Key takeaways from Advertising Week 2024: Partnerships, Transformation and Inclusivity

Last week, Advertising Week 2024 brought together industry leaders to uncover and explore the latest trends and strategies shaping the future of brand marketing. From strategic partnerships in sports and entertainment, to transformative marketing approaches by global brands like Coca-Cola, this year’s event showcased best-in-class campaigns that are creating advantage. Here are some of our key insights that our Brand team took away from the event.

The Three Rs: How Brands can Maximise their Strategic Partnerships for the Summer of Sport and Entertainment

Sponsorship has long been a powerful tool for defining a brand’s identity and personality. Today, however, it’s more appropriate to think of these sponsorships as strategic partnerships—a two-way relationship that benefits both parties involved. Here are three key benefits brands gain from sports and entertainment partnerships:

Relevance: These partnerships allow brands to tap into consumers’ passion points and what they genuinely care about, making the brand more relevant in their lives.

Reach: They provide both scale and mainstream reach while also offering access to harder-to-reach audiences.

Returns: Strategic partnerships deliver commercial returns and foster brand love.

When considering a partnership, brands need to think about their specific goals. Is the aim to build trust or remind people of your heritage? For instance, Vodafone’s focus on connectivity for its partnership with Glastonbury rings true to the brand’s consumer offering and illustrates how brands can play a significant role in enhancing fan experiences. The best partnerships are those that look beyond immediate gains and think about creating a legacy over the next five years. As Adam Warner, Head of Global Sports & Partnerships at PepsiCo, noted, “Injecting creativity into your partnerships is the difference between getting good returns and great returns.”

Coca-Cola: Transforming Marketing for Accelerated Growth

Coca-Cola is undergoing its most radical marketing strategy change in 120 years. This new model revolves around creating connected experiences, brought to life through packaging, live events, online and offline retail, with digital tools serving as the connective tissue.

Sustainability is at the core of Coca-Cola’s new strategy. For example, for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024, Coca-Cola is celebrating “greatness every day” while emphasising sustainability with 100% recyclable caps. Coca-Cola’s transformation also involves rethinking how it integrates AI into its marketing and systems. As Javier Meza, President of Marketing and Europe CMO at Coca-Cola, stated, “Transformation is a way of working, not the destination.”

What Do Broadcasters Want to See from Brands?

Broadcasters like ITV have significantly increased their ad-funded programs, with a jump from 13 hours to more than 100 hours over the past year. Successful examples include “Cooking with the Stars” in partnership with M&S.

While TV remains a crucial medium for building brand fame, video on demand and social media have become essential for raising awareness and changing perceptions. Brands are also investing in channel innovation, as seen with Audi becoming Sky Sports’ first Innovation Partner, enhancing viewer experiences with new tech and metrics. This demonstrates the power of PR in not only reaching audiences but also in shaping brand perception and engagement through strategic partnerships.

There’s a significant opportunity for brands to integrate more deeply with production companies and programming commissioners. Whether through reactive integrations in existing programming or proactive new editorial ideas, these collaborations can offer exciting opportunities for brands.

Gen Z Insights and Virtual Worlds

Gen Z’s attention is highly competitive and saturated. Interestingly, Gen Z spends more time on platforms like Roblox than TikTok, with average engagement times being significantly higher on virtual platforms.

The top 3D virtual platforms for brands are Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite, and Sims4. Paid media remains crucial for awareness, while virtual platforms are excellent for building brand consideration. Digital items within these virtual spaces also enable better customer relationship management (CRM) and introduce new product lines.

Understanding the LGBTQIA+ Community

Finally, understanding and authentically engaging with the LGBTQIA+ community was another key topic at Advertising Week. The 2024 Consumer Report conducted by Outvertising and YouGov, highlighted the importance of inclusive and representative advertising.

A remarkable 67% of LGBTQIA+ individuals are inclined to endorse products or services they encounter in advertisements, a substantially higher figure compared to just 49% among their non-LGBTQIA+ counterparts. This suggests that LGBTQIA+ individuals are not only active consumers but also powerful advocates, highlighting their engagement and impact within the advertising landscape.

The emphasis on authentic, year-round representation and diverse storytelling in LGBTQIA+ advertising, alongside innovative strategies in sports and entertainment partnerships, showcases the dynamic and evolving nature of the industry. As brands navigate this complex landscape, the key takeaway is clear: integrating creativity, sustainability, and inclusivity into every aspect of marketing is essential for building lasting connections and driving growth in today’s market.

If you’d like to hear about how Grayling can use these insights to bring your brand to life, contact the brand team at