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With global consumers becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues, sportswear brand Adidas has released a new product range made of plastic salvaged from the oceans. These include running shoes and kits for some of the top soccer teams in Europe. As part of the drive to enhance its green credentials, Adidas is partnering with Parley for the Oceans, an organisation dedicated to reducing the amount of plastic waste in the world’s oceans. The initiative was announced last year and the first plastic recycled products were released last week. More items will be made available in 2017, including at least one million pairs of running shoes. For now, Adidas is selling 7 000 pairs of running shoes comprising 95% recycled ocean plastic and 5% recycled polyester. These are being retailed for around US$220 a pair. “This represents another step on the journey of Adidas and Parley for the Oceans. We have not only managed to make footwear from recycled ocean plastic, but have also created the first jersey coming 100% out of the ocean” says Adidas spokesperson Eric Liedtke. “But we won't stop there … and our ultimate ambition is to eliminate virgin plastic from our supply chain.” The players of Germen soccer giant Bayern Munich wore recycled kits for last weekend’s game in the German Bundesliga, while Real Madrid of Spain will wear similar kits for the game against Sporting Gijon on November 26. “At this point, it’s no longer just about raising awareness,” Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, said in a statement. “It’s about taking action and implementing strategies that can end the cycle of plastic pollution for good. Eco-innovation is an open playing field.”
With rhino poaching continuing to be a major problem in South Africa, one conservation organisation is mounting an ongoing marketing campaign in Vietnam – the main source of demand for rhino horn – that targets school children and makes them brand ambassadors for the anti-poaching message. Wilderness Foundation Africa believes its hands-on campaign can enthuse Vietnamese youth and convince them to engage with their peers, parents and others in the community – thereby reducing demand for rhino horn. According to the latest issue of the ‘IMM Journal of Strategic Marketing’, the publication of the Institute of Marketing Management, international schools have been specifically targeted by Wilderness Foundation Africa as they cater to wealthy Vietnamese families, who are the primary purchasers of rhino horn for medicinal purposes. A key part of the strategy has been to enrol the help of two Vietnamese entertainers popular with the youth: singer-songwriter Thanh Bui and pop diva Thu Minh. “We invited them to South Africa and introduced them to rhinos at Shamwari Game Reserve,” says Cheryl Reynolds of the Wilderness Foundation Africa. “We know how effective being up close and personal with the animals is. It was during the visit that we learned more about how involved Thanh is with the international schools [and] he came up with the idea of talking to the schools.” A competition was created around the concept of rhino conservation and promoted to 15 000 students at 12 schools. Twenty-two winners were then chosen and brought to South Africa, where they too could interact with rhinos and understand their plight. The 22 then became brand ambassadors and returned to Vietnam to further the message. Reynolds says it’s too early to gauge the success of the programme, but the intention is to keep it going for at least the next five years.
While the iconic Aston Martin luxury car brand has done well out of a long association with the high-profile James Bond films, it relies too heavily on 007 to market the product. Despite being known worldwide, the British-based manufacturer is struggling to meet sales targets and last year retrenched workers as financial losses mounted. It is now working to refresh the brand, a strategy that includes new car models, targeting more female drivers, a stronger focus on digital marketing channels, and changing its advertising approach. In an interview with ‘Marketing Week’ magazine, Director of Global Marketing, Dan Balmer, noted: “Bond still presents a big opportunity and [a] platform [that] Aston Martin wants to use, but we have relied too much on 007 in the past. [The film] ‘Spectre’ was great for showing off the DB11 [car model], but what I realised during that campaign is you live and die by the cycle of the film. Once people stop talking about ‘Spectre’, things become very quiet and that is bad. We have to avoid that.” The brand’s association with the famous secret agent dates back to 1964, when the Aston Martin DB5 model appeared in ‘Goldfinger’, then the third film in the Bond franchise. This immediately increased the brand’s profile and boosted sales. Recently, the DB10 car created specifically for actor Daniel Craig in the ‘Spectre’ film was sold at auction for US$3,5-million. Aston Martin’s upcoming ad campaign – which will mainly target social media – will move away from the typical ‘fast car on winding mountain road’ approach used by luxury sports car brands and will instead rely on an ‘artistic message’, the company says. “[Television commercials] are very expensive undertakings and social allows us to really target the right luxury audience,” Balmer told ‘Marketing Week’.
Thursday, 03 November 2016 07:22

Good times are rolling for tourism marketers

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While many South African marketers battle to attract customers in a difficult economic environment, those in the tourism sector are enjoying good times and looking forward to a lucrative Festive Season. International visitor arrivals to the country rose by around 24% in the first eight months of the year. The overall figure, including visitors from the rest of Africa, rose about 14%, ‘Business Day’ newspaper reports. Britain, Germany and US remain the three biggest foreign markets for South Africa, although there is also strong growth from China, India and Saudi Arabia. The latter is showing particularly steep increases in visitor numbers. Within the tourism sector, hotel chains are being notable active, not just in South Africa but elsewhere on the continent as well. Marriot is developing new properties in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. These are the forerunners of a long-term African expansion strategy which the global chain says will result in a presence in 27 countries. “Africa is particularly important to Marriott International’s expansion strategy because of the continent’s rapid economic growth, expanding middle class and youth population, as well as the increase of international flights into the continent,” notes Chief Executive Arne Sorenson. “With over 850 million people in sub-Saharan Africa alone, there are enormous opportunities.” Similarly, Hilton Worldwide has announced new developments centred on three African countries as it works to double its footprint on the continent within the next five years. It will go from 39 current hotels to more than 80 properties during that timeframe. Among the new projects is the 280-room Hilton Garden Inn in Accra, Ghana and the Hilton Nairobi Upper Hill property (pictured) in Kenya, which will be 330m high and the tallest hotel on the continent.
If a company’s growth targets are not met, it is the Chief Marketing Officer who is most likely to be in the firing line. This is despite the CMO only being one of around five senior executives responsible for driving disruptive business growth. A new study published this week by professional services company Accenture says that approximately half of the more than 500 global chief executives interviewed believe that their CMOs must be the primary person in charge of growth. One of the difficulties, though, is that many senior marketers believe they are not in a position to drive this expected growth because of mind-set and time. “Only 30% of CMOs believe they are cutting-edge marketing innovators, and a little over a third (37%) of their time is currently spent on innovation,” says Accenture. “Sixty percent spend the majority of their time on traditional marketing initiatives such as maintaining brand image, improving customer experience, and loyalty.” The study also highlights another concern. In businesses where organisations rely on ‘growth by committee’, it breeds a culture where everyone is responsible yet no one is accountable – and the onus usually falls disproportionately onto the CMO. The solution, say the researchers, is for CMOs to take a greater role by actively driving the agenda and generating new value for the business. “Never has there been a better time for CMOs to reposition themselves by taking control of the disruptive growth agenda. Such initiatives include developing ecosystems with non-traditional players, launching platforms that elevate current products into expanded service models for customers, and increasing revenue through next generation connected data monetisation – all of which CMOs are well positioned to do.” If CMOs don’t take control of their destiny by leading the disruptive growth agenda, others will, they warn.
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 08:06

Tough retail environment hits Stuttafords hard

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In yet another indication of the changing and highly competitive times in the South African retail sector, the long-established Stuttafords chain has entered business rescue after many years of declining sales and low profitability. Business rescue enables a company to keep trading while a professional business rescue practitioner takes control, together with the board of directors, to provide a fresh perspective and new direction. If this revised strategy fails, the next step is usually liquidation. Stuttafords was founded in 1858 and sells branded clothing, shoes, accessories and cosmetics, mainly in a large-format department store environment. It has 18 outlets in SA, Namibia and Botswana. Speaking to ‘The Money Show’ radio programme last night (Monday), Stuttafords CEO Robert Amoils said negative consumer sentiment was driving people away from retail stores and shoppers were tending to buy down rather than go for the higher-priced international brands that Stuttafords offers. He added that the chain’s department stores had tended to be relatively resilient. “But the foot traffic in malls is declining and spend per head has dropped – especially in those malls that are undergoing refurbishment.” In the fashion space, Stuttafords once focused on selling house brands with high margins, but then changed its strategy to selling primarily international brands such as Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger and Pringle of Scotland. Price-wise, these have all suffered as a result of import duties and the devaluation of the rand. Recently the Edcon Group – which includes Edgars, Jet, CNA and Boardmans – narrowly avoided business rescue and was taken over by creditors. Not all South African retailers are enduring tough times, however. Clicks Group, for example, delivered a strong trading performance in the year to August, increasing retail turnover by almost 13%, mainly due to good performance in the health and beauty segments.
Amarula, the African-themed liqueur, is teaming up with Kenyan conservationists for a new strategy aimed at saving the continent’s elephant herds. The brand is sponsoring the ‘Name Them Save Them’ campaign being run in conjunction with WildlifeDirect, a conservation organisation that operates out of Nairobi and Washington DC. Working closely with WildlifeDirect CEO, Dr. Paula Kahumbu, the campaign aims to make the prospect of losing an African elephant personal to the public, by inviting them to name individual elephants. Kahumbu, who is internationally acknowledged for her conservation work, appears in a video shot on location in Kenya’s Amboseli Park. She introduces viewers to elephants by name, showcasing their behaviour in their natural habitat, and likening their traits to those of humans. A short film then guides viewers through an immersive online experience into a virtual digital savannah, where they can choose an elephant, design it with a range of colourful patterns, name and share it with friends online. In addition to funding the global strategy, Amarula will donate US$1 to WildlifeDirect for every elephant named and shared per unique user. “As an authentically African brand, Amarula has been committed to the protection of the African elephant since 2002 and has donated US$642 000 to the cause over this period,” the brand says in a press statement. Amarula is made from the fruit of the marula tree, which is a sought-after treat among wild elephants. Owned by South African-based alcoholic beverages company Distell, the brand is sold in many parts of Africa and also has a worldwide following. “Awareness created by this campaign will help us to continue to protect the continent’s elephants, which are such an important part of Africa’s heritage and Amarula’s story,” says Dino D’Araujo, Global General Manager for the brand.