KFC, M&S, Callaly: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From M&S cutting marketing spend by a third to KFC’s new campaign and changes to how news brands report audiences, catch up on all this week’s biggest marketing news.

KFCKFC uses unpredictable future to streamline marketing

As many marketing budgets become leaner and plans are thrown into chaos due to coronavirus, KFC is finding that these unpredictable circumstances are helping it focus on what matters.

KFC was forced to close its restaurants in March but this week has begun the process of opening up 500 of its 900 outlets. To promote this, it has run a tongue-in-cheek TV campaign using user-generated content from its social media.

KFC was keen to get the tone right but found that people were sick and tired of ads delivering universal truths and would instead welcome a sense of humour. As the pandemic continues, people are looking for light relief and won’t welcome nostalgia driven ads especially from brands that haven’t entered that space before.

READ MORE: KFC launches tongue-in-cheek ad as it reopens for delivery

M&S accelerates shift to digital marketing

Comments made by Marks & Spencer’s management this week are sure to have drawn shudders from some areas of the media world. The retailer is reducing its marketing budget by £50m – or almost a third – this year as it looks to cut costs amid reduced demand for its clothing and food.

The majority of those cuts look to be coming from what CEO Steve Rowe calls “nice, old-fashioned media” by which he clearly means TV, print, radio, cinema, outdoor. Instead the focus will be on digital and social media in particular.

Ignoring the shudders that almost certainly ripped through the offices of Thinkbox, Radiocentre, Magnetic et al at being referred to as “nice” and “old-fasioned”, the logic here is in part that there are less people travelling so some media won’t perform as well. That’s clearly true of cinema (which is closed) and print (as newspapers sales drop), less clearly true of outdoor or radio and doesn’t impact TV.

Chairman Archie Norman makes an even more concerning comment. With all its clothing sales coming via ecommerce as its stores remain shut, he argues that its marketing must be “all about online”. The idea that online businesses should only advertise online has been debunked a number of times. M&S should know better.

With M&S’s sales at one point reduced to 16% of their normal levels, marketing was always going to be cut. As Norman says, if there isn’t demand then no amount of advertising can boost sales. But M&S should be careful how it is investing that reduced spend. Social media may be cheaper but that doesn’t mean it is better value.

READ MORE: M&S cuts marketing spend by a third as it accelerates shift to digital

Children’s exposure to alcohol TV ads in decline amid shift to online

alcoholChildren are being exposed to fewer alcohol ads on TV than they were even 12 years ago, according the latest Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) data.

In 2019, 0.8% of all TV ads seen by children were alcohol ads, decreasing by two thirds since 2008 from an average of 2.8 to 0.9 ads seen per week. Relative to adults, children’s exposure to alcohol ads on TV continues to fall from a peak of 41.1% in 2008 to 19.6% in 2019. This means that last year, under 18s saw on average one alcohol ad for every five seen by adults.

While children are watching less TV in general, their exposure to broadcast ads for alcohol is falling at a faster rate than their exposure to all television ads, the ASA claims.

When it comes to gambling, in 2019 children saw an average 2.5 gambling ads on TV per week, compared to 2.2 gambling ads per week in 2008 and 2.7 in 2009. Gambling advertising made up less than 2% of all the TV ads seen by children during an average week every year between 2008 and 2017. However, the frequency rose to 2.2% in 2018, before dropping slightly to 2.1% in 2019.

Despite children’s exposure to age-restricted ads on TV being in decline, the ASA is mindful of the wider shift towards online media, particularly among under 18s.

The regulator therefore plans to ramp up its use of avatar technology. Last year the tech was used to create online profiles, which tracked adverts being served to children as young as six. Ads from five gambling operators were banned as a result and the ASA is confident that investing in such technology will enable it to take a more proactive approach.

READ MORE: Children’s exposure to alcohol TV ads falls to 12-year low

New campaign tackles 100 years of ‘failed’ femcare

DTC subscription brand Callaly is hoping its first big investment in marketing will help shine a light on the need for female-led innovation in the femcare sector.

The film features women uncovering the purpose of a series of products used in the 1930s, showing that while condoms, vibrators and contraceptives may have changed dramatically, the same can’t be said for tampons.

Callaly is using the campaign to promote its signature ‘tampliner’ product – a tampon with a built-in mini-liner – and hopes to drive “PR and talkability”, rather than purely sales. Filmed pre-lockdown, the campaign was originally scheduled to launch in March, however the team felt it was “irrelevant and indulgent” to communicate a brand message about tampliners during the early days of the pandemic.

Since the onset of the outbreak, however, Callaly has seen demand for both its products and customer loyalty increase, with April proving to be the company’s biggest month to date for sales from existing subscribers and new customers.

Having previously focused its entire media spend on digital marketing, the brand now plans to take a step back from using influencers after failing to see the returns hoped for. According to CMO Kate Huang, the influencer market is “volatile” for a smaller company and presents too high a risk.

READ MORE: How one brand is tackling 100 years of ‘failed’ femcare

ABC scraps mandatory circulation

The ABC audit that circulates the print readership of newspapers is facing a crossroads. As news brands focus more on digital and figures continue to deplete, ABC has decided it is no longer mandatory for brands to share their circulation figures.

The Telegraph pulled out of the ABC audit at the beginning of the year noting that the ABC metric was “not how we measure our success”.

ABC has said this decision ensures there is a narrative of growth for news brands. As commentary over the difficulties facing journalism continues, this is a sign of an industry attempting to offset a negative narrative.

Yet ABC is still useful. News UK is one of the publishers that will continue to report the circulation of its brands, if privately, from now on. The publisher of The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times as it says that print remains a “vitally important” method of distributing its editorial to readers and meeting its advertisers’ needs

READ MORE: How circulation reporting changes aim to help newsbrands share ‘message of growth’



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