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Stuart O'Brien

Why understanding customers’ delivery personas is key to e-commerce excellence

Consumer online shopping behaviour has changed for good – and retailers need to take note. While ecommerce demand overall has increased, consumers are now far more sophisticated, demanding and have different expectations from their delivery experience.

Indeed, when it comes to what constitutes a good experience, one size does not fit all. Expectations vary greatly, influenced by product value and age group – and they extend across the entire buying experience, from purchase through delivery to unboxing and returns.

Fulfilment, delivery capability and performance are a critical part of the brand experience and under greater consumer scrutiny than ever before. Retailers need to address fast emerging delivery personas, embrace millennials’ concerns regarding the environment and at the same time the over 55s’ desire for convenience.

Retailers are aware of the impact on delivery performance created by driver shortages, but how many are considering the long-term implications for brand value and future customer loyalty, questions Andrew Tavener, Head of Fleet Marketing, EMEA, Descartes…

Avoid Complacency – Delivery is not Satisfactory

With ecommerce now a fundamental driver of overall retail sales, it is vital to identify and address any issues or concerns that may prevent consumer purchase. In January ’22, Descartes commissioned research to understand consumers’ online purchasing across Europe and North America to understand how the quality of the experience affects consumer perception.

Retailers should be extremely concerned to discover that negative delivery factors were cited by one in five respondents, with three in four citing at least one delivery problem in the prior three month period. The primary complaint was that deliveries were not environmentally friendly (20%), deliveries were not reliable (19%), bad delivery experience (19%) and dissatisfaction with the delivery experience (16%). The younger generation, in particular, is far more concerned about the environmental impact of deliveries – cited by 26% of 18 to 24 year olds, compared to 11% of those aged over 65.

So what is going wrong? Why are retailer delivery models failing to meet expectations and satisfy customers? It is impossible to ignore the combination of dramatically increased delivery volumes and shortage of drivers across all modes of transport. The pandemic caused more people to buy online, while at the same time chasing drivers from the transportation industry, leaving retailers scrambling to find ways to get their goods to consumers and do it with consistently high service.

Yet while delivery options become ever more challenging for retailers, customer expectations of the experience continue to rise. The more online purchases consumers make, the more chance they have of being exposed to the full gamut of delivery experience. And there is no doubt that some companies are really pushing the boundaries of the entire online experience, from a beautiful presentation that provides an exciting unboxing moment, through great tracking, with continuous, accurate updates, and simple returns processes. These companies have raised the bar – and set new consumer expectations.

Challenge Conventional Thinking – Understand Delivery Personas

Innovative thinking is required to safeguard profitability. Common thinking is that all consumers want their goods delivered as quickly as possible. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some consumers are happy to have all their orders delivered on a certain day if it helps the environment – which may also be the lowest cost option if that is a brand value the retailer wants to emphasise. Others may be happier paying extra for a specific time slot delivery; this is particularly the case for the over 55s, for whom the convenience of home delivery is a significant factor – and they may have the financial capital to afford the extra cost. This is why it is critical to understand the delivery personas of their customer base.

Indeed, there is one factor that could derail the continued growth of online sales – consumer perception about the environmental impact of home delivery. Almost a quarter (24%) of all consumers will think twice about ordering groceries online due to the environmental impact, and 20% restaurant food.

Overall, 65% of consumers will consider the environment when making an order. However, this rises to 85% of those aged 18-24, and 75% of 25 to 34 year olds, demonstrating very clearly the expectations of younger individuals.

In addition, customers are open to new ways of receiving goods. Almost two thirds (64%) are interested in combining orders into a single delivery at the end of the week (rising to 70% of 18-24s); while 63% would be interested in combining all their orders over a period for a single delivery when there are multiple deliveries in their area. Almost a half (48%) would pay for faster delivery (57% in urban areas) and 45% would be prepared to pay for a more convenient time (55% in urban areas), providing retailers with a chance to use delivery as an incremental revenue stream, significantly reducing or, in some cases, offsetting the high cost of home delivery.

For retailers, consumers’ growing green expectations are not just one more pressure in an already challenging market – this is a real opportunity. Many retailers have sustainability strategies – but how well is that message shared with customers? Does it incorporate the delivery model? Is that embedded into the routine ecommerce offer?


Overall, ecommerce and home delivery is a positive story, but with clear warnings for retailers. Complacency with current home delivery performance is not an option for success. Yes, home delivery is an expensive proposition, but with the right strategies and superior execution it is a competitive differentiator and revenue generator for retailers – even for the most mundane products. The ability to understand the delivery personas of customers and tailor delivery options to meet them is the key to a happier customer and better top and bottom line.

The delivery capacity crunch, combined with increased complexity and concern over environmental impact, means retailers must rethink their delivery strategies. This requires a unifying technology strategy that helps to ensure consistent execution and delivery visibility for the customer. Retailers should consider this as an opportunity to engage consumers, while simultaneously helping the environment and reducing the cost of home delivery.

The metaverse gimmick and the forgotten value of video 

The metaverse and Virtual Reality (VR) has had the weight of a number of large big technology companies behind it in the last year; spearheaded by the likes of Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. Not only did we see its proliferation increase substantially over the pandemic, but the hype has yet to deter, particularly with speculation around products such as Apple’s RealityOS and its AR/VR Headset.

That said, the technology itself, particularly within enterprise systems, has been relatively slow in its adoption. This is because immersive content is more resource-intensive and therefore more expensive to develop, which in-turn creates quite the barrier amongst smaller companies. 

Amongst all of the upward trajectory surrounding the metaverse, it’s easy for early-stage companies to get swept up in the overwhelm and believe that they need to incorporate this into their strategies. What’s needed, however, is a return to implementable video marketing models, and a refined strategy incorporating the value of  video and immersive technology, before companies even begin to utter the word “metaverse” as a potential revenue stream. Guy Parry-Williams, Founder of Imedia8 explores this further…

The metaverse of madness

The metaverse is by no-means a new concept. In fact, it has existed since the first iterations of the 3D internet in the latter part of the 20th Century and early 2000s. However, it has developed substantially in recent years, as charged by the entertainment industry in a bid to make gaming and consumer experiences more immersive. Sitting at the intersection between technological developments and consumer experiences however, lies the issue of hype.

Over-hyping has been a long-standing issue in the tech industry. Major players and media outlets have a combined tendency to take something and transform it into a buzzword, which is louder and more overbearing than the real innovation at the crux of immersive technology.

This has happened to VR to an extent. The global AR and VR market is expected to grow to $209.2 billion this year, but the risk here is that it will be consigned to the drawer marked “gimmick” if teams do not focus on providing the end-user with a truly new experience that is of value to them. VR for the sake of VR does the industry no favours, but when the real benefits can be identified, it will prove to be ground-breaking.

VR is a profitable, but the adage “walk before you can run” rings true

In the case of corporations and enterprise, the metaverse and VR is significantly more challenging to implement, because you’re working less on the basis of entertainment and more in the bustle of protocols and efficiency.

Being able to operate and monetise VR is also incredibly tricky at a lower level because the software solutions which allow VR content to play are fairly limited compared to standard video. Additionally, the option to play 360 VR content outside of using YouTube is restricted, so it’s near-impossible for startups or SMEs to supercharge an in-house VR or metaverse strategy.

That said, it’s not impossible to create an impactful, well-rounded video and VR strategy that gives startups and enterprises the competitive advantage. The metaverse and VR can work within business’ processes, but not without understanding how to get there first. If companies opt to join the metaverse minefield before focussing on a holistic approach when it comes to the possibilities of video, they may be at a disadvantage when it comes to unlocking the future of VR’s potential.

Recognising the value of video

Video marketing was experiencing an upward trajectory before the pandemic, but its inception was certainly a catalyst in many businesses recognising its value. For instance, many companies had to pivot during this time, from somewhat traditional marketing methods to ones which adopted a video-focussed, digital-first approach.

For some, this also included adopting a variety of innovative video strategies that incorporated VR and broadcasting so that their services could still be rolled out during a time where audiences all moved online. The result was ultimately their survival – and, beyond this, they’ve been able to move past this to now grow, adapt and ultimately keep ahead of the competition. However, whilst video marketing is becoming increasingly prolific, this poses more challenges: with many businesses adopting such a strategy, cutting through the noise becomes difficult. So, being able to exhibit a video marketing procedure, but doing so in such a way that aligns with a business’ core values and highlights its USPs, is fundamental.

Ultimately, video content is a complex beast: but when it’s done right, it not only supercharges corporate marketing strategies, but it’s also impactful in terms of revenue, too. Then, once this has been mastered and profitable, companies can look at what the metaverse means to them.

95% of businesses fear recession, will likely cut marketing budgets

As central banks around the globe ramp up interest rates in a bid to curb inflation, many businesses fear an oncoming recession. But as they look to protect themselves from the worst effects of a potential recession, it’s clear that many haven’t learned from the past and will cut sales and marketing budgets.

Those are the headline findings from the latest International Business Barometer report from Sapio Research. Titled, “Wave 6: Preparing for a Recession?”, the report shows that some 95% of businesses around the globe are concerned about a potential recession.

Those concerns, however, aren’t equally spread. In the US, 45% of businesses are highly concerned about a recession, compared with just 11% in Germany.

Just over a fifth of businesses (22%), meanwhile, are already being affected by the current economic uncertainty. Again, these effects aren’t equally spread. Japan and the US are faring worse, with 28% of businesses in those countries already feeling the pinch. Globally, the percentage of affected companies is expected to rise to 42% by the end of the year.

The research also shows, however, that the responses to any recession are likely to be as misguided as they’ve been in the past.

“While many companies say that their top mitigation strategy will be ramping up sales and marketing activities, most are still likely to bite the hand that feeds them,” said Jane Hales, Managing Partner, Sapio Research. “The highest proportion of potential redundancies are set to be made in crucial areas such as sales and communications.”

Additionally, half of businesses anticipate cutting discretionary marketing spend (such as PR, events, advertising, and sponsorship) over the next 12 months. At present, just six percent of companies are cutting marketing budgets.

With the world’s advertising leaders currently gathered in Cannes for the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, that’s hardly likely to come as welcome news. Nor is the fact that many business leaders question the effectiveness of advertising as an influencing channel.

“Globally, social media and paid social media are significantly more valued marketing channels for driving retention and drive growth than advertising, particularly in the US,” said Hales. “The UK is the only country that values the two channels equally.”

At least some business leaders, however, view any potential recession as an opportunity. In the US, for example, some 37% plan to use it to and the promise of more captive audiences as an opportunity and plan to increase their marketing spend.

This may ultimately be the better approach.

“Companies that cut their marketing budgets due to recession not only make it harder to retain customers but also to bring back new and existing customers once economic growth returns,” Hales concludes. “They also leave themselves more vulnerable in the event of a PR crisis that puts the organisation at risk, something that 41% of US organisations experienced post-COVID-19. It would be a shame if they chose to forgo the lessons learned during the pandemic and put themselves at risk again.”

The report will be released online 1 July 2022 and will be available for download here

Do you specialise in Web Analytics? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Digital Marketing Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on different parts of the print and marketing sectors – and in July we’ll be focussing on Web Analytics solutions. It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help marketing industry professionals find the best products and services available today. So, if you specialise in Web Analyticsand would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Clair Wyld on Here’s our features list in full:- July – Web Analytics Aug – Conversion Rate Optimisation Sept – Digital Signage Oct – Brochure Printing Nov – Creative & Design Dec – Online Strategy

Have Brits forgotten what it means to be truly happy? And what does it mean for brands?

People want brands to make them smile and laugh, but business leaders fear using humour in customer interactions according to a new research report from Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience (CX) and Gretchen Rubin, five-time New York Times bestselling author and podcaster.

The Happiness Report includes insights from more than 12,000 consumers and business leaders across 14 countries and found that people are searching for new experiences to make them smile and laugh and will reward brands that embrace humour with loyalty, advocacy, and repeat purchases, and walk away from those that don’t.

For the UK specifically, the research found that nearly half of Brits (49%) have not felt true happiness in two years. Similarly to others around the world, 88% are looking for new experiences to make them laugh and smile – in fact, Brits are prioritising experiences (61%) compared to the global average of 53% to try and make themselves happy.

For brands looking to interact with UK citizens there is a similar story to that globally, with 90% of people in the UK wanting a brand to be funny. However, the key difference is that Brits seem far less likely to cancel a brand (31%) compared to those globally (45%), which is echoed by UK business leaders who are 21% less likely to be scared of using humour in customer interactions than their global counterparts.

People are searching for happiness in new ways and are willing to pay a premium 

It has been more than two years since many people last felt true happiness and they are searching for ways to be happy again, no matter the cost.

  • 45 percent of people have not felt true happiness for more than two years and 25 percent don’t know, or have forgotten, what it means to feel truly happy.
  • 88 percent are looking for new experiences to make them smile and laugh. People are prioritising health (80 percent), personal connections (79 percent), and experiences (53 percent) to gain happiness.
  • More than half (53 percent) wish money could buy happiness, with 78 percent willing to pay a premium for true happiness.
  • 89 percent attempted to find happiness in online shopping during the pandemic and while 47 percent said that receiving packages made them happy, 12 percent struggled to remember the purchases they had made online.

Advertising, marketing, sales, and customer service interactions need to change 

People want brands to make them smile and laugh, but business leaders admit their brands rarely use humour to engage with customers.

  • 78 percent of people believe brands can do more to deliver happiness to their customers and 91 percent said they preferred brands to be funny; this number increased among Gen Z (94 percent) and Millennials (94 percent).
  • 90 percent are more likely to remember ads that are funny, yet business leaders said that only 20 percent of their brands’ offline ads (TV, billboards) and 18 percent of their online ads actively use humour.
  • 77 percent of people are more likely to buy from a salesperson that is funny, yet only 16 percent of business leaders said that their brands use humour to sell.
  • 75 percent of people would follow a brand if it’s funny on its social media channels, yet only 15 percent of business leaders said their brand is humorous on social.
  • 69 percent of people would open an email from a brand if the subject line were funnier, yet only 24 percent of business leaders said they actively use humour in email marketing campaigns.
  • 68 percent would prefer to engage with a chatbot/digital assistant that is funny, yet only 27 percent of business leaders said their brands actively incorporate humour into bot communications.

Smiles and laughter pay dividends, but business leaders are afraid to joke around 

People will reward brands that embrace humour with loyalty, advocacy, and repeat purchases and will walk away from those that don’t.

  • 48 percent of people don’t believe they have a relationship with a brand unless it makes them smile or laugh and 41 percent would walk away from a brand if it didn’t make them laugh or smile regularly.
  • If a brand uses humour, people are more likely to buy from the brand again (80 percent), recommend the brand to family and friends (80 percent), choose the brand over the competition (72 percent), and spend more with a brand (63 percent).
  • 89 percent of business leaders see the opportunity to use humour to enhance the customer experience and believe that their brand can do more to make customers laugh or smile.
  • 95 percent of business leaders fear using humour in customer interactions.
  • 85 percent of business leaders state that they do not have the data insights or tools to successfully deliver humour. Business leaders would be more confident using humour when engaging with customers if they had better customer visibility (55 percent) and access to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (32 percent).

“We’ve all been through some very tough years, and around the world, we’re short on happiness. We’re starved for experiences that make us smile and laugh, and brands can help,” said Gretchen Rubin, five-time New York Times bestselling author and podcaster. “For brands aiming to contribute to the happiness of their target audience, the process starts with data and knowing your customers. Only then can you bring the appropriate mix of humour, personality, and brand experience that will drive loyalty and brand advocacy.”

“The customer experience continues to evolve, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing: Making the customer happy,” said Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president and general manager, Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience (CX). “There are many different factors that go into creating happy customers and in this research, we decided to examine humour as it is one of the most nuanced. As the results show, most business leaders want to make consumers laugh more and understand it’s a critical part of establishing a true relationship. To be successful, brands need to put data at the heart of their customer experience strategy.”

Learn more about this global report here.

Shockingly Good: The 5 most controversial marketing campaigns according to social media

 As women’s health brand Elvie recently ‘broke the internet’ with their provocative 2022 campaign normalising women’s incontinence in sport, print marketing and branding experts Solopress have investigated the top 5 campaigns of the last decade that stirred up the social sphere…

 Key Findings:

  • 94% of those surveyed by Always agree that their #LikeAGirl campaign encouraged girls to be more confident and 70% of women and 60% of men claimed that the video changed their perception of the phrase ‘like a girl’.
  • #LikeAGirl received over 1100 earned-media placements and 4.4 billion impressions in the first three months of launching the campaign with its positive sentiment reaching 96%.
  • Gillette’s #TheBestAManCanBe campaign earned 3 million views on YouTube, 203k retweets and 513.3k likes on Twitter and was received positively overall. It encouraged 65% more purchase intent.
  • Elvie’s Leaks Happen campaign stirred up conversations around the world regarding incontinence in women, with content attached to #LeaksHappen receiving 2.9 million views on TikTok.
  • Searches for ‘Elvie Trainer review’ have increased by 60% and searches for ‘Elvie Curve’ (two of the brand’s key products) have increased by 70% according to Google Trends since the campaign’s launch.
  • Weetabix’s Beanz on Bix campaign instantly blew up on social media, gaining 36.3k retweets, 68.8k quoted tweets and over 130k likes on Twitter.
  • KFC pursued print advertising with their ‘FCK’ advert which resulted in 700 press articles and TV discussions, reaching a combined audience of 797 million globally.

The world of marketing has graced us with countless unforgettable (albeit controversial) campaigns over the past decade spanning a range of industries, from fast food to male grooming and women’s health.

Recently, women’s health brand Elvie sparked a wide online response with their March 2022 billboard campaign. The unique out-of-home advert depicted a woman squatting and lifting weights complete with liquid to portray urination and raise awareness of women’s incontinence.

But which ‘controversial’ marketing campaigns broke through the noise and caught the public’s attention the most within the 2000s and how many garnered business success as a result?

Print marketing and branding experts Solopress have analysed the top 5 most controversial marketing campaigns according to social media to reveal which campaigns leveraged shock value to their advantage.

The 5 Most Controversial Marketing Campaigns of the Decade

  1. Always #LikeAGirl
  • 70million views on YouTube
  • 5million views on TikTok
  • 10,62 likes on Twitter
  • 814 retweets on Twitter
  1. Gillette #TheBestMenCanBe
  • 4million views on YouTube (via Guardian News)
  • 203k retweets on Twitter
  • 3k quoted tweets on Twitter
  • 3k likes on Twitter
  • 11,752 likes on Instagram
  • 1k likes on Facebook
  1. Elvie Leaks Happen
  • 3million views on TikTok
  • 9k views on YouTube
  1. Weetabix, Beanz on Bix
  • 3k retweets on Twitter
  • 8k quoted tweets on Twitter
  • 130k likes on Twitter
  • 1,839 likes on Instagram
  1. KFC FCK
  • Reached a global audience of 797 million
  • 814 likes on Twitter
  • 428 retweets on Twitter
  • 114 quoted tweets on Twitter
  • 700 press articles and TV discussions
  1. Always #LikeAGirl – 2015

Feminine hygiene brand Always’ unforgettable campaign #LikeAGirl managed to successfully subvert gender stereotypes and redefine what it means to do something ‘like a girl’.

With the aim of reconnecting with their young consumer base (16-24-year-olds) to ensure brand loyalty, Always’ short video advert depicts a casting call with young women, men, boys and girls being asked to pretend to run, fight and throw like a girl.

Whist women, men and boys chose to act out stereotypes and mock the way in which women would do these things, pre-pubescent girls provided a powerful response in that they pretended to complete these actions with pride and confidence.

The insight resonated with Always’ viewership, with 94% agreeing that the campaign has encouraged girls to be more confident and 70% of women and 60% of men claiming that the video changed their perception of the phrase ‘like a girl’.

Always received over 1100 earned-media placements and 4.4 billion impressions in the first three months of launching the now renowned campaign.

They did this by taking a derogatory phrase that supports the negative, misguided representation of women ‘not being good enough’ and making it a symbol of female empowerment via social media with the hashtag #LikeAGirl.

Positive sentiment also reached 96% within three months, purchase intent increased by more than 50% among the target audience and 177,000 #LikeAGirl tweets were posted including tweets from celebrities such as Gloria Steinem and George Takei as a result of the thought-provoking advert.

In terms of social reach and engagement, the initial video advert garnered over 70million views on YouTube and 8.7k views on Facebook, making it to Solopress’ top spot in the best controversial campaigns list.

This unique campaign, including a YouTube video advert, paid Facebook and Twitter posts, paid reach, and influencer outreach, demonstrates the benefit of harnessing brand values to encourage positive social change and ultimately helping specific audiences to feel both seen and supported.

#LikeAGirl still has relevancy today despite being released in 2015, with posts connected to the hashtag receiving 20.5million views on TikTok.

  1. Gillette #TheBestMenCanBe – 2019

Another provocative hashtag-led campaign that got thousands on social media talking was Gillette’s 2019 campaign #TheBestMenCanBe.

The video-based social media campaign was created in the wake of #MeToo and aimed to challenge traditional male stereotypes and encourage positive behaviour.

It disregarded the brand’s shaving products and instead addressed themes of toxic masculinity, misogyny and sexual harassment.

Gillette’s video showed various situations involving boys and men, from men making derogatory comments toward women to young boys fighting each other, intending to encourage others to make better choices.

The divisive advert sparked serious debate with some viewers applauding the brand’s stance on this social issue and others viewing the ad as an attack on men.

Among the negative responses was a tweet from Piers Morgan accusing the brand of virtue-signalling “I’ve used @Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away to a company less eager to fuel the current pathetic global assault on masculinity”.

Other responses saw the campaign as a catalyst for positive change with one Twitter user writing “Thank you, Gillette, for standing out and keeping the conversation going” and another stating “I don’t even use Gillette but I may start using it after this…great job, great message, great delivery.”

Although opinions were divided on the campaign, which immediately went viral and now has 3 million views on YouTube, overall, it seems that feedback was positive encouraging 65% more purchase intent.

The original post gained 203k retweets, 76.3k quoted tweets and a staggering 513.3k likes on Twitter, revealing how powerful brand campaigns that tackle social issues can be.

However, given the backlash received around a razor company attempting to virtue-signal, it’s important for brands to consider whether they have the authority to make comments in these areas and whether the end goal of the campaign justifies the means.

  1. Elvie – Leaks Happen 2022

Following the brand’s TikTok video of a woman squatting with weights and accidentally peeing being flagged by the platform as ‘graphic’, women’s health brand Elvie launched a 20ft ‘peeing’ billboard to confront the taboo of urinary incontinence and clap back at social media censorship around the widespread issue.

The brand found that 84% of women experience incontinence in the UK and 1 in 3 experience the issue globally which led to them encouraging women to speak out about the issue.

Featuring the Elvie Trainer product, the #LeaksHappen campaign showed a 28-year old mum of two, Megan Burns experiencing a leak whilst working out, represented by real water coming from the London-based billboard.

The brand aimed to empower and enable women to ‘achieve everything their bodies are capable of’.

Since the launch of the campaign, the brand’s behind the scenes video of installing the billboard has received 1.9k views and content attached to #LeaksHappen has received 3million views on TikTok.

In terms of marketing, the widespread discussion on the topic of urinary incontinence indicates success.

When it comes to business success, the efforts of the campaign proved to be hugely valuable with search popularity for ‘Elvie Trainer review’ increasing by 60% since the billboard’s launch according to Google Trends and search popularity for ‘Elvie Curve’, another product in the Elvie range, increasing by 70%.

This innovative, head-turning billboard and social media campaign is an excellent example of a brand creating a purpose-led campaign centred on an important women’s health issue relevant to their brand values and product offering.

The campaign utilised shock value to its advantage, thus creating a relevant, timely and impactful message that led to increased brand visibility.

The campaign also demonstrated the power of utilising physical branding such as out of home advertising in 2022 to make a powerful statement and bring your brand to the forefront.

  1. Weetabix Beanz on Bix – 2021

The infamous Weetabix Beanz on Bix campaign that achieved ‘meme’ status won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

The campaign unfolded with a viral image of a breakfast like no other; Weetabix covered in Heinz Baked Beans, much to the horror of social media users everywhere.

Playing on the typical ‘food inspo’ style of Weetabix posts but with a controversial twist, the social media campaign garnered a phenomenal response with an onslaught of other brands responding on Twitter.

Ford declared “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” with an image of beans all over the boot of a car.

Specsavers, who in typical fashion brought more humour to the Twittersphere by stating “If you can’t beat them, join them” accompanied by an image of two pairs of glasses covered in beans.

The saga continued with the NHS commenting “This tweet should come with a health warning” in response to the Weetabix image, indicating the widespread impact of the tongue in cheek campaign.

Weetabix’s original post on Twitter instantly blew up during what was a difficult time for many dealing with the repercussions of Covid-19, gaining 36.3k retweets, 68.8k quoted tweets and over 130k likes.

Additionally, the Instagram post of the questionable image gained 1,839 likes, demonstrating the level of engagement a simple creative campaign such as this can achieve.

The timeliness of the campaign was another factor that no doubt contributed to its success.

It came out six weeks into a national lockdown where audiences were looking for humour and comfort, emphasising the importance of appropriate timing when it comes to controversial campaigns.

  1. KFC FCK – 2018

This iconic print campaign from KFC covered a full-page ad in multiple news publications including Metro and The Sun in an attempt to apologise for their chicken shortage in February 2018 and mitigate damage to the brand.

The ad shows an empty chicken bucket with FCK replacing the KFC branding on the front, much to the appreciation of many social media users who loved the strategic humour.

The advert included an apology for the fact that hundreds of stores had to close throughout the UK as a result of issues with their new chicken supplier DHL.

Brandwatch data also revealed that on 21 February alone there were 53,000 mentions of KFC running out of chicken, associated with hashtags such as “#ChickenCrisis” and “#KFCCrisis”.

YouGov’s BrandIndex also revealed that KFC’s ‘buzz score’ measuring positive and negative sentiments dropped by20 points to -24.

However, the brand managed to avoid long term impacts, with purchase consideration metrics unchanged by the debacle.

KFC chose to pursue print advertising as they believed that this utilises higher trust metrics than social media.

The advert resulted in 700 press articles and TV discussions, reaching a combined audience of 797 million globally.

Within three months, 219 million social media users were also exposed to the branded image with the witty anagram, thus the campaign had achieved a reach of over one billion from its single print ad, leveraging only ‘humility, humour and honesty’.

In fact, the tweeted advert encouraged 428 retweets, 114 quoted tweets and gained 814 likes.

The recovery of the brand during the crisis was evident in the brand impression score among consumers dropping from 57 to 49 in the first few days and then increasing to 51 according to YouGov’s BrandIndex findings.

This simple yet effective ad is a prime example of a brand being proactive in the face of a PR disaster by responding in a very ‘human’ way, which ultimately prevented further damage to the brand’s reputation.

Assessing Controversial Marketing Success

As we know, marketing success is measured in different ways using a variety of metrics depending on a brand’s objectives.

Sometimes, in the case of KFC, success looks like mitigating severe brand damage..

Sometimes it can be an impactful campaign video reaching viral status, sparking meaningful discussions and improving a brand’s visibility like the case of Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign.

Solopress’ list highlights some crucial rules to achieving success with controversial campaigns however, such as ensuring the time is right and the tone is appropriate to avoid the advert causing a social media storm or falling on deaf ears.

Also noteworthy is the continued value of print media when it comes to getting a dialogue going, as we see in the Elvie billboard and light-hearted KFC print advert, which successfully used physical print alongside hashtags to drive social media conversation.

2D Codes: Preparing for the new dimension

After successful implementation in sectors including tobacco and pharmaceuticals, two-dimensional barcodes or ‘2D codes’ are gaining prevalence across industries and are expected at the point of sale within the next five years. The growth in 2Dcodes presents significant opportunities for manufacturers but is not without its risks.

As James Cutforth, Domino Printing Sciences, explains, preparing for the new dimension in barcodes requires bespoke product handling solutions, designed to facilitate crisp, clear coding on a range of products and packaging types…

A new dimension in barcodes

Two-dimensional barcodes have become a common addition to product packaging – with factors such as globalisation, online trading, and the need for more robust anti-counterfeit methods driving their uptake. In several industries, including European tobacco and pharmaceuticals, 2D codes are now a regulatory requirement.

Such is the success of 2D codes that in May of 2020, global standard organisation GS1 began an initiative to support the adoption of 2D codes at the point of sale (POS) with a new barcoding standard – the GS1 Digital Link. The standard will facilitate the use of 2D codes at POS systems and allow for a gradual transition away from standard linear barcodes.

There are multiple benefits to using 2D codes in place of traditional linear barcodes2D codes enable more information within a single code, including dynamic data, and can facilitate serialisation and wider traceability. However, the complex nature of 2D codes also presents some challenges.

The challenge behind 2D codes

It is imperative that 2D codes are printed correctly to ensure that they can be effectively scanned – this is particularly crucial when using 2D codes for regulatory purposes, such as those used in pharmaceutical applications, and will be increasingly important when considering 2D codes for use at POS.

Utilising variable 2D codes on products can provide significant benefits to manufacturers in terms of facilitating better supply chain control, however, applying the code to packaging that has been packed or filled can be challenging.

Dynamic data, such as batch-related information (including batch numbers, and ingredient variations including nutrition and allergen info), product expiry dates, and unique product IDs, will require real-time, on-product coding, rather than pre-coded labels. In such instances, simply ‘bolting on’ a coding device to an existing production line may not be optimal because often, production machinery is not designed with coding in mind.

For this reason, product handling or the ‘presentation of the product’ to the coding device is fundamental to achieving high-quality codes. Manufacturers that choose to code products in-line without effective product handling will be subject to production line variations which can affect final code quality, including:

  • Product position: Small variations in the position of products may result in codes applied in the wrong area or missing or incomplete codes.
  • Product distance from the printer: Positioning too close or too far from the coding device can result in blurry or unreadable codes.
  • Product angle: A slight rotation in product positioning can result in deformed codes, even if this is by just a few degrees.
  • Line speed: Minimal speed fluctuations will affect the quality of the code, leading to squeezed or stretched codes.
  • Conveyor vibrations: At high speeds, minimal vibrations can affect code quality leading to low-quality, blurred, or wavy codes.
  • Challenging product geometry: Certain packaging types can be a challenge for a standard coding setup.

At best, a poor quality 2D code resulting from inadequate product handling will cause a high number of rejections, rework, and defective stock. Poor quality 2Dcodes can also have a knock-on effect on lines that require the aggregation of serialised products. The repercussions can be even more severe if an unreadable 2D code leaves the factory unnoticed. Brands can face financial penalties such as fines, as well as loss of business, product recalls, and potential legal implications.

What’s the solution?

A bespoke product handling solution can solve all issues above concerning code quality by ensuring optimal and consistent product delivery to the coding equipment. The optimal solution will be designed based on several different considerations, including:

  • Product and packaging type: Factors such as the shape of a piece of packaging, substrate type, and weight of a filled pack can be crucial. In pharmaceuticals, for example, boxes of blister packs are light and have regular form, but glass or plastic medicine bottles will be more challenging to code.
  • Code requirements: Code type, placement, and resolution are determining factors. Many machine-readable codes have minimum size requirements and necessitate the use of high-resolution printing technologies.
  • Existing production specifications: If a coding solution is integrated into an existing production line, it will need to be designed with existing specifications in mind so as not to slow down production or reduce overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

A bespoke solution may use multiple types of technology to handle finished products and present them to the chosen coding device for final printing, including specialised conveyors, wheels, or product carriages and movers such as robotic arms, depending on the product type. These devices can use different methods to handle products with varying levels of force for delicate and robust products alike. A bespoke handler could be developed with pneumatic or servo-electric driven side-, top-, or bottom belts, or even magnetic or vacuum solutions.

As well as improving overall code quality, bespoke product handling solutions can also be developed to allow additional processes to enable pre- or post- treatment of a substrate, where necessary. When used alongside machine vision systems, such solutions can also help to give critical information for operations monitoring.


Product handling is the foundation that a viable 2D printing solution is based upon. When applying 2D codes directly onto product packaging, it is imperative to consider whether products can be adequately coded in situ or if a specialised product handling solution is required. Product handling solutions will help improve overall code quality on the line, helping manufacturers to improve OEE by reducing waste, increasing production efficiency, and reducing overall running costs.

Source all your eCommerce needs at the eTailing Summit

Join the industry next month to meet e-commerce solution providers for scheduled 1-2-1 meetings at the eTailing Summit.

All we need to know is the time you are available, and how you’d like to attend, along with those you wish to meet.

To confirm your place, use our short online booking form.

LIVE in person @ Hilton London Canary Wharf

July 5th 2022

LIVE attendance – also includes seminars, networking with fellow eCommerce professionals, lunch and refreshments.

Confirmed attending solution providers include:-

• Stripe
• Dotdigital
• TrueLayer
• Attentive Mobile Inc.
• Ometria
• QueryClick
• RedEye • Forter Solutions UK Ltd
• Fresh Relevance
• Netcore Cloud Private Limited
• RevLifter
• Products Up GmbH
• Metapack
• Eloquent Agency
• SaleCycle

Click here to register as a delegate today!

Digital marketing 2022 buying trends revealed

Lead Generation, Pay Per Click and Google Ads top the list of services the UK’s leading marketing professionals are sourcing in 2022.

The data has been revealed by the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit, based on delegate requirements for the upcoming event.

Delegates registering to attend were asked which areas they needed to invest in during 2022 and beyond.

Half are looking to invest in Lead Generation, followed by Pay Per Click at 43% and Google Ads (40%).

% of delegates at the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit sourcing certain products & solutions (Top 10):

Lead Generation & Tracking 50% Pay Per Click 43.3% Google Ads 40% Online Strategy 40% Social Media 40% Multi-channel Engagement 36.7% Online Advertising 36% Integrated Marketing 33% Search Engine Optimisation 33% Email Marketing 30%

To find out more about the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit, visit

REVEALED: The most popular digital jobs in Europe by country

Are you a digital nomad wanting to visit another country, or an employee looking for a digital role? With the great resignation continuing into 2022, now is the time to think about a career change or a change of scenery – with new research showing which roles are most in demand.

The number of digital jobs has exploded in the past decade, with more than 3.3 million search results for ‘digital jobs Europe’ generated on Google in less than a second. In addition to this, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark topped the list of digitalization in 2020. In other words, employees are spoilt for choice.

Taking it upon themselves to find the most popular digital jobs per country, VoiceNation can reveal the countries where you are most likely to find an abundance of certain digital roles, from Web Developing and UX designers, to Digital PR Experts and Content Writers.

The most popular digital jobs based on the number of hiring ads online in every country are:

  • Germany – Project Management
  • France – SEO Specialist
  • Ireland – Project Management
  • UK – SEO Specialist
  • Belgium – IT
  • Greece – Social Media
  • Sweden – AI Engineering
  • Poland – Project Management
  • Italy – Social Media
  • Spain – Online Customer Service

Are you a creative thinker wanting a career in Social Media and are thinking about moving abroad? Italy and Greece are the countries with most social media roles available. There, you can both work and enjoy the sun.

If you are an SEO Specialist looking for the best places to work, the UK or France might be the countries for you. Out of all the digital roles available, there were most SEO Specialist roles available there. For aspiring project managers, look no further than Germany, the job beating SEO, I.T and Web Development.

Sweden turns out to be a hotspot for people looking for a role within AI Engineering. If you’re looking to soak in the sun while working, you don’t need to look far. Spain and Portugal are two of the best places to look for an online customer service role, with this digital job beating Web Development and SEO as the digital role companies are hiring the most for.