Coca-Cola, Amazon, Kleenex: 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.

Kleenex removes ‘mansize’ branding from tissue boxes

Kleenex has vowed to remove the ‘mansize’ branding from its tissue boxes after seeing a growing number of complaints that the name is sexist. Instead the product will be rebranded as Kleenex Extra Large.

The company introduced ‘Kleenex for Men’ in the 1950s but consumers’ shifting perceptions has forced the brand to reconsider.

A spokesperson for the company explained the brand has been characterised by a much larger tissue size which is “both soft and durable” and offered a disposable alternative to handkerchiefs during that era.

“To this day, it remains one of our most popular products, with over 3.4 million people buying the tissues every year,” the spokesperson added.

“We are always grateful to customers who take time to tell us how our products can be improved, and we carefully consider all suggestions. Thanks to recent feedback we are now rebranding our mansize tissues to Kleenex Extra Large.”

READ MORE: Kleenex drops mansize branding after complaints

Amazon creates more than 1,000 jobs across the UK

Amazon Advertising

Amazon is investing in British talent after revealing its plan to create more than 1,000 jobs, 600 of which are “highly skilled” roles. The positions, which have been described as the “Silicon Valley jobs in Britain”, will be spread across three cities – Manchester, Edinburgh and Cambridge.

Those 600 in “highly skilled roles” will be working on software, machine learning and Amazon’s cloud computing business in Manchester while the tech giant will also expand its development centres in Cambridge and Edinburgh, adding 180 new roles and 250 roles in each city respectively.

Amazon’s UK country manager Doug Carr has taken on the new role of ‘Silicon Valley jobs in Britain, while Liam Fox, international trade secretary, claims the new positions were an “enormous vote of confidence in the UK”.

Amazon is expected to have more than 27,000 employees across the UK by the end of this year.

READ MORE: Amazon creates 1,000 ‘highly skilled’ jobs in three UK cities

Coca-Cola and McLaren Racing to join forces for F1 season

Coca-Cola and McLaren Racing are teaming up for the remainder of the 2018 Formula 1 season as the drinks giant aims to “connect with youth”.

As part of the partnership, the F1 cars will be branded with Coke’s logo. For instance, Coca-Cola and its sub-brands including Dasani Sparkling and SmartWater, will be represented on the two McLaren race cars as well as featuring on the kits worn by race car drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Coca-Cola’s vice-president of sports partnerships, Ricado Fort, says both companies are “innovators” and are looking to further connect to youth.

“This partnership will guide us to what our customers, markets and consumers are craving from this high octane passion,” he adds.

Coca-Cola will feature at the USA, Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix.

New Look to close its last 120 stores in China

New Look is to close the remainder of its 120 stores across China by the end of the year as the struggling retailer continues to feel the pressure.

The company’s Shanghai-based head office is also destined to close shortly after.

It is believed New Look is currently reviewing its other international markets in France, Belgium and Poland, and recently closed 60 of its 593 UK stores.

A company spokesperson says: “Despite substantial investments in China in recent years, performance has been below expectations and this business has not achieved the necessary sales and profitability to support the significant future investment required to continue these operations.”

New Look employs more than 700 people in China and only entered the county four years ago.

“Having reviewed the trading performance of our business and the substantial investment required to continue operations in the market, we have made the difficult decision to exit our stores in China,” New Look’s executive chairman Alistair McGeorge says.

READ MORE: New Look to close remaining 120 stores in China and pull out of country

Struggling chain Gourmet Burger Kitchen axes controversial ‘curry war’ campaign

Gourmet Burger kitchen has removed its controversial ‘Curry Wars’ activity from social media, after severe criticism.

As part of the campaign, employees of the struggling burger chain take to standing outside Indian restaurants holding signs, one of which reads ‘Masala, this is a curry war and it’s going to get spicy’. The man in the advert can be heard saying, “these [burgers] are proper Indian and these [restaurants] are curry lies.”

The video has been met with harsh criticism from social media users who suggest Gourmet Burger Kitchen should take the ad down because it is an attempt to steal customers from small businesses.

The controversial advert is designed to showcase the fast-food company’s Ruby Murray Burger.

The chain also recently reported £2.5m in losses.

Thursday, 18 October

unilever

Unilever sales up as price increases beef up results

Unilever saw sales grow 3.8% year on year in its third quarter, as price increases boosted performance and didn’t hit volume growth.

Volume sales were up 2.4% while from price point of view sales were up 1.4%. Unilever says growth was “high quality”, with all three divisions showing an improvement. However, turnover was impacted by currency fluctuations, as well as the disposal of its spreads business.

At its personal care business, which includes brands such as Dove, sales were up 4% year on year, while sales in home care increased 4.5%. A warm summer also helped Unilever’s food business, where sales were up 3.2%.

CEO Paul Polman says: “Growth accelerated in the third quarter across all divisions. We were able to increase prices whilst still maintaining good volume growth, which reflects the strength of our brands and quality of our innovation programme. Our focus on building our business for the long-term continues to deliver high quality growth.”

Facebook accused of misleading advertisers

A group of US advertisers have accused Facebook of intentionally misleading marketers about the problem of overstated video watch times on paid video ads for more than a year, according to court documents.

The accusations date back to 2016, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook had been miscalculating time spent with paid video ads by between 60% and 80%. Facebook said at the time that there had been a problem for about a month but it had been fixed.

However, a class-action lawsuit filed in 2016 but that were just opened, claims that Facebook knew about the court problem for at least a year before it was made public and did nothing. According to Adweek, the filing cites internal Facebook communications they say show Facebook engineers were aware of the miscalculation as far back as July 2015. It also claims paid video ad metrics were inflated by between 150% and 900%, much more than Facebook announced.

Facebook denies the claims, with a spokesperson saying: “This lawsuit is without merit, and we’ve filed a motion to dismiss these claims of fraud. Suggestions that we in any way tried to hide this issue from our partners are false. We told our customers about the error when we discovered it—and updated our help centre to explain the issue.”

READ MORE: Facebook Hid Inflated Video Ad Metrics Error for Over a Year, Advertisers Allege

Online retail sales experience lowest growth for four years

Online retail sales in the UK dropped to their lowest September growth for four years last month as warm weather and a “tightening” of wallets hit spending.

For the third quarter, growth dropped to 10.1%, compared to 17.1% in the prior quarter, and the lowest level so far this year, according to data from IMRG and Capgemini. Clothing felt the brunt of the slowdown, with sales growth of just 2.2%year on year, well below the five-year average of 7.4%.

Gifting, meanwhile, was down by 23%, the biggest drop since March 2010 and suggesting consumers have cut back on discretionary spending after a World Cup summer.

Sales via smartphones have also slowed, down from 55.8% last year to 16.1% in September. Sales via tablets plummeted 22.5%, compared to 8.1% growth last year.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG: “Sshopper confidence appears to have fallen at a time when numerous retailers are putting out profit warnings and announcing store closures.

“Meanwhile, several retailers have spoken publicly about the scale of discounting that has been active across various retail sites, meaning that the industry is already heavily involved in discounting before we even get near to Black Friday. The conversion rate was markedly down in September; could it possibly be that people are already browsing for ideas, in the knowledge that Black Friday will inevitably bring heavier discounts?”

P&G tests 3D printing for Gillette razors

3D printing Gillette razor

Procter & Gamble has partnered with startup Formlabs to test offering 3D-printed razor for its Gillette brand.

The pilot offers men and women the chance to buy a razor for between $19 and $45, depending on the materials used. Using the Razor Maker site, users can build their own razor handles, choosing between different colours, designs and materials.

The razors are then printed on Formlabs machines at Gillette’s HQ in Boston and delivered within two-to-three weeks.

There has been a lot of hype around 3D printing but as yet little practical use for consumers. While this is just a test, P&G will hope to learn more about what its customers want from a razor, as well as boosting engagement with key audiences.

Just Eat under fire for listing takeaway shops with poor hygiene ratings

Just Eat has been criticised for listing takeaway shops on its app that have a zero rating for food hygiene. An investigation by the BBC found that half the outlets in Manchester, Bristol and London with a zero rating appear appear on Just Eat, while in Birmingham it is 20 out of 31 and in Liverpool nine out of 13.

The investigation has led to calls for Just Eat to display a takeaways hygiene rating next to its entry on the app. Just Eat says it takes the issue “very seriously” and will trial a system such a system in Northern Ireland.

A hygiene rating of zero means the establishment is “in need of urgent improvement. The best score is five, for “food hygiene is very good”.

READ MORE: Just Eat listings include takeaways given zero ratings for hygiene

Wednesday, 17 October

netflix

Netflix adds seven million new subscribers

Netflix has posted stronger than expected growth in the three months to September after adding nearly seven million new subscribers. This brings its total number of members worldwide to more than 137 million.

This level of subscriber growth, which includes one million new members in the US and almost 5.9 million abroad, sets a third quarter record for Netflix. The streaming giant also saw its revenue rise by 34% year-on-year to nearly $4bn, as profits more than tripled to $403m.

Netflix now expects to add five million new members during the fourth quarter.

The news comes after a disappointing second quarter, which saw Netflix add 5.2 million subscribers in the three months to the end of June, short of its 6.2 million forecast.

The streaming service bounced back by premiering a record amount of new original series in line with its plans to spend $8bn on content this year, with more than a quarter devoted to Netflix original shows. According to BBC reports, Netflix is thought to have added 676 hours of original programming in the US during the three months to September, up 135% compared to the same last year.

In a letter to investors the streaming giant said it recognised it was making “huge cash investments in content”, but that it had “high confidence” in the underlying economics.

READ MORE: Netflix adds more subscribers than expected

Asos sales surge 26% as customer engagement rises

Asos-

Asos grew sales by 26% in the year to 31 August, posting strong growth both in the UK (up 23%) and internationally (up 27%).

The online fast fashion giant saw its number of active customers increase by 19% during the period, with the average basket value rising by 1% and order frequency up 7%. The total number of orders placed increased by 27% year-on-year to 63.2 million.

Revenue across the group rose to £2.4bn from £1.9bn the previous year, with profit before tax up 28% to £102m.

CEO Nick Beighton described it as “another year of substantial progress for Asos”, pointing to the retailer’s ability to deliver sales and profit growth while “investing heavily in the long-term potential of the business”.

He added: “Asos is moving fast and is as differentiated as ever. The potential for our business is huge and we remain focused on building Asos into the world’s number one destination for fashion loving twentysomethings”.

LadBible buys rival Unilad out of administration

Unilad-LadBible

Social media group LadBible has bought Bentley Harrington, the company behind rival viral news site Unilad, which went into administration earlier this month.

The acquisition of Bentley Harrington safeguards more than 200 jobs across Unilad’s offices in London and Manchester after the firm collapsed on 4 October with debts of £6.5m, including £1.5m owed to UK tax authorities.

According to reports in the Guardian LadBible is thought to have offered £12.5m to buy its rival, comprising of £7.5m plus a £5m credit for the Unilad debt owed to its founder, Alex Partridge. LadBible had already acquired the debt owed to Partridge on 4 October.

In a statement LadBible described the acquisition of Unilad as transforming “the media landscape worldwide”.

The company added: “Bringing these brands together makes us the largest social video publisher ever, and a youth media brand to be reckoned with, having over 120 million followers across our social channels. In August alone, our combined videos were viewed 4.5 billion times.”

Named as one of Facebook’s most popular pages last year, Unilad has 39 million followers on the platform. Founded in 2010, Unilad was shut down in 2012 before being relaunched in 2014 under co-chief executives Liam Harrington and Sam Bentley. Bentley stepped down in June following an internal investigation into historical conduct at the company.

READ MORE: Unilad web publisher bought by LADbible

Uber sets its sights on $120bn valuation

Uber could target a $120bn (£91bn) valuation when it floats on the New York stock market next year.

This valuation would make the ride-hailing app worth more than three times the value of heritage carmarker Ford and twice as much as electric car firm Tesla, despite having never made a profit.

Reports in the Wall Street Journal suggest Uber’s floatation would dwarf that of US rival Lyft, which also hopes to go public in 2019 with an expected valuation of more than $15bn.

Despite making sales of $7.5bn in 2017, Uber made a $4.5bn loss. According to the Guardian, value for investors is thought to come from Uber’s potential to expand its existing services in transport and food delivery, through its UberEats business, as well as use its tech know-how to explore different areas.

READ MORE: Uber targets $120bn valuation for 2019 flotation – report

ASA clamps down on “medicinal claims” about acne products

Clean-Clear-Johnson-and-Johnson

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints against Johnson & Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser (RB), Dermalogica and Feelunique for making medicinal claims about cosmetic skincare products.

Complaints were made against three ads for Johnson & Johnson’s Clean & Clear skin products, shown on cleanandclear.co.uk in January, including the assertion that the Advantage Spot Control Treatment Gel was “clinically proven to start clearing spots in just 4 hours”.

Issues were raised about claims stated on RB’s clearasil.co.uk website, seen on 15 November 2017, including that Clearasil Rapid Action Treatment Cream is “clinically proven to visibly reduce spot size and redness in as fast as 4 hours”.

Concerns were also voiced about claims made on the website of skincare company Dermalogica from 24 November 2017, which outlined the ability of its MediBac clearing product range to “treat, clear and prevent adult acne while addressing the needs of adult skin.”

Beauty website Feelunique also came in for criticism for a Google advert promoting “Acne Treatments” and a page on its website claiming to have “assembled the world’s top products to help you keep your skin clear”.

All four companies were criticised for making medicinal claims about unlicensed products and asked to remove any particular claims that stated or implied that their products could prevent or treat acne, or treat spots.

John Lewis branches out into private shopping experiences

Department store John Lewis is to launch a “private shopping” service at its new Cheltenham store, allowing consumers to have the shop to themselves outside trading hours for a £10,000 price tag.

The Guardian reports that staff will be available beyond normal shopping hours to help individuals, groups of friends or a family shop for items they desire, in the style of luxury boutique.

According to director of customer experience, Peter Cross, the idea is to bring “the intimacy, luxury and magic of personal shopping to the high street”.

Opening tomorrow, John Lewis’ Cheltenham store will offer a range of 20 different services including a personal shopping suite, featuring the retailer’s first men’s lounge. There will also be a new free of charge service called the Shopping List, which allows shoppers to book John Lewis staff to gather a specific basket of items or to help the consumer find the right gift.

READ MORE: John Lewis to launch £10,000 ‘private shopping’ service

Tuesday, 16 October 

Facebook ups transparency for political ads

Facebook is looking to crack down on ‘dark ads’ published by British political groups through the introduction of a series of transparency tools that it hopes will help restore trust following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

All political advertisers must now prove their identity, and as part of the changes all paid-for political content will automatically be logged in a public advertising library for up to seven years, so ads will no longer only be visible to those who are targeted by them.

Facebook will also be more upfront about who has seen ads, with plans to reveal the number of people who have viewed a certain ad, including their age, location and gender, as well as how much money was spent on it. The social network will not reveal how ads are targeted beyond this, though, meaning political groups can continue to target messages to specific groups using keywords and interests.

The same rules will apply to political advertising on Facebook-owed Instagram.

It is hoped the move will make it easier for journalists and the public to hold politicians to account ahead of the local elections next year.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission is urging the UK Government to press ahead with changes to the law so voters know who is targeting them online.

Responding to the UK Government’s ‘Protecting the Debate’ consultation, the Electoral Commission has suggested all non-printed election and referendum material should contain an “imprint” so that voters can see who is targeting them and any new regulations should also apply to online platforms, including any that launch in future.

The Electoral Commission also wants more power to obtain information from digital platforms, such as the identity of online campaigners, so it can better monitor, track and enforce the spending rules outside a formal investigation.

READ MORE: Facebook cracks down on ‘dark ads’ by British political groups

Airbnb hires former Nike and Burberry marketer to lead experiences business

Airbnb has chosen former Nike and Apple marketer Musa Tariq to head up its experiences division, which is focused on providing locally-driven excursions and activities.

As marketing director for experiences he will oversee all aspects of the marketing strategy, including brand, content, advertising, social and digital activity, with the ultimate goal of driving mass awareness and use. He has been tasked with ensuring the experiences brand is cohesively aligned with Airbnb’s overall brand and marketing strategy.

Tariq was most recently chief brand officer at Ford Motor Company. He started his career agency side working at JWT and Saatch & Saatchi before taking on international roles at Burberry, Nike and Apple where he was responsible for driving engagement and business growth, with a particular focus on social and innovation.

“I have always admired the company’s mission to belong anywhere and this exciting part of the business unlocks a completely new opportunity to continue to deliver on that promise,” he says.

“I am excited to join the rapidly growing experiences business and help more and more hosts turn their passions into unique guided activities that create enduring magical memories for our guests.”

Co-op launches ad to raise awareness of modern day slavery

The Co-op is “harnessing the power” of its brand to raise awareness of modern day slavery, with the launch of an ad campaign to mark Anti-Slavery Day on 18 October.

The black and white print ad, which will appear in the Daily Mail on Thursday, features the wording ‘The victims of modern slavery are coerced, trapped and exploited but we are working hard to give then a Bright Future’, nodding to the initiative it set up last year with charity City Hearts. The programme is designed to help people who have been rescued from slavery find employment by giving them a four-week paid work placement leading to a non-competitive interview.

Co-op

There are currently 15 companies and 20 charities working to support Bright Future, which have so far helped to find jobs for 50 people. The organisation hopes to place up to 300 people through the programme by 2020.

Helen Carroll, director of Co-op brand, says: “Our research shows that one in five remain totally unaware of modern slavery and the impact it is having is having in towns, cities and even rural areas across the UK at this very moment.

“That is why, together with City Hearts, we devised the Bright Future programme which gives victims a chance to re-build their lives.

“However, we believe that by harnessing the power of the Co-op brand we can also help to raise awareness of this heinous crime.”

Tesco doubles vegan range as demand for plant-based food soars

vegetarian

Tesco is more than doubling its Wicked Kitchen vegan range, launched earlier this year, as it says demand for plant-based alternatives is rocketing.

The supermarket, which is on a drive to help UK shoppers eat more healthily, says sales of its chilled vegan foods have increased by 25% this year, helping to swell the UK meat-free market to £310m.

Tesco’s product development director Kate Ewart says: “We know from our own data that ‘flexitarianism’ is on the rise and many more customers are dabbling in cutting out meat for a day or so during their weekly diet.

“With the new range we’re now hoping to attract an even wider audience including customers looking for on-the-go delicious snacks such as a plant based sausage roll, pie or pasty as well as dessert lovers.”

Grocery sales slump ahead of Christmas

Grocery sales have slowed as shoppers “set the reset button” after a record summer of spending and gear up for the busy Christmas period.

Data from Nielsen shows value sales growth slowed to 1.9% during the four weeks to 6 October, this is compared to 2.4% sales growth in September. Volume sales at the major supermarkets fell 0.6%.

Volume sales of own-label products are up 1.7%, while sales of branded products are down slightly at 0.3%, again suggesting shoppers are reining in spending and looking for cheaper alternatives.

Looking at individual supermarkets’ sales, comparing the last 12 weeks to the same period in 2017, Asda saw sales rise 2.9%, Morrisons 2.2%, Tesco 1.2% and Sainsbury’s 0.6%, with all four promoting price cuts over the past four weeks.

Waitrose and Marks & Spencer’s grocery market sales growth slowed to 0.2% compared to the same period last year, while Aldi grew 12.7% and Lidl by 7.2%.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight, says: “The beginning of autumn has signalled an objectively disappointing, though not entirely unexpected, slowdown in sales. But keeping in mind retailers had such a strong summer period, it’s likely shoppers are pressing the reset button after a season of excess.

“The warmer weather also potentially has shoppers delaying the need to stock up and hunker down for the colder months. This paired with recent increases in fuel prices and energy bills, which are having an impact on household budgets has meant shoppers are becoming more cautious about their spending.”

Monday, 15 October

Shell to ramp up clean energy drive

Shell is looking to “turbocharge” its move into the clean electricity market, having pledged to cut its carbon emissions by a fifth.

CEO Ben van Beurden says the pledge is about the “longevity” of the company and is therefore an “existential issue” and “not about being altruistic”.

“It is a highly charismatic part of our business, but it’s also very small,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

“I wouldn’t say that we have a deadline, because much of it will depend on how society wants to change, but I would imagine that the way things are going by the early 2020s we will know whether the hypothesis holds, and whether we therefore want to turbocharge this business.

“The biggest calling card we have is scale. We can scale much faster than anyone else.”

READ MORE: Shell to ‘turbocharge’ its clean energy drive

Sears files for bankruptcy

US retailer Sears has filed for bankruptcy, with billionaire CEO Eddie Lampert stepping down with immediate effect.

Once the US’s largest department store chain, the 125-year-old company had been relying on Lampert’s own money to stay afloat. However, his hedge fund ESL will continue to invest in Sears.

“ESL invested time and money in Sears because we believe the company has a future,” ESL and Lampert said in a statement on Monday morning.

142 of 700 stores will close before the end of the year.

READ MORE: Sears files for bankruptcy, Eddie Lampert steps down as CEO

Topshop unveils AW18 campaign

Topshop is hoping its new autumn winter campaign will help to “bring the brand to life”.

Shot in New York, the campaign features a line-up of eight ‘trailblazing’ models, each individually expressing how they ‘Topshop It’.

“For our creative approach we wanted to bring the brands to life; Topshop IT is a celebration of what makes us unique; championing our customers’ individuality, exploring what fashion means to them and how they style our pieces to express themselves,” explains creative director David Hägglund.

“It is eye-catching, full of vibrant colour and has a youthful spirit. We will be using video, photography and music across high impact billboards and digital channels, pushing boundaries to make this a truly 360 global campaign.”

The line-up includes Presley Gerber, Duckie Thot, Dilone, Anwar Hadid, Cara Taylor, Adonis Bosso, Birgit Kos and Sofia Mechetner.

Co-op Bank launches new marketing campaign

The Co-operative Bank has got customers to talk about what they value most about the bank in its latest marketing campaign to show its “commitment to its customer-led ethical policy”.

Customers will give their thoughts on why they choose products and services from the bank, and how much they value the policy.

“It’s really powerful when customers who are proud to bank with us, tell others in their own words what it is about The Co-operative Bank that makes us different to the other banking brands in the market,” explains marketing director Alastair Pegg.

“We have a loyal customer base and we want to ensure that they continue to see that the values and ethics of the bank are strong and very much part of the bank today. We also want them to know that we continue to listen to them and welcome their views.”

Running for five weeks, the mostly digital marketing campaign will be focused on surfacing messages through Sky AdSmart and with targeted adverts through catch-up TV.

The campaign will also be supported through programmatic video, sponsored ads and organic content through social media. The Co-operative Bank will also be using YouTube Premium for the first time.

September footfall closes the quarter on a low

Footfall in September declined by 1.7% on the previous year, driven by the squeeze of increasing shop price inflation and little real wage growth.

According to the British Retail Consortium, high street footfall decreased by 2.2%, marking two months of consecutive decline. High street footfall fell in all regions, with Wales and Northern Ireland seeing the deepest declines at 7.9% and 6.1%, respectively.

Retail Park footfall growth slowed by 0.1% in September from 0.3% in August. The East saw a negative swing from +5.1% in August to -5.6%. Northern Ireland saw an end to its four-month growth, falling by 6.1%.

Shopping centre footfall continued to decrease, however at a decelerated rate: in September it fell by 2.5%, compared to August’s fall of 2.4% and July’s 3.4% fall. September is the 18th consecutive month of decline.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, says the figures are yet further demonstration of the increasingly difficult operating environment British retailers are facing.

“And yet, the country’s largest private sector employer is not seeing any action from government to help,” she says.

“The system is skewed towards high taxes on people and property which is contributing to store closures and job losses, stalling the reinvention of our high streets. The government urgently needs to reduce the business rates burdens and create a tax system fit for the 21st century that more fairly distributes taxes right across the economy.”

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