGOs see corporate partnerships working – such as those between Macmillan and Boots, and GSK and Save the Children – and the fact they are drawing on corporate assets, they think we could be doing that ourselves,” states Amadi.

Most admired partnerships

When it comes to specific partnerships, those with scale, impact and longevity perform best.

Boots’ work with Macmillan Cancer Support comes out on top this year, with 13.7% singling it out it as the “most admired” partnership in an unprompted vote. It has regularly featured at the top end of the ranking, but this is the first time it has been the overall winner.

Boots and Macmillan have been working together for 10 years now, and the retailer now has more than 2,000 specially trained Boots Macmillan information pharmacists, as well as 900 beauty advisors to help people with the visible side effects of cancer.

In addition, Boots employees and customers have raised more than £18m throughout the duration of the partnership.

“People talk about the commitment of Boots and Macmillan and the fact it is a strong fit. It’s a great example of a deeper, more strategic way of partnering,” Amadi says.

It overtakes the partnership between GSK and Save the Children (10.5%) which came out on top last year, while the collaboration between Network Rail and Samaritans comes third (4%).

Changes to partnerships over the past decade

Looking back over the past 10 years of the barometer, there are three clear changes that have occurred. Firstly, partnerships have become more important, secondly they have become more strategic, and thirdly they have become more effective.

“What dominated 10 years ago was the ‘charity of the year’ approach, but often those partnerships would be unrelated to the business itself. Overtime the relationships have moved to become much more strategic and long term,” Amadi explains.

Because these partnerships have evolved from a single-year to three- and five-year agreements, there is much more scope to deliver significant change.

In an uncertain world, the more diversity of views and voices you have, the more you are able to navigate change and see it coming.

Manny Amadi, C&E Advisory

GSK and Save the Children have been working together since 2013, for example, and have recently extended their partnership until 2022. In that time the partnership has reached 2.9 million children under the age of five, and treated more than 250,000 children for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea.

The purpose agenda itself has also become far more important over the past decade. Against a backdrop of financial and political uncertainty, NGO partnerships have continued to grow in importance.

“It comes from the fact that alone, the private sector, civil society and the public sector cannot solve the big issues facing us like climate change, obesity or what ever it is,” Amadi states.

“That’s a fundamental thing, so as a society we need all different parties playing a really active role in addressing these big scale challenges, so partnering is very important.”

Because these partnerships are becoming more important and strategic, they are also becoming more effective at moving the dial, he adds.

“These partnerships are helping charities deliver their mission more effectively. If you take Macmillan and Boots as an example, the partnership is helping them take their services onto the high street,” Amadi notes.

“For companies it helps them deepen their understanding of social and environmental issues, creating more financial value and helping them change their practices.”

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Brand value, buying power, programmatic: 5 killer stats to start your week

1. UK brands decline in value

More UK brands have seen their value decline rather than grow over the past year, according to Kantar’s latest BrandZ ranking of the UK’s top 75 brands. Some 33 brands increased their value (by an average of 13%) in 2019, while 38 brands declined in value (by an average of 12%) and one brand saw no change.

This means there has been an overall year-on-year decline in value of 3% in the UK, well behind the growth rates of both the global economy, which is up 3.7%, and BrandZ’s Top 100 global brands, which increased 7%.

Vodafone remains the UK’s most valuable brand, worth $26.5bn, followed by HSBC on $23.2bn and Shell on $20.7bn.

In terms of the fastest risers, Deliveroo comes out on top. Over the past 12 months the food delivery company has increased its value by 54% to $1.4bn, putting it at number 50 in the ranking, while Costa Coffee’s value is up 48% to $1.5bn, no doubt boosted by Coca-Cola’s acquisition of the brand at the beginning of the year.

Source: Kantar 

2. Brand safety fears prevent programmatic investment

As the demand for premium inventory rises, so too have concerns around brand safety. A third (34%) of advertisers now cite brand safety as a barrier to programmatic investment, up from 24% in 2018.

Fraud also remains an issue for advertisers, with 31% suggesting it’s of concern, while 38% cite supply chain transparency as another barrier to investment.

By contrast, hiring people with the right skillset in programmatic has decreased as a barrier for advertisers, dropping from 32% last year to 24% in 2019.

Source: IAB Europe

3. The buying power of new parents

Parents will spend an average of £11,498 during the first year of a child’s life, while the average spend in the UK on baby products during pregnancy is between £1,000 and £2,000.

One third of new mums will happily pay a higher price for personalised products and more than half will turn to social media for recommendations. Another 56% are influenced by Facebook parenting groups when it comes to buying products for their baby.

Parents’ desire to buy from brands they recognise almost doubles after the birth of their first child, with 47% opting for trusted, recommended and reliable brands post-pregnancy compared to 28% ahead of the birth.

Meanwhile, more than half of women believe niche brands provide a better offer than bigger brands. And 52% will purchase from one brand over another if they believe its values align with their own.

Source: Emma’s Diary

4. High street store closures hit record high

Some 2,868 stores closed on Britain’s top 500 high streets in the first half of the year. By contrast, 1,634 stores opened leading to a net decline of 1,234 stores. This compares to a net decline of 1,123 during the same period last year, making it the highest since the survey began in 2010.

This means there were almost twice as many store closures (16 per day) as there were openings (nine per day) during the first half of 2019.

On a sector-by-sector basis, only 15 out of 96 sectors showed a net growth, and only two categories grew by double digits. Takeaways saw a net increase of 26 outlets, while sports and health clubs had a net increase of 17.

The biggest net declines were seen among fashion retailers (-118), restaurants (-103) and estate agents (-100).

Source: PwC and Local Data Company

5. Majority of Brits would purchase upcycled garments

Some 90% of Brits say they would be willing to purchase a product clearly labelled as ‘upcycled’ or ‘100% recyclable’.

However, only 43% would be willing to pay a premium. This figure climbs to 51% for London-based shoppers.

Consumers are putting more pressure on companies to be transparent about their sustainability, with 62% suggesting they would stop purchasing a particular brand if it was found to be detrimental to the environment.

And while one fifth (20%) of consumers are committed to purchasing only sustainable products, product information detailing the sustainability and environmental impact would make 69% of Brits more likely to purchase.

Source: inRiver

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Aldi, BBC, Thomas Cook: Everything that matters this morning

Aldi outlines £1bn expansion plan

Aldi is planning an expansion plan which will see it invest £1bn to open over 400 new stores across the UK in the next two years.

The discount supermarket has set a target of 1,200 stores by the end of 2025 – it currently has just over 840 stores, which means opening a new store every week for next two years on average. This includes an increased focus on London where it wants to more than double stores.

Giles Hurley, chief executive, says: “While our expansion will continue to reach every part of the UK, we’re increasing our focus on London where our market share is just 3.4% compared to 8.1% nationally. London shoppers regularly tell us they would switch to Aldi if there was one nearby, so there is clearly a significant growth opportunity for us in the capital.”

The announcement comes as the store’s operating profits fell by 26% last year. For the year to December 31 2018 Aldi UK and Ireland made an operating profit of £197.9m, down from £265.9m in 2017. However, sales increased 11% to £11.33bn.

BBC says TV is entering ‘second wave of disruption’

TV is entering a “second wave of disruption”, according to the BBC as it looks to compete with Apple’s new streaming service.

Addressing an audience at the upcoming Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge on Thursday, the BBC director-general, Tony Hall, will say: “Our industry is about to enter a second wave of disruption. The first was about the rise of Netflix, Amazon and Spotify: market shapers that fundamentally changed audience behaviour, often at the cost of huge losses or massive cross-subsidy.

“The second wave will see a range of new entrants entering an already crowded market. We saw it last week as Apple announced its new subscription service. Disney, Hulu and others are to follow. This is, of course, great for audiences. Possibly.”

Apple unveiled Apple TV Plus last week which will see it provide a streaming service to rival Netflix with original TV shows and films.

Hall will add: “The established streamers will need to fight harder to offer the value they currently give today.”

He will also argues that purpose is becoming even more vital in the face of a more competitive environment. “Purpose and values matter today more than ever, as people pick and choose services for ethical reasons as much as economic ones. Secondly, no one offers the range of content, in so many genres, on so many platforms, as the BBC.

“We’re not Netflix, we’re not Spotify. We’re not Apple News. We’re so much more than all of them put together.”

READ MORE: TV industry entering ‘second wave of disruption’, claims BBC chief

Restaurants face tough year with rise in insolvency


The number of restaurants collapsing into insolvency has risen by 25% in the last year amid tough competition on the UK high street.

Roughly 1,410 restaurants became insolvent in the year to the end of June, up by a fifth on the previous 12 months, according to figures by accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young.

But while troubled big-name chains such as Jamie’s Italian and burger chain Byron have garnered the most attention thousands of smaller businesses are also struggling, according to the report.

Peter Kubik, partner at UHY Hacker Young, says: “Good restaurants and bad have all struggled from over-capacity, weak consumer spending and surging costs.”

He adds: “Having a loyal following is great but if that loyal following stops going out then you have a problem.”

UHY Hacker Young says the rapid growth of the causal-dining sector since the 2008 financial crisis had resulted in an oversaturated mid-market, this plus rising costs, and a slowdown in consumer spending compounded by Brexit, shows no signs of changing soon.

READ MORE: More than 1,400 UK restaurants close as casual dining crunch bites

Thomas Cook buys time for rescue deal

Thomas Cook has secured an extra week to finalise its £1.1bn rescue deal.  The troubled holiday company had originally set a meeting with bondholders for Wednesday to agree terms but has now successfully pushed this back.

The deal needs the backing of three quarters of bondholders to succeed with Thomas Cook hoping a delay will give it more time to negotiate.

Thomas Cook’s struggles have been well documented. In May, the firm reported a £1.5bn loss for the first half of the year. It has also issued three profit warnings over the past year and is struggling to reduce its debts.

However, last month the holiday firm said it had agreed a deal for a takeover approach for its tour business from its largest shareholder Fosun.

It has blamed a series of problems for its profit warnings, including political unrest in holiday destinations such as Turkey, last summer’s prolonged heatwave and Brexit. But it is also facing difficult industry dynamics including competition from online travel agents and low-cost airlines.

£ READ MORE: Thomas Cook wins breathing space to secure backing for £1.1bn rescue deal

UK faces slowest growth since recession

The UK is facing its slowest growth since the recession, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The group predicts spending is due to decline 1.5% this year, fuelled by Brexit uncertainty and the US/China trade war.

The length of the downturn is already thought to exceed the slump after the 2008 financial crisis, when business investment fell by a greater degree but only for two years. The BCC warns relentless Brexit uncertainty is preventing firms from investing and diverting resources into no-deal planning.

The BCC, whose members employ about one-in-five British workers, cut its economic growth forecast for this year to 1.2% from its June forecast of 1.3% and lowered the figure for 2020 to 0.8% from 1.0%.

READ MORE: UK employers cut growth forecasts as Brexit, global slowdown weigh

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Marketers need more sense to stem the tide of CMO firings

When Marketing Week’s editor, Russell Parsons, asked me to write an article to accompany the launch of Marketing Week’s Top 100 Most Effective UK Marketers, sponsored by Salesforce, I was torn. What’s to celebrate?

This year saw a record number of top marketers being fired. The CMO brand is under attack. More worryingly, as everybody seems busy with digital porn, marketers are losing C-suite traction. I don’t want to sound overly negative, but this stuff is real.

Belkin, Beats, Citi, Coty, Cisco, Dropbox, EY, GAP, GNC, Intuit, Hitachi, JC Penney, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Heinz, Lyft, Marriott, McDonald’s, Mitsubishi Motors, Mondelēz International, Netflix, Nissan, PayPal, Rite Aid, Samsung, Sephora, Sisheideo, Subway, Suntory, Spotify, Taco Bell, Ticketmaster, Tyson, Uber, Walgreens, Wendy’s – these are just a few brands from consultancy Spencer Stuart’s latest CMO movements list (‘movement’ is their term for firing).

I wish every skilled and customer-loving marketer would also develop digital sense, purpose sense and business sense.

Everybody knows CMOs don’t last long, but this year things have got worse. “Transitions are happening at an unprecedented rate,” according to Spencer Stuart consultants. Meaning: it’s been a bloodbath.

The CMO title bingo is on. Top marketers are now getting labels such as chief growth officer (what else would a marketer do?), chief customer officer (what’s new?), chief experience officer (WTF?). And here’s the new 2019 thing: teams are now getting rebranded as ‘growth marketing’. Really?

Mondelez scraps CMO role and installs chief growth officer

Growth marketing is as clever a title as performance marketing. It suggests the job previously wasn’t about growth (or performance). Behind the relabelling stands a more serious CEO message: “I’m dissatisfied with your work.” For the CMO brand, this could be the beginning of the end.

Things on the agency side aren’t looking better.

Who’s doing well? Tech firms – and everybody who knows how to book a Facebook campaign. Where are the truly strategic agencies? The people who once had the CEO’s ear? The agencies that challenged marketers to think long term?

J Walter Thompson, the force behind brands such as Kraft Cheese and De Beers (‘A Diamond is Forever’), just got subsumed under the digital outlet Wunderman. Ogilvy & Mather, the former boardroom power, has just ditched David Ogilvy’s mantra ‘We sell or else’ in favour of ‘We change or else’. As a client, I’d be losing my will to live.

Ogilvy’s rebrand reveals an ad industry in confusion

As a marketer, why should you care? Why should you worry about what’s happening up there in the C-suite? The answer is simple: this is about your future. When marketing’s reputation erodes at the top, so will yours. When CMOs get kicked out of the boardroom, so will the customer’s voice. When everybody in marketing gets a funny title, so will you (one day).

Sorry if I’m sounding a little dark. But these facts went through my mind that night when I was thinking about what to write. To distract myself, I watched this interview with Syl Saller, Diageo’s long standing CMO. It came at just the right time and brought all my optimism back.

For the past 10 years, I’ve been spearheading marketing leadership research. In over 200 keynotes, I’ve made the passionate case that marketers must mobilise bosses and colleagues for change (rather than just doing campaigns). Watching Saller made me hopeful: there are great marketing leaders who cut through the digital clutter. Who get brand purpose right. Who deliver growth.

Digital sense

Marketing technology is awesome. But digital could easily become the shovel with which marketers are digging their own grave.

Let’s be clear: martech is critical. I’m a big advocate. I’m even helping many tech firms and media brands to make the case. But digital media is a fraction of one of the four Ps (product, price, promotion, place). Marketers who only learn tactical digital campaigning might simply end up in sales support (that’s already happening).

When Saller talks about martech’s benefits, she lists marketing effectiveness and figuring out at what time of the year TV works best. Or take Adobe, currently one of the world’s most successful martech firms. It spends a large chunk of its budget on analogue marketing: events.

A true marketing leader has digital sense. That’s loving technology when it helps to solve a real problem.

Brand purpose sense

It makes me nervous when a marketing team tells me their brand is now all about solving the world’s problems. The remarkable Paul Polman, Unilever’s former CEO, is perhaps the most transparent leader when it comes to purpose. Polman truly cares for our world (he’s even become a full-time activist). But he loses no opportunity to talk about the challenges of doing good with shareholders on your back.

It’s more about tiny steps – and starts with paying your taxes (I agree with Mark Ritson on this). Consumers see though glossy purpose adverts anyway. Bailey’s, for example, long tried to empower women, but women didn’t really want Bailey’s help on that front. The brand now positions itself as an ‘adult treat’ again – and it’s growing.

Keen to boost brand purpose? Do real things that help real people. Diageo’s gender-neutral parental leave policy and Saller’s push for more female agency talent are perhaps doing more for women than any of their ads ever did.

Business sense

Customers and companies love similar things: more and better stuff, at lower costs. Being a marketer sets people up for this intrinsic conflict. The art of marketing leadership is to play inside the ‘value-creation zone’, the space where customer and company overlap. That’s a pretty demanding job.

Most marketers are pretty busy trying to figure out which colour, taste and content customers want. Adidas, for example, has trend scouts everywhere who do nothing but find new grassroots trends.

But there’s the other stakeholder: the CEO. Marketing professor Kim Whitler has found that, more often than not, CEOs and top marketers aren’t aligned. It’s one of the reasons why CMOs don’t last long.

Saller is undoubtedly a great marketer. But make no mistake: she and her team are only around as long as they deliver what Diageo’s CEO cares for: profitable growth.

Here’s my dream: I wish every skilled and customer-loving marketer would also develop digital sense, purpose sense and business sense. The entire marketing profession would make a big leap forward. For me, that’s a goal worth aspiring to.

But don’t take my word for it, take Syl Saller’s.

Thomas Barta is a marketing leadership expert, speaker and the co-author of ‘The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader’. He has teamed up with Marketing Week to launch the Marketing Leadership Masterclass, a new CPD-accredited online course designed to equip marketers with everything they need to become a better leader. To find out more and book your place visit leadership.marketingweek.com. The next course begins on 17 September. 

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William Hill ditches brand-led focus as it launches campaign promoting social side of gambling

William Hill is looking to shake off the stereotypes around gambling and “elevate” its advertising with a new campaign focused on the sociability of betting.

The ‘It’s who you play with’ campaign features a group of friends messaging each other about their weekend’s bets. The focus is on fans and the connectivity of these social groups, a place where William Hill believes it can “naturally insert” itself into the dialogue, explains global brand and marketing director, Charlotte Emery.

It is the first piece of work from 72andSunny Amsterdam since it won William Hill’s European business in June. The brief was to establish the bookie as the first choice in gambling, highlight the brand’s premium status and develop an emotional connection. In search of a sense of “realness”, the team ensured the cast were actual sports fans who understood the match-day betting experience.

Designed to show William Hill as a modern, accessible brand, the campaign seeks to counter the image of gambling as a solitary pursuit that can become isolating and scary. Safeguarding will be a focus of the campaign, with ‘nobody harmed’ messaging filtering through the creative on social media from November onwards.

Customers said they disliked the stereotypical way they were portrayed in advertising.

Charlotte Emery, William Hill

“Getting betting into the sociable arena makes it open and public, and within friendship groups there are natural checks and balances. It’s when the friends remove themselves from that group that needs to send alarm bells ringing,” Emery tells Marketing Week.

“In this campaign we want to show that people are discussing bets and show them winning, as well as losing. We are trying to show betting is part of a sociable context with your friends, it’s a natural part of that and not have it hidden away.”

This approach has also meant shedding the masculine image often portrayed in gambling advertising by showing women getting in on the bets. Emery explains that research indicated friendship groups of bettors are typically mixed. She also points to the energy generated by this summer’s Women’s Football World Cup, which she says demonstrated women are just as passionate about sport as men.

Betfair shifts focus from TV to digital as gambling ad ban takes effect

Furthermore, Emery is keen to elevate the tone of advertising across the gambling industry, which for years has been characterised by direct response, odds-focused adverts that play up to stereotypes.

“It was very clear to us when we were developing this campaign that customers were saying they disliked the stereotypical way they were portrayed in advertising and they felt quite put off by a lot of the very strong call to action, very direct advertising,” she explains.

“We felt it gave us an opportunity to elevate how we spoke to them, not just thinking of them as gamblers, but thinking of them as people and how the other brands they aspire to connect with talk to them and what we could learn from that.”

Change in direction

The ‘It’s who you play with’ campaign represents a clear shift from the highly stylised black and white advert unveiled in April starring brand ambassador, heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua.

This was William Hill’s first brand-led campaign and a debut for Joshua since he signed up to work with the bookie in 2018. The idea at the time was to elevate the William Hill brand above the crowded market and convey a sense of its premium status.

Emery explains that at the time the team had not yet developed the new brand positioning, but they didn’t want to wait until the second half of the year to “prove the power” of the William Hill brand.

The idea was to use this campaign to propel the bookie above its competitors and tap into the premium feel of an advert from the likes of Nike, Adidas or Under Armour, given it has a sports star at its heart. Emery describes Joshua as an amazing asset, whose popularity transcends boxing and through which the business could leverage this sense of being a “heavyweight brand”.

“If I’m honest, we were borrowing a bit off his values and integrity to raise the profile of William Hill and show we could be something different,” Emery explains.

“Moving into the new campaign was very much about celebrating the strengths of William Hill and taking those strengths of retail, which is about community and connectivity, and building that into the world of digital and trying to unify our sportsbook and gaming propositions.”

As with the Joshua campaign, which was weighted towards post-watershed TV spots, cinema and outdoor, William Hill has opted for a big multi-media campaign.

The main brand ad launches tonight (13 Friday) on ITV and Channel 4 around shows such as the Lethal Weapon series, The Jonathan Ross Show and Treasure Island with Bear Grylls. The TV spots will be supported by cinema and dynamic out-of-home, alongside a strong press element.

Paddy Power kicks off Premier League season with ‘killer’ content push

Emery explains that far from hampering her team’s creativity, the TV whistle-to-whistle ad ban brought into force for the 2019/2020 football season has enabled them to do the things they wanted to do anyway, such as moving into the 18-plus cinema market.

“I think as an industry we’ve got to get our house in order and we need to elevate the way we talk to customers and make sure we are safeguarding,” she states.

“That’s a real commitment that we take very seriously at William Hill. We strongly support the whistle-to-whistle ban and I’m strongly involved in shaping the future of how we want to regulate ourselves going forward.”

Pushing forward

This year William Hill has talked openly about its ambition to be a “digitally-led, internationally diverse gambling company”.

With the new campaign the brand made a conscious decision to put digital at the heart of the creative, evidence of a wider shift in the business following the appointment this month of Ulrik Bengtsson, formerly William Hill’s chief digital officer, as CEO.

The bookie is evolving its business model, announcing plans to close 700 UK high street betting shops in July following the government-backed cut in the maximum limit per spin on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2.

Emery is, however, clear that retail is still “incredibly important” to the business, which is why the campaign also aims to celebrate the high street stores, while showing the experience of physical betting has been brought “bang up to date”.

Another important area of focus is the international market, as William Hill looks to reduce its reliance on the UK. In January, for example, the bookie acquired Swedish gaming brand Mr Green and in March it forged a multi-year betting partnership with the US National Hockey League.

After the UK, the ‘It’s who you play with’ campaign will roll out to Spain in November with a bespoke piece of creative that taps into the camaraderie and competitiveness among groups of friends. Emery explains her team will look to take this concept into other markets as and when regulation, and the scale of the business, allows.

Her vision going forward is to elevate the William Hill brand, the role of betting and the industry itself, by evolving the tone of voice used in the advertising and how the company interacts with its customers.

“We are an incredibly strong, trusted brand with heritage, but we can’t sit on our laurels,” she says. “We have to constantly evolve and move forward with our customers, and we’re confident this campaign puts us firmly into the modern world, but takes with it all of the strengths of William Hill.”

The post William Hill ditches brand-led focus as it launches campaign promoting social side of gambling appeared first on Marketing Week.

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How employers’ and employees’ attitudes to work are changing

wokrplace attitudes

Working habits are changing rapidly, as technology transforms working arrangements and people’s understanding of what matters at work shifts. But how closely do attitudes and expectations match reality?

YouGov’s latest report, ‘Success in the modern workplace’, uses its YouGov RealTime data to find out what matters most to employers and employees when it comes to interviews, benefits and professional skills. It also contrasts these to the attitudes of retired people and children to assess how much things have changed – and are likely to do so in the future.

Download ‘Success in the modern workplace’ report here

Here are a few of the key takeaways:

Rule one for interviews: don’t waste each other’s time

Both employers and prospective employees have an expectation that if a candidate comes for interview, the parties should be interested in one another. Both sets of respondents say showing a lack of interest is the second-worst thing the other one can do in this setting – something that both ought to take into account when offering or accepting an interview.

The top bugbears for each are more obvious things to avoid: employees don’t want to be asked inappropriate personal questions while employers abhor dishonesty.

Hours and office location are the key benefits

While employers often offer ‘soft’ perks such as free snacks, gym memberships and discount schemes as benefits, the most important are the fundamental ones. Office location and flexible hours rate as the key difference-makers – for bosses, employees and retired people.

Workers are more likely than their bosses to be swayed by offers of soft perks, however.

Experience leads to success – but the retired disagree

Both employees and employees say experience is the top attribute that helped them get to the position they are in at work. This may not be surprising as most job ads make prior sector experience a prerequisite, however retired people don’t even put it in their top five, suggesting it is less important in the long term.

Hard work and knowledge/expertise appear in the top five for all three group, suggesting these are undoubtedly significant, but could the disparity of views about experience indicate workers and bosses are putting too much emphasis on it and ignoring talent from different professional backgrounds?

Kids have unrealistic views of what’s needed at work

Children aged 12-14 say qualifications are the main attribute that they believe will help them get a job. While it’s only natural that they would get this impression from spending their lives in education, qualifications dfon’t appear in the top fives of employers, employees or retired people.

Children recognise the value of hard work and intelligence in the workplace, which their elders do agree with, however their perception that punctuality and skill are key characteristics for a successful career are also wide of the mark, according to older people who have spent time in work.

Download the report to find out:

  • Which personality traits are most important at work
  • The worst qualities of bosses and workers
  • The things candidates get wrong in interviews

The post How employers’ and employees’ attitudes to work are changing appeared first on Marketing Week.

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Diet Coke, VW, John Lewis: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Diet Coke launches ad campaign to appeal to younger generation

Diet Coke is launching an ad campaign that features cool grannies and cans marked with phrases such as “it’s lit”, “okay next” and “yasss”.

‘You Do You’ is clearly an attempt to connect with the nation’s youth but the transparent appeal to be cool is unlikely to land. Already Twitter has been mocking the new cans with one user writing “Congratulations to Diet Coke for going on the internet for the first time ever this year”.

The cans are clearly missing the mark but perhaps the brand was going for irony? However, as an FMCG giant this won’t translate and consumers will see it as big men in suits failing to connect with culture – exactly what the brand doesn’t want.

The ad featuring OAPs using internet slang is better and will perhaps help to provide context for the cans. But Coke isn’t the first to use an older generation to appeal to a younger one and the idea doesn’t feel fresh.

Plus the ad is just three months since the last one. In fairness to Coke, the latter was to promote its new flavours, but the influx of constant ads might mean consumers face some fatigue. MF

READ MORE: Diet Coke launches new campaign that sees grannies navigate dating apps

VW enters a ‘new era’ which focuses on ‘authenticity’

Volkswagen has been teasing the ‘New VW’ for some time and finally revealed details of that monumental rebrand this week.

It is a huge undertaking happening across all 171 markets, including at the 10,000 facilities of dealers and service partners, and will involve replacing around 70,000 logos.

The brand’s plans include making the iconic logo two dimensional, using a female voice in all its communications and a promise to become more “authentic” in its new digital-first approach.

All this marks the start of a “new era” and one the brand could certainly do with. VW has been plagued with scandal after scandal including safety problems, lying about emissions and testing on monkeys. The old era is better left in the past.

Somehow, VW has mostly managed to recover from these blips. According to YouGov’s BrandIndex, Volkswagen’s Index score (a measure of a range of metrics including quality, value and reputation) is up significantly since the height of its emissions scandal.

On 1 September 2015, just before Dieselgate broke, the brand had a score of 25.3; exactly four years on, it has a score of 20.5, well up on the lows it experienced at the height of its problems.

This is mirrored across other metrics and its sales have also been relatively strong. That being said, VW has not returned to its peak and this rebrand is definitely needed. MF

READ MORE: VW overhauls its brand for a ‘new era’ as it attempts to put emissions scandal behind it

2019’s top 75 UK brands

DeliverooThis year’s 75 most valuable UK brands have been revealed, with the results of Kantar’s latest BrandZ ranking making a compelling case for the importance of brand building.

With more British brands now declining in value than growing, brands are being urged to stop over-relying on their fame and wake up to the fact they need to do much more to ensure they are still here in years to come.

The value of UK brands has declined 3% year on year. This is well behind the growth rates of both the global economy and BrandZ’s top 100 most valuable global brands, meaning the UK is fast losing influence on the global stage.

However, there are a suite of brands that are growing their value much faster than others. These brands are strong communicators, perceived to be meaningfully different, and seen to generate a clear sense of momentum in otherwise challenging and uncertain times.

These brands are also much less salient than they are meaningfully different, which BrandZ flags as a huge potential growth opportunity. Those that are salient but lack meaningful difference, however, are in trouble.

In a nutshell: saliency is no longer enough to drive growth. Brands must have a clear point of difference and be able to communicate that with consumers. Those that don’t are leaving themselves open to disruption and, like many other brand casualties, might not be here in the years to come. EH

READ MORE: A call to arms for brand building: What the UK’s top 75 brands says about marketing in 2019

Eurostar promotes no flying in new ‘challenger’ campaign

September often marks the beginning of travel campaigns and Eurostar has jumped on board with a campaign aimed at getting holiday-makers to consider trains over planes.

The brand’s new outdoor ads cleverly feature an ostrich with a promise that ‘you see more when you don’t fly’. It not only promotes how lovely a train journey can be (especially compared to a cramped Ryanair flight) but also cleverly taps into a new eco-conscious consumer.

As more people become concerned with the environmental impact of flying and dabble with carbon offsetting, Eurostar is emerging as a viable alternative. Admittedly this is a small minority of consumers and not the focus of its campaign, but it is a trend that is only set to grow.

Eurostar is also attempting to be “braver” with its new ads and tap into its challenger roots. Eurostar’s customer engagement director Richard Sherwood, says as brands become more established they lose that excitement which is something he wants to revive in the company.

The ads are clever and will no doubt gain support from consumers but if Eurostar wants to go big it should take this campaign to TV. MF

READ MORE: Eurostar looks to stand out from ‘generic’ travel ads with new campaign 

John Lewis won’t let Brexit impact marketing investment

John LewisJohn Lewis posted its first-ever half-year loss this week, alongside a warning of the “significant” impact a no-deal Brexit will have on the business.

Trading conditions are tough and British politics definitely isn’t helping. Yet both John Lewis and Waitrose say they will continue to invest “significantly” in marketing to make sure customers “appreciate and understand” their brands.

It is all part of the John Lewis Partnership’s strategy to “differentiate” and bring both brands closer together. So far that has included a rebrand, new visual identities, one joint marketing campaign and a few synergies in-store. It is also trialling a joint loyalty scheme, details of which will become more apparent next year.

JLP says it is looking at further opportunities to unify its two brands, both in terms of marketing communications and promotional activity, as well as the “opportunity for customers to see the best of both brands together”.

Other than that, it is all a bit vague. What we do know is Waitrose has performed much better than John Lewis in the first half, so it will be interesting to see whether the halo effect JLP is hoping for plays out better in the second half.

A “significant” amount of this marketing investment will no doubt be saved for the back end of the year too. Not long now until the retail festive extravaganza begins… EH

READ MORE: John Lewis pledges ‘significant’ marketing investment despite first half-year loss

The post Diet Coke, VW, John Lewis: 5 things that mattered this week and why appeared first on Marketing Week.

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How connecting through voice increases conversions

With recent advances in marketing technology (like AI and virtual platforms), it can often be difficult to determine if you’re speaking to a real person or a bot. We live in an age where ‘convenience’ dominates a large proportion of communication in the B2B market, which is why it’s important to always include a personal experience in your buying cycle.

It’s not enough to wait for the robot on your website to ask your prospect: “Is there’s anything I can help you with today?” If you have an influx of inbound leads that you are struggling to follow up, a specific project that you want to turbo-charge, or a buying cycle that involves human contact, picking up the phone will pretty much always be beneficial.

As a lead generation agency that utilises outbound dialling as a channel for marketing and sales, our knowledge lies in the successes of human interaction in all areas of business – from sales to account management and customer care. People often refer to our industry as ‘cold calling’, but what’s colder than using a computer screen to communicate with your buyer when you can pick up the phone and have a real conversation?

If you’re already using channels like telemarketing (whether it is in-house, outsourced or a mixture of the two), or you’re hoping to build this into your future plans, this webinar is designed to help you know exactly what you’re looking for in an agency, and how to make your internal activity as successful as it can be.

Focus areas include:

  1. How a voice can turbo-charge your demand generation
  2. Reducing your cost-per acquisition
  3. Integrating voice with digital channels
  4. In-house Vs. Outsourced

This webinar will be led by  MarketMakers, from 3pm BST on Thursday 19 September. Click below to join.

The post How connecting through voice increases conversions appeared first on Marketing Week.

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