The Guardian, Unilever, John Lewis: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Missed the big news this week? Catch up on all the latest including The Guardian banned ads from oil and gas companies, Unilever’s focus on brand purpose and the departure of John Lewis’s Craig Inglis.


Unilever ups focus on brand purpose

Unilever is often held up as an exemplar of how brand purpose can work in a marketer’s favour. What it terms as its “purpose-led brands” are growing 69% faster than the rest of the business, whether that’s Ben & Jerry’s with its focus on activism or Dove and its ‘Real Beauty’ campaign.

It describes its ‘Sustainable Living Brands’ as those that communicate a strong environmental or social purpose and have products that contribute to achieving its ambition to halve the company’s environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact.

Unilever’s argument has long been that sustainable brands are good for business, particularly long-term brand building. What has been less clear is the impact of purchase at point-of-sale.

Now, however, Unilever says it has “extremely strong data” on the link between purposeful communication and both short- and long-term growth. That’s data that other marketers, and those who argue brands should do more than just push product, could learn from.

READ MORE: Unilever doubles down on purpose – We know it drives short and long-term growth

Mondelēz reverses restructuring plan

mondelez new cmoMondelēz is scrapping its European CMO role, appointing instead a vice-president of marketing and strategy in what is the final move away from its shift to regional CMOs back in 2018.

The restructure less than two years ago saw the company introduce four regional chief marketing officers under one global CMO with the aim of elevating the role of marketing, improving understanding of local markets better and building faster innovation.

Each CMO was responsible for one of five objectives to ensure Mondelēz was fit for purpose as a modern business: capabilities (its digital transformation); community (strengthening its marketing community); celebration (talking about what it is doing best); complexity (simplifying the business and becoming more agile); and careers.

However, it didn’t last very long with Mondelēz reversing its restructure later that year, with the European CMO, Deobora Koyama, the only regional CMO remaining.

Mondelēz veteran Peter Seymour is replacing her as head of European marketing and will lead on both marketing and corporate strategy.

Koyama was a known for her passion for purpose and drive for innovation so it is unsurprising she is moving to Unilever. Koyama was known for wanting to use marketing to change the world for the better but it will be worth keeping watch on whether her successor will continue that goal.

READ MORE: Mondelēz scraps European CMO role

The Guardian bans ads from oil and gas companies

the guardian newspaperThe Guardian is putting its money where its mouth is, making the decision to ban ads from oil and gas companies that have long been accused of using advertising to cover up their real business and its impact.

The Guardian is the first major publisher to make the bold move and comes despite the fact it will cost it in revenue, in the short-term at least. Long-term, it hopes the ban will attract like-minded readers and advertisers to its more purposeful brand.

As our columnist Mark Ritson writes elsewhere in Marketing Week this week, oil and gas companies have got away with using a veneer of advertising to hide the impact of their business for long enough. Despite what marketing campaigns might tell you, data from the International Energy Agency shows these companies are still putting 99.2% of their investments into fossil fuels and just 0.8% into renewables.

It took years for tobacco companies to become advertising pariahs. Slowly but surely we can now hope the same is happening for oil and gas companies.

READ MORE: The Guardian admits revenues will take a hit as it bans ads from oil and gas companies

John Lewis loses marketing boss Craig Inglis

After 12 years at John Lewis and five years at the top table, John Lewis’s customer director Craig Inglis will give up his seat in the boardroom in March with the intention of exploring “other opportunities” outside the seemingly terminally-challenged business.

Inglis joins a growing list of departures at John Lewis Partnership, including John Lewis boss Paula Kickolds who announced her departure at the beginning of the year, and Waitrose boss Rob Collins, who left at the end of 2019.

One can but guess what “other opportunities” means. But Inglis’s departure is yet further evidence that John Lewis is in a lot of trouble. So much so that its top management team don’t want to stick around. That, or they are casualties of a £100m cost-saving restructure that is axing 75 of JLP’s 225 head office jobs.

It will be the job of incoming chairman Sharon White to decide what happens now. Nickolds was due to take on a new role as executive director of brand in February, which leaves the outcome of this role up in the air.

It is not yet clear what will happen to Inglis’s role either, nor that of his counterpart at Waitrose, Martin George, who will probably be having a few sleepless nights.

What we do know is White has a strong economic background. Before becoming chief executive of Ofcom in 2015, she worked at the Treasury, the British embassy in Washington and the No 10 policy unit during the premiership of Tony Blair.

White will no doubt have some tough and potentially ruthless decisions to make. EH

READ MORE: John Lewis’s marketing boss Craig Inglis to leave

The ad industry takes steps to address climate crisis

climate change aa
The ad industry is coming together to tackle the climate crisis with the launch of two new climate action groups. The Advertising Association’s is create them to encourage collaboration across the ad industry with the aim to coordinate how the sector can help combat climate change.

The initiative will focus on three key areas:
1. Producing a report to measure the UK ad industry’s current carbon footprint and what businesses are doing to reduce it.
2. Developing options to create more collection action within the industry, particularly in encouraging an increasing presence of more sustainable products, services, messaging and behaviours in advertising.
3. Supporting the Advertising Standard’s Authority plan for exploring the role that advertising regulation can play in response to concerns around climate change and the human impact on the environment.

The group’s members span all sectors and include brand such as Unilever, media owners like Sky and The Guardian, agencies such as adam&eveDDB and Mindshare, and organisations like The Marketing Academy.

It’s great to see the ad industry working together to understand how it can help climate change, especially across brands and sectors, but in order for it to carry weight tough decisions will need to be made.

READ MORE: Ad industry comes together to tackle the climate crisis 



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