Did 'Empty 2013' exceed expectations in the marketing industry?

Following a year packed with sporting and cultural events, many feared 2013 would suffer a dearth of brand excellence.

Each month The Forum questions members of The Marketing Society on a hot topic. For more on membership, visit www.marketing-society.org.uk.

YES

AMANDA NEWMAN

MARKETING DIRECTOR, M&S BANK

Last year we hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games and marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: there was a lot to celebrate. But think about the royal wedding of 2011, and this year’s arrival of a future king – and Andy Murray won Wimbledon. These events have renewed the nation's sense of pride.

There wasn’t one natural "hook" for marketers to focus on in 2013, but we had a great foundation to build on. Last year inspired a new generation of heroes and raised the bar; brands have worked hard to deliver more substance and increase engagement. As a marketer, things are never empty. It’s our role to create – and targeted content, along with immediacy, has become key.

MAYBE

KATE COX

MANAGING PARTNER, STRATEGY, HAVAS MEDIA

It seems that "empty" 2013 was only a problem for the 40 or so brands that rely on major national events to drive their marketing calendar structure. This year has been business as usual for those not flush with cash or the desire for sports-related global fame.

With the economy picking up, brands have been investing, and events such as Prince George’s birth and Andy Murray's  Wimbledon win provided great tactical opportunities. Further, those not part of the "magic 40" haven’t had to avoid event time for fear of media inflation.

It is a worry, however, if our global super brands can’t build meaningful connections with customers without splashing millions on sports events to borrow event endorsement.

NO

LUKE SOUTHERN

PROGRAMME DIRECTOR FOR GLASGOW 2014, VIRGIN MEDIA

Last year was a one-off and was always going to be tough to follow. Our "speed ambassadors", Usain Bolt and Mo Farah, made history, with millions of people associating Virgin Media with the Olympics. In contrast, 2013 has lacked the intensity and focal moment the Games provided for marketers.

But we’ve seen a wealth of sporting success moments for marketers to get excited about, which at any other time would be considered a landmark year.

We completed an ambitious programme of doubling broadband speeds this year, and it’s been a real opportunity to build to our sponsorship of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

NO

MICHAEL LEE

EXEC PLANNING DIRECTOR, VCCP

Pockets of brilliance and bravery. Mother is still on a hot streak with its IKEA work. Am I allowed to mention "Be more dog" for O2? Not enough from the UK and a bit too much one-off novelty, rather than strategic ingenuity that leaves a mark.

There was so much determination in 2012 to do something extraordinary and game-changing around the Olympics that perhaps the same ambition and optimism was absent in 2013 on all sides.

It’s been a very uncertain year in terms of the recovery, so it’s understandable clients chose consolidation over transformation. We’ve all caught our breath now, though, and I’m excited about the ideas we’ll launch in 2014.

YES

MARK TRINDER

SALES DIRECTOR, ITV

The predicted vacuum suggested by "empty 2013" just didn’t happen at ITV. In fact, we had increased presence from government, retail, finance and tech brands, without the benefit of the big events of 2012.

As a content-maker and broadcaster, we already reach mass audiences; our programmes are, in themselves, big events. From soaps to cycling, football to Broadchurch and Saturday Night Takeaway, we have the reach and reputation brands want.

While 2012 was a glorious year for the national conversation and fantastic ad creative, it was nothing more than a distraction from what brands do every day, year in, year out. Advertisers want to be attached to big, entertaining content their customers love. If their success were predicated on a UK Olympics or a Diamond Jubilee, then it would be all their other years that would lie empty.

YES

VIKI COOKE

CO-FOUNDER, BRITAIN THINKS

There was an inevitable period of post-Olympic blues when we all mourned the end of an extraordinary year, but we soon rediscovered our mojo. This was seen in our national pride in delivering the "best ever" Olympics and our sustained athletic prowess, our memories of a year of celebrations and parties and growing anticipation about the arrival of "the nation’s baby".

We saw signs of economic recovery in 2013 and, while most people aren’t yet feeling it in their pockets, there are signs of greater optimism.

Great, insight-led marketing campaigns were developed with content that engaged and involved customers. Witness the phenomenal success of the "Share a Coke" activity – brilliant in its simplicity and authenticity, it resulted in increased sales and greater brand affinity, building on the great success of its Olympic campaign.

Discussion

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