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Artificial Intelligence Brand Strategy Daily Briefing

The Drum’s Daily Briefing: Abrdn bullied, EVs bomb, Adidas takes a beating


By Gordon Young, Editor-in-Chief

April 9, 2024 | 6 min read

Our quickfire analysis of the brand, marketing and media stories that might just crop up in your meetings, brought to you today by editor-in-chief Gordon Young.

Adidas Samba shoe

The UK media is writing the obituary for the Adidas Samba brand

Abrdn ‘bullied’ after rebrand

Poor little Abrdn. The fund, which manages £465bn worth of assets, has been the victim of corporate bullying, according to Peter Branner, its chief investment officer.

Speaking to Financial News, he said the trigger was the company’s decision to rebrand from Standard Life Aberdeen to Abrdn in 2021. This led to what he described as ‘childish’ ridiculing by the media, which referred to the change as ‘irritable vowel syndrome.’

The rebrand by Wolff Ollins was designed to create a ‘modern, agile, digitally enabled brand,’ as opposed to an overly anxious one.

The name replaced five different brands that have been operating independently and allowed it to own its internet domain.

But to me, the name has always jarred – and looks a bit like Airbnb in newspaper headlines. Nevertheless, at least it is being talked about. And when has the name of a fund management firm made people smile?

But no doubt the company will be reflecting on one aspect of its marketing strategy – and signing its chief investment officer up for a crash course in (to use Abrden speak) prss rltns.

Source: Financial News

US EV markets take battery-ing

Analysis by The Telegraph suggests the US EV market is stalling. It pulls together evidence from a variety of sources:

  1. The pure-lay EV firm Fisker announced a 40% price cut to its Ocean SUV as it fights to stave off bankruptcy.
  2. Picture emerging in the media of a Ford EV graveyard where hundreds of unsold F-150 Lightning trucks are being stored near Michigan International Speedway (maybe the Ford should be called the ‘slow way’).
  3. Tesla’s quarter one delivery was 10% below expectations and 20% down on quarter four of 2023.
  4. Ford announced it was pulling back from plans to introduce two EV models and delaying a decision to invest in new EV manufacture in North America. It is now expected to follow Toyota and prioritize hybrid formats.
  5. Tesla’s CyberTruck drawing criticism and issues around its reliability have been amplified in a more cynical social media environment.

Together, the article by David Blackmon, a US energy expert, suggests that consumers are yet to be convinced by EVs, despite generous subsidies being offered by the Biden administration.

Meanwhile, The Guardian also reports that UV sales are flatlining in the UK.

Source: The Telegraph / The Guardian

Microsoft UK AI boost

In a major boost to the UK’s tech ecosystem, Microsoft has announced plans to build a new AI hub in London.

The company is setting up a new AI division at its offices in Paddington as part of plans to invest £2.5bn in the UK.

Mustafa Sulayman, Microsoft’s newly appointed AI tsar, is quoted as saying: “There is an enormous pool of talent and expertise in the UK and Microsoft AI plans to make a significant long-term investment in the region.”

Source: The Telegraph

UK retailer John Lewis to be led by a retailer

John Lewis has appointed Jason Tarry as its chairman – a retail veteran who previously led Tesco as UK CEO.

He is to replace Sharon White, a lifelong civil servant who rose to become the head of media watchdog Ofcom before taking the reins at the retailer.

Her appointment coincided with a difficult time for the organization, which was aiming to diversify away from retail and into other areas, such as property development. During her tenure, it also dropped its iconic slogan ‘never knowingly undersold’ and closed 16 stores.

John Lewis is an employee-owned partnership, making the chairman’s role particularly high-profile. However, it is assumed that Tarry will maintain a renewed focus on John Lewis’s key retail business.

Source: The Times

Sunak assassinates the Samba

The UK media is writing the obituary for the Adidas Samba brand this morning. Stephen Doig, The Telegraph’s style editor, says the brand has been ‘killed off’ in one fell swoop by Rishi Sunak.

The problem was an Instagram post in which the UK prime minister was seen wearing them – together with a dress shirt and trousers hovering just above the ankles.

‘Time to burn my shoes’ was a typical social media comment. This just goes to show that all the hard work put into building a brand can be undone in an instant.

Samba first appeared in the 1970s and was popular in the 1990s. However, they became popular among Millennial Dads and Gen Z girls on TikTok in 2022.

So much so they became shoe of the year for three years running and Adidas found it could not make enough of them.

It is too soon to say what long-term damage Sunak has done to the brand, but all this media heat has certainly made them less cool.

Source: The Telegraph

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