CAMPAIGNS OF THE YEAR
Coke’s “Share A Coke”
The pressure was on Coke to inject some fizz into UK sales this year after being outpaced by rival PepsiCo in 2012. The drinks maker’s solution was to launch its biggest summer campaign, swapping the brand name with 150 of the country’s most popular names. Coke fans were encouraged to share pictures of their personalised bottles on social networks using the hashtag #ShareaCoke. It quickly became a runaway success with data suggesting “Share a Coke” helped lift both volumes and consumer perception over the summer. Keen to capitalise on its popularity, Coke then extended the campaign to its festive activity.
No campaign has been more garlanded in 2013 – the Ogilvy-created film won the Cannes Lions “Titanium Grand Prix” and numerous other gongs – and few have been so well seen – YouTube’s third most watched clip of the year – and the most shared, according to Unruly Media.
It is not possible to pinpoint the precise return on investment but it is impossible to believe it wasn’t significant. The business division brand owner Unilever places it in, personal care, outperformed the market in a challenging year for the FMCG company.
Marmite’s “Love it or hate it, just don’t forget it”
Unilever’s love it or hate it brand’s return to TV after two years caused a stir this summer when some viewers took offence to its spoof of animal rescue documentaries. The ad, created by AdamandEveDDB, parodied the work of animal welfare officers by substituting the spread in place of mistreated pets.
Hundreds of complaints to the ad watchdog followed, as did a savvy bit of PR when the brand donated £18,000 to the RSPCA despite the charity seemingly being unmoved by the complaints. The spot was cleared and Marmite’s comeback got fans and non-fans talking about the brand again.
Nationwide Building Society’s “You Don’t Need a Bank…”
Although not new for 2013 the campaign, launched to exploit ongoing disquiet with those high street banks tainted by scandal or the financial crisis, really caught fire this year.
Last month, the mutual credited the campaign when announcing it had opened 214,000 new current accounts in the six months to 30 September, up 16 per cent on the same period last year, pushing its share of the market up 0.8 per cent to 6 per cent. Fifty-four thousand customers decided to switch their primary banking products to Nationwide in the period, it added. Not a shabby return on investment.
Women, Action and the Media and the Everyday Sexism Project’s #FBrape
By asking advertisers to essentially decide whether they wanted to be associated with domestic violence or not, the campaign to get Facebook to clampdown on pages that made light of domestic violence and incited gender-based hate went right for the social network’s jugular.
Using the hashtag #FBrape, the group’s supporters lobbied advertisers that were found to be the subject of ads running alongside offensive pages with some success – major brands including Nationwide and Nissan pulled ads. Wary of biting the hand that feeds, Facebook caved, unveiling a five-point safety programme soon after.
GOOD YEAR FOR
The UK advertising industry
The UK advertising industry is on the up. Buoyed by the battle for dominance in the pay-TV market between BT Sport and BskyB and the outlay by O2, Vodafone and EE to promote their 4G offerings, spend is expected to hit heights not seen since before the financial crash of 2008/09 – £13.9bn, according to GroupM.
The spend is being fuelled by chipper marketing and more sympathetic finance directors listening to marketers more as they speak the language of the boardroom, or so the reports tell us.
As an opinion former, the UK ad industry is also making strides. In January, the Advertising Association and Deloitte launched Advertising Pays, an attempt to quantify the effects of advertising on the economy and claimed for every £1 spent on advertising £6 is returned to GDP – making the industry worth about £100bn.
Buzzfeed is now the 175th most-visited website in the world, according to Alexa. November was the list and GIF site’s biggest month for traffic ever, notching up more than 130 million unique visitors, according to Google Analytics.
Buzzfeed opened its UK office at the start of the year and in September poached Will Hayward from the Wall Street Journal to become its first advertising executive outside the US.
And all this without a banner advertisement in sight. Buzzfeed runs a bespoke native advertising model that the company said in September has piqued the interest of 50 of the top 100 brands. Forbes predicts Buzzfeed charges $92,300 per native ad campaign – a premium compared to its other online rivals and a price only set to increase as its visitor numbers soar.
Around 70 per cent of marketers now claim to be content marketers, with 20p in every marketing £1 they spend appropriated to the discipline, according to researchers at TNS. In fact, content marketing is now so abundant, Nick Cohen, managing partner and head of content at MediaCom said the marketing industry is on the “cusp of an inflection point” in terms of consumer “content blindness”. Fortunately, many brands did not just do content marketing for the sake of it in 2013, they did it well. From Tesco setting up a fully responsive food news website to respond to the hugely damaging horse meat scandal, to Pepsi Max helping Dynamo “levitate” on the side of a London bus, to Heineken’s intern job video viral, brands took centre stage.
At a time when it seemed online retail would wash away all in its wake, bricks-and-mortar retailers are fighting back. A deal between eBay and Argos earlier this year to open pick up-points highlights the limitations of ecommerce. You might be able to buy anything you want at a cut price but somehow the purchases have to get to you.
There have been a wealth of innovations in click and collect this year, from Asda opening collection points at tube stations in London to Tesco trialling pick-up at schools and parks in York and Waitrose’s launch of automated temperature-controlled lockers.
Keen not to be left behind, the online retailers are hoping to boost convenience by shortening delivery times. Ebay bought delivery site Shutl earlier this year and is planning to bring its one-hour service to London next year, while Amazon is working on similar offerings. As John Walden, managing director at Argos puts it, “fulfilment is getting more local and more personal.”
The discounters lured shoppers away from the big four supermarkets this year, cashing in on increasingly price conscious consumers. Aldi in particular grew at a record-breaking pace over the summer and increased its share of the market to 3.9 per cent in the 12 weeks to November 10, according to Kantar figures.
Its growth came on the back of a marketing push aimed at proving it offers not just cheap products, but high-quality ones as well. The “Like brands only cheaper” strapline is aimed squarely at middle England and convincing them that they don’t need to shop anywhere else.
British shoppers are increasingly using discounters as a regular part of their shopping trip using it to top up their main shop. Almost one in three people now shop at Aldi every month, with 40 per cent of households shopping at one of the discounters monthly.
As if posting a 51 per cent increase in pre-tax profit to £478m wasn’t enough for Easyjet, the airline produced what is perhaps its greatest trick this year – forcing the previously intransigent Ryanair to think about marketing, service and positioning. Driven by the success of its decision to allocate seating, “Generation EasyJet” campaign and mobile app, the airline has performed impressively financially with chief executive Carolyn McCall earning plaudits for balancing brand and financial effectiveness.
Conversely, Ryanair has had a rotten year. Two profit warnings in as many months and a candid admittance from its chief executive that it really “must stop pissing people off”. To this end, it has unveiled a raft of service and pricing changes, as well as announcing it is seeking its first marketing director.
BAD YEAR FOR
Blackberry dominated the mobile business headlines in 2013, but mostly for negative reasons.The new BB10 platform, range of new handsets and corporate rebrand from RIM to BlackBerry meant to reinvigorate the struggling Canadian business failed to spark a dramatic turnaround in growth, despite the launch of the company’s “biggest ever” marketing campaign starring Alicia Keys. BlackBerry is due to report its most recent quarterly financial results next week, but in October reported a loss of $965m in its second quarter.
After a three-month search for a buyer, BlackBerry abandoned plans to sell its business and opted to replace chief executive Thorsten Heins and raise a $1bn round of financing in order to secure its future. A subsequent restructure saw marketing chief Frank Boulben exit the business – alongside several other senior executives – with the company later confirming it was scrapping the CMO role. New CEO John Chen penned an open letter to its enterprise customers this month, finally confirming months of speculation that it is to focus on the b2b market having failed to recapture the imagination of the consumer market it was once the darling of.
Brands on Twitter
Because of the viral nature of social media, mishaps are bound to happen, and more than a few incidents happened over past year. Chief among them was British Gas’ #AskBG stunt. The energy supplier’s proactive attempt to clarify winter price hikes put it in the firing line of Twitter fans who hijacked the hashtag to vent their anger. Burger King and HMV also felt the wrath of Twitter fans in 2013 as social media experts warned trust in the platform might falter if similar instances continue. HMV saw angry staff take over its official feed to break the news that they were being made redundant.
The Co-operative Group
Things began to unravel for the group in April when mounting debt torpedoed its acquisition of 630 Lloyds TSB branches. It had all looked so rosy for the co-operative bank just a few months earlier when it was on the cusp of becoming a high street banking player capable of ushering in a new dawn for UK retail banking. Now, not so much. The financial black hole was ultimately filled by hedge funds and questions over whether a bank could position itself as ethical were inevitably abound. Perception of the bank and the rest of the group took a further hit when news of the extracurricular actions of the bank’s chairman Paul Flowers hit the headlines. The brand will survive but the task of rebuilding the bank’s reputation would be a challenge for any marketer.
The energy sector
The energy sector had been making strides to improve customer relations with a flurry of marketing initiatives aimed at getting closer to billpayers. This came undone when SSE became the first to announce its winter price increases, sparking the rest of the county’s Big Six to follow suit. Politicians, consumers and action groups rounded on the industry in response to the moves claiming energy firms were “part of the problem” affecting rising living costs. The backlash has seen smaller energy firms such as Ovo and First Utility launch marketing drives to exploit the surge in switching that has sprung up as a result.
This year ended rather as it started for the UK’s largest supermarket chain, badly. Having had a torrid 2012, it had hoped to kick-start a turnaround this year with a new marketing strategy aimed at putting a “warmer and more engaging face” on the brand.
Yet barely before it could start it was forced into crisis mode as the most high-profile casualty of the horse meat scandal. It spent much of the first part of the year dealing with the fallout and trying to limit brand damage.
Despite the launch of a major marketing push to highlight quality and provenance it appears it is not convincing consumers. Plus sales are falling, down 1.5 per cent like for like in the company’s third quarter.
ONES TO WATCH
The uber marketing services network
At some point in 2014, when it clears the 40-plus regulatory authorities, Publicis and Omnicom will become one. There remain several issues unresolved, including potential client conflicts – the merged group’s roster will number Coca-Cola and Pepsi, McDonald’s and Yum Brands, Google and Microsoft to name just a few pairings.
There have also been warnings of less choice for advertisers as well as technological hurdles to overcome.
On the plus side, it could offer brands more opportunities to work with a dazzling array of creative talent and media nous under one roof.
The Samba spirit
If 2013 was “empty” then 2014 is positively brimming for marketers. The Winter Olympics in Sochi for one, but the big daddy of incremental sales opportunities is the World Cup in Brazil.
Sponsors are already gearing up, focusing as much on social and mobile as they are on traditional media. Non-sponsors such as Nike and Puma are also looking to ride the wave. Expect the excitement from brands eyeing a sales boost in what will still be a challenging year to become palpable over the next six months.
Pinterest and Instagram advertising
It seems as soon as brands get their heads around one social marketing platform, four more spring up. This was the year of image-based networks and Pinterest and Instagram saw user numbers grow into the tens of millions.
Brands were keen to follow their audiences, with many creating their own accounts and making tentative steps into uploading their own content. However, the business of advertising on these new social networks is still being tested, with even Pinterest chief executive Ben Silberman admitting that he “hasn’t figured out all the details”.
It will be up to Pinterest and Instagram to work out what advertising should look like on their social networks in order to develop a sustainable business model that doesn’t alienate current users. Expect native ads relevant to the user experience, an expansion on the “sponsored pins” experiment already running.
Brands will then have to work out how this works for them, making sure they avoid the pitfalls common to any social network and make their message relevant, tasteful and suitable to the audience.