Coca-Cola, TUI, climate crisis: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From Coca-Cola’s streamlined agency model and its  DTC play to TUI’s revamped media strategy and an open letter calling for the end to advertisers spreading climate misinformation, catch up on this week’s biggest marketing news.

Coca-Cola reveals ‘critical’ changes to agency model

This week was a big one for Coca-Cola, with the launch of its Christmas advertising campaign – which has been met by mixed reactions. While some love the short, heart-warming film, others have criticised the lack of branding and absence of Coke’s traditional Coca-Cola Christmas trucks… But don’t worry, the holidays are still coming.

Meanwhile, the brand revealed a complete overhaul of its agency structure, as part of what it has called an “aggressive” agenda to “transform and modernise” its marketing and innovation model in order to drive profitable long-term growth.

The model has been cut down to four key components across creative, media and strategy, with four new agency appointments. WPP will take the lead on creative, media and technology across Coke’s portfolio of brands as global marketing network partner, with Dentsu brought onboard as a complementary media partner. Publicis Groupe and IPG will form part of the business’s “strategic roster” of agencies to provide creative ideas.

The final component is a common data and technology platform to connect marketing teams across all Coca-Cola’s teams and agencies.

Global CMO Manolo Arroyo said the “truly consumer centric and silo-free” model will be “critical” to the brand’s plans across its portfolio and markets, as speed and data-driven insights will be needed to deliver integrated consumer experiences at a global scale.

And experience is a major part of Coca-Cola’s new global brand platform, launched in September. Under the ‘Real Magic’ platform, the beverage giant promises to change the way it communicates with consumers, moving away from broadcast communications to create an ecosystem of experiences.

Coca-Cola is far from the first major advertiser to simplify and streamline its agency model. GSK decided to swap its range of different media partners for just one global media agency, Publicis Media, as it began its digital transformation journey three years ago.

With Coke investing in direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce and investing into its online to offline strategy (more on that in a minute), it will be interesting to see what this new model means for the brand’s marketing moving forward.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola unveils new marketing model built to drive long-term growth

Coca-Cola prepares for a digital future

CokeAnd talking of Coca-Cola’s DTC play, the drinks giant also shared how it is looking to drive growth through developments in ecommerce, online experiences and its B2B relationships through the introduction of “significant” changes to its digital operations.

As part of this, Coca-Cola launched its ecommerce marketplace yourcoca-cola.co.uk. It has been developed to include a variety of experiences including the ability to personalise cans, build product bundles and set up a subscription for regular deliveries. Customers can also buy drinks in larger quantities for a cheaper price.

The brand has “version 2.0” of its ecommerce marketplace in the pipeline, with more experiences, says Aedamar Howlett, Coca-Cola’s European vice-president of online-to-offline (O2O) digital transformation.

“[Coca-Cola’s digital ecosystem Wabi] is no longer an experiment, it’s a real business. There are 50 categories now contributing significantly to the sales of this platform,” said Howlett, talking at The Marketing Society’s conference.

She predicts it will serve 500 million people in Europe and will serve the future needs of consumers and partners.

READ MORE: How Coca-Cola’s online to offline strategy is helping to drive brand growth

Marketers fear hybrid working could choke creativity

Businesses of all shapes and sizes have had to adapt to new ways of working as a result of the pandemic. Whether that’s fully remote or now a hybrid model, there has clearly been an impact on the way teams work together and interact.

Indeed, data from LinkedIn shared exclusively with Marketing Week shows 58% of CMOs already believe the pandemic has weakened social ties between team members. But of greater concern to senior marketers is the fact continued remote working could negatively impact creativity.

The fear is that less time spent together means employees – some of whom have yet to meet in person – will not be able to build strong relationships, meaning they will be less comfortable around each other, which in turn will impact ideas generation.

While the way teams work together will undoubtedly have to evolve, smart leaders are putting in place processes to ensure the work their teams do if not adversely affected. It might take a different approach, additional planning and a bit of trial and error to land on the best set-up, but hybrid working should not be seen as the death of creativity.

As Boots’ CMO Pete Markey says: “The marketing teams that succeed will be those that embrace the very best of what hybrid working can bring, balancing increased flexibility with building in those key meetings where meeting face-to-face is essential, including critical moments in the creative and planning process.”

READ MORE: Two-thirds of CMOs fear creativity will be impacted by remote working, study finds

Brands demand world leaders tackle climate misinformation

Major UK brands including Virgin Media O2, Sky, British Gas and SSE signed an open letter calling for world leaders at Cop26 to take immediate action to stamp out climate change misinformation and ‘greenwashing’.

More than 250 companies backed a call by the Conscious Advertising Network, a voluntary group of organisations that seeks to prevent advertisers from unwittingly funding harmful online content. The network says that Cop26 must be a key moment in accelerating the UK’s commitment to enforcing the Paris Climate Agreement.

The letter calls for action from decision makers and tech platforms to mitigate the threat of misinformation. Specifically, it calls for a universal definition of disinformation and misinformation about climate change issues, and for technology platforms such as Meta and Google to implement policies to tackle it.

According to a study in August by Newsguard and Comscore, $2.6bn was spent by big brands advertising on platforms that were carrying misinformation.

“The individuals, companies, agencies and civil society signatures to this letter demand swift and robust global action from Cop26 decision makers and tech platforms, to mitigate these threats,” reads the letter.

While supporting the call for action the signatories have not pledged to take any action themselves.

READ MORE: Virgin Media O2, British Gas and Sky demand world leaders tackle climate misinformation

TUI used pandemic to change the way it talks about branding

Travel group TUI reinvigorated its brand – both internally and externally – during the period when it was unable to provide holidays to customers due to pandemic safety measures.

“There’s a spirit of ‘don’t waste a crisis’, so it gave us that impetus to say: ‘When this finishes we need to make sure we’re as strong as we possibly can be’,” TUI group brand and content director Toby Horry told The Marketing Society’s Changemakers conference.

A new set of creative principles and a more digitally-centric approach resulted. But the new approach also involved changing the way the brand accounted for marketing spend within the company.

Previously there had been a tendency to position digital spend as an investment in sales while brand spend was “a bit fluffy”, said Horry. During lockdown TUI broke its spend into four key tasks – to ‘maintain fame’ for the masterbrand, drive reappraisal or change perceptions, prime sales or capture demand.

“By breaking that brand spend into tasks one to four it helps explain internally, and particularly with finance, why we’re spending bits of money on the different things we’re doing,” Horry explained.

READ MORE: Tui on revamping its media strategy to ‘evolve’ past Covid crisis

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