P&G, Channel 4, McDonald’s: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From P&G’s roadmap for racial equality to Channel 4’s anti-racism pledge and McDonald’s cutting the UK CMO role, catch up on all this week’s biggest marketing news.

procter & gambleP&G threatens to pull ads to take action on equality

Procter & Gamble has doubled down on its commitment to improving social equality by refusing to advertise with media platforms that don’t meet its standards on race and gender issues.

Speaking at Cannes Lions Live this week, P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard said the group is mounting a comprehensive review of its media buying, to ensure its ads do not appear next to content it determines is “hateful, denigrating or discriminatory”. That goes for portrayal of Black people and “all people”.

The move comes amid global protests over racial injustice and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, and as the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted levels of inequality in society.

“Freedom of expression is a right, but civility is a responsibility, and we’re working with media providers and platforms to take appropriate systemic action,” said Pritchard.

P&G has unveiled a raft of tangible, practical measures to help achieve its goals of improving the representation of BAME people in the creative supply chain.

These will include a commitment to improve and increase representation of people of colour throughout the chain, including at brands, agencies and production crews. Starting in the US, it aspires to reach 40% multicultural representation within the company. The company will pull its ads from media platforms that don’t meet its standards.

“We have a responsibility to step up and use creativity for good… to be useful,” Pritchard concluded. “We have a responsibility to use our advantages and privileges – deserved or not – to dismantle systemic inequality.

McDonald’s scraps UK CMO role

McDonald's ceo leavingMcDonald’s brought back the global CMO role last month but now it is scrapping the UK CMO position amid a rejig of the team.

The move follows the resignation of Gareth Helm, who joined McDonald’s in May 2019 as UK CMO. Its UK and Ireland vice-president of food, beverage, product development and marketing, Michelle Graham-Clare, will take over from Helm in an expanded role but retain her current title.

The two decisions might seem at odds with each other. But no doubt the departure of Helm offers a chance to streamline the marketing team a little as McDonald’s looks to recover after the coronavirus lockdown.

On a global level, marketing is still seen as key to the brand’s rebound. Speaking about the global CMO role McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said: “As we emerge from this global pandemic, consumers’ trust in the McDonald’s brand and compelling marketing programmes in every country where we operate will be critical to re-establish the strong business momentum we enjoyed leading into this crisis.”

READ MORE: McDonald’s cuts UK CMO role as Gareth Helm departs

Channel 4 outlines anti-racist agenda

Channel 4 hopes it can play a crucial role in tackling racism in the UK and has outlined a number of measurable steps it will take to try and accelerate that change.

Speaking exclusively to Marketing Week, the broadcaster’s CMO Zaid Al-Qassab says this is the first time Channel 4 has declared itself anti-racist, which felt like the right thing to say given the current global events regarding the killing of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.

“The reason we did the commitments now was we recognised that we probably haven’t made as much progress and there’s still more to do,” Al-Qassab says. “Brands need to make demonstrable change in what their core business is rather than just make statements.”

In addition to clear targets around improving its black, Asian and ethnic minority representation within the organisation – this includes ensuring 20% of its top 100-paid staff are BAME by 2023 – Channel 4 has committed to improving its BAME talent on-screen, as well as commissioning more “relevant and authentic” content.

The broadcaster has already been running a series of long- and short-form films exploring race in modern Britain, as well as a new series called The School That Tried to End Racism, which explores a programme that tests for unconscious racial bias in a class of 11- to 12-year-old pupils.

Channel 4 has a strong track record for diversity and inclusion. But at the end of the day, the proof of the commitment will be in the numbers.

READ MORE: Channel 4’s CMO on using its power and influence to tackle racism

GSK reorganises portfolio to cope with Covid-19

SensodyneThe coronavirus pandemic has thrown strategies up in the air for marketers in every industry, although for those in the health sector the pressure has been acute.

At the onset of the outbreak in China, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) started to reorganise its brand portfolio. The decision was taken to re-categorise the portfolio into four groups. With its ‘treatment mainstays’ such as Panadol, which could help treat Covid-19 symptoms, GSK had to ensure products were readily available. For that reason, the company “considerably” cut the number of SKUs (stock keeping units) on Panadol to meet consumer demand.

GSK sought to maintain demand for its ‘premium discretionary brands’, such as Zovirax, while also driving availability and awareness of its ‘prevention arsenal’ including vitamins, minerals and supplements, which tapped into the heightened consumer preoccupation with health.

Lastly, the marketers worked hard to maintain interest in its ‘everyday essentials’ range, including oral care brands such as Sensodyne.

From range rationalisation to creating a digital content series to support its Sensodyne brand, GSK “prioritised ruthlessly” to survive the lockdown, explained global CMO Tamara Rogers. Speaking this week at Cannes Lions Live (24 June), Rogers said it was essential to “unleash” decision making at speed, rather than teams having to constantly push their ideas upwards for approval.

Now the firefighting stage is over, GSK is clear that the pandemic has accelerated its plans for ecommerce, which looks set to be a priority for brands across the marketing spectrum in the coming weeks and months.

READ MORE: How GSK reorganised its brand portfolio in response to Covid-19

HSBC’s coronavirus framework

Brands and marketers have had to find different and novel ways to cope during the coronavirus crisis. For HSBC, its coping mechanism has involved the creation of a framework that has helped it understand the different phases of the pandemic in each market and learn from others that might be further ahead in the cycle.

The framework is based on the three Rs – which stand for react, respond and rebuilt. The first is for the early stages of the pandemic, the second for markets in lockdown and the third for those easing out.

HSBC’s global marketing director Leanne Cutts says the framework helped it sequence and coordinate its work, get best practice quickly and direct investment choices. It has also allowed it to ensure it has enough resource as markets come out of the crisis into a post-lockdown world.

“It has helped us to have the right time/right approach and helped us learn really quickly and pass that learning on, rather than having to redo or duplicate it,” Cutts said, speaking at Cannes Lions Live..

HSBC marketing boss: Coronavirus is a real reset moment for marketing

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