Welcome to the Stagwell Marketing Cloud x Harris Brand Platform monthly brand report.
Every month, we take brand data from Harris Brand Platform, a brand health tracking tool, and highlight the brands you should have on your radar.
Let’s dive in:
Fast fashion brand PrettyLittleThing (PLT), known for launching collections with influencers, celebrities, and favorite past Love Island contestants like Gemma Owen and Molly-Mae Hague, has had its fair share of bad press over the last few years…even over the last few days.
“Is PrettyLittleThing ethical?”
“PrettyLittleThing slammed for selling inappropriate Eid outfits—including mini dresses”
“Doja Cat’s sizzling PrettyLittleThing advert is BANNED by ASA for ‘overly sexualized’ content”
“An advert by PrettyLittleThing has been banned for ‘sexualizing’ 16-year-old Alabama Barker”
…and that only begins to skim the surface.
Despite tapping some of the world’s most ambitious celebrity partners (there are reports the brand is currently working to sign a deal with Madonna), PLT has experienced at least two major run-ins with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over the last couple of years, both of which have resulted in banned ad campaigns for their collections with singer Doja Cat and Travis Barker’s teen daughter, Alabama.
Obviously, this kind of coverage can negatively impact a brand’s reputation and standing with its customers, but it’s not so clear if that is the case with the UK brand. When it comes to PLT, P.T. Barnum may have been right when he said: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
Let’s see what the data says. Harris Brand Platform VP of Data Products Zeke Hughes dug into the numbers to see how Doja Cat and Alabama Barker’s banned ad campaigns specifically impacted PLT’s brand equity.
Here’s what he found:
“PLT actually experienced brand equity gains (+13.6) after the polarizing [Doja Cat] campaign, according to Harris Brand Platform data. The hotly discussed ad helped the UK brand generate a significant amount of familiarity (+21.7) among young women.
In addition to brand familiarity, PLT saw significant gains across all components of brand equity (the value consumers see in a brand at a moment in time) – perceived quality (+5.6), purchase consideration (+13.8), and perceived momentum (+13.5).
Like their 2021 ads with Doja Cat, PLT’s 2022 ad controversy does not appear to have hurt the brand’s health. In fact, purchase consideration among Millennial women familiar with the PLT brand rose after the launch of Barker’s ad campaign.
While some adults consider the ads in poor taste, the brand’s target consumer may view them more favorably. When we look at the top adjectives Millennial women use to describe the PrettyLittleThing brand, “stylish” (32.5%), “young” (30.3%), and “fun” (28.2%) reign.”
Audience is everything: If your audience has your back, it’s less important what the Advertising Standards Authority thinks.
While the ad campaigns PLT produced for Doja Cat and Barker violated ASA standards, they didn’t violate the standards of their young, fashion-focused audience. In fact, they were right in line with what consumers view to be on-brand, aspirational content.
By aligning their brand so closely with influencers and celebrities that have huge followings, they take on the brands and the audiences of the creators themselves. While this can definitely be a challenge if your partners find themselves in hot water, it can also be a huge advantage when you need a fanbase to rally for you—not against you.
Across the United States, adults still on their parents’ phone plan are all receiving the same alarmed text from their mom: “Do you think Netflix is really going to crack down on password sharing? How would you access our account? XOXO, Mom 😍”
While the hammer has yet to fall in the United States, early signs in Spain show subscriber loss from updated policies around sharing a Netflix account across households will almost certainly be a reality. In the first three months of 2023, Netflix has reportedly lost more than one million users from updated policies in Spain.
In an effort to increase revenue, Netflix has made a series of changes, from the aforementioned crackdown on password sharing to tiered subscriptions that give users the option to watch Netflix with ads for about half the average monthly subscription cost.
So how have these changes impacted Netflix’s brand equity? With a 37% plummet in stock price last spring after a reported loss of 200,000 subscribers, how are new changes to the organization’s business model and internal structure (not to mention a growing list of competitors) impacting its clout in the space?
Hughes digs into the numbers below:
“The graph above uses Harris Brand Platform data to track Netflix’s momentum from January 2021 through mid-May 2022.
Momentum measures a brand’s ability to maintain market position and beat out competitors. In Spring 2022, Netfix’s momentum dropped steeply to its lowest-ever level (highlighted in orange).
This period of decline coincided with a slew of negative press, including Netflix’s drop in subscribers, a poor earnings report, and layoff announcements.
“After a challenging first half, we believe we’re on a path to reaccelerate growth,” – Netflix Q3 letter to shareholders.
The graph below shows Netflix’s momentum from January 2021 – March 2023. Around June 2022, Netflix’s momentum begins trending in a more positive direction, and leads into a sudden momentum spike in the fall.
In the third quarter, Netflix gained 2.4 million new subscribers, and they predicted adding an additional 4.5 million subscribers in the final quarter. Netflix’s Q3 earnings report was significantly better than expected. Together, these positive announcements drove Netflix’s share price up 13%.”
While the impact of new policies that monitor password sharing is yet to be known, data from the last couple of years shows Netflix hit rock bottom—but not for long.
The streaming giant is one of the first players in the space, and if data from the last couple of years shows anything, it’s that Netflix will probably rebound.
Despite a tough year in 2022 that included subscriber dips, layoffs, and stock fluctuations, Netflix managed to push the line on its momentum graph up and to the right, even amidst talk of eliminating the possibility for families and friends to share passwords across households in the future.
While their brand momentum has taken an undeniable hit during a tough time for the business, my bet is they continue to stay relevant and top of mind for consumers. While subscriber loss will be inevitable with changes to the subscription sharing model, the potential increase in revenue this will create shows a promising Q3 of this year for Netflix from a fiscal perspective—and I don’t think consumers will be unhappy for long.
When you think of big pharma, what comes to mind?
I personally think about artist Nan Goldin’s 2019 protest at the Guggenheim museum.
Or maybe you think about the rising costs and growing scarcity of weight loss drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro as they become popularized as a way for those with the means to reach new levels of thin. Or maybe you even know a relative who is spending half of their income on medications they quite literally cannot live without.
Needless to say, big pharma has a bit of a PR problem.
But recent news from Eli Lilly is changing the tune for the sector, as they announced that they cut insulin prices by 70% and are capping out-of-pocket costs at $35 per month for customers.
“While the current healthcare system provides access to insulin for most people with diabetes, it still does not provide affordable insulin for everyone and that needs to change,” David A. Ricks, Lilly’s Chair and CEO said in a statement. “The aggressive price cuts we're announcing today should make a real difference for Americans with diabetes. Because these price cuts will take time for the insurance and pharmacy system to implement, we are taking the additional step to immediately cap out-of-pocket costs for patients who use Lilly insulin and are not covered by the recent Medicare Part D cap.”
So, did consumers respond to this change? Let’s see what Harris Brand Poll found:
“After Eli Lilly’s announced price drop, purchase consideration significantly increased among diabetics and adults with a diabetic family member. This reflects consumers’ appreciation of the pharmaceutical manufacturers’ decision, and an increased desire to support Eli Lilly after this change.
From February to March 2023, Eli Lilly experienced growth across all phases of their sales conversion funnel among diabetics and adults with a diabetic family member (Figure 2). The greatest gains were seen in the recommend (+5.2) phase showing that consumers were more likely to recommend Eli Lilly products to others after they lowered insulin costs. US adults familiar with Eli Lilly were also significantly more likely to describe the brand as customer-centric (+8.5) and trustworthy (+7.2) in March than they had been in February.”
What’s good for the customer can also be good for business. Eli Lilly lowered the price on an expensive, yet essential, medication and increased consumer support for their brand.
There’s still a lot of progress to be made in this sector, though, and there is speculation that this change won’t actually impact the people who need it the most.
Regardless, this move has had a positive impact on their brand equity and will hopefully lead to continued progress for big pharma.