This month we take a look at the big stories from the crazy worlds of marketing and advertising.
Even the marketing for the Olympics is causing controversy
With the controversies hanging around the 2016 Rio Olympics, it can be easy to miss the new developments surrounding the tournament’s marketing campaigns. Under the original rule for athletes and their sponsors, no-one participating in the Games could allow their name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games. Now, for the first time ever in an Olympic tournament, that rule has been overturned. There’s just one caveat, the ad campaigns can’t overtly link to the Olympics. Non-Olympic sponsors like GoPro, Under Armour and Virgin, have been quick to take advantage of the marketing opportunities this provides, but it’s led to some fairly inventive attempts to skirt around the obvious link.
The athletes are also bound by the rules, even if it does mark a relaxation of the rules compared to past Games, where athletes could not publicly endorse their non-official sponsors during the weeks surrounding the tournament. During the 2012 London Olympics, athletes made their frustrations at the restrictive rules by Tweeting using the hashtag #WeDemandChange. The competitors may have got their wish, but they have to ensure they don’t explicitly relate the sponsors to the Games. This might sound like an overly arbitrary rule, but it probably won’t be the most controversial .
Coca-Cola slips down the global brand rankings
Despite consistently ranking as one of the most recognisable brands in the world, Coca-Cola no longer enjoys its ubiquitous status as the all-American company. That’s because July saw Coca-Cola drop out of Millward Brown’s ranking of the top global brands, a major measure of a company’s cultural presence and overall market value. The soft drinks giant’s fall from the top spot isn’t exactly unheralded, following its disappearance from Interbrand’s best global brands list in 2013. However, it does point to the importance of maintaining pace with changing technology, and shows just how much the internet has levelled the playing field for new companies. Of the top ten global brands, five specialised in computer software, and three weren’t trading as a public company before the turn of the last century. It’s not been a great month for Coca-Cola. Not long after being released, their ads for Sprite were branded as ‘sexist’ and ‘misogynistic’ by people across the internet. Taking a look at the ads, it’s not hard to see why people would take offence, with taglines like “She’s seen more ceilings than Michelangelo,” “You’re not popular… you’re easy,” and “A 2 at 10 is a 10 at 2.” If this is their attempt to bring the brand back into the spotlight, they may be best keeping a low-profile for a while.
VR impresses, albeit sporadically, at Cannes
Despite the world’s current preoccupation with virtual and augmented reality (thanks a lot, Pokemon Go), the new medium failed to live up to the hype at this year’s Cannes Lions. The world was waiting with baited breath to see where this exciting new technology will take us, so perhaps it was inevitable that the offerings at the annual advertising, marketing and communications event would disappoint. One of the most notable exceptions was Lockheed Martin’s “Bus Ride to Mars” project, which saw a group of schoolchildren board a bus in Manhattan only to be transported to the red planet’s surface through the power of virtual reality. The project was awarded 19 Lions, an even more impressive feat when you consider those awards spanned 11 categories and add up to more than any other single piece of work at this year’s festival. The top accolades, however, went to the New York Times. The publication’s VR experience “The Displaced” bagged the Entertainment Top prize with an immersive look at the journeys of refugees from around the world in a move that Entertainment Lions Jury President Jae Goodman said “catapulted the Gray Lady 100 years forward.”
Facebook Messenger passes one billion users
Continuing its indomitable rise to be the most pervasive brand on the planet, Facebook announced this month that its Messenger app now boasts over 1 billion monthly active users. The social media behemoth now owns three apps with more than one billion users. Joining the official Facebook app and Whatsapp (who Facebook bought in 2014), Facebook Messenger’s popularity further cements the company’s position as the leading social media brand. Google Maps and YouTube both also rank high in the app charts, but Facebook has invested wisely in new technologies to ensure its place at the top of the leaderboard. The introduction of chatbots designed to simulate human conversation, as well as constant updates to the apps games, has positioned Messenger in an integral role within Facebook. Talk of extending its digital assistant feature, currently only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, could see the app take on an even more intrinsic role in our daily lives but, until then, we’ll all have to make do with using it to shoot digital hoops and messaging strangers with unfortunate, albeit hilarious, names.
LinkedIn makes the move into user-videos
Following its acquisition by Microsoft, LinkedIn has tried to boost its interactivity and give key influencers the opportunity to post 30-second videos on selected topics. In a move that looks to tap into the Snapchat generation, the company hopes to give leading tastemakers from the Linkedin community the ability to deliver bite-sized lectures on relevant topics. Writing on the Linkedin blog, senior product manager Jonathan Sherman-Presser claimed: “you’ll get an intimate look at where [the influencers] work and hear their honest thoughts on topics central to the professional world.” The new video feature gives every Linkedin user the opportunity to hear top advice direct from industry leaders, but does not yet allow users to pitch questions they want answered themselves. Topics covered so far include the most important thing founders should avoid doing at a pitch meeting, how artificial intelligence will change the office dynamic and how colleges should measure their students’ success. The move may have come quite late in the day for the professional networking site, but if it can effectively tap into the big questions and ensure its topics are relevant, this could be the beginning of a new era for Linkedin and business.