Coca-Cola, Adidas, Diageo: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Adidas Ninja

Adidas channels ‘rebellious spirit’ for new campaign

Adidas is on a mission to make consumers feel optimistic. The brand itself has plenty to look forward to with the rescheduled Olympics and Euro 2020 tournament on the horizon.

The summer of sport aside, the sportswear giant also has some pretty hefty targets of its own. Adidas is in the middle of its five-year ‘Own the Game’ strategy, the focus of which is to increase brand credibility, elevate the experience for consumers and push the sustainability agenda by 2025.

Describing it as a “new era” for marketing, the plan is to sharpen the brand, refine the product offering and amplify the company’s credibility. As well as growing the womenswear side of its business, Adidas wants to tap into the commercial opportunities of sportswear. The decision in February to divest itself of the Reebok brand is a sign of just how serious Adidas is about chasing growth.

In particular, the brand wants to grow its membership programme to 500 million over the next four years and ramp up the focus on direct-to-consumer channels, with ecommerce expected account for up to €9bn (£7.8bn) of net sales by 2025.

With a lot to achieve over the next four years, Adidas felt now was the right time to revive its ‘Impossible Is Nothing’ brand platform, first launched two decades ago. Having lived on for years as an “internal manifesto”, the brand believes the challenges of Covid-19 make the campaign’s spirit of “rebellious optimism” more relevant than ever.

The new iteration of Impossible Is Nothing features 20 documentary style films sharing stories of sport culture from the likes of Beyoncé, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and professional gamer Ninja.

Head of global marketing Vicky Free, who moved from the US to Germany to join Adidas in November, describes this as a long-term message, rather than an ad that will “run for four weeks and be measured with a very specific set of KPIs”.

Free and her team are convinced now is the time to reach consumers through the power of sport, with one eye on building hype around the summer’s sporting calendar and another firmly set on the strategic goals Adidas needs to hit by 2025. CR

READ MORE: Adidas on why ‘rebellious optimism’ is more needed than ever

Coca-Cola pauses marketing spend in countries slow to rollout the vaccine

Having a plan is always a good idea until a global pandemic comes rolling in, tears it up, and stays there staring at you uncomfortably without blinking.

But soft drinks giant Coca-Cola believes it has handled the pandemic well and is currently “outpacing recovery”.

Chief executive James Quincey said lockdowns continue to rock marketing plans despite the rollout of vaccines across many nations.

And on a results call this week, he urged investors to view the rest of the year as “not normal times” despite the progress being made to stem the spread of Covid-19. His comments come as some markets experience a fourth wave with infection rates rising.

As a result, the brand will exercise caution and only distribute marketing spend in economies where it sees revenue “accelerating”.

One such market is China, where foot traffic is almost back to pre-pandemic levels. It was one of the main drivers of Q1 revenues, the company saw net revenues grow 5% year-on-year to $9bn (£6.4bn).

In the Chinese market, the brand will continue investing in trends that accelerated during the pandemic, with a bigger push into digital engagement and ecommerce. A sign of things to come for markets still under restrictions. MP

READ MORE: Coca-Cola to hold marketing spend in countries with slow vaccine rollout

The challenge of digital safety is ‘not going away’, says Diageo

It was only a couple of years ago when you barely had time to breathe between major online brand safety scandals. Brands were inadvertently funding terrorist content on Facebook. Ads were running against videos of child abuse on YouTube. Self-harm imagery was running rife on Instagram. And more recently, brands were pulling spend from Facebook amid concerns over hate speech and disinformation on the platform.

So the launch this week of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM)’s first report tracking the brand safety performance of digital platforms and setting a benchmark for progress marks something of a milestone for the industry.

GARM was launched by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) in June 2019, with the goal of eliminating harmful content in ad supported media. The alliance has since grown to over 100 member companies, including the likes of Diageo, Mars, Mondelez, P&G and Unilever.

At present, the brand safety report aggregates self-reported data from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snap, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube, with streaming platform Twitch to be included next time. Advertisers can now evaluate the safety of individual platforms and view the progress they are making towards tackling harmful content.

But as Diageo’s global media director said this week, the work is “only just beginning”. Isabel Massey implored marketers not to let their “laser focus” on digital safety drop off, as without it advertisers cannot rely on the online media environment when they need to.

Digital safety will be “core to us delivering effective advertising going forward,” she pointed out. “So as an industry we have to stay focused on this. I ask everyone to stay focused on this as the challenge is not going away.” MJ

READ MORE: Marketers must keep ‘laser focus’ on digital brand safety

Marketing has an opportunity to lead on sustainability

Sustainability has been moving up the agenda for brands over a number of years as the climate crisis worsens. But while most marketers believe they should play a key role in driving change, research revealed this week that marketers lag behind their business as a whole when it comes to making progress.

The research from the World Federation of Advertisers finds just one in 10 marketers are “well advanced” in their sustainability efforts compared to 29% who say their wider business is at this stage. That’s despite 95% of marketers believing marketing can make a difference in driving sustainability and 88% suggesting consumers expect brands to help improve the environment.

The main challenges cited by marketers are conflicting business priorities (39%), lack of dedicated internal resources (27%) and pressure from shareholders (26%). To help address the problem, the WFA has developed a framework called Planet Pledge to help marketers drive change internally.

Consumers want companies to act more responsibly and reduce their impact on the environment – and they will call out any brands that don’t. As the voice of the customer, marketers are in the perfect position to lead their brand’s sustainability efforts and get people on board.

As Unilever’s chief digital and marketing officer, Conny Braams, said: “Marketers have a unique role to play in communicating the benefits of making sustainable choices and adopting sustainable behaviours.” LT

READ MORE: Marketing ‘lags’ corporate progress on sustainability

Expedia rebrands ahead of travel reopening

Like many travel companies, Expedia was hit hard by Covid-19. Over its 2020 financial year, the business made an operating loss of £2.7bn, compared to a £903m profit the year before.

But far from retreating to wait out the storm, Expedia has looked at the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink its brand and reorient itself around the travel needs of its customers.

“[The pandemic] served as a really important moment for the Expedia group and the travel industry as a whole,” Expedia’s senior vice-president and general manager of brand, Shiv Singh told Marketing Week this week.

“It served as an opportunity to take a step back and reflect on what’s working really well, and how we can deliver better experiences for our consumers.”

As such, Expedia has revealed a new brand positioning, marking its biggest brand spend in five years. The brand will now fly under the banner ‘It Matters Who You Travel With’, as the business looks to “aggressively, authentically and deeply” support travellers through every stage of their journey.

Alongside the new tagline, Expedia has introduced new product features, a tweaked logo, and a new global marketing campaign, which launches during the Oscars this weekend.

According to Singh, Covid-19 has resulted in a “reset” of consumer expectations when it comes to what they need and want from travel companies. “And it’s the travel companies that put [consumer] interests first, and that truly serve as the ultimate travel companion, which will be the ones that will win,” he said.

While it’s likely consumers will flood back to travel as soon as they’re able to, mirroring the experience of non-essential retail over the last two weeks, customer loyalty will have been stretched over the period and Expedia has made sure that it stands front and centre as things open back up. Time will tell what effect this has on the business over the year. MJ

READ MORE: Expedia rebrands to ‘aggressively and deeply’ support travellers post-Covid