CVS Disparages The Holding Company Model; P&G Touts Its First-Party Data

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Not Just Blowing Smoke

Sometimes, when brands take a social or political stance, it can come off feeling opportunistic or merely part of a marketing campaign. Purpose-based marketing featured prominently at the Cannes Lions festival earlier this summer. But CVS is doing more than just talking about brand activism, Business Insider reports. The company is trying to reposition itself as a consumer healthcare brand by ditching tobacco products and selling inexpensive epinephrine auto-injectors when there was an EpiPen shortage. CVS even went so far as to remove any agencies from its roster that also work with tobacco brands – a radical step, considering those kinds of demands are historically reserved for accounts with direct competitors. And that isn’t the only challenge facing agency groups. “Holding companies need to go from an amalgamation of warring armies to integrated companies,” said CVS Health’s CMO, Norman de Greve. “They don’t need separate brand names and all this overhead.” More.

Procter & Gambling

P&G reported 7% annual sales growth, its highest growth rate in more than a decade, in its quarterly earnings on Tuesday. Read the release. The strong returns could justify the company’s decision to raise prices recently, a move that came after years of price cuts that came as a result of DTC companies taking slimmer margins, and P&G’s efforts to slash agency fees and other marketing costs. One investor asked whether the CPG giant has a strong enough first-party data operation to support its more personalized marketing ambitions. CEO David Taylor said the company now has millions of unique consumer IDs and is investing in new data collection streams, including DTC products and cosmetic and skincare brands that have affiliated apps. A scaled first-party data set also helps P&G create more effective look-alike audiences and “fuels innovation” in product and R&D. Hyper-targeted audience profiles can be used to test new products or ideas designed for very specific consumer segments – a typical strategy employed by startup DTC brands.

Ride’s Over

Uber laid off a third of its global marketing team this week – around 400 people. Since IPOing two months ago, Uber has been under pressure to rightsize parts of its business that were supported by venture capital growth investments without immediate returns, and marketing is an easy target for cost cutting. Public investors are also typically less patient about unprofitability. “Many of our teams are too big, which creates overlapping work, makes for unclear decision owners and can lead to mediocre results,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told employees in an internal memo about the layoffs, The New York Times reports. “As a company, we can do more to keep the bar high, and expect more of ourselves and each other. So, put simply, we need to get our edge back.” More.

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