I first started considering the landslide wonderfulness of online media channels in the light of revelations about the (non-)viewability of ads back in 2011.
Since then, concerns over how many online ads can actually be seen have been joined by greater concerns over whether users are blocking ads altogether; the safety of the environments in which they might appear; and whether promised audiences are inflated or even exist.
Fortunately, either new dynamic balances have been reached (eg consumer adoption of ad blockers has stabilised) or new tools have been developed to help advertisers quantify and – if they choose – address some of these concerns.
But over this entire time, a bigger question has emerged. Why do advertisers take so little notice of where their money is or isn’t going and continue to place good money after bad?
Marketers abdicating responsibility
I canvassed some marketer chums to sense-check my thoughts. I didn’t start out intending to attack advertisers but every line of enquiry I make points me in that direction.
For example, despite mounting criticism and evidence, advertisers are still pumping money into Facebook. Even, paradoxically, those who are finally taking more apparently ‘principled’ stands on industry platforms.
Ad spend growth for all channels except online is at best modest, with some major media posting slowdowns or even declines. Yet online is still well into double-digit growth despite the lengthening list of tarnishes that attach to both the whole medium and the specific channels which comprise most of its revenue and all of its growth.
The possible explanations are several, if not pretty.
It could be ignorance – but if you’re spending either significant sums, or at least significant proportions of your business’s turnover or marketing budget, including personnel, on these channels, that’s simply no excuse.
Don’t be distracted by arguments about ‘complexity’. Not only are the stakes too high, but as we all know, most things are as complex as someone wants to make them.
Worse are the ‘life’s too short’ or ‘I’m too busy’ arguments. However complex the media and tech may present themselves as being (and why is that anyway?), your company’s owners wouldn’t tolerate it were they to become aware. Maybe they should be.
But what’s an intermediate-level marketer of the sort typically tasked with these channels to do if their faith in digital media is challenged but their boss remains besotted, as many do?
Even raising the flag can leave a question mark on record for appraisal time. We may have full employment in the marketing sector but most would agree that continued tenure remains quite precarious. And that’s assuming you’re on staff – many are on contracts, whether interim, maternity cover… best not rock the boat, then.
To spare blushes, I will naively assume that inducements play no part even though the new channels dedicate considerable resources and sums to both implanting themselves within client organisations and entertaining.
Implanting is a great strategy – not only does it give early notice of future budgets and plans, it also offers the opportunity to influence them. You can imagine in whose favour. Beware.
Lavish entertaining is less widespread, as many companies, for example in retail, forbid its receipt. But if you’re not one of these unfortunates, I understand that one of the best routes to key events or the best tables is the sales folk of online companies.
Which leads me to the last, and mercifully most rational, objection – the belief that it is simply too costly or complicated to resolve the failures of online media. I must admit I was as guilty as the next person of rubbing along with this one for far too long until I worked out it was utter rubbish.
The practical response
There are legion reports emanating from consulting firms (PwC, IBM et al), industry audits (ebiquity, Teads et al) or advertiser trade associations (eg ISBA & WFA).
All show significant ‘shrinkage’ – meaning that significant proportions of money are disappearing in fees, for example – with figures varying between a substantial 30% and a frightening 90%.
Viewability is still hovering around the 50% mark, meaning that around half of your ads can’t be seen. This is way before discussion about whether or not they actually have been seen – a separate conversation. That’s half the money wasted there and then.
Meanwhile, ad fraud is now reckoned to be the second biggest source of revenue for organised crime globally, behind drugs and ahead of people trafficking. Everyone is funding it through careless deployment of online ad budgets. Shareholders are going to love that one, especially if you’re a PLC.
So the stakes are enormous. Yet great preventative tools exist. The very trade bodies which many marketers rightly co-fund have spent considerable effort developing and negotiating solutions with industry peers, including those who don’t have an interest in making it easy.
All are readily available. Yes, some cost money, but marketing is grounded in investing to accumulate so that should not be a problem. Why not, then, subscribe immediately to the relevant tools to address each misdemeanour?
Since you’re going to use the early findings to underpin the zero-tolerance KPIs you are going to hold your suppliers to henceforth, the return should be almost instantaneous, measurable in weeks if not days.
Don’t be distracted by arguments about ‘complexity’. Not only are the stakes too high, but as we all know, most things are as complex as someone wants to make them.
Before you know it, you’ll be in serious credit with your business and will have the choice of increased advertising effectiveness or saving the difference – or a mix of the two.
Bob Wootton was director of media and advertising at ISBA and is now principal of Deconstruction Consulting.
1. November marks 12th consecutive month of footfall decline
Footfall in November fell 3.2% on the previous year, marking the 12th consecutive month of decline, as the ‘Black Friday’ effect drove more shopping online.
High street footfall decreased 3.8%, the fourth straight month of declines with Northern Ireland the only region to sustain its growth of 2.7%. The East, South East and East Midlands experienced the deepest declines of 5.6%, 4.8% and 4.7%, respectively.
Retail parks footfall slipped once more, down 1.4% in November.
Meanwhile, shopping centre footfall continues to decline, with that fall deepening 3.8% in November, from 3.3% in October and 1.3% year on year.
Source: British Retail Consortium
2. Consumers still wary about artificial intelligence
The majority (84%) of the British public say they should be informed when they’re dealing with artificial intelligence (AI) rather than another person.
Another 74% of respondents say AI should not pretend to be human or act as if it has a personality, while 67% believe AI should have the right to report you if you are engaging in illegal activity.
More than two-thirds (64%) of respondents agree we should be polite when interacting with AI, and 27% of Brits feel ‘robot rights’ should be introduced to ensure humane treatment of AI. This figure jumps to 61% in the ad industry.
3. UK number one in Europe for online fashion sales
Online fashion sales are set to reach $765bn in 2022, growing by 13% every year and accounting for 36% of total fashion sales, up from closer to a quarter currently.
That growth comes as the total number of online fashion shoppers globally reaches 911 million in 2022, up from 700 million in 2018 and equal to 31% of the total online population.
The UK is number one in Europe for online fashion sales in terms of penetration, surpassing the global online retail penetration average of 15% of total retail.
Germany is the second largest market in Europe with its online fashion expected to grow at 13.1% for the forecasted period, slightly higher than the global average growth.
France falls closely behind Germany, with an online penetration of 18% in 2017. The market is expected to grow by 12.1% between 2017 and 2022.
4. What Brits want from high street retailers
Brits want effortless payment processes and to be offered varied payment plans in regard to today’s shopping experience.
For instance, 61% of UK consumers state they are more likely to make repeat purchases if the payments process is effortless. While UK consumers would be willing to spend an average of 21% more on purchases if they were offered the chance to pay in interest-free monthly instalments.
When buying a high-value item, over half (54%) like to research online before making a purchase and 28% prefer to go in store to see the product before purchasing it online
Also, the influence of social media is more lack-lustre than it might seem with 70% of Brits saying they don’t think social media is influential at all in their purchasing decisions. And more than half (55%) of 18 to 24 year olds believe social media plays no role.
5. Consumers show little loyalty in travel sector
More than half (52%) of British holidaymakers say they never book with the same provider. This varies according to income and location, with Welsh residents (66%) and those earning more than £65,000 being the least loyal.
People from the North East (25%) are the most loyal, and consistently use the same provider.
Overall, only 26% of respondents book with the same provider and 9% say they don’t trust any brand to deliver end-to-end experiences.
The most trusted brands are Thomas Cook (51%), Booking.com (40%), TUI (39%) and Expedia (34%).
When asked about the pain points and ways in which brands could improve their customer experience, removing ‘unexpected or hidden costs’ is a high priority. It is the top frustration for 36% of people and the thing that would improve their experience the most for 46% of respondents.
Uber has filed for an initial public offering, according to sources close to the matter. If it goes ahead, it could be the largest offering next year and one of the five biggest of all time with a valuation of up to $120bn.
Uber has declined to comment but it faces a deadline to go public by 30 September 2019, although the news suggests it will happen sooner than that.
The speculation comes following smaller US rival Lyft’s IPO filing on Thursday and as Uber’s revenue begins to lose pace.
In the third quarter of the year, Uber lost $1.1bn on revenue of $2.95bn, with growth slowing to 38%.
The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium paint a bleak picture for British high streets as well as providing “indisputable evidence” that Black Friday delivers no tangible benefit to bricks and mortar stores.
Total footfall was down by 3.2% in November, a significant decline on the previous year when it grew by 0.2% and marking the twelfth month of consecutive decline.
High street footfall entered its fourth month of decline, down 3.8% and the largest decline since April 2018 when it fell by 4%.
“It has been a difficult year for many retailers and the outlook remains challenging as Brexit uncertainty grows.,” says Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium.
“Retailers will be following the upcoming parliamentary vote closely and hoping Parliament can secure a transition period to allow businesses time to adapt to life outside the EU. Without this transition, consumers face higher prices and less choice on their shopping trips.”
Northern Ireland was the only region to see growth of 4.1%, a small increase on the previous month of 4%, while the East Midlands and the South East suffered the deepest declines in this location, falling by 6.5% and 6% respectively, making this the sixth month of consecutive decline for both regions.
Retail Park footfall also fell deeper into decline. At -1.4% growth in November, this is the deepest fall since April 2018 when it fell by 1.8%.
Shopping Centre footfall declined by 3.8% – a sharper decline relative to the October 2018 rate of -3.3% and the November 2017 rate of -1.3%.
O2 could claim up to £100m for data outage
O2 is reportedly seeking a multi-million pound payout in damages from supplier Ericsson following the data outage last week which meant O2 users were unable to use their mobile data on Thursday and Friday.
Ericsson, which blamed expired software licenses for the problem, could be forced to pay as much as £100m.
Meanwhile, O2, which has 25 million users, is refunding monthly subscription customers with the cost of two days’ service, while pay-as-you-go customers will get 10% extra when they top up their phone in the New Year or 10% off when they buy data for mobile broadband devices.
Telefonica UK, which owns O2, says it will do a full audit of the problem across both organisations. O2’s chief executive Mark Evans is set to meet executives from Ericsson in the coming days.
China has threatened Canada with “serious consequences” over the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
Wanzhou was arrested in Canada last Saturday for allegedly breaking US sanctions on Iran. If she is found guilty, she could be extradited to the US and jailed for up to 30 years.
The foreign ministry called the arrest “extremely nasty” and said it was “unreasonable” and “ignored the law”.
“China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately release the detained person…otherwise Canada must accept full responsibility for the serious consequences caused,” the ministry said in a statement.
Separately, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said China will respond further depending on US actions.
Early January is the time of the workplace epiphany, when people follow the mantra ‘new year, new you’ and start seeking new job opportunities. But chances are, if you’re likely to be making that decision a month from now, the reasons for it should be just as pertinent in December.
While it might not seem the best time to get your head in the game of trawling through job ads and polishing your CV, there should be no time like the present.
Once you get under way with a few applications you’ll probably realise that getting feedback on the suitability of your skills and experience for the roles you want can drastically alter your approach to applications. So even if there are fewer vacancies advertised in December, it’s a better time to start having those conversations so you’re further down the road.
Data from Executives Online confirms there are more job ads posted in January than December, but it’s also a month when huge numbers of people start their job search. That means there’s a lot of competition for each vacancy. It also means recruiters and hiring managers aren’t likely to have time to give you detailed individual feedback in January. Getting it in December means you’re in a better position in February and March, when the data shows the vacancy numbers are higher than average.
December is also a good time to work out which are the best websites to use, in order to find the kinds of role you want. And once you’ve done that, you can spend time setting up email alerts for the keywords and job filters that return the most fruitful results. Again, doing this before the new year will mean no lost time or missed opportunities when the number of ads picks up.
Troubled consumer confidence, crippling business rates and digital disruption have all been blamed for the battering endured by the British high street in 2018. From casual dining to department store chains, high street stalwarts have fallen into the red at an alarming rate.
This was the year toy superstore Toys R Us and electronics retailer Maplin disappeared from the UK high street. House of Fraser also collapsed into administration in August owing nearly £1bn to creditors, but was rescued by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct and is now shutting at least three and possibly more of its stores.
Closures are also imminent at Debenhams, which is set to axe 50 of its 166 stores after posting a £491.5m loss in the year to 1 September. Meanwhile, profits plummeted 99% at the John Lewis Partnership in the six months to 28 July, which chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield blamed on Brexit uncertainty and squeezed profit margins in the “most promotional market” for decades.
Declining footfall, high rents and rapid over-expansion also took their toll on the casual dining sector. After posting a £47m loss, in October Gourmet Burger Kitchen announced plans to close 17 of its UK stores, putting 250 jobs at risk.
Burger rival Byron had already announced in January a rescue plan to close 20 restaurants, while just two months later Italian chain Prezzo stated its intention to close 94 outlets, including all 33 Chimichanga locations nationwide.
Then there was Jamie’s Italian, which in January announced plans to shutter 12 of its 37 restaurants after revealing debts of £71.5m, just a month before Oliver’s steak chain Barbecoa fell into administration blaming Brexit uncertainties and a “tough” market.
The solution to the high street crisis for retail brands could lie with ‘frenemies’ joining forces to share space, in the style of Next teaming up with Paperchase, Costa Coffee, Hema and Lipsy on its latest London opening. Another route for retailers involves finding new uses for redundant space, such as introducing gyms and co-working spaces that extend dwell times. CR
Influencer marketing is forced to grow up
Influencer marketing has been firmly under the spotlight in 2018, with influencer fraud, fake followers and transparency all scrutinised like never before.
While most marketers plan to increase spend on influencer marketing, there are mounting concerns about the practice and many in the industry have argued it needs tighter regulation and a thorough clean-up.
At Cannes Lions, Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer Keith Weed underlined the importance of trust and said that while he sees value in the content influencers can create, “the market gets undermined if people don’t trust the amount of followers someone has”.
He stated that Unilever will refuse to work with influencers who buy followers and will be prioritising partners who increase transparency and can help eradicate bad practices.
Then in August, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation to measure how transparent influencers are actually being about sponsored posts. It said there were clear examples of influencers not stating they have been paid to promote a product or service – and a number of influencers have already fallen foul of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for just this.
Both the ASA and ISBA welcomed the CMA’s investigation and highlighted this is an increasingly important issue.
There is clearly a lot of work to be done to help regulate the industry and weed out the fraudulent activity giving it a bad name. Given budgets for influencer marketing are only set to rise, hopefully 2019 will mark a turning point for the industry that will ensure it can shake off its shady past and evolve into a more trusted marketing method. LT
Marketers face questions over the role of microtargeting
The scandal surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica thrust the issue of marketing, data and targeting into the spotlight like never before. Suddenly, this was a global talking point, seen on the front pages of all the world’s media.
The affair centred on the political consultancy’s purchase of data in 2014 from a personality test app, which acquired millions of Facebook profile details on both its users and their friends – ostensibly for academic research. Yet Cambridge Analytica subsequently used this data to create models for targeted advertising, against Facebook’s policies. The company went on to be instrumental in Donald Trump’s digital campaign during the 2016 presidential election.
Beyond the legality or otherwise of Cambridge Analytica’s behaviour and Facebook’s failure to properly police how apps were using data, the scandal has raised questions over the use of microtargeting and its role in advertising.
It has been almost impossible to attend a conference over the last year or so and not hear marketers, particularly in FMCG, talk up the benefits of one-to-one mass marketing. Marc Pritchard, the chief brand officer at the world’s biggest advertiser Procter & Gamble, spoke to the opportunities when he spoke at both the ANA and ISBA conferences earlier this year.
But such granular targeting poses challenges. Where do you draw the line between effective targeting and just being plain creepy? How effective is it to go for targeted over mass reach? And how do marketers distance themselves from scandals like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica when they have been using similar tactics? SV
Junk food brands face the music
Food and drink brands have faced regulatory scrutiny this year amid growing concerns over obesity, particularly among young children.
Perhaps the biggest move was the introduction of the sugar tax in April, which saw drinks with a high sugar content forced to put up prices. At the same time, the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) launched a review of how and when junk food should be advertised. And just a week later celebrity chef Jamie Oliver launched his #AdEnough campaign, demanding a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising on TV and further controls on what ads kids see online, on the street and on public transport.
The UK has some of the toughest rules in the world and the Advertising Standards Authority is stamping down on those brands that violate them. Cadbury, KFC, Kinder and Kellogg’s have all had ads banned.
Both the government and the industry is responding to shifting consumer opinion around junk food and how to tackle obesity. There is still lots to play for with the government consulting with action groups and advertisers on the proposed watershed and CAP’s review still ongoing. But food and drink brands must respond quickly to the way the wind is blowing, and those that win out will be those that listen to their consumers and adapt. MF
The agency holding model takes a battering
A quick glance at the most recent results of the agency holding groups tells you all you need to know about the state of their businesses. At WPP, reported revenue for the nine months to the end of September was down 1.6% year on year to £11.3bn and it has implemented a recruitment freeze.
Meanwhile, over at Publicis, revenues for the first nine months of the year are down from €6.9bn in 2017 to €6.5bn this year. And at Havas revenues have fallen 0.3% to €1.6bn.
WPP’s new boss Mark Read calls it a “structural change not a structural decline”, saying that “decisive action” and “radical thinking” are needed to turn fortunes around.
He is not wrong on the latter two points. Shares in the agency holding groups have taken a battering this year as investors take fright at a perfect storm of challenges coming in to upend their business models. FMCG companies, on which agencies, and WPP in particular, are reliant, have cut back on marketing investment as they face lacklustre growth, pressure from activist investors and new competitors.
Professional services firms are now competitors too and taking a cut particularly on the strategy and digital transformation end of spend. The digital duopoly of Facebook and Google are able to reach brands directly without the need for an agency middleman. And on top of all that, big brands are questioning those relationships in the light of issues such as media transparency and ad fraud.
Sir Martin Sorrell’s decision to quit WPP earlier this year may have been a shock at the time, but pressure was growing on both him and the model he built. Agency holding groups must find a way to simplify their offerings, listen to brands’ needs and prove their worth if Read is to be vindicated in his assurances that this is a change not a decline. SV
John Lewis launches biggest ever Christmas product push
Following the launch of its Elton John biopic last month, John Lewis has now unveiled its biggest foray into product ads to-date with eight 10-second films each accompanied by a different Elton John song relating to the product.
Think: I’m Still Standing for a Nespresso coffee machine, This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore for a Lego train, and Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me for GoPro.
Aside from no doubt helping to boost Elton John single sales, this campaign is everything that The Boy And The Piano is not: Christmassy and commercial.
It is what the majority of other retailers have done instead of the usual 120-second big festive shebang – although John Lewis has done both, showing it is a business that knows how important it is to build an emotional engagement in the longer term as well as drive sales in the short term.
Except for the fact that The Boy And The Piano hasn’t performed especially well on any Christmas ranking. And sales at John Lewis (except for the week around Black Friday) have been relatively flat in the run-up to Christmas.
We will have to wait and see whether this big product push gives those sales a much needed boost in these all-important final weeks.
Simpler Christmas ads better received than blockbusters
Iceland’s Banned TV Christmas Advert... Say hello to Rang-tan. #NoPalmOilChristmas - YouTube
The debate over whether retailers were right to ditch the usual blockbuster Christmas ad in favour of more commercial, product-focused campaigns this year might finally be able to be laid to rest, with research this week ranking the festive ads in terms of which were most likely to make people buy and build a strong brand in the long term.
Clue: it’s not Elton John.
In fact, it was Iceland’s banned palm oil ad that came out on top, according to Kantar Millward Brown’s annual study into the effectiveness of festive ads, with M&S, Morrisons, Tesco, Boots and Amazon all performing well across a number of metrics.
John Lewis’s The Boy And The Piano/Elton John biopic scored well on ‘enjoyment’, ‘involvement’ and ‘brand love’, however, facial recognition analysis revealed that people were more confused and surprised than anything.
Does this mean big doesn’t mean best? Perhaps, with viewers responding best to simpler, more traditional ideas and ‘real’ scenarios with families than those presenting a ‘fantasy’ Christmas (let’s face it, most people aren’t going to be able to afford a piano this Christmas – no matter how thoughtful a gift it might be).
M&S’s ‘food porn’ also played well, as did its “unashamedly commercial” ‘Must-Haves’ campaign featuring Holly Willoughby and David Gandy.
Perhaps this is why John Lewis launched its biggest ever Christmas product push this week…
Unilever has lost a second top exec in a week with the news that Keith Weed is to retire after eight years as marketing boss and 35 years at the company. His departure follows hot on the heels of CEO Paul Polman’s decision to leave and it seems unlikely the two aren’t linked given how closely the men have worked together on issues such as sustainability and brand purpose.
Weed will be in role for another six months as incoming CEO Alan Jope makes a decision about his successor. That gives the industry until May to say goodbye to a man who has done as much to raise the profile of marketing within Unilever as he has to raise the profile of marketing in business generally.
Speaking to people who have worked with him, what is clear is his passion for the discipline he has led and his untiring commitment to improving marketing capability and making it a core tenet of business growth. He did that at Unilever and in the industry more generally, helping to set up initiatives such the Marketing Society Leadership programme.
His departure leaves Unilever with a big hole to fill. Weed oversaw a time when Unilever’s marketing became more global and the company used its scale to see off competition. But the times they are a-changing. Nimble-footed challengers are snapping at the heels of the big FMCG players and Unilever will need to use both its size and entrepreneurial qualities to thrive in future.
Formula E, the all-electric car championship, has unveiled a new brand identity and campaign it hopes will help to position it as a more exciting sport.
It is known for its sustainability and being much more environmentally-friendly than the likes of Formula One – an important point of difference that the brand will continue to push – however it is now on a mission to prove to people that just because it is good for the planet doesn’t mean it’s boring.
Horn-locking stags, a stinging scorpion and a roaring tiger have been used to illustrate how Formula E wants to be seen: gritty, visceral, competitive, disruptive, unpredictable and unconventional.
The man leading this transformation is Jerome Hiquet, Formula E’s very new chief marketing officer, who joined the business just three weeks ago, just in time for the upcoming fifth season which begins on 15 December.
The big shift compared with other seasons is that this one is going to be much more immersive and experience-driven as Formula E eyes up a younger demographic, with gamification set to play an increasing role for the business going forward.
It makes sense; many of Formula E’s existing fans will be gamers, and there is a lot of potential to turn gaming fans into Formula E enthusiasts.
The live ghost racing technology, something Formula E is currently testing to allow fans to race drivers in real-time via a video game, will undoubtedly be a big hook for sports and gaming enthusiasts outside of Formula E too.
As people become more environmentally-conscious, Formula E is well positioned to see some serious growth in the coming years.
The start of December always signals a time of reflection and here at Marketing Week we’ve been taking a look back over the year at the best campaigns, the biggest moments and some of the challenges the industry has faced.
This year we’ve compiled a list of 16 campaigns we believe show the industry’s creativity, it’s ability to tackle big issues and that share the evolution of brands. That goes from KFC’s FCK print ad to CALM tackling male suicide and the launch of John Lewis and Waitrose’s first joint marketing campaign.
We’ll be kicking off a competition to find our readers’ favourite marketing campaign of 2018 next week, pitting ads against each other to be crowned the winner in an entirely scientific poll. Stay tuned for that! And if you need a reminder of the campaigns that made the cut, take a look below.
“You never hear a child say ‘when I grow up, I want to be a marketer’,” notes Imogen Beschi, marketing graduate at Samsung.
Beschi is one of the Founding 50, a group of 50 marketers aged under 30 who are collaborating with the School of Marketing to change the perception of marketing among young people across the UK. The cross-industry initiative was launched with the support of Marketing Week in September 2018, and members of The Founding 50 will be going into schools during 2019 to raise awareness and understanding of marketing as a career.
These young trailblazers are armed with a raft of ideas about how to engage school children in conversations about what a marketing career really looks like.
To start with, marketing should take its place among the more traditional subjects on the curriculum, argues Beschi, who believes schools need to forge closer partnerships with local companies so pupils can access work experience from an earlier age.
“Many young people grow up without being educated on marketing as a career option, leave education and realise it’s actually the career they want to pursue, but find it difficult to secure a job due to a lack of relevant work experience,” she warns.
Chelsea Maher, head of marketing at Trust Brand and Culture Shift, agrees marketers need to get in front of children earlier, which would dispel some of the myths about marketing being ‘just advertising’ and illustrate why it is an aspirational career.
I don’t think enough is known of what marketing departments actually do. It’s not a [traditional] school subject, so what does it really mean?
Tony Waygood, New Look
“Careers day talks come a bit too late,” she adds. “I also think it would be great to get inspirational speakers into schools and some one-on-one mentoring initiatives in place rather than just traditional work experience placements, which will give them more opportunity to question marketing professionals on what they actually do.”
Fiona Mukherjee, senior brand strategy manager at Sky TV, agrees it is crucial to land the message with young people that there are a wide variety of roles within marketing, making it perfect for people who have a clear vision about where their strengths lie and those who haven’t worked it out yet.
“You also don’t need a degree – there are plenty of marketing apprenticeship schemes at great companies, so if university doesn’t appeal it shouldn’t put them off exploring a career in marketing,” Mukherjee argues.
“It’s a really exciting landscape at the moment with incredible technological advances, the consumer being increasingly savvy about brands and their social responsibility, and an incredibly competitive creative landscape.”
Inspired by a lifelong fascination with brands and their cultural impact, New Look group insights manager Tony Waygood wants to help young people better understand the power of marketing and how it can be used to influence behaviour.
His perspective was shaped during six years working at Kantar, three of which were spent in Shanghai, before joining fashion retailer New Look in March.
“I don’t think enough is known of what marketing departments actually do,” he states. “It’s not a [traditional] school subject, so what does it really mean? Once we show what marketing is I think children will be inspired.”
Harry Seaton’s first foray into marketing came when he experimented with paid social advertising in a bid to drive traffic to his YouTube and Facebook videos. As the audience for his music grew Seaton started working with brands keen to tap into his audience, before landing a job as a social media specialist at an agency aged 18.
Now managing director of Fluential, an agency specialising in influencer-led content and paid social, Seaton points out that even though school-age children consume ads, no one ever shows them what happened to bring those ads to life.
“I fear that because of this many people don’t even realise it’s a profession until they’re in their late teens,” he says.
Unify Communications digital marketing manager, Tessa Pillar, believes effort needs to be put into making marketing a viable and exciting career option.
“We all grew up with the usual doctor, vet, lawyer, pop-star spiel, but I can’t remember ever being introduced to what sorts of roles existed in the business world,” she recalls.
“Reaching out to school-age children who might know that they’re ‘good at writing’ or ‘like to draw’ but don’t know how to translate that to possible jobs, and showing them the opportunities that exist to use those talents within marketing, would be a great first step.”
The 50 young marketers named below will be instrumental in kick-starting progress towards a bigger pipeline of future marketing talent.
As Keith Weed steps down as marketing boss after 35 years at Unilever, the company faces a turning point. Having been with the company since 1983, Weed has grown up with the corporation, seen the challenges it and the wider marketing sector has faced and helped to shape its solutions.
Through a focus on brand purpose and sustainability, an understanding of the role diversity and inclusion can play, and the ability to question everything from the role of agencies to the efficacy of digital, Weed has been a trailblazer for both the company and the industry. His retirement will cause both to ask questions about what the future of marketing will look like.
The news of Weed’s departure, while a year in the planning, also comes just a week after Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman revealed he would be leaving. The loss of the FMCG giant’s CMO and CEO in such a short period is significant not least because both have been integral in building Unilever as it is today.
Unilever is a marketing organisation so any business challenges it faces are also marketing challenges. From the growing threat of new entrants to the future of its focus on purpose and how it will remain an attractive career option for the brightest and the best, these are issues that both the new CEO Alan Jope and new marketing boss (who he will decide on in the new year) will have to face and solve together.
Much like Polman, Weed has been integral to Unilever’s focus on purposeful brands and building a business with sustainability at its core. On Twitter he writes how this has been “positive for Unilever with sales and profit growing year on year but more importantly positive for people, society and planet”.
Internally, he led the creation of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and used this as a tentpole around which to build the Unilever brand. Unilever used to simply be a corporate brand with little need to talk to consumers but the focus on sustainability gave the company the chance to talk about the business behind the consumer-facing brands.
The culmination of that was Project Sunlight, an initiative aimed at motivating people to live more sustainable lifestyles. Unilever used the campaign to promote the initiative as a means to build brand trust and establish itself as a mark for sustainable living.
“If any company can have a chance of doing this it should be Unilever,” he said at the time. “We are optimistic about what we can do to create a better future if we leverage the opportunity we have right now. There are 3 billlion people on the internet, 2 billion on social media. There has never been a better time to engage people at scale to take action in what we need to do to make sustainable living commonplace.”
This isn’t just about doing the right thing for society. Unstereotyping is a business imperative too.
Keith Weed, Unilever
Beyond sustainability, Weed has led on Unilever’s goal to make advertising and marketing a more inclusive sector. He launched the company’s #Unstereotype initiative, which aims to remove portrayals of unhelpful stereotypes from its advertising. And he helped sign up UN Women and 24 other companies, including Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and Facebook, to create the #Unstereotype Alliance with the goal of getting rid of stereotypes from all these companies’ advertising by 2020.
As with his work on purpose, proving both the societal and business case for this focus has been key. Unilever’s research found that ads that show more progressive adverts are 25% more effective than those that feature more traditional portrayals of gender and deliver better brand impact.
“This isn’t just about doing the right thing for society. Unstereotyping is a business imperative too,” he wrote in a Marketing Week column in 2017.
Weed has also been at the forefront of advances in digital marketing. He ever had an eye on new formats and means of reaching consumers, whether that be social media, virtual reality or augmented reality.
But he also hasn’t been afraid to question the efficacy of digital. Earlier this year, he effectively threatened to pull spend from Facebook and Google if they didn’t clean up the acts. And he has publicly called out fraud in influencer marketing, demanding change from the industry.
“The market gets undermined if people don’t trust the amount of followers someone has. If you’re engaging with someone’s recommendation because you think ‘they’ve got X many followers, so they know what they’re talking about’, but those followers have been bought, or even worse are bots, that’s deceiving,” Weed told Marketing Week at Cannes Lions earlier this year.
“Trust is such an important part in brand and marketing. A brand without trust is just a product, the difference between the two is trust. We want to be able to work in trusted environments and that includes influencers.”
Unilever’s next CMO will not only have to fill Weed’s shoes but also lead a business facing a number of challenges that are common among FMCG, as well as those facing the marketing industry more generally.
FMCG has to be faster than ever before; with the threat of direct-to-consumer and ecommerce looming, Unilever’s marketing models have to be more flexible and agile and its ability to communicate its point of difference more important than ever before. The company’s brands, no matter how iconic, cannot rest on their laurels as consumers are tempted by retailers’s cheaper own-brand offerings and original disruptors.
Be it Glossier, Harry’s, Amazon or Aldi the company is facing many threats and marketing will have to spearhead a more dynamic strategy to ensure that it fends of each challenge.
Many of the challenges that Unilever faces are found across the marketing industry and as marketing boss of the FMCG giant the next CMO will need to continue Weed’s legacy as a leader. Weed tackled digital transparency, sustainability and diversity. His successor will need to carry on the legacy of being a leader with their finger on the pulse of the changes in marketing and consumer trends.
The retirement of both Weed and Polman marks the end of an era at Unilever and the question is what route the company will go down with Weed’s successor.
The organisation has pledged diversity through its advertising but it would be good to see this translated to who it appoints to the role. Aline Santos is currently Weed’s number two and would be an obvious internal appointment. Unilever tends to favour internal hires, with incoming CEO Jope a veteran of the brand. However, Polman was an external hire and if Unilever is looking for a fresh perspective it might do well to hire someone with a different background and outlook.
As FMCG struggles to retain its dominance as a top destination for marketing graduates, the new hire will also be crucial to inspiring the next generation. By hiring someone who hasn’t taken the traditional FMCG route, Unilever can show it is open to different skills and experiences.
There is no doubt that Unilever is facing a significant change but will this injection of new blood help propel the company into the future or derail it from its current path? That remains to be seen, but what is clear is Weed’s successor has a tough job to do to ensure Unilever continues to be seen as a trailblazer among consumers, businesses and the marketing industry.
Weed will leave the company at the beginning of May next year. No decision has yet been made on his successor, with that not likely to take place until Alan Jope takes over as CEO of the company in the new year. Weed’s decision to retire comes just one week since CEO Paul Polman revealed his departure from the company.
Weed joined Unilever in 1983 and held a variety of roles, including head of global homecare and hygiene and senior vice-president of hair and oral care, before being made chief marketing & communications officer in April 2010.
Weed leaves a powerful legacy. He was key in developing the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP). He has also been a trailblazer for the company in ensuring more diverse marketing. In 2016, Weed launched Unilever’s Unstereotype initiative, which set a global ambition for all its brands to advance advertising away from stereotypical portrayals of gender. A year later the company partnered with UN Women to tackle the issue of biased advertising throughout the industry with the launch The Unstereotype Alliance.
He has received numerous accolades while serving as Unilever’s top marketer including Global Marketer of the year 2017 by The World Federation of Advertisers and being named Forbes’s World’s Most Influential CMO for 2017 and 2018.
Weed says: “I have had a hugely enjoyable time with the company, with a range of positions in different countries. In my current role, I have been privileged to lead some of the best marketing, sustainability and communication teams in the world.
“As the world’s second largest advertiser, we have been able to leverage our scale for effectiveness and efficiencies, and we have also been able to leverage our scale for good, leading for greater responsibility, transparency and accountability in the advertising and digital industry.”