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Posts Tagged ‘Coca-Cola’

Could sponsors hold the key to stopping racism on the terraces?

October 22, 2012 Leave a comment

So Lance Armstrong (under)stated recently that he’d had a ‘difficult couple of weeks’.

Just to recap. In the last fortnight or so (and despite his protestations of innocence), Armstrong has gone from being a much lauded athlete who overcame serious illness to dominate one of the world’s toughest sporting competitions to a discredited drugs cheat and stripped of all his titles.

A ‘difficult couple of weeks’ by anyone’s standards.

Since the evidence against him grew and former team-mates spoke out about his role in the doping culture in the US Postal team, the position of sponsors such as Nike has shifted. Where initially they stood by their man, they ultimately decided to cut the relationship, citing that he had “participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade“.

It’s one of the inherent dangers of sponsorship.

While your endorsee is sweeping all before them you are associated with success and glory. But as Tiger Woods sponsors found out a few years ago, if that star misbehaves your brand is associated with someone getting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The news that cycling has/had a doping problem is both unsurprising and depressing.

Unfortunately, the same can also be said for the experiences of the England U21 side in their recent play-off in Serbia.

Racism in football

Having been subjected to racist chants throughout the game, things came to a head at the final whistle when Danny Rose was sent off for kicking the ball into the abusing crowd and punches were thrown as players and coaching staff jostled their way towards the dressing rooms.

Racism is a blight on society. It exists in the UK and while it is not tolerated in public arenas, the economic downturn hasn’t helped our natural tendency to tribalism when things are tough.

For nations that haven’t experienced the levels of immigration of other ‘races’ that the UK has, attitudes to people with different colour skin are not as liberal. Let’s not forget that it wasn’t all plain sailing and painless for us to get to where we are.

Terminology that was common just a couple of generations ago is now taboo. TV shows of the 1970’s wouldn’t even be considered now. And footballers in the UK used to have to run the gauntlet due to their skin colour as recently as the 80’s and indeed, incidents are still being reported in 2012.

None of this excuses what happened in Kruševac and nor does it excuse the lenient approach footballing authorities have taken with racist incidents in the past. In a multi-billion pound industry, fines of tens of thousands of pounds have little impact.

FIFA and UEFA are keen to cite the power of football to change society when awarding tournaments to countries like Ukraine and Qatar but plead impotence when it comes to topics like racism.

The natural indignation in England has lead some to suggest that we should pull out of international tournaments to make a point. Such an action would most likely be met with champagne corks popping in Nyon and Zurich, and would only serve to further dilute our voice in the global game.

The Serbian FA could have offered UEFA a get out of jail card. A statement recognising the monkey chants, apologising to the FA and footballing family and a clear plan of action to ensure it never happens again would have enabled the games rulers to give them a slap on the wrist.

Yet the Serbian FA refuted clear evidence of racist chants and stated that any claims to the contrary were malicious.

FA of Serbia absolutely refuses and denies that there were any occurrences of racism before and during the match at the stadium in Kruševac. Making connection between the seen incident – a fight between members of the two teams – and racism has absolutely no ground and we consider it to be a total malevolence.

Had they sent a letter saying ‘Fuck you! We did nothing wrong and we’re not changing!’ their attitude couldn’t be any clearer.

And in doing so they batted the ball firmly into UEFA’s court making the question very clear.

Do UEFA believe there was racism at the game and if so, do they consider it acceptable?

Driving behaviour change

Behaviour change and persuasion are all about understanding what motivates of the people you are trying to influence. This means putting your own motives to one side for a moment.

In other words, if we want UEFA and FIFA to impose stronger penalties for incidents of racism we need to understand what influences them.

And let’s be honest, British indignation has never kept them awake at night.

Much higher on the list of priorities are the many sponsors who provide a huge chunk of the money that powers the multi-billion pound football industry.

Just like Nike and Lance Armstrong’s sponsors, FIFA and UEFA’s backers (which include brands like Coca-ColaMcDonalds and Adidas) have a rare opportunity to make their opinion on an unsavoury topic clear.

No brand wants to be associated with racism and upsetting the sponsors is something the footballing authorities do not tolerate. Just ask Niklas Bendtner who was fined £80,000 for showing his Paddy Power lucky pants during EURO2012.

Compared to the fines given to national associations for incidents of racism, it seems rather excessive.

Let’s face it, for all the anger,  griping and T-Shirt protests in England we simply don’t have the clout to demand action.

The sponsors are the ones with real power to influence, and maybe only a rebuke from the people who line their pockets will make finally FIFA and UEFA start taking racism in football seriously.

Femfresh’s not so fragrant Facebook fail

June 22, 2012 5 comments

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

But maybe someone might have anticipated that mixing female hygiene products and social media might be asking for trouble.

Indeed, having recently won a bunch of IPM awards for their experiential events, Femfresh‘s bubble has been well and truly burst by recent activity on their Facebook page.

One crucial difference between their marketing activities is that you can choose where you host your experiential events and make sure that your product has relevance to the people you are interacting with.

Facebook however is much more open and anyone can come and tell you what they think, so while one media might be appropriate for your brand, the other might not.

Clearly, marketing such intimate products is a delicate task, but the Femfresh tone of voice, referring to genitals as ‘kitty’, ‘nooni’, ‘lala’ and ‘froo froo’ has upset a number of women who find it both patronising and childish.

And they haven’t been shy in making their opinions known.

As the dissent grew, people began questioning why such a product is needed anyway, accusing owners Church & Dwight of giving women yet another thing to feel insecure about on top having to be skinny, have perfect skin, teeth and hair and so on and so on.

One user points out that the NHS advises women to only use water to clean themselves. Many others claim that using such chemical products will only lead to health problems and should you have any unusual odours or discharges you should be seeing a doctor not using Femfresh.

Inevitably, the fuss has also attracted a fair number of men who have kindly offered their own colloquialisms for future campaigns and suggested brand extensions.

So far, Femfresh‘s reponse has been to delete some of the comments and ask for respect.

No doubt they are busy plotting their way out of the mess.

Well, they needn’t worry about the men who will get bored and find something else to laugh at tomorrow.

However, they would do well to listen to the ladies who have raised some important issues for the brand to mull over.

Firstly, it’s clear that the campaign, with its childish names, alienates a number of women.

Whether or not Femfresh decide to rethink their comms strategy will depend on how confident they are that it is right. Are the recent angry visitors to their page representative of their target audience or just a load of noisy nuisances? Gap faced a similar problem when they launched their ill-fated new logo.

Secondly, they need to address criticism of the product.

One, that it is irrelevant and irresponsible.

And two, that it is actually unhealthy and damaging.

Failure to address these issues and take control of the debate would be a huge risk as they are genuine concerns from their target audience. If Femfresh ignore them, any conversation on the subject could still happen without them and using a forum that doesn’t allow them to delete the posts they don’t like.

Indeed bloggers have already started to voice their irritation.

Finally, they might want to rethink whether Facebook is the right platform for them to engage consumers.

It is a social network in the true sense, and while people might not mind their friends knowing that they like brands like Coca-Cola or Adidas, they might be reluctant to like or interact with Femfresh so publicly.

Tesco’s surprisingly refreshing offer on Coca-Cola

May 8, 2012 1 comment

After enduring a series of rainy days that have seen Noah put on standby, the drenched British public could do with something to cheer them up.

Luckily Coca-Cola have built their whole proposition around ‘happiness‘.

In sunnier climes this has manifested itself through the celebrated ‘Happiness Truck‘, a branded lorry dispensing presents ranging from surfboards to footballs to free Cokes.

Sixpence of Happiness

With the economy double dipping into recession like a hungry George Costanza at a funeral adding to the misery, Zeitgeist wondered whether the UK team had come up with a more straightforward and practical way to raise a smile.

A recent visit to a local Tesco Express to stock up on some essentials for a night in found this offer where shoppers were actually paid 6p to buy a second two litre bottle.

Clearly the offer is retailer lead. Much as Coca-Cola might want to sell more product they don’t have to resort to paying people to take it. Assuming it isn’t some kind of error, it highlights the power retailers have over manufacturers.

If a brand as loved and powerful as Coca-Cola can be devalued so easily what hope do lesser brands have?

Despite offering shoppers a great deal the promotion doesn’t really work in the retailers favour either.

As a compact store on the high street with no nearby parking available, most people shopping there would have been topping up. By incentivising them so heavily to buy an extra 2l bottle, Tesco are limiting how many other full price items shoppers can carry home.

In fact, the only obvious winner here was me, with an extra bottle of Coca-Cola and 6 pence in my pocket.

I promise to invest it wisely.

How fast-moving do you want your FMCG?

Starbucks vs Coke – This image first appeared online several weeks ago now, but Zeitgeist loves it so much that we wanted to post it too.

A great, highly-targeted ad that recognises the importance of context and attempts to address and question just what it is the shopper is looking for, sheer convenience and brevity, or a slightly more indulgent experience, which involves queueing. Inspired.

Rubbish Usability In Black And White

February 21, 2011 1 comment

Poor usability and how brands and local authorities can work together for mutual benefit

One of the irritating side effects to working in the marketing industry is the unintentional automatic evaluation and critique of pretty much any form of communication we are exposed to.

And so last night in Casa Zeitgeist there was an unneccesary sense of frustration when reading a seemingly harmless and well-meaning letter from Watford Borough Council explaining the new ‘Communal Recycling Station’.

The front of letter introduced the new recycling scheme and explained the introduction of new communal bins with bright colourful stickers that would leave residents in no doubt as to what kind of waste went into each recepticle.

On the back was a ‘Handy Recycling Guide’ with tables showing which items did and, just as importantly, didn’t go in each bin.

Cunningly printed on the back of the original letter to save paper, the guide offered the opportunity to forever associate each colour with the appropriate contents.

At agencies we go on (and on and on and on) about the shopper journey and how effective communications can prompt behaviour change.

Whether this also happens are local councils is not known.

However, if the desired reaction to receiving the ‘Handy Recycling Guide’ was for thousand of households to pin it up on kitchen noticeboards or to take down beloved childrens artwork so that it could take pride of place on the fridge, one has to ask ‘Why the hell is it in black and white?

The sheet, reproduced below, misses a huge trick in usability terms. By saving money on coloured ink the council has made the guide a lot less user friendly as each colour is pointlessly represented by a slightly different shade of gray.

Watford Borough Council. Y U NO use colour?

With spending cuts dominating the news the council’s decision to reduce spending on ink might be commended by some while others will point to increased environmental damage caused by coloured ink.

This would miss the point. The purpose of the letter is to introduce a new policy and encourage compliance. Doing it properly first time reduces the need for follow up letters and spoiled bins where people have thrown in general waste where there should only be glass or paper.

Making the most out of bad luck
While the council may have to cut its cloth ever smaller there is a fantastic opportunity to turn adversity into something positive.

Around the land there are plenty of brands for whom recycling is a topic of huge interest. They spend great deals of money communicating their ethical policies and would most likely jump at the chance to get their logo pinned up in kitchens around the land.

For example, Coca-Cola have their own microsite on the subject and have already committed to installing recycling bins around Westminster for the Olympics.

Identifying such a partner who would provide the required budget for some coloured ink in exchange for the guide being co-branded would not only save the council money but also increase the likelihood of residents changing their waste disposal behaviour.

As it is, the guide is only really fit for the bin. If only I could work out which one it should go in.