Unilever, KFC, Tesco: 5 things that mattered this week and why

From Unilever finally appointing a new marketing boss to KFC’s ban for its ‘What the cluck’ ad and the brands promoting disabled workers, catch up on all the major marketing news from the past week.

unileverUnilever names new CMO and adds digital to the job title

Unilever has finally done it, 13 months since it got a new CEO, one year from Keith Weed announcing his resignation and eight months since he left, the FMCG giant has hired a new CMO.

Conny Braams will be its new chief digital and marketing officer. She isn’t well known in marketing circles but she’s had an impressive career, most recently heading up middle Europe for the company. But as an operational hero rather than a brand builder some were left confused why a marketer with a higher profile hasn’t been chosen.

But Braams is the right marketer when you look at the company’s challenges – which are largely operational. It is being squeezed by discount retailers and venture capitalists who are producing cheap products and premium innovations that are hard to compete with.

This, plus challenges from local competitors, means Unilever needs a marketer who has a grasp of what it takes to win on local and global levels and understand the nitty-gritty of winning on complex operational levels.

This plus Alan Jope’s expertise in marketing means that some are predicting a shift in roles, with Jope leading the marketing community while Braams delivers big business wins.

The title itself is also significant. FMCG, Unilever included, has not been shy about the growing pains of digital. The sector is trying to claw back ineffective spending and loss of trust as it hopes to enter the decade with a new responsible value-led relationship with social media giants.

This new title seems to highlight that Unilever sees digital as important, if not more so, than marketing.

READ MORE: What Unilever’s new chief digital and marketing officer means for the business

What the cluck? KFC gets in trouble with the ASA

KFC What the cluck adKFC, alongside agency Mother, has gained a reputation for daring, funny and sometimes off the wall ads. But this approach landed them in hot water this week as the ASA upheld complaints about its ‘WHAT THE CLUCK’ outdoor ads and “cluuuuck” in newspaper ads.

Some felt that children would see the ads and make the not-so-subtle connection to some parent’s favourite swear word. The fast food chain argued  “cluck” was used as an onomatopoeic reference to the noise of a chicken. I call bullsqueak.

To be fair to KFC, chose locations for the posters in order to maximise coverage to adults over 16 years of age. However, the ASA didn’t buy it and said swear words, or the allusion to them, should be banned from all advertising.

Is this PC culture gone mad? Has the fun been taken out of advertising? I am sure there will be think pieces to follow.

READ MORE: KFC ‘What the cluck’ and Deliveroo ads banned

Tesco and McDonald’s first brands to commit to IAB’s ‘gold standard

The IAB has been doing some good work to get the digital ad ecosystem cleaned up. It’s ‘gold standard’ aims to tackle issues such as ad fraud and brand safety, while also improving the digital ad experience for users.

So far, 95 media owners, media agencies and ad tech companies have been certified. But there was a distinct lack of brands getting involved – clearly a huge missing piece in the puzzle.

Finally, the IAB has managed to get some brands on board. And some big ones at that. Both Tesco and McDonald’s have now committed to only working with digital ad suppliers that have been gold standard-certified wherever possible.

This should provide some impetus to get more companies in the digital ad ecosystem cleaning up their act. But more brands need to get on board with this. Only by the whole industry working together can the issues in digital advertising be addressed and overcome.

READ MORE: Tesco and McDonald’s the first brands to commit to ‘gold standard’ to clean up digital advertising

Brands gift Channel 4 ad airtime to disabled causes

channel 4
Employment opportunities among the disabled population haven’t improved much in a decade. According to the Office for National Statistics, there are almost 1.1 million disabled people in the UK who want to work but aren’t being given the opportunity. That means 8% of disabled people are unemployed, compared to 3.3% among the general population.

Purple Light Up is working to change this. Founded in 2017, it aims to draw attention to the economic empowerment of disabled people. But to do that it needs the help of big brands.

Step up Channel 4. It got involved last year, airing a two-minute film featuring employees from brands including BT, Nationwide and Virgin Media talking about disabled people’s concerns and how they are perceived in the workplace.

This year, it has enlisted the help of more brands – specifically Sainsbury’s, Natwest and Nationwide – asking them to give airtime on Channel 4 to three social enterprises focused on disability.

The airtime went to soap producer Beco, chocolatier Harry Specters and brewer Ignition Brewery, picked with help from charity Scope and government scheme Disability Confident.

Here’s hoping that by highlighting the work these social enterprises do, we can start to remove some of the stigma around disabled people in the workplace. As Beco founder Camilla Marcus-Dew puts it: “Let’s not focus on the one thing disabled people can’t do. That silly point in an interview when you ask people about their weaknesses, we all have weaknesses, some are visible to people, some are not visible. But it’s not a reason not to hire.”

READ MORE: Sainsbury’s, NatWest and Nationwide gift Channel 4 ad airtime to disabled causes

Co-op launches Christmas ad

We may be more than a month into Christmas ad season but the campaigns are still coming in thick and fast. This week saw the Co-op launch its effort, which tries to convey a message around its support of community causes as well as its festive food.

The ad, created by Lucky Generals, shows a woman arriving home from work late to find her partner waiting up for her. They then share a late-night mince pie.

Slightly bizarrely, there’s also a brass band in their kitchen playing a version of The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York. They are there do showcase those community causes, with the BTM Brass Band one of the organisations to benefit from the £17m the Co-op will donate this Christmas.

Talking about community causes in advertising is never an easy job but the Co-op and its agency do a decent job of marrying community and commercial. It’s a key point of difference for the Co-op and one it’s keen to get more consumers thinking about when they shop.

READ MORE: Co-op weaves community and commercial messages together in Christmas ad



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