BrewDog, Boots, Asda: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Catch up on all the marketing news from the last week including BrewDog’s ‘most honest ad ever’, Boots’s move into digital loyalty and Asda’s plans following the failed merger.

BrewDog’s controversial honesty

Six years since co-founder James Watt said he would rather set fire to his money than spend it on advertising, BrewDog has launched a brand marketing campaign on TV and the sides of buses to launch what it claims is “the most honest ad ever”.

The poster version is a blank space with a picture of BrewDog’s Punk IPA and the word ‘advert’ written behind it in big black text. The TV version is the same but with a metal (yes metal, not punk) track playing for the 30-second duration.

As far as ads go, it definitely errs on the simpler side of the creative. But this isn’t just a basic poster or TV spot; this is BrewDog spending big on advertising for the first time, having realised that word of mouth, shock tactics and using website ratings to slate other beers will only carry it so far.

This is no bad thing; most brands have to do above-the-line advertising if they want to scale up and go global, which is what BrewDog is trying to do.

Where feathers have been ruffled is that BrewDog is happy to take swipes at its competitors for their “bullshit” advertising when it has just spent god-knows-how-much on a Game of Thrones ad break and buses across London and Manchester.

It still sees itself as the rebellious craft beer brand that joined the scene 12 years ago, when in reality it is really no different from many of the beer brands it claims to hate.

There comes a time when every punk has to shave off their mohawk and hang up their boots. The sooner BrewDog realises that, the sooner it can get on with its journey into adulthood without being called out for hypocrisy when it launches a regular, mainstream ad. Just like everyone else. EH

READ MORE: BrewDog needs to be honest with itself about its ‘honest’ new ad

Boots digitises loyalty and launches summer campaign

It feels like it’s been a long time coming because it has, but Boots has finally made its Advantage Card loyalty scheme digital.

Compared to the rest of the retail market, Boots is incredibly late to the party, which is strange given Advantage Card is one of the oldest (22!) and most popular loyalty cards in the UK. But now customers will now be able to scan to collect, redeem and check their points straight from their mobile via the app.

The digitisation of Advantage Card will no doubt be welcomed by Boots’s 17.1 million loyalty members – 1.5 million of which signed up in the last 12 months alone – and help it compete better with the likes of Superdrug’s Beauty card.

Boots also began its summer activity this week with a refreshingly body positive campaign looking to “celebrate confidence” during the summer period.

The campaign was based on depressing research carried out by Boots which found three quarters of British women have avoided summer activities because they felt self-conscious.

There has been a big shift in the way women are portrayed in ads in recent years and a number of retailers are making a conscious effort to be more inclusive and representative with their advertising. This is an example of using advertising as a force for good – let’s hope it continues. EH

READ MORE: Boots makes Advantage Card loyalty scheme digital

You talkin’ to me? Warburtons partners with Robert De Niro

Warburtons is no stranger to a famous face. It has previously partnered with Sylvester Stallone and the Muppets, and now Robert De Niro has taken the starring role in its new campaign.

The bakery brand has used Oscar-winning actor to promote its new bagel range in a bid to create “talkability”. Using famous people doesn’t guarantee that, of course, but it’s a model that has worked well for Warburtons previously, not least because of clever contrasting.

De Niro acts alongside chairman Jonathan Warburtons, who plays himself, and the brand knows how to use self-deprecating humour to juxtapose its Bolton heritage with De Niro’s world in the ad.

The new bagel product is also a smart move that mimics the evolving bakery market. Sales of white sliced loaves were down 12% over the five years to 2017 and more consumers are looking towards ‘sandwich alternatives’. It launched ‘bagel thins’ four years ago, which the brand claims now accounts for 20% of the market.

In the short term, the talkability that Warburton’s wants has been achieved, with national newspapers and social media going crazy for the ad. The key now is to translate that to sales. MF

READ MORE: Warburtons on its new bagels ad: ‘Without De Niro we wouldn’t have run that creative’

Asda outlines strategy following failed merger

Asda has spoken for the first time since its proposed merger with Sainsbury’s was blocked by the competition watchdog last month.

Echoing the sentiments of Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe, Asda boss Roger Burnley said it’s business as usual for Asda and it will focus on price, customer experience and driving growth “where customers care”.

However, at the same time Burnley admitted the Competition and Market Authority’s decision to block the deal will make it harder to deliver its strategy at the same pace as if the merger had gone ahead.

But Asda is focused on price and that’s what people know it for. Building on that consistency should work in its favour, but it will need to work hard to make sure its brand message doesn’t become stale and it is giving people reasons to shop there other than just price.

That’s where focusing on the customer experience becomes important. Asda is investing in technology, with its Stevenage store set to become a test bed for new tech solutions to help Asda understand what works and what doesn’t.

It will be interesting to see what comes from that and how this impacts the customer experience.

Asda will no doubt be keeping a close eye on Sainsbury’s current checkoutless trial. And let’s not forget Morrisons, which recently announced its intended move into the delivery space, which will surely have piqued some competitive intrigue. EH

READ MORE: Asda refocuses on price and customer experience following failed Sainsbury’s merger

Prostate cancer plays on emotion in awareness boosting campaign

Prostate Cancer UK’s new campaign aims to raise awareness and educate people about the disease that kills one man every 45 minutes in Britain.

The charity says the sheer scale of the cancer is often not understood, meaning people don’t realise how it could directly impact their lives and the lives of those close to them – something Prostate Cancer UK wants to change.

Its new campaign, ‘Men, we are with you’, features raw imagery and footage of real men, some of whom are living with prostate cancer, in a bid to reach the people that matter most in an authentic way.

For instance, rather than talking about the cancer itself and shouting at people to get tested, the “stripped back” spot was based on audience research and the concept of talking about, and making people feel emotionally connected with, the men in their lives.

Olivia Burns, director of communications at Prostate Cancer UK, says the spot was based on years of research around engagement with the British public to better understanding both cancer patients and those whose lives have been affected by the disease.

“The campaign has been a long time in the making. Two years ago we started doing research around engagement and understanding our audiences,” she adds.

“Then we looked at our brand through the lens of those people to learn about what appeals to them and what we needed to do. This set the framework in order to understand how we would then go about communicating with them and developing our brand campaign.”

It’s a refreshingly raw wake-up call on the immediate threat of the cancer and a subtle nudge to encourage those around you to take take precautions and raise awareness. EL

READ MORE: Prostate Cancer UK celebrates men with ‘stripped back’ campaign that aims to raise awareness



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