The Marketing Week

Welcome to The Marketing Week, your guide to the good, the bad and the ugly in the marketing industry over the last seven days.


Generic Brand Video

“We think first of vague words that are synonyms for progress and pair them with footage of a high-speed train…” opens the Generic Brand Video, which was published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency last month but really took momentum on social networks this week after the satirical poem was made into a video by a stock footage company.

The video pulls together everything wrong with bland advertising into an amusing 3-minute parody, which should serve as warning to any marketer tempted to insert insipid messages into their campaigns.


Soft drinks industry

Share a Coke

Not just a good week but a good year for soft drinks, which saw sales top £10bn in 2013 for the first time, buoyed by a summer of warmer weather and demand for more premium and healthier products from brands. The figures, from Britvic’s annual Soft Drinks Review, show an industry responding well to changing customer needs as well as increasingly savvy shoppers looking for good value and promotions.

Marketing has helped keep soft drinks brands front of mind, with Coke’s “Share A Coke” promotion an obvious example of a hugely successful campaign that helped to drive awareness as well as sales. Campaigns for low sugar options, spurred by continuing support for the Government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal, also boosted sales as soft drink brands attempt to shake off their unhealthy reputation.


Energy companies


The big six energy suppliers face the risk of being split up after the regulator Ofgem ordered a full investigation that it claims will “once and for all clear the air” over whether customers are paying unfair rates on their gas and electricity bills. The move is likely to lead to two years of uncertainty over the future of the industry which British gas owner Centrica warned could lead to the UK’s energy security being “seriously challenged”. It has already delayed plans to invest in power stations in the UK and believes others are likely to follow suit.

The news came in the same week SSE announced it would freeze energy bills until 2016, piling pressure on its rivals to follow suit in a bid to cast their brands in a more positive light. Public perceptions of the big six energy companies remain among the lowest of any industry and they face rising competition from smaller rivals such as Ovo.


Taco Bell ads star real life Ronald McDonalds

The McDonald’s mascot may have faded into the background in recent years but Taco Bell’s latest campaign is testament to his iconic status. The fast food maker is taking a cheeky swipe at its rival by featuring real customers with the clown’s name. Each person is shown eating the tacos enthusiastically along with banding out comments like “It’s not messy” and “It has everything I like”. The ads promote Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu, which features quirky additions such as a waffle taco.

Google films India’s very first voter for new campaign

Google has launched a new online campaign depicting the true story of independent India’s first voter Shyam Saran Negi. The ad, shot by Ogilvy India, tells the story of India’s first general election in a bid to inspire Indians to vote later this year. As the story goes, the country’s first national ballot was held in early 1952, however an exception was made for the Kinnaur district in anticipation of snowfall, resulting in elections being held there in October 1951. Negi was the first to cast his vote and has voted in every election since.

The campaign promotes Google’s online hub for India’s 2014 Election, where people can pledge to vote.


Facebook has bought drone company Ascenta

Facebook is taking a leaf out of the fictional Skynet’s book in its push to spread the internet. The social network is using a sci-fi mix of drones, lasers and satellites to bring the internet to people in undeveloped parts of the world. It is working with experts from NASA to lead the costly initiative although no timeframe has been given on when it will be completed. It is an extension of Facebook’s effort to introduce Internet access to places such as Africa and parts of Asia, which has already seen it tie with telecommunications firms to make access more affordable.


@paulfabretti – Telefonica global digital and social media lead
on marketers wondering what Facebook’s declining organic reach means for their social strategies
”Seems that the only thing bigger than the terror of the news that Organic Reach is plummeting is the fear of WTF to do next.”

@MarcFMath – Unilever senior vice president of marketing
on the World Federation of Advertisers’ report into brand purpose 
”Importance of Brand Purpose over Product Proposition: ‘make better things’ not just ‘make things better’! @WFAReconnect”

@Filleepa – Microsoft UK CMO
tweeting at this week’s Oystercatchers event
“Tired of comments about colouring in dpmt from CMO’s … CFO’s don’t complain about being spreadsheet monkeys … #moveon @Oystertweet”

@ZoeajFenn – international insight and brand consultant at Flaming
on Marks & Spencer’s latest Leading Ladies campaign
“Really am rooting for M&S… Emma T and Annie Lennox feel spot on… but Rita Ora?”


31 March – 3 April Ad Week Europe returns to venues across London. Read our comprehensive guide on the sessions you should attend here.