Updated: Coles CMO Lisa Ronson on media mix, the return of TV, newsmedia and splitting marketing for post-COVID
Updated: We've added more on why Lisa Ronson has split Coles marketing into COVID and post-COVID teams, the rationale behind Coles just-expanded media and creative roster, how Ronson views rational and emotive communications through COVID and some fundamental consumer behaviour change that she says is coming on the other side of this crisis. You can catch all that in the last segment below.
Let's get to the topline fast. Coles marketing and media budgets and volumes remain "largely unchanged", says CMO Lisa Ronson, but the channel mix and how it's being used has been entirely up-ended in the past six weeks.
What was an AFL sponsorship and broadcast deal with Network Seven has morphed into a 2.5 minute primetime COVID slot for Coles featuring it's biggest line-up ever of celebrity - and troubled - chefs cooking home meals with pantry ingredients, shot on their iPhones. It raw and rough but fast and effective.
Coles has also been using TV to reassure shoppers that the supply chain is under control - chief operations officer Matt Swindells has been fronting a campaign standing in logistics centres surrounded by toilet paper and other panic-buying staples. Outside of the information and community service role Coles is playing, Ronson says she's also upbeat about MasterChef on Ten as an entertainment option through COVID-19.
In newspapers - yes, for the digerati it means that anachronistic analogue creature that has ink - Coles has been firing daily "community update" messages. For Ronson, "trusted media" is doing it's job.
"People are looking to newspapers and TV for trusted news," she says. "And that's a good place to put our messages in. Newspapers are a very trusted media so it makes sense for us to be there. We're trying to communicate things that are changing on a week-by-week and sometimes daily basis because we're an essential service. We have to keep our customers informed and we're finding from our call centres and questions going to our social channels that there's a large demand for the right information from Coles right now."
For TV, it's the same strategy. Ronson says she's still using a similar channel mix but in a different way. "We're working very, very closely with all of the networks, probably a little bit more closely, because there's content being produced in a different way to what we normally would. We're working with all the networks on how we can get messages out there to our customers that we've got enough toilet paper, we've got enough flour. Just buy as your would normally buy. So the networks have all been terrific at that."
Those efforts are bearing results, Ronson says, as the grocery giant starts seeing purchasing patterns start to regain some regular rhythm. "We're starting to see things normalise more than where they were probably two weeks ago," says Ronson. "But the supply chain has changed dramatically because we've effectively been doing a Christmas every day for five weeks now. And we normally have six months to prepare for Christmas.
"But people are seeing their pantries are full, their freezers are full and some of the messaging we talked about earlier, particularly with the TV networks, is starting to resonate and give people comfort that if they just calm down a bit and shop as they normally shop, it will be okay. We get a lot of feedback through our research and the interesting thing is our customers get a certain amount of comfort when they walk into their supermarket and the shelves are stocked."