HSBC, Pepsi, Mastercard: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From the kickback against HSBC’s latest campaign to Pepsi’s new marketing strapline and Mastercard dropping the name from its logo, here’s all the most important marketing news from this week.

Mastercard logo

Mastercard removes its name from its logo

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas might attract a lot of marketers but it isn’t typically the place to go for branding news. Yet that is exactly what we got this year when Mastercard revealed it is planning to drop its name from its logo.

The move comes after two years of research to make sure people could identify the logo with the brand name attached. That found more than 80% could spontaneously recognise the Mastercard symbol without the word attached and so Mastercard decided it was time to follow in the footsteps of Apple and Nike and drop its brand name.

There are a couple of reasons why this is interesting. Mastercard is one of the very few brands that could get away with its logo not including its name, especially given that it’s not logo doesn’t relate to its brand. With Apple, it’s logo is an Apple, while US retailer Target has a target as it’s logo and Nike’s has a pretty unique design. Mastercard’s logo is simply two overlapping circles and the fact it has the confidence to drop the name shows it has entered the upper circle of brands so well-known they don’t need to be identified with a name.

Secondly, it hints at the future of the Mastercard brand. Dropping its name should help move the company on from its links to payment cards at a time when other forms of digital payment are growing rapidly in use.

READ MORE: Mark Ritson – Mastercard’s wordless logo shows the power of distinctive brand codes

Pepsi overhauls marketing after seven years of ‘Live For Now’

Pepsi has overhauled its marketing to create a new global brand platform and tagline, marking the first major change in seven years.

It promises that the new campaign will celebrate the cola drink. It’s an interesting move from Pepsi but unsurprising. Ever since its Kendall Jenner disaster Pepsi’s marketing has been synonymous with miscalculated brand purpose and this new tagline ‘For The Love of It’ will be a chance to break away.

The brand is staying firmly away from big statements and instead going back to its music heritage with Simon Fuller, who manages the Spice Girls, getting his latest band – Now United – to record a new Pepsi jingle. The group are made up of 14 singers and dancers from around the world with large social media followings and is clear target for younger audiences.

Despite a push into healthier categories by its parent PepsiCo, the company is still heavily reliant on sales of fizzy drinks, which make up over half its soft drinks sales so ensuring so the importance of this rebrand should not be underestimated.

The new positioning is similar to Coke’s ‘Because you can’ ads, with both telling consumers, who are becoming increasingly health-conscious, that fizzy drinks should be seen as a source of enjoyment and treat.

It might not be the most original marketing campaign and it makes sense that Pepsi are playing it safe but it is unlikely to be enough to buck the trend of declining fizzy drinks sales.

READ MORE: Pepsi celebrates ‘pop and fizz’ of cola as shifts brand positioning

The Christmas retail results are in…

The first full working week of the year is exclusively reserved for people to bemoan how quickly Christmas went, how much food they ate and how they’ve managed to stave off a cold until now (because sod’s law!).

It is also when retailers reveal how they performed over Christmas, which, given the year they’ve just had, will no doubt have been causing a few night sweats.

2018 was an interesting one because it saw retailers take a very different approach to their festive marketing campaigns, with many ditching the traditional blockbuster spot for more product-focused activity.

Marks & Spencer was one of them, claiming its “unashamedly commercial” approach paid off despite a 2.1% drop in sales across both food, and clothing and home which it blamed on a combination of low consumer confidence, mild weather, Black Friday and widespread discounting by rivals.

Then there was John Lewis, which stuck to its guns and roped in Elton John for a 140-second ad extravaganza. Sales were up by 1%, which feels small but is notable in the current retail climate. Did the Elton John ad have the resonance John Lewis was hoping for? It is apparently too soon to tell. But John Lewis is “pleased” with the number of pianos it sold.

Next also did well with a 1.5% sales boost. But it was a different story for others on the high street with stark results from Mothercare (down 11.4%) and Debenhams (down 5.7%), while HMV went into administration for the second time.

Among the grocers we had positive sales results from Tesco (up 2.2%), Morrisons (up 3.6%) and Waitrose (up 0.3%). Sales at Sainsbury’s, however, were down 1.1%, which like M&S it blamed on cautious consumer spending and a reduction in promotional activity.

Considering this has been an especially tough trading period, the numbers could definitely have been much worse. But positive results from the likes of John Lewis and Tesco make a strong case for focusing on long-term brand building as well as short-term sales.

Deliveroo introduces CMO to capitalise on expansion

Deliveroo

Deliveroo has introduced a global CMO role to try to expand its reach and capitalise on its previous growth. The takeaway company has gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years, with sales up 116% to £277m in 2017 , boasting a network of 50,000 riders and restaurants across the world.

The brand has shown its commitment to investing in marketing with its latest hire Inés Ures, currently the marketing boss at hair and beauty booker Treatwell, who will become the company’s top marketer in the newly-created CMO role.

Ures been charged with helping scale marketing as the brand looks to expand both within and outside its current markets. Deliveroo is already in 13 countries, having recently launched in Taiwan, but has plans to expand its reach further while also looking to branch out beyond cities. With so many startups starting out in big cities – understandably so – it will be interesting to see how the company adapts to smaller parts of the world and if its marketing will also change.

Deliveroo is facing an increasingly crowded market with Just Eat and UberEats  providing fierce competition. In a bid to remain a leader it has upped its focus on marketing, launching its first global ad campaign, ‘Eat more amazing’, last year but hiring Ures as CMO shows that Deliveroo sees marketing investment as a top priority.

READ MORE: Deliveroo creates CMO role as it looks to broaden reach beyond cities

HSBC divides the nation with claims Britain is ‘not an island’

For some it was a sign of HSBC promoting an ‘anti-Brexit’ agenda. For others it was an important message about the inherently international nature of the British character. Whichever side of the fence you sat on, the latest iteration of HSBC’s ‘Together We Thrive’ campaign has certainly ruffled a few feathers since it went live last week.

The outdoor and print campaign, created in collaboration with JWT, quotes almost word-for-word the same script as the ‘Global Citizen’ TV ad fronted by comedian Richard Ayoade that went live in December 2017.

Whereas when the TV ad first aired there was no such commotion, HSBC was forced this week to put out a statement confirming the advert is “not about Brexit”, but instead reflects the organisation’s “strong belief” that what makes us quintessentially British also makes us “inescapably international”.

Despite the outcry around the generic ‘We are not an island’ ad, the four city specific versions celebrating the local characters of London, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham have all been widely positively received.

Furthermore, the whole objective of the ‘Together We Thrive’ campaign has been to reach a target audience of “very open minded, optimistic and forward thinking” people, while at the same time promoting the launch of HSBC’s new Connected Money app. So far so good.

But others believe HSBC must have foreseen the Brexit backlash, particularly with the timing of the campaign’s release so close to the vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and cynically chose to do just enough to annoy some Brexiters and please some Remainers, while keeping the majority on-side.

READ MORE: ‘Together We Thrive’: Has HSBC nailed it or not gone far enough?

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