Coca-Cola, Virgin, Henkel: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From the Coke Zero Sugar redesign to Pepsi buying Sodastream and Virgin revamping its loyalty scheme, catch up on all the most important marketing news from the week gone by.

Coke Zero Sugar redesigns

Coca-Cola redesigns Coke Zero Sugar, again

Redesigning Coke Zero Sugar is becoming a biennial event for Coca-Cola. In 2014, Zero (as it was known then) got an “edgy” makeover and a new visual identity that features a red circle icon as it looked to shake off its blokey image.

Fast-forward to 2016, and Coke Zero was revamped again, this time changing its time to Coca-Cola Zero Sugar to really hammer home that it doesn’t contain any sugar and introducing the Coca-Cola red disc to its packaging. It was Coke’s biggest product launch in a decade, but even that branding couldn’t last.

Fast-forward once again to 2018 and Coke Zero has had another redesign. Bringing its ‘One Brand’ strategy to the fore even more, now the only thing that distinguishes a can of Coke Zero Sugar from a classic can of Coke is a black strip at the top and ‘zero sugar’ in small lettering. It’s also getting a £5m marketing push under the strapline ‘One way or another’.

Coca-Cola has put some serious marketing budget behind Coke Zero Sugar over the past few years as it attempts to manage a shift in consumer trends that moves away from fizzy drinks in favour of healthier options. The idea behind Coke and Coke Zero Sugar looking the same and featuring in the same ad campaign is to convince shoppers that they can still get a can of Coke that looks like Coke and tastes like Coke but isn’t as bad for you.

Whether that washes is another thing entirely. Coca-Cola is doing all the right things to manage the decline in carbonated drinks sales, but it is still a decline. Full of sugar or not, consumer perceptions of fizzy drinks have shifted and people are moving more to alternatives like sparkling water and iced tea. Coke knows this, hence it’s focus on innovation and investing in alternatives, as it has just done with energy drink BodyArmor in the US.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola launches £5m campaign as it redesigns packaging to unify original and zero sugar variants

Henkel ditches the marigolds as it looks to shake-up homecare advertising

Henkel marketing campaign

“In all our adverts we were showing a white housewife in her mid-40s cleaning the toilet with her Marigolds on. That’s not the consumer these days.”

Thank god someone has realised this! Nikki Vadera, who joined Henkel five months ago as marketing director for laundry and homecare, says she is sick of the sexist stereotypes that have long been associated with household products and is doing something about it.

Since joining the business, Vadera’s mission has been to steer the company away from these outdated concepts, and in September two of the company’s leading brands Bloo and Colour Catcher are launching new campaigns – with not a rubber glove in sight.

Colour Catcher, for example, will focus not on a women doing the washing but on the need to wash a number of different outfits if, for example, you go to work, then go to the gym, then head out to catch up with friends. The campaign features a football-playing scientist (see above) and a lawyer who moonlights as a drag queen. In the world of Henkel, even men doing washing!

A number of brands have signed up to initiatives to cut down on stereotyping, and CMOs have been speaking out about the issue for some time. So it’s refreshing to see a company ditch the rhetoric and simply create an ad that speaks to real people doing mundane chores. And in a market with some big-name brand leaders, it’s a clever way to stand out.

READ MORE: How one brand hopes to disrupt the laundry sector with unstereotypical ads

Virgin revamps loyalty programme

Virgin is launching a new loyalty programme next year that will integrate its existing two-year-old ‘Red’ scheme to create a single, simplified loyalty business across all its brands.

The move comes as Virgin looks to bring its companies closer together, with Virgin Atlantic and Holidays already taking clear steps to create a more unified marketing approach.

The revamped scheme will be managed by the newly-created Virgin Group Loyalty Company, which will be owned by Virgin Group and Delta Airlines.

“Customers expect to be rewarded for their loyalty to Virgin and we want to ensure Virgin customers get the very best rewards possible,” says Andrew Swaffield, CEO of Monarch, who will head up Virgin Group Loyalty Company when it takes off in 2019.

“Our ambition is to bring the Virgin companies together and combine their appeal to customers, working together to create a truly outstanding offer.”

Virgin Red, which launched in 2016, currently encourages users to interact with gaming mechanics to earn points and open vaults. Virgin claims the new scheme will create more value for customers and reward them in “unique and differentiated” ways.

How the rewards will differ from the existing scheme is not yet clear, but Virgin will need to make sure the new scheme is easy to use and delivers on its promise of giving better value, or else they risk losing a large number of already happy and loyal customers.

READ MORE: Virgin to revamp loyalty scheme with brand-wide programme

Pepsi buys SodaStream to help create a healthier, more sustainable planet

As conversations around sugar and junk food continue to swirl and people shop for healthier options, PepsiCo bought carbonated drinks company SodaStream this week as part of ongoing efforts to reduce its reliance on fizzy drinks.

The $3.2bn (£2.5bn) deal comes five months after PepsiCo launched its squash drink Drinkfinity aimed at health-conscious millennials, with the acquisition of SodaStream another acknowledgement from Pepsi that it can no longer rely solely on its signature range.

Because SodaStream sells machines that allow people to make their own fizzy drinks, it not only means they can customise flavours to lower-sugar options, but it also – in theory – means people should buy less plastic bottles.


With Pepsi also looking to reduce its environmental footprint, chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi, describes Pepsi and SodaStream as an “inspired match”.

“That focus is well-aligned with Performance with Purpose, our philosophy of making more nutritious products while limiting our environmental footprint,” he says. “Together, we can advance our shared vision of a healthier, more-sustainable planet.”

Pepsi says it is serious about having a positive impact on the environment, so it will be interesting to see how else it plans on reducing plastic waste – especially as a business which sells a large number of products in plastic.

It will also be interesting to see how the acquisition of SodaStream impacts sales of Pepsi’s signature range, whether sales of its full sugar drinks will take a hit, and how it decides to market SodaStream in a way that doesn’t cannibalise sales of its own products.

READ MORE: PepsiCo buys SodaStream for £2.5bn as it looks for ways to reach consumers ‘beyond the bottle’

Growth of branded goods overtakes own-brand for the first time in three years

The summer heatwave and England’s journey to the semi-finals of the World Cup helped branded goods sales growth overtake own-brand for the first time in over three years in the 12 weeks to 12 August.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, branded goods saw growth of 3.9%, compared to an increase of 3.5% across the wider grocery market. That is the first time branded goods growth has outstripped the market since May 2015, as heavily branded categories such as ice cream, fizzy drinks and savoury snacks all experienced a sales boost.

The figures will be a welcome relief to CPG brands that have struggled as consumers become more price-conscious and as the quality and perceptions of own-brand increase. Indeed, premium own-brand lines saw 6.3% growth, showing FMCG companies still have a challenge ahead to prove the value of their lines.

The bumper summer also boosted those with a big convenience presence, as consumers shopped local for spur-of-the-moment buys such as burgers and sausages for the BBQ. This in particular helped Co-op, which saw sales rise by 7.3%, its highest growth for seven years.

Yet given the buoyant state of the market, Tesco and Sainsbury’s struggled, with both losing market share.

READ MORE: Growth in branded products outstrips own-label for first time in three years



There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Kirsty Carr 24 Aug 2018

    I like the progression with Henkel, but surely showing a lawyer who moonlights as a drag queen would still be seen by many as playing to some stereotypes about women and washing? Why isn’t it a lawyer who also plays rugby in a white kit? Would be interested to know why they went with drag queen.

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