Starbucks, Aviva, Direct Line: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Catch up on all the biggest marketing news this week including Starbucks’s move into dark social, Aviva’s attempts to rebuild trust in the insurance market and how Direct Line is diversifying its marketing.


Starbucks explores dark social for market research

Brands are increasingly looking to build more direct connections with their customers so they can better cater to their tastes. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Lego have tried out crowdfunding, and now Starbucks is looking to do some market research through private groups and accounts on social media.

Mostly using Facebook, although Instagram is also an opportunity, Starbucks has been creating small private groups where it can ask questions of highly engaged customers about any ideas they might have for new products and test out new variants.

“What I’m most excited about [on social media] is some of the possibilities around private groups and private accounts on social media channels,” says Starbucks’s marketing and product vice-president for EMEA Reuben Arnold. “When we think about the crossover between product and marketing, it really allows us to have a much deeper conversation with certain customers who really do care about our brand, who can then get much more involved in things like product development and testing, and we can use the audience in a much more meaningful way.”

There are some clear opportunities in using social media. It can help bring marketing and product closer together, allows a deeper conversation and is a more natural way of engaging with consumers than an online focus group or research panel.

The challenge is in ensuring it gets a wide array of views and that people take the market research seriously. As much as research panels may seem unnatural, people go in with the mindset of helping in market research, rather than one where they’re commenting on friends’ pictures and sharing gifs. Getting the balance right will be key.

READ MORE: Starbucks explores dark social for market research

Aviva launches subscription product to rebuild trust in ‘unfair’ insurance market

The insurance industry isn’t known for being on the side of the customer. Between complicated information requests (who has any idea what percentage of their roof is flat?), confusing charges and renewals that tend to see loyal customers charged more than new ones, trust in the sector has taken a nosedive.

That is something Aviva is looking to address. Digital innovation and technology are key drivers of trust in the industry, and so it is launching a new product, AvivaPlus, that aims to offer flexible insurance cover. It will do that by allowing users to pay monthly, doing away with charges for cancelling or changing policy and promising customers who are renewing they will get the same or better deal as new customers. A marketing push aims to promote the service and start to shift those perceptions

“There’s a whole load of what might be seen as the darker side of insurance products,” says Aviva’s retail and brand marketing director Tom Daniell. “AvivaPlus is our opportunity to start from the ground up and redesign a new way of selling insurance to really answer and face into a lot of those customer challenges.”

Aviva is not the only company trying to shake up the insurance industry, although its focus on tech innovation helps it stand out. But it will take more than a new product to really get customers feeling insurance companies on their side. Products are only half the issue, there are also challenges around the claims process and getting the industry to shift from a focus on acquisition to retention.

READ MORE: Aviva launches subscription product to rebuild trust in ‘unfair’ insurance market

Direct Line takes steps to ‘fix’ lack of diversity in its marketing

direct line

Direct Line is being proactive in fixing the lack of diversity in its marketing after finding that its comms output didn’t represent the diversity of the people who worked at the company or its customer base.

The company has done an audit of its communications – everything from TV ads to customer communications and website content – and is now exploring whether to have goals to “hold ourselves to account a bit more on it”. It is talking more loudly about diversity and inclusion with its marketing teams and has enlisted supporters to help build an action plan and identify the barriers and what can be done to fix them.

“It’s amazing how having it front of mind makes a difference in the conversations we are having with our agencies and each other,” says brand director Kerry Chilvers. “It has to be an ongoing conversation in the team so we don’t let that unconscious bias creep back in.”

It’s brave to see a big brand admit it hadn’t got diversity right and a sign that if a company like Direct Line has work to do that many others likely do as well. The more the industry starts to talk about the issue, the more change we will see. And change is still very much needed.

READ MORE: How Direct Line is ‘fixing’ the lack of diversity in its marketing

Camelot targets millennials with first new game in 13 years


Camelot is hoping to “unlock” a different part of people’s brains with the launch of the National Lottery’s first new game in 13 years.

Set for Life, which goes on sale today, offers players the chance to win £10,000 a month for 30 years if they match five main balls and the ‘life ball’, with a second prize of £10,000 a month for one year. There are also a number of smaller prizes ranging from £250 to £5.

Undercutting the Lotto game, which costs £2 to enter, Set for Life costs £1.50 and will be drawn twice a week, on Monday and Thursday, kicking off next week (18 March).

Camelot believes the new format will appeal to a millennial audience, who can relate to the experience-focused ‘making every month amazing’ positioning.

“The £10,000 every month emotionally takes them into a different kind of place where they start talking about all the things they can do, the experiences they could have, the special purchases they could make,” says Camelot head of draw-based games, Martyn Baxter.

“It seems to unlock a different part of people’s brains about these emotional experiences that they could have and things they could do with this prize, which we found is particularly relevant among that younger millennial audience.”

The launch of Set for Life is being supported by a multi-channel campaign, devised by adam&eveDDB, which runs across TV, video-on-demand (VoD), digital, outdoor, radio, social and in-store point of sale.

Given the game’s millennial appeal Camelot has ramped up the digital aspect of the campaign and increased its influencer activity. Ahead of the tickets going on sale today, Camelot worked with 100 influencers on creating content exploring what they would do if they won the top prize and outlining their bucket list items.

After this initial push, there are plans to work with a further 50 influencers on content focused on the excitement winning the game would create. Then the idea is to get into a “monthly rhythm”, showing what amazing things the winners could be doing each month, relevant to the season.

READ MORE: Camelot targets millennials with new game it hopes will ‘unlock’ a different part of people’s brains

Government ups ante on digital ad crackdown

Digital advertising has been the subject of much Government action this week, with the House of Lords calling for “urgent” regulation of big tech and Chancellor Philip Hammond writing to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) asking it to carry out a study of the digital ad market “as soon as possible”.

In a nutshell: Facebook and Google are becoming too dominant and without intervention will only increase their control of technology at the expense of people’s privacy and society – as we have been seeing more and more in recent years.

The House of Lords’ report has been broadly welcomed by the UK ad industry, with the IAB saying it sees “encouraging signs” including recognition that the internet is not a ‘Wild West’ like it is so often made out to be.

But trade bodies are urging government to listen to them throughout any decision-making processes to make sure it fully understands the complexity of the online advertising ecosystem and recognises the value of the current ad regulation model which has been led by the ASA for a number of years.

The obvious concern is that any misinformed Government meddling could diminish the role of an organisation that many believe to be effective, robust and responsive to the demands of a dynamic and fast-moving industry.

Regulation of an unruly and unsafe digital environment is needed more than ever before – and quickly. There is no doubting that. But it is absolutely vital that Government listens to those with expertise and realises while it has the authoritative voice, it would be foolish to try and wage this war on its own.

READ MORE: Questions raised over ASA’s role as government calls for ‘urgent’ regulation of big tech



    Leave a comment