Virgin Media, Carluccio’s, Barclaycard: Everything that matters this morning

Good morning and welcome to Marketing Week’s round-up of the news that matters in the marketing world today.

Usain Bolt stars in new Virgin Media campaign

Virgin Media is launching a new campaign today, starring Usain Bolt as an animated superhero, to promote its super broadband speeds and super entertainment offering.

The multi-million pound ‘Switch to Super’ campaign, created by BBH London, will run for eight weeks across TV, video-on-demand, press, radio, online and social, starting with a prime time TV ad this evening just before ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent.

The TV ad features Richard E Grant as an expert English tailor and centres around Bolt’s sartorial journey to finding the perfect superhero suit.

“Speed is the super power at the core of Virgin Media,” says Jeff Dodds, managing director of consumer and mobile at Virgin Media.

“It’s the kryptonite to our competitors and what makes our services stand out. Our new campaign, with Usain Bolt front and centre, brings to life our super speeds, super entertainment and super value for our customers.”

Carluccio’s set to shut down over 30 restaurants

Italian food chain Carluccio’s is expected to close 34 restaurants as part of a restructuring plan.

Some 91% of the restaurant’s creditors voted in favour of a company voluntary agreement (CVA) on Thursday, putting around 500 jobs at risk.

Chief executive Mark Jones says the vote was “vital” to protect the core business and Carluccio’s brand.

Dubai-based Landmark Group, which owns Carluccio’s, has promised to finance a multi-million pound refurbishment programme for the 69 restaurants that are not affected by the CVA.

READ MORE: Carluccio’s could close 30-plus restaurants as restructure is approved

Barclaycard looking for new creative agency

Following the completion of a major restructure, Barclaycard is on the hunt for a new creative agency to support a renewed focus on its brand and help it have a greater emotional engagement with its customers.

The global payments business has not held a review of its agency partners for more than a decade. It says the nature of communications have “evolved significantly” since then and that it wants to consolidate agency relationships to ensure it has the “best-in-class” brand agency to help it achieve its goals.

Ten agencies have been invited to submit credentials, with a decision to be made in the summer.

“As we embark on a new strategy for the reshaped Barclaycard business, our brand has taken centre stage as a key means of driving growth,” says Barclaycard’s global head of brand strategy and communications, Andrew Hogan.

“We’ve created amazing brand campaigns in recent years with the help of our agency partners, for example, the recent and highly successful integrated launch of Barclaycard Entertainment. We’re looking forward to taking this further and delivering even opportunities for our brand to engage with our customers.”

National Rail and charities team up for art exhibition

National Rail is working with SCOPE, Stroke Association, The National Autistic Society and Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) on an art exhibition designed to encourage travel without boundaries.

The ‘No Boundaries’ exhibition will feature work by TV presenter and artist Sophie Morgan and will launch at London King’s Cross station in August before touring around some of Britain’s most iconic and busiest stations.

Those chosen to take part in the exhibition will be sent on rail journeys across Britain and asked to create a piece of artwork inspired by their journey. National Rail’s Disabled Persons Railcard will offer travelling artists a third off of the train fare for them and a companion.

“One of the railway’s key commitments is to help more people take advantage of all of the opportunities that travelling by train opens up,” says National Rail’s marketing director Jyoti Bird.

“We have teamed up with some great charities to generate awareness of the support that is available for disabled people and their friends and families. Not all disabilities are visible and there are still too many people who feel that they need to disguise their disability. Through this exhibition we’re aiming to inspire people to travel, talk and support each other without boundaries.”

Mars strikes renewable energy deal in Australia

Confectionary brand Mars, which makes Mars bars and M&Ms, has struck a 20-year deal in Australia to generate all of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020.

Following in the footsteps of the UK, US and nine other countries where Mars has already moved to renewable energy, Mars Australia and energy company Total Eran have agreed to build a solar plant in Victoria by the middle of 2019

Mars Australia says it is making a long-term commitment to a sustainable greener planet that will benefit its customers, consumers and the local and global community – which includes a pledge to eliminate greenhouse gases from its operations by 2040.

Mars says it will also be talking to its extensive local supplier network about how they can help further reduce emissions in its supply chain.

READ MORE: Mars bars to go carbon neutral in Australia after renewable energy deal

Thursday, 31 May

concert

Viagogo under investigation for continuing to flout ad rules

Consumers have been warned not to use ticket resale site Viagogo, as Trading Standards and the Advertising Standards Authority launch an investigation into the company.

Viagogo been rapped by the ASA previously for failing to make all charges clear in its advertising.

Trading Standards got in contact with the ad watchdog in relation to the brand yesterday (30 May), and a spokesperson for Trading Standards confirmed it has “launched an investigation into Viagogo, which will look at all legal options to bring them into compliance with the law”.

The ad watchdog has also now placed Viagogo on its ‘non-compliant advertisers’ list as it says the brand “continues to include pricing information that is in breach of the CAP Code and the ASA’s ruling”.

The government’s digital minister Margot James told BBC Radio 5 Live that Viagogo is “the worst” of the four leading ticket resellers in the UK and warned fans to not use it.

READ MORE: Government minister warns consumers against buying tickets from Viagogo

Coca-Cola launches first campaign for Fuze Tea

Fuze Tea

The Coca-Cola Company has launched the first campaign for its new flavoured ice tea brand Fuze Tea.

‘Calm the Commute’ looks to surprise people on their way to and from work with a series of unexpected moments, the first of which saw actress Joanna Lumley do an impromptu book reading on a train from Paddington.

The campaign is supported by out of home advertising, video-on-demand, mobile and social content across Facebook and Instagram. These elements will focus on getting consumers to think about taking more ‘me-time’.

Christina Lecky, senior brand manager at Coca-Cola GB, says: “Our research found that 44% of Brits feel they rarely get any me-time but if they do, it’s most likely to be at 17:05. We are encouraging people to switch off as they commute home and there’s nobody better than national treasure, Joanna Lumley, to surprise and help relax those commuting home with a book reading of her favourite novel. This however, is just the start, so keep an eye out while you commute home as we have more exciting things to come.”

Half of TV ads seen by kids are for junk food

junk food

Half of ads seen by children on TV are for junk food and sugary drinks, according to a new report, prompting fresh calls for a 9pm watershed for all ads of this nature.

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows 50% of all TV ads seen by children aged between four and 15 are for products high in fat, salt or sugar, and 70% of these ads go out before 9pm.

Brands have not been able to advertise junk food and sugary drinks during children’s programming since it was banned in 2007 but research by broadcasting regulator Ofcom suggests children spend nearly two-thirds (64%) of their TV time watching shows not specifically designed for them.

This new research from the IFS will spur on health campaigners’ who are currently urging the government to impose much tougher restrictions on advertising products high in fat, sugar or salt as part of a crackdown on childhood obesity, a move that has been condemned as “headline-chasing” by the industry.

READ MORE: Half of TV ads seen by children are for junk food and drink – report

Emoov, Tepilo and Urban.co.uk in £100m merger

Online estate agents Emoov and Tepilo, along with digital letting agency Urban.co.uk, are joining forces in a £100m merger, creating the second largest player in the market behind Purplebricks.

The new entity has also entered into a deal with Channel 4’s Commercial Growth Fund to launch a new TV campaign. In return the broadcaster will reportedly take a stake in Emoov in return for airtime on its channels, although the size of that stake was not disclosed.

The three businesses together have a value of £89m, and have secured £15m in new investment from existing and new shareholders, including Channel 4 and publisher Northern & Shell.

READ MORE: Online estate agents Emoov, Tepilo and Urban.co.uk in £100m merger

Ocado joins FTSE 100 as share price rockets

Ocado is set to join the FTSE 100 after seeing its share price treble over the past year.

The online grocer’s promotion to the index was confirmed yesterday (30 May) in the latest quarterly reshuffle, which also sees betting firm GVC, owner of Ladbrokes Coral, join the top flight. Marks & Spencer, which has been in the FTSE 100 since the index was launched in 1984, narrowly avoided dropping out.

Ocado’s share price was around 60p back in 2012, but its shares closed at 887.6p yesterday, and its market cap value grew to £6.1bn, meaning it overtakes that of several FTSE 100 companies, including M&S.

READ MORE: Ocado elevated to the FTSE 100, while M&S avoids the drop

Wednesday, 30 May

WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell

Former WPP chief Sorrell set to make comeback

Former chief executive of WPP, Sir Martin Sorrell, is to become executive chairman of a new marketing company.

Sorrell, who stepped down from his role at WPP six weeks ago, is set to become chairman of a small financial holding company, which he intends to build into a “next generation marketing services group”,  Sky News reports.

The ad industry veteran is understood to be committing £40m of his own money to the new venture, with institutional investors initially providing £11m to become shareholders. Derriston Capital will become S4 which reportedly refers to four generations of his family.

Sorrell had been the longest-serving FTSE-100 executive with 33 years running the world’s biggest advertising group but was forced to step down when the group hired a law firm to investigate allegations of improper behaviour.

The 73-year-old denied the allegations but in a letter to WPP staff published when he departed, he said the “current disruption” was “putting too much unnecessary pressure on the business”. WPP discontinued the investigation after Sorrell quit.

READ MORE: Sorrell stages dramatic stock market comeback with Derriston deal

Company bosses may be forced to pay £500,000 fines for nuisance calls

Bosses of companies that make nuisance calls could be personally fined up to £500,000 under proposals by the government.

Currently, only the business itself is liable for fines but the new measure will grant the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) the power to hold bosses directly responsible for paying the penalty.

A company is breaking the law if it makes cold calls to people who have subscribed to the opt-out register Telephone Preference Service.

The government hopes the new measure will stop company bosses from declaring bankruptcy and setting up the same business under a new name thus avoiding the fines.

Digital and creative industries minister Margot James says: “Nuisance calls are a blight on society and we are determined to stamp them out. For too long a minority of company directors have escaped justice by liquidating their firms and opening up again under a different name.”

READ MORE: Nuisance call bosses could be fined up to £500,000

Pret A Manger staff to get £1,000 windfall  after sale

Pret

Pret A Manger is planning to give £1,000 to each of its workers after its sale to Krispy Kreme owner JAB holdings.

Private equity firm Bridgepoint has agreed to sell a majority stake in Pret for £1.5bn which will mean all 12,000 workers will receive a £1,000 windfall on completion of the sale, which is expected to take place in the summer.

Pret chief executive Clive Schlee says: “This is a day of celebration at Pret… This agreement recognises the hard work of all our amazing teams around the world. Bridgepoint has been wonderful owners of the business for more than a decade.

READ MORE: All 12,000 Pret a Manger staff to get £1,000 each as chain is sold for £1.5bn

Carphone Warehouse to shut 92 stores amid profits warning

Carphone Warehouse is to shut 92 of it 700 stores this year after a steep decline in profits.

Shares in Dixons Carphone have closed 20.7% down after it warned of a sharp fall in profits with the retailer predicting pre-tax profits to fall from last year’s £382m to £300m in 2018/19.

The company blamed “challenges” in the market for mobile phones and mobile services, including a declining market for long-term mobile contracts and people not renewing their handsets as frequently. Plus a lesser demand for computers.

Chief executive Alex Baldock said “nobody is happy with our performance” but the problems were all “fixable”

READ MORE: Dixons blames management failings as it issues profit warning (£)

Crackdown on gambling games that appeal to children

Games on a gambling website based on fairytales has been banned by the ad watchdog because of its potential appeal to children.

The website, Fairytale Legends and Fairies Forest, was promoted on M88.com in January with three of its games featured – Fairytale Legends Red Riding Hood, Fairytale Legends Hansel and Gretel, and Fairies Forest.

The games feature animated images of a wolf, a pixie and a fairy in a forest leading to The Campaign for Fairer Gambling to complain that the content was likely to be of particular appeal to children.

M88.com responded to the complaint by making the games accessible only after members logged into their account and removed all fairytale images.

Advertising rules state that gambling ads must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young people. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) says it welcomes the interim action taken by M88.com.

In a separate ruling following another set of complaints by Fairer Gambling, six games appearing on websites were banned because of the use of animated images of birds, a young girl and a dragon, a pixie, a castle and a princess and a polar bear wearing a Santa hat.

READ MORE: Gambling website games based on fairytales banned

Tuesday 29 May

UKTV Play

ITV mulls £1bn BBC joint venture to buy UKTV

ITV is reportedly considering entering into a £1bn joint venture with the BBC by acquiring half of fellow broadcaster UKTV.

The Telegraph reports that the rivals are mulling over a deal aimed at securing the future of British broadcasting by creating a homegrown competitor to Netflix. UKTV is an attractive prospect with its mixture of 10 free-to-air and pay-TV channels, alongside a free streaming service.

The BBC already has a stake in UKTV shared with current co-owner Discovery, the US paid TV company. Under the terms of the existing joint venture, the BBC can buy out its partner at a set price by the end of next week. Entering into a “back to back” deal with ITV would immediately sell Discovery’s £500m stake in UKTV.

The BBC has reportedly already considered taking full control of UKTV, although that would require government permission to lift a cap on BBC debt. A further move by the BBC into the TV advertising market could also anger rival commercial broadcasters.

Speaking in relation to the rise of online subscription streaming services like Amazon and Netflix in March, BBC deputy director general Anne Bulford said the BBC would seek to forge “closer and better partnerships” with other British broadcasters. Meanwhile new ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall has put acquisitions on her agenda as she reviews the broadcaster’s strategy.

READ MORE: ITV considers entering into £1bn joint venture with the BBC to buy UKTV 

Pret A Manger to be sold for £1.5bn

Pret A Manger is set to be sold for £1.5bn to JAB Holdings, a private investment group rapidly making acquisitions in the coffee market.

The Financial Times reports that current owners, the UK private equity group Bridgepoint, decided it would be more lucrative to sell rather than list the coffee chain on the stock exchange. Bridgepoint will make a tidy profit from the deal, having bought Pret in 2008 for £364m.

Founded in 1986 as a single shop in London, Pret has since expanded to approximately 500 stores worldwide, including 92 shops in the US. The company’s last reported financial results in April 2017 show that the coffee chain recorded sales of £776m in 2016, up 15% year-on-year.

Pret has, however, been struggling to recruit staff following the Brexit vote owing to its mainly European employee base. In March 2017, the coffee chain revealed that just one in 50 job applicants in London comes from the UK.

READ MORE: Pret A Manger ready to go for £1.5bn

Coca-Cola’s first alcoholic drink goes on sale in Japan

coca-cola

Coca-Cola’s first alcoholic drink has finally hit shelves in Japan as the US drinks giant looks to tap into a growing market of young, particularly female, drinkers.

First announced in March, the collection of three fizzy lemon flavoured alcopops range from 3% to 8% alcohol and are modelled on Chu-Hi drinks, a mix of local spirits and fruit flavours popular in Japan.

Marketed as an alternative to beer aimed specifically at female drinkers, canned Chu-Hi drinks are most popular in citrus flavours such as grapefruit or lemon. Local players Suntory, Asahi and Kirin currently dominate the sector.

Coca-Cola says it has no plans to introduce the new alcoholic drinks range outside Japan.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola launches its first alcoholic drink in Japan

WH Smith rated UK’s worst high street shop

WH Smith has been rated the UK’s worst high street retailer, with consumers criticising the book and stationary chain’s customer service and store standards.

The survey conducted by Which? asked 10,000 shoppers to rate their experience in buying non-grocery items at 100 major retailers. Consumers complained that WH Smith is expensive and its stores need updating, while others claimed that the whole brand experience was “hugely inferior” compared to how it used to be in the past.

WH Smith has come bottom of the list for five out of the past eight years and second to bottom for the remaining three years.

By contrast the accolade of Britain’s best retailer was shared by beauty brand Lush, the cut-price health and beauty chain Savers and the toy business Smyths. Their success knocked 2017’s top retailers Toolstation and Richer Sounds into fourth and sixth place, respectively.

John Lewis slipped from third place in the 2017 ranking to 10th in 2018, the department store’s worst position since the survey was launched in 2010.

READ MORE: WH Smith rated UK’s worst high street shop by Which? readers

Gordon’s pink gin TV campaign celebrates biggest UK spirits launch for a decade

Gordon’s is rolling out its first TV ad campaign for its Premium Pink Distilled Gin, the UK’s biggest spirits launch in a decade.

The 20-second advert, created by Anomaly, plays on the consumer appetite for ‘Instagrammable’ drinks by joking about getting the ‘perfect pic’. The advert will form part of a wider multi-channel campaign across TV and VOD this summer and supports the launch of the premixed Gordon’s Premium Pink Distilled Gin & Tonic tin.

The new campaign builds on the ‘Shall we…?’ brand platform first used to launch Gordon’s Pink in 2017. Since then the pink gin has become the UK’s fourth biggest gin brand, claiming a volume market share of 8.9% within a year.

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