Google, Wimbledon, Danone: 5 things that mattered this week and why

The marketing news that matters this week includes Google being hit with a record fine, Tesco getting rid of some of its marketers and Wimbledon launching its first AI assistant.

Google

Google hit with massive £2.1bn fine as its search strategy is questioned

If you work for Google then you probably can’t wait for this week to be over.

Why? Well, earlier this week, Google was hit with a record €2.42bn (£2.1bn) fine for breaching EU antitrust rules, and has been told to end its improper conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily turnover of parent company Alphabet.

The European Commission’s Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, explained: “Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors. It denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”

Google – surprise, surprise – said it “respectfully disagrees” with the ruling. However, this fine along with The Times investigation, which has made dozens of brands drop their ad spend from YouTube, means many marketers are now starting to seriously question Google’s conduct for perhaps the first time.

READ MORE: Google ‘respectfully disagrees’ as it is hit with record £2.1bn EU antitrust fine

Santander looks to get more bang for its buck

Santander Cycle

Marketers need to make their ad spend stretch as far as possible and Santander thinks it has found just the solution.

This week, it told Marketing Week how it’s integrating a new marketing strategy inspired by Agile software development, most commonly used in IT and Silicon Valley as a collaborative way to find solutions, as it looks to boost the efficiency of spend and marketing effectiveness.

The strategy uses ‘sprints’ to constantly evaluate the performance of the advertising with the aim of ensuring the efficiency of creative and media. It means Santander will be adapting and tweaking the campaign on a weekly basis, a much shorter timescale than usually used hence the name sprints, in reaction to how well it performs based on feedback from consumers.

“The industry has, unfortunately, been constructed around things like long booking deadlines or production cycles and that is what we want to change,” explained Santander’s CMO Keith Moor of the banking brand’s new approach. “It has to change because that is not the way the world works.” Sound logic, right? If the new strategy works, expect others to follow Santander’s lead.

READ MORE: Santander adopts agile marketing approach as it looks to increase effectiveness

Wimbledon backs AI bots to change sport consumption

While a lot has been written about VR and how it will change the world, Wimbledon seems more bothered by the impact of artificial intelligence and mixed reality. For this year’s imminent tournament, Wimbledon is introducing AI assistant Fred, which is powered by IBM Watson technology, as an option within its official app.

Fred, named after legendary British tennis player Fred Perry, will work by allowing visitors on site to ask it questions such as directions and where restaurants are. And Alexandra Willis, head of communications, content  and digital at the All English Lawn Tennis Club, says the plan is to expand the AI assistant over the coming years so it can answer questions such as the history of players or whether it’s going to rain with a level of intuition similar to something like Siri.

Willis told Marketing Week: “Sometimes people have no idea how much they can do at Wimbledon so Fred gives them the chance to really interrogate and ask questions so they make the most out of the experience.

“One of the big challenges for a sport like tennis is on the analytics and data side it is very much a push experience for tennis fans right now. So, while this year Fred is all about the visitor experience, we see the potential in terms of rolling it out to the broader Wimbledon fan over the coming years and helping reshape the viewing experience”

Willis also claimed “the appetite for people wearing a VR headset for an entire match of tennis isn’t particularly high” and said Wimbledon was still waiting for the technology to catch up. Suddenly brands don’t seem quite as sweet on VR, hmmm.

READ MORE: Wimbledon launches messenger bot as it backs AI to ‘reshape’ tennis coverage

Danone sets out ambitious sustainability agenda for its brands

Danone

Danone is aiming to develop a portfolio of “manifesto brands” that reflect the company’s commitment to deliver a positive food future.

The French diary giant, which spans a stable of brands including Activia yoghurt and Evian mineral water, is using its new ‘One Planet, One Health’ positioning to communicate the company’s desire to help consumers make healthier choices.

Its CEO Emmanuel Faber calls told Marketing Week: “This is really about a movement that goes beyond the question of sustainability. What we’re suggesting is a pretty radical new approach to support people in their choice for healthier and more sustainable eating.”

The new brand identity, including a revamped logo, will appear in all Danone corporate communications by the end of 2018, while the roll-out across the brand portfolio will be a more gradual process.

What’s interesting is that the positioning is based on a manifesto written by Danone employees over a two-year period. Some 50,000 people from the global workforce connected to discuss the grassroots campaign via the company’s Facebook at Work social platform.

“The whole concept behind this movement, which we are calling food sovereignty, is for us to surrender control and give the power back to people, and how credible would we be to say that to our consumers if we don’t start with our employees?” added Faber.

While a lot of brands claim to listen to their employees, few prove it in such an open way.

READ MORE: Danone on why it’s repositioning as a ‘manifesto brand’

Tesco cuts marketing jobs as it reshapes head office

Tesco cut 1,200 jobs at its head office this week, as part of an ongoing cost-cutting drive. Although the supermarket giant refused to single out the level of roles set to be axed in each individual department affected, it did confirm there would be job losses “across all functions” including marketing.

The cuts mean around 25% of staff at Tesco’s head office in Welwyn Garden City will lose their jobs. And they come just a week after Tesco revealed it would cut 1,100 jobs due to shutting down a customer support centre in Cardiff.

“This new service model will simplify the way we organise ourselves, reduce duplication and cost but also, very importantly, allow us to invest in serving shoppers better,” said a spokesman.

The news is perhaps unsurprising, with Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis cutting thousands of jobs and product lines since taking the reigns in 2014. Last April, for example, Tesco put 3,000 jobs at risk after announcing plans to end 24-hour opening at 69 of its stores, while Tesco has significantly refined its product ranges.

Yet, with Tesco one of the UK’s most major businesses, others will be watching its moves closely and wondering whether a more streamlined approach could also work for them as well. Interestingly, Tesco is growing its sales currently, so the cuts are not coming during a period of decline. The move suggests it sees a reduction as crucial to continuing its current run of sixth consecutive quarters of sales growth.

READ MORE: Marketing jobs on the line as Tesco axes 1,200 head office roles

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