Pernod Ricard not spurred by Unilever warning to overhaul media investments

Brasington was more reserved in his view on how the brand safety challenge affected his own business

One of Pernod Ricard's top marketers has suggested the company's dealings with tech partners like Facebook is undeterred by the ongoing crusade from the world's two biggest advertisers for the digital duopoly to "clean up" the digital ecosystem.

Unilever’s marketing chief Keith Weed issued a call to action yesterday (12 February) to the digital media landscape to clean up its act, saying it will sever ties with those it deems "unethical".

It came during the same IAB conference where a year earlier P&G’s brand chief Marc Pritchard said it would review every agency on its roster in an effort to weed out bad actors and called on the tech giants to be more transparent on how they measure ad performance.

But marketing director at Pernod Ricard-owned brand Chivas Brothers, Glen Brasington, implied it was not about to follow the lead of these fellow big ad spenders in pressuring Google and Facebook by threatening ad spend, saying its own digital media strategy over the next six months will be unchanged by these headline-making speeches.

"We have to work with digital providers and platform providers to make sure our content appears in the right space and that our content is with the right type of audience," he told The Drum during a breakfast event today (13 February).

Over the past few years the company has invested heavily in the latest ad offerings from Facebook and sister site Instagram. In 2017, Absolut put Facebook at the heart of a promotion to tout its partnership with Sonar festival, while whisky brand Jamesons created the first ever '3D' video ad for Facebook and Instagram.

Noting that as an alcohol brand, Chivas was already "very conscious" about its messaging and how it targeted consumers, he added: "There’s some great work that we’ve done on Instagram and Facebook and targeting on those platforms has been very effective for us.

"This is because not only is the communication local between our market companies and our consumers in those markets, but also because we have an obligation as a global brand to be global as well; so we’re trying to get the balance right."

Compared to Unilever's top marketer Keith Weed, who yesterday reignited the transparency debate by saying that ads were being bought in an era of "fake news and toxic content," Brasington was more reserved on how brand safety affected his own business.

"Our marketing has been pretty consistent over the past 10 to 15 years as we’ve become more and more capable in the digital arena," he noted, adding. "[Brand safety] has always important to us and will continue to be so."

Pernod Ricard is the world's second largest distiller by revenues, pulling in €5.1bn in the first six months of its fiscal year, and in the UK alone with a reported 60% of its ad spend being funneled into digital.

Brasington's taciturn take on the how the brand plans to address the issues raised by Unilever and P&G suggests that not all brands are following the lead of the FMCG giants.

Speaking to The Drum after Weed's speech yesterday, Enders' analyst Matti Littunen similarly suggested there wasn't a "one-size-fits-all" approach to addressing transparency and that not all brands are baiting with their marketing spend as.

"Some big brands have indeed pulled a lot of spend from some of the online platforms, but other brands who are less concerned about the PR or have a different kind of business model have stepped in and said 'if they're moving budget then there's an opportunity for us to move into this space'.

"So it shows that there is much to be done before the whole industry is committed to the same kind of standards [as Unilever and P&G]."

Search The Drum Jobs

Explore the best jobs in Marketing and Media industries
View all open jobs