Amazon, P&G, Unilever: 5 things that mattered this week and why

The marketing news that matters this week including British Airways losing one of its top marketers, Unilever battling gender stereotypes and Amazon moving into fashion.

Samsung on how to bounce back from a crisis

Let’s be honest; shit really hit the fan for Samsung last year. After the scandal of exploding phones and product recalls, its reputation as a phone maker took a serious hit.

Speaking to Marketing Week at Cannes, Samsung’s global head of integrated marketing Pio Schunker admitted the failure of the troublesome Note 7 phone almost stopped it from releasing this year’s Galaxy S8. On reflection, he said that would have been a bad decision.

“While the recall was happening we were building the Galaxy S8. Most other companies would have pulled back and taken softer measures; most companies would have exercised some degree of caution [but we didn’t],” he explained.

“It wasn’t that we were throwing caution to the wind, but we were looking at what was happening in the marketplace with our consumers and knew the time was right to really stress who we are and do that through the product. In order to shine brightly you have to fight against the enemy of complacency.”

Schunker believes the key to bouncing back from such a scandal is to come across as a “human brand”. He argued that because consumers are more emotionally attached to Samsung on a “human level”, they view the brand more favourably and this foundation allowed it to bounce back more quickly.  “It builds a cushion,” he advised.

READ MORE: Samsung on why it chose to take risks and ‘fight complacency’ during its phone crisis

Amazon disrupts yet another industry as it moves into fashion

The bottomless investment kitty at Amazon has struck again, with the ecommerce giant announcing Prime Wardrobe this week.

The service, which works a lot like Trunk Club and will be available to Prime members, allows consumers to order items such as shoes and clothes with no upfront charge. This means they will only pay for what they decide to keep and be given a week to make this decision.

Should a customer keep five or more items, they will receive a 20% discount. Keeping four items, meanwhile, will result in a 10% discount to use anywhere across Amazon’s website. Prime Wardrobe shipments will come in a resealable box with a prepaid label to make the return process less of a hassle for shoppers.

The launch matters because it’s yet more evidence of Amazon’s determination to disrupt fresh industries, having also made serious moves into cars, groceries, Hollywood and digital advertising over recent years. And by partnering with major brands such as Levi’s and Adidas for Wardrobe, Amazon will unsettle established fashion ecommerce players such as Asos, which saw a hit to its share price after the new service was announced.

But will all this pay off? And with so much expansion into new territories, you wonder whether Amazon shareholders will start to get tired of waiting for things to grow. That said, don’t be surprised if Wardrobe is a massive success, with Amazon selling clothes to a ready-made audience that it knows very well.

READ MORE: Amazon takes on Asos with the launch of Prime Wardrobe

Is the digital advertising supply chain cleaning up its act?

The digital ad industry is about 50% there in terms of getting clean, according to P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard. Speaking at the Cannes Lions Festival this week, he said big players such as Google had “stepped up” and were making progress that is “encouraging”.

But he warned there’s still a long way to go. “There’s a lot of crap out there and we need to eliminate that so we can get better digital content to advertise on. If we do that, higher quality is only going to drive growth,” he said.

Pritchard also referenced a WFA report that suggests just 40% of marketers’ spend actually makes it in front of consumers because of “all of the stop-offs in the middle and fraud”. That, coupled with the viewability problem, means only 25% gets to the consumer.

These latest comments are important because just a few months ago Pritchard was laying into the “walled gardens” of Facebook and Google, suggesting advertisers were losing faith in digital. His comments at Cannes suggest both digital giants are at least listening to the concerns of marketers, which can only be good news.

READ MORE: P&G’s Marc Pritchard: We are 50% of the way to cleaning up digital

BA loses its director of customer experience

Following an IT meltdown that left thousands of its passengers stranded and plummeting brand health scores, the marketing department at BA is under a lot of pressure right now. And that only looks set to intensify, with Troy Warfield leaving British Airways after a year and half as its director of customer experience.

Warfield, who was hired as part of the company’s attempts to reshape its marketing team, was responsible for more than 14,000 cabin crew and all customer insight, customer relations, product development and partnership activity. He reported in to executive chairman Keith Williams and then his replacement Alex Cruz and was also on the airline’s executive board.

British Airways is currently dealing with the fallout from that IT meltdown. The outage, which the airline says was caused by human error, affected 75,000 customers and is likely to cost the company tens of millions of pounds. You’d expect a replacement for Warfield to be an absolute priority. If it isn’t, well, EasyJet and Ryanair might just be rubbing their hands with glee.

READ MORE: BA’s director of customer experience Troy Warfield departs

Avengers Assemble! Unilever creates alliance to battle gender stereotyping

In its latest bid to battle gender stereotypes in advertising, Unilever has launched the global Unstereotype Alliance.

Alongside gender equality advocates UN Women, the Unstereotype Alliance has been set up to unite leaders across business, technology and the creative industries to rally against stereotypical gender portrayals such as women being presented as cooks in family adverts. Members of the alliance include Facebook, Google, Alibaba, Mars and WPP, as well as advertising industry bodies such as the UK-based IPA and the US-based ANA.

According to Unilever’s chief marketing and communications Officer Keith Weed, progressive ads are 25% more effective and deliver “better branded impact”. Subsequently, he says it’s time for the new alliance to lead a “sustained transformation”.

“We want to work with our peers across the industry to develop new ways of working, to share knowledge and approaches, so that we can scale the Unstereotype commitments. We believe cross-sector collaboration will lead to sustained transformation,” he said.

While the alliance is a great idea, these collaborations often set out with big ideals, but don’t necessarily deliver serious change. Let’s hope this will be different and can help usher in a new era of gender equality within branded advertising.

READ MORE: Unilever teams up with UN Women, Mars and Alibaba to wipe out gender stereotypes

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