Coke, AB InBev, British Heart Foundation: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From Coca-Cola laying out its plans for post-lockdown recovery to AB InBev launching an app to educate consumers about the beauty of beer, catch up on all this week’s biggest marketing news.

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Coca-Cola lays out plans for Covid-19 recovery

Coca-Cola has begun communicating how it plans to recover from Covid-19 and the subsequent global lockdown.

Chief financial officer John Murphy promised that the soft drinks giant would emerge stronger and while he acknowledged the details were still hazy, he promised investors a clear picture by the end of Q2.

Murphy said that despite the impact of Covid-19, “investing in the business is the number one priority”. However, there is a change in tact. Previously, Coke was investing heavily in acquiring different companies in order to diversify its portfolio.

Murphy now says mergers and acquisitions are a “lower priority at the moment”, which he admitted was “a slight change” in tactics. Investors have, however, been cautious about the scale of Coke’s investment for some time.

Despite this, Coca-Cola is keen to invest in ecommerce, as unsurprisingly it has seen the sector grow during the pandemic. The soft drinks giant will no doubt emerge from the crisis in OK shape, but whether that is stronger remains to be seen.

Coke has a history of doing well in crisis, but Covid-19 is unlike anything we’ve seen before and the brand still has some way to go before it can convincingly argue it will come out on top.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola lays out its post-Covid plan as it promises to ‘emerge stronger’

AB InBev aims to educate consumers through games

AB InBev is looking to educate consumers about beer through games. The world’s biggest brewer is trying to inspire the next generation of adult drinkers and hopes that Hoppy – a quiz game – will help it do that.

The app started out as a way to make employees better ambassadors for the brand, as across the business it was clear people wanted to know more about not just AB InBev’s brands, but also the category as a whole. Marketing especially was keen to ensure its teams knew more about beer, as it hoped this would help them create more original and inventive content.

The app was such a success, with 1,600 employees signing up, so the company decided to make it consumer facing. It has gone from a teaching tool for employees to one the brewer hopes will not only entertain consumers in lockdown, but also ensure younger people understand the complexity of beer.

READ MORE: AB InBev launches an app to teach people about beer 

CMOs at top US brands becoming more diverse

Some 43% of chief marketing officer roles from 100 of the most-advertised US brands were held by women at the end of 2019, up from 44% in 2018 and 38% in 2017.

Perhaps more notably, 19% of all new CMOs were from racially and/or ethnically diverse backgrounds, according to the study by leadership advisory firm Spencer Stuart. This is compared to zero just two years ago.

While this is surely a positive sign that companies are taking the importance of increasing diversity at the most senior levels of leadership more seriously, the numbers confirm that the majority of CMO titles are still held by white males.

This is further reinforced by Marketing Week’s 2020 Career and Salary Survey, which shows how overwhelmingly white, middle class and male UK boardrooms continue to be. Progress is happening, but boardrooms feel like they are a long way from being truly diverse.

The research from Spencer Stuart also looked into the average tenure for CMOs, which has decreased from 43 months to 41 months over the last year.

However, it is important to note the study only covers the year ending 31 December 2019 and we are living in a very different world today. The numbers could be radically different by the end of this year.

“CMOs have seen their jobs change immensely – and quickly,” says Greg Welch, head of marketing, sales and communications at Spencer Stuart.

“Traditional best practices do not apply in many cases, with some companies changing their business models and others simply fighting for survival. Looking ahead to the coming weeks and months, CMOs will be tasked with balancing the demands of ‘now’ with an eye toward sustaining longer-term viability.”

READ MORE: More CMO roles held by women and ethnic minorities

British Heart Foundation launches coronavirus hub and marketing campaign

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is concerned it is losing relevance amid Covid-19. The charity estimates it is losing around £10m a month as a result of having to shut stores and cancel offline fundraising events.

To try and counter this, the charity is ramping up its efforts to communicate with the public and the 7 million people with heart and circulatory diseases that “probably need us now more than over”.

Having created a coronavirus support hub for people looking online for information, the subsequent marketing campaign is intended to remind people that charities like the BHF still need funding during this time.

On the positive side, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced the BHF to think about how it can modernise and make sure it is a business set for the future. This includes moving more of its retail sales online and finding new ways to raise money through virtual events.

The charity is also thinking about how it can deliver some of its services online, allowing people to do programmes and classes in their homes. The hope is this will help the BHF extend its reach and make it more accessible in the long-term, helping the charity support more people and increase its value among the people that need it the most.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t forget us’: How the British Heart Foundation is staying relevant amid Covid-19

Brands use behavioural insight to navigate reopening

Burger KingAs the nationwide lockdown gradually lifts, brands are negotiating how to reopen in this socially distanced world.

Fast food chain Burger King decided PR and broadcast media were the best channels to get the message out, while KFC went live with a tongue-in-cheek campaign celebrating customers’ attempts to recreate their favourite fried chicken during quarantine.

For both brands, behavioural insight has been key to landing the right message. The main behavioural change Burger King has observed since the lockdown is around hygiene, which has meant thinking about the preparation of food in a socially distanced manner and communicating these changes to employees and customers.

Elsewhere, KFC commissioned global behavioural insight, working with an in-house specialist, as well as behavioural experts, to understand the semiotics of communicating safety. The analysis revealed the importance of providing reassurance on food safety, such as using stickers to show bags are sealed for delivery.

When it comes to insight, marketers must accept they will not be able to go back to focus groups or face-to-face interviews, and that co-creation online will likely be the insight norm for the next couple of years, says Dr Helena Rubinstein, head of behavioural science at Innovia Technology. She explains that the lockdown has enforced behaviour change and marketers will need to consider how their brand plays out in this context.

Crucially, the pandemic has not been experienced equally and brands must appreciate that while some people will come out of it feeling optimistic enough to spend, others will emerge in a vulnerable financial state as recession looms.

READ MORE: How brands are tackling their reopening marketing strategy

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