Heathrow, John Lewis, Peloton: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From Heathrow’s successful Christmas ad campaign to the self-esteem gap that is costing brands billions and some clever festive marketing from Waitrose and Twitter, here’s five marketing news stories that mattered this week.

Heathrow the best of a bad bunch of Christmas advertising

It might be less than a decade since the advent of the Christmas advert in the UK, but this year there are the clearest signs yet that the strategy is becoming jaded. The number of brands that have gone for marketing that uses emotional storytelling can be counted on one hand; instead the emphasis is on product, price and brand consistency.

That latter point is no bad thing, if retailers spend all year building a brand positioning it makes little sense to abandon that for the festive period. But new data shared exclusively with Marketing Week suggests the balance has swung too far back to short-term sales over long-term brand building.

System1 aims to calculate the long-term brand impact of ad campaigns through research with consumers. It then awards stars based on how well the campaign does that. This year, just 29% of campaigns scored three stars or more, half the 59% that did so last year. Not a single ad managed to get to five stars.

The best performing this year was Heathrow’s ‘Bears Return’, which managed to get a four-star rating and a score of 79.6. Coca-Cola’s ‘Holidays are Coming’ came second with a score of 76. and a three-star rating, followed by Sainsbury’s and Asda.

READ MORE: Heathrow tops Christmas ad list amid lacklustre year for festive campaigns

Peloton launches £7m ad blitz as it looks to ‘build a business and a brand’


Peloton has made big waves in the US, so much so that in its latest funding round it pulled in $500m at a $4bn investment. And now it is trying to make a similar splash in the UK as it brings its ‘spin classes at home’ model to these shores.

It’s not hard to see why investors like Peloton. Its bikes cost almost £2,000 and then on top of that users pay £40 a month to access content including workout live and on-demand workout classes. So users are

Marketers should like it too. Here is a brand that just weeks after entering the market is going big on advertising, launching a £7m campaign that aims to reach most of the UK adult population with TV and outdoor and then, having introduced people to the brand, targeting those it thinks will be most interested with digital and social.

As our feature this week shows, marketing has a critical role to play in scaling a startup but too often it is treated as an afterthought. That’s clearly not the case at Peloton. And the company’s route to success will all be the easier for it.

READ MORE: Peloton launches £7m ad blitz to bring virtual spin classes to the masses

Waitrose airs a Christmas ad that shows people not watching the John Lewis ad


Was this the week Christmas advertising finally ate itself? First up on Sunday we had Waitrose airing an ad that showed people fast-forwarding through the John Lewis Christmas ad so they could get their hands on a stollen from the supermarket faster.

Then Twitter brought out a campaign staring John Lewis, although this time not the retailer but the US academic who back in the mists of time chose the Twitter handle @johnlewis for his account and spent the next 10 years fielding requests customer comments, requests and complaints.

Responses to this have ranged from calling it genius to sighing in despair. Is this clever marketing or up its own arse marketing? Either way it’s got people talking. Which was maybe the point?

READ MORE: Waitrose and John Lewis join forces for first time on Christmas ad

Brands missing out on billions by failing to close the ‘self-esteem gap’

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Brands are missing out on billions of pounds by failing to take a gender-balanced approach to marketing which supports the self-esteem of female consumers.

New research from Kantar suggests that brands who promote gender-balanced marketing are worth £774bn more than their rivals. The brand value of brands skewed towards men is £3.1bn, compared to a value of £4.1bn for brands that are either ‘balanced’ or skewed towards women.

Furthermore, these female-skewed brands are 4% healthier than male-skewed brands and 6% healthier than strongly male-focused brands.

The What Women Want? study also indicates that much more needs to be done to address the role self-esteem plays in the way women feel about brands.

Kantar asked a UK-based sample of 2,000 women to rate 40 mass market brands through the lens of self-esteem across eight different categories from travel, banking, fashion and FMCG to automotive, beauty, supermarket retail and social media. The answers were then split on the basis of whether the women self-identify as having low or high self-esteem.

The survey found that Boots is the brand most liked by both the women with low self-esteem (60.1 out of 100) and high self-esteem (68.5), with a gap between the two groups of 8.4 points. Boots is largely perceived as an inclusive brand that shows a varied portrayal of women in its advertising.

John Lewis performed significantly worse, emerging as the brand with the biggest gap between women with low self-esteem (46.3) and high self-esteem (63) of 16.6 points.

Amy Cashman, managing director UK of Kantar TNS, explained that John Lewis has historically been seen as an upmarket brand, which can be a bit off-putting to the mass market and means it does not necessarily feel like a “brand for everybody”.

READ MORE: Brands are losing out on £774bn by failing to bridge the ‘self-esteem gap’

McDonald’s brings back ‘Reindeer Ready’

It’s Christmas – a time of presents, mince pies, and brands competing to be the nation’s favourite ad. From John Lewis to Iceland, the Christmas ad game is competitive and often brands look to be more inventive and original year-on-year so it’s interesting McDonald’s chose to bring back its Reindeer Ready campaign for a second year running.

The advert, created by Leo Burnett London, shows Father Christmas dropping off presents on Christmas Eve with his reindeer, but after every visit they are left disappointed because no-one has left them carrots. Seeing that his reindeer are losing energy and motivation, Santa Claus spots a McDonalds and picks up a bag of carrots – dubbed ‘Reindeer Treats’ – for them.

While it’s continuation of last year’s campaign, it’s unclear whether or not it will be as successful. Last year’s ad was routed in reality with a father trying to keep his daughter’s imagination alive as she wants to give reindeer treats while this new ad is fantasy.

The reindeer treats will be on sale in McDonald’s over the festive season, while the fast food chain is planning a series activations including Snapchat filters, festive menu and a website, reindeerready.co.uk, which will run a competition where consumers can win festive merchandise such as Christmas jumpers and download an animated e-book.

Ultimately the advert might miss the cute family element but with so many activations McDonald’s is likely to still do well with the ad.

READ MORE: Santa makes a detour at McDonald’s in fast food chain’s festive ad



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