News Exchange: Icons, influencers and identity

News Exchange: Icons, influencers and identity

A weekly update on the latest headlines and highlights from the marketing sector

BA reaches for the stars

British Airways is marking its centenary year with a ‘Made by Britain’ campaign. One hundred years after its predecessor AT&T started daily flights from London to Paris, the flag carrier invited Gary Oldman, Olivia Coleman, Paloma Faith, Grayson Perry, Anthony Joshua and others onboard to read out a ‘love letter’ to the UK.

The warmly nostalgic TV ad pays tribute to the country the airline calls home. BA says the campaign has nothing to do with Brexit and, in fact, CIM marketing director Gemma Butler calls it “refreshing”. As the delivery of Brexit continues to drag, “The timing is right for a celebratory campaign such as this,” she says, “and I can’t fail to recall that BA’s last big campaign, during the London Olympics, was also patriotic.”

In 2012, BA’s ‘Don’t fly’ campaign turned heads with what seemed a counterintuitive instruction from an airline. This time around, it’s the mode of delivery as much as the message with which it hopes to catch eyes. A story about BA’s “heritage, longevity and strong foundations” is delivered by what Butler calls some “old-style influencers”. These are not passing social media stars that BA has brought onboard; they are carefully chosen icons of British culture. After a tricky couple of years of IT meltdowns and increased competition, it seems that BA would very much like to reinforce its place alongside them.

This campaign looks a good way to do exactly that. Not least, reckons Butler, because BA will run a very similar campaign in the US. “Look at last week's Dyson story. This is a time when not too many brands are investing in Britain. But BA is flying the flag for us. It is also talking about what its brand already is, not what it might become. Those are powerful messages right now.”

Double trouble for Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver has been caught chewing the fat with McDonald’s. According to the Press Association, the celebrity chef has been regularly meeting the fast food giant’s UK management for “several years”. Both sides deny any commercial relationship, but a change in Oliver’s views has been widely noted: in 2011, Oliver called McDonald’s burgers “unfit for human consumption”, but last year said he’d allow his own children go to its restaurants.

The public association between the two is probably not bad news for the fast-food chain. “McDonald’s has spent big in recent years on marketing campaigns that emphasise the experience and emotion in a trip to its restaurants, rather than the food,” says CIM’s Ally Lee-Boone. “While mismatched brand alliances can sometimes be detrimental to both parties, McDonald’s likely won’t mind the link to a high-profile healthy-eating campaigner.”

For Oliver, however, the story has broken just a few weeks after he joined forces with oil company Shell on a food-to-go range at petrol stations. Having worked hard to establish a formidable reputation as a one-man driver of change on issues including childhood obesity and the environment, Oliver is in danger of “diluting his impact”, says Gemma Butler, CIM marketing director. “This really needs more explanation. Jamie Oliver believes he is trusted by the public, but trust is not a given anymore – and can be quickly lost. Instead, he needs to substantiate why he’s working with Shell, why he thinks McDonald’s is okay now.” Until he reveals his reasons, both of these stories are cementing misaligned brand associations with the potential to undermine his admirable objectives.

Heineken is going places – again

Heineken has taken its employer branding campaign to the next level and offers a template for other businesses faced with a shrinking talent pool.

Building on a campaign that started back in 2016, the Dutch brewer last week launched ‘Go Places 2.0’. This time around, a series of short films tell the stories of real-life Heineken employees. Such collaborations between HR and marketing teams are not new, says CIM’s Ally Lee-Boone, “but at a time when big businesses have to negotiate high employment rates and heightened competition from start-ups, they are more important than ever.”

As well as instilling pride in existing employees and appealing to active jobseekers, the campaign confronts those two issues directly. Government figures show unemployment dropped to a 43-year low of 4% in the third quarter of 2018. To avoid candidate shortages, companies have to extend their reach. Heineken’s ad looks designed to appeal to the relatively untapped market of potential new hires who are already in a job.

Meanwhile, start-ups – especially in the tech sector – have distinguished themselves with promises of unstuffy corporate cultures. Go Places 2.0 can help Heineken create its own point of difference as an employer that offers more than just an annual salary. “The fact that Heineken has appointed a global HR social media manager shows how seriously it’s taking the issue of employer branding,” says CIM marketing director Gemma Butler, who believes other businesses would do well to follow suit. “Think about your culture; define it; then use it to attract the best new people.”

If you’re looking to make a move, find your next opportunity on the CIM Marketing Jobs board.

Tobias Gourlay Journalist
Gemma Butler Director of Marketing CIM
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