Morning Brew - ☕ All’s Swehl that ends Swehl

Why the brand is moving fast after its Times Square ad was pulled.
June 05, 2024

Marketing Brew

It’s Wednesday. Ready to become a marketing genius? Let’s make your IQ soar higher than your ad reach. Join us on June 25 in NYC for a half-day event packed with insights for marketers, influencers, and agencies! Staying ahead of trends is a must as brands pour into creator networks. Get your ticket now—don’t miss out on redefining your marketing influencer playbook and networking with industry leaders!

In today’s edition:

—Katie Hicks, Alyssa Meyers, Jeena Sharma


The b(r)e(a)st is yet to come

Molly Baz posing with lactation cookies in an ad for the brand Swehl that was temporarily pulled from Times Square Screenshot via @swehl/Instagram

Swehl wants to be known for more than recent events.

Over the last few weeks, the lifestyle brand, which provides tools and resources for breastfeeding, was embroiled in the latest example of the double standard in depictions of women’s bodies in advertising after a campaign image of cook and recipe developer Molly Baz holding lactation cookies over her bra with the tagline, “Just add milk,” was pulled by Clear Channel, the company powering the billboard. (The ad eventually returned to Times Square after the probiotics brand Seed donated a portion of its billboard to Swehl.)

In response to the controversy, one marketer wrote in Adweek that “advertisements from brands like Skims and Michael Kors routinely showcase women’s bodies in a decidedly sexual context” in Times Square, and Baz herself took to Instagram to write that it’s okay to “bring on the lingerie so long as it satiates the male gaze.”

Elizabeth Myer, co-founder of Swehl, told us that she and her co-founder Betsy Riley “didn’t want Swehl to become something that was overshadowed by this narrative of lactation cookies or controversy.”

Instead, she wants to capitalize on the momentum to bring attention to topics like breastfeeding education, parental community building, and women’s rights issues like bodily autonomy and paid federal leave—something that she said feels doable based on the outpouring of support the brand has received since the original ad was taken down.

“What’s really transpired since then feels, to us, like more of a movement, almost,” she said. “It’s exciting for us to get to see breastfeeding become part of the national zeitgeist.”

Continue reading here.—KH



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red arrow down on coins Suchat Longthara/Getty Images

Marketing budgets aren’t what they used to be.

As a percentage of company revenue, they’re down 15% from 2023 to 2024 on average, according to Gartner’s CMO Survey, which was conducted from February through March among 395 marketing decision-makers in Europe and the US.

Though marketing budgets have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, CMOs are feeling optimistic on at least one front: everyone’s favorite two-letter initialism: AI.

Tightening purse strings? Marketing budgets represent an average of 7.7% of total company revenue this year, down from an average of 9.1% last year, according to the survey. In 2023, that number fell just slightly from 9.5% in 2022, when it rebounded from 6.4% in 2021, a pandemic-era low. The decline represents a new “era of less” for marketing, per Gartner:

  • In the four years before the pandemic, average marketing budgets sat at 11% of total revenue.
  • In the four years following Covid’s peak, though, the average is down to about 8%.

And just a quarter of CMOs said they have sufficient funds to execute their strategies for 2024, Gartner found.

Read more here.—AM



Look, ma

Spending power of gen alpha Lithiumcloud/Getty Images

Gen Alpha may not be the foremost generation on every brand’s radar yet, but it’s time retailers start thinking about them and their interests.

According to a new consumer survey conducted by DKC’s analytics group, 95% of Gen Alpha parents learn about new products or brands from their child.

  • Moreover, 49% of these parents’ purchasing decisions were influenced by their child’s opinion.

The survey, conducted across the US, included responses from 1,000 American adult parents of Gen Alpha children aged 8 to 13, which the report called the “gateway generation.”

Not only is this generation great at making their opinion count in the household, but also has some spending power of their own.

  • About 90% of Gen Alpha children surveyed are finding ways to make money one way or another, such as through chores, allowance, and online selling or reselling.

And if the typical Gen Alpha child already has spending power, it’s evident they also have their preferred outlets and products to shop.

  • According to the survey, 91% of the parents surveyed said their children loved to shop, while 92% said they were great at finding “interesting new products.”

The 10 stores that topped the kids’ list of favorite retailers were Walmart, Amazon, Target, Nike, GameStop, Five Below, Shein, Costco, Dollar Tree, and Sephora.—JS




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French Press Morning Brew

There are a lot of bad marketing tips out there. These aren’t those.

Legal studies: Marketing experts weigh in on the Poppi gut-health class-action lawsuit.

Screen time: New York lawmakers are preparing a bill designed to curb social media use among minors, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Testing, testing: Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that it’s testing unskippable ads that prevent users from scrolling past.

What’s blocking your growth?: Mabbly’s proprietary Marketing Diagnostic can quickly and accurately identify marketing roadblocks so you can develop a plan to unlock growth. Get started by applying for a complimentary analysis here.*

*A message from our sponsor.


Stat: $50 billion. That’s the amount the tech industry spent on Nvidia chips in 2023 for AI training purposes, according to data from the VC firm Sequoia cited by the WSJ. But the industry brought in only $3 billion in revenue from the investment.

Quote: “I was about to do something incredibly—incredibly fraudulent and illegal. I was now actually going to pretend to be somebody else.”—Samir Rao, former COO of the now-defunct site Ozy Media, testifying in the trial of Ozy Media co-founder Carlos Watson about impersonating a YouTube official in order to secure funding for the site

Read: “Retailers hate that you buy big things on your laptop” (the Wall Street Journal)


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