Proving the return on investment of digital channels is becoming increasingly important for all brands, and none more so than drinks giant Britvic, which claims it has already taken its focus “to another level”.
Matt Barwell, the company’s CMO, says while its marketing messages have not changed this year and it continues to put customers “at the heart of everything”, what has shifted up a gear is its concerns around ad fraud and getting “genuine ROI” from digital channels.
Like many marketers, he says it is an increasingly important topic of discussion within the industry.
“We have really dialled up our focus on ROI [and taken it] to another level,” he tells Marketing Week. “While our results are very positive, the macro-environment with Brexit and currency changes remains challenging. Therefore, we need to have a real focus on efficiency and effectiveness, particularly in the digital space.”
I’m not a big believer in having regular pitches, but sometimes it’s right to change.
Matt Barwell, Britvic
This year has seen digital giants Facebook and Google come under increased scrutiny for “marking their own homework” when it comes to reporting campaigns, or getting their metrics repeatedly wrong. Barwell believes there is still some way to go when it comes to transparency, but is happy with the progress being made.
“The work that organisations like the Advertising Association and ISBA are doing together with the big digital media owners is starting to move in the right direction,” he adds.
The soft drinks company, which owns brands such as Robinsons, 7Up, Lipton and Purdey’s, reported its annual results last week, which saw revenue in the 52 weeks to 1 October increase by 2.5% on an organic basis to £1.54bn.
Meanwhile, product innovation contributed 5.4% of revenue compared to 4% last year and its efforts to globalise the business also seem to be paying off, with more than 40% of sales now coming from outside Great Britain.
Bringing in new creative partners
Besides increasing its focus on data and effectiveness, Britvic also wants to ensure it “keeps the magic” in its creative work. Earlier this year it appointed two new agencies, VCCP and Saatchi & Saatchi, to handle its advertising. The agencies took over from BBH and 101 London, while Iris continues as Britvic’s below the line activation agency.
VCCP will take over the creative brief for the company’s adult brands, starting with J2O. Saatchi & Saatchi, meanwhile, will lead its portfolio of kids and family brands, such as Robinsons.
“That was quite a big and deliberate disruption. I’m not a big believer in having regular pitches, but sometimes it’s right to change. So we made those new appointments and we will bring out new ads on Fruit Shoot and J2O in the new year,” he says.
“It was a desire to bring in a fresh pair of eyes. There will be nothing radically different in what is at the heart of our brands in terms of what they stand for. What we need is an overarching idea for the brands, and stay coherent as we use different channels.”
Battling the upcoming sugar tax
Besides Brexit and price rises, there are further clouds of uncertainty on the horizon. The long-awaited sugar tax is set to come into force in April next year, placing a levy on soft drinks that pass a certain threshold.
Barwell insists it is “a good thing” for the company, and that it has been looking to reduce the amount of sugar in its drinks for a number of years. The company claims it has taken out 20 billion calories from its portfolio since 2013, and that 72% of its beverages are below the tax threshold. Yet he remains realistic about the potential confusion the tax could cause.
“It will create some uncertainty in the market place, as we can’t predict how consumers will behave. As consumers reappraise [soft drinks], they may well shift to products that are healthier and our portfolio is well designed to respond to that,” he concludes.