Brewdog, L’Oréal, Specsavers: 5 things that mattered this week and why

With Specsaver’s CMO Katherine Whitton leaving, Brewdog’s ad ban and the advertising industry’s climate crisis call to action, here are some of this week’s biggest marketing stories.

L’Oréal accelerates digital plans amid pandemic

Covid-19 has accelerated many brands’ digital plans but for L’Oréal it achieved in eight weeks what had previously had taken three years.

The beauty giant has been working for some time on reimagining its marketing to be digital-first, but during coronavirus it has doubled ecommerce from 18% of its business to 34% at the peak in April.

This has since dropped slightly but the point still stands that the pandemic has managed to speed up an overhaul that has been in the works for half a decade.

L’Oréal’s success is a testament to its previous digital plans with the wheels in motion long before the forced changes in consumer habits.

The company recruited 3,000 digital experts across the group with the intention this would upskill current staff to think digital first a few years ago. Upskilling its current team as well as bringing in more talent has been crucial to its success and now the fruits of its labour are starting to be seen.

This new strategy can be seen in the company’s innovation. Most recently L’Oréal created a digital-only makeup brand that wouldn’t seem out of place in Black Mirror and is sure to do well with social media-savvy Gen Z.

READ MORE: An accelerator and a stress test: How Covid has shaken-up L’Oréal’s digital plans

BrewDog falls foul of ASA as climate action ad is banned

BrewDog forestBrewDog is serious about tackling climate change. The beer giant is aiming to create a “carbon negative collective”, with promises to plant a tree for every new investor who signs up to its Equity for Punks crowdfunding scheme. 

However, not everyone agrees with the way BrewDog is going about it. This week the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the brand’s climate action ad for being “likely to offend”.

The ad included large text reading “F**K You CO2. BrewDog Beer Is Now Carbon Negative” with the letters between F and K obscured by a can of BrewDog Punk IPA. The campaign ran in August across three billboards in London, including one near a school, as well as one in Newcastle and another in Glasgow. Full-page and double-page adverts identical to the poster were also published in the Metro, The Week and The Economist.

This is not the first time BrewDog has been banned by the ASA, falling foul of the regulator last year over its ‘Sober as a motherfu’ outdoor ad promoting non-alcoholic beer Punk AF.

In its defence, BrewDog claimed it “wanted to shock people into thinking about the planet and reducing and removing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere”.

BrewDog’s uncompromising identity and tone of voice has helped the company become easily one of Britain’s biggest beer brands. The business has no intention of toning down it’s personality and, frankly, its legions of equity punks would probably not appreciate it if it did. Plus, while having ads banned is a pain, the publicity of being the bad boy of beer only fuels BrewDog’s mystique.

TSB invites apprentices to jump into ‘the driving seat’

ApprenticeshipThe business case for diversity is clear. Diverse teams equal high performing teams. This is the rationale at TSB, which is on the look-out for two apprentices to help propel the business forward.

One apprentice will join the bank’s digital marketing team, while another will work within its internal creative agency, Kindred. Now is the right time to diversify the talent pool at TSB, says CMO Pete Markey, especially as momentum is building within the marketing team. The bank is on the brink of a brand relaunch being masterminded within Kindred, while the other apprentice will gain hands-on experience of the Adobe Experience Platform as TSB seeks to put a renewed emphasis on data.

Markey wants the apprentices to be in the “driving seat” of these exciting developments within the business, sharing their ideas and experiences with the wider marketing team.

TSB is partnering on the apprenticeship scheme with The Marketing Academy Foundation, which helps kickstart careers in marketing and communications for young adults from challenging backgrounds. These include young people who have spent time in care, have refugee status or have grown up in areas classified as deprived.

The decision to start its search for marketing apprentices now is a real statement of intent from TSB. There were concerns early in the pandemic that apprenticeship schemes would be the first to be cut, as brands sought to make savings and worried about bringing in new talent remotely. Would risk averse companies simply resort to hiring people from the same backgrounds (degree educated, middle class)?

This decision from TSB shows now is the time for brands to back diversity and mean it.

READ MORE: TSB searches for apprentices to help fuel brand growth

Specsavers CMO leaves

SpecsaversSpecsavers CMO Katherine Whitton is leaving after three years with the brand.

Despite her short tenure, Whitton has clearly left a mark, working on Specsavers efficiency, digital communications and most notably a rebrand.

Whitton took a step back from the iconic ‘Should’ve…’ tagline to instil purpose into the brand’s TV campaigns and has worked hard to ensure Specsavers is known for more than just its humour without losing this essential part of the brand.

Talking to Marketing Week, she clearly loves the brand but is leaving for big city lights. This pandemic has made all of us reassess what we prioritise. For many that has meant looking to spend more time in nature but for Whitton and her partner it’s shone a light on how much they miss London.

Having spent her entire working career in the city Whitton decided the small island of Guernsey, where Specsavers is based, was not quite what she was looking for and so for the first time in her career she chose lifestyle over job. It’s a bold move and one more people will likely make in light of recent events.

READ MORE: Specsavers CMO Katherine Whitton on her brand building legacy

Advertising industry tackles climate crisis

The Advertising Association (AA) is pulling together the entire industry, including brands like Unilever, Sky and the Guardian, to help achieve net zero carbon emissions as a result of advertising by 2030.

Ad Net Zero is a great step in the right direction with the five-point strategy spanning development, production, media placement and events but arguably a more effective and larger statement could have been made.

READ MORE: Sky and Unilever back industry initiative to address climate crisis



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