Waitrose, Channel 4, Microsoft: Everything that matters this morning

All the latest news and insight on the marketing news this morning.

Channel 4Waitrose returns to TV sponsorship on Channel 4

4 Sales has announced a new partnership with Waitrose, whereby the supermarket will sponsor its Food on 4 programmes. This includes shows on Channel 4 such as Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, Fearless Chefs and My Kitchen Rules. It also includes shows on UKTV’s Good Food and W Channels.

“The Food on 4 programmes are extremely popular with our customers, so this partnership gives us a new way of communicating to them about our commitment to quality food,” said Rupert Ellwood, Head of Marketing at Waitrose.

Channel 4 announces shortlist for its inaugural £1million Diversity in Advertising Award

Channel 4 has announced the seven brands shortlisted for its 2017 Diversity in Advertising Award. They will all compete to win the broadcaster’s commercial airtime for an ad campaign focussed on non-visible disability.

The seven brands were whittled down from 50 entries and these include Bose and Valenstein & Fatt (Grey London), BT and AMV BBDO, Ford and GTB, Loyds and Adam & Eve, M&S and Valenstein & Fatt (Grey London), Panasonic and Brave, and Volvo and Valenstein & Fatt (Grey London).

Microsoft to cut ‘thousands’ of jobs

Microsoft

Microsoft is cutting thousands of jobs worldwide as it attempts to strengthen its cloud computing division. Previous layoffs have targeted the firm’s hardware unit.

The cuts are expected to hit the sales team hardest and the majority are expected to be outside the US, though the company would not provide additional information. Microsoft said it had notified some employees that their positions would be be “eliminated”.

Microsoft wants to target its sales operations better in an effort to attract businesses looking to shift storage and other parts of their businesses online to the cloud.

READ MORE: Microsoft to cut ‘thousands’ of jobs

SoundCloud cuts 40% of workforce and shuts half its offices

Music streaming service Soundcloud has cut 40% of its workforce and closed half of its offices, amid concerns it is running out of cash.

Alex Ljung, the co-founder of the German music service, announced it would be consolidating its team into two offices in a blog post on Thursday. Its Berlin and New York offices will remain open, while 173 employees will be laid off and its San Francisco and London offices will be closed.

READ MORE: SoundCloud cuts 40% of workforce and shuts half its offices

Samsung sees record quarterly profit on chip demand

Samsung seems to have recovered from its disastrous Galaxy Note 7 recall, after it reported a quarterly profit thanks to a surging global demand for memory chips.

The tech giant reported an operating profit of 14 trillion won ($12bn; £9.3bn) in the three months to June, up 72% on a year earlier.
Sales climbed 18% to 60 trillion won, something it put down to the strong sales of smartphones such as the Galaxy S8.

Thursday 6 July

EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall ‘favourite to take over at ITV’

Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of easyJet, has emerged as the leading candidate to be the new chief executive of ITV.

McCall, who is understood to have been interviewed for the role, is considered to be one of the strongest candidates on ITV’s shortlist and if she is successful she would become Britain’s most powerful female TV executive.

The broadcaster is understood to have settled on its preferred candidate to take over from Adam Crozier, who left at the end of last month after seven years in charge.

ITV could announce Crozier’s successor as soon as this week with the broadcaster’s interim results later this month viewed as the latest it is likely to wait.

One source said that ITV has been seeking to “persuade” McCall to take the role, as ITV faces headwinds including tough TV advertising conditions faced by all broadcasters as the business climate deteriorates.

READ MORE: EasyJet’s Carolyn McCall is favourite to take over at ITV

Uber faces further scrutiny over pay and working conditions

Uber may face stricter requirements on pay and workers rights after the Department for Transport pledged to set up a working party to look at the guidance given to local authorities, ahead of a wider government review into the so-called ‘gig’ economy.

The pledge came after a Labour MP argued in a Westminster debate that the rules surrounding licences were difficult to understand and meant “it just takes a few – or at least one – transport authority to say this is the interpretation”.

Frank Field, chairman of the Commons select committee on work and pensions in the last Parliament, said local authorities should set minimum conditions for new operators. He also accused Uber of acting as a “destructive force for many people’s living standards”.

READ MORE: Uber faces more scrutiny over pay and working conditions

Nike to start selling on Instagram

Nike will soon start selling sneakers and other sporting goods not only on Amazon, but also on Instagram.

Nike CEO Mark Parker has revealed during the brand’s Q4 earnings call that the company will sell goods directly on both platforms, though he hasn’t shared the full details of either partnership.

By making its products officially available on Instagram, Nike is likely hoping to connect with younger buyers who tend to spend hours browsing the app. The sneakers brand previously said it was looking to make a limited assortment of items available on Amazon in order to fight the distribution of counterfeit items.

READ MORE: Nike will also sell sneakers on Instagram

British productivity plummets to pre-financial crisis levels

Productivity fell at the start of 2017 as rising employment outstripped growth in GDP, indicating that each worker was producing less in each hour that they worked.

Output per hour worked is still below its 2007 level, the Office for National Statistics says, as the latest fall of 0.5% in the first quarter of this year reversed a climb to above that pre-crisis peak late last year.

Weak productivity growth is restraining wage growth and preventing living standards from improving, economists fear.

“The relapse in productivity in the first quarter of 2017 is all the more disappointing as the UK has a lot of catching up to do. This is highlighted by the Office for National Statistics reporting that productivity has not returned to the pre-downturn trend,” Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY Item Club said.

READ MORE: Britons’ hopes of a pay rise dashed by latest fall in productivity

Alibaba joins Apple and Amazon with smart speaker launch

Jack Ma, founder of Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba (Photo: www.alibabagroup.com)

Alibaba is the latest technology giant to unveil a smart speaker.

The voice-controlled ‘Tmall Genie’ can be used to play music, run third-party apps and buy goods from the Chinese retail giant’s online stores. Like many such devices, it lacks a display.

At launch, it will understand only Mandarin and be sold in the company’s domestic market.

Tencent – China’s biggest technology company by market capitalisation – has announced it has a similar product in development. Meanwhile in the West, Amazon’s Echo range of smart speakers compete against Google Home. Samsung is also looking to join the ranks with a device of its own.

READ MORE: Alibaba reveals Echo-like smart speaker

Wednesday 5 July

Volvo backs electric cars in a major way

Carmaker Volvo says every one of its models launched beyond 2019 will have an electric motor. The move, which is being called an industry first, will mark the end of cars that only have an internal combustion engine.

Volvo’s range of electrified cars will include all-electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid models. Volvo will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021.

“This is about the customer,” said its CEO Håkan Samuelsson. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish.”

He added: “This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car. Volvo Cars has stated that it plans to have sold a total of 1m electrified cars by 2025. When we said it we meant it. This is how we are going to do it.”

READ MORE: Volvo to produce all-electric cars from 2019

Samsung explains why its AI assistant Bixby has been delayed

Despite promising a launch in the US this Spring, Samsung still hasn’t launched its digital Bixby AI voice assistant for the Galaxy S8 into English markets.

And a spokesperson has now detailed why there’s been a delay; a lack of big data to develop Bixby’s deep learning technology.

“Developing Bixby in other languages is taking more time than we expected mainly because of the lack of the accumulation of big data,” a Samsung spokesperson told the Korea Herald 

Samsung launched the Bixby voice preview in a limited release in June, though it’s unclear whether the lack of big data means simply not enough beta testers signed up, or if the research team hasn’t received enough diversity in voice samples. Samsung engineers are also reportedly struggling to communicate between the US and Korea offices, with language and geographical barriers contributing to delays.

However, despite the delays, reports also suggest Samsung is moving ahead with a voice-activated speaker powered by Bixby. This would act as a direct rival to similar offerings from the likes of Amazon and Microsoft.

READ MORE: Samsung Bixby lacks big data to understand English

The Economist details plans for deeper ad targeting

Utilising its subscriptions data, The Economist says it will start selling advertisers ‘acutely-targeted’ digital ad campaigns not just on its own platforms but across an audience-extension network as well.

This means the publisher’s conversations with advertisers will angle toward how to use its subscriber and registration data to inform a brand’s campaign beyond The Economist. For example, The Economist will help brands run their ads across Facebook and other platforms, as well as other news outlets.

Stephane Pere, chief data officer at The Economist Group, explains: “We already trade our audiences on other platforms via our extended network, which was a simple pivot. This is the next iteration, where we can help brands manage their own retargeting. We can share audiences with each other and create bespoke targeting.”

The publisher already offers brands off-site targeting for branded content campaigns created by The Economist’s in-house team, according to Digiday. But this would be for all of a brand’s activity, regardless of which entity created the content.

READ MORE: he Economist is helping advertisers find Economist readers off its properties

London remains Europe’s technology hub

Despite concerns around Brexit, record levels of capital are flowing into London, according to agency London & Partners.

In the first half of 2017, it said private equity investment in the capital’s technology sector reached £4.5bn, while venture capital firms invested £1.1bn in London’s tech firms. This totals a higher level than in any other six-month period over the past decade.

Laura Citron, chief executive of London & Partners, explained: “The Brexit vote has understandably created some uncertainty, but it is no surprise to see that London continues to attract more than double the amount of investment [of] any other European city.”

She claimed London’s tech sector has attracted more venture capital investment than any other European city since the Brexit vote, including Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam.

Finally, something for Theresa May to smile about, eh?

READ MORE: London ‘tech capital of Europe’ following record investment

Nokia details pricing of smartphone comeback

Riding off the buzz of its popular retro 3310 reissue, manufacturer HMD Global is bringing back Nokia as a smartphone brand.

It first announced the new Nokia 3, 5 and 6 back at MWC in February, and it has now detailed full pricing for the launches. Launching first on July 12th for £120 is the Nokia 3, the lowest-end model.

Then arriving in August, the Nokia 5 is made for slightly deeper pockets at £180. And anyone interested in the most powerful smartphone HMD has to offer will have a short wait until the August 2nd launch of the £220 Nokia 6.

Nokia is hoping to dominate the cheaper-end of the smartphone market. We just hope these new phones come with Snake.

READ MORE: Nokia confirms UK release dates and prices for Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6

Tuesday 4 July

Subway

Subway plans major UK expansion

Subway plans to add 500 new restaurants to its UK and Ireland estate by 2020, creating 5,000 new jobs in the process.

Today, the fast food retailer confirmed it will soon be opening its 2,500th outlet in Bristol, the first step on its goal to reach the 3,000 mark over the next three years.

Its stores are all owned and operated by a network of small business owners. By 2020 it is predicted overall employee numbers will hit the 24,000 mark in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Peter Dowding, country director for UK and Ireland, said: “Our franchise model is tried and tested, it works for entrepreneurs and it works for us. We are confident our business model will continue to grow as more and more consumers demand great tasting food at a value price-point.

“With 5,000 new jobs expected over the next three years, opening up a further 500 stores demonstrates not only the value of the business to our franchisees but also collectively, the real and significant contribution to British and Irish economies.”

Dove criticised for its stance on breastfeeding

Unilever skincare brand Baby Dove has come under fire after an ad discussing breastfeeding in public has received numerous complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.

One ad states “75% say breastfeeding in public is fine, 25% say put them away. What’s your way?”

Consumers took to Twitter to share their “disgust” at the brand’s stance and to ask why “anyone would support being ‘passionately against’ breastfeeding”.

The Advertising Standards Authority has now received more than 150 complaints, including concerns the ad will drive negativity around breastfeeding in public.

Brand owner Unilever said it aims to celebrate different parenting styles.

While it has done lots of positive work to promote women’s issue Dove came into criticism recently when it launched a collection of ‘body shape’ bottles.

READ MORE: Baby Dove adverts criticised over breastfeeding stance

Carlsberg buys into craft beer trend

Carlsberg has bought Hackney-based craft beer firm London Fields Brewery, maker of the Easy IPA and Shoreditch Triangle IPA brands, for an undisclosed sum.

The brewery has been up for sale since its founder Jules De Vere Whiteway-Wilkinson was charged with tax fraud last year, an allegation he denies.

The East London firm has celebrity fans including actors Robert Pattinson and David Schwimmer who have both visited the brewery.

Carlsberg UK CEO Julian Momen said: “We’re thrilled to add London Fields Brewery to our growing portfolio of great quality craft and speciality beers.”

The sale is the latest in a growing number of craft breweries to be bought by a multinational beer firms, following AB InBev’s acquisition of Camden and Asahi buying Meantime.

Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson warned that “AB InBev could easily destroy the brands it has acquired” so must be careful.

READ MORE: Carlsberg buys London Fields Brewery

Tesla’s Model 3 ready two weeks early

Electric car firm Tesla saw a boost to its share price after founder Elon Musk confirmed its latest, more affordable car, the Model 3, would be ready on Friday, two weeks ahead of schedule.

Musk tweeted yesterday to let fans know the model had passed all regulatory tests and the first car would be complete on Friday.

In a series of further tweets he confirmed production of the model was expected to reach 20,000 cars by December.

The move is designed to help the brand enter the mass market with its cheapest model to date priced at $35,000.

Tesla’s shares increased by around 2% yesterday as a result of the news.

The car marque increased its brand value by 32% in the latest BrandZ ranking of the world’s biggest brands and is tipped to grow at an even faster rate over the next 12 months thanks to the launch of the Model 3.

READ MORE: Tesla boosted ahead of Model 3 electric car launch

Samsung to invest $17.7bn in memory chips

Samsung Electronics plans to invest 20.4tn won ($17.7bn) by 2021 to upgrade its chip plants in South Korea, as it looks to expand its lead in the smartphone and memory chip markets.

Its chip plant in the city of Pyeongtaek is the world’s biggest and recently started production after the firm spent 15.6tn won building it over the past two years.

In a statement the brand said: “Our clients are having difficulty securing enough semiconductor chips due to growing global demand for high-tech gadgets.

“We plan to actively respond to those demands by making aggressive investments on our production lines at home and abroad.”

Although the tech firm posted record sales this year, Samsung had a rocky year in 2016 thanks to the exploding Note 7 and product recalls.

READ MORE: Samsung to invest $18 billion in memory chip business

Monday, 3 July

Great British Bake Off will be “product placement free”

Channel 4 will not offer advertisers the chance to pay for product placement during the Great British Bake Off in order to maintain the “integrity” of the series.

According to reports in the Guardian, Channel 4 is looking to generate £25m a year from a range of other commercial deals to cover the cost of poaching the show from the BBC last year. It is estimated the broadcaster will need to make at least £75m to ensure its three-year deal pays off.

Channel 4 had reportedly been hoping to secure an £8m-plus deal for headline sponsorship of the revamped show, which is set to return to screens this autumn, but is now open to splitting the sponsorship between several advertisers after failing to strike a deal.

The Guardian also understands that the broadcaster is offering a series of special ads, such as the “superspot”, which guarantees the same centre break in an episode of Bake Off wherever it airs on Channel 4, Channel 4+1 and catch-up service 4seven.

Channel 4 has also put out a tender asking advertisers for creative ideas on Bake Off-themed ad breaks for the launch show.

READ MORE: Channel 4’s Bake Off set ‘will be product-placement-free’

Deliveroo targets $1.5bn valuation with new funding round

Deliveroo

Deliveroo could see its valuation hit $1.5bn (£1.34bn) if the business is able to secure its latest round of investment.

The food delivery app is said to be in talks with the £71bn SoftBank Vision Fund, as well as a number of tech firms including Apple and Sharp, as it looks to finance further expansion.

Expectations are that Deliveroo wants to raise around $275m (£2.1m), the same amount of funding the app received last year. It is understood Deliveroo’s growth plans could include a highly lucrative stock market listing.

READ MORE: Deliveroo set to become a tech ‘unicorn’ as investors seek a slice

Pizza Express reports £17m losses

Pizza Express

Pizza Express made a loss of £17m before tax in the 18 months to the end of 2016, according to new accounts filed at Companies House.

This compares to a £10m loss in the previous year, as the pizza chain suffered from a “softening casual dining market”. Despite agreeing a deal with delivery app Deliveroo, Pizza Express’ like-for-like sales in the UK and Ireland fell by 0.9% in 2016.

Chief executive Richard Hodgson resigned in May in the face of the slumping profits. His replacement Jinlong Wang was formerly Pizza Express chairman and acting chief executive of Hony Capital, the Chinese private equity group which bought the chain for £900m in 2014.

Going forward Pizza Express will focus its efforts on the international market, which currently represents 18% of its total estate. The company has 24 restaurants in mainland China, Hong Kong and UAE, with the majority of international growth expected to come from its PizzaMarzano brand in China.

READ MORE: Pizza Express losses reached £17m before departure of chief executive

Profits halve at Odeon as audience numbers plummet

Odeon

Profits at Odeon fell by £11.7m in 2016 as the cinema chain filled 4 million fewer seats than the year before.

Accounts filed at Companies House show Odeon posted full-year profits before tax of £9.9m for 2016, compared to £21.6m in 2015, with turnover up £2m to £220m.

Attendance across the cinema chain fell from 172 million in 2015 to 168 million, with the business noting an “increase in the availability of pirated films and changing customer film viewing habits.”

During the period Odeon also ploughed £25m into opening additional sites and maintaining the rest of its estate.

Last year the cinema chain was bought for £921m by US chain AMC Entertainment, which is owned by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda.

READ MORE: Profits plunge at Odeon as audience numbers fall

McColl’s in talks with Sainsbury’s over potential deal

Convenience chain McColl’s is understood to be holding talks with Sainsbury’s over a potential deal that could impact on attempts to buy rival Nisa.

Senior executives from McColl’s, which is supplied by convenience chain Nisa, met with Sainsbury’s officials on Friday, according to City AM.

It is reported that McColl’s, which currently accounts for almost 40% of Nisa’s sales, could wrap up its contract and strike a new one with Sainsbury’s or another supermarket like the Co-operative. A new supply deal between Sainsbury’s and McColl’s is thought to be worth up to £2bn.

Sainsbury’s £130m offer to buy Nisa is not thought to be dependent on a continuing relationship with McColl’s, which itself is now emerging as another attractive target for one of the supermarket big four looking to assert their dominance in the convenience sector.

READ MORE: Nisa takeover: Biggest customer McColl’s holds own talks with Sainsbury’s

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