L’Oréal, McDonald’s, M&S: 5 things that mattered this week and why

The big news this week includes the latest Christmas ads from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and McDonald’s, L’Oréal’s new European CMO speaking out against ‘digital’ marketing and the slowdown in marketing budget growth.


L’Oréal talks sense on ‘digital’ marketing

L’Oréal has a new European marketing boss in Stéphane Bérubé and he took the opportunity on his first meeting with the marketing press to talk about his priorities for the company. One of his biggest is a strategy he calls O+O – or how to drive sales for both online and offline. Currently about 20% of L’Oréal’s sales come through ecommerce channels, but the company wants to drive this up.

And to do that, Bérubé believes the brand must stop thinking of ecommerce and high street retail as separate things. “I don’t believe we have an online and offline consumer. Marketing needs to move from having [separate] digital priorities. We need to stop talking about what is the digital strategy. I am making a big point of this [to change] in the culture at L’Oréal,” he explained.

This might seem obvious but it’s refreshing to see such a senior marketer admit that “digital” is simply just part of marketing and that ecommerce is just another way to sell. Coke’s executive vice president of North America, Sandy Douglas, voiced a similar opinion recently, saying that marketers need to stop thinking of ecommerce as a separate channel, especially with online retailers looking to offline for fresh opportunities and vice versa.

It has been hard for the industry to get out of the digital versus traditional mindset. However, it seems finally brands are starting to see there is no need to distinguish, especially as consumer don’t.

READ MORE: L’Oréal’s new CMO on why brands shouldn’t have a digital strategy

Who has won the Christmas ad battle?

Christmas ad season is now in full flow, and most of the major retailers have released their 2017 efforts. Waitrose and Sainsbury’s revealed their ads last weekend (12 November) and coincidentally both went for black and white numbers – Waitrose telling the story of the highest pub (from a geographical standpoint, obviously) in England and Sainsbury’s continuing its ‘Living Well’ campaign with a festive singalong.

And in what might be a strong contender for Christmas ad of the year (in my opinion anyway) is McDonald’s ad telling the story of a little girl who wants to save her carrot to feed Santa’s reindeer.

This year, it doesn’t feel like there has been a bumper crop of Christmas ads. Reaction to the John Lewis ad has been a bit ‘meh’. I hosted a panel on Christmas ads for Propeller PR last night and the consensus from the stage was that it just didn’t live up to previous years, missing a twist at the end despite a good story and great creative.

However, for Marketing Week’s readers there was a clear winner. We ran a Twitter poll and the winner was (drum roll) Debenhams, with 32% of the vote. Asda and Marks & Spencer rounded out the top three. Do you agree?

Mytaxi sticks it to Uber

After’s Uber’s terrible year in London, it is not surprising that other ride-hailing apps are attempting to steal a march. Mytaxi is the latest. This week it launched its biggest brand campaign, positioning the company as the “safe” choice, a move that makes sense given that Transport for London, in its decision to revoke Uber’s licence, cited safety as a key area of concern.

Our senior reporter Thomas Hobbs was out at Web Summit in Lisbon this year and had the chance to talk to mytaxi’s CEO Andrew Pinnington. And he wasn’t shy in pointing out the key differences in his service versus Uber.

“Our drivers aren’t slaves to a sat nav and have local knowledge so can get people to their destinations quicker. They also provide a safer experience. These are all themes we need to talk about more regularly as I believe people are prepared to spend more on a black cab taxi if it’s quicker and safer,” he says.

READ MORE: Mytaxi’s CEO on how it plans to ‘capitalise’ on Uber’s London failings

‘Distracted’ CMOs aren’t focusing on the metrics that matter

That marketing budgets are stalling shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Brands such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble have spoken about cost cutting, while the big agency holding groups have been warning about their revenues as big brands cut back.

Nevertheless, Gartner’s new research makes for some sombre reading. According to their survey of marketing executives in the US and UK at companies with more than $250m in annual revenue, budgets fell from 12.1% of company revenue in 2016 to 11.3% in 2017 – a return to 2015 levels.

The result is a lack of focus on the metrics that matter to CMOs and the business – how marketing activities deliver return on investment and profitability to the organisation.

Ewan McIntyre, Gartner

And CMOs are not confident growth will return next year. Just 15% say they expect a significant increase in 2018, while a third expect budgets to be be cut or frozen.

The reason for this is an interesting one. Gartner says that while economic factors are playing a part, it is also due to the fact that CMOs are increasingly distracted and not using the metrics that matter in the boardroom

That distraction can go one of two ways. Either CMOs are too focused on operations and tactics, so the short term, or they are too focused on big long term projects such as customer experience where it is hard to prove ROI. As Ewan McIntyre, a research director at Gartner, puts it: “The result is a lack of focus on the metrics that matter to CMOs and the business – how marketing activities deliver return on investment and profitability to the organisation.”

Marketing has been trying for years to hold more sway in the boardroom and for finance to see it as an investment, rather than a cost. On this evidence it seems we are still a long way away from that.

READ MORE: Marketing budget growth stalls as CMOs fail to prove ROI

M&S is the best retailer for storytelling


Creative agency Aesop released its annual list of the UK’s 100 best storytelling brands this week, and we picked out retailers as a particularly interesting trend this year. That was in part because the winner, Apple, maintained its top positioning for the fifth year in a row, followed by Help for Heroes, the BBC, the National Trust and Amazon.

High street retailers don’t make an appearance until 20th on the list, with Marks & Spencer coming in top due to the way its brand creates an emotional response. That has been helped largely by its ‘Spend it Well’ positioning, which Aesop says sends a clear message about “grabbing life with both hands” that consumers have responded well to.

Still, it seems clear retailers need to up their game as they face growing competition for consumers’ hearts and minds.

READ MORE: M&S is the UK’s top storytelling retailer



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