John Lewis, Tesco, Santander: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From the departure of the boss of John Lewis to Santander’s new campaign and Morrisons’ regret over pulling back from Black Friday, catch up on all the marketing news from the past week.

John Lewis gets rid of its boss as sales drop

Has John Lewis thrown the baby out with the bathwater? Having struggled over Christmas, with like-for-like sales down 2% in the seven weeks to 5 January, it has warned over profits and kicked out its boss Paula Nickolds.

Nickolds had worked at John Lewis for a quarter of a century, starting out as a graduate trainee and then working her way to the top job. She was due to take on the top marketer role at the retailer’s owner John Lewis Partnership (JLP) next month but is now out (the retailer was coy on whether she had been fired).

She is one of a number of departures at (JLP) over the past few months as the company struggles to navigate choppy retail waters. Rob Collins, the boss at Waitrose, is leaving as is chairman Charlie Mayfield.

No doubt John Lewis needs some fresh thinking to turn around its fortunes. Tough decisions need to be taken on costs, its store estate and the services it offers. A glance at its Trustpilot page (where a slew of negative reviews have brought its star rating down to just two) show the current model is not working for the company or its customers.

But marketing and its brand will play a key role. JLP needs to work out what that looks like with the departure of Nickolds to ensure its brand, as well as its business, is fit for the future.

READ MORE: John Lewis boss to step down after Christmas sales hit

Santander claims Ant and Dec campaign is already paying dividends

A few eyebrows were raised when Santander’s most recent marketing campaign was launched. It featured Ant and Dec and the launch of their bank Santandec (see what they did there), which encouraged customers to save money by, for example, drinking coffee out of tiny mugs.

However, Santander says the campaign is helping it resonate with customers. It achieved its highest ever score for brand love following the first ad, with 38% of consumers surveyed agreeing the ads made them love the bank more. Some 54% said they enjoyed the ad, which Santander claims is unprecedented in the banking sector.

Given its success, Ant and Dec are now back, with the second instalment of the campaign – created by Engine – showing the duo at a press conference fighting a copyright infringement claim from “another bank”.

Santander has managed to find a balance between entertaining viewers and getting across serious messages. The second ad promotes mortgages, highlighting that Santander offers fixed rates for up to 10 years.

READ MORE: Santander claims Ant and Dec campaign is boosting brand love

Morrisons laments decision to pull back from Black Friday

black fridayBlack Friday. You either love it or hate it. For every retailer that cheers the uptick in sales it brings, there is another lamenting the hit to profit margins.

Morrisons had thought it fell into the latter camp. And so this year it pulled back from Black Friday, deciding not to run its ‘Black Fivedays’ promotion. However, the supermarket is now reconsidering that decision, having admitted it missed the “halo effect”.

Black Friday is a complicated beast that was made all the more complicated last year because the date fell so late. It meant even more Christmas gift shopping was done earlier in the festive period with deeper discounts.

What is clear is there is no easy answer. Some retailers, such as John Lewis, are forced to take part because of price match guarantees. Others, such as Marks & Spencer, have taken a step back to ensure their prices can be trusted.

But as questions are asked over the deep discounting seen on the high street and the impact that has on profit margins, more retailers will be considering whether they would miss a halo effect from not taking part, or if it’s a price worth paying.

READ MORE: Morrisons sales suffer after it pulls back from Black Friday

Marketers to put on improv show to raise money for Comic Relief

Have you ever wondered if marketers would make good comedians? Well now you have the chance to find out as marketers from brands including Microsoft, Disney, TSB and Eve Sleep plan to put on an improvised comedy show to raise money for Comic Relief.

Part of the 10th birthday celebrations for The Marketing Academy, the improvised live show will take place in London on 3 March. The eight marketers taking part will now embark on an eight-week training programme in preparation.

The idea came from TSB CMO Pete Markey, an alumni of The Marketing Academy’s Fellowship programme, who has been learning improvised comedy for the past 12 months.

For anyone wanting to watch, unfortunately tickets are already sold out. Unless we can convince them to move to a bigger venue…

READ MORE: Marketers to put on improvised comedy show for Comic Relief

Tesco puts focus on customer experience

Tesco vanMuch is written about the ad campaigns retailers launch over Christmas, much less about the wider customer experience. But Tesco CEO Dave Lewis believes that while a good ad campaign can boost sales, that’s only the case if the business is operating all the other marketing levers it has to pull.

He told Marketing Week: “The most important part of our Christmas marketing campaign is the quality of the offer and the execution. If that comes together with great advertising, that is brilliant.

“But if you have great advertising and you don’t have the executional excellence, then great advertising doesn’t cut it for you.”

That’s why Tesco talks about availability, ease of shopping and colleague helpfulness. If customers get a good experience in-store, they’re more likely to respond when they see a great ad campaign.

That customer experience is key might seem obvious, but it was clear over Christmas that not every retailer was listening. Big budget ad campaigns were in abundance but too many forgot to take this through to the store experience.

As Lewis points out, you can’t paper over the cracks with advertising. Rather, it should be the cherry on top of a well run marketing operation.

READ MORE: Tesco CEO – The most important part of Christmas marketing is the offer and execution



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