Saga, Google, Viewability: 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.


Saga appoints new marketing director

Over-50s’ brand Saga has appointed Stuart Beamish as its new group marketing director, replacing former Tesco chief creative officer Matt Atkinson, who left in December to join The Co-operative Group as its chief membership officer.

Beamish has been with Saga since December 2016, when he joined  marketing director for Saga Holidays and Cruises. His previous employers include Barclaycard, British Airways and BMI.

Beamish said: “It’s an exciting time for us as we develop new initiatives to reward, retain and grow our customer base, building on the significant strengths Saga has established over many years.”

In a 2016 interview, Atikinson told Marketing Week that Saga was then in the midst of “reinventing [its] products and services, and communicating that change”, in order to to appeal to a target customer who is 65 years old but feels 35.

READ MORE: Former Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson on his new role reinventing Saga for today’s over-50s

UK online ad viewability rises

Viewability of online display ads in the UK has jumped above that of Switzerland, Poland and Germany to 56%. The rise in the fourth quarter of 2017 – up from 52% in the previous three months – is the third consecutive quarterly increase recorded by analytics company Meetrics.

The research uses the same definition of viewability as the IAB and Media Ratings Council: 50% of the ad must be in view for at least one second. The average time UK ads are in view also rose in Q4 by 15% to 24.3 seconds.

Meetrics CEO and co-founder Philipp von Hilgers said: “The jump is particularly impressive as in most markets viewability drops in the final quarter due to higher activity – driven by Christmas – which leads to lower-quality placements resulting in lower viewability, so the UK has done very well to override this trend.”

Having said that, the UK’s viewability still lags some way behind that of Austria (67%), Italy (63%), France (62%) and Sweden (61%).

Google bids to wipe out useless retargeting

Google has launched a new feature as part of its ad settings that allows consumers to ‘mute’ repeatedly shown ads that they find annoying. It is aimed particularly at what Google refers to in a blog post as “reminder ads” – known to most marketers as retargeted ads.

Jon Krfcik, Google’s group product manager for data privacy and transparency, wrote: “Today, we’re rolling out the ability to mute the reminder ads in apps and on websites that partner with us to show ads. We plan to expand this tool to control ads on YouTube, Search, and Gmail in the coming months.”

He added that while retargeted ads can be “useful”, they are superfluous for anyone who is no longer in the market for the product in the ad, which they would previously have viewed on an ecommerce site. The development is likely to help marketers as well as consumers, as it will reduce the money wasted on impressions shown to people who aren’t prospective buyers when their frequency cap for retargeted impressions has not yet been met.

Gambling commission seeks to fine brands for ad breaches

paddy powerRegulation of gambling ads could soon have more powerful enforcement from the sector’s statutory regulator, the Gambling Commission, after it proposed taking on the ability to fine brands that break the advertising codes.

These are policed by the ad industry’s self-regulatory body, the Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA can order brands not to repeat ads that break the codes, or demand that media owners no longer accept ads from repeat offenders, but it cannot levy fines.

Gambling Commission executive director Sarah Gardner explained the reasons for the consultation on fines and other proposed changes, which runs until 22 April: “We are proposing these changes because of the risk of consumer harm, concern about lack of compliance with consumer protection legislation, declining public trust in gambling and concerns about advertising.”

The ASA has previously revealed to Marketing Week that it is putting particular focus on scrutinising how gambling brands use affiliates and promotions in advertising.

READ MORE: Gambling Commission seeks powers to fine companies for advertising breaches

Asos boosted by online ‘try before you buy’ model

Online fashion brand Asos saw UK sales rise an impressive 23% in the last four months of 2017, with credit given to its model of allowing consumers to order clothes for delivery but only pay for the ones they keep. “Twentysomethings play their debit and credit card cashflows, so being able to try on fashion without being charged is a much better scenario for them,” said CEO Nick Beighton.

Asos’s UK sales hit £300.9m in the period, while international sales soared 35% to £489.5m. It took 20.2m orders, 30% up on 2016, and customers also spent 3% more per order. The rise in Asos’s share price last year means it is now worth more as a business than Marks & Spencer.

READ MORE: Asos ‘try before you buy’ brings bumper Christmas sales

Thursday, 25 January

Budweiser is one the beer brands owned by AB InBev.

Bud commits to 100% renewable energy

Budweiser has committed to brewing all its beers around the world with 100% renewable energy by 2025, and is introducing a logo to labels to indicate when this requirement has been met.

The US is the first market to meet the target so will roll out the logo on all labels by the beginning of spring this year. The logo will be introduced to other markets, including the UK, as they reach 100% renewable electricity in their beer brewing operations.

Budweiser is encouraging other brands that make products using 100% renewable energy to adopt the symbol to raise awareness tackle climate change on a larger scale.

Brian Perkins, global VP at Budweiser, says: “We know that climate change is an important issue for consumers. However, they aren’t sure how their everyday actions can make a difference. The renewable electricity symbol helps consumers make smarter everyday choices that can have a positive, meaningful impact.”

Some 41 million Budweisers are sold on average every day around the world, and switching it’s brewing operations to renewable electricity is equivalent to taking 48,000 passenger cars off the road every year.

The move is in line with parent company AB InBev’s commitment to source all purchased electricity from renewable sources.

Budweiser is the latest brand to highlight it’s sustainability credentials to consumers. It joins brands such as Iceland, Evian and Pret which have all pledged to eliminate or reduce plastic use in recent weeks.

Fever-Tree overtakes rival mixer brand Schweppes

The fizz is not fading for tonic water brand Fever-Tree as it expects full-year sales to hit £169m, a 66% increase on last year, thanks to an “exceptionally strong” performance in the UK.

Sales in the UK are expected to be 96% higher than 2016 after the brand overtook rivals to become the country’s number one mixer brand, with a 43% share of the market in the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Schweppes, which is owned by Coca-Cola, now has a 31% share.

Tim Warrilow, co-founder and chief executive, told The Telegraph he is particularly proud of the given attempts by its competitors to refresh their image. Schweppes unveiled a new look last year and Britvic launched its London Essence variant in an attempt to claw back sales.

The boost sees the premium mixer brand deliver its 12th profit upgrade since listing in 2014.

READ MORE: Fever-Tree issues its 12th profit upgrade as a sales almost double

Theresa May puts pressure on social media giants to ban extreme content


Theresa May will urge shareholders to force social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook to do more to tackle terrorism and ban extreme content, during her speech to business leaders in Davos today (25 January).

The prime minister will call for tech companies to take more action to identify and take down extremist content. She will suggest investors have a responsibility to pressure them to do so.

May is expected to say: “These companies simply cannot stand by while their platforms are used to facilitate child abuse, modern slavery or the spreading of terrorist and extremist content.”

She believes investors can “make a big difference” by ensuring trust and safety issues are being “properly considered”.

READ MORE: May calls on social media giants to do more to tackle terrorism

UK ad spend sees record 2017

Ad spend in the UK hit £22.1bn in 2017, up 3.4% on 2016, according to preliminary figures released today (25 January) by the Advertising Association and Warc.

It represents the eighth consecutive year of growth, and another record year of spending on advertising.

The £22.1bn figure is an upgrade from previous estimates of 3.1% growth for the year from October 2017. The UK’s 2017 ad spend total is equivilent to a 4.8% share of global spend and makes the UK the fourth largest advertising market in the world after the US, China and Japan.

Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association, says UK ad spend is predicted to grow 2.8% in 2018.

“UK advertising is an economic powerhouse, generating £6 for every £1 spent. And the success of the UK as a global hub for advertising is founded on our creative talent – both home grown and from overseas.

“As 2018 progresses, the AA aims to encourage growth in advertising across the nations and regions of the UK, and to continue to make the case for the best deal possible from Brexit negotiations for our industry to ensure it remains a world leader.”

Arsenal signs first cryptocurrency sponsorship deal

Arsenal has become the first major global sporting team to sign a sponsorship deal with a cryptocurrency. The London-based Premier League club has officially partnered with the US cryptocurrency CashBet, which will see it promote the firm’s initial coin offering (ICO) at the Emirates stadium.

It comes as concerns continue to mount around the dangers of consumers investing their savings in unregulated virtual currencies, however.

Regulator the Financial Conduct Authority warned consumers last year that they risk losing their money if they invested in Bitcoin.

The FCA has not commented on Arsenal’s decision to promote a cryptocurrency, but a spokesman told The Guardian it was planning to “conduct a deeper examination of the fast-paced developments” of ICOs and would take “further regulatory action” if necessary.

In an ICO the issuing company accepts a cryptocurrency in exchange for “tokens” in the venture, which can represent a share in a firm or a prepayment voucher.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

READ MORE: Arsenal seals cryptocurrency sponsorship deal 

Wednesday, 24 January

Kimberly-Clark to cut 5,000 jobs

Kleenex-maker Kimberly-Clark its to cut at least 5,000 jobs and close or sell 10 manufacturing plants in a move affecting 12% of its workforce.

The company said the restructure would streamline its supply chain, saving at least $500m by the end of 2021, in addition to a further $1.5bn of cost reductions. Chief executive Thomas J Falk said the restructure, which is expected to cost as much as $1.9bn by 2020, will make Kimberly-Clark “leaner, stronger and faster”.

The company is simultaneously investing in improving its digital offering in order to drive growth in markets like China, where more than half of sales are made online.

The cost saving initiatives come in the wake of poor results during the fourth quarter of 2017, when the organisation saw sales rise by just 1%.

Kimberly-Clark has been forced to cut prices in order to compete with branded rivals and store own brands, while at the same time raw material costs have increased. The company has also been hit by declining birth rates in key markets, such as the US and South Korea, resulting in reduced demand for nappies and other associated products.

READ MORE: Kleenex-maker Kimberly-Clark to cut at least 5,000 jobs

Twitter COO departs for CEO role at SoFi

Twitter chief operating officer (COO) Anthony Noto is leaving the business to become CEO at online finance company SoFi.

Noto joined the social media organisation in 2014 and is credited as being the man behind the company’s push into live video programming. The news of Noto’s departure caused Twitter’s shares to fall more than 2.5% on Tuesday.

In January 2016 the company experienced a similar loss of high profile names as media boss Katie Jacobs Stanton, product head Kevin Weil, head of the engineering division Alex Roetter, HR head Brian Schipper and the head of Twitter’s video streaming service, Jason Toff, all left in the same month.

READ MORE: Twitter COO Anthony Noto departs to become CEO at SoFi

Virgin Trains opts for short form ads to drive conversion

Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains is launching a series of 10 second ads designed to celebrate the benefits of taking the train over cars or planes.

Running alongside re-runs of last year’s “cinematic style” TV adverts, the new short-form ads have been designed to drive conversion with a disruptive feel and colloquial tone. Created by agency Anomaly and inspired by the visual style of graffiti artist Jamie Reid, the full campaign will run nationally across TV, cinema, VOD, radio, OOH, DOOH and digital.

Virgin Trains has also developed a specially targeted campaign for Leeds, after data showed people travelling from the Yorkshire city tend to leave it late to buy their tickets and therefore perceive trains to be expensive. To tackle this perception problem the Leeds campaign encourages consumers to “Buy Before”, using the image of a wise owl as seen in the city’s coat of arms.

Consisting of TV, radio, print, DOOH and social, the localised campaign will run until the middle of March.

Tesco incentivises customers to pay via mobile with app push

Tesco shopper and store

Tesco is incentivising consumers to pay via mobile by linking enhanced Clubcard rewards to its payment app.

Shoppers using the Tesco Pay+ app will be eligible to collect one additional Clubcard point for every £4 spent in store or at a Tesco petrol station until 28 February.

Automatically linked to the user’s Clubcard account, the Tesco Pay + digital wallet allows customers to link to multiple payment cards and pay for shopping up to the value of £250 per individual transaction.

The supermarket claims the app is growing in popularity with consumers, having been used in over eight million transactions across the Tesco estate to date.

McLaren announces multi-year CNBC partnership


Formula 1 racing team McLaren has signed a multi-year partnership with global business news network CNBC.

Announced in Davos, McLaren said the CNBC deal would greatly enhance the brand’s ability to target a global business audience and raise the profile of Formula 1 amongst the network’s 301 million strong monthly audience.

While the terms of the deal were not confirmed, the companies will team up on content projects and commercial activity in a bid to promote both brands.

Tuesday 23 January


Asda to review entire advertising business 

Asda is overhauling its entire advertising business, including its media, creative and digital accounts.

Chief customer officer Andy Murray has kicked off a procurement process, which will lead to the consolidation of its agency roster. The move is an attempt to better “engage with customers across channels, both physical and digital”.

“The next step in our journey is to create an agency partner ecosystem that helps us drive growth in a new way of working, where big creative ideas come to life in ways that match how we want to engage with customers across channels, both physical and digital,” Murray says in a blog post.

Bacardi to take control of premium tequila brand Patrón in $5.1bn deal

Bacardi has bought premium tequila brand Patrón Spirits International in a deal worth around $5.1bn. The spirits giant already owns 30% of Patrón, which it acquired in 2008, but the transaction will mean it controls 100% of the business.

The deal makes Bacardi, which also owns Bombay Sapphire gin and Grey Goose vodka, number one spirits player in the super-premium segment in the US and the second largest spirits company in the market by value, according to recent data by research firm IWSR,

The transaction follows Diego’s acquisition of George Clooney’s tequila brand Casamigos last year in a deal worth $1bn.

READ MORE: Bacardi to take control of tequila maker Patrón in $5.1bn deal (£)

First hijab-wearing model in L’Oréal haircare campaign quits

The first woman to wear a hijab in L’Oréal’s haircare campaign has quit after a series of controversial tweets were unearthed.  UK beauty blogger Amena Khan announced she was stepping down from L’Oréal’s campaign after her tweets from 2014 were branded “anti-Israel”. In one of the posts she referred to Israel as as a “child murderer”.

Amena Khan’s appearance in the brand’s latest advertisement was seen as a step in the right direction for diversity as she was the first woman to be photographed wearing a hijab for a mainstream haircare line. In a statement she said she “deeply regrets”  the tweets, which have since been deleted, and that they “do not represent the message of harmony that I stand for”.

A spokesperson for L’Oréal Paris said: “We appreciate that Amena has since apologised for the content of these tweets and the offence they have caused. L’Oréal Paris is committed to tolerance and respect towards all people. We agree with her decision to step down from the campaign.”

This is not the first time that L’Oréal has faced controversy over its influencers. In September 2017, L’Oréal faced a backlash when it fired black trans activist Munroe Bergdorf after she made comments on Facebook addressing racism and white supremacy

READ MORE: L’Oreal hijab model pulls out of campaign after backlash

Netflix’s valuation passes $100bn 

Netflix’s valuation passed $100bn for the first time last night after it announced it had added 8.3 million subscribers in the fourth quarter. Its shares increased by 8.4% in after-hours trading leading to their landmark valuation.

Netflix’s strategy has been to create popular original content such as Stranger Things while also streaming iconic older shows such as Friends. This has seen  rapid growth in new customers but also ensured it retains current users.

Reed Hastings, chief executive, says: “We believe our big investments in content are paying off. We’re growing faster than we expected.”

READ MORE: Netflix tops $100bn valuation as it draws in more customers

EasyJet’s Paul Moore to join ITV as group corporate affairs and communications director

Paul Moore, easyJet communications and public affairs director, is joining ITV as group corporate affairs and communications director. Moore has been with easyJet for seven years and was a key member of the management board that saw a renewed customer focused strategy for the airline company.

Carolyn McCall, ITV chief executive and former easyJet CEO, says: “Paul brings with him a wealth of PR experience and communications expertise and will be a real asset to ITV as we refresh the strategy and plan for the future.”

Prior to joining easyJet Moore was group public affairs and communications director for FirstGroup, the world’s largest private sector transport operator.

The recruitment process for his successor at easyJet has already started and Moore will join ITV once that process has been completed. 

Monday 23 January

Amazon opens first checkout-free food shop

Amazon its opening its checkout-free grocery store, Amazon Go, to the public for the first time today (22 January). The store, which is based in Seattle, allows shoppers to scan their smartphone with the Amazon Go app as they enter the store through a turnstile. They can pick out the items they want and leave, with the app checking out all the items and paying.

The store combines machine learning and cameras to tell what people are leaving the store with and what they have put back. It opened to Amazon employees in late 2016, but its public opening was delayed to allow the company to improve the technology.

READ MORE: Amazon set to open doors on AI-powered grocery store

YouTube sets up ‘intelligence desk’ to identify inappropriate content

YouTube is creating what it calls an ‘intelligence desk’ as it looks to proactively police inappropriate, illegal or offensive content on its site. The desk will use Google data, user reports, social media trends and third party consultants to detect unwanted content early, according to BuzzFeed, which obtained a briefing sent to advertisers.

The move is part of efforts by YouTube to make its platform safer for both users and brands following a series of scandals and advertiser boycotts.

READ MORE: YouTube Is Assembling New Teams To Spot Inappropriate Content Early

P&G struggles to contain Tide Pods meme

Procter & Gamble is facing a challenge to halt a social media trend that sees teenagers film themselves biting into its Tide Pods washing up liquid. The company has tied up with Tide spokesman and NFL star Rob Gronkowski to create a digital safety PSA urging them not to eat the pods.

P&G says it has also been working with YouTube and Facebook to remove the harmful content, with both companies vowing to remove any videos showing the practice.

READ MORE: P&G Grapples With How to Stop a Tide Pods Meme (£)

Dixons Carphone boss leaves for Boots

The boss of the UK’s largest electricals retailer, Dixons Carphone, is leaving to take the top UK job at Boots. Sebastian James has been the CEO at Dixons Carphone since its inception following the merger of Dixons and Carphone Warehouse. His new role is president and managing director of Boots, and senior vice president as its US owner Walgreens Boots Alliance.

James’ move follows a period of turbulence for Dixons Carphone as its business takes a hit as people wait longer to upgrade their phones. It is set to release its Christmas sales figures tomorrow.

Dixons Carphone has already lined up a successor, with Shop Direct boss Alex Baldock set to join.

READ MORE: Dixons Carphone hires Shop Direct’s Baldock to top role after chief executive quits for Boots

Trust in business up, but social media takes a hit

Trust in businesses is higher than trust in government or the media and nearly on a par with trust in NGOs, according to the latest annual Edelman trust barometer. The survey finds that 43% of people trust businesses, with business the most trusted institution in 10 of the 28 countries surveyed.

However, consumers want to see companies take the lead on change, with 60% saying they expect business to do the right thing rather than waiting for government or regulators to impose new rules. Example where this hasn’t been the case include energy, financial services and the gig economy.

Trust in social media companies has also taken a hit due to concerns over fake news. Just 24% of the British public say they trust them and a third believe socia media are good for society, while seven in 10 think they don’t do enough to stop illegal or unethical behaviour on their platforms.

Facebook on Friday revealed plans to prioritise what CEO Mark Zuckerberg called “trustworthy” news sources in its news feed, with the public decided what is trustworthy.

Ed Williams, chief executive of Edelman UK, says “The public want action on key issues related to online protection, and to see their concerns addressed through better regulation. Failure on their part to act risks further erosion of trust and therefore public support.”

READ MORE: Trust in business bosses jumps as social media become the biggest bogeymen



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