Channel 4, KFC, Saga: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Catch up on all the week’s big marketing news including new data that suggests brands are failing to promote CMOs from within, KFC landing itself in hot water and Saga relaunching its brand.

Great British Bake Off takes shape as two brands sign up

Now the Great British Bake Off has broken away from the ad-free shackles of the BBC, the sky is the limit when it comes to sponsorship opportunities. And this week its new home Channel 4 revealed Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Dr. Oetker to be the new official broadcast sponsors for the popular show, which is set to return to screens later this year.

Channel 4 bought the rights for the cookery show in a £75m deal last year and there were initial fears that they could make it too commercial. However, by only allowing bakery brands in as sponsors you could argue that Channel 4 is ensuring the show doesn’t stray too far from its roots.

The new iteration of the Great British Bake Off will also remain free of product placement in a move Channel 4 says will ensure its “integrity”.

“We’ve had such a great response from a huge range of advertisers wanting to feature in the series, including our new cross-platform superspots and the creative launch ad break,” says Jonathan Allan, sales director at Channel 4.

But with such a “great response” from brands, no one would be surprised if Channel 4 soon has a re-think on how many sponsors it lets on board. That product placement ban might also be lifted come the second series.

READ MORE: Channel 4 unveils first Great British Bake Off sponsors

KFC in deep fried trouble as complaints stack up

Fast food giant KFC was hoping a focus on quality could help to shift brand perceptions, but its latest campaign has so far been marred by controversy.

KFC’s new ‘The Whole Chicken’ ad (the first since switching its ad agency from BBH to Mother) features a confident chicken strutting her stuff to ‘X Gon’ Give It To Ya’ by rap legend DMX. However, the ad is now facing the possibility of an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority after it received more than 250 complaints from members of the public.

These include complaints around the depiction of chickens being “offensive and distressing” for vegetarians, vegans and children. Some also claim the campaign is “misleading” because it features healthy, older looking chickens that complainants believe misrepresent the age, quality and living conditions of actual KFC chickens.

Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson has also been a vocal critic after he said the campaign was an error, because it painted over KFC’s questionable history around animal welfare.

Whatever the outcome, don’t expect to see Burger King or McDonald’s introducing dancing cows to their TV advertising any time soon.

READ MORE: KFC’s ‘The Whole Chicken’ ad could face investigation as complaints top 250

Saga bids to evolve its image and inject more youth into brand

Saga is relaunching its brand having unveiled a new look and feel, as well as its first ever strapline ‘Keep doing’. It says it wants to evolve the business to ensure it remains relevant for today’s over 50s, rather than being seen as a brand purely for “old people”.

The changes include a new logo, font, colours and imagery. “This is about evolving the business and adapting and making sure this is a brand that customers want in their lives and is relevant to their lives,” says Saga’s group CMO Matt Atkinson.

The relaunch is the culmination of almost two years’ worth of work that started when Atkinson, the former Tesco marketing boss, joined in 2015. While Saga’s business is in good health, with pre-tax profits up 9.7% year on year to £193.3m, Atkinson says he knew it could do more to appeal to its target age group.

For a brand that essentially sells insurance to older people, shaking off its “old person” image could be a bit of an ask. However, Atkinson insists the aim is to show older people are not just defined by their age.

“People in their 50s and 60s see themselves as much younger and they are physically much younger and more able and they want to be active and contributing to society,” he explains. “Saga has been serving that generation for 65 years but we need to adapt to a world of retirement and the wide-ranging commitments of the older generation.”

READ MORE: Saga relaunches brand as it looks to shake off ‘old people’ image

Marketing is suffering from an ‘acute succession crisis’

According to data from executive search firm Russell Reynolds, CMOs are failing to get promoted within their own organisations.

In the first half of 2017, it says just 21% of marketers were internally promoted, and only 25% of those took on a more senior role outside marketing such as CEO, president or general manager. Some 34% took on a ‘new’ marketing role such as chief brand or customer officer.

“Top marketers continue to be hired for, as opposed to being promoted into, the most senior marketing leadership roles in a company,” says the report. “There is a clear succession problem for CMOs as just one in four marketing leadership changes was someone from within their respective company.”

The data is a worrying read for marketers as it hints that brands aren’t doing enough to provide a progression structure internally. This could also explain why the marketing industry has such a fast rate of staff departures.

READ MORE: Brands failing to promote CMOs from within

Ad spend grows at slowest rate in four years

UK advertising spend grew at its slowest rate for almost four years in the first quarter of 2017, as a notable drop in TV spend hit the market.

The latest quarterly survey by the Advertising Association (AA) and Warc found that UK advertising grew just 1.3% year on year in the first quarter of 2017 to reach £5.4bn. TV advertising took a particularly heavy hit, with spend falling 6.2%; its first fall since 2009.

“The latest data show that large retailers – particularly supermarkets – and major food brands reined in their TV spending by 25% during the first three months of 2017, instead committing to cutting prices on the shelves as household expenditure wanes,” says James McDonald, senior data analyst at Warc.

The data syncs with comments recently made by Channel 4. The broadcaster warned the TV ad market was in a “recession” and that brands had quickly returned ad spend to Google and Facebook following their respective recent controversies. Whether this decline is a long-term slide or more to do with a hesitancy to invest due to the economic uncertainty around the Brexit negotiations remains to be seen.

READ MORE: Ad spend under pressure as big brands pull back on TV

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