Monthly brand mashup #11 January.

Welcome to Connect's Brand Mashup. To help you stay up to date, each month we bring you a monthly roundup of the latest brand news, insight and the trends in the world of marketing. Whether it's a look at popular brand campaigns or just a brief review of what is going on in each industry, here's a look back at what we think you need to know from the month of January 2016.

With the nation easing back into reality after the Christmas break at the start of this month, a number of food outlets and retailers have been thinking of innovative ways to get customers through their doors in the usually thrifty January and Pret a Manger and Gourmet Burger Kitchen are two that have stuck out. 

Pret a Manger have been putting a special sleeve on 120,000 coffee cups in a bid to encourage customers to pass it on to a stranger who will be able to redeem it for a free drink.

It’s being dubbed ‘Make Someone Smile’ and builds on its existing alternative loyalty program where staff are encouraged to randomly offer free beverages to customers.

Pret’s chief Clive Schlee explained this tact has worked much better than the traditional points based system, or giving a free coffee after someone has bought a certain number, and this has driven a lot of conversation on social media.  

Being the brand that helps foster random acts of kindness is a strategy that London-based psychologist Dr George Fieldman said will resonate with Pret consumers.

“Altruism – or the act of doing something for somebody else at a cost to yourself – has a fascinating effect on us.  It can help us feel better about ourselves, and a simple act of kindness can create authentic feelings of joy; not just for the person on the receiving end, but also for the person doing the giving,” he explained.

What a great January initiative. 

A more daring approach has been taken by GBK, as the brand was the latest to upset London Underground commuters with a tongue-in-cheek campaign looking to tempt vegetarians to eat meat or at least see what they're missing out on. 

Protestors promised a boycott of the burger chain in response to a trio of ads running with taglines such as ‘You’ll always remember when you gave up being a vegetarian,’ ‘Vegetarians, resistance is futile’ and ‘They eat grass so you don’t have to’ which displayed a resting cow.

A twitter hashtag was quickly created and widely tweeted #gourmetmurderkitchen.

However, this campaign has got a lot of positive feedback from the target audience, who let’s face it, are not vegetarian. Well done GBK for taking a risk and doing something that will be talked about and actually we think a lot of veggies may find this quite amusing. We are sure the brand is lapping up the attention this campaign has got them. 

Another brand that got in on the act was Waitrose. 

The brand launched a new ad campaign in an aim to target cost conscious consumers that have been tempted by the low cost offers of Aldi and Lidl.  

It’s a brave move for Waitrose. The brand has almost held a price moral ground to date, refusing to get into the same conversation as everyone else. But even their traditional customers are seeing the lure of Aldi and Lidl as they have a strong quality offer. It will be interesting to see if this pays off for Waitrose. The ad clearly takes a customer centric approach, treating people as individuals which may resonate with their key target audience. Waitrose just need to make sure they don’t lose sight of what makes them different to Aldi and Lidl. 

Another major story in January was to do with sport, and namely Adidas. The brand has cut short its sponsorship of the IAAF amid the doping and cover up scandals. And it’s had a dig at Football too. 

Last summer Adidas agreed to shell out £750m to replace Nike as Manchester United’s kit sponsor. And the impact the club has had on Adidas’ commercial fortunes is pretty staggering. The company labelled its launch of the kit last August as the most successful in the brand and club’s history, with global retailers reporting a 200 per cent rise in day one sales compared to 2014’s launch. So you would be forgiven for thinking that Adidas would be happy as Larry (whoever Larry is). But that appears not to be the case.  

Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer has voiced his displeasure at the style of play Manchester United have adopted this season despite the club’s brand generating record sales for his business. In an interview with German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, he said “We are satisfied….even if the current playing style of Man United is not exactly what we want to see.”

It is clear that for Adidas sales aren’t everything. The reputation of the brand and the people/clubs/companies they use as their ambassadors must achieve the standard and edge that will reflect positively on the Adidas brand. Something they clearly feel Man Utd and the IAAF aren’t doing with their season. I think this is a refreshing public show from Adidas, unlike a lot of major brands that decided to stick with FIFA for example. More often than not brands forget that their brand is fundamental to long term success despite a short term sales growth. 

We hope you enjoyed this month's brand mashup. If you'd like to start a conversation with us about your brand or join our mailing list, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Images sourced from: