Asos, Nike, Asda: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Marketing

Deck the halls with…Christmas ads!

In those merry, shouty words of Slade: Iiiiiiit’s Chriiiiiistmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas! It is in retail world, at least. Yes, ‘tis the season when Christmas advertising takes over the Marketing Week agenda.

And it has begun, starting with a lovely Northern Lights-themed tale from Asda, which follows two children on their quest to spread some Christmas joy across their town. It is also the first time Asda has decided to go for a proper, blockbuster ad at Christmas, which is indicative of the retailer’s efforts to be known for more than just price.

This was followed by Argos’s almost three-minute-long nostalgic ode to its catalogue, while Iceland has enlisted the help of Disney and the characters from Frozen 2 to try and bring some warmth and magic to frozen food (although not too much warmth, or Iceland will be having a very wet and puddly Christmas).

It’s early days, but there does seem to be a theme emerging, and it is lacking the product-focused ad that many retailers opted for last year.

There’s lots of talk of storytelling, dialing up emotion and trying to bring some cheer to these dark and cheerless time.

But if the latest consumer confidence barometer is anything to go by, retailers are going to have to work even harder this year to get people to part with their cash. The prospect of a general election isn’t going to help matters either. EH

READ MORE: Asda dials up the emotion in first blockbuster Christmas ad

Asos closes its quarterly magazine

Asos has been having a rough time of it of late, suffering a 68% drop in profits in the year ending 31 August, hit hard by various operational issues. The online retailer is enjoying a bit of a bounce-back on the markets, but still faces stiff competition from startups on both sides of the Atlantic.

Surely even more reason to keep hold of one of its most successful, visible assets: Asos Magazine, the glossy quarterly with circulation figures that dwarfed newsstand titles like Vogue and Grazia and boasted cover stories featuring Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence and Florence Welch.

Sadly though, this current Autumn issue (with rapper Swae Lee and singer Madison Beer on alternate covers) will be the last.

READ MORE: Asos was wrong to ditch print now its brand is in crisis

M&S ramps up menswear marketing

M&S menswearMarks & Spencer admits its menswear range hasn’t been great in the past. According to the retailer the fits have been “out of sync” with the market. A more general view, meanwhile, is that M&S clothes are a bit fuddy-duddy and too expensive for what they are.

M&S has been doing a lot of work on its womenswear and the marketing activity around these ranges. Now, it wants consumers to know about the “improved fit” of its new season menswear, and so it has launched its first-ever standalone men’s casualwear campaign.

This includes a new tagline, ‘Slimmer, Sharper, More Stylish’, and some very chiselled and symmetrical male models wearing products from the range.

It certainly shows M&S in a more modern, fashionable light, and the scale of the campaign – which includes a lot of big media buys – will undoubtedly turn heads on the high street.

But M&S knows it has a big job on its hands to shift those stubborn quality and value perceptions. This isn’t an overnight, single-campaign job and M&S will need to make sure its marketing and communications are consistent from now on.

There is a lucrative male audience out there; M&S just has to find a way to tap into it and prove it isn’t the old-fashioned retailer that many people still see it as. EH

READ MORE: M&S reveals new direction with first standalone men’s casualwear campaign

Nike CEO Mark Parker announced he would be stepping down in the new year on 22 October, just hours after his Under Armour counterpart, Kevin Plank, revealed he too was clearing his desk.

When Parker departs on 13 January he’ll be making way for John Donahoe, a Nike board director since 2014 and former eBay CEO selected for his tech-savvy and direct-to-consumer (DTC) background, rather than any specific knowledge of sportswear.

Adidas announced on 21 October that its head of global brands, Eric Liedtke, will leave the company on 31 December after 25 years. His replacement is Gant CEO Brian Gevy, a former CMO and Adidas general manager.

The departure of Liedtke comes as the German sportswear giant is in the midst of a push towards ‘bespoke localism’, as reflected by the launch of its new London flagship on 24 October.

Meanwhile, Puma has seen its stock rise this month following its first appearance on Forbes’ annual Fab 40 list of the world’s most valuable sports brands. MB

READ MORE: Changes at the top for Nike and Under Armour spark wider shift in sportswear

Virgin Media ups focus on brand building

The work of Peter Field and Les Binet is gaining momentum among marketers, who are seemingly falling over themselves to show they’ve read the work and are making changes to their investment because of it.

The latest is Virgin Media, which is moving money into long-term brand marketing after admitting its investment had been weighted in favour of sales rather than brand building. That shift has been helped, no doubt, by its decision to move its creative account to adam&eveDDB, where Binet works.

The change in focus has been prompted by a “new north star” for Virgin Media. It wants to become the most recommended brand among staff and customers and is therefore hoping to improve its NPS (Net Promoter Score).

Many might question how a brand like Virgin Media could not be investing enough in brand building given its work with BBH and Usain Bolt and its IPA Effectiveness Silver win. But it goes to show that even the biggest brands can get sucked into the short-term trap.

READ MORE: How Virgin Media plans to become ‘the most irresistible brand’

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