Coca-Cola, Tena, purpose: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From Coke’s demand for its brands to prove their worth, to the autumn budget’s “skills revolution” and Peter Field’s response to brand purpose critics, catch up on this week’s biggest marketing news.


Coke claims brands must ‘earn the right’ to increase prices

Coca-Cola brands must prove their worth by earning the right to increase their prices, according to chief executive James Quincey. The demand comes as the group refocuses its marketing spend to better reflect consumers.

On an investor call this week Quincey said brands must justify price rises by spending more on marketing, innovation or investment, or from meeting cost pressures related to supply chain issues. He insisted the group has applied “rational” price rises across its global range when compared to rivals.

“We continue to invest as many markets reopened during the quarter and we significantly stepped up our marketing dollars versus the prior year,” added Coca-Cola CFO James Murphy, who pointed to the launch last month of Coke’s multi-year platform ‘Real Magic’ as a sign of the company’s faith in marketing.

The new platform, which includes a new ‘hug’ logo, heralds a move away from broadcast messaging to align to current consumer trends around gaming and music, tapping into the experiences favoured by Gen Z.

Third quarter revenues at the group were up 16% during the third quarter to $10bn (£7.2bn) compared to pre-pandemic figures. Murphy pledged that consumer-facing marketing spend will increase to levels similar to those in 2019, while the CFO pointed to the company’s ambition to improve the quality of its spend through targeted digital activity.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola demands its brands ‘earn the right’ to raise prices

Tena wins Channel 4 diversity award with menopause campaign

tena silhouetteTena won Channel 4’s annual Diversity in Advertising Award this week with its campaign to educate viewers about the reality of the menopause.

Channel 4, in the sixth edition of its competition, challenged advertisers to tackle ageism and, in particular, the unauthentic and often cliched portrayals of different age groups.

Tena’s pitch, developed with agency AMV BBDO, has won £1m of free exposure on the TV channel and an additional £100,000 social media campaign, for its mission to challenge negative representations of female ageing.

Tena has previously tackled the stigma of incontinence, moving its ranges away from being presented as medical products in favour of presenting them as lifestyle brands to help users keep up an active lifestyle. The brand won the 2020 Marketing Week Masters award for brand innovation for that work.

The Essity-owned brand will hope to follow in the footsteps of previous winners who have focused on issues around disability (Maltesers), mental health (Lloyds Bank), the portrayal of women (RAF), the LGBTQ+ community (Starbucks), and black, Asian and minority ethnic culture (EA Sports).

READ MORE: Tena awarded Channel 4’s sixth diversity in advertising prize

Peter Field fights back against brand purpose critics

climate changeThe brand purpose debate has simmered under the surface of the marketing industry, but the last few weeks have seen the conversation erupt with a stream of criticism and accusations, sparked by Peter Field’s research into the strategy and its effectiveness for brands.

Comparing and contrasting 47 brand purpose cases with 333 non-purpose cases, the research found that strong brand purpose cases achieve 2.1 very large business effects on average, well above the 1.6 benchmark for all non-purpose cases. On the other hand, for weak cases of brand purpose that figure drops to just 0.1.

As such, while he confirmed a lot of criticism towards purpose marketing is fair, as his research still shows purpose ads performed less well than non-purpose ads overall, Field told Marketing Week that some of the “vitriolic” criticism heaped on the practice is “naïve and not entirely justified”.

Following the publication of the research, Field drew significant backlash from his peers, including the likes of Professor Byron Sharp, Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson and Richard Shotton, founder of behavioural science consultancy Astroten. All dismissed the credibility of the research for comparing a subset of a category with another category as a whole.

This week, Field published a letter hitting back at such criticism, branding it “emotional” instead of “rational” and labelling his critics “hysterical”.

“My hope was to re-open minds so that a more constructive debate about brand purpose could begin. Instead, sadly, the debate has been focussed largely around the methodology employed,” Field wrote.

“The objective was not to elevate brand purpose, which, as I made clear in my opening charts, performed poorly in general…But, if you keep an open mind, such findings do not necessarily justify discarding brand purpose in its entirety.”

Flawed methodology aside, Field is right – the value of brand purpose is more nuanced than the polarised debate it has turned into. Purpose that sits separate to a brand’s core function is likely going to return little in the way of effectiveness, although it may well have a positive impact on employee satisfaction or B2B relationships. But where brand purpose is built on a core consumer insight and sits at the heart of the business, powerful results are often seen.

READ MORE: Peter Field responds to ’emotional’ critics of purpose research

Autumn budget 2021: Revolution or bad news?

This week chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his autumn budget to parliament, addressing such hot topics for marketers as inflation, fuel prices, alcohol duties and the innovation pipeline. As part of his “levelling up” agenda, Sunak also announced a number of reliefs for businesses, including a 50% business rates discount for companies in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

However, the initiative has left a sour taste in the mouths of many major retailers, with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) noting the discount will “do little” to support the majority. The BRC has therefore predicted an “unnecessary loss of shops and jobs”, which is “bad news” for everyone.

But the marketing industry will be most intrigued by Sunak’s so-called “skills revolution”. The chancellor has promised to invest more than £2bn into skills, with approximately £1.6bn of that allocated towards the rollout of the government’s new vocational, industry-oriented qualifications for 16 to 19-year-olds – T levels.

An additional £550m is to be invested into adult skills through the Skills Fund by 2024-25, while a further £170m will be spent on apprenticeships and training.

The news is timely for the marketing industry, with more than three-quarters of marketing employers having reported a skills shortage among their workforce, according to the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Brands are therefore struggling to fill roles and are being dragged into a “bidding war” for talent.

But the government is missing “a huge opportunity” to address these skills gaps, which are primarily digital in nature, by not investing in industry-led qualifications, argued the marketing industry’s trade bodies and associations.

The Data & Marketing Association (DMA), Advertising Association (AA) and Market Research Society (MRS) are calling on Sunak to allocate a proportion of the increased funding to industry bodies, so they can help fill thousands of immediate job openings.

Their plea may or may not be heard, but it’s clear that something needs to be done to address the marketing industry’s skills crisis if businesses and the wider economy are to get back on their feet.

READ MORE: Marketing trade bodies lament government’s ‘missed opportunity’ to address skills crisis

Saga embarks on £8.5m appeal to over-50s

SagaShifting the dial from short-term “sales-based programmatic” to long-term brand building is the number one priority at Saga.

The travel, insurance and personal finance group is investing £8.5m in a campaign promoting its new ‘Experience is Everything’ platform, developed to help the company better align with the over-50s mindset. Notably three-quarters of the budget will go into TV, while the rest will be pumped into digital.

Saga has suffered due to Covid-19, not only as a travel business forced to put its cruise ships into hibernation at the start of lockdown, but also given its target over-50s demographic were hit hardest by pandemic restrictions.

Now, picking back up from the onset of Covid, Saga is looking to translate its high brand awareness into consideration, something chief customer officer Stuart Beamish admits has not happened at the rate the brand would have liked thus far.

To drive consideration, Saga plans to “shift money” from short-term performance tactics to long-term brand building, while feeding the rapid adoption of digital tech amongst its consumer base brought on by lockdown. Beamish also believes investing in developing a brand purpose will help Saga gain stronger relevance with its target market – a group it describes as ‘Generation Experience’.

This is the second marketing rejig at Saga in two years. In 2019, the brand overhauled its advertising to defy the Brexit gloom, with a campaign focused on the positive impact holidaymakers leave behind on their travels. The ‘The World is Waiting to Meet You’ creative was designed to mark Saga’s transition into a member-led organisation and marked the first time the company integrated its Saga holidays, Saga Cruises and travel insurance products into a single campaign.

Prioritising long-term brand building makes sense for Saga as it looks to change perceptions of ageing and cater to an experience hungry generation tired of being cooped up after a year of restrictions. Whether this campaign will convert awareness to consideration, however, remains to be seen.

READ MORE: Saga chases consideration amid £8.5m brand building play



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