Just over a week ago Coca-Cola announced measures to to deal with the social issue of obesity. It was an interesting move and on the surface of it a victory for pressure groups looking to tackle ‘Big Food’ related issues. The less charitable could also argue that Coca-Cola is trying to make a CSR (corporate and social responsiblity) silver lining out of likely future regulation. There is a policy tide against soft drinks companies, an example of this is the recent proposed legislation to ban sugary drinks in individual servings of 16 fluid ounces (just under 1/2 litre) by Michael Bloomberg’s administration in New York.
The European Union has looked at ensuring consumers are better informed about the calorific values of soft drinks by changing labeling.
To be fair Coca-Cola has a reputation of doing things that are both good for business and good for the wider society. From using its extensive distribution network to get vaccines into far flung parts of the developing world to a relentless approach to drive down the use of packaging increase recycling.
The timing of these changes is well-chosen as it puts blue ocean between Coca-Cola and competitors, in particular PepsiCo. PepsiCo is trying to regain ground that it had lost under the leadership of Indra Noovi.
Pepsi had a mis-balanced business that focused too much on the developed world. It also tried to change too many things within its business at once. Pepsi has tried to move to be a healthy food provider and invest (often too expensively) in developing world markets. Which increased the amount of debt that the company carries.
One noticeable miss-step from a marketing point of view was that PepsiCo misunderstood and miss-used social media marketing in its efforts. It did many tactical things right, like the Gatorade listening room but it made some crucial errors. In particular, the Refresh campaign which diverted TV advertising money into a social-led CSR programme. PepsiCo put too much trust in social media marketing to shift product and cut spend in traditional marketing techniques. Eventually the company had to make redundancies to cobble together 500 million dollars from the savings in order to try and get its marketing back on track.
I can see signs that other groups focusing on the bleeding edge of social business such as snack food group Mondelēz International could make as well unless pragmatism gets to trump visionary zeal.
In the same way that Proctor & Gamble came out of the great depression stronger by building a competitive advantage through advertising, Coca-Cola is likely to get a similar advantage by setting the bar higher for competitors.
Coca-Cola says it will drive obesity battle with calorie counts | The Guardian
NYC soda ban would lead customers to consume more sugary drinks, study suggests | CBS News
Judge Blocks New York City’s Limits on Big Sugary Drinks | New York Times
UK Soft Drinks Report 2012 | British Soft Drinks Association (PDF)
Sodas on the Defensive – WPP
Indra Nooyi’s Pepsi challenge – Fortune Management
Pepsi Pours Fortune Into Marketing Drinks, Indulgent Snacks | News – Advertising Age
PepsiCo, A-B InBev Strengthen Ties with Joint In-Store Marketing Program | Advertising Age
Five things that made my day this week:
My personal soundtrack this week has been the vintage Japanese hip-hop sounds of Major Force.
I really liked this short 3D animation created by five Chinese animators in their spare time. All of them wanted to promote their home city of Chengdu in western China.
The video is on Youku so you need to be a bit patient with it. Chengdu is:
- Known for its opera, tea houses and apparently leisurely pace
- Considered by the Chinese to have some of the prettiest women in the country
- Part of Sichuan province: the home of China’s spiciest cuisine
- Known to have a lot of bamboo which makes it popular with the pandas who live there
- One of China’s answer to Silicon Valley
- A hub of the Chinese military industrial complex from aviation to encryption technologies
The last two explains the kind of technical savvy that the five animators could draw on.
Vice magazine put together a really good documentary on crystal methamphetamine currently gripping Athens
The ironic thing is that same narrative played out when heroin swept through the North West of England and Irish urban areas during the 1980s; crack swept through urban American areas in the 1980s and early 1990s. The song remains the same.
I revisited The Boondock Saints and the mix of Irish American gingo-ism and Tarrantino-esque violence held up really well in both installments. Looking forward to the third in the trilogy.
The Federation of Irish Societies is looking to get expatriate Irish the vote in Irish elections. This is particularly interesting for two reasons:
- It would give Irish people in the UK the same rights as British people in Ireland currently enjoy
- It would put the economy into sharper focus than would otherwise be the case in Irish politics; emigrants are out of sight and out of mind once they go airside at Dublin Airport
- You will have a more worldly and smarter electorate who will have seen how things are done elsewhere. This could have implications on a wide range of areas from social issues
Localization alone isn’t enough for overseas game studios succeed in China, says App Annie chief
Ping.it: An RSS reader that lets you create tailored feeds by keywords and popularity
Microsoft’s Bing adds Facebook commenting and Like actions to its social sidebar – interesting move to improve the user search experience, particularly for the under 25s who rely more on social. But it also is an incremental steal in advertising from Facebook
Marissa Mayer Has Turned Yahoo Into ‘A Safe Haven’ For Failed Startups – interesting contrast with 2005? Whilst Flickr broke even, Delicious was barely up and running as a business, blo.gs and Upcoming.org were burning cash (not that was bad then) and Jumpcut was more like an early project
Analyst Gene Munster Confirms One Of The Great Apple Fears, Says Margins Are Going To Drop Significantly (AAPL)
Shoppers Who Use Mobile In-Store, Spend More [Infographic]
Does Windows 8 RT Have Enough Users for Its Own iTunes App? – does it need to tie this in for Office on the Mac?
A tour of some of Japan’s coolest tech innovations, by Dentsu’s Kei Shimada – 20 years ago this wouldn’t even be needed, Japan as an innovator wouldn’t be questioned
Smart metering rollout deadline pushed back to 2020
Report shows bit torrent users pay for more content than honest consumers
Microsoft reveals only 145,000 apps in Windows Phone Store – developer interest slower
Consumption and growth – interesting consumer confidence data
Remember when the global economy was desperate for steel? That’s over – is building becoming more controlled in its pace? Construction for the Beijing olympics, particularly the Bird’s Nest
Three facts about emerging markets everyone should know
Older bankers are sticking around longer, making it harder for younger colleagues to get promoted – this should slow down financial innovation
India Outsourcing Under Scanner After $45-mn Global ATM Heist
I have been thinking about were things are going and boiled this down into eight areas. Some of these areas overlap and enable each other, so it’s often hard to tease apart the post-modern tangle into neat categories and drill down into these in more depth in future posts:
- Social hygiene – social as a channel has become engrained into our lives just like the mobile phone, the web and the telephone directory before it. It is no longer a brave new frontier, but a place were audiences expect brands to have even a minimal presence. In the same way that a business without an office address, company accounts or website that can be Googled is found suspect, so it is with their presence on social properties now. In addition, there are consumer expectations to be met in the way that they expect to be able to transact business
- Contextual technology – from the rise of search to location-based services and consumer preference for applications – much of this has been driven by consumer preference for informations and services that are contextually relevant
- Divergence – whilst smartphones and tablets may look like general purpose devices that support convergence what is actually happening is that divergence is taking place around different fault lines, understanding those fault-lines is key
- Prosumption realised – the idea of consumers being the producers, or at least being part of the process within a modern industrial context was envisioned back in 1970 with Alvin Toffler’s book Future Shock as consumers started to be more involved in the delivery of their own services and products from ATMs to phone calls made without operator intervention. The internet has extended it further
- Brands as online tribes – brands are as much totems of who we are online as in real-life. Communities allow us to self-reinforce our passions in a way that wasn’t possible before. This is further reinforced by algorithms to provide the audience with only the world view they want to see
- Web-of-no-web – the web as we know it was built on a set of underlying technologies which enable information transport. Not all information is mean’t to reside in a database to be searched, but instead relies on context like location, weather or the contents of your fridge. Web technologies provided an lingua franca for these contextual settings and mobile technologies have facilitated them further. What hasn’t been done too well so far has been the interface to the human
- Immersive as well as interactive experiences – at the moment the focus has been on interactive content. But contrary to the belief of technologists good quality older passive mediums didn’t disappear. The reason for this was that they allowed consumers to immerse themselves in them, suspend disbelief in ways that haven’t yet been done by interactive media
- Digital interruption – by the late 1950s the US civil rights movement found that discourse and letters hadn’t moved the needle meaningfully and it took events like Rosa Parkes sit-down protest and the Stonewall riots to move the process forwards towards a more equal rights for all. Underlying internet technologies have facilitated a step-change in protest; moving from vigorous discourse and petitions to website blackouts; denial of service attacks, defacement and account hacking (a digital equivalent of an effective picket line)
Things that have made my week this week:
This week I have been listening mostly to the sounds of DJ Rolando (although some old school rave slipped in there on Thursday evening)
I was a bit taken aback by Virgin’s US airline to jump on the Mad Men meme with his new marketing offering. It could go so horribly wrong, one person’s efforts to get lucky could be another person’s harrassment and you can’t go make the excuse of needing to be elsewhere in order to leave them.
I have been trying to organise a few conference calls and have found Doodle invaluable.
The Simons Research Foundations science news site, it is a shame that there is no RSS feed at the present time
Finally, I like the way The Onion dealt with their twitter account being hacked. Firstly addressing it and being open about how to deal with similar attacks, secondly with withering satire aimed at the hackers.
I was at Mobile Monday Hong Kong earlier this week listening to a mix of start-ups and travel industry insiders talk about how mobile is affecting international travel.
There was an in-depth discussion on how general ticket apps (like Apple’s Passbook) were better than using an airline’s application (like Cathay Pacific’s app).
Now Cathay Pacific’s application does need a lot of work. The agency who built it squeezed the website down to a mobile form factor but didn’t take account the fact that mobile users won’t be happy having to keep logging into the application, particularly when you have the pressures of checking bags in and getting airside in a typical airport.
In contrast to this was an app that was the ticket equivalent of the One Ring. The idea being that consumers, airlines or channel partners like travel agents would be happy to have Sauron (sorry for the LoTR references) looking after everything from concert tickets to flight tickets.
Unfortunately, consumers don’t make rational decision-makers. They think about tickets in terms of context (travel, concerts) rather than a category (tickets). That’s the reason why the like branded applications. One quote struck me as summing this all up:
If only everybody understood the value stream analysis; there wouldn’t be any airline applications, just ours
Consumers aren’t rational, they aren’t interested in consuming the least overall resources in a given process. They are interested in how it fits into their life.
Brooklyn art school students turned DJs come up with a sound that is somewhere between the lush San Francisco of the mid-noughties like Tweakin Records, Tango Recordings and Doubledown with the tracky vibes of early 1990s deep house.
>JUSTONENIGHT by Beacon by Oki-Ni on Mixcloud
Enjoy your Mondays :)
I met up with Marc Sparrow and we talked about many things. The one that stuck out in my mind the most was that we were two tablet computer owners, but we both insisted on reading the Sunday newspaper in a dead tree format.
Marc went on to tell me that he saw from his friend’s Facebook updates that they were passing this habit on to their children too. The Sunday Times was no longer about news and analysis but a marker for Sunday like the traditional roast dinner or church service and a way of unwinding before the week ahead.
When one looks at Patek Philippe’s adverts the thing that stands out is the strapline:
You never actually own a Patek Philippe.
You merely look after it for the next generation.
Whilst being a clever bit of marketing, I think that it says a lot about some brands and contexts. Whilst brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci have blurred the line between fashion and luxury; the great Swiss watch brands like Rolex rely on old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Omega is part of my evoked set (despite my not liking a lot of their watch designs or the way way they have fashionised the brand) because of my parents. I got my first Rolex because I had a bad experience diving with a Seiko watch and my dive buddies explained why they thought Rolex was best.
This didn’t happen in Facebook but in Snowdonia, in the dead of winter in front of a man-made lake that had killed a number of scuba divers. Within half an hour of my having made a forced ascent as my dive watch had popped off my wrist and sailed to the bottom.
As an industry we often forget about physical context, artifacts and rituals. Ironically it is about going back to marketing 101 and the year 1960. E. Jerome McCarthy came up with what was then the four Ps, to which were added another three over time. Since then marketers have thought about looking at these from a consumer point of view and you had other models like the four Cs, but for the sake of simplicity I will list out the 7 Ps:
- Physical Evidence
I would argue that physical evidence is more than the salesroom experience and people are the customer base as well as the sales and supply chain. Think about how on the road arrogance affected the perception of certain car marques in the UK:
- Mondeo Man
- The Volvo Driver
- White-Van Man
All of these stereotypes have had a grain of truth to them and affected the way we think about the brands. Look at the way Burberry and Stone Island got affected by their football casual customer base.
As clever marketers we can also create rituals:
- Mother’s Day
- Take a break, have a Kit-Kat
- Royal British Legion poppy campaign
- Guinness co-opting St Patrick’s Day
Things that have made my day this week:
This week I have been listening to a vintage set from Cassius, DJ Falcon and Thomas Bangalter which featured an early version of Contact off the forthcoming Random Access Memories album.
This track has been well over a decade in the making. Contact kicks in around 2:21.
Google Now was a bit underwhelming. The weather function didn’t work at all and the stream was like a minimalist version of Google News on the web. If this is the future of information, it needs a bit more work.
Vodafone UK customer services sorted out the answer phone PIN in double quick time.
Chris Reed put a smile on my face with Partridge Get’s Lucky.
The U.S. National Archives collection of Documerica photos that were originally taken on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1971 – 1977. There is such a great selection of images here released under a creative commons license and I love using them in slideware.