John Lewis, Ariel, Little Miss Inventor: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Catch up on all the big marketing news from this week, from proof that marketers are undervaluing the effectiveness of traditional media to the introduction of Little Miss Inventor to mark International Women’s Day.

Marketers’ perceptions of media divorced from reality

A major piece of research dropped on our desks this week. Radiocentre enlisted the help of Ebiquity to try to work out the most important measures of success for marketers and how each media stacks up. The findings? Marketers are overestimating the effectiveness and value of digital media channels such as online video and social media and undervaluing more traditional formats such as TV, cinema and radio.

It would be easy to dismiss the findings given that Radiocentre, with a vested interest in getting marketers to rethink how they allocate their budgets, was behind the research. But no one that undertook the survey had any idea that Radiocentre had commissioned it and actually, radio doesn’t come out top of most criteria.

What the research does show is that marketers’ perceptions of which media channel is best for different outcomes is divorced from reality. Looking at all 12 criteria for marketing success, while both advertisers and the evidence point to TV being best, advertisers think online video comes in second when the evidence points to radio.

This doesn’t necessarily mean there should be a wholescale rethink of budget allocation. But it’s clear marketers are dismissing some media that could actually improve effectiveness and ROI. That, at least, is worth thinking about when you’re planning your next campaign.

READ MORE: Marketers undervalue the impact of traditional media channels

Not even John Lewis is immune from the brutal slowdown on the high street

John Lewis is seen as a bellwether of the high street and, by extension, how consumers are feeling. So when its profits fall by 77% (when taking its annual staff bonus into account) and its chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield talks of a “challenging year”, concerns about the future of high street retail and the brands that rely on it rightly increase.

The past few months have been dismal for retailers. Toys R Us, Maplin and Warren Jones have all gone into administration while Debenhams, New Look and House of Fraser are all struggling. And Mayfield talked of how margins are coming under pressure from a perfect storm of subdued consumer demand, political uncertainty, a weakened pound and structural change as more people shop online. John Lewis, like many others, is having to navigate that storm as best it can.

John Lewis is in a better position than most. Profits might be down but it is still profitable. And there’s still a lot of consumer love for the brand. John Lewis needs to make the most of that. Its stores will remain important, John Lewis sees them as a “physical manifestation of our brand” and so it is looking at how to make them work for customers that are “increasingly looking to not just shop everything, but do everything in our shops”.

The John Lewis Partnership has been talking up innovation and its focus on the customer experience for some time now. Those investments will need to start paying off if John Lewis is to keep its position at the heart of British retail.

READ MORE: John Lewis promises ‘bold moves’ as it vows to reinvent high street shopping

Ariel puts P&G’s talk into practice

Procter & Gamble (P&G) has been making some big changes to its marketing strategy over the past couple of years, in particular encouraging its marketers to be more entrepreneurial and work with its agencies in different ways. And a big push on Ariel in the UK reveals how that is trickling down to the individual brands.

A new £10.5m campaign for Ariel aims to convert more people from washing with liquid or powder to using liquitabs. Growth in the laundry category is currently pretty flat, but liquitabs can be sold for a premium so P&G sees this as a way to reinvigorate the market and increase its sales.

“This is the next instalment of a big journey we have been on with Ariel to transform the category by driving conversion into Pods,” says brand manager Dan Jalalpour. “We want to drive value into the category. People will pay more of a premium for Pod and so we want to encourage them to take that next step.”

What is also interesting is how Ariel is working with its agencies on this marketing push. Jalalpour describes how Ariel has removed agency siloes and brought media planning and creative development together to create “one brand team”. Expect to see more of this from P&G and its agencies as it rethinks its relationship with agencies.

READ MORE: Ariel launches biggest marketing push for a decade as it looks to get laundry market back in growth

Little Miss Inventor joins the Mr Men line-up

Little Miss Inventor

It’s a while since most of the Marketing Week team was the target audience for the Mr Men and Little Miss series but there was some heartening news from its owner Sanrio this week as it launched the latest addition to the line-up. Little Miss Inventor, whose books went on sale on International Women’s Day, shows Sanrio is taking its social responsibility, as well as its need to drive sales and profit, seriously.

“We’re always striving to find new areas to reach out to kids on and the whole area of STEM in education is very important so we created the concept of Little Miss inventor,” explains Simon Gresswell, Sanrio’s chief operating officer.

“To think about both sexes, to think about gender neutrality, [to think about] how the characters can be used in a positive way rather than purely commercial way has become really important.”

It’s important that young children, both boys and girls, are shown that they can be whoever they want, whether that be through the films they watch, the books they read, or the marketing messages they receive. Sanrio and Mr Men and Little Miss have shown they understand this. I expect it will be good for both society and its bottom line.

READ MORE: Little Miss Inventor joins Mr Men line-up as brand looks to communicate ‘what young girls can be’

Do biscuits need a brand purpose?

McVitie’s has ditched the cute kittens for its new marketing campaign in favour of a strategy that talks to its brand purpose. The animated ad, created by Grey, focuses on the issue of loneliness and the brand looks to “embed itself in modern culture”.

Sarah Heynen, vice-president of marketing at McVitie’s owner Pladis UK & Ireland, tells Marketing Week: “This is about really giving McVitie’s a role in society. Before it was about creating a warm feeling around the brand but this new campaign is really about embedding McVitie’s role within today’s modern culture.”

Heynen points to research by the brand that shows that while people are more connected because of digital, there is a lack of human contact. It’s hard to argue with that, but whether it is a biscuit brand’s job to tackle the issue is another question entirely.

READ MORE: McVitie’s launches £10m masterbrand campaign to showcase brand purpose

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