Coca-Cola, Direct Line, apprenticeships: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From Coca-Cola’s global Christmas campaign to Churchill’s shift to ‘extreme’ brand building and new marketing apprenticeships, catch up all on this week’s biggest marketing news.


Coca-Cola tries to unite us for Christmas

Coca-Cola has gone political this Christmas in its new global ad. Well kind of. It’s hardly a rousing political message but it does offer a spirit of unity.

The ad shows Santa Claus preparing for Christmas as a narrator points out that many negative things could be said about him from others including he tries to “sneak across our lands” after “gaining information about us”.

It ends with him drinking a bottle of classic Coca-Cola that has been left for him in a home as the narrator notes that we should welcome him because “if we focus on what divides us we forget what we love about each other”.

Coca-Cola has a history of making political ads, most notably its 1969 ‘Boys on a Bench’ ad that showed white and black young men sitting on a segregation bench. As the world becomes more divided, there are those within Coca-Cola who are keen to become more political not just from a moral sense but also to build brand purpose. This ad is hardly overt but might mean the beginning of more political stances to come?

It is also part of a bigger Christmas push. Coca-Cola’s truck has long been a symbol of the beginning of the festive season but this year the drinks giant has amped up the celebrations with its biggest ever media push. There has been more experiential and social including partnering with Snapchat and karaoke stunts in Piccadilly.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola launches global Christmas ad that promises to ‘unite us’

Direct Line Group takes an ‘extreme’ approach to brand building

Direct Line Group is often held up as an example of a company that understands the role of brand building. Its 2015 relaunch of the Direct Line brand, complete with campaign featuring Harvey Keitel reprising his role as Winston Woolfe from Pulp Fiction, has led to a 20% increase in Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Direct Line knows through modelling that if customers score it 10, there is a 10% to 15% increase in insurance. “That’s absolutely massive in insurance and not lost with people at the front end or with investors and analysts,” says marketing boss Mark Evans.

It has also given DLG the confidence to take a more extreme approach to brand building. For the relaunch of its Churchill brand, which features a new endline – Chur-chill – and skateboarding Churchie the dog – it moved almost all its budget to brand building, removing the vast majority of performance marketing spend.

Churchill customers, unlike those of Direct Line, mostly come through price comparison sites. Yet DLG believes it is the brand, not the price, that most resonates with customers. And so it is focused on building brand strength.

It follows a number of other brands that have shifted emphasis more towards brand building, from Adidas to Old Navy to As Evans says, this may be an “extreme” version of brand building but its impact is one other marketers are likely to watch with interest.

READ MORE: How Direct Line is proving the link between customer and commercial

Marketing apprenticeships get a boost with first end-to-end offering

Apprenticeships-There is an understanding building within marketing that to achieve real diversity of thought the industry needs to open itself up to people from a variety of backgrounds. A big part of this push starts with recruitment and sourcing talent from places other than traditional degree education.

Now this ambition has been made much easier. For the first time, the marketing industry can provide an apprenticeship offering that goes from A Level to Master’s degree. Two new marketing apprenticeships have been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships, taking the provision all the way from Level 3 marketing assistant (equivalent to an A Level qualification) through to Level 7 (equivalent to a Master’s degree).

Developed by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in collaboration with a group of brands, the new apprenticeships are not just being pitched at school leavers but at marketers already working in the profession looking for an opportunity to upskill.

This follows the successful roll-out of the Level 4 marketing executive programme and Level 6 marketing manager course early last year, which to date have attracted more than 200 applicants.

While Brexit has dominated the political discussion for the past three years, CIM director of qualifications and partnerships, Maggie Jones, is pleased that apprenticeships figured in the manifestos of the main political parties.

The Conservative Party, which secured a majority in the British election, is promising a £3bn National Skills Fund to train “hundreds of thousands more highly skilled apprentices” as part of a wider “improvement” of the apprenticeship levy.

However, Jones recognises a job still needs to be done to encourage more young people to opt for an apprenticeship over more conventional routes to education.

“Apprenticeships have, in the past, been for truly vocational professions such as plumbers or electricians and that’s still the image a lot of people have. But there is richness for both the apprentice and the employer,” she explains.

READ MORE: Why you should consider a marketing apprenticeship

Thinkbox promotes the power of TV ads with help from the Tooth Fairy

I bet when you were little and 20p appeared under your pillow in exchange for a tooth you didn’t think much about the logistics and growth strategy behind the Tooth Fairy’s business.

Well now you will as Thinkbox, the organisation that promotes TV advertising, has brought her story to the small screen. Together with new agency Mother, Thinkbox highlights the struggles to grow and how TV ads can help.

While on the one hand it might seem obvious that Thinkbox would advertise on TV, on the other it’s narrow target would seem to make TV ads a strange choice. The campaign is aimed at anyone with media budget responsibility; probably they do watch TV but this would not seem the most efficient way to reach them.

However, Thinkbox sees a benefit in generating “endorsement and affection” from the British public around TV advertising. If they like the ads and talk about them, more marketers might invest in them – or so the theory goes.

The theory makes sense. Use the TV ads for emotional storytelling, building the Thinkbox brand and TV advertising’s positioning. Then use social media, display, its own channels and CRM to target marketers specifically.

READ MORE: Thinkbox aims to show business impact of TV ads in Tooth Fairy campaign

Campaign of the year semi finals

It’s the end of the year and before we enter into a new decade it is time to decide what campaign topped 2019.

The campaigns have been whittled down to the top four with Tesco’s 100th anniversary  going head to head with Churchill’s rebrand.

In case you need a reminder Tesco enlisted the help of Mr Blobby, Wolf from Gladiators, as well as cult figures such as 60s mods on mopeds and 70s roller girls to celebrate its centenary. This came with the tagline ‘Prices that take you back’ in a campaign that focused invoking nostalgia to honour the milestone.

While Churchill put it’s infamous mascot on a skateboard updating him to a CGI skilled dog that delivered a record emotional response.

Meanwhile Greggs fights off Carlsberg with its vegan sausage roll campaign, which caused Piers Morgan to tweet his outrage, that saw it become the fastest-selling new product over the past five years.

Meanwhile Carlsberg took a huge risk with its probably not campaign that saw it promote tweets comparing its brew to “piss”. This was followed by the announcement that it was rebrewing its product from “from head to hop” plastering that it’s “probably not the best beer in the world” across social, outdoor and TV in a brave move that inverted its famous headline.

READ MORE: Vote for your campaign of 2019: Semi-finals



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