Cadbury, Microsoft, Heinz: 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.

Cadbury unveils ‘healthier’ Dairy Milk with 30% less sugar

Cadbury is set to introduce a version of its classic Dairy Milk bar with 30% less sugar, as it looks to offer consumers a healthier alternative.

The company, which is owned by Mondelēz, will not be removing the original bar from shelves, though; the ‘diet’ version will be sold alongside the existing recipe when it hits shelves next year.

The bar includes more fibre in place of some of the sugar, rather than sweeteners, and took a team of 20 scientists, nutritionists and chocolatiers almost two years to complete.

Cadbury is the latest brand to reformulate one of its products after Public Health England set a voluntary target for the industry to reduce sugar in foods like chocolate and biscuits by a fifth by 2020. Manufacturers and retailers had been given a target of cutting sugar by 5% in the first year but this was missed.

READ MORE: Cadbury to launch Dairy Milk bar with 30% less sugar

Microsoft records first $100bn year

Microsoft

Microsoft’s annual revenue surpassed the $100bn mark for the first time in 2018, as the business continues to shift its focus to cloud services.

The tech giant’s overall revenue for the fourth quarter hit $30.1bn, taking the total for the year since July 2017 up to $110.4bn, a rise of 17%.

Revenue for cloud services increased by 23% to $9.6bn during the fourth quarter, with earnings for its cloud computing service Azure up 89% compared to last year, driving the company’s revenue growth for its server and cloud division to 26%.

While Amazon Web Services continues to lead the cloud computing market, Microsoft is increasingly cementing its position in second place, according to the Guardian, ahead of Google.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, said on the earnings call that he is “especially proud” of a new five-year deal between Microsoft and Walmart, which has been described by analysts as a strategic alliance against Amazon.

The tech giant also reported strong growth in other areas of its business, including social, gaming and hardware.

Revenue for LinkedIn increased 37% to $1.4bn, although the division saw an overall operating loss of $182m. Gaming revenue increased 39% to $2.3bn, while the number of Xbox Live monthly active users hit 57 million.

Revenues for the Microsoft Surface grew 25% following a poor previous year.

READ MORE: Microsoft earnings exceed $100bn on cloud services revenue

Heinz takes on rival Hellmann’s in mayonnaise battle

Heinz mayonnaise

Heinz has declared war on Hellmann’s in the latest campaign for its [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise, calling out its rival’s declining sales alongside the strapline ‘As smooth as Hellmann’s, only Heinzier’.

Heinz has ramped up investment for the out of home and print campaign, which claims Hellmann’s Mayonnaise value sales have dropped by 11.6%, while its market share has declined by nine percentage points to 54%.

By comparison, Heinz’s [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise has an 18.6% share of the market, with the product contributing 87.1% of category growth over the past 12 weeks, according to Nielsen Scantrack.

Martina Davis, sauces senior brand manager at Kraft Heinz, describes the campaign as a “significant move” for the brand.

“We expect [the campaign] to put Heinz [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise one step ahead of Hellmann’s, and at the forefront of consumers’ minds. Not only will the disruptive campaign help to further drive category growth, it will encourage the reappraisal of shoppers’ mayonnaise brand of choice.”

Comcast switches focus to Sky as it withdraws Fox bid

Comcast has withdrawn its bid for 21st Century Fox, ending its battle with Disney.

The US media and cable firm is now turning its full attention to Sky, which it offered to buy for £26bn last week.

It’s a move that could hamper Rupert Murdoch’s plan to acquire the 61% of the business he doesn’t own – Fox owns 39% of Sky. His bid currently stands at £24.5bn.

Under the deal that Fox has with Disney, however, Murdoch must gain consent to raise his bid for Sky.

There’s also a chance Disney may decide it wants to own the 61% of Sky not already owned by Fox.

Sky’s independent committee has reportedly recommended shareholders accept Comcast’s offer.

READ MORE: Comcast turns focus to Sky after exiting battle for 21st Century Fox

Morrisons looks to improve customer experience for autistic shoppers

Morrisons has commited to a weekly “quieter hour” as it looks to improve the customer experience for autistic shoppers.

As part of the move, 439 of its UK stores will dim lights, turn off music and check-out noises, and avoid using the tannoy during 9am and 10am on Saturdays.

The introduction of the initiative follows trials earlier this year at its outlets in Lincoln, Woking and Gainsborough.

During the hour stores will put up signs to let other customers know what is happening and ask them to respect the fact it is trying to create a calm environment for shoppers.

While Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda have trialled schemes or run initiatives on a store-by-store basis, Morrisons is thought to be the first supermarket to roll something out on a company-wide basis.

Toy retailer The Entertainer does, however, operate a similar scheme.

READ MORE: Morrisons ‘quiet hour’ for autistic shopping introduced

Thursday, 19 July

Google

Google hit with record €4.34bn fine by EU

Google has been fined a record €4.34bn (£3.9bn) by the European Commission, which claims the company used its Android mobile operating system to illegally “cement its dominant position” in search.

Parent company Alphabet plans to appeal the sentence, which gives the organisation 90 days to change its business practices or face further penalties of up to 5% of its average global daily turnover.

Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the ruling would “change the marketplace”, by enabling manufacturers to sell smart devices using different Android operating systems to Google’s, such as Amazon’s Fire OS.

In a blog post Google chief executive Sundar Pichai claimed the European Commission’s decision “rejects” the Android business model, which is intended to create “more choice”, not less.

READ MORE: Google hit with €4.3bn Android fine from EU

Unilever profits weaken amid strikes and tough European market

unilever

FMCG giant Unilever has reported a fall in pre-tax profits for the first half of 2018 to €3.2bn (£2.85bn), down from €3.3bn (£2.94bn) for the same period in 2017.

The impact of a Brazilian transport strike and “weak pricing” saw sales dip during the first half of 2018, although underlying sales rose 1.9% in the second quarter of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017.

While emerging markets grew by 4.1%, such as in China where Unilever benefited from strong ecommerce sales, conditions in Europe remained tough due to a challenging retail environment and price deflation in several countries. Growth was weak in North America, particularly from “traditional channels”.

CEO Paul Polman says the business has driven growth through a mixture of “strong innovation” and continued expansion in future growth markets.

Having completed its exit from the spreads market, Unilever will focus on evolving its product offering in Europe and North America, as consumer demand surges for organic, natural, vegan, non-dairy and wellness products.

Sports Direct profits plummet 72.5%

Profit before tax at Sports Direct has plummeted by 72.5% to £77.5m due to the “£85.4m impact” of the company’s “strategic investment” in Debenhams and income from the sale of its JD Sports share and the Dunlop brand. Sports Direct currently holds a 29.7% stake in the struggling department store.

In the year April 29 2018, the retailer’s total group revenue increased by 3.5%, although revenue from its sport retail division fell by 2% in the UK and 0.1% in Europe. However, revenue from premium lifestyle retail surged by 42.7% thanks to an increased store portfolio and online sales.

During the period Sports Direct invested £140m in property, down from an investment of £317m in 2017, in order to fulfil its strategic priority to “elevate” its sports retail proposition.

In response to the results Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley said he was “pleased” that his company had been named among the ten companies with the “most improved reputation in the UK”.

Uber hires first chief privacy officer

Uber has hired its first chief privacy officer responsible for the “development and implementation” of privacy standards, procedures and processes in each market where the ride hailing app operates.

Ruby Zefo will assume the role on 6 August, moving from her position as chief privacy and security counsel at Intel.

She will be joined by TomTom executive Simon Hania who will become Uber’s first data protection officer, independently overseeing the ride hailing company’s compliance with GDPR. The role of data protection officer is mandated by the EU’s GDPR laws.

Uber will be looking to improve its record on data privacy following a series of breaches, which include a hack in 2016 affecting 57 million people worldwide. The company paid hackers $100,000 (£76,500) to delete the stolen names, phone numbers and email addresses of its customers, covering up the breach for a year.

It is also thought the ride hailing firm is beefing up its leadership team ahead of a possible IPO. These appointments follow the high profile departure in June of chief brand officer Bozoma Saint John, who left Uber after just a year to become CMO of entertainment company Endeavour.

READ MORE: Uber hires first chief privacy officer ahead of planned IPO next year

Gaucho restaurant group collapses, threatening 1,500 jobs

Cau Gaucho

The Gaucho restaurant group has fallen into administration, putting 1,500 jobs at risk across its 39-strong restaurant portfolio spanning the Gaucho and Cau chains.

The company blamed high debt levels and a complex legal structure for its inability to stay afloat, coupled with the “ongoing underperformance” of Cau, the future of which has been in jeopardy since May.

Launched in 2010, casual dining brand Cau has 22 restaurants across the UK, while higher end stablemate Gaucho operates 12 restaurants in London alone, along with a presence in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh, Dubai and Hong Kong.

The Gaucho group is the latest in a long line of causalities in the casual dining sector over the past year including Jamie’s Italian, Prezzo, Carluccio’s and Byron. In March the company behind Café Rouge and Bella Italia also posted a £60m loss.

READ MORE: Gaucho restaurant group collapses with 1,500 jobs at risk

EasyJet shrugs off strikes as revenues rise 14%

EasyJet

EasyJet revenues rose by 14% to £1.6bn in the third quarter to 30 June. Revenue generated through baggage costs alone rose by 21.1% to £328m, as passenger numbers swelled by 10%.

This is despite air traffic control strikes, primarily in France, which caused 2,600 flights to be cancelled and forced EasyJet to find 70,000 hotel rooms needed for stranded flyers, costing the company £25m more than the same period in 2017.

The airline said it expects the European-wide heatwave and the World Cup to have an impact on its overall performance during the summer season. Even so EasyJet is predicting higher than anticipated annual profits of £550m-£590m.

Going forward the airline will be operating with a fleet of bigger and greener Airbus planes – the A321neo – which can hold 49 more passengers than the A320, is reportedly 50% quieter on takeoff and landing, and 15% more fuel efficient.

READ MORE: EasyJet raises profits forecast as spring revenues soar

Wednesday, 18 July

amazon advertising

Subscriptions for UK streaming services leapfrog pay TV

UK streaming services such as Amazon, Netflix and Sky’s NowTV has overtaken pay TV services for the first time, marking a major shift in the TV industry.

According to a new report by Ofcom, the number of UK subscriptions to the three most popular online streaming services – Netflix, Amazon Prime and Sky’s NOW TV – reached 15.4 million in the first three months of this year.

During the same period the number of subscribers to pay TV services like Sky and BT only reached 15.1 million.

The report also reveals revenue from pay TV fell (by 2.7% in 2017 to £6.4bn) for the first time in almost a decade. While revenue for the three main streaming services climbed 28% to £2.3bn in 2017.

“The research finds that what we watch and how we watch it are changing rapidly, which has profound implications for UK television,” Sharon White, chief executive of Ofcom, says.

“We have seen a decline in revenues for pay-TV a fall in spending on new programmes by our public service broadcasters and the growth of global video streaming giants. These challenges cannot be overestimated.”

The news comes despite reporting yesterday (17 July) that Netflix missed its subscriber targets for the second quarter of 2018.

READ MORE: Netflix and Amazon become more popular than pay TV services 

Calls for tougher regulation of alcohol marketing via social media

alcohol marketing

There are calls for a crackdown on drinking venues and alcohol brands using social media to market their products and services to young people.

According to a report, produced by a research team from the University of Bath and University of Birmingham, less than 2% of posts by brands (and no posts by venues) included messages to ‘drink responsibly’ triggering calls for the regulatory body to up its monitoring systems.

Meanwhile drinking venues posted to social media more often than alcohol brands during the research period (May and June 2016) and 18 to 25-year-olds are more likely to follow venues rather than brands on social networks.

Dr Richard Piper, the chief executive at Alcohol Research UK and Alcohol Concern, says social media marketing plays a significant role in reinforcing our “problematic drinking culture.”

“We need a more responsive and more effective regulatory system, that protects young people. The current regulatory system is not fit for purpose and we need a comprehensive review that fully addresses the significant challenges that digital marketing brings. In particular, the regulation of alcohol marketing must have statutory accountability,” he adds.

Piper goes on to argue alcohol marketing regulation should form part of the government’s new national alcohol strategy.

Direct Line enlists comedian Richard Herring for podcast

Direct Line is joining forces with comedian Richard Herring to launch a three-part ‘Good CARma’ podcast which aims to discuss karma on our roads and the way drivers treat one another.

Dr Gary Wood – psychologist, author and Direct Line’s head of carma – and Herring will also explore the idea that driving not only impacts us on the road but in our day-to-day lives and relationships.

The project is designed to celebrate Direct Line’s revamped ‘No Claim Discount (NCD)’ which will include new measures on how discounts will be calculated.

“Good karma is all about taking action to pass on something good. Working with the brilliant Richard Herring on the ‘Good Carma’ podcasts, it was great to raise a smile as well as awareness that it doesn’t take much to make or break someone’s day. It’s a serious point made by poking fun at life’s absurdities. Little random acts of kindness and courtesy can really make a difference,” Dr Wood says.

The podcast will be available on Spotify, iTunes and Google Play.

Diageo tops list for women in executive roles

Diageo has topped the 2018 Female FTSE Board Report, by Cranfield University, for women in executive roles, with the drinks giant saying it will continue championing diversity.

According to the report Diageo has the highest percentage of women on its board, as well as six in its executive team. However, the report revealed the number of women holding senior jobs in the boardrooms of the UK’s biggest companies has fallen.

Diageo’s chief human resources officer Mairead Nayager says: “At Diageo we firmly believe that diverse and inclusive businesses perform better. This year our board achieved gender parity, our executive committee is made up of 40% women and we have ambitious goals to increase the number of female leaders across our business.”

Earlier this year Diageo was also recognised was also ranked fifth in the Thomson Reuters Global Diversity and Inclusion Index.

READ MORE: Female FTSE index

Poundworld to close dozens more stores

Struggling discount goods retailer Poundworld has revealed plans to close 40 more stores on 24 July putting more than 500 jobs at risk.

The company went into administration in June and has already unveiled plans to close 105 of its 335 stores after failing to secure a rescue deal. Two rescue deals have failed so far, one which involved the company’s founder Chris Edwards offering to buy about half of its stores and the other featuring Alteri investors who eventually withdrew from takeover talks.

“We would like to thank all the employees for their continued support and commitment during this difficult time. We are keeping staff appraised of developments as they happen,” Clare Boardman, joint administrator, says.

According to reports Poundworld employed about 5,100 people and has made 1,800 redundancies since it went into administration.

READ MORE: Poundworld to close 40 more stores

Tuesday, 17 July

M&S plans to cut more jobs

Marks & Spencer looks set to cut a further 350 jobs in stores around the country in an effort to streamline the struggling business.

According to documents seen by the Guardian, the retailer has been consulting on redundancies across a range of roles and is planning to reduce store, commercial and operations managers by 115, make 182 section managers redundant and reduce the number of visual managers by 54.

While sales activity across M&S stores has fallen by 7.5% over the past two years, management costs have risen, which M&S says has “contributed to reducing store profitability, impacting on our ability to trade our existing stores and open future stores viably”.

M&S announced in May that it will close more than 100 stores by 2022; however, last week it said this would not necessarily be the end of its efforts to restructure.

A spokeswoman for M&S said: “M&S is transforming and this is a tough but necessary decision to take to ensure our stores support the future of the business and provide the best service for our customers.”

READ MORE: Marks & Spencer has plans for further 300 job cuts to reel in costs

Netflix shares plummet as subscribers slow

Netflix shares were down by more than 14% on Monday after the company reported that subscriber growth in the second quarter was the same as last year.

Netflix added 5.2 million subs in the three months to the end of June – one million less than it had forecast.

In a letter to investors, Netflix said it had been a “strong but not stellar quarter” and that its strategy will be to “simply keep improving” as competition from the likes of Apple, YouTube and Amazon continues to grow.

“We believe that consumer appetite for great content is broad and that there is room for multiple parties to have attractive offerings,” it said.

However, the company warned that subscriber growth in the third quarter will likely be around 5 million – again, lower than analysts’ expectations of 6.3 million.

READ MORE: Netflix shares plunge as subscriber growth stalls

Uber being probed for gender discrimination

Uber

Uber is being investigated by US authorities following complaints about gender discrimination.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been interviewing both current and former employees since August 2017 for information on hiring practices, pay disparity and other gender-related matters.

An Uber spokesperson says: “We have proactively made a lot of changes in the last 18 months, including implementing a new salary and equity structure based on the market, overhauling our performance review process, publishing diversity reports and providing training to thousands of employees.”

READ MORE: Uber investigated over gender discrimination

‘A moment of collective dyslexia’

The British Dyslexia Association and Leo Burnett London are using facial detection technology on out-of-home screens to give members of the public an idea what it’s like to live with dyslexia and encourage a more dyslexic-friendly society.

The longer people look at the screens, the more jumbled the words and letters become – which is triggered by technology which can measure audience attention time as people stop to read the text.

A Moment of Dyslexia was awarded the charity first prize in Ocean’s annual digital creative competition. It is running for two days on Ocean’s digital OOH screens on The Loop in Birmingham and the Eat Street screen at Westfield London.

“This simple campaign captures perfectly the dynamic capability of digital out of home and how DOOH screens can respond to and engage with people in the moment,” says Helen Haines, head of marketing at Ocean.

“On this occasion, the combination of technology and location with long form copy which you don’t normally find on large format screens demonstrates the power of the right message in the right place at the right time.”

Mazda signs deal with Film4

Mazda and Film4 have signed a sponsorship deal that will see Mazda films show every night on Film4 at 9pm for the next two years.

The idents, created by creative agency Antidote, build on the automotive brand’s ‘Drive Together’ campaign, which looks to celebrate memorable journeys with family and friends.

Two sets of idents, totalling 20 different executions shot in various locations around Scotland, have been made for the flagship film, while three 20-second edits will run as part of a digital pre-roll campaign on All4.

Claire Andrews, marketing director, Mazda UK says: “The 9pm film every night on Film4 is a place for family, friends and loved-ones to spend time together watching a great movie. We all know that feeling. Our films beautifully highlight a similar feeling of togetherness.”

Monday, 16 July

unilever

Unilever begins talks with shareholders over HQ move

Unilever has begun talks with one of its most important shareholders over plans to move its British headquarters.

The FMCG giant is said to be speaking to the Leverhulme Trust — which is the second biggest holder of its UK-listed shares and is overseen by a number of former Unilever grandees— Sky News reported.

Unilever is currently based in both the Netherlands and the UK but said it would base itself in Rotterdam in order to simplify the business and prevent a hostile takeover.

Leverhulme Trust’s support is said to be crucial to the move with the company still needing shareholders’ approval.

READ MORE: Unilever grandees open talks with Dove-maker over HQ shift

PM promises extra investment in aerospace industry after Airbus threat

ryanair

Prime minister Theresa May has promised extra investment for the aerospace industry, just days after Airbus threatened to reduce its UK presence because of Brexit.

The prime minister is to tell aviation bosses at the Farnborough Airshow today, that her Brexit plan will secure millions of aviation jobs in the UK.

May is expected to say: “By working closely together, government and industry have ensured we remain at the forefront of civil aviation and that our air power is second to none.”

She is going to offer more than £300m of government money for several projects, including research on more environmentally-friendly aircraft. Plus, extra money for two new spaceports in Cornwall and Scotland.

READ MORE: Theresa May pledges to boost UK aerospace amid Brexit concerns

AA’s top marketer leaves one year after assault

AA’s head of insurance Mike Lloyd has quit — one year after being punched by the group’s former chairman.

Lloyd, who also has responsibility for marketing, digital and public affairs, is leaving after four years with the business despite originally being tipped to lead it, according to the Times.

Last year, Lloyd faced widespread newspaper coverage after his boss, then AA chairman, Bob Mackenzie was dismissed for “gross misconduct” for punching him at a company event.

The altercation was rumoured to be over a proposed plan to merge AA’s insurance business with rival Hastings.

Simon Breakwell, AA chief executive, says: “After four years with the AA, Mike Lloyd, chief executive of AA Insurance Services and chief commercial officer, has decided to leave at the end of the year. This has already been communicated internally and to key external partners. Mike continues to input into some strategic projects and is transitioning his responsibilities. This is an amicable departure that we are very open about and we wish Mike well.”

READ MORE: AA executive who was punched by chairman decides to quit

Debenhams under fresh pressure from insurers

Debenhams is under more pressure after it was revealed that credit insurers have reduced cover for its suppliers.

Insurers use credit insurance to protect themselves from the risk of not being paid and have said to tighten their terms with the department store showing a lack of trust. 

Leading insurer, Euler Hermes, is among those to have reduced cover, according to a report by the Sunday Times.

It comes a month after Debenhams issued its third profits warning this year, announcing plans to sell Magasin du Nord, the Danish department store, to try to strengthen the business. 

In a response to the report Debenhams acknowledged market conditions were “challenging” but said it had “a clear strategy in place”.

READ MORE: Debenhams denies cash crunch problem

Adidas joins plastics crusade and commits to only using recycled plastic by 2024

Adidas has vowed to use only recycled plastics on all its shoes and clothing by 2024 in a commitment to sustainability.

The sportswear brand has promised to get rid of “virgin” polyester in the next six years but warned that the change could not happen overnight.

Eric Liedtke, head of Adidas’ global brands, tells the Financial Times: “Our goal is to get rid of virgin polyester overall by 2024.” But he adds: “We cannot make the transition overnight.” 

In 2016, the company launched the first mass-produced running shoe made from recycled water bottles and sold 1 million pairs of its recycled Ultraboost Uncaged Parley trainer last year.

This year has seen more companies commit to getting rid of plastic, especially in the food and retail sector, with Iceland, Evian and many others promising to reduce their plastic intake.

READ MORE: Adidas vows to use only recycled plastics by 2024

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