Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By Mark Ritson Marketing Week
I’m a big fan of McDonald’s but I’m in a real quandary about what their Brazilian team did last week. In an attempt to promote social distancing, the brand divided its usually conjoined Golden Arches into two distinctive but separate curves. The move, executed across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, was meant to convey the idea that we are “separated for a moment so that we can always be together”.
On the one hand this is a textbook bit of brand management. Playing with codes to communicate a broader social message is going to get you a lot of media coverage, it’s going to reinforce the distinctiveness of McDonald’s, and it should build brand equity in a time when brands need all the equity they can get.
But it was also just a little bit…tacky. For all the creativity and agility on display there was something not quite right about the cleverness of the response. It was a sentiment felt by many – though not all – across social media, where the revised logo was met with a mix of delight from some and revulsion from others. For every Tony there was an equally vociferous Dotunbello.
While my head nodded along with Tony, my heart was definitely with Dotunbello. Something was not quite right here. And the feeling only grew stronger through the week as email after email arrived in my inbox from brands that I hardly remember buying anything from asking if I was OK.
You certainly would have received the same. If not, head to your inbox and search for ‘Covid’. You will see that hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of companies have been sending out the same message.
Paragraph one is all about you: how are you holding up? Paragraph two is all about them: we believe in X, Y and Z, and they are especially relevant now in this time of need. Paragraph three is the money shot – you can still buy from us as usual/online/in the following ways. Paragraph four is back to you and yours, and a prayer that you will stay safe.
“I honestly had no idea,” industry wag Ryan Wallman observed this week, “there were this many companies that are here for me at this difficult time.”
What feels wrong about these tweaked logos and earnest acts of direct marketing is that they are focused around communications and by definition are superficial.
If you are a well-trained marketer (and if you are not, I feel bad for you – keep enjoying the cartoons) you know that marketing is roughly divided into three phases: diagnosis, strategy and then tactics. And you also know that marketing tactics are broadly split into a mix of the famous four Ps: product, place, promotion and price. Except they aren’t anymore.
Marketers have been gradually but consistently moved from product, price and distribution decisions by their companies because marketers at many companies are simply not up to it. Instead, the ‘colouring-in department’, as they are often colloquially referred to by the rest of the organisation, now focus on only one of the four Ps: communications.
Prioritise the other three Ps
A long time ago at a marketing conference somewhere I called it ‘communification’. Everything in marketing is comms and logos and digital drrrrrreariness these days. And I think you see that in the responses to Covid-19 from many marketing teams.
They are worried about their ad budget. They want to play with their logo or commit to some other inane but supportive advertising message. They want to send a nice letter to all their customers to make sure they know that everything will be OK.
But what many aren’t capable of any more is any tangible or strategic response to the coronavirus moment. They have a single big red button that’s says ‘communications’ on their desk so that is the one that they now push.
In contrast, good marketers can and will be doing a lot more than comms. In fact, you can make a very strong argument that the best Covid communications over the next five treacherous months is no Covid communications at all. Get on with the business, with the brand, and with making tangible and impactful changes to the rest of the business.
You don’t have to feel the nation’s pain, you just need to ensure the wheels of business keep turning. Marketing has a lot more levers to pull than just advertising and better-run brands are currently pulling them, while ignoring the big, stupid, red ‘Covid-19 campaign’ button that is flashing over in the corner.
So, I have an idea. Rather than dwell on all the inane Covid advertising fluff out there, let’s focus on some of the other more substantive tactical efforts from companies that are getting on with it. And given we are talking about the mighty four Ps – a concept ridiculed by marketing muppets because it is 60 years old, and respected by proper marketers for exactly the same reason – why don’t we look at three superior examples of responding to Covid-19 with the other Ps for a change?
Product: Uber Eats
The Covid crisis clearly already plays into the hands of Uber Eats. But what is impressive about the food delivery service is the way that the company is making major changes to its delivery protocols, support systems and software to not only make more money but also ensure that money gets back to its restaurant partners as quickly as possible.
The company is pumping millions into independent restaurants with free promotional coupons and has dropped many of the up-front costs usually associated with a restaurant joining its network. It has also introduced a new opt-in program so that small restaurants, challenged by liquidity, get access to their revenues on a daily basis. And it has made significant changes to its app with a new protocol that allows consumers to request a delivery at the doorstep rather than in person.
Good for patrons. Good for deliverers. Good for business.
And you are probably unaware of most of these changes to the Uber Eats product because – like all the great tests of Covid response – they are being designed and delivered long before any communication is even considered. Remember the now famous LVMH hand santiser? The company had delivered 19 tons of the stuff before the news eventually got out.
A sure sign of the avoidance of communification in these troubled times is a company just gets the fuck on with it rather than spending time on labels, press releases and comms.
It was Iceland that first came up with the smart idea of letting elderly customers shop first. Not the country, the bargain basement retailer.
Allowing the most vulnerable to get their groceries from 8am to 9am, ahead of the hordes of manic panic-buyers that followed, was a brilliant move. Very quickly all the other supermarkets followed suit, but if it were not for the clever thinking from the Iceland retail team who came up with the idea, who knows how long it would have taken for the rest to follow.
A week is a long time in coronavirus-plagued Britain. Last Monday the supermarkets were trying, and mostly failing, to put arbitrary limits on what you could buy. The newspapers were full of sad old pensioners looking at empty shelves, then their long shopping lists, and then shuffling off over the horizon.
It may not sound much, but restricting your first hour of trade to senior citizens was a brilliantly simple and effective solution. The idea was thought up by the Belfast Iceland store, then quickly spread across its 960 other UK stores and – ultimately – to almost every British supermarket.
My favourite coronavirus marketing is a clever bit of pricing from a Danish supermarket. As the rest of the world ran out of sanitiser, the upmarket Danish food market Rotunden – part of the Meny supermarket chain – had other ideas. Setting the initial price for one Quick sanitiser at 40 krona (about three quid) it then offered any additional sanitisers at 1,000 krona (a lot of quid).
It might look obvious, but it is not. No British supermarket had the gumption to realise that their EFTPOS systems, which were designed to discount multiple purchases of the same product, could be used equally effectively to prohibitively price second and third purchases at higher increments too.
The disappearance of marketers from the pricing decision is the most tragic of all the ignominies of modern marketing. We used to be a vital input into all the major pricing decisions taken by an organisation because we brought consumer insight and the kind of nimble, innovative thinking that so often proves fantastically valuable to companies. These days most marketers don’t realise that price and pricing are completely separate entities.
The former is the thing you get sent in order to start advertising – yay! The latter is the most important lever for any successful business, with levels of complexity and opportunity that – as Rotunden ably illustrates – can solve big strategic challenges with elegant, simple pricing solutions.
You will note one final point in all these winning exemplars. Each is still making money while responding to the Covid challenge. Uber Eat’s new service arrangements allow more local restaurants to use its service, which benefits them as much as the fiscally challenged local eateries. Its doorstep delivery option will contribute as much to its bottom line as it will to flattening the curve.
Iceland wasn’t giving anything away for free or on special offer to senior citizens, just allowing them their own shopping access. And it was still serving the panic-buying nutcases from 9am as usual. And Rotunden still made a fair profit from most of its sales of Quick and a few ridiculously unfair profits too.
What we need marketers to do now is put down the worthy banners and earnest emails. The world does not need our support or our concern. Your companies do not need a communication campaign about how much you care about the state of the world.
They need us to do our job. To develop products and services that reflect the strange new challenges of the Covid summer ahead. To distribute them in a way that enables everyone in the market to benefit from them. And to price them in a manner that maximises availability and profitability at the same time.
Make money, not moral statements. Get on with it.