HSBC, Gillette, Netflix: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Catch up all this week’s big marketing news including HSBC launching its first sound identity, Netflix overtaking Lidl to take second in a list of UK brands and the backlash against the Gillette ad.

HSBC launches ‘sound identity’ in next phase of brand refresh

When it comes to refreshing a brand, a lot of companies will look at their visual identity, updating logos, changing fonts and drawing together brand iconography. Fewer think about other aspects of a brand, such as what it might sound like (or smell like).

However, given the need to cut-through in an increasingly competitive ad landscape, sound can be a key trigger and a brand differentiator. You only have to think of Intel’s ‘bongs’ to understand the impact they can have.

HSBC saw creating a sound identity as the “natural next phase” of its global brand refresh. Yet the bank’s brand boss Andrea Newman admits to feeling on “unfamiliar turf” through the process, relying on gut instinct and her understanding of the brand from 21 years working there to know if they had come up with something that would work.

What HSBC has now is a series of seven edits of a bespoke music piece that it says will be relevant in the 66 markets it operates in. The music will appear at the end of broadcast ad campaigns, as well as in sponsorships, its call centres and the bank’s apps.

“It could have gone horribly wrong, but it didn’t,” Newman recalls. “We knew when we heard it he had absolutely cracked the brief.”

READ MORE: ‘It could have gone horribly wrong’: HSBC launches ‘sound identity’ in next phase of global brand refresh

Gillette struggles to turn sales around in grooming

Almost two weeks on from the launch of Gillette’s controversial ‘We believe’ campaign and there are signs the ad might not quite be having the impact the brand wanted.

According to YouGov BrandIndex, both buzz and, more worryingly, consideration were down in the UK in the immediate aftermath of its launch, despite the ad being meant for a US audience. And any number of op-eds have been written, including by our columnist Mark Ritson, about whether the campaign is a major stride forward or a major trip-up.

Gillette’s owner Procter & Gamble has been relatively quiet on its impact. Speaking on an analyst call earlier this week, CFO Jon Moeller stated the obvious when he said the campaign had had “unprecedented levels of media coverage and consumer engagement”. But it’s clearly too soon to see an impact on sales, especially given the call was about Q4 sales and the ad hadn’t launched then.

If the objective is to get people talking, Gillette has certainly done that. If the objective is to get people buying the jury is still out. But Gillette needs a helping hand, organic sales were down 3% last quarter amid growing competition from nimble rivals like Harry’s and a downturn in razor sales as more men opt for the bearded (or at least stubbled) look.

READ MORE: Gillette brand takes a hit as ‘#metoo’ ad backfires

How Virgin Active is removing the ‘intimidation factor’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTfKx5AX2W0

These days you can rarely browse social media or online without being fed fitness advice from every wannabe expert on the platform.

It’s not only overwhelming, but confusing for consumers who want to work out but don’t know where to start. And that’s exactly what Virgin Active is looking to remove with its new brand positioning.

The global gym group says it plans to “cut through the crap” in the fitness industry. Its marketing director Katrina Southey explains Virgin Active’s recent campaign ‘Enough’ is part of a wider repositioning plan which includes a new website and soft pink logo which has replaced its “harsh” red branding.

The new campaign also offers a refreshing realistic approach to fitness.

“The insights we found were around the fact everybody seems to have these amazing, incredible intentions and resolutions but then life happens and people forget they also have to work, and they have friends and family who they want to socialise with,” Southey says.

“Our campaign is about being realistic and understanding that it’s actually okay not to throw your whole self at it. Everybody is different. And everybody’s ‘enough’ is different.”

So the pressure to attend five HIIT classes a week is off and yes, parking your car a few hundred metres from the train station, could be your ‘enough’.

READ MORE: Virgin Active is looking to “cut through the crap” with brand repositioning

Netflix gives the German discounters a serve

It turns out people really are watching Netflix’s Bird Box.

The streaming giant has just leapfrogged Lidl, bumping it from the top two spots on YouGov’s BrandIndex buzz rankings.

Its success has been attributed to its subscription growth – it now has more than 139 million subscribers globally – and programmes such as Bird Box and Roma.

While Aldi has remained in the top spot for the fifth consecutive year, this is the first time in half a decade that Lidl hasn’t occupied one of the top two positions.

Netflix only entered the top 10 in 2016 but jumped from third place in 2017, when it scored 14, to second in 2018 with a score of 16.4.

On the other hand, Lidl dropped to fourth place in the rankings after its score fell to 13.8, from 14.5 in 2017.

It will be interesting to see if Netflix can take on Aldi in next year’s rankings or whether the nation might succumb to streaming fatigue.

READ MORE: Netflix bumps Lidl from top two UK brands as M&S falls from top 10

Tesco launches new food waste initiative

Tesco is upping its efforts to minimise the amount of edible food that goes to waste with a new initiative that will train community centres across the UK how best to make meals from food waste donations.

Launched in collaboration with Jamie Oliver and longstanding partner FareShare, the Tesco Community Cookery School will give free training and advice to 1,000 community cooks on how to prepare nutritionally balanced meals, what to do with unusual or unexpected ingredients and how to deal with large quantities of seasonal produce.

Tesco already distributes food to more than 7,000 community centres so this feels like a natural evolution of Tesco’s corporate responsibility.

And as the UK’s largest supermarket, it feels right that Tesco is leading the charge on an important societal issue that is affecting an increasing number of people across the UK.

While Tesco boss Dave Lewis says Tesco isn’t doing this for any other reason other than it simply being a “responsible” way to run the business, the supermarket’s food waste efforts will no doubt have a positive impact on brand health and perception – especially after a long run of business blunders that seriously damaged consumer trust.

Tesco’s Community Cookery School feels like something with a lot of potential for growth and is a nice example of a big business (which is not without its flaws) using its resources to really make a difference.

Hopefully it will inspire other supermarkets to up the pace of their corporate responsibility and help change the lives of millions of people all over the country.

READ MORE: ‘It’s just a responsible way to do business’: Tesco teams up with Jamie Oliver to tackle food waste

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