M&S, social media, Channel 4: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From M&S exploring new opportunities with ad-funded TV to brands coming together to collectively demand social platforms do more to stamp out racism, catch up on this week’s biggest marketing news.

England Euro 2020

Brands club together to demand social platforms take action against racism

Following the abhorrent racist abuse several England players were subjected to on social media after the Euro 2020 final on Sunday, brands and marketing organisations have clubbed together to demand more is done to stamp out the problem.

Led by the Conscious Advertising Network, more than 110 brands including KFC, Mars, Direct Line and L’Oréal have signed an open letter calling out the “lack of adequate action” and demanding Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat do more.

Yes, social platforms have taken some steps to help alleviate the problem but clearly more needs to be done.

An open letter is the first step, but it alone will not be enough to force change. Actions tend to speak louder than words.

Of course this isn’t just a marketing issue, it’s an issue for wider society, but brand leaders can do their bit to help stamp out racism by demanding more of the platforms they fund.

As Zoe Harris, CMO of On The Beach, one of the brands to sign the letter, says: “As it is advertisers that fund these platforms, I hope we stand together to hold social media platforms to account, unafraid to speak out and demand change despite their dominance. We need to do our bit to make a difference. I hope we will.”

READ MORE: Major brands sign open letter demanding action against racism on social media

M&S wants people to know it has much more to offer

Depending on your socio-economic background, a trip to M&S’s food hall would be for special occasions such as Christmas, christenings or a family reunions.

But M&S wants people to know it isn’t there just for times of decadence, but also for the normal weekly shop by telling people it has a wider range than assumed.

To help change perceptions, the high street stalwart has helped to develop ‘Cooking With The Stars’ with ITV. The show features eight celebrities, each paired with a professional chef who will mentor them to compete each week in an elimination format.

The idea is to inspire viewers to get their apron on the next day and emulate their favourite contestants, by purchasing everything from the ingredients to the cooking utensils they used from M&S.

M&S’s marketing director for food and hospitality Sharry Cramond is bullish on the show being a success as pilots spurred ITV to give Cooking With The Stars a prime time slot.

“This is the highest-profile slot ITV has ever given to advertising-funded programming, and they wouldn’t do that if it wasn’t such an entertaining show,” she says.

Whether it helps achieve M&S’s ambition of getting people to start doing a broader, weekly shop with the retailer remains to be seen.

READ MORE: M&S Food uses Cooking With The Stars tie-up to encourage people to do a ‘broader shop’

Diverse advertising creates an ‘effective dividend’, study finds

We saw further proof this week that having a diverse cast in advertising can be beneficial to brands, with new research from System1, diversity media specialists DECA and ITV showing it can help brand building.

The ‘Feeling Seen’ report shows featuring underrepresented and diverse people drives engagement and effectiveness. In the study, 30 diverse ads were analysed and given an overall average score of 2.8 out of 5, slightly higher than the UK norm of 2.1.

Almost half of participants (47%) felt happiness when watching Maltesers’ ‘New Boyfriend’ advert from 2017, a tongue-in-cheek ad in which a disabled woman laughs with her friends about how her “spasms” were interfering with her new relationship.

Meanwhile, British Asian viewers responded highly with positive emotions to McCain’s ‘We Are Family’ campaign with an average score of 4.8 out of 5 among that segment.

System1 CMO Jon Evans says: “The results of this study clearly show how important representation can be and how much better advertising feels when it reflects you, rather than rejects you. Feeling seen feels good.”

Kate Waters, director of client strategy and planning at ITV and president of WACL says the study quantifies a theory that is well known to be true, that diversity “translates into an effectiveness dividend for advertisers”.

READ MORE: Study reveals ‘effectiveness dividend’ created by diversity in advertising

B2B brands advised to stop focusing on sales that will never happen

Up to 95% of businesses are not in the market for most goods and services at any given time, according to a new study is by Professor John Dawes of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, funded by the LinkedIn B2B Institute.

Dawes describes the “deceptively simple” finding as having a profound implication. The report says companies change providers of services such as banking, legal advice, software or telecoms about every five years. This means just 20% are in the market for those services in a given year, and only about 5% in a given quarter. The other 95% are not in the market at all.

Marketing needs to take a long-term approach so potential customers remember brands when they come into the market. “If your advertising is better at building brand-relevant memories, your brand becomes more competitive,” says Dawes.

Dawes adds that marketers need to become better at justifying this approach at board level, and suggests the report shows that cutting marketing spend during a downturn is a poor choice.

“One of the problems marketers have created for themselves is that they speak in a language that they understand but no one else seems to comprehend,” says Jann Martin Schwarz, global head of the LinkedIn B2B Institute.

READ MORE: Ehrenberg-Bass: 95% of B2B buyers are not in the market for your products

Channel 4 shows what it takes to be Superhuman

Most people cannot even imagine the challenges disabled people have to overcome on a daily basis. Now imagine elite-level athletes, Paralympians to be specific, as they face daily struggles while pushing their bodies to the absolute limits.

This is what Channel 4 wanted to showcase in its largest marketing campaign of the year, ‘Super. Human’, to promote the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

The idea is to show the realities of the lives of Paralympians and their determination to reach the summit of their sport. We see failure to attend birthday parties, giving birth and frustration in trying to simply enter a local greasy spoon in a wheelchair (with no ramp).

Channel 4 CMO Zaid Al-Qassab describes the broadcaster as being “instrumental” in putting the Paralympics onto the world stage and helping to change perceptions.

“Our award-winning coverage and epic marketing campaigns have possibly done more to help shift society’s perceptions around disability than anything else in the last 20 years,” he claims.

“Our hope is that this powerful and provocative film will once again stir viewers and continue Channel 4’s legacy of challenging attitudes and giving a voice to those with disabilities.”

READ MORE: Channel 4 aims to ‘deliberately provoke’ with Tokyo 2020 ‘Super. Human’ campaign

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