KFC, Virgin Atlantic, Facebook: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From brands breaking the ad code by targeting age restricted products at children, to KFC’s decision to drop its Finger Lickin’ slogan, catch up on all the biggest marketing news from the week gone by.

KFC drops Finger Lickin’ slogan, for now

Five months after 163 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about a KFC TV ad that featured people licking their fingers, the company has dropped its slogan, saying it is “inappropriate” at a time of heightened awareness over hygiene.

Quite whether or not licking fingers is a real problem in the age of coronavirus is neither here nor there. KFC has seen an opportunity to get its brand heard and talked about and grabbed it with both hands.

The company says the decision to stop using the slogan is only temporary (although with no end to the pandemic in sight it’s not clear how long it could go on for). But it is pushing it heavily through a campaign created by agency Mother that includes the wit and boldness we have come to expect from two companies at the top of their advertising game.

As KFC’s UK head of retail and advertising tells Marketing Week, KFC is taking every opportunity to talk about its brand and increase its share of voice at a time when others in the market are pulling back.

This is another shining example of how to do that.

READ MORE: KFC temporarily drops ‘finger lickin’ slogan in first global campaign

Marketers underestimating the role of creativity

CollaborationMarketers are failing to understand the biggest factors impacting advertising profitability. According to research by Kantar, marketers are overestimating the impact of factors such as brand versus performance marketing and multimedia, and underestimating creativity and brand size.

The research goes to show how marketers can so often get it wrong. In a survey of 7,000 they picked ‘multimedia’ as the biggest driver of brand profit followed by brand versus performance strategies.

However, when Kantar contrasted these results with a 2014 study into profit drivers it found that size and strength of brand was the most important factor in marketing effectiveness, followed by the creative quality of the advertising and budget setting across geographies. But marketers rank these fifth, fourth and ninth respectively.

It’s worth pointing out that perceptions can be impacted by what marketers are able to impact themselves. They can do little about the size of a brand or budget setting across geographies, although they can do a lot about creativity!

The research should, however, stand as a useful marker for marketers to ensure they are constantly reviewing their beliefs when it comes to what drives profit. Kantar is hoping this makes marketers “stop and think” about their strategy, and it should.

READ MORE: Marketers underestimate the role of creativity in effectiveness

All change at Facebook and Virgin Atlantic as CMOs depart

Antonio Lucio FacebookThere have been some big changes at the top as both Facebook and Virgin Atlantic announced the departure of their CMOs.

Antonio Lucio is stepping down as Facebook CMO after two years to dedicate his time to helping companies focus on accelerating their diversity and inclusion efforts. Lucio, who described 2020 as a “historical inflection point” for racial justice, wants to make “diversity, inclusion and equity” his sole focus going forward.

Lucio’s departure comes just a month after more than 1,000 organisations including Coca-Cola, Unilever and Mars pulled ad spend from Facebook platforms in support of #StopHateForProfit. He joined the social media giant in September 2018 when its reputation was in serious need of rehabilitation following the revelation 87 million Facebook accounts had been affected by the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal.

Facebook is now on the lookout for its next CMO to “build, manage and inspire a global marketing organisation focused on its consumer business and overall company reputation”. The ideal marketer to take on the role, which will cover the portfolio of apps and the Facebook corporate brand, should have experience of “managing marketing budgets upwards of $500m”.

Elsewhere, Virgin Atlantic is expanding the remit of its top marketer as CMO Claire Cronin departs after six years. She is being replaced by vice-president of digital and distribution Siobhan Fitzpatrick, who takes over in September in an expanded role spanning digital, loyalty and customer journey, alongside marketing and communications. Fitzpatrick’s new job title is as yet unknown.

Both Facebook and Virgin Atlantic are faced with serious challenges. For Facebook, reputational issues persist over whether its platforms are doing enough to challenge hate speech, particularly ahead of the US presidential election in November.

After the extreme disruption to the travel industry caused by Covid-19, Virgin Atlantic is trying to secure a £1.2bn rescue package just to remain in business. The airline is asking suppliers, including media-buying agencies, to accept a 20% reduction in their fees and then receive the rest in staggered payments. The challenges over the coming months for both Fitzpatrick and the incoming Facebook CMO are stark.

READ MORE: Facebook CMO steps down after two years

M&S and Waitrose battle it out for middle class shoppers online

The battle for the wallets of middle England is about to step up a gear. From 1 September, Waitrose will be taking back control of its ecommerce operations by ending its relationship with Ocado as Marks & Spencer moves in.

It was an interesting contest even before coronavirus. But with the pandemic leading to a massive surge in online grocery shopping the stakes are arguably higher than ever.

On the one hand, there is Waitrose hoping its customers are loyal to its brand and range, and will follow it to Waitrose.com. On the other there is Marks & Spencer making its first real foray into online grocery shopping and hoping the strength of its brand will convince customers to stick with Ocado.

A casual look at Twitter suggests consumers are split. Some are willing to keep with Waitrose even if it means switching to a new system, others are sticking with the convenience of an Ocado system they already use.

Neither supermarket can afford to lose this one. But purely from a brand point of view, M&S seems to have the upper hand.

READ MORE: Waitrose versus M&S: The brand battle for Ocado shoppers

Brands targeting age-restricted products at children

Junk foodCriticism about brands targeting inappropriate products at children is one that often gets levelled at the ad industry. It has been brought to the fore once again in recent weeks with the government planning to introduce a ban on all junk food advertising before 9pm.

One way the ad industry can counter these allegations is by regulating itself. And that is what the Advertising Standards Authority is doing more practively now. In a sting, it found that ads for gambling, smoking, alcohol and junk food were targeting online channels with a high proportion of children in their audience.

This is all part of a year-long project by the ASA and is the first of four monitoring exercises to pick-up inappropriately advertised age-restricted ads. At the moment, the ASA is not publishing the names of the perpetrators but is pledging to report publicly on the figures, as well as take action against repeat offenders, and share them with relevant industry groups.

The ASA is right to come down on brands that are breaking the code. And this more proactive approach is a better one that waiting for complaints to roll in.

But as always it pays to take a deeper dive. Many of the ‘junk food’ ads were actually unlikely to appeal to children because they were for products such as butter, nuts, seeds and cooking sauces.

READ MORE: Gambling, alcohol and junk food brands breaking ad code by targeting children



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