Diageo, Next, Philip Morris: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Catch up on this week’s biggest stories including Diageo pulling its advertising from Snapchat and tobacco giant Philip Morris encouraging people to quit smoking.

Tobacco giant Philip Morris vows to ‘quit smoking’ in new campaign

On Tuesday, a number of the national newspapers ran a rather peculiar-looking ad.

It was created by tobacco giant Philip Morris, which sells brands like Marlboro, announcing the intention to “give up cigarettes” as part of its New Year’s resolution. It also urged the British public to do the same.

As part of the campaign, it launched the ‘Smoke Free Future’ website to provide smokers with information on quitting and on alternatives to cigarettes. It has also pledged to support local authority cessation services where smoking rates are highest, and is seeking Government approval to insert information on quitting and switching into its cigarette packs.

While it might seem counterintuitive for a firm to tell consumers to stop buying its products the company says it it part of CEO André Calantzopoulos’s 2017 global commitment to go “smoke free”. As part of this plan, the company will no longer sell cigarettes and only produce e-cigarettes and heated tobacco.

READ MORE: How one tobacco firm is using advertising to stop people buying its cigarettes

Diageo stops advertising on Snapchat over audience concerns

Diageo Snapchat

Digital giants such as Facebook and Google have long been struggling with negative headlines around measurement errors and brand safety issues. Snapchat has now also been thrown into the mix.

Earlier this week, Diageo, which sells brands such as Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, announced it had pulled all of its advertising from the platform after an ad was banned by the ASA.

The campaign ran in June last year and included a Snapchat lens for Captain Morgan rum. The lens made the user’s face look like Captain Morgan and featured two glasses of a mixed alcoholic drink clinking together on screen.

The ad was investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority after it questioned whether the lens could appeal to people under 18, and was directed at people under the legal drinking age.

The ASA’s main concern was the possibility of users lying about their age in order to use Snapchat – the minimum age is 13 – and therefore potentially seeing the ad. In light of this, it decided to ban the ad.

“We took all reasonable steps to ensure the content we put on Snapchat was not directed at under-18s – using the data provided to us by Snapchat and applying an age filter. We have now stopped all advertising on Snapchat globally while we assess the incremental age verification safeguards that Snapchat are implementing,” a spokesperson for Diageo said.

READ MORE: Diageo pulls ads from Snapchat over age verification concerns

Public Health England cracks down on unhealthy lunch boxes

It’s a new year, which means you can expect a new Government push convincing consumers to give up their unhealthy ways.

This time around Public Health England (PHE) is honing in on the ‘snackification’ of children’s lunch boxes. On average, children are consuming at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming four or more.

To cut through, PHE is looking to tempt parents into buying healthier snacks by offering money off items such as malt loaf, lower sugar fromage frais and drinks with no added sugar.

“We’ve focused on sugar for the past couple of years, so you have to find new ways into the sugar debate. Public health messages can become wallpaper if you say the same thing,” Sheila Mitchell, marketing director at PHE, told Marketing Week.

READ MORE: Public Health England tackles ‘snackification’ of lunchboxes with new campaign

Protein World overhauls its marketing – but can it change its image?

Protein World

Thinking about Protein World might bring up memories of a slim woman in a bright yellow bikini, alongside the rhetorical question ‘Are you beach body ready?’ (translation: You’re not, go lose weight by buying our protein powder).

When the ad hit London’s underground trains and stations in 2015 it triggered more than 370 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority for the ‘socially irresponsible’ tone of the ad. Despite the backlash, Protein World emerged unscathed and rolled out more campaigns.

This year, it seems to have changed its tune. Gone are the scantily clad, sun-kissed models seen in its ‘New Year, New You’ TV campaign in 2016. For the #EveryBodyWorks campaign, Protein World has chosen “real people” of all shapes and sizes. One scene on the Instagram video even shows a new mum practicing a yoga pose with her baby swaddled against her chest.

Another company that recently overhauled its advertising is diet cereal brand Special K, which has seen sales drop dramatically in recent years. Both campaigns are seemingly a sensible shift, but whether women will change their minds about the brands remains to be seen.

READ MORE: Charlotte Rogers – Protein World has decided to grow up, but will consumers buy it?

Next Christmas results better than expected, but worries remain

next brand

Next had the honour of being the first retailer to unveil its Christmas results, and they were indisputably stronger than anticipated.

Full price sales from Wednesday 1 November to Sunday 24 December were up 1.5% on last year. In comparison, last year’s sales only increased by 0.2% for the same period.

The jump in sales might have come as a surprise to the company, as Next initially predicted in November that sales would decline by -0.3%. The retailer puts the improvement down to much colder weather leading up to Christmas. The company also had 6% less stock in its end of season sale and Black Friday event.

Amid a tough retail environment and with flagging consumer confidence, the results might have triggered a spark of hope among other retailers. But analysts warn this joy might be short-lived.

“The cooler weather is likely to have played a helping hand but these results set the tone for a tough Christmas,” says Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics.

“The length, breadth and depth of discounting this season has been astonishing. Just how much damage all of this discounting has inflicted on gross margins will be under close scrutiny.”

One retailer that would agree with this is Debenhams, which saw sales fall by 2.6% at its established UK stores in the 17 weeks to 30 December, with seasonal gifts and clothing failing to catch consumers’ attention despite heavy discounting.

Meanwhile, profits dropped 30% lower than expected as the department store blamed a “volatile and highly competitive” trading environment.

READ MORE: Next results prompt cautious optimism for consumer Christmas spending

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