Gillette, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Catch up on all this week’s marketing news, including the impact of Gillette’s #metoo ad, a slowdown in UK ad growth and Coca-Cola new ad campaign.

Gillette claims #metoo ad controversy paid off

Gillette caused controversy when it switched up its messaging earlier this year to seemingly castigate men over their behaviour. Gone were shots of Roger Federer and Thierry Henry proving their manliness with a clean shave. Instead we had an ad that showed men bullying, sexually harassing women and making the old ‘boys will be boys’ excuse for bad behaviour.

It quickly made headlines around the world, so much so that Gillette cancelled its planned media investment because it wasn’t needed. Yet much of the commentary was very negative, with people threatening to boycott the brand and questioning what right it had to tackle the issue of toxic masculinity.

Yet Gillette’s CEO Gary Coombe said that despite the backlash, the “silent majority spoke up for us” and that it helped spark conversations about men’s behaviour and the role of brands. He also claimed it was a commercial success, in particular among its target audience of millennial men.

He cites figures saying that 65% of consumers are more likely to purchase Gillette after watching the ad, with that figure rising to 76% of millennial men and 84% of women aged under 35.

The number of consumers who believe Gillette shares their values also increased, from 42% before the campaign to more than 70% after. This has helped the brand return to growth in the US, Coombe claimed, although he didn’t give any figures.

The shaving sector is still tough for the market leader. Earlier this week, Gillette’s parent company Procter & Gamble took an $8bn writedown on the brand’s value as currency fluctuations (which hit Gillette particularly hard because it makes so much of its revenue globally rather than in its home market), changing consumer habits and challenger brands impact its dominance.

But Gillette has shown it is aware of its challenges, while P&G is positioning to ensure it is better able to take on disruptors in future with a more streamlined and agile structure. The #metoo campaign put Gillette back in the minds of consumers, now it needs to ensure it has the products and distribution to get them buying. SV

READ MORE: Gillette boss – Alienating some consumers with #metoo campaign was a price worth paying

P&G shifts from generic demographics to smart audiences

The debate is still raging about whether targeting or mass marketing is the best strategy for big brands, but what is clear is that online data is helping companies transition from generic targeting to find smarter ways to reach audiences.

Unilever has found that tighter audience segments identified by its digital teams are relevant across multiple categories and brands, helping to improve efficiency. These include “super segments” such as vegans and fashionistas that can be leveraged across all three of its divisions.

Meanwhile, P&G has credited a shift from “generic demographics” to “smart audiences” for helping improve the effectiveness of its marketing and its innovation pipeline. That means a shift from targeting millennial women, for example, to more precise audiences such as millennial professionals or first-time washing machine owners.

This shift by the world’s two biggest FMCG companies shows how data and digital can be used to more tightly target and reduce waste. But that should be used alongside campaigns that target a mass audience.

As our columnist Mark Ritson put it: “The only way to achieve sustainable short- and long-term growth is to balance targeted activation with brand building aimed at the whole market – it’s not either-or.” SV

READ MORE: P&G shifts from targeting ‘generic demographics’ to ‘smart audiences’

McDonald’s ‘planned spontaneity’ approach to outdoor pays off

Personalising media at scale is the holy grail for many brands, but it’s often easier said than done.

This is something McDonald’s has been able to achieve, though, after implementing an always-on digital out-of-home (OOH) strategy using targeting technology to identify audience segments based on people’s real and recent behaviours, such as visits to restaurants.

For example, McDonald’s has been able to target value-conscious consumers with a tailored campaign around its Savers Menu.

It can then cherry pick the most relevant sites “with a high degree of accuracy”, according to McDonald’s marketing director Ben Fox, which is helping the brand achieve “planned spontaneity”.

By doing so, the chain is able to reach 30% more of its target audience, including both old and new customers, which has led to incremental visitors rising by 460,000 across four test cities.

McDonald’s is still in the test and learn stage, but given the early positive results it’s certainly a strategy that is worth pursuing and extending. LT

READ MORE: How McDonald’s shifted its outdoor strategy to focus on mass personalisation

Coca-Cola freaks out everyone with a campaign featuring a giant animated tongue

Some of Coca-Cola’s advertising in recent months has been sketchy at best (can anyone watch the Diet Coke ‘Because I can’ ads without cringing?) but the brand has gone full tongue-in-cheek for its annual summer campaign.

Going back to focusing on its taste, the ads show a woman reminiscing about the fun times she’s had while drinking Coke accompanied by a giant, animated tongue (yes, you read that right). It seems like her tongue has been her only true friend over the years, going to the cinema with her to watch scary films, organising a surprise birthday party and giving her a confidence-boosting shove down a ski slope.

Its certainly an interesting way of getting people to relive the taste of Coca-Cola, presumably with the hope we’ll all now go out and buy some. And it also plays into Coke’s focus on nostalgia (also evidenced by its Stranger Things tie-up), as well as showing both its full and zero sugar options. SV

READ MORE: Coca-Cola celebrates the ‘magic’ of its taste in summer campaign

UK ad growth slows amid ongoing Brexit uncertainty

The Advertising Association and Warc published their quarterly expenditure report this week. It covers the first three months of the year, the quarter in which we were originally supposed to leave the EU, and so “uncertainty” once again reared its head.

While UK ad spend was up 4.2% to £6bn, this was half a percentage point below the forecast growth and down on the 5.9% increase seen in the same period last year. And the report expects growth for the year to be below 2018 levels at 4.6%, compared to 6.2% last year.

Given all the uncertainty, its testament to the resilience of the ad industry that there is growth at all. We might have expected companies to hunker down and wait out the Brexit storm, but it seems many are still out investing in their brands and business growth.

Whether that will continue depends a lot on the outcome of Brexit. The AA is hoping for a “business-friendly outcome” from the new prime minister Boris Johnson and his administration. That’s a fairly vague requirement but it almost certainly doesn’t include no-deal Brexit, which looks to be more and more likely with each passing day.

At least the government, with its £100m Brexit campaign, may boost the ad industry over the next 100 days. Then it’s anyone’s guess.

READ MORE: UK ad spend growth slows as Brexit uncertainty bites

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