5 things that mattered this week

Fighting talk from Ashley Madison, a bold new campaign from Natwest and Apple maintaining its cool… Marketing Week rounds up five of the most important stories from the last seven days.

Apple is voted world’s ‘coolest brand’ for fifth year in a row

To quote one Big Boi of iconic rap group OutKast, Apple appears to be “cooler than a polar bear’s toenails” right now. Well, that’s if, unlike our own Mark Ritson, you believe the polls.

This week, the tech giant took the top spot on the CoolBrands rankings for the fifth year running. Chris Hall, CEO of brand management company Bynder, said Apple’s success comes down to its focus on emotion.

“The brand forms emotional connections with its customers, and they adore the brand back in return. Building upon the emotions we feel while discovering, owning, and using Apple products, the brand capitalises on the lifestyle and aspirations of Apple users,” he explained.

According to CoolBrands, digital disruptor brands including Netflix, Spotify and Instagram are all hot on Apple’s heels. Netflix climbed from fifth to third place and Spotify rose from 11th to seventh. Former cool kid Twitter failed to make the cut.

‘RBS Group ‘presses reset’ for new NatWest campaign

Having embarked on a complicated rebranding mission, the RBS Group finally unveiled its new brand direction for NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland this week.

NatWest – no stranger to controversy over recent years – has a new campaign that recognises banks should be responsible for what they do as well as what they say. It invites consumers to hold NatWest to account for its actions both past and present.

Speaking to Marketing Week, RBS Group’s CMO David Wheldon was in a reflective mood. “Over the last nine years, I cannot think of a single financial brand that has even nodded at the fact there were serious problems in the past. It annoys people. We want to change that,” he claimed.

“This is not using ad trickery or iconography. Look, it is lovely Lloyds has a black horse logo and it goes dancing across the landscape. But what does that have to do with what they do, day in and day out? Nothing.”

NatWest isn’t alone in getting a new campaign, with Royal Bank of Scotland’s latest TV spot celebrating local Scottish nuances. Unlike the new NatWest work, which was developed by M&C Saatchi, Wheldon tasked the Scottish agency Leith to oversee the campaign. “I said to M&C Saatchi, you’re not McSaatchi are you?” explained Wheldon of the decision.

Pret reshuffles marketing team as director steps down


Pret A Manger’s marketing boss Mark Palmer announced this week that he was stepping down from the post, with the food-on-the-go brand’s food director Caroline Cromar set to step in.

Palmer will stay on in an advisory role, assisting Pret’s board with marketing strategy as well as acting as a mentor to its marketing teams outside the UK. However, he will step away from day to day responsibilities.

During his time as marketing boss, Palmer was influential in growing the Pret brand as well as introducing new concepts such as a dinner service and a veggie-only store.

Back in April 2015, Palmer gave Marketing Week some insight into how Pret approaches its marketing. He revealed: “For Pret, successful advertising is improving the menu or optimising the impact of our window displays. We don’t put out paid for traditional ads and that is unlikely to change.”

Ashley Madison ‘confident’ it can pull off a ‘major comeback’


Despite being victim to a high-profile cyber attack that leaked the personal details of 30 million users, controversial dating site Ashley Madison has attracted five million new users in the wake of the scandal.

Speaking to Marketing Week on Tuesday (27 September), its CEO Rob Segal said the data leak had only added intrigue.

“[The scandal] opened us up to the mainstream and we realised there was suddenly a lot of intrigue around Ashley Madison,” he saod. “People want to explore their own sexuality and have more open relationships; it is a global phenomenon and the hack didn’t stop that.”

However, Segal failed to provide assurance that Ashley Madison, which helps married men and women to commit adultery, wouldn’t be compromised again. “Security is now our biggest focus but this is 2016 and the reality is nobody can make an assurance this won’t happen again. That’s just the world we now live in.”

Almost half of Brits choose to ignore brands on social media

social media

Almost half of Brits (40%) ‘actively ignore’ social posts or ads from brands, according to a new study released this week by Kantar TNS, which polled 70,000 global consumers, of which 3,200 were British.

On a global basis, just over a quarter (26%) of consumers choose to ignore branded content, while 34% feel ‘constantly followed’ by online advertising.

Scepticism for social media ads is at its highest in both Sweden and Denmark, with 57% of each country’s consumers bypassing branded content altogether.

However, there could be more hope for marketers in Asia and South America, with the least sceptical consumers in both Saudi Arabia (15%) and Brazil (19%). China and South Africa sit closer to the global average, with 24% and 26% of respondents expressing cynicism, respectively.

“Some brands are getting it spot on – in the past year we’ve seen the likes of Disney, Starbucks and McDonald’s use Snapchat’s filters to engage consumers in a way that doesn’t feel intrusive,” advised Michael Nicholas, global director at Kantar TNS.



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