Unilever, Topshop, Starbucks: Everything that matters this morning

We round up all the important news in the marketing world.

TUI

Unilever, Subway and Volvo get behind new, softer, viewability standards

Some of the world’s biggest brands, including Unilever, Spotify, Campbell Soup Company, Shell, Subway and Volvo, have given their support for new global viewability standards from media agency GroupM.

GroupM believes that an ad should be 100% in view, although it does not specify for how long. For video ads, 50% of the video must be played at the user’s initiation, with the sound on, while 100% in view. This standard was originally announced in 2014.

However, the group has now evolved its standard – ads still need to hit the 100% requirement but with user behaviours in mobile and social news feed environments, where they sometimes scroll too quickly to see ads, GroupM has softened its stance. They now have no objection to video ads autoplaying or playing without sound on its standard.

However, for display ads, they now requires ads to be viewable for at least one second.

“Unilever and GroupM have been at the forefront of the viewability and transparency conversation,” says Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever. “We support GroupM’s ongoing assessment in this space to reflect changes in consumer behaviour and available ad formats, and to ensure full accountability and verification.”

Viewability considers the area of the ad that can be seen within a browser or application and the duration of time that the pixels remain in view in seconds. According to global verification providers, as much as 50% of all digital ads are not viewable, bringing up issues of accountability.

Ford set to pay out $10.1m in alleged harassment case

Ford will reportedly pay $10.1m to settle charges of alleged sexual and racial harassment at two facilities in Chicago, according to a report from the Detroit News.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission led an investigation into the matter and said in a statement Tuesday that it found “reasonable cause to believe that personnel at two Ford facilities in the Chicago area, the Chicago Assembly Plant and the Chicago Stamping Plant, had subjected female and African-American employees to sexual and racial harassment.”

Ford says it will establish a claims process for victims of harassment. The carmaker also claims to have taken disciplinary action against employees accused of harassment, including dismissing workers who were accused of unwanted activities.

Ford has had a difficult year already. Its CEO Mark Fields was ousted in May, and its stock price is down 15% in the year to-date.

READ MORE: Ford is settling claims of alleged harassment for $10.1 million

‘New era’ for Topshop as it shakes up management

Topshop is hiring a new creative boss in a bid to refresh the brand. In the latest shake-up at parent company Arcadia, Topshop’s creative boss Kate Phelan is leaving, as is Topman’s Gordon Richardson.

They will be replaced in a combined role by former Vogue art director David Hagglund. In addition to this latest creative appointment, a new chief executive starts next month – Paul Price.

Topshop’s parent company Arcadia, which also includes Miss Selfridge, Burton, and Dorothy Perkins, saw it profits drop by 79% last year. Tough competition in the clothing market – and the failure of the now-defunct BHS chain – contributed to the poor performance.

Arcadia chairman Sir Philip Green says: “The appointment of David Hagglund, in the newly combined role, continues to mark the start of a new era for Topshop Topman in moving both brands forward in their ongoing global expansion.”

READ MORE: Topshop bosses out of fashion in Arcadia shake-up

Starbucks speaks out about ‘moral fibre’ of the US

Starbucks digital

Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz says the events surrounding a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend have put the “moral fiber” of the country in question.

Schultz said at an employee forum in Seattle that he has “profound concern about the lack of character, morality, humanity,” displayed at the rally, according to a recap of the meeting posted on Starbucks’ website.

“The moral fiber, the values, and what we as a country have stood for is literally hanging in the abyss,” Schultz told employees. “We are at a critical juncture in American history. That is not an exaggeration. We are at and facing a crucible in which our daily life is being challenged and being questioned about what is right and what is wrong.”

Starbucks and Schultz have been outspoken on social issues before – earlier this year the chain said it was looking to hire 2,500 refugees across Europe by 2022, leading to a backlash on social media.

READ MORE: Starbucks chairman questions country’s ‘moral fiber’

Gap results ‘better than expected’ as it doubles net income

Fashion giant Gap’s latest set of results were better than expected, leading its shares to surge by 16%. Gap’s net income more than doubled to $271m.

Its second quarter results showed that comparable sales rose 5% at Old Navy, the retailer’s largest division, topping expectations for a 3.1% gain. Meanwhile, same-store sales slid 1% at the Gap Global brand and 5% at Banana Republic.

“With a third consecutive quarter of comp sales growth, we are seeing our investments in product, customer experience, and brand equity begin to pay off,” says chief executive Art Peck.

Like many other clothing retailers Gap has struggled to fight off competition from online retailers and fast fashion rivals — like Zara and H&M that copy runway looks at a fraction of the cost — and lure shoppers back to its stores. Moreover, a string of fashion misses at Banana Republic also eroded sales at the brand.

READ MORE: Gap shares back in fashion after rosier outlook, earnings beat

Thursday 17 August

Nokia attempts to revitalise brand with flagship smartphone launch

Nokia is hoping to making a return to the smartphone market almost four years after it sold its phone business to Microsoft with the launch of a flagship smartphone, the Nokia 8.

Unveiled at an event in London last night (16 August), Nokia hopes to compete with market leaders Apple and Samsung by pushing the ‘bothie’, an update on the selfie that allows users to film or take photos using both the front and rear cameras at the same time. The device also comes with a high resolution 5.3-inch screen, aluminium body and Carl Zeiss camera.

Nokia phones are now made by HMD Global, a company founded by former Nokia executives who bought back the phone business from Microsoft. They will be relying in large part on nostalgia for the brand to convince consumers to buy and have already relaunched the 3310 in an attempt to revive brand sentiment.

Argos shamed after failing to pay the minimum wage

Argos is among a slew of companies to be hit by a fine from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for failing to pay some of its workers the minimum wage. In total, more than 13,000 workers across 233 companies, the majority of which are small businesses, will receive a combined total of £2m in back pay.

HMRC began naming and shaming companies that failed to pay the minimum wage back in 2013. Those that are exposed have to pay staff money owed, as well as receiving a fine. Argos was the biggest culprit this time and has been fined £800,000. In total, companies on the list have been fined £1.9m.

READ MORE: Argos shamed for failing to pay minimum wage (£)

Apple plans $1bn spending spree on original content

Apple is reportedly planning to invest $1bn in original video content over the next year as competition in the market hots up. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is planning to buy and produce 10 TV shows.

The company thinks it could be competitive in the space due to the reach of the iPad and iPhone. However there is growing competition in the market from a range of places including traditional content producers, online streaming companies and other tech rivals.

And Apple’s investment is small compared with rivals. Amazon, for example, is estimated to have a budget of $4.5bn this year according to estimates by JPMorgan, while Netflix will spend $6bn and Game of Thrones maker HBO $2bn.

READ MORE: Apple Readies $1 Billion War Chest for Hollywood Programming

Rivals circle after airline Air Berlin files for bankruptcy

A number of rivals in the airline industry are circling after Germany’s number two airline, Air Berlin, filed for bankruptcy following shareholder Etihad Airways’ decision to withdraw funding following years of losses.

Thomas Cook has said it is prepared to plan an “active role” in the a restructuring of the insolvent carrier. It has its own German airline, Condor, but books flights for its customers through Air Berlin, meaning it is in its interests if the airline continues to operate. TUI has said similar.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa is negotiating to buy Air Berlin planes, which are still flying following a 150 loan from the German government. However, Ryanair has accused both Lufthansa and Germany of conspiring to carve up the collapse airline, an accusation both deny.

READ MORE: Thomas Cook ready to play active role in Air Berlin’s future

Tech companies shift stance to exile white supremacists

Tech companies are cracking down on white supremacists on the internet in response to events in Charlottesville in Virginia, US, over the weekend. Twitter, LinkedIn, Spotify and Cloudflare are among the latest to say they will cut off their services to hate groups or remove materials that they claim spread hate.

That follows moves by Facebook, Google and GoDaddy, which took steps earlier in the week to block hate groups.

The decision is a shift in stance fo US tech firms, which have previously tried to steer clear of making judgements about content unless it is clearly illegal and suggests they are now willing to further to police hate speech not just among white supremacists.

READ MORE: Internet firms shift stance, move to exile white supremacists

Wednesday, 16 August

Carlsberg earnings rise as consumers opt for pricier beers

Carlsberg reported first-half profit that beat analysts’ estimates as the brewer reduced costs and cut debt. Earnings before interest, taxes and one-time items rose 20% to 4.13 billion kroner ($652m). Analysts had expected 3.82 billion kroner.

The improvement came despite a decline in sales volumes, with drinkers opting for pricier beers. That plays into Carlsberg’s seven-year strategy to sell more expensive beers.

“Our strong financial results enable us to accelerate our investments in the SAIL’22 priorities to drive sustainable long-term growth of the Carlsberg Group,” says CEO Cees’t Hart in a statement.

READ MORE: Carlsberg First-Half Earnings Beat Estimates on Cost-Cutting

Amazon unveils two-minute click-and-collect in the US

Amazon is upping its focus on convenience with the launch of a two-minute click-and-collect service in the US.

Users can order snacks, drinks and electronic devices on their mobiles and collect them in two minutes at Amazon Instant Pickup stations. These can be found in five locations – Los Angeles, Atlanta, Berkely, Columbus and College Park – all of which are on or near college campuses as the tech giant aims to appeal to students.

READ MORE: Amazon unveils two-minute click and collect in the US 

Urban Outfitters ‘disappointed’ as sales decline continues

Sales at Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie continued to slump with poor sales in accessories and apparel.

Urban Outfitters shares jumped as much as 20% in after-hours trading, despite the group reporting a 2% decline in net sales to £678m in the three months to 30 June on a year earlier.

Its same-store sales fell 4.9% year on year, in the worst drop in seven years.

Urban Outfitters chief executive Richard Hayne says the group was “disappointed in our second quarter performance”, citing “underperforming women’s apparel and accessories product at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters”.

READ MORE: Urban Outfitters ‘disappointed’ as sales decline continues 

WhatsApp to add payments in messaging app

WhatsApp is preparing to introduce payments to its messaging app, making it the latest service to let users transfer money to one another with a text.

A beta version of WhatsApp’s next update revealed the service could soon support payments. Pictures emerged of a ‘Welcome to WhatsApp Payments’ screen, discovered by the blog WABetaInfo.

WhatsApp is trialling “immediate bank to bank transfer with UPI”. UPI, or Unified Payments Interface, is a payments system run by the Reserve Bank of India, which appears to confirm reports that the payments service would be coming to India first.

READ MORE: WhatsApp to add payments in messaging app

Facebook launches China-only version of Moments photo app

Facebook has launched a photo-editing app exclusively for China.

The app, called Colourful Balloons, was launched in May and is almost identical to the Facebook Moments app. It was spotted by the New York Times this week.

Facebook is working with Chinese app developer Youge Internet Technology.

“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time understanding and learning more about the country in different ways,” a Facebook representative says.

READ MORE: Facebook launches China-only version of Moments photo app

Tuesday, 15 August

Sainsbury's

Plans stall for Sainsbury’s £130m Nisa takeover

Sainsbury’s has put its £130m takeover of grocery wholesale group Nisa on hold over fears of intervention by competition authorities.

According to the Guardian, the supermarket chain is rattled by the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) ongoing investigation into the proposed £3.7bn merger between Tesco and the grocery wholesaler Booker.

The CMA has already warned that the Tesco Booker merger could potentially damage competition in 350 neighbourhoods, suggesting there would be no clear distinction between chains owned directly by Tesco and the Budgens, Londis and Premier outlets it would become the major supplier to after the Booker takeover.

Despite Sainsbury’s continued interest in Nisa, Guardian sources say the wholesale group has now reopened talks with the Co-op, which had expressed interest in a deal.

The move comes a matter of weeks after supermarket rival Morrisons signed a wholesale supply agreement with McColl’s, the chain that makes up close to 35% of Nisa’s business.

READ MORE: Sainsbury’s Nisa takeover talks paused after competition concerns

Aldi to launch online delivery in the US

AldiAldi is to offer same-day delivery in three American cities as it rolls out online shopping in the US. The German discounter is partnering with US grocery delivery startup Instacart to serve customers in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas, as it looks to boost its presence in the US market. There are no plans to offer a similar service in the UK.

It is thought Aldi had been put under pressure to deliver an online offering following the announcement in June of Amazon’s £10.7bn takeover of upmarket food chain Wholefoods. Instacart had previously been a partner of Wholefoods since 2014.

The US is a keen area of interest for the German discounter. In February, Aldi announced it would invest more than $3bn in expanding its US store base from 1,600 to 2,500 by 2022.

READ MORE: Aldi to launch online delivery service in the US

P&G urges shareholders to resist activist investor

Procter & Gamble (P&G) is urging shareholders to reject a bid by Trian Fund Management CEO Nelson Peltz to join its board. In a sternly worded letter, the US FMCG giant asked shareholders to resist the appointment of the New York hedge fund CEO, whom it called an activist investor looking to “satisfy his own agenda”.

P&G management says: “We believe Mr Peltz initiated the proxy contest to satisfy his own agenda and to meet the expectations of his limited partners. What’s best for P&G right now is balance and focus, with the board and employees continuing a steady commitment to a plan that is working. P&G will not benefit from change for the sake of change.”

P&G argues that the company is now back on track with a successful strategy, which has seen the business streamline its portfolio of brands and categories, implement productivity improvements to fuel sales and simplify its organisational design to drive accountability.

The letter concludes: “Mr Peltz does not bring any new or needed skills to our board. We believe that adding him to the board would derail the very significant value creation progress we are making.”

READ MORE: P&G urges shareholders to vote against activist investor Nelson Peltz

Matchesfashion.com plots 24,000sq ft content creation hub

Matchesfashion.com

Luxury fashion retailer Matchesfashion.com is to open a 24,000sq ft content creation hub in East London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in a bid to boost is editorial and shoppable content.

The hub will feature 20 photography bays and video sets, enabling the retailer to increase the amount of products shot, styled and uploaded onto its website by 50% to 2,000 products per week.

Matchesfashion.com also plans to work on new formats, such as 360-degree videos and shoppable editorial videos, as well as developing its new online “Shop By” section, which highlights exclusive capsule collections and fashion edits curated by influencers.

The new hub is expected to create more than 150 new jobs over the next four years.

READ MORE: Matchesfashion.com Opens New Creative Hub

Amazon calls time on Lovefilm

Amazon is to close its Lovefilm DVD rental business on 31 October due to “decreasing demand” as consumers switch to streaming.

The decision comes six years after Amazon took full control of Lovefilm in a deal valuing the DVD rental service at £200m. The acquisition of Lovefilm, which at the time had more than 1.4m subscribers, was seen as a move by Amazon to protect itself against the rise of streaming rival Netflix.

The online giant has since grown its on-demand video streaming capabilities through its Amazon Prime subscription service, which as of April had more than 80 million paying users.

READ MORE: Amazon closes DVD rental service Lovefilm

Monday, 14 August

Clarks accused of everyday sexism for ‘Dolly Babe’ shoe

clarks dolly babeShoe retailer Clarks has been accused of ‘everyday sexism’ for naming a girls’ school shoe ‘Dolly Babe’, while the boys’ version is called ‘Leader’. The girls’ shoe also features a heart-patterned insole, while the boys’ has footballs.

Clarks has now removed the ‘Dolly Babe’ shoe from its website after several people, including Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, took to Twitter to voice their outrage.

Clarks is still selling the boy’s equivalent, and both versions are still available from retailers including Amazon and John Lewis.

In a statement, the brand says: “Following customer feedback regarding the name, we have removed the shoe from sale online and are in the process of removing the name from the remaining stock in store, though this process will take time to complete.

“We are working hard to ensure our ranges reflect our gender neutral ethos and we apologise for any unintended offence caused.”

READ MORE: Clarks in sexism row over Dolly Babe girls’ shoe

Asda expected to return to growth

Asda is expected to post positive sales growth for the first quarter in three years this week.

The Walmart-owned supermarket has been greatly impacted by the rise of discounters Aldi and Lidl, leading to 12 quarters of disappointing sales, making it the worst performing of the ‘big four’ grocers.

Asda is, however, expected to report like-for-like sales growth of around 1-2% for the second quarter of 2017. The supermarket recorded a 7.5% sales drop last year, its worst ever result.

READ MORE: Asda on track to post first rise in sales for three years

Hilton to open 30 new UK hotels

US hotel chain Hilton plans to open 30 new hotels in the UK over the next two years, increasing the size of its UK ­estate by almost 25%.

The plan is seen as a vote of confidence in the British economy as it moves to leave the European Union and will make the UK its second largest market outside the US.

Hilton, which is majority owned by US private equity giant Blackstone, will be opening new venues in locations including London, York and Leeds, with a particular focus on its Hampton and Hilton Garden Inn brands.

The company opened six new UK hotels in 2016.

READ MORE: Hilton plans to open 30 more hotels in the UK

High street sales take a hit in July

Bad weather is being blamed for slow retail sales last month.

Shopper footfall dropped by 1.1% in July, according to figures by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard, a greater dip than the 0.4% three-month average this year.

The high street saw the greatest impact, with storms and heavy rain keeping shoppers away and leading to a 2.1% drop in footfall. Shopping centres suffered their fourth consecutive month of declines, having seen a 1.3% drop in footfall.

READ MORE: Shoppers shun high street amid wet and stormy weather

Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia faces legal action from BHS liquidators

Liquidators for BHS have begun legal action against Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group.

Lawyers representing SHB Realisations, the holding company for BHS, which is now operated by FRP Advisory, have filed papers in the High Court.

In the documents, SHB is named as the claimant and Arcadia Group, which owns Topshop, is the defendant.

READ MORE: Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group faces legal action from BHS liquidators

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