Inside Marketing: November

Your monthly marketing news digest

Now chess is cool. We’ve seen it all. ♟

Festive advertisers have (mostly) avoided mawkishness this year, opting instead to try and cheer us up, while a shameful response to a Sainsbury’s TV ad has seen many of those same brands unite against racism. Meanwhile, Twitter looks set to further clean up its act with a newly-rigorous approach to account verification for 2021.

And if the politics of this year haven’t convinced you that we live in truly strange times, try explaining to your grandkids how chess became sexy in 2020.

Advertising · 6 mins

No schmaltz with our malts.

Advertisers need to read the room, and after the 2020 we’ve had, most seem to understand that any TV ad trying to pull at our heartstrings in order to sell more sprouts will be judged a turkey. The result? A smattering of amusing fare that we can stomach. Of course, a cynic could argue that in these challenging times, brands have sought to gain moral capital by poking fun at the frivolous idea of festive advertising, even as they participate in it – having their Christmas pudding and eating it, you might say. But we wouldn’t dream of that!

Social Media · 5 mins

Copycatting: an end to social USPs?

Having tested its new “Fleets” feature in several countries, Twitter is now expanding the feature to users globally. But with Fleets bearing a fairly strong resemblance to Facebook and Instagram Stories, and Facebook in turn introducing Snapchat-style disappearing messages, questions have to be asked: will the big social channels now continually scramble to copy one another’s winning ideas? And if so, what’s their significant point of difference any more?

Recruitment · 6 mins

Diversity: awareness doesn’t equal change

There’s evidence that diversity and inclusiveness awareness training in organisations has changed little on the ground, with the ONS reporting little change in the gender pay gap since 2012 – and yet diverse cultures really are more successful. Deloitte research has found that successfully inclusive leaders demonstrate 6 main behaviours: Visible commitment to diversity; humility; awareness of bias; curiosity about others; cultural intelligence and effective collaboration.

Social Media · 4 mins

Return of the Twitter Tick? Check!

The “Twitter Tick”, used to verify that accounts on the channel are legitimate and notable, will return in 2021. The platform paused the practice in late 2017 after being criticised for verifying an alt-right activist’s account, but will bring significant safeguards to its new verifications.


Sony took over the Oxford Circus 4 main exits for the launch of its Playstation 5 in an ad campaign we couldn’t help but love; supermarkets have joined forces with Channel 4 to unite against racism after Sainsbury’s Christmas ad prompted an ugly backlash for its depiction of a festive black family; The Beano has sought to capture the imagination of the grown-ups with a one-off, tongue-in-cheek depiction of “Boris the Menace” in a pull-out section for adults, called “The BeanOLD”.

What’s cooking?


Good luck trying to get hold of a chess set for Christmas. Current demand for the game brings to mind the Great Toilet Roll Panic of Lockdown #1. The popularity of Netflix show The Queen’s Gambit, combined with lockdown tedium, has seen chess sets flying off the shelves. Manufacturer Goliath Games reports a 1048% increase in demand, while eBay has seen a 215% increase in related sales. Board manufacturers are struggling to satisfy demand and cash in on the craze.

Chess even trended on Twitter this month – not a sentence we imagined we’d ever be able to write in a marketing news blog.

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