Absolut, Costa Coffee, Branston: Everything that matters this morning

Good morning and welcome to Marketing Week’s round-up of the news that matters in the marketing world today.

Absolut paper bottAbsolut Vodka innovates with paper bottle in world first

Absolut Vodka will be sold in paper bottles in the UK as part of a three-month trial running in Tesco stores.

It will be the first spirit to be sold in paper-based bottles commercially in the UK – making a significant step on the brand’s journey to creating a 100% bio-based bottle. This is part of the brand’s wider ambition to become a carbon neutral product by 2030.

The bottle was previously piloted by Absolut at festivals in the UK and Sweden, which tested Absolut Mixt drinks. This new trial will involve the brand’s Absolut Vodka sold in 22 Tesco stores in Greater Manchester this summer. The bottle is made from 57% paper with an integrated barrier of recyclable plastic and can be recycled through consumers’ normal household waste.

While the brand’s current glass bottles can also be recycled, the paper design is eight times lighter and easier to carry. Absolut believes it will be popular with consumers for out-of-home occasions such as at festivals. The trial will also involve gathering feedback from suppliers, retailers and consumers.

The paper bottle has been created as part of a partnership with paper bottle company Paboco and its community of brands including Coco-Cola, Carlsberg, P&G and L’Oréal. Paboco is working to help the drinks and packaging industries create more sustainable packaging.

Costa Coffee cut rewards in loyalty offer

Costa Coffee has updated its loyalty scheme, meaning consumers will have to spend more money before qualifying for free drinks.

Under the current scheme, Costa Club members receive a free drink after earning eight ‘beans’ – they can earn one bean for every drink purchased, with an extra bean given to those using a reusable cup. However, from 1 August, members will need to collect 10 beans to earn a free drink.

But Costa says members of the loyalty scheme will also be treated to personalised offers each month through a new ‘treat drop’ feature.

In an email to customers, Costa explained: “Every single month we’ll be dropping a little surprise just for you. It could be a special offer or something new landing straight into your Costa Club app – so keep your eyes peeled.” The new feature is said to be launching ‘soon’ although Costa did not give a date.

Costa Club members will still get an extra bean when they use a reusable cup and be treated to a free cake on their birthday. Any drinks earned before 1 August will be saved and available to customers through their Costa Club app. Beans earned before the change will also still count towards customers’ next free drink.

Microsoft faces $425m fine over privacy violations at LinkedIn

Microsoft says it expects to be fined $425m by the Irish Data Protection Commission (IDPC) over alleged privacy violations at LinkedIn – something it disputes. The networking platform has been under investigation by the IDPC since 2018 following allegations about its targeted advertising practices.

While the IDPC’s ruling has not been made public, Microsoft says it was informed about the fine in April this year and has been cooperating with the investigation.

However, Microsoft says it “intends to defend itself vigorously” and will be disputing both the legal basis of the fine and the amount, while continuing to defend its compliance with GDPR. It says: “Microsoft will consider all legal options and intends to defend itself vigorously in this matter.”

In 2022, the IDPC fined companies a total of more than $1bn and concluded 17 large-scale investigations into violations of the GDPR, making it responsible for two-thirds of the fines issued across Europe. Many tech companies are based in Ireland – including Meta, Apple and Google – which gives the IDPC oversight of most GDPR breaches.

‘Bring out the Branston’ slogan resurrected for new campaign

Branston is bringing back its classic ‘Bring out the Branston’ slogan for a new TV and social campaign. The condiment brand says it researched consumers’ memory structures and discovered the 1970s jingle was one of the most memorable British ads.

Alongside the slogan, the new ads also demonstrate how Branston’s pickles can be used to liven up a dry or unappealing dish. There are two ads: the first shows a man trying to resist a bland sandwich and the second a dry bun asking a woman to “piccalilli me”. In both versions, the snacks are voiced by comedian Jamie Demetriou.

The ads will air during the Britain’s Got Talent final and during episodes of Love Island. They will also appear on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok – and on ITVX’s new Matchmaker dating app.

Wilson Dyer Gough, senior brand manager at Branston, says: “After celebrating its 100th-anniversary milestone in 2022, the brand is continuing to bring out the Branston with our new TV advert this year that places a revitalised brand jingle at the heart of it.

“Showcasing our sweet pickle and piccalilli products, no matter how bland that sandwich or dry those leftovers are Branston will be there to liven it up.”

Elon Musk overtakes LVMH owner to reclaim world’s richest person status

Elon Musk has been named the world’s richest person after overtaking the LVMH owner Bernard Arnault, following a fall in the value of the luxury goods group, according to Bloomberg’s billionaries’ index.

Musk’s total fortune is now said to total $192bn – up $55bn since the start of 2023, while Arnault’s total has fallen to $187bn, as economists predict the luxury goods market may have passed its peak. Musk was knocked off the top spot last year after his $44bn purchase of Twitter but his wealth has since increased alongside the value of his shares in Tesla, growing 65% in the last year alone.

The world’s third-richest person, according to the index, is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who previously topped the list before being overtaken by Musk in 2021. The richest woman listed on the index is L’Oréal heiress and Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, who has an estimated wealth of $86bn and is the 11th richest person in the world.

READ MORE: Elon Musk reclaims title of world’s richest person

Thursday, 1 June

Source: The Centre for Ageing Better

Advertising makes majority of women feel ‘bad about ageing’, study shows

The majority of adult women (55%) in the UK say their portrayal in the media makes them feel “bad about ageing”.

Four-fifths (82%) of women in their 50s believe they’re representing poorly in advertising, a figure which rises to 89% for women over 60, according to a survey from the Centre for Ageing Better and campaign group Ageism Is Never In Style.

Older consumers are frustrated by being shown in “old fashioned clothing” and “acting kooky”. Breaking this down further, women in their 60s are concerned they’re being depicted as lonely and “lacking” in relationships, while women in their 70s and 80s “hate” being shown as frail or lonely.

Companies in the work and employment industry were deemed the most ageist, with 73% of older women saying they were shown in a negative light, and one in five of the 590 adults surveyed highlight a lack of diversity in how brands highlight ethnic backgrounds and body diversity.

“The survey results show that the photos used in the media aren’t representing women in a positive and realistic way, and often resort to inaccurate and limited stereotypes such as old-fashioned clothing, lack of relationships, and frailty,” says Dr Carole Easton, chief executive at the Centre for Ageing Better.

Unilever launches campaign to drive inclusivity and disability representation in production

A survey led by Unilever, speaking with 50 global content creators with disabilities, found 74% of respondents feel locked out of mainstream advertising, TV, radio and film production – despite having the skills needed to work in these production settings.

Unilever is launching ‘Believe in Talent’ – a campaign to help the production industry become more inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities, as part of its ‘Act 2 Unstereotype’ initiative.

As part of this drive, Unilever is pledging to ensure all productions over 100k include at least one person with a disability in production. Alongside the pledge, Unilever has created a production toolkit, an open-source guide to help inclusive production, as well as a collaboration with Evenbreak, a UK inclusive job board, for people to register as a production mentee.

“As we continue to strive for better creativity in our advertising and seek to build better connections with all people around the world, it’s imperative that persons with disabilities are part of the creative process working both behind the camera and on screen. Content creators have created this wonderfully inclusive space on social media and are showing us that it’s possible to be authentic and break stereotypes,” says Aline Santos, chief brand officer and chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer at Unilever.

“Advertising stands to benefit from harnessing this skilled talent. The proof is in the results and unstereotypical, progressive advertising is delivering for Unilever 92% better brand power, 94% better brand difference, 67% better brand persuasion and 76% better enjoyment of ads,” she adds.

Coca-Cola releases summer music campaign

Coca-Cola wants to bring its customers closer to their “friends, festivals and favourite artists” this summer as it releases its 2023 line-up of events.

To launch the summer campaign, Coca-Cola has released a song ‘Be Who You Are (Real Magic)’ with Jon Batiste, which will be followed by nine more multi-artist songs across the summer to feature at Coca-Cola’s events.

In collaboration with its Coke Studio – the brand’s production arm – the company hopes fans can have new interactions with the brand.

The activations include a summer-long promotion on packs of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Coca-Cola Original Taste, where consumers can scan QR codes to enter a competition to win festival tickets and other summer prizes, the brand says.

“Music has an unparalleled ability to uplift and connect people and we know that our target audience is more engaged with music and digital audio than ever before. Music provides connection and encourages self-expression, for many it is the catalyst for memorable shared experiences,” says Javer Meza, marketing senior vice president at Coca-Cola Europe.

Diddy accuses Diageo of racism for neglecting his tequila brand

Diageo GB TradeRapper Sean Combs, who goes by Diddy, is accusing Diageo of breaking the terms of their business partnership and failing to focus on their joint tequila brand endeavour because he is black.

Combs has filed a complaint in New York where he says the drinks giant invested in competing brands and failed to give his brand, DeLeon Tequila, the same support.

As part of the complaint, he says Diageo limited distribution for DeLeon to “urban” areas.

Combs has worked with Diageo since 2007 when he helped the market Ciroc Vodka. Together, they bought DeLeon Tequila in 2013.

“This case is not an ordinary contract dispute in which a party chooses to disregard its contractual promises due to greed and profit,” his business, Combs Wines and Spirits, said in the complaint. “Rather, and similar to the realities experienced by many people of colour in the United States, Diageo’s treatment of its business relationship with Mr Combs was tainted by racial prejudices.”

Diageo denies the allegations: “This is a business dispute, and we are saddened that Mr Combs has chosen to recast this matter as anything other than that,” a company spokesperson says.

“Our steadfast commitment to diversity within our company and the communities we serve is something we take very seriously,” it adds.

READ MORE: Diddy says Diageo neglected his tequila due to race

Drinks brand Fentimans launches ‘world’s longest advert’

Fentimans, the premium soft drinks and mixers brand, has created what it is calling the world’s longest advert to highlight its own seven day botanical brewing process.

The ad, filmed in Northumberland with connections to the brand’s origins, will air from today (1 June) and run for seven days. Registering at 168 hours, it is 154 hours longer than current record holder for longest ad, Old Spice.

“The 7 Day Botanical Brewing process is what gives our drinks the distinct and complex depth of flavour our customers know and love. What better way to bring our slow process to life, than to set it up for 7 Days for the world to seem,” says Jayne Andrews, marketing director at Fentimans.

“And we appreciate that not everyone is at patient as our Brewer, so we’ve added a few surprises and a competition to break up those 7 Days,” she adds.

In support of the ad, Fentimans is running a competition across video-on-demand to give viewers the chance to win prizes such as a trip to New York and dining vouchers for London’s Sky Garden.

Wednesday, 31 May

Lego targets young girls with its Play Unstoppable campaign

The Lego Group has teamed up with some of the stars of women’s football as the brand hopes to inspire children to ‘Play Unstoppable’.

With the Women’s World Cup set to kick-off in a little over a month, Lego has enlisted the help of the likes of Megan Rapinoe and Sam Kerr to champion the way girls’ play both on-and-off the pitch.

Its research in support of the campaign found that girls feels less constrained by typical gender biases than boy do, for example, 82% of girls think its fine for them to play football and boys to practice ballet compared to just 71% of boys who think the same.

To celebrate the growing opportunities for girls in football, Lego has revealed a new set in its Icon of Play line for young people to emulate their heroes through play.

It is also releasing a short film ‘Play Moves Us’ where the players are joined by girls from around the world to explore building, fashion, gaming and music, as well as the importance of playing without boundaries.

“When they have the space and freedom to express themselves fully, girls are an unstoppable force in the world. For over 65 years, the LEGO Brick has provided endless play possibilities for all children, allowing girls to dream, build and become anything they desire even when society tells them otherwise,” says Julia Goldin, chief product and marketing officer, the LEGO Group.

“Women’s football is a powerful reminder of what girls can do when they break free from stereotypes – our four footballers are players at the top of the game. As strong women on and off the pitch, they are inspirations for girls everywhere to realise their potential.”

Mail engagement hits one-year high in Q1

Mail engagement and effectiveness reached its highest level in a year in Q1 2023, according to new research from the Joint Industry Currency for Mail (JICMAIL).

The data, which was based on a survey of one thousand households a month, showed that 95% of mail was engaged with by the consumer (as in some form of physical engagement rather than being immediately thrown away) and that 30% of mail prompted some level of commercial action from customers such as purchases, voucher redemption and website visits.

This level of engagement and effectiveness is the highest return for mail in over a year even at a time when inflation remains at very high levels.

JICMAIL also claim that mail open, read and retention rates have experienced year-on-year growth for the third quarter in a row. Figures show that 75% of mail was read in Q1, 65% was opened and 46% was still ‘live’ in the home (meaning it had not been discarded) after 28 days.

Ian Gibbs, director of data leadership and learning at JICMAIL, says: “Despite stubbornly high levels of inflation, there have been a few rays of sunshine in Q1 with the IPA Bellwether report pointing towards increased advertiser confidence in 2023 and PwC reporting that high street store closures have slowed.

“Against this backdrop mail continues to be a vital channel in efficiently delivering key messages to consumers when times are tough; and for those advertisers that are active in the channel, they have seen the reward of improved commercial effectiveness throughout the customer journey.”

Rockstar to bring the concert to you in its new brand platform

Rockstar Energy Drink will launch its new global brand platform ‘Press Play’ this summer as the beverage company leans into its music credentials.

The new platform, in partnership with Spotify, encourages fans to “press play” on the music they love through exclusive music partnerships and events. This will be delivered through the Spotify app and Rockstar claims it will provide fans with a “revolutionary in-app concert experience”.

It will launch this summer across Europe and the Middle East with virtual performances set to be announced in due course.

In addition to the Spotify campaign, Rockstar will also utilise online and OOH activations throughout the year, including partnerships with chart-topping artists and the chance to win six-month free Spotify Premium subscription codes by purchasing cans of the energy drink.

“We are thrilled to officially announce the global launch of Press Play and be the first brand to bring a unique gig like this to our fans globally with the support of Spotify, a leader in the music streaming industry,” says Bart LaCount, vice president, international beverages marketing at PepsiCo.

“With this platform, we are committed to delivering the boost needed to be your best self and do the things you love. The Spotify partnership and upcoming digital events illustrate our commitment to this mission, as it will set up music fans for an unforgettable experience.”

Nvidia joins elite group of US companies to hit trillion milestone

Nvidia was briefly valued at over $1trn overnight as the company’s gamble on AI appears to be paying off.

The US chip maker saw its shares jump by more than 5% on Tuesday before falling back again – following on from last week’s jump of more than 25% after it forecast “surging demand” due to advances in AI.

Its brief $1trn valuation puts it in good company as one of the elite US companies to have been valued at the milestone with others including Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet (parent company of Google) and Apple.

Bloomberg reports that only nine companies in history have reached the valuation.

Nvidia, best known for creating computer chips associated with video games, is thought to have cornered 95% of the market for machine learning.

ChatGPT, for example, was trained using 10,000 of Nvidia’s graphics processing units (GPUs).

There is concern, however, about the company living up to its lofty share price with reports the firm will struggle to keep up with demand as well as rivals Intel and AMD gearing up to launch their own offerings.

Plus, despite the company booming during the pandemic, its overall revenue growth was flat last year with profits cut in half.

READ MORE: Nvidia briefly worth $1 trillion thanks to AI boom.

Mortgage sector shrinks by 10% amid rates uncertainty

Nearly 800 mortgage deals have been pulled as uncertainty over interest rates continues to hit the sector.

Financial data firm Moneyfacts says that nearly 800 residential and buy-to-let deals have been pulled in the past week after the UK inflation rate slowed in April by less than expected to 8.7%.

It is now widely expected that the Bank of England will have to raise interest rates above their current level of 4.5% to as high as 5.5% in a bid to slow price rises.

Lenders have reacted to the uncertainty in the market by pulling deals with Moneyfacts reporting that since last week the number of residential mortgages on the UK market has fallen by 373 to 5,012. While the number of buy-to-let mortgages has fallen by 405 to 2,343. All told this accounts for a 10% shrinking of the UK mortgage deals on offer.

Rates, too, have shot up, with the average two-year fixed deal rising to 5.38%, and the average five-year fixed deal now standing at 5.05%.

Considerably higher than the 3.03% and 3.17%, respectively, you could get last year.

READ MORE: Nearly 800 mortgage deals pulled amid uncertainty over rates.

Tuesday, 30 May

Food inflation eases slightly in May

The rate of food inflation has fallen slightly in May, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and NielsenIQ.

Food inflation in May was 15.4%, down from 15.7% in April. However, this remains the second highest rate of food inflation on record. The rate of inflation of fresh produce, although higher overall, also showed a slowdown from 17.8% last month to 17.2% in May.

Despite the slowdown in the rate of inflation on fresh food, the BRC and NielsenIQ figures show a mixed bag, with overall inflation at UK supermarkets rising in May, driven by ambient foods and non-foods.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson attributes rises in ambient food inflation to “ongoing high global costs” on commodities like chocolate and coffee.

The mixed figures published today (30 May) come as the government holds talks with supermarkets about a potential price cap on basic food items to help ease the pressure on households during the cost of living crisis. The government is said to be at “the drawing board stage” of these plans, as first reported by the Daily Telegraph.

The BRC, which is the trade association representing retailers, claimed price caps wouldn’t make “a jot of difference” and that the government should focus on helping cut costs.

“Rather than recreating 1970s-style price controls, the government should focus on cutting red tape so that resources can be directed to keeping prices as low as possible,” said director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie.

READ MORE: Supermarket price rises hit new high in May

HSBC to rebrand Silicon Valley Bank UK

HSBC is set to rebrand Silicon Valley Bank UK (SVBUK), which it rescued from collapse earlier this year, to HSBC Innovation Banking, Sky News reports.

The change will be revealed by its new parent company next month to coincide with London Tech Week, which begins on 12 June, Sky reports.

However, it says some of those it spoke to in the tech industry expressed concern that the rebrand, to bring it under the HSBC umbrella, signified SVBUK may lose the operational independence that set it apart from other small- to medium-sized banks.

HSBC CEO Noel Quinn has said the company will work hard to preserve the culture of SVBUK, after it rescued it following the collapse of its US parent company. SVBUK’s leadership team is, for the moment, relatively consistent. CEO Erin Platts remains in post, as does independent chairman Darren Pope.

HSBC bought SVBUK for just £1 in a deal which was orchestrated by the Bank of England. The bank’s clients had warned the government about the potential risk a collapse of SVBUK would have posed to the tech sector. With industry figures terming it “an existential threat to the UK tech sector”.

READ MORE: HSBC opts for Innovation in rebranding of Silicon Valley Bank UK

Mars trial recyclable paper wrappers

MarsThe Mars brand is trialling paper packaging for its bars, rather than the previous plastic wrapping which is not recyclable.

The pilot is running in 500 UK Tesco stores and is part of a wider trial from Mars Wrigley to have more environmentally friendly packaging. However, the company says finding paper packaging with an “adequate level of barrier properties to protect the chocolate” can be a challenge.

The company reports the change will make “200 million bars per year carbon neutral in the UK, Ireland and Canada”.

While many snack packaging items such as chocolate bar wrappers and crisp packets are not recyclable, large FMCG companies have been attempting to introduce changes to allow more of their packaging to be recycled.

For example, Nestlé has used paper packaging for its Smarties products since 2021. Last December also saw it move nine of the 11 Quality Street traditional sweets to paper-based packaging. The other two sweets are in foil packaging, meaning they are already recyclable.

READ MORE: Mars bar plastic wrapper swapped for paper

Government to tighten rules on promoting vapes to children

The government is set to tighten rules around targeting vape products to children, including closing a loophole which currently allows retailers to offer free vape samples to children.

While the sale of vapes to children is illegal, companies are “clearly marketing these products at children using colours, flavours and cheap disposable options,” says chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

The latest figures from the NHS indicate that in 2021, 9% of 11- to 15-year-old children used e-cigarettes, up from 6% in 2018.

It will also look into rules around the sale of nicotine-free vapes to children, something which can be a “gateway” to using nicotine products, says health minister Neil O’Brien.

The government also says it will look at the rules around issuing fines to retailers selling vapes to children, with the aim of making it easier to issue fines to those who do break the rules.


What caused Diddy to turn on Diageo?

Mark Ritson

After a successful and lucrative partnership on vodka brand Ciroc spanning more than 15 years, Sean Combs filed a law suit against Diageo this week, accusing the business of racism and neglect. Whatever the outcome, it looks like the end of the relationship.