Coca~Cola® launches new tide of Greenwash

Wave of Ocean Plastic sweeps away sustainability credentials

The Coca Cola PR machine has gone into action this week, with releases hailing the launch of its “first sustainability campaign to promote plastic recycling”.

It’s a predictably professional response to growing criticism of Coca Cola’s role in “Ocean Plastic”.  Rather than cynically papering over the cracks with this classic Green-wash, the business would do better to recognise that it has a level of culpability and engage with others to identify long-term solutions.

We believe that looking after People and Planet leads to greater Profit and shareholder value.

If they followed this up with an investment in bio-degradable or deposit-bottle packaging solutions across all of its markets; or perhaps lead and sponsor a global movement to harvest Ocean plastic, then they could genuinely claim some sustainability credentials.

Having worked with world-leading sustainable brands; we believe that looking after people and planet is not just a “Nice to do” , but makes good business sense too. It can lead to increased consumer trust, better profit, and greater shareholder value.

Coca~Cola is not the only culprit in this latest wave, but as they are responsible for a sixth* of the 600 billion plastic bottles produced globally every year, it is clearly time for them to stand up and take a leading role in solving this global crisis.

This would give new opportunities for many consumers to become advocates for their brands, and I too would genuinely applaud them for showing this kind of initiative.

Until then, their current advertising just looks like “business as usual”.

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Chris Collis is Director of independent business consultancy, Marketing Walk Ltd.

Links to other reading on this: Greenpeace “*Stop choking our oceans” and Marketing Week 29 July 2017

This is an opinion piece only, For avoidance of doubt, this company has no association with the organisations shown in the illustration and use of their registered trademarks falls under the provisions of “fair comment” . Coca~Cola® and Sprite® are trademarks of the Coca Cola Company,  Actimel® is a  trademark of Danone®, and Unilever® is also a registered trademark. 

 

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Whose baby is it anyway?

Small business owners developing new and exciting Brands to bring to market, have an ownership which comes from being present not only at the launch of a brand and execution of a strategy, but at its very conception.  “It’s our baby”

Phot of Pickle Jars © ShutterstockAs marketers, it is very easy for us to assume that we know what’s best for our clients.

I met an interesting gentleman from New York this week who is proposing to launch a range of artisan craft pickles into the UK, made using the finest carefully sourced ingredients and traditional salt-brining fermentation methods without the addition of vinegars associated with mass produced pickles.

These particular pickles are jewels to adorn any platter, or to be held aloft and admired before crunching through their delicious flesh, delivering a burst of salty joy alongside a refreshing craft ale.
And yes, of course, they can be used to invigorate the simplest of sandwiches.

Mr. Pickles then showed me some of his original home grown design ideas for his new brand – Quirky and authentic, the design draws cues from the traditional provenance and features a tongue-in-cheek black-&-white picture of the man himself holding up a large jar of his first ever production.

So, a great product with a charismatic brand owner and light-hearted, entertaining and engaging positioning, this could be a marketer’s dream brand to work with.

And then for the first time in our conversation, I saw his face fall.  “Could you take a look at this for me?” he asked, It was a brand activation proposal from a marketing company he had been talking to.

Of course, I wasn’t present at the original briefing, and so much can be lost in translation, but it is quite clear that the presentation completely missed the point.  Falling into the trap of rehashing a variety of PowerPoint slides, (and clearly from different presentations), I had lost interest within the first two pages.  More fundamentally, the presentation focused completely on sandwiches in every shape and form and barely mentioned the hero of the piece, the beautiful pickle.

As marketers, it’s very easy for us to assume that we know what’s best for our clients.  But it is essential that we recognise that our role as consultants is to help the business owners realise their dreams and passions for their brands.  These individuals have an ownership which comes from being present not only at the launch of the brand and in the execution of the strategy, but a at its very conception.  In very real terms “it’s their baby”.

Of course, it can be very useful to help identify a key usage occasion, and to focus on how the pickle can bring extra flavour to a boring sandwich occasion, but to fail to extol the virtues of said pickle, to fail to recognise that this is the hero that needs to be stood upon a pedestal, is completely underwhelming.

It’s no wonder that many businesses fail to recognise the benefits of employing experienced marketer to help them realise their dream, when the brand owners feel “they simply don’t get my brand”.

As marketers, we are passionate about the Brands that we work on,-it’s in our nature; but in the final analysis, we have to recognise that for our clients, it’s their baby and not ours.

Chris Collis is Managing Director of Marketing Walk Ltd,  and proud parent of Elfie Drinks Co

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A Fresh Confidence

stock image of workshop participants ©ShutterstockI ran a workshop recently for a client who wanted to Reboot their business and create sustainable growth.  Some of the output led to a new forward-looking internal “theme”  for the business: –  “Fresh Confidence”, –  which could be used to focus their efforts in product development, in trade relationships and in consumer communications, (but not as a tag-line on advertising). Most importantly it was a call to action to influence the culture, – the “ways of working”, and behaviour of its management and teams.

We spent some time identifying what Confidence actually means, and I think some of the output is worth sharing here:-

We are confident people

  • Confident but not arrogant
  • Proud of our achievements but not boastful
  • Confident enough to show respect for others
  • Accountable for our own actions
  • Professional at all times
  • Focused and committed
  • Confident to be part of a team, taking whichever role is necessary for the common good
  • Honest and Fair, but strong negotiators.

I believe these are behaviours we should all aspire to, whatever line of business we’re in.  By writing them down, and agreeing them as a team, we’re also able to hold other team members accountable for their behaviour, which allows everyone to focus on the growth of business itself.

Chris Collis is an award winning Marketer and Director of independent consultancy Marketing Walk.
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Marketing Walk – independent marketing strategy for your business

1_300NamePlateMarketing Walk is an independent marketing strategy business, formed in 2009 by Chris Collis.

We help your business grow by identifying your most profitable customers,  – helping you develop them, and find more like them.

Chris is a successful professional Chartered Marketer with heaps of experience in UK and international business, from giants like Diageo,  Whitbread, and Friesland Campina; through CSER led businesses such as Alpro; to quirkier more entrepreneurial outfits such as Pwani Kenya and Gü Puds. We hope you find this blog and comments relevant, interesting and occasionally insightful.

Please note that while Chris undertakes contracts for various clients and employers, these thoughts are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of those businesses.

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CMOs lead Digital Transformation

Research from Altimeter Group suggests that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are far more likely to lead digital transformation within their organisations than their IT Officer (CIO) colleagues.

The spin on CIO.com is that this is because “CIOs agendas are already full”, which I guess means that CMOs are off chasing butterflies.Chart- Drivers of Digital Leadership

To be fair, the writer also quotes analyst Brian Solis acknowledging that while CIOs tend to be tied down dealing with heritage infrastructure issues; CMOs “live  and die by  how successful they are in reaching new customers, driving sales and conversions.”

My own experience of working with senior IT and digital specialists is that they are very open to change. However, with a department swamped by day-to-day issues of hardware, software and user-generated faults; upgrading to the latest version of SAP (and back again); approving new vendors;  and keeping the system safe from Virus attack and Power-cuts: the challenge of a transformation project is daunting.

Being deliberately over-simplistic, the difference between the roles of CIO and CMO are their perspectives – Internal versus External perspective.

The CMO has to balance the speed-of-change in customer and consumer expectations, with the need to drive measurable growth in the business.  The “digital revolution” around marketing communications means that many businesses see “Digital Marketing”,  measured by CPC and “Last click attribution ” as the way forward. A good CMO  recognises that “Digital” is just one of the tools in the great marketing tool-box .

The world has moved on from companies deciding they need to develop “a digital strategy”, to a recognition that “digital” has to be integrated into every nook and cranny of the  business, from production and distribution, finance and HR, and (in this ever-more-connected  world) to customer and consumer relationship management.

McKinsey* analysis in 2015 identified  that 90 percent of top performers have fully integrated digital initiatives into their strategic-planning process.

.. and that’s the nub…   We shouldn’t be aiming to “become successful  Digital Businesses”, but instead be “successful businesses in a Digital age”

In the final analysis,  the answer is not who takes the lead, but how we all work together  …

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Chris Collis is Director of Marketing Walk,  an independent Marketing and Business Strategy house.

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*link to mckinsey.com/…/the-new-chief-digital-officer

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Arresting, Relevant, Topical – The Art of great advertising

Timed to coincide with international women’s day, this quick-witted advertising has delivered its powerful message way beyond its original media budget, and is a credit to its marketing team.

Salvation Army advertisement against Domestic Violence  © Ireland Davenport 2015
Relevant and Timely, Salvation Army advertisement against Domestic Violence
© Ireland Davenport 2015

It’s no surprise that this new advertisement for Salvation Army in South Africa has attracted media coverage across the world this weekend.

Subverting imagery from the very recent global internet phenomenon #thedress(*¹), the release of this hard hitting image was timed to coincide with international women’s day.  The body copy reads:- ‘The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in 6 women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.’

Arresting, Relevant, and Topical, this quick-witted advertising has delivered its powerful message way beyond its original media budget, and is a credit to the marketing team at Salvation Army who gave a level of creative freedom to their agency, Ireland Davenport, rather than restrict them to some box-ticking corporate communications process.

It is proof that there is an Art to Advertising

 

Chris Collis is an award winning Chartered Marketer and Director of independent consultancy Marketing Walk.
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(*¹) #thedress was an image of a black and blue dress by Roman Originals, which was lit in such a way that for about two thirds of viewers the dress appeared to be in gold and white. – a trick of the light and of natural variances in human perception. The image has been circulated many millions of times across the globe over the last few weeks. Roman Originals then chose to launch a limited edition gold and white version, a copy of which appears in this advertisement.

Why only “Commercial Marketing” makes it to the board-room.

The role of a commercial marketer is to join the dots …its the difference between being the support act or the leader.

Following Asda’s appointment of Barry Williams as Chief Customer Asda HQOfficer, the marketing press this week has been angsting about the rise of marketing leaders without “a traditional background in Marketing”.

Rather than see this as usurping some natural right of brand marketers to progress to global leadership, perhaps the “traditional Marketing” community should take a closer look at the key drivers of any business in which they wish to progress (-generally that’s profitable growth); and whether they are developing a skill-set to deliver those needs.

The real question here is “What is the role of the Marketer in a commercial business” ? The CIM definition  calls marketing a “management process… to satisfy customers’ requirements profitably”(*¹). This definition recognises marketing’s role as fundamentally “Commercial”.

The truth is that too many so called “traditional Marketers” have been brought up in a silo of marketing communications: developing creative advertising and other collateral, recently obsessed by the shiny new toys of digital media. While nowadays this comes with an expectation of a return on investment calculation, there remains a perceived disconnection from the commercial realities of the business.

Sales teams are famously suspicious of Marketers and a few weeks ago, the press was reporting that many CFOs see Marketers as weak and fluffy(*²). This comes as no surprise, when many marcomms specialists fail to demonstrate the success of their activities in commercial language and measures that are easily understood and accepted by the rest of the business.

So,  Perhaps it’s time to call time on “traditional marketing” and time to start thinking, “Commercial Marketing”.

The role of the marketing team is not simply to make stylish advertising and a face-book page, nor just to support sales with trade stands, leaflets and  POS ; but rather to take the lead in driving the business forward: –

  1.   to identify the consumer segments with the greatest potential for profitability  and do a proper need-states analysis.
  2.   to engage production, technical and supply chain, and take the lead in developing  relevant, viable, commercial propositions, which meet those consumers needs in the channel and occasion of their choice;
  3.  to engage internal sales teams and provide stories, rationales, and if necessary, resources they can use to drive Presence and Availability in those channels;
  4.  to develop relevant and engaging consumer positioning, tone of voice, advertising and promotional messages which remain consistent at every touch-point; and finally to choose the right media mix for that core consumer and those messages.
  5. to be meticulous in creating consumer measures which the CFO can buy into, and collecting evidence which demonstrates that your actions are effective and efficient, which can be used to support future proposals, and which you can prove to be drivers of value over time.

Fundamentally, the role of a commercial marketer is to join the dots between all parts of the business and the consumer you’re championing;  its the difference between strategy and tactics;  between working in a silo or being a team player;  between being the support act or the leader.

As far as non-marketers reaching leadership positions, this isn’t new. Marketers have reported to ex-sales “Sales and Marketing Directors” in many businesses since time immemorial. Indeed, the CIM name itself included “Sales Managers” for its first 60 years. Unless we take the lead, meet the needs of our internal customers and demonstrate our worth to the business in a language they understand, then as marketers, we are never destined to get “intergalactic president” onto our business card.

Finally, I don’t know Barry Williams personally , but his history in Asda (and Musgraves) gives him a clear view of the expectations of the business and its place within Walmart’s global business strategy. His lack of traditional Marketing skills have undoubtedly been compensated by bringing in Claire Harrison-Church as VP of Marketing from Premier Foods. Claire herself  has risen to leadership not just as a marketer, but as a woman too; so rather than snipe from the sidelines, perhaps the marketing press should be congratulating the new team, and asking the key question, “How will you bring profitable growth to Asda?”

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Chris Collis Marketing Consultant UKChris Collis is an award winning Chartered Marketer and  Director of independent consultancy Marketing Walk.

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(*¹) CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) Definition: “Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”.

(*²) I won’t enter here what many marketers think of CFOs, because it’s probably unprintable – I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some exceptional finance directors over the years, but I’ve also seen my share of grey-uninspiring-unimaginative-bean-counters along the way. It’s always tough when you’re in a room with five other people, where all six think they can “do marketing”.

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Where Digital meets Marketing

Looking through recent articles, I’m always amazed how much emphasis is put on “the role of digital” in Marketing, So many arguments are rehearsed about SEO SEA CPC and CPA ; the value of a fan on facebook or of a pinterest page, and how to measure response on Social Media. Every company seems to jump on the latest “viral” bandwagon, like the recent spate of “Harlem Shakes” virals, and I have heard numerous “digital managers” admit, “we just try lots of different things and see what works”. (- dancing puppies apparently). In January 2013 there were 775,000 Apps in the i-store. Research by Analytical firm Avenden shows that 60% of these are never downloaded… not even once! Senior Business Directors bring in recent graduates who may be great at the technogeekery, but without clear direction, it’s like trying to herd cats.

So …      I have five simple questions for any managers out there commissioning and or reviewing new digital activations…

1.  Who is my target audience (and which segment of that audience will drive the most profit now and in the future)?

2.  Is this activation truly relevant and engaging to that target audience segment?
– (clue: if your target audience is young mums, then your new “star-trek-with-my-product-in-it” app may possibly be less engaging to your audience than to the digital team creating it)

3.  Does this activation give the same key message(s) as all of my other brand advertising and activations?

4.  What do I want the user to do once they have engaged with this activation and how will I measure this?

5.  How will I measure return on investment compared to other activations (- or compared to doing nothing at all)?

Now which bit of that isn’t “Marketing”?

Years ago I remember advocates of “direct marketing”, particularly list-brokers and the IDM claiming that “Marketing is dead, It’s all about DM now”, soon followed by the CRM brigade, and more recently the social media acolytes, “performance marketing” prophets and “big data” disciples . Of course, these are all merely tools within the great marketing toolkit, – all useful but none of them capable of doing the whole job on their own.

If you want someone to work on your new house, you wouldn’t employ a man with just two tools, – a hammer and a screwdriver, – He’ll tell you everything can be done with those two tools. Everyone needs a hammer and a screwdriver sometimes, but they won’t be much good if it’s your gas that needs fixing or a wall that needs painting. Better to get in an expert project manager who will bring in the right specialists, when and where they’re needed, and deliver a complete and professional job that’s right for you.

A good place to start? –  Chris Collis is a CIM Chartered Marketer and Director of Marketing Walk Ltd.

As Osbourne attacks “charity” as anti-business, is he being anti-customer?

George Osbourne  - out of touch with business ?George Osborne has been facing criticism after he called on the Institute of Directors (IOD) to defend the free market economy against the “anti-business views” of “plenty of pressure groups…trade unions.. and charities”.

Many of those in the IOD will no doubt have dismissed Osbourne’s statements as naïve, and one of the issues with certain professional politicians is that they live in a theoretical world, with little experience or understanding of the nuances of business, nor of the importance of demonstrating a human face to our customers.

morrisons store front

This morning, an unfortunate store manager within the Morrisons estate experienced the social media backlash of exactly what happens when you put business-before-people, after he allegedly forced an 89 year old pensioner to stand outside in the cold to sell his poppies. Morrisons’ head office has been back-peddling fast but will not be thanking their store manager for this PR gaffe. (#Morrisons Taunton is currently trending).

It is no coincidence that most successful major businesses expend significant resource developing Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility (CSER) policies and practices; building relationships with their work-force; partnering with a variety of Charities and NGOs; and listening hard to pressure groups.

Open any company report and you will find statements around caring for the environment;  championing the use of natural and sustainable ingredients, sourcing from fair-trade farms and factories where employees are not abused or enslaved;  using recycled and recyclable materials; reducing waste; choosing lower carbon transport solutions; and examples of how the  head office employees have got together to raise funds for charitable causes.

These policies and practices aren’t just about “doing the right thing” because it makes us feel good. These are hard nosed commercial businesses, who make these choices because it makes good business sense:-
–   Reducing waste reduces costs.
–   Avoiding potentially harmful ingredients reduces risk of future litigation.
–  Spending time getting the unions and work-force on board pays dividends as happy teams work harder, and less production is lost through dispute.
–   Making healthier, environmentally and socially sound choices and tying in with good causes makes customers trust our brands more than other brands which are less caring.

Recognising these facts demonstrates “Good Corporate Governance”, – one of the absolute keys to successful shareholder management

The world has changed. In this connected world, dodgy practices can no longer be swept under the carpet, and  businesses (and politicians) need to demonstrate they are in touch with the hopes, fears, wishes and needs of their customers.

It all boils down to one word:- TRUST

Get the right balance of “People, Planet and Profit” and your business will grow.

Follow Mr Osbourne’s mono-dimensional advice and,  in pursuit of Mammon, ride rough-shod over the global communities who you rely upon, then you will be found out and very publicly called out. Such poor governance risks a business being abandoned by its consumers and customers, its employees,  and ultimately its share-holders.

I’m not in the business of writing speeches for the leader of the opposition, but I imagine this could be held up as an example of Mr Osbourne not just being out of touch with the public, but out of touch with business too.

Chris Collis is an award winning  CIM Chartered Marketer and Director of Marketing Walk.

Marketing Strategy UK