Review of 2004 - 10 biggest marketing moments

It was the year McDonald's sold salads, Coke sold tap water and obesity set the agenda. Here are 2004's most memorable events.

1. 'CHOOSING HEALTH'

The White Paper on public health tackled everything from sex to smoking, but it was the issue of food promotion that had marketers scrutinising the small print. In a year dominated by the obesity crisis, food firms feared a ban on advertising food high in fat, salt and sugar to kids. The government left the door open for self-regulation, but warned that if it fails, a ban will be enforced by 2007.

MARTIN GLENN president, PepsiCo UK & Ireland

The call for industry to regulate advertising to kids was disproportionate and overtly populist - the White Paper acknowledges that it is likely to have little, if any, effect in combating obesity. The White Paper in fact raises many issues that the industry is already addressing. PepsiCo has reduced the saturated fat content in Walkers crisps, given away 2m pedometers and developed a lower-fat crisp for kids. The White Paper also gives the industry the chance to define how to interface with government more effectively. Ministers know that if their agenda is the same as the industry's, our trusted brands will have a multiplier effect on healthy lifestyle messages.

2. MCDONALD'S REPOSITIONING

It was a revolutionary year for the prime target in the obesity debate, as it launched a healthier menu. But slow growth forced out UK boss Andrew Taylor in July, before profits hit a record low in September.

CHRIS PILLING marketing director, Asda

2004 has been dominated by obesity, and McDonald's has fought harder than most to get its message across. It has faced the brunt of criticism from government, consumer groups and NGOs, but has developed a dynamic marketing strategy, with new-look restaurants and healthier menus. In my view, McDonald's has led the way, confronting the health issue head-on.

3. MUSIC DOWNLOAD GOLD RUSH

Coca-Cola, Orange, Woolworths and McDonald's moved into the online music market this year, while Apple launched iTunes in the UK in June. Weekly download sales now stand at 250,000.

AMANDA MACKENZIE European vice-president of marketing, Hewlett-Packard

Downloading music is a major opportunity for brands, but I am not so sure about fast-food firms jumping on the bandwagon. Does this devalue music in the eyes of consumers? Do music companies care? With downloads helping singles sales, and sales of peripherals such as MP3 players increasing, it's looking good for everyone.

4. IPA/ISBA PROCUREMENT ROW

It was agency versus advertiser in September, when the IPA and ISBA clashed over remuneration. The two engaged in a rare public row over issues such as payment by results and procurement professionals.

SIMON THOMPSON director of marketing, Honda UK

This debate boiled down to who should make the money - agency or advertiser. A hot debate in adland, but does it matter? It is only important that marketing drives consumer spend. More spending means more profitable advertisers, investing more in agency fees or marketing spend. Often we forget that it is customers who head the food chain.

5. CIM IN TURMOIL

It was an annus horribilis for the CIM, which lost chief executive Peter Fisk in March and chairman Tess Harris in May. Arguments raged over the CIM's charitable status, which it lost in October.

RAOUL PINNELL chairman, Shell Brands International

The CIM's core proposition and value has been, and should be, the development of marketing through training, conferences and networking. It has the potential to become the voice of marketing but must develop its range of competencies (and its business model). More than anything, it needs a leader with united support from its board.

6. LADS' WEEKLIES

Within six months of launching in early 2004, Zoo (Emap) and Nuts (IPC) achieved combined sales of 500,000, creating a vibrant sector for weekly titles and transforming the lads' mag market.

CARL LYONS marketing director, 95.8 Capital FM

Weekly lads' mags hold important lessons for the media industry. They show the value of being fresh: the internet generation wants information on what's new - something monthlies can't deliver. They also offer focus (unadulterated lad appeal without the aspirational style) and portability - they are easy to carry around and shove in a bag.

7. LAUNCH OF DASANI

Coca-Cola's Dasani bottled water was dubbed 'eau de Sidcup' when it launched early this year. Unable to shake off accusations that it was selling Kent tap water, Coke pulled the brand after just five weeks.

CLARE SALMON marketing director, ITV

When it emerged that Dasani was purified water from Sidcup, it was a PR disaster waiting to happen. It was a no-win situation. On the one hand it suggested normal tap water was bad. On the other, if we assume tap water is fine, Dasani looked like a rip-off. As for the fall-out, the episode will have damaged Coke's retail relationships. It was an expensive mistake for all involved.

8. M&S TAKEOVER BID

Torrid times for Marks & Spencer, as Philip Green attempted a £9bn takeover. It survived three bids before he gave in, and is now trying to restore affection for its brand with the 'Your M&S' positioning.

MARK PALMER marketing director, Green & Black's Chocolate

Creating a more efficient supply chain will be academic if M&S continues to lose customers. The critical issue is women's clothing. M&S seems obsessed with impressing the fashion press, but who cares? It is missing the point. The buying, merchandising and store staff are the most important members of the marketing team.

9. BBC IN CRISIS

Unexpectedly savaged by the Hutton report, the BBC suffered the biggest crisis in its history, losing popular director-general Greg Dyke and facing tough questions about its integrity and future.

JIM HYTNER Group brand and UK banking marketing director, Barclays

The way a story is dealt with is far more important than the story itself. Had Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell not reacted like hyenas on heat over Andrew Gilligan's story, Campbell would still be at No 10, Blair would still have some credibility and the best director-general the BBC has had in years would still be knocking six bells out of its rivals.

10. LONDON 2012 CAMPAIGN

The Olympic bid's marketing team is pulling out all the stops, with David Beckham and even Roger Moore in the latest London 2012 ad. British success in Athens did no harm for the capital's ambitions.

KEVIN PEAKE head of brand and customer marketing, Npower

For a nation desperate for sporting success, London 2012 is a great opportunity. But why is all the marketing focused in London? It is a pity the campaign strapline 'Make Britain proud - back the bid' has not been exploited more. With backers including British Airways, BT and Virgin Atlantic, there is awesome marketing expertise to assist.

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