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Minor Figures kicks up a Major Storm

There’s a fascinating marketing discussion that has kicked off on LinkedIn over the last few days concerning a tube advert for Minor Figures that can be seen right now at Holborn Station.

Minor Figures is a rather nice brand of organic cold brew coffee. It comes in cans and each can has a quirky illustration on it conveying relaxation or energy or drive dependent on the type of drink inside. One of these illustrations – a freewheeling skateboarder – features in the Holborn ad, alongside the mark “Minor Figures Coffee”.

The ad has aggravated some commentators for its lack of a call to action. There’s no website, no social media handle, no postal address. Others are aggravated by the subtlety. Where are the people drinking the coffee? Still others are upset by the subtlety in the mark. Surely it needs a more distinctive typeface? Surely it needs an illustration in the mark? What about a distinctive colour?

The counter-view? Maybe it’s not about purchase but brand building? Maybe its target audience are attracted by an anti-advertising approach? Maybe we’ve reached peak Google and we don’t need clear calls to action any more?

Perhaps. But to me this debate shows the danger of detaching creative from objectives. We don’t know what the Minor Figures marketing team who placed the ad were seeking to do. Only in circumstances where we understand the context for a campaign can we really comment on its effectiveness. What is a creative seeking to do with which audience?

It reminds me of my reaction to a report that crossed my desk last week from Libras and Contently called “Engaging your audience with visual content”. This report gauges the use of photography, infographics, and video by marketers, their preferred channels, and the resulting engagement. Yet surely it’s the context that matters? You can’t assess the best content or channel to market in isolation from the objective. There is no universal right. Marketing is far more sophisticated and interesting than that.

Categories: b2b marketing content marketing customer marketing

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Dave is an experienced global B2B Chief Marketing Officer / Marketing Director with an established reputation for delivering commercial results in start-up, mid-tier, and blue-chip businesses across technology, and business services and professional services sectors.

Dave has worked for major brands such as Telefonica O2, EY, and Barclays and held posts from Chief Marketing Officer to Director of Online, has run his own business, and managed a P&L for a major corporate. He is chair and co-founder of the Business Marketing Club ( - a network of B2B marketers. In 2019, he was named one of the top 100 B2B European marketing leaders ( He is a graduate of Cambridge University, a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Chartered Marketer and holds a MBA with Imperial College, London. Dave is a keen cyclist and adventure traveller, is married, and lives in Buckinghamshire. You can read his blogs at

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