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.


At first glance the latest Diet Coke ad appears to be condoning drug abuse (see above).

The question many marketers in the US must have been asking this week is: Why is Coca-Cola telling the good people of New York they are under the influence of class A drugs? As observant as that might be in the city that never sleeps, Coca-Cola was not making said statement in its latest bus ads.

It and its agency partner were guilty, however, of font and text juxtaposition crimes against advertising. 

To explain, the ads place Diet Coke’s “You’re On” slogan – meant as an inspiring call to action – alongside the Diet Coke logo. The diet half of the brand name is crucially in smaller and different coloured font. The effect, at first glance, is that it seems to spell out the phrase ‘You’re On Coke”. 

Of course, it’s all a little stuff and nonsense but the discussion and suggestion the soft drink giant was condoning drug use – which prompted a swift denial by Coca-Cola – could well lead to a sales bump. The number of people intending to purchase Diet Coke increased markedly in the days following the campaign’s launch, according to communications agency Way to Blue.  And what better judge of a successful campaign is there.



Good news for consumers this week as the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium show retail prices falling for the 10th consecutive month in February to 1.4 per cent, their lowest level since records began. In non-food, retailers cut their prices by 3 per cent, the steepest decline ever, while food inflation slowed to a record low of 1.1 per cent.

That is a trend that is likely to continue as the supermarkets embark on a new price war. Tesco kicked off its £200m investment in “lower, more stable” pricing by launching a marketing campaign promoting its decision to cut the price of 4 pints of milk to £1. Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have since followed suit, while the Co-op has reduced the price of 1 and 2 pints of milk and Morrisons today launched print ads claiming it has the cheapest milk after it dropped the price of 2 litres to 84p.



Gambling brands face the prospect of tougher restrictions after the Government launched a four-pronged review of ad codes and their enforcement. Pressure has been mounting to investigate gambling advertising after Ofcom published figures in November that found the number of gambling ads aired annually increased six-fold to 1.39 million since deregulation of the industry in 2007. Ministers have now asked the advertising regulators to look into whether existing rules are robust enough and enforced correctly, while the Remote Gambling Association will review its voluntary code.

The move comes in the same week Paddy Power launched a controversial ad encouraging people to bet on the outcome of Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial. The Advertising Standards Authority took the unusual step of withdrawing the ad after it attracted more than 5,000 complaints in the 3 days following its launch on the 2 March. While perceptions of the brand have fallen over the past week, its “ad awareness” rating and “word of mouth” exposure are up.


Puma risks upsetting Christians with Ash Wednesday stunt

Not to be outdone by Coke’s perceived references to Class A, Puma put itself in the firing line with an Ash Wednesday marketing stunt. The sportswear business erected shrine-like booths across New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago with the branding “#Start Believing”. The stunt promoted the Italy football team’s World Cup kit and uploaded pictures of people jokingly kneeling before it to social media. According to reports, Puma said it did not mean to cause offence, however, it’s easy to imagine the promotion riling some.  

Oreo and the 3D printed cookie

The real-time marketing darling is taking the discipline to new heights with its latest stunt. Oreo is showing off a vending machine at this year’s SXSW that prints off edible cookies based on trending Twitter conversations. Users of the Oreo Trending Vending Lounge can choose from whichever of the flavours and the colours of cream are trending, then watch as their cookies are created in under two minutes. Consumers can follow the stunt using the hashtag #eatthetweet.


Viewers and TV stars have been pledging their support this week for BBC3, the youth channel set to be axed by Auntie from traditional broadcast in autumn 2015. Much like BBC Radio 6 Music, which was saved from the brink after a major listener and talent campaign protesting its potential closure in 2010, BBC3 fans (and particularly those stars on its payroll) will be hoping a similar u-turn will be performed in this instance. And with social media sites even bigger and more powerful than they were four years ago, brands are likely to jump on the bandwagon to profess their latent love for the under-fire channel.


@prodnose – Danny Baker, broadcaster

on holding brands to account for the disappointing England v Denmark football friendly earlier this week

I say we hold every product that advertised during this pathetic game responsible. Make note who sold you this bore people & act accordingly

@BenedictEvans – analyst at Andreessen Horowitz

on the irony of mobile trends

It’s kind of ironic that voice is one of the next big things in mobile

@HelenLewis – deputy editor of the New Statesman

on The Sun’s controversial campaign using Page 3 models to promote its partnership with breast cancer charity CoppaFeel

Can’t wait for the Sun’s campaign against colon cancer. What a front page that will be.


7 March – South by South West interactive launches in Austin, Texas. Highlights from this year’s show include NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden speaking on 10 March (although presumably not actually in the venue in person), a session about the “internet of cars” and advice from Quora about how to build a community “without memes, porn or cat pics”.

12 March – ISBA holds its annual conference at the Kia Oval. Hear from ISBA president and Coke general manager for GB and Ireland Jon Woods, Ofcom CEO Ed Richards, Barclays UK managing director of marketing communications Sara Bennison, former Virgin Media CMO Jeff Dodds, Weve CEO David Sear and more.

13 March – Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group announces its full-year results. Look out for updates on how Argos’s new digital concept stores are performing and whether Homebase’s diversification into decorating and design services is paying off.



    Leave a comment