Coca-Cola, KFC, Under Armour: Marketing Week’s biggest news stories of 2020

In a year of disruption and chaos, themes around engagement and purpose grabbed marketers’ attention.

Pretty much everything that happened this year will, of course, be seen through the cracked prism of the global pandemic, but it’s intriguing to note that many of these news pieces reflect trends and shifts that had their own momentum, away from the traumas of Covid.

Certainly brands’ readiness to take a stand on social issues, the push to find relevance and cut through noise across all channels all point to the kind of stories we can expect to see much more of in 2021. And hopefully a lot less of the lockdown stuff.

If there’s one overriding theme from the past 12 months, it’s tone of voice. Earlier in the year, with the first lockdown in place, there was a need for sensitivity, comfort and sympathy. Later in the year a bit more energy and reassurance was called for.

Now we’re sitting somewhere between the two, but the ability of brands to respond with greater agility and speed to what’s going on around them has become a crucial part of the marketing toolbox.

Relevance, trust and engagement are all driven by communication and, while delaying campaigns doubtless made strategic and financial sense back in April, the idea now of a brand opting to go dark and sit out the latest phase in the pandemic seems way wide of the mark.

The top news stories of 2020

1. Just 8% of consumers think brands should stop advertising due to the coronavirus outbreak

Consumers believe staff welfare should be a company’s first priority, while brands also have a role to play in supporting governments and wider society through the crisis.

2. Coca-Cola introduces new brand platform as it vows to take a stand on social issues

Coca-Cola is launching a new brand purpose, ‘Better when we’re open’, in Europe that will form the basis of its marketing this year and next as it looks to show it is a brand with a point of view.

3. We’re back’: KFC launches tongue-in-cheek ad as it reopens for delivery

KFC wanted to do “something a bit different” to the wave of coronavirus-related ads that have launched in the past few weeks as it aims to ensure its comms are “grounded in who we are”.

4. Under Armour shifts strategy to invest in product and brand

Under Armour is investing a greater proportion of its marketing budget on brand and top-of-funnel activity as it looks to “spend money the right way”.

5. Coca-Cola ‘pauses’ marketing spend over ‘lack of ROI’

Coca-Cola says marketing investment in brands has “limited effectiveness” while people are in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, although it is moving some spend into digital.

6. Burger King CMO: No-one wants to watch your ads unless you are at the Superbowl

Burger King’s Fernando Machado urges marketers to “hit a nerve” in order to cut through the clutter of advertising.

7. Why one snack brand launched its first outdoor campaign during a lockdown

Faced with the realisation that not many people would see its first outdoor ad campaign, Emily Crisps had to find ways to ensure it had impact in other media.

8. ‘Most sports brands got stuck in a competitive mantra’: Why Parkrun just signed its first sports sponsor

The community running organisation has signed up its first sports sponsor in Brooks after admitting it was reluctant to bring a sports brand on board due to their focus on elite athletes.

9. Almost nine in 10 marketers now delaying campaigns in response to Covid-19

Marketers are putting spending on ice as 69% see demand for their brands’ products and services plummet amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

10. ‘Feed the nation’: Morrisons changes core purpose in response to coronavirus

Morrisons is introducing new ways of delivering groceries to customers, including a range of simple-to-order food parcels, more delivery slots and using 100 extra stores to pick up shopping.