More than 80% of UK consumers are concerned about price rises
British shoppers are bracing for an expensive future following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, according to a new Mintel report.
It found that more than 80% of UK shoppers fear price rises on goods and services after Brexit, with 59% specifically worried about the mounting cost of groceries.
Nearly 50% of British consumers believe that Britain’s decision to leave the EU will have a negative impact on the cost of living in the UK, with the figure unchanged from when the question was first asked in July 2016, in the immediate aftermath of the referendum.
Facebook fined €110m for misleading EU regulators over WhatsApp deal
Facebook was fined €110m (£94m) by the European Commission for providing misleading information to antitrust regulators when seeking approval to buy WhatsApp in 2014.
Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s commissioner in charge of competition policy, said in a statement: “Today’s decision sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information.”
HSBC’s voice recognition security system ‘can be fooled’
Security software designed to prevent bank fraud has been fooled by a BBC reporter and his twin.
BBC Click reporter Dan Simmons set up an HSBC account and signed up to the bank’s voice ID authentication service.
HSBC says the system is secure because each person’s voice is “unique”. But the bank let Dan Simmons’ non-identical twin, Joe, access the account via the telephone after he mimicked his brother’s voice.
HSBC introduced the voice-based security in 2016, saying it measured 100 different characteristics of the human voice to verify a user’s identity.
HSBC declined to comment on how secure the system had been until now.
A spokesman said: “The security and safety of our customers’ accounts is of the utmost importance to us. Twins do have a similar voiceprint, but the introduction of this technology has seen a significant reduction in fraud, and has proven to be more secure than PINS, passwords and memorable phrases.”
Conservatives plan ‘Cadbury clause’ to protect UK brands from foreign takeovers
British companies will be protected from foreign buyers who do not have their best interests at heart under proposals contained in the Conservative manifesto.
The document said that the party “believes in the rights of business owners” and “wants Britain to be a global nation that is competitive, outward-looking and open for business… which welcomes overseas investors”.
However, it warns its aim of being “the best country in Europe for doing business” must not be expense of welcoming investors “whose success is driven by aggressive asset-stripping or tax avoidance”. The Government wants to be able to pause a bid so it can allow greater scrutiny of any deal.
Some have nicknamed the pledge the “Cadbury Clause” in the wake of the controversial takeover of the British confectioner by US peer Kraft in 2010.
Uber launches ‘Uber Freight’ for truck drivers
Last year, Uber was said to be creating a platform to connect drivers with cargo in the same way it currently connects drivers with passengers. That service, called Uber Freight, officially launched this week.
Uber Freight is meant to upend and streamline the currently arduous process that goes into packing a truck for shipment. Currently truck drivers rely on a broker or other service to negotiate rates and book cargo.
In Uber Freight, drivers that are vetted and approved by the service can find cargo nearby, along with the shipping distance and payment info. Drivers simply tap to accept the job and navigate to the pickup.
Tesla’s factory working conditions exposed
Working conditions at Tesla’s main factory have been described as “stressful and gruelling” by its employees, an investigation by The Guardian has revealed.
Ambulances have been called more than 100 times since 2014 for workers experiencing fainting spells, dizziness, seizures, abnormal breathing and chest pains, according to incident reports obtained by the Guardian. Hundreds more were called for injuries and other medical issues.
Some of the human workers complained of gruelling pressure – which they attribute to Musk’s aggressive production goals – and sometimes life-changing injuries.
CEO Elon Musk conceded his workers had been “having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs”, but said he cared deeply about their health and wellbeing.
Thursday, 18 May
ICO launches investigation into how voters are targeted through social media
The information commissioner is launching an investigation looking into how UK political parties target voters on social media. Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, says the inquiry will look into the use of data analytics for political purposes, warning that sending messages to voters based on their individual data could break the law.
“Given the big data revolution, it is understandable that political campaigns are exploring the potential of advanced data analysis tools to help win votes,” she explains. “The public have the right to expect that this takes place in accordance with the law as it relates to data protection and electronic marketing.”
The moves comes after the Information Commissioner’s Office said it would look into targeting on social media, following the EU referendum. This is an expansion of that inquiry. The Guardian estimates that both The Conservatives and Labour plan to spend £1m each on targeting voters through social media.
Ford looks to cut 1,400 jobs amid falling sales
Ford is being forced to downsize due to weak sales and declining profits. The car giant has offered voluntary retirement to some 15,000 workers as it aims to cut at least 1,400 jobs in North America and Asia.
The plan is part of an “accelerated attack on costs” and follows Ford CEO Mark Fields comments last month that it would enter into a period where its had an “intense focus on costs in order to prepare for a downturn scenario.”
Ford’s sales fell by 7% in the US and 11% in Europe in April compared to the same month in 2016.
Facebook’s £15.4bn acquisition of WhatsApp could result in a fine
Facebook could receive a fine from EU antitrust regulators after it provided “incorrect or misleading information” to investigators that were probing its £15.4bn acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp back in 2014.
The European Commission said the acquisition breached assurances Facebook had made when the deal was first approved. However, approval for the acquisition is not expected to be overturned by the European Commission.
The European Commission can issue a fine equal to 1% of the social media giant’s global turnover, which would translate to around $180m.
Channel 4 primed to announce new CEO
According to reports, Jay Hunt, a marketer and the television executive who masterminded the poaching of the Great British Bake Off from the BBC, is the favourite to be appointed the new CEO of Channel 4.
Currently Channel 4’s chief creative officer, Hunt would be the first woman to run a UK broadcaster larger than Channel 5 if she was to be successful.
She is understood to have the full-backing of outgoing chief executive, David Abraham. One source said: “A perception has built up that it is hers to lose.”
BT faces fine due to ‘service failures’
BT is another major tech brand that faces a substantial fine, after customers for its Openreach business suffered delays for high speed ethernet lines of more than six months.
Ofcom launched an investigation due to BT Opeanreach failing to meet basic targets, with the business now facing a fine of up to 10% of its “relevant turnover”.
This would be a major embarrassment for BT, with ethernet a growing part of its business due to strong demand from large businesses.
An Openreach spokesman countered: “We’re convinced that our customers are seeing significant improvements in the service we deliver on Ethernet, and we’re determined to continue that positive momentum.”
Wednesday, 17 May
Facebook admits its 10th measurement mistake since September
Facebook has admitted its 10th measurement mistake since September, with mischarged clicks on video carousel ads by smartphone web users.
It is the first mistake that directly affected advertisers’ wallets and Facebook has had to hand back refunds to affected advertisers.
“We recently found and fixed a bug that misattributed some clicks on video carousel ads as link clicks. This bug occurred when people were on mobile web browsers on smartphones — not on desktop or in the Facebook mobile app,” Facebook said in a statement.
Instagram copies Snapchat’s selfie masks
Instagram has yet again copied Snapchat, this time with its ‘face filters’.
The lens feature applies augmented-reality masks to people’s faces and was Snapchat’s main differentiator from Instagram’s stories feature which allows people to send live videos or instant posts that later disappear.
Instagram alone has already copied Stories and expiring private messages. Both Facebook and Facebook Messenger had also already copied Snapchat’s selfie masks.
Coca-Cola Parts with its senior vice president of strategic marketing
Coca-Cola has had another executive level shake-up with the departure of its senior vice president of strategic marketing, Ivan Pollard. This follows the departure of Coca-Cola chief marketing officer Marcos de Quinto in March.
“We’re grateful to Ivan for his significant contributions to our global and North America marketing organisations in his six-year career with the company,” a brand spokesperson stated.
“Under Ivan’s guidance, we have successfully reinvented our media buying and connections model, enhanced our digital and social media capabilities, and grown our arsenal of sports and entertainment marketing assets.”
University of Apple set to expand
Apple is focusing on narrowing the digital skills gap by taking further steps to grow its own talent and doubling the intake in its european academy.
The company opened an academy in Naples last year, where students spend a year training to be developers, coders, app creators and start-up entrepreneurs.
400 students will be recruited for the autumn, expected to be aged 18 to 30. The courses will run in partnership with Naples university, the University of Federico II.
Tuesday, 16 May
McDonald’s apologises for insensitive ad
McDonald’s has been forced to say sorry after its new TV ad was widely criticised for exploiting childhood bereavement.
The ad, which first aired on 12 May, shows a young boy asking about his dead father and struggling to connect with him until it emerges the Filet-O-Fish is both their favourite item on the McDonald’s menu.
Consumers took to Twitter to share their anger with one user saying she was “sickened and disgusted” by the ad having lost her own father at a young age. Another said “I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as cynical and exploitative”.
Bereavement charity Grief Encounter said it had received “countless calls” from parents whose children were upset by the ad.
A McDonald’s spokesperson told the BBC: “This was by no means an intention of ours. We wanted to highlight the role McDonald’s has played in our customers’ everyday lives – both in good and difficult times.”
John Lewis and Tesco to help part-time workers further their careers
High street giants John Lewis and Tesco are among a group of retailers that have signed up to a new scheme looking to help people working part-time in senior roles move up the career ladder by creating greater flexible working opportunities in managerial jobs.
The 12-month pilot scheme, run by Timewise, aims to identify the barriers for senior part-time employees and develop ways to overcome them.
Other retailers involved in the scheme include B&Q, COOK and Dixons Carphone which, along with Tesco and The John Lewis Partnership, collectively employ over 455,000 people.
Twitter takes Nielsen measurement global
Twitter has extended its mobile measurement agreement with Nielsen to 23 new markets including the UK.
Twitter began using Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings in the US last May to provide advertisers with an independent third-party measure of mobile campaign performance.
Jeffrey Graham, vice-president of market insight & analytics at Twitter, says: “As smartphone usage continues to grow and mobile is accounting for more of digital ad spend, it’s more important than ever that advertisers understand how effectively their marketing efforts are reaching their audience on Twitter.”
Nielsen claims its metrics are comparable to those used for TV, and says they offer a “clearer view” of age and gender demographics, unique audience, reach, frequency and gross rating points (GRPs) for campaigns that run in Twitter’s mobile app.
Other new markets include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and Japan.
Just 15% of ads leave a lasting impression
Advertisers are failing to deliver messages that consumers can quickly absorb and retain, according to a new study by Kantar Millward Brown.
The research finds just 15% of ads have a strong emotional message that people can easily take in and remember. After analysing 160,000 ads, the research firm suggests consumers are more receptive to ads that show consumers the benefits of whatever it is they are selling rather than telling them.
Daren Poole, global brand director, creative development at Kantar Millward Brown, says: “Marketers should move beyond the message and focus on the impression they want the ad – and brand – to leave behind as a whole. This includes the creative idea, what is said in the ad, the way the story is told and the emotional tone.”
He adds: “It’s time to stop selling product features – it rarely works.”
The report highlights five key areas for advertisers to focus on when developing campaigns. These include making a meaningful impression by dramatising a brand’s purpose, creating ads that engage people creatively and emotionally rather than trying to deliver an explicit message, and conveying the “real-life power” of a brand through storytelling.
Lib Dems promise entrepreneurs £100 a week
The Liberal Democrats have said they will pay entrepreneurs £100 a week towards living costs for six months to help fuel the emergence of new UK businesses.
Launching his business manifesto, the party’s leader Tim Farron claimed he is on the side of small businesses and said he would review business rates ad access to credit and loans.
The startup allowance scheme, which would see those launching a business eligible for a maximum of £2,600 over six months, will cost £146m over five years
Monday, 15 May
M&S debuts food ad after marketing overhaul
Marks & Spencer has revealed the first TV ad for its food business after relaunching its marketing under the ‘Spend it Well’ strapline. Created by its new agency Grey London, the ad showcases food including scallops, focaccia and glazed ribs and encourages viewers to “pick up their knife and fork and get ready to travel”.
The first 40-second ad will be followed up by 20-second executions, as well as social media activity and cinema, print and outdoor ads. It is part of its ‘Spend it Well’ campaign that launched earlier this month and brings together the retailer’s food and clothing advertising for the first time.
Google tweaks ad removal policies
Google is making changes to its ad blacklist policies as it looks to ensure it isn’t removing whole websites if only some of their content is risky. Previously, Google’s default was to remove ads across an entire website if it noticed that website had ad formats that were intrusive or it was placing ads in unsavoury contexts, for example next to hate speech. Now, however, its default will be to remove ads on a page-by-page basis.
The move is good news for any publisher that might have some pages of content that don’t abide by Google’s rules but where the majority does. Google tells Digiday that the move is in response to requests that it take a more granular approach to disabling ads. Websites with a high proportion of pages being blacklisted will still find their whole site is then removed from its DoubleClick and AdSense networks, but it is unclear how high that proportion needs to be.
Richer Sounds and Toolstation top shoppers’ list, but Morrisons comes in last
Richer Sounds and Toolstation were the surprise winners of Which?’s annual survey of shopper satisfaction, beating out high street stalwarts such as John Lewis. Which? asked more than 10,000 customers about their shopping experience at 100 major retailers, with scores given based on satisfaction and likelihood to recommend.
Harvey Nichols was the biggest climber, jumping from 21st place a year ago to third place this time round, while Waterstones returned to the top five for the first time since 2014. However, it was less good news for the major supermarkets, with Sainsbury’s and Tesco finding themselves in the bottom 10 and Morrisons coming last.
Waymo and Lyft test autonomous cars
Google’s parent company Alphabet is working with Uber rival Lyft to test automonous cars on the road in the US. Waymo, Alphabet’s automotive business, is already holding public trials using Chrysler minivans equipped with its technology but says Lyft will help it reach “more people in more places”, according to Bloomberg.
The move means Alphabet is unlikely to rekindle its relationship with Uber after the two companies fell out. Alphabet is one of Uber’s biggest investors through its venture capital arm but tensions between the two have risen as they increasingly found themselves competing. Waymo is also suing Uber, alleging one of its engineers stole technology from the Alphabet business.
“Waymo holds today’s best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world’s best transportation,” says Lyft.
Inflation and unemployment both set to rise
The cost of living is rising at the fastest race for three-and-a-half years as an increase in air fares and rise in energy bills hits households. Official figures due out this week are expected to show that the consumer prices index has risen to 2.6% in the year to April, up from 2.3% in March. That is the highest rate since September 2013, when it was 2.7%.
Separate jobs data is expected to show the unemployment rate remaining steady at 4.7% in the first quarter, still a relatively low figure. However, EY Club is forecasting that the jobless rate will rise next year as a slowdown in the consumer sector leads to companies such as retaielrs cutting jobs. The proportion of people in employment is expected to rise to 5.4% next year and 5.8% the year after, the first increases since 2009.
“While economic activity has held up better than many expected since last summer, there are now signs, particularly in the consumer sector, that the pace of expansion in the economy is slowing,” EY says.