Amazon, Coca-Cola, RBS: 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.

Amazon launches rewards program for companies

Amazon has launched a new loyalty program that gets companies to reward users with Amazon gifts.

Amazon Moments launched in 100 countries on Thursday (14 February) and works by allowing companies to reward certain actions or “moments” from consumers, such as a renewing a subscription, with digital and physical Amazon gifts.

Once the brand has picked a “moment” it can set campaign dates, identify the target customer, add a product or reward package before customizing the promotional messages and reward landing page Every time the action is completed, the brand pays Amazon.

The scheme has already got 20 companies on board including TikTok, USA Today and the Washington Post with customers on average two to three times more likely to complete actions according to results from the pilot. Amazon has created a catalog of “millions” of products that developers can choose from to incentivise customers including gifts from third-party vendors.

The news comes as Amazon announced that it will not build its new headquarters in New York, after backlash from campaigners. The u-turn is just months after the firm named New York City one of two sites selected for major expansion over the next decades.

City and state leaders had agreed to provide about £2.3bn in incentives to secure the deal but the subsidies prompted fierce backlash from local politicans and activists.  Amazon said its plans to build a new headquarters required “positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long term”.

READ MORE: Amazon Moments lets developers reward customers with actual gifts, not just virtual ones

Magazine market falls

The overall magazine market is in decline according the latest the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures with newspaper’s circulation also continuing to decline.

The worst hit newspaper was the Sunday People which saw a drop of 18% year on year to 159,836. This is followed by the Daily Star, which fell 16% to 329,97. No paper saw an increase in circulation but Metro and London Evening Standard suffered the lowest losses, with a decline of 3%.

The Guardian and Observer’s circulation fell by 7%, behind The Times (5%), Sunday Times (6%) and Financial Times (5%).

The worst hit title in the women’s lifestyle market was Cosmopolitan, recording a fall in circulation of 31.6% year on year, down from 302,500 in the first half financial year of 2018 to 240,400 readers in the second. However, it wasn’t all bad news with its digital circulation increasing by 40.5% compared to 2017 reaching 11,400 readers.

Free men’s magazine Shortlist was axed last year but ended up leading the market in category as the year closed, reaching a circulation of nearly 503,300 readers, up 0.1% year on year.

RBS profits more than double as it celebrates digital success

Royal Bank of Scotland has reported profits of £1.62bn for 2018, more than double the £752m it made last year.

The bank, which is majority owned by the government, said it would pay £977m to the Treasury through dividend payments.

The bank said the switch from physical to digital services was continuing to grow rapidly with  6.4 million of the bank’s customers now regularly used its mobile app, 16% higher than in 2017.

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said: “This is a good performance in the face of economic and political uncertainty.”

However, McEwan also warned abut the potential implications of Brexit saying the UK economy faced  “a heightened level of uncertainty related to ongoing Brexit negotiations”.

READ MORE: RBS’s 2018 dividend better than expected as profits double

New Patisserie Valerie owners want to ‘refresh and renew’ the brand

Patisserie Valerie has been bought out of administration with the new owners promising to “refresh and renew” the Patisserie Valerie brand

Irish-based Causeway Capital Partners said it had bought a “heritage brand”  with the investment firm promising to try to keep all 96 sites open.

Patisserie Holdings – the listed parent company said they had been sold for £13m in total, a fraction of the £450m the group was once worth.

The rescue deal comes days after Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley walked away from talks to buy the failing sweet treats chain. Costa Coffee, Caffè Nero and Leon had also reportedly shown interest.

Patisserie Valerie went into administration last month, blaming its financial difficulties on “very significant manipulation” of its finances. It suspended its finance chief Chris Marsh in October, and he subsequently resigned after being arrested and bailed by police.

READ MORE: Patisserie Valerie rescued by Irish investment firm, saving 2,000 jobs

Coca-Cola loses fizz as shares tumble

Coca-Cola shares have tumbled after the drinks giant reported a disappointing projection for its 2019 earnings

Coca-Cola said it expected organic revenue growth of 4% in 2019, a point lower than last year. The gloomy outlook caused stock prices to sink and this morning shares had declined by 8.38% – its worst since shares fell 8.67% in 2008.

CEO James Quincey said higher tax rates, currency fluctuations and volatility in overseas markets will all be major difficulties in 2019.

Quincey said on an investor call yesterday: “We are seeing the impact of some increasing uncertainty and volatility in global macroeconomic conditions. Consumers are under more pressure as we head into the new year.”

Quincey’s warnings come after CEO of McDonalds, Steve Easterbrook noted “tightening economies and shifting political environments” as reasons to be cautious with projections.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola warns on slowing sales growth

Thursday, February 14

Heineken

Alcohol-free beer bolsters Heineken’s sales growth

Heineken has reported its strongest sales growth in more than a decade thanks to the launch of its non-alcoholic beer range.

The beer giant says sales of its leading brand climbed 7.7% last year, helped along by the growing success of Heineken 0.0 (alcohol free) which was rolled out to 38 markets last year. The company’s shares also jumped almost 5% as the profits exceeded expectations.

Additionally, operating profits grew 6.4% to £3.4bn.

Jean-François van Boxmeer, chief executive at Heineken, said: “In 2018 we delivered another year of superior top-line growth. Going into 2019, we expect the environment to remain uncertain and volatile.

“Overall, we anticipate our (underlying) operating profit to grow by mid-single digit on an organic basis.”

Heineken, which owns Tiger, Sol and Strongbow cider, says total revenues rose 5.9% on an organic basis to £23.5bn.

Sales of its international brands such as Tiger and Desperados enjoyed double-digit growth, as did cider volumes which saw mid-single digit growth in the UK. While low and no-alcohol brands grew high-single digit due to the continued success of Heineken 0.0 and Radler.

Marketers’ top concern is finding in-house media talent

Sourcing talent to boost their media capabilities was marketers main concern last year, according to research by ID Comms.

The reports indicates there’s a perception large-scale advertisers need to invest more in the capability to handle digital media in-house, suggesting a shift in attitudes during the last two years. When the same questions were asked in 2016, the main concern marketers faced was the quality of agency talent.

“One reason for the greater emphasis on in-house talent is not just the industry debate around transparency, but the realisation that as media gets higher on the corporate agenda, marketers’ in-house teams often don’t have a complete grip on many of the issues thrown up by the shift to digital and biddable media buying,” Susy Pyzer-Knapp, consultant at ID Comms, says.

Confidence in internal talent being able to meet advertisers evolving marketing needs has declined, with just 14% of respondents having high and very high confidence, compared to 22% in 2016.

Some 74% of agency respondents say their internal advertiser media talent does not sufficiently meet their current media needs.

Despite this, agencies appear more confident in their ability to meet changing needs. Since 2016 there has been an increase to 35% in the number of respondents who have very high confidence in the ability of agencies to handle whatever the media market throws at them.

Nestlé reveals full year results and outlines strategic plan

Nestlé has revealed its full year results which show organic sales grew 3% in the full year, accelerating to 3.7% in the final quarter, likely supported by growing momentum in the US and China.

Total reported sales increased by 2.1%, net acquisitions had a positive impact of 0.7% and foreign exchange reduced sales by 1.6%. The company’s net profit also grew by 41.6% to 10.1bn Swiss Franc, supported by an improvement in operating performance.

Nestlé says it also plans to explore “strategic options” for its Herta cold cuts and meat-based products as “a further step in positioning the portfolio towards attractive high-growth categories”.

“We are pleased with our progress in 2018. All financial performance metrics improved significantly and we saw revived growth in our two largest markets, the United States and China, as well as in our infant nutrition business,” Mark Schneider, Nestlé CEO, says.

“Nestlé keeps investing in future growth and – at the same time – has increased the amount of cash returned to shareholders through our dividend and share buyback program.”

He adds that the company made significant progress in its portfolio transformation and sharpened its group’s strategic focus, strengthening key growth categories and geographies in the process.

Schneider says Nestlé is also increasing it focus on nutrition, health and wellness.

“Our unique Nutrition, Health & Wellness strategy, with food, beverage and nutritional health products at its core, has become much clearer as we completed a sizeable number of transactions and announced strategic reviews for Nestlé Skin Health and Herta,” he says.

Nestlé has also today unveiled its first product lines under the Starbucks name as part of a $7bn deal made six months ago.

Pret and Monzo team up to offer Valentine’s Day treat

Loyalty

It’s seems Pret A Manger and Monzo are feeling the love.

The grab-and-go food chain is teaming up with the disruptor bank to offer consumers free Love Bars when they pay for a product using their Monzo card.

The move comes after Monzo, the UK’s fastest growing bank which has almost 1.5 million users, revealed its customers shopped at Pret 3.6 million times in 2018, more than any other grab-and-go food brand.

Julia Monro, head of digital and communications at Pret says the team wanted to thank Monzo users for being such loyal customers.

“We were amazed to learn that Monzo users are such big fans of Pret and we wanted to say a little thank you in return. Our teams are looking forward to sharing some extra love with them for Valentine’s Day,” she says. 

Customers can pop into any participating UK Pret shop between 8am-6pm today (14 February), pay for their items using Monzo before showing their card to staff member to redeem their free Love Bar.

Asics launches recycling scheme to halve global emissions

Asics has committed to a 55% reduction in global emissions by collecting and recycling used sportswear through a new scheme and partnership with I:Collect.

As part of the scheme, a product recycling programme will be implemented at eight of Asics’ largest events in Europe this year including the Paris and Stockholm marathons, as the sportswear company aims to more than halve the production of greenhouse gases by the year 2030.

The initiative will launch at the Barcelona Marathon on 10 March, before heading to seven other major European cities.  Asics say it will also ensure that any merchandising and promotional apparel developed for the races is made from sustainable materials.

Romy Miltenburg, manager CSR and sustainability for EMEA at Asics, said: “As a product driven company, shifting to more sustainable materials and engaging our customers and consumers on our journey to a circular business model are at the heart of our sustainability strategy.”

“Working on our global programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the Science Based Targets initiative, we have identified that more than 80% of our CO2 emissions originate from the processes and materials we use to create our footwear and apparel and end of life treatment of sold products.”

The company is also calling on runners and supporters to return their used sports apparel and footwear at the Barcelona Marathon Expo or at the Barcelona flagship store and receive a discount voucher that can be used on a future purchase.

Additionally, the initiative comes after Asics revealed 30,000 pieces of sports apparel will be collected from consumers in Japan and will be recycled and transformed into the Olympic uniforms for the national team.

Wednesday, February 13

Ikea

Ikea eyes launch of sales platform for multiple homeware brands

Ikea is exploring the possibility of launching a website that sells its own furniture alongside rivals’ products as it looks to gain a stronger foothold in ecommerce.

Torbjorn Loof, chief executive of Inter Ikea told the Financial Times he believes there is an opportunity to launch something that sits between its own site and third-party sites such as Amazon.

He says: “What are the opportunities between the dominating, big, global platforms, and the company website? I think there are tonnes of opportunities.”

He singles out German site Zalando, which has become Europe’s biggest online fashion retailer and sells multiple brands, as a great example of how it could be achieved.

While Ikea is not yet in talks with any of its competitors, Loof says the retailer is keen to be involved in the launch of any furniture-focused sales platform.

It is, however, finalising the details of its first test selling on third-party sites, such as Amazon and Alibaba.

READ MORE: Ikea looks to launch sales platform that would include rival products (£)

Rizla ad banned for implying smoking is ‘safe’

Rolling paper brand Rizla has had two outdoor ads banned by the advertising watchdog for suggesting smoking is safe and appealing to under-18s.

The brand, which is owned by Imperial Tobacco, says the ads were designed to inform Rizla users of improvements to its product packaging, which prevents rolling papers from becoming creased and damaged. The first ad shows two models inside locked safes in the green and blue colours of Rizla with the word “safe” in graffiti-style writing on the wall directly behind them.

The second poster features two people with cardboard boxes over their heads with drawn-on facial expressions, standing in front of a wall which has the word “protect” graffitied on it.

Imperial Tobacco says the use of the word safe in the first ad was intended to emphasise the fact its new packaging better protects the product, but the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) believes people would likely interpret the use of the word in this context to suggest smoking with Rizla rolling papers is safe, rather than assuming it is related just to the packaging.

It says in its ruling: “Because the use of the word ‘safe’ suggested that smoking was safe, and this could encourage people to smoke or increase their consumption, we concluded the ad breached the Code.”

The fact both ads use graffiti and colourful imagery was also deemed by the ASA to appeal to under-18s.

“We considered the use of graffiti in both ads, and the term ‘safe’ in [the first ad], which is also a slang term commonly used by young people [and] associated with youth culture, would resonate with and appeal to people under 18,” the ASA says in its ruling.

Both ads must not appear again in their current form and Rizla must ensure that future ads do not suggest smoking is safe or feature content that is likely to appeal to children under 18.

A separate ad posted on Rizla’s Facebook page also received two complaints, challenging whether the ad encouraged people to start smoking and whether it was targeted inappropriately, which was not upheld.

P&G is the UK’s biggest advertiser, while Unilever drops out of the top three

Procter & Gamble (P&G) spent £186.5m on traditional advertising in the UK last year, making it the nation’s biggest advertiser, according to data from Nielsen.

Sky is the UK’s second most prolific advertiser, spending £124.2m in 2018 across TV, radio, cinema, press and outdoor. Both P&G and Sky’s ad spend has declined from 2017, however, when they spent £196.4m and £177.5m respectively.

By contrast McDonald’s has upped its ad spend in the UK from £95.7m in 2017 to £122.7m last year, meaning it jumps two spots to third. BT (£109.3m) and Amazon (£87.5m) complete the top five.

Unilever, which was the third biggest spender in 2017 on £116.8m, drops back to seventh having spent a total of £82.9m on traditional advertising in 2018. It is the first time it has fallen out of the top three in the past five years.

Advertisers in the UK spent a total of £8.6bn on traditional advertising in 2018, down from £8.7bn the year before.

“With traditional advertising spend down 1.41% from 2017, our latest data highlights the changing advertising strategies from the biggest brands and retailers,” says Barney Farmer, UK commercial director at Nielsen.

“However, it’s interesting that the rise and fall of advertising spend doesn’t seem to be consistent within sectors. While most supermarket retailers have opted to reduce spend, Asda and Tesco increased their spend, and this is the same for finance, with HSBC and NatWest dropping spend but many others continuing to show increases in year-on-year spend. There are many factors influencing this, from hardening budgets due to Brexit, to competition within the sector. There are likely to be some interesting times ahead.”

Pepsi calls on Messi and Salah for Champions League campaign

Pepsi has launched a campaign featuring Leonel Messi and Mohamad Salah to support its ongoing partnership with the UEFA Champions League.

‘Last Can Standing’ sees the Barcelona and Liverpool players compete for the last can of Pepsi by trying to out do each other with trick shots and skills challenges.

The campaign features the brand’s new international platform and tagline ‘For The Love Of It’, and will be seen in more than 65 countries around the world in the lead up to the Champions League final in Madrid.

“The new ‘For The Love Of It’ platform is our rallying cry and connects all we do. As a brand we have authentically loved and harnessed our fans’ passion for football for decades. This year’s campaign realises fans’ love for all the unexpected in the game and brings together the sport, players and beverage people all around the world love,” says Natalia Filippociants, vice-president of marketing for global beverages at PepsiCo.

Apple to launch ‘Netflix for news’ next month, reports suggest

Apple is set to launch its paid-for subscription service Apple News on 25 March, according to BuzzFeed.

The event, which will take place at the Steve Jobs Theatre on its Apple Park campus, is expected to focus on the tech giant’s service business, rather than hardware, so next generation AirPods or a new iPad Mini are unlikely to make an appearance.

Apple reportedly plans to claim 50% of the monthly subscription fee from the service, which has been dubbed ‘Netflix for news’, with the rest being divided among participating publishers depending on how many people read their content.

READ MORE: Apple plans news event for March 25

Tuesday, 12 February

piracy

Anti-piracy initiative launches to protect brands’ advertising

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) is launching an inititiave in Europe that aims to protect brands from association with pirate content.

The initiative, Project Brand Integrity, alerts advertisers or their agencies when ads run on pirate sites in Europe. Launched through a partnership with White Bullet, it will monitor and document when ads appear on infringing sites and inform the advertiser.

TAG launched a similar project in the US in 2016 that it claims has helped reduced ad impressions on pirate content sites by more than 90% and eliminated all ads from premium brand advertisers.

“If you are a brand advertiser, the skull-and-crossbones isn’t just a pirate movie trope. It accurately reflects the toxic danger of associating your brand with stolen content and criminal activities on pirate sites,” says Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG. “Project Brand Integrity will serve as an early warning system for advertisers and their agencies, so we can alert them when their ads have run near stolen content and help them implement effective safeguards to prevent it from happening again.”

Debenhams secures cash injection in latest bid to save brand

Debenhams has secured a cash injection of £40m in the latest bid to save the struggling brand.

The cash, which was secured from its banks and bondholders, should give the department store chain more time to arrange longer-term refinancing and its store closure plan. It had struggled to reach a deal because of difficult trading conditions, with the company issuing three profit warnings last year.

Sergio Bucher, Debenhams CEO, says: “The support of our lenders for our turnaround plan is important to underpin a comprehensive solution that will take account of the interests of all stakeholders, and deliver a sustainable and profitable future for Debenhams.”

However, he warned this was just a “first step”, with Debenhams continuing talks to get a more comprehensive deal. Any process is likely to involve the closure of a number of its 165 stores.

READ MORE: Debenhams secures £40m lifeline as it battles for survival

Burger King owner looks to expansion as sales growth slows

Restaurant Brands International, the owner of restaurant brands including Burger King and Tim Hortons, is plotting global expansion as it looks to boost sales growth.

Systemwide sales – a measure of sales at its owned restaurants and franchisees – were up 7.4% year on year in 2018, a slowdown from the 7.9% growth in 2017. The company has seen sales growth slow in the US for Burger King, while growth was flat at Tim Hortons in its home market of Canada. And so the company is opening up restaurants and partnering with franchisees in Europe, including the UK, Asia and Latin America, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We’re still severely underpenetrated and have tonnes of white space to grow in most markets around the world, including right here in the US,” chief executive José Cil says, referring to Burger King.

For the three months to the end of December, net income fell to $163m, while revenue increased 12% to $1.39bn. Cil took over as CEO of RBI just three weeks ago, having previously led Burger King.

READ MORE: Burger King’s Parent Aims for More Global Growth (£)

Competition watchdog delays decision on Sainsbury’s and Asda merger

Sainsbury's

The competition watchdog is delaying its decision on proposed merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda for almost two months as it struggles with the scope and complexity of the investigation.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is pushing the deadline back to 30 April, saying it needs to consider issues raised by both supermarkets and third parties. It adds that it also needs more time to ensure it reaches a “fully reasoned final decision”.

“It is necessary to allow sufficient time to take full and proper account of comments that will be received in response to the inquiry group’s provisional findings and to reach a fully reasoned final decision,” says the CMA.

Sainsbury’s and Asda had already issued a plea for more time to respond to concerns about the takeover which, if approved, would create the UK’s biggest supermarket chain. However, for the deal to go through it is likely that Sainsbury’s and Asda stores would need to be sold off, although current estimates of how many vary between 70 and 300.

That would leave an opportunity for other grocers to move in. Iceland managing director. Richard Walker told the Financial Times that he would make a move for some stores if the merger goes through.

Advertisers disproportionately investing digital media dollars in Facebook, says study

Advertisers are spending a disproportionate amount of their digital ad dollars on Facebook when compared to how much time users are spending on the social network, according to new figures.

The data, compiled by eMarketer, shows that the average US adult spent 6.5% of their daily digital media time with Facebook in 2018, with that number rising to 9% on non-voice mobile. In addition, users spent 2.4% of their time on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

Yet Facebook accounted for 20% of all US digital ad revenues in 2018. That number increased to 28% of mobile ad revenues last year. Narrowing that focus to display only, Facebook accounted for 40% of the US digital display ad market.

Facebook saw revenues soar last year despite a number of challenges around data privacy and brand safety. In the US, average revenue per user was up nearly 30%, with that number rising despite usage “stagnating”. Emarketer says the growth is in part down to higher ad loads and Facebook charging higher prices for the same ads due to improved targeting capabilities. It is also likely that its ad network the Facebook Audience Network boosted revenues.

“Whatever the reason, the upshot is that advertisers end up paying more for the average Facebook user’s attention,” says eMarketer.

IAB calls on brands to stop using click-through rates to measure effectiveness

The IAB UK is calling on brands to move past click-through rates as a way to measure the effectiveness of digital advertising.

In a letter sent to more than 100 advertisers, including brands such as BMW, Diageo and Sky, the IAB urges marketers not to be “clickheads” and to instead embrace National Anti-Click-Through Rate Day (NACTRD). The tongue-in-cheek messages aims to get the industry talking about how best to measure the effectiveness of online media and highlight some of the current failings.

It comes as the IAB launches its measurement toolkit, which aims to showcase best practice and offer guidance on measuring digital advertising alongside other media.

IAB UK CMO James Chandler says: “Advertisers increasingly rely on click-through-rates to justify their marketing spend to the CFO but it’s not a reliable metric for effectiveness and only tells half the story. That’s why our message to the industry today is simple: don’t be a clickhead.”

Monday, 11 February

Patisserie Valerie

Mike Ashley pulls out of Patisserie Valerie bid

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has pulled out of its bid for Patisserie Valerie just two days after entering the battle to buy the cafe chain.

Ashley is said to have walked away from negotiations on Sunday after making a late bid for the business reportedly worth more than £15m, the Guardian reports.

Sports Direct described itself as being “at a serious disadvantage as a bidder”, after claiming it has been shut out of the bidding process by not being allowed access to a “data room, any financial information or meetings with management”, according to the Financial Times. The sportswear group said it would therefore have to rely on financial information in the public arena, which it was “at best unreliable”.

However, it is understood that Sports Direct was given access to the data room after tabling its first offer.

Ashley made his play for the cake chain on Friday, after the deadline for the first round of bids closed on 1 February. However, the Guardian reports that his bid of £15m was considered too low. The offer was for Patisserie Holdings, Patisserie Valerie’s parent company, which also includes Druckers Vienna Patisserie, Philpotts, Baker & Spice and Flour Power City.

Patisserie Valerie fell into administration last month after a £40m gap was uncovered in its finances. To date administrator KPMG has closed 71 of its 200 cafes and concessions, causing 900 jobs to be lost with a further 2,800 at risk if the chain cannot secure a buyer.

READ MORE: Mike Ashley withdraws his surprise bid for Patisserie Valerie

Paris to sue Airbnb for £11m over ‘illegal listings’

The city of Paris is bringing a £10.8m lawsuit against Airbnb over the alleged listing of 1,000 illegal rentals.

Speaking on Sunday, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, explained that while the city did not mind citizens renting their home for “a few days a year”, it does have a problem with residents treating it like a business.

French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche quotes Hidalgo as saying the issue is with “multi-owners who rent all year-round apartments to tourists without declaring them, and the platforms, accomplices, who welcome them.”

Under French law homeowners cannot rent their properties out for more than 120 days a year in certain cities such as Paris. The law came into force after criticism that sites like Airbnb were pushing up house prices or leading to a shortage of homes in some areas.

Owners using Airbnb are required to register their properties with local authorities and display the registration number in their listing on the site. Residents not adhering to the law could each be fined €12,500 (£10,921).

READ MORE: Paris is suing AirBnB over 1,000 illegal rental listings

Just Eat told to merge with ‘well-run industry peer’

Just Eat

A shareholder in Just East has told the takeaway ordering site that it should consider a merger rather than relying on a new CEO to turn the business around.

Reuters reports that Cat Rock Capital Management LP, which owns 1.7% of Just Eat shares, believes the business should merge with a “well-run industry peer”, citing a poor record of CEO selection in the past.

Just Eat CEO Peter Plumb stepped down with immediate effect on 21 January after 16 months in the role. Joining from MoneySavingExpert.com, Plumb coordinated the upgrade of Just Eat’s technology and oversaw the investment in its own delivery service as pressure intensified from rivals Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

However, at the time of his resignation the Guardian reported that Plumb had caused disquiet from “multiple top shareholders” after he did not foresee “increased profit margins from the business in the coming year and failed to make a persuasive case for investment”. Just East chief customer officer, Peter Duffy, is currently serving as interim chief executive.

READ MORE: Just Eat shareholder calls for merger talks

Mastercard debuts sonic brand identity

Mastercard has unveiled a new sonic brand identity that will sit across the physical, digital and voice elements of the brand.

According to Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer, the sound adds a “powerful new dimension” to the brand identity, which is “adaptable globally and across genres”.

Using a variety of instruments and tempos the Mastercard melody, designed in collaboration with Mike Shinoda of rock band Linkin Park, comes in a number of styles such as operatic, cinematic and playful, as well as several regional interpretations. According to Mastercard the sonic identity is locally relevant, while maintaining a consistent global brand voice.

The melody will extend to musical scores, sound logos, ringtones, hold music and point-of-sale acceptance sounds. The sound identity is also being used in a new multichannel marketing campaign featuring singer Camila Cabello, which launched to coincide with last night’s Grammy Awards, of which Mastercard is a sponsor.

The launch of the sonic brand identity comes a month after Mastercard announced it was removing its name from its logo to become a “symbol brand”.

Retail footfall slumps for 14th consecutive month

Footfall fell by 0.7% in the four weeks to 26 January, which despite being up on the 1.6% dip recorded during the same period last year, still represents the 14th month of consecutive decline.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures suggest that the slight boost is down to the school holidays extending further into January and retailers focusing on discounting in their physical stores.

During the period high street footfall fell by 0.7%, marking six consecutive months of decline. This was, however, up on the previous year when footfall fell by 1.9%.

The BRC figures show that footfall to retail parks was down 0.3% in the four weeks to 26 January, while shopping centre footfall fell by 0.9%.

The national town centre vacancy rate was 9.9% in January 2019, up from 8.9% in January 2018. Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive, noted that the increased vacancy rate would be a cause for concern for many shopping destinations.

“The data reflects the underlying pressures which continue to challenge shops up and down the country. Retail is undergoing a seismic shift, with technology changing the way we shop,” she said.

“Consumers are making fewer visits to physical stores, choosing to research and pay for a greater proportion of their purchases online. This requires a reinvention of retail, with outlets investing in their physical space to encourage a more experience-led approach to shopping – something which is being held back by sky high business rates.”

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