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Brand Positioning

How Siemens is evolving its employer brand to attract new talent



As businesses fight to attract and retain talent in both existing and emerging markets, Siemens is focusing on its employer brand in an effort to change the way people view the company and compete against the likes of Google.

This is why Rosa Riera was brought on as vice president of employer branding and social innovation three years ago, to oversee the transformation of the Siemens employer brand and bring a new relevance to the business.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Riera says the shift to digitalisation and new business models means Siemens is now fighting to win talent with more businesses than ever before

“Companies that are not even in our business are suddenly competing for talent that we want too, like Baidu in China, Tencent, Google,” Riera explains.

“We are no longer just competing for classical talent but also for talent in emerging fields – software engineers, data scientists and so forth. Suddenly we felt it was not so easy any more to say ‘I’m from Siemens’ and people want to talk to you like it was in the past.”

Realising it would “lose” to other businesses if it didn’t quickly change the way it was attracting talent, Siemens began the mammoth task of trying to erase decades of “corporate” perception.

“If you treat this process like B2B, which is a bit more traditional and corporate, then we lose,” Riera says. “Because what do you want when you see a new employer? You’re looking for purpose. You don’t want to press yourself into a personality that you’re not. People want to bring their own self to work, not just their work self.

“Which is why it’s so important to not promote something that you’re not because it’s super expensive for any company to hire people that they’re going to lose in a few months.”

‘Global’ not as attractive as it used to be

As a multinational business, it might seem like Siemens has an advantage when it comes to recruiting talent; however, Riera says being global is no longer a good enough reason to want to work for a company.

“Being a global brand is good, but it’s not as good as it used to be because people don’t feel as attracted to working for a global company anymore,” she says.

“Studies show that the talent market don’t want to move as much because travel has become much more accessible. So in the past, the way to explore the world was often through an employer, nowadays there are different means.

In the past, our brand was seen as traditional, large and maybe not the fastest moving, so we’re trying to change behaviour on three different levels.

Rosa Riera, Siemens

“And also people are getting more and more local, maybe because social media connects us in a way that makes us feel like we don’t need to move to know the world.”

As such, Riera is on a mission to give Siemens a “sexy” name and change how people feel about Siemens as an employer.

“In the past, our brand was seen as traditional, large and maybe not the fastest moving, so we’re trying to change behaviour on three different levels,” Riera says.

READ MORE: Why building long-term brand loyalty starts from within

“In the short-term, we want to change the behaviour from people not interacting with us to interacting with us – be it that they share content, comment or do something with it that is positive. Medium term, we want to grow the number of applications that we have and we see an uprise already.

“Long term, there are a lot of strong rankings out there and we want to rise in those. This is the most visible KPI we have.”

Growing from the inside

While Siemens clearly wants to be seen as an attractive place to work from the outside, it believes an employee-first and “super personalised” approach is key to growing the business in the long-term.

As such, it is using technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to drive interest and engagement, and has created a number of documentaries about people that work at Siemens which can be accessed via a bespoke app.

“We use VR because it is very immersive so it creates intimacy and we wanted to invite people to experience what it’s like to work at Siemens – every employee that uses the Siemens app is given a Google Cardboard. And AR – which we mainly use at talent fairs and universities – because it allows us to have a shared experience so we can have a conversation,” Riera explains.

“By focusing so much on our employees, we know they talk to their friends and family so this is an important element that we find incredibly relevant. VR and AR are still technologies that a lot of people haven’t experienced yet, so being able to play with them at home also grows the interest in the brand.”

In time, Riera says this is something Siemens will look to distribute to people outside of Siemens – with social media expected to play a crucial role in growing the audience.

“The hook and the growing the audience comes through all the different stories we have that can be shared through social,” Riera says.

“So what we see, because we are in so many different fields, is different people in different regions drawn to different stories…and that really grows the audience. We share through our channels, our people share and their friends share – that versus normal corporate content is interesting to see because it’s super personalised.”

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Brand Positioning

Google releases AMP Stories v1.0 with new features, including an ads beta for DFP users



Examples of Google AMP Story ads.

Following on the introduction of AMP Stories for publishers in February, the AMP team has announced several updates to AMP Stories, including monetization capabilities. Version 1.0 of AMP Stories is now available to all developers, no whitelisting needed.

AMP stories are standalone compilations of pages with AMP and HTML layers of elements such as media, analytics, text and more. In the vein of Snapchat and Instagram stories, AMP stories provide publishers with rich media storytelling options designed for the mobile web (though AMP Stories also works on desktop).

There is a new beta available to publishers using DoubleClick for Publishers (soon to be called Google Ad Manager) to serve ads within AMP stories. Publishers interested in the beta can let the AMP team know via Github (registration required). Below is an example of a Google Home ad showing within a story. You’ll notice there is a “Shop Now” call-to-action button in the ad. (As much as Google touts that AMP is open-source, opening this beta exclusively to users of its own ad-serving tech is more fodder for critics who say Google favors its own products, is not-so-subtly taking ownership of AMP and is pushing AMP to be the mobile web standard.)

New metadata attributes are used to show previews of stories across the AMP Stories ecosystem, such as preview links in the bookend (last page) of related stories. A list of required and optional metadata attributes can be found here. Additionally, there are new bookend capabilities that make it possible to include call-to-action links, text box and portrait and landscape-oriented cards.

Google AMP Stories Lead Engineer Jon Newmuis wrote in a blog post last week announcing the release of AMP Stories v1.0 that thousands of AMP stories have been created by publishers since February. Future AMP Stories efforts in development include paywalls, responsive scaling and additional clickable elements. Newmuis posted a mockup of how the paywall functionality might work on Github, shown below. Paywall and subscription functionality is already supported in standard AMP-enabled pages.

[This article originally appeared on Search Engine Land.]

The post Google releases AMP Stories v1.0 with new features, including an ads beta for DFP users appeared first on Marketing Land.

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Creative Works EMEA featuring VCCP, 84.Paris, Isobar Nordics and more



Welcome to The Drum Creative Works, supported by Workfront.

As always, this section is dedicated to showing the best creative work of the past week from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. We're using our five-star voting system, so to vote for your favourite, make sure you click on the stars.

For project information, credits and more click on the project to expand to full screen. You can submit your own work via our online form.

For voting updates and more follow The Drum Creative Works on Twitter @TheDrumCreative.

VCCP: Cadbury 'What Makes It So Twirly?'

Agency: VCCP
Client: Cadbury
Date: July 2018

Cadbury has unveiled a new £3m marketing campaign around its number one singles bar, Cadbury Twirl. The campaign represents a new direction for the brand and aims to build an emotional connection, celebrating the uniqueness of the product.
The new creative draws attention to those quiet moments of reflection and snapshots of real life where the mind wanders and we ponder some of life’s most unanswered questions.
Set against the hustle and bustle of a busy British summer, two friends, Myles and Sarah, take a few minutes out of their day and start to think about some of life’s biggest conundrums: ‘What makes it so Twirly?’ The new creative aims to bring in a new younger shopper as well as retaining the core singles audience.
The question ‘What makes it so Twirly’ is explored through a campaign celebrating the distinctive curls, twirls and swirls of a Cadbury Twirl through TV, VOD, Social, Digital and content partnerships across an 11-week campaign, where fans will be immersed into the world of Myles and Sarah and truly celebrate the uniqueness of a Cadbury Twirl.

Campaign credits:
ECD: Darren Bailes
Creative Director: Chris Birch and Jonny Parker
Creatives: Nick Sheppard and Tom Webber
Business Director: Matt Smith
Account Director: Alec Campbell
Account Manager: Florence Wong
Agency Producer: Becky Grove
Creative Producer: Peter Lewendon
Digital Producer: Ravi Patel
Planners: Ross Nicolson and Rob Estreitinho
Prod. Co: Outsider
Directors: James Rouse
Production Co. Producer: Benji Howell
Editor: Art Jones at Work
Sound: Mark Hellaby at 750mph
Post Production: Freefolk
Colourist: Paul Harrison

Tags: UK, TV Advert, film, Cadbury Chocolate

Video of Twirl Coast


Saatchi & Saatchi: Direct Line 'Keeping Up With Your World'

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Client: Direct Line
Date: July 2018

Direct Line for Business and Saatchi & Saatchi London have announced the launch of a major new ATL campaign, 'Keeping up with your World'. It features a dedicated creative for the small and micro business audience, highlighting insurance support in a changing and unpredictable business world.
The campaign launches on television on 20 July and is supported with radio, social, press and PR. The new 30-second advert follows the exhilarating journey of Jenna, a dynamic female business owner in her 30s, rising from self-employment to growing and running her own business.
The fast-paced scene changes and cuts show how much a small business owner must consider, such as hiring staff, chasing down clients and moving from working at a kitchen table to a busy office. The narration in the advert is provided by the unmistakable voice of stand-up comedian and television panelist Milton Jones, who viewers will recognise from such shows as Mock the Week, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Live at the Apollo.

Tags: UK

Video of Direct Line 'Keep up with your world'


84.Paris: Greenpeace France 'You Don’t Need All That Meat'

Agency: 84.Paris
Client: Greenpeace France
Date: July 2018

The French division of Greenpeace is urging nationals to cut back on meaty barbeques this summer through the medium of a 90s hip-hop music video.
‘You Don’t Need All That Meat’ is the work of the fictitious Gangsta Grill posse, headed up by animoji swine the Notorious PIG.
He and his crew of farmyard animals rap their way through a song about the negative impacts of industrial meat production, such as deforestation, water pollution and the increase in gas emissions, all the while getting grilled on the BBQ as sausages, chops, burgers and kebabs.
French agency 84.Paris styled the music video to look just like an old VHS recording of MTV through oversaturation, grainy quality and a soft focus on the barbeque. Beatboxer Eklips was recruited to emulate the style of hip-hop artists such as Cypress Hill’s B-real, Snoop Dogg and Billy Lawrence.

– Brand : Greenpeace France
– Agency : 84.Paris
– Country: France
– Creative Directors: Olivier Bienaimé, Hervé Bienaimé
– Strategic Planners: Nicolas Camillini, Lucie Dominique, Charlotte Faure
– Art Director: Léo Sattin
– Copywriters: Etienne Vaast
– Agency Managers: Arnaud Depaul, Gwenaëlle Argat , Shirley Halimi
– 84.Paris Production Studio : Martin Dhote, Paul Perrier
– Agency Producer : Michaël Ligier, Milena Tarriere
– Sound Production : Attention O Chiens
– Beatboxer / Imitator: Eklips
– Media : Film
– Support : Digital

Tags: France, Ads We Like

Video of #BBQsong : le tube de l’été qui dénonce la surconsommation de viande


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Isobar Nordics: Philips Nordics 'The Unshaved Truth'

Agency: Isobar Nordics
Client: Philips Nordics
Date: July 2018

In a new campaign from Isobar Nordics, Philips chooses to go a different route than most other brands within the razor and grooming market.
While analyzing research and previous studies on attitudes towards masculinity and facial hair, Isobar found that the generation of young men in Scandinavia can’t relate to the gendered stereotypes and masculine norms that usually are represented in advertising. Beards have been a central issue in the construction of masculinity ideals and it’s not uncommon to find ads telling young men that they need to be macho, full of confidence, have a perfect jaw line and six-pack abs. However, this image doesn’t resonate with young men in Scandinavia; it’s one they can’t recognize themselves in at all, but rather are limited by.
Based on this insight, Philips Nordics and Isobar Nordics took an approach very different to the industry standard and developed a concept that reflects and questions grooming standards and outdated perceptions of masculinity in society. The two-minute film centers around two young men, discussing vulnerability, not being able to grow a beard and what it means to be a man. The campaign is called 'The unshaved truth' and the film, which is produced by Slutet är nära, will run on social media this summer.

Creative agency: Isobar Nordics / Dentsu Aegis Network
Martin Peterson – Account Director – Isobar Nordics / Dentsu Aegis Network
Henrik Eriksson – Creative Director – Isobar Nordics / Dentsu Aegis Network
Frida Wadsby – Planner – Isobar Nordics / Dentsu Aegis Network
Alexander Slagare – Art Director – Isobar Nordics / Dentsu Aegis Network
Catherine Heijl – Copywriter – Isobar Nordics / Dentsu Aegis Network
Rebecka Källquist – PR specialist – Isobar Nordics / Dentsu Aegis Network
Client: Philips Nordics
Erica Eliasson – Nordic Marketing Manager Philips OneBlade – Philips Nordics
Erica Lindhqvist – Marketing Director Nordics, Philips – Philips Nordics
Production company: Slutet är nära
Jesper Ei Karlsson – Director – Slutet är nära
Petra Krigström – Producer – Slutet är nära
Alexandros Bakos – Executive producer – Slutet är nära

Tags: Sweden, digital, Branding, advertising

Video of The Unshaved Truth – Philips OneBlade

The Unshaved Truth – Philips Nordics


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BBH: NEXT 'Tearaways'

Agency: BBH
Client: NEXT
Date: July 2018

A new spot for high street clothing retailer Next, created by That Jam and Black Sheep Studios, shows off the resilience and durability of the brand's school uniforms range by subjecting it to a range of stress tests.
The garments are shown drenched in paint, tested for strength and blasted in a wind tunnel to highlight their suitability for kids in all weathers. In the ad, each of the tests are operated by 'Tearaways' – the kids for which the outfits are designed for.

That Jam – Directors
Amalia Rosen-Rawlings – Producer
Black Sheep Studios – Production Company
BBH – Agency
OB Management – Director's Agent

Tags: UK, fashion, Kids, next, OB

Video of NEXT: Tested By Tearaways

NEXT 'Tearaways' by That Jam


MullenLowe London: British Heart Foundation 'Shadows'

Agency: MullenLowe London
Client: British Heart Foundation
Date: July 2018

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is launching a new campaign tomorrow to relaunch the brand and let people know its research extends beyond just heart disease.
Through a creative concept called ‘Shadows’ viewers see the normality and irregularities of people’s blood flow in the circulatory system. The creative makes it clear that heart and circulatory diseases such as stroke, vascular dementia and diabetes are all connected by the circulatory system. It’s a distinct move beyond only focusing on heart diseases and is launched along with a new identity and ambitious plans for the future.
The new work has been created by MullenLowe London. A 60-second film will be seen across TV and Cinema and has been directed by Simon Ratigan. Other elements of the campaign include print and digital OOH, as well as social.

Campaign Name: Shadows
Agency MullenLowe London
Client: British Heart Foundation
Carolan Davidge: Director of Marketing & Engagement
Paul Wilde: Group Account Director
Joe West: Account Manager
Kirsteen Scoble: Managing Partner
Jo Arden: Chief Strategy Officer
James Dawkins: Strategy Director
Luke Stockil: Strategist
CCO: Jose Miguel Sokoloff
ECD: Mark Elwood
Creatives: Jack Patrick & Tom Elliott-Mell
Designer: Augusta Lindquist
Senior Producer: Nicholas Kurs
Junior Producer: Phoebe Robertson
Director: Simon Ratigan
DOP: Martin Hill
Producer: Tim Nunn
Production Manager: Rachel Donson
Editor: Bruce Townend
Producer: Josh Robinson, Alasdair Patrick
Shoot Supervisors: Tobin Brett / Simon Brown
2D VFX Lead: James Belch
CGI VFX Lead: Tobin Brett, Martin Aufinger
2D Artists: Christian Block, Taran Spear, Tom Humphrey
CG Artists: Dean Robinson, Kaan Kucuk
Coulorist: Lewis Crossfield
Sound Designer: Phil Bolland, Neil Johnson
Composer: James Kelly
Producer: Josh Burley
Designer: Augusta Lindquist
Producers: Ivana Dzaferovic, Kiti Swannell
Photographer: Alex Telfer
Copywriter: Greg Stekelman
Art Director: Tom Elliott-Mell
Producer: Josh Burley
Producer: Caner Ozcan
Editor: Jim Birchenough
Producer: Josh Burley
Motion Designer: Marco Marsili

Tags: UK

Video of British Heart Foundation – It Starts With Your Heart



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Denomination: Underground Spirits 'Rebrand'

Agency: Denomination
Client: Underground Spirits
Date: July 2018

The Underground Spirits range of gin and vodka has been given a new look by drinks design agency Denomination that draws on its Canberra roots and emphasises the science behind the spirits.
Underground Spirits partnered with Denomination to develop its strategic brand positioning, brand identity, packaging and guidelines for the range ensuring consistent application of the brand both on and off pack. Founder and master distiller Toby Angstmann patented a new method of filtering at sub-zero temperatures – a process that was inspired by his medical and scientific background as a practitioner in obstetrics, gynecology and fertility.
The new brand identity uses a stylised map of Canberra and a snowflake shape – direct references to the provenance of the brand and the patented ultra-cold purifying ‘cryofiltering’ process. Denomination’s use of a muted colour palette for the range was inspired by the colours of the Canberran and Australian landscape, reflecting the quality of the local, natural ingredients and the finish of the product. Metallic ink on uncoated stock provides a beautiful, smooth and natural finish, just like the product inside. The holographic tamper seal brings a scientific feel to the bottles, echoing the innovative filtering method.

Tags: UK, packaging design, design, Branding, brand identity


Hometown: Perrigo (Solpadeine) 'Don’t Let Pain Hold You Back'

Agency: Hometown
Client: Perrigo (Solpadeine)
Date: July 2018

Perrigo, a provider of medicines and healthcare products, has introduced a new creative as part of a 360-degree marketing campaign for the UK’s second biggest pain relief brand, Solpadeine. With the strapline ‘Don’t let pain hold you back’ and focus on Solpadeine Max Tablets, the TV advert, created by advertising agency Hometown, encourages consumers to stop pain ruining their plans.
The ad highlights to those who have tried many different methods of pain relief that there is another effective way to treat pain. Consumers are encouraged to ask their pharmacist about Solpadeine.
The campaign includes TV advertising, digital display and PPC, and will also be supported by posters and leaflets in GP surgeries. Perrigo has invested £1.3m into the marketing initiative, marking the highest brand investment for Solpadeine in four years.

Executive creative director – David Gamble
Creatives – George Bartlett and Charlie Lindsay
Agency producers – Tim Page and Rachael Wong
Business director – Linn Frost
Senior account director – Victoria Riggio
Strategy director – Don Larotonda
Agency designers – Zenia Labropoulou
Media agency – Zenith

Tags: UK, digital, marketing, advertising, TV Advert

Video of Solpadeine TV Ad 2018 UK

Solpadeine TV Ad 2018 UK


Leo Burnett London: British Dyslexia Association 'A Moment of Dyslexia '

Agency: Leo Burnett London
Client: British Dyslexia Association
Date: July 2018

One in every 10 people in the UK has some level of dyslexia, affecting their memory, personal organisation or literacy, but not their ability to succeed. To encourage more dyslexic-friendly workplaces, Leo Burnett London and The British Dyslexia Association are using facial detection technology on Ocean’s digital out of home screens to give everyone an idea what it’s like to live with dyslexia.
Long form copy on the screens is triggered by Look Out, Ocean’s audience detection technology. This can measure audience attention time as people stop to read the text. The longer people look at the screens, the more jumbled the words and letters become, reflecting what it can be like to be dyslexic.
Providing an experience of visual distraction, which affects many dyslexic people, can transform peoples’ appreciation of what it means to be dyslexic. An awareness of how to make simple adjustments can make a real difference to the workplace. Many dyslexic adults find digital application forms that time out are a real problem, but wouldn’t it be better for everyone if they didn’t do that?
This simple campaign captures the capability of digital out of home and how DOOH screens can respond to and engage with people in the moment. On this occasion, the combination of technology and location with long form copy which you don’t normally find on large format screens demonstrates the power of the right message in the right place at the right time.

Alex Moore – Creative – Leo Burnett London
Lewis Beaton – Creative – Leo Burnett London
Melanie Blood – Creative Project Manager – Ocean Labs

Tags: UK, advertising, digital, digital out of home, interactive


SomeOne: Beyond 'Brand Identity'

Agency: SomeOne
Client: Beyond
Date: July 2018

An entirely new strategic brand world has been created by SomeOne for funeral business Beyond. The new naming better connects to a wider set of products and services, and the progressive new visual and verbal branding sings out against a sea of sameness in the sector. It shuns clichéd sunsets, flowers, or doves, but a radical new design approach that supports, guides and reassures customers through the steps needed to make the right decisions.
The new visual and verbal branding, written and created at SomeOne, consists of a full operating system to support today’s services and tomorrow’s products. Everything is led by a new mascot – a charming, respectful and friendly way to get across sensitive information from Beyond.
All brand assets are hosted on the CloudLines platform, enabling those deploying the brand nationwide to have seamless and always-up-to-date access to the full operating system.

Simon Manchipp — ECD — SomeOne
Jamin Galea — Digital Design Director — SomeOne
Steve Burtenshaw — Digital Senior Designer — SomeOne
Thomas Dabner — Senior Designer — SomeOne
Beth Baines — Account Manager — SomeOne

Tags: UK, beyond, design, Brand, Branding, digital, digital transformation, web design, web development, website, marketing, advertising


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Graham Fink: Ziggy Chen 'Duets'

Agency: Graham Fink
Client: Ziggy Chen
Date: July 2018

Artist and creative Graham Fink has collaborated with Shanghai fashion designer Ziggy Chen on his new collection’s visual identity that references dualities within people and places. Fink reconfigured his imagery to create an immediate duality that occurs in any given situation – evoking our tendency for interchangeability based on external conditions and environments. Multiple exposure in the images creates a complex layering effect that builds on a shared interest of fusing history, memory and time into one single aesthetic vision.
After living and working in Shanghai for seven years – where Chen’s studio is still based – Fink has now moved to London. Both artists are constantly inspired by the beguiling duality and changing nature of the city – east and west, tradition and modernity, past and present.
Chen creates unisex designs that are sartorially engineered for full anatomical comfort and conformance to the nuances of different individual bodies, while Fink, previously chief creative officer of Ogilvy China, is a multimedia practitioner working in the fields of photography, film, painting, drawing and technology.

Tags: UK, @Rankinarchive


BrandOpus: Craft Gin Club 'Drink Outside The Box '

Agency: BrandOpus
Client: Craft Gin Club
Date: July 2018

BrandOpus has created a new visual identity for UK drinks subscription company, Craft Gin Club, that celebrates the anticipation and delight the brand brings to its subscribers during monthly unboxing, to better connect with their audience.
Inspired by the curiosity and conviviality experienced during subscribers’ monthly unboxing, we put the box itself at the heart of the brand to capture the anticipation and excitement the brand brings rather than focusing solely on the product. We created a multi-faceted and flexible identity that together with a suite of graphic elements deliver surprise and delight.
The identity works with the brand’s playful personality to establish a distinctive and ownable world. Activated across all marketing channels, the Craft Gin Club now has a look and feel that establishes the brand beyond the product to propel its continued growth.

Paul Taylor – Chief Creative Officer – BrandOpus
Ellen Munro – Creative Director – BrandOpus
Emily Myers – Designer – BrandOpus
Gill Sheraton – Designer – BrandOpus
Karina Thresh – Account Manager – BrandOpus

Tags: UK, design, Branding, brand identity, marketing, Brand, Brand strategy, rebrand, Branding/Identity

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What happens to brands when chocolate advertising goes dark?



Cadbury, Chewits and Swizzels recently became the first brands to be penalised under new rules introduced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on how products high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) can be marketed to under 16s.

Online and social media ads for Cadbury eggs, Chewits and Squashies were found to breach the new code following a rigourous ‘crackdown’ by the ASA to draw a line through the marketing of sugary and salty products to children – a quantum leap for the industry.

Confectionery brands are looking on nervously, and rightly so. It’s not just the ASA they need to be worried about. Since the introduction of the soft drinks sugar tax earlier this year, sugary drinks have been hit with a tax of up to 24p a litre as part of the government campaign to combat obesity and tooth decay.

Now that the drinks tax is in place, the government is looking at other areas and confectionery is being painted as the next ‘villain’. Campaigners have called for a 20% tax on sugary foods that would raise the cost of a Mars bar by 12p and a bag of Haribo sweets by 20p.

Unless the food industry manages to reduce sugar by 20% over the next two years, ministers are prepared to resort to new taxes. As the industry failed to reduce sugar in food by 5% over the past year, the outlook is uncertain, and at a time when chocolate sales plummeted by £78m last year (IRI) with consumers increasingly concerned about health issues.

It is probably of limited consolation, but confectionery brands are not alone in being targeted. Around the world, and in many different sectors, marketers are facing operating in ever tougher restricted and regulated (R&R) environments. Tobacco, alcohol, fast food and HFSS products are all seeing greater restraints on what were once considered perfectly acceptable marketing techniques.

In some cases, a market becomes so restrictive as to ‘go dark’, meaning that brands have to exist without commonplace marketing tools. The rolling back of advertising opportunities for brands, including bans on advertising in children’s programming, and increasingly restrictive policies on online activity indicate the direction of travel.

Shrinking your product and educating the public on portion size is an obvious response that some brands are taking. The tabloids may bemoan the ever-shrinking chocolate bar, but smaller sizes deliver on the requirement to reduce sugar levels, as well as fitting in with modern notions of more restrained permissible snacking.

Product innovation can also help. Milky Bar has recently launched its Wowsomes which boast 30% reduced sugar through a new process involving mixing sugar with milk powder and water. Finnish chocolatier Goodio has developed a line of oat flakes-added chocolate bars, ChocOat, that contains 60% less sugar than traditional milk chocolate.

Playing the game by being good brands will only get you so far though. Far-sighted brands need to look beyond the latest knee-jerk action by government to prepare for the worst. Rather than despairing about what they can no longer do, they should look to the options that are still open to them.

The good news is that there is more that brands can do than they may realise even with an advertising and promotion clampdown. Here it is important to remember that great brands are built over years, even decades, and they have an afterglow that will keep the dark at bay even when communication is stymied.

Slogans like ‘the sweet you can eat between meals’, ‘the taste of paradise’, and ‘have a break’ remain part of popular culture years after they were last used in anger and demonstrate the lasting power of strong brand assets.

But it’s not always a slogan that stays in the consumer’s mind. Design elements, colours, and brand characters can all be powerful. Faced with a virtual clampdown on marketing in some markets, businesses such as Diageo have invested in understanding what brand assets people actually connect with and then focused on those, changing their communication strategies to enable more effective campaigns that bolster brand awareness and protect against future advertising restrictions.

Brands can also reconsider who they are targeting. Cereal brands that attract flak for targeting young consumers with indulgent, high sugar products face less censure when the focus switches to adults. Researcher NPD Group found that, not only did Baby Boomers in the US eat more breakfast cereal than millennials, they were also more likely to eat it at other times in the day. It’s little surprise then that brands have refocused on these groups.

New product development and limited edition strategies can also maintain the heartbeat of brands starved of the oxygen of advertising. Kit Kat may be more than 80 years old, but a stream of new variants and flavours keeps it one of the biggest selling chocolate bars in the UK. But when it comes to NPD, brands need to invest now, or not at all. Products need at least three years to become embedded in the brand portfolio, so build the pipeline now.

The chocolate tax may or may not happen, but ASA’s tightening of the screw should serve as an added incentive for brands to invest ahead of such existential market changes. Putting an insurance policy in place allows you to undertake a branding health check and examine potential scenarios, as well as your response. It is what progressive brands should be doing as best practice anyway, but the present environment provides an added impetus.

Liz Richardson is managing partner at HeyHuman

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