Children are being put at risk by leading apps, research finds
Leading apps, including TikTok, Twitter, Snap and Instagram, are putting children in danger online and breaching the UK’s new Children’s Code, according to an investigation by 5Rights.
The children’s digital rights charity, which is chaired by Baroness Beeban Kidron, the member of the House of Lords who proposed the code, submitted its research to the Information Commissioner’s Office today. It analysed a total of 102 apps, including well known platforms as well as lesser known apps such as Omegle, Monkey and Kik.
It alleges design tricks and prompts are being used to encourage children to share their locations or receive personalised advertising. It suggests children are being subjected to harmful material about subjects such as eating disorders, self-harm and suicide and not enough measures are in place to check a user’s age before they are allowed to do things such as chat with strangers on video.
In addition, some apps are found to be sharing children’s data with gaming companies and other unrelated third-parties such as Google and Uber.
The Children’s Code, also known as the Age Appropriate Design Code, came into effect in August. The fines for breaching it are similar to the GDPR in that companies can be fined up to 4% of global turnover.
Kidron describes the behaviour of companies outlined by the research as “unacceptable”.
“The ICO guidance says it is unlikely the commercial interest of a company would ever outweigh the best interest of a child. We believe every single thing we put forward here, all the pages of this report, contravene the first standard of the code, which is: it is not in the best interests of the child,” says Kidron.
The ICO says: “Online companies have had a year to prepare for the Children’s Code, and should have now redesigned their services in children’s best interests, changing the way children’s data is used.”
It says it will be “considering the 5Rights research as part of our ongoing operation to assess online services that pose the highest risk to children” and that it will “not hesitate to take action where we find evidence of breaches of the law”.
Broadband fibre provider names Dan Ramsay as first CMO
Digital infrastructure business CityFibre has appointed Dan Ramsay to the newly created CMO role where he has been tasked with raising awareness of the company’s full fibre network availability and driving growth.
Ramsay, who will report directly to the CEO, joins from the Cabinet Office where he was responsible for developing the government’s award winning ‘GREAT’ campaign.
In his new role he will take charge of CityFibre’s channel marketing strategy, and play a key role in driving awareness of the new networks built as a result of CityFibre’s £4bn Gigabit City Investment Programme, which is designed to offer full fibre connectivity to up to 8 million homes and businesses across the UK.
The creation of the role marks a major increase in CityFibre’s marketing capabilities. Ramsay, who was named one of Marketing Week’s Top 100 most effective marketers for 2021, will also be responsible for leading highly targeted campaigns to drive awareness of the availability of CityFibre’s new networks, as well as creating demand for and take-up of the broadband services available from its ISP customers.
Prior to working for the Cabinet Office, Ramsay spent more than 12 years at BT and EE where he held a variety of senior leadership roles, including consumer marketing director and multi-brand marketing director. He played a key role in the growth of BT Sport, developing its commercial strategy and growing subscriber numbers.
Greg Mesch, CEO at CityFibre, says: “Dan’s deep understanding of the broadband market and his experience building national brands and propositions that resonate with consumers align perfectly with our objectives.”
Ramsay adds: “I’m hugely excited to be joining CityFibre at such a critical period in its growth and I look forward to the challenge of driving millions of customers to switch to its networks.
“The scale of CityFibre’s ambition, alongside the huge financial, operational and commercial progress it has made to date, makes this a unique opportunity in our industry.”
Ramsay will start his new role on 8 November and will also be a member of the executive leadership team.
The FA launches three-year equality and diversity strategy
The Football Association has outlined a three-year equality, diversity and inclusion strategy as part of its mission to to banish discrimination from English football.
‘A Game For All’ is pinned on three strategic commitments – Lead the Change, Be the Change and Inspire the Change.
The FA will look to Lead the Change by actively tackling discrimination on and off the pitch. It says it will do this by delivering sanctioning and education, as well as tackling online abuse, creating safe venues and improving reporting mechanisms and disciplinary processes for incidents.
As part of Be The Change, The FA will look to improve the knowledge of its workforce through education, development and leadership. It will set targets to increase diversity across the organisation, initially prioritising disability representation and improving ethnic diversity within the England women’s coaching team.
To Inspire the Change, The FA pledges to deliver core diversity programmes for underrepresented communities across areas such as gender, ethnicity, disability, faith and sexual orientation. It will also continue to focus on providing career opportunities and addressing underrepresentation through initiatives such as the Elite Coach Placement Programme, while growing the grassroots game to be more representative of modern society at all levels, including those in senior roles off the pitch.
Edleen John, The FA’s director of international relations, corporate affairs and co-partner for EDI, says: “Tackling discrimination is not a new priority for The FA and we’ve made great strides in this area in recent years. It’s core to our thinking as an organisation and we remain truly committed to using our influence to create a game free from discrimination.
“We want to continue to partner with stakeholders across English football to unite behind a common purpose, because we know that no one organisation can do it alone. We want to break down any historical barriers within football and we know there’s a huge opportunity to drive real change when work across the game is united.”
A Game For All follows The FA’s previous diversity and inclusion strategy ‘In Pursuit of Progress’, through which it helped to increase the ethnic and gender diversity among FA leadership, while reducing the gender pay gap and created the Football Leadership Diversity Code, which was signed by more than 50 professional clubs.
Yorkshire Building Society talks up purpose in new brand platform
Yorkshire Building Society is focusing on the real-life moments it helps members achieve as part of a purpose-driven campaign designed to make the lender “more attractive” to existing and potential consumers.
‘Helping Real Life Happen’, developed with Red Brick Road, shares stories of people who have saved money for weddings, to buy a homes and vet bills, demonstrating how the building society has helped achieve these key life moments through its mortgage and savings accounts.
As a mutual organisation with no external shareholders, Yorkshire Building Society claims it can “put its members’ needs first” and has “always been a purpose driven brand” since being founded more than 150 years ago.
The new brand platform brings to life this purpose of providing ‘Real Help with Real Life’, and will now be at the centre of everything the building society does both internally and externally, from advertising and in-branch activity to employee communication and external affairs.
The Helping Real Life Happen campaign will run on print, digital display, social and across Yorkshire Building Society’s branch network and owned channels.
Mark Brayton, director of marketing and digital channels at Yorkshire Building Society, says: “Our new Helping Real Life Happen brand positioning breathes new life into our purpose of providing Real Help with Real Life. By showcasing how we’ve supported our members with their key life moments for more than 150 years through authentic member stories, we’re sharing those moments they’ve saved for, worked towards and which mean a great deal to them.
“It will also provide us with a unique message and personality to connect with our existing members and make us more attractive to future members. We hope it will further establish Yorkshire Building Society as a brand which is ‘famous for’ helping real life happen, and embodies the best of the Society in highlighting what makes us proud to work here and how we make a difference to our members lives.”
Kind aims to raise awareness of mental health among over-60s with ‘Ment-ALL Health’ campaign
Snack brand Kind is looking to raise awareness of mental health among older generations after finding 60% of over-60s believe mental health refers to ‘having a disorder’.
As part of the ‘Ment-ALL Health’ campaign, which is fronted by former Love Island contestant Dr Alex George, Kind is encouraging young people to start a conversation with older relatives, friends and neighbours to help raise awareness.
Kind is keen to show the generational divide that exists on the topic of mental health and to try and bridge that gap after finding more than half of over-60s (52%) say they have never experience bad mental health, whereas 70% of under-40s say they have.
The research commissioned by Kind also finds 30% of over-60s believe the term mental health refers to mental illness and one in five would use the terms ‘disturbed’ to describe someone who is suffering with poor mental health.
Cat Hann, UK brand manager at Kind Snacks, says: “It’s no secret that young people are aware of the importance of their mental health, but for this World Mental Health Day, we were eager to understand if that awareness translated to the older generation. We were shocked to see such a gap in not only knowledge, but awareness between young and old, and seeing this disparity led us to work with the Youth Mental Health Ambassador Dr Alex George on this campaign.
“Despite huge advancements being made in the last five years to increase mental health awareness, our aim with Ment-ALL Health is to highlight that there is still more work to be done across generations, and how even the smallest acts of kindness can go a long way in making a positive impact.”
Thursday, 7 October
Patagonia unveils feature-length film exploring gender identity
Outdoor clothing company Patagonia has launched a 70-minute documentary following trans athlete Lor Sabourin, with the hope of expanding the idea of what it means to be a climber.
‘They/Them’ follows Sabourin into the sandstone canyons of northern Arizona as they piece together one of the most difficult routes they have ever climbed.
“Climbing has this amazing opportunity to provide safe space for gender non-conforming people to participate in sports because our sport isn’t as highly gendered as others, especially in the outdoor realm,” Sabourin says.
“I hope that you leave the film questioning what you can do to make your community feel safer, not just for trans people but for anyone that might be wondering whether they’re going to be safe.”
Patagonia’s global marketing manager of alpine and rock climbing, Justin Roth, adds: “At Patagonia, we look to highlight stories that show the beauty of our planet and the athletes and activists that embrace its gifts.
“We are so excited to use our platform to help Lor share their story and mission. Our ambition is that it might help expand the idea of what it means to be a climber, foster a climbing community where all people are welcome, safe; and free to be their authentic selves.”
Patagonia understands the scale of work it has to do to make its sports and outdoor communities inclusive for all, Roth adds, confirming the brand is “committed to this goal”.
Credos research sees public trust in advertising begin to recover
Public trust in advertising has risen by 25% since 2015, new research by industry thinktank Credos has found. However, other industries monitored experienced the same upwards trend, meaning that advertising still ranks among the least trusted sectors.
In 2019, research published by Credos showed public favourability towards advertising hit a record low of 25% in December the year prior, following years of long-term decline.
This year’s follow up study, ‘Rebuilding Public Trust in UK Advertising’, shows quality of advertising is the most important positive driver of public trust, with an “importance score” of 32/100. With a score of 10/100, the second most significant driver of trust was the social contribution of advertising, such as the work the industry undertook during the pandemic to promote health messages, as well as increased diversity of representation.
On the other end of the spectrum, the overall biggest driver of distrust was bombardment (19/100), though among younger consumers the number one driver of negative perceptions was misleading and invasive advertising techniques.
Those who are the least trusting of advertising also believe there aren’t enough regulations, the report found.
“The public’s trust in our work isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have and has been central to the Advertising Association’s work these past three years,” says Advertising Association CEO Stephen Woodford.
“Working with AA members across the industry, we have focused on delivering a ‘Trust Action Plan’ to arrest the decline of public trust in advertising. As all the evidence shows, trust pays – with better returns on campaigns and better long-term value for the brands they support. The new Credos research provides us again with brilliant insights on how to improve our relationship with our most important customer, the public.”
Nestlé expands vegan range into eggs and shrimp
Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, has launched two new additions to its plant-based range of food to capitalise on the growth of vegan and vegetarian diets: Vrimp, and vEGGie.
Vrimp is a shrimp alternative made out of seaweed and peas, which the company says has the “authentic texture and flavour” of the real seafood. Meanwhile, vEGGie is a liquid egg substitute, made with soy protein, which can be scrambled “like real eggs”.
The products were developed by research and development (R&D) experts at the company’s research facility in Switzerland, alongside the R&D centre for culinary food in Germany.
Both are expected to go on sale in Switzerland this year, joining the brand’s existing vegan tuna product, Vuna, which is available in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
According to CEO Mark Schneider, Nestlé’s vegan burgers and sausages are seeing double-digit sales growth.
“This is really getting mainstream and broad based,” he said at a London event, adding that Nestlé’s overarching goal is to provide a plant-based protein to “replace every animal protein out there”.
Elsewhere, Cadbury launched its first vegan chocolate bar this week – Plant Bar – which is made from cocoa and almonds.
ITV and Coral partner on sporting documentary series
Gambling brand Coral has funded the production of a 10-part documentary series focusing on inspiring sporting stories, with production partner ITV to broadcast the series across its channels.
‘Against the Odds’ has been developed by the7Stars’ content team, Supernova, with ITV Sport. The series will run from 19 October 2021 until July 2022 on ITV4, ITV Hub and ITV’s main channel.
Each episode will coincide with major sporting events including The Ashes, the FA Cup, the Six Nations and the Cheltenham Festival. The sports stars featured in the programme will be those who have overcome personal adversity or have taken an unconventional route to the top. The first episode features top UK flat jockey Hollie Doyle.
Each episode will be presented by leading members of ITV Sport’s presenting team, including Gabriel Clarke, Mark Pougatch, Ed Chamberlain, Francesca Cumani, Jacqui Oatley and Oli Bell.
“This is a brand new format for Coral and it brilliantly captures some of the most compelling and exciting stories in sport and cements Coral’s position as a leader in sport,” says Coral’s head of brand marketing, Chris Brocklehurst.
As part of the partnership, Coral will also receive a full activation package and both ITV and Coral will bring the show to life across multiple platforms and integration into the real world off-screen. This will include additional behind the scenes footage on Coral’s platforms, in-store promotion and branding plus talent-signed merchandise for competitions.
Commercial creative output for the series, including idents and activation is being overseen by Drum.
Consumers warned of major energy bill hike
Consumers could see their energy bills increase by hundreds of pounds next year, analysts have cautioned, while more suppliers could face collapse.
Analysts from Cornwall Insight have forecast a £400 increase to the energy price cap in the spring, rising to a total of around £1,660 by next summer. According to the BBC, that’s approximately 30% higher than the record £1,277 set for this winter.
“With wholesale gas and electricity prices continuing to reach new records, successive supplier exits during September 2021 and a new level for the default tariff cap, the Great British energy market remains on edge for fresh volatility and further consolidation,” said Craig Lowrey, senior consultant at Cornwall Insight.
Recent weeks have seen nine suppliers of energy collapse as the wholesale price of gas has soared, including Avro Energy and Green Supplier Limited. Octopus Energy and Shell Energy were appointed by UK energy watchdog Ofgem to take on their collective 835,000 customers.
According to brand tracking data, Octopus Energy and British Gas brands look to be in the strongest position to take advantage of the turmoil in the energy sector due to their historically high reputation scores.
Wednesday, 6 October
Tesco targets digital brand advertising as new revenue stream
Tesco is to ramp up sales of ads to supplier brands, utilising its growing insight from Clubcard data, as part of a drive to increase its non-retail income streams.
The retailer has set out new strategic priorities for future growth that will see it target new digital revenue opportunities, leverage assets across multiple channels and seek to increase customer satisfaction levels.
Initiatives will include a push to reinvent the group’s supplier strategy.
“Providing suppliers with the opportunity to market their products in more targeted ways such as advertising on our grocery home shopping website or offering a tailored range of additional products direct to specific customers,” explains Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy.
The retailer has credited its Aldi Price Match strategy, its introduction of Clubcard Prices in Express stores and more effective digital platforms for a strong performance in the first half of its current financial year. Tesco’s interim results, announced this morning, show a total adjusted retail operating profit of £1,386m. The figure is 16.6% ahead of the same period last year.
Online like-for-like sales were up by 2.3%, equating to a 74.1% rise compared to pre-pandemic figures from two years ago. More than 20 million households now have a Tesco Clubcard and there are 6.6 million users of the retailer’s app. The company says trials of on-demand grocery deliveries are progressing well.
“We’ve had a strong six months; sales and profit have grown ahead of expectations, and we’ve outperformed the market,” says Murphy, adding that the company’s reach and resilient supply chain have been key assets.
“Today we are sharing the strategic priorities that will enable us to build on these advantages to stay competitive, accelerate growth and generate between £1.4bn and £1.8bn retail free cash flow per year,” he adds.
Tesco’s new strategic priorities are to create ‘magnetic’ value for its customers; leverage the data from its Clubcard – and Dunnhumby’s analysis of this information – to provide a richer experience for customers; be the most convenient option for customers in every channel; and to save to invest, in a bid to offset the cost of inflation on the business.
Amazon opens first non-food store in UK
Amazon has opened its first non-food store in the UK, at Bluewater in Kent. The Amazon 4-Star branch – named because it sells only ranges that have achieved at least a four-star review by Amazon customers – is the first outside the US.
The store format was launched in New York in 2018 and there are now more than 30 branches across the US. Around 2,000 product ranges are stocked, including books, consumer electronics and toys, reports the BBC.
Features include digital price tags, to ensure prices match those Amazon is charging online. Shoppers do not need an Amazon account to shop in the store. The store also offers pick-up services for items ordered online and has an area for ‘most wished-for’ products.
Amazon declined to comment on how many of the stores are planned for the UK.
ITV celebrates Black History Month
ITV is launching a brand campaign to celebrate Black History Month, highlighting new content including high profile documentaries, the return of TV’s first comedy panel show about Black History and awareness-raising strands across ITV’s daytime programming.
There will also be curated collections on ITV Hub and BritBox, as well as specially-commissioned content for digital platforms.
Panel show Sorry, I Didn’t Know will be back for a five-part series, while musician Will.i.am will feature in The Blackprint, a one-hour documentary on what it means to be black in the UK.
The pro-equality dance routine performed by dance troupe Diversity on Britain’s Got Talent in 2020 – which became one of the most complained-about broadcasts in Ofcom’s history – will be examined in Ashley Banjo: Britain in Black and White.
“Featuring a range of engaging documentaries from some of our highest profile talent; through their personal stories, the films will explore what it means to be black in Britain today,” says season commissioning editor Satmohan Panesar.
“We’re also really pleased that Sorry, I Didn’t Know returns, which is a brilliant and entertaining showcase of diverse talent.”
Balmain and Chivas collaborate for limited edition ranges
Fashion brand Balmain has joined forces with spirits brand Chivas to launch the Balmain x Chivas XV collection, which seeks to bring a Parisian savoir-faire to the 15 year-old blended Scotch whisky. Two limited-edition bottle designs have been created for the partnership.
The brands describe the initiative as embracing shared values such as Balmain’s daring attitude to fashion and Chivas’s disruptive approach to the traditional world of Scotch. Chivas, part of the Pernod Ricard group, finishes its aged whisky in Cognac casks to give its drinks a contemporary twist.
The bottle designs embody visual codes associated with both brands. The first release, of 200 individually numbered gold one litre bottles, is adorned with metallic armour and chains to reflect Balmain’s signature garments. It will be available exclusively at Selfridges. The second release, featuring a symmetrical design of chains and belts, will be applied to 2,000 70cl bottles available from a range of retailers.
“Just like Balmain, Chivas has always adhered to the highest standards with neither house being afraid to push boundaries and break with outdated conventions,” says Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing.
“Those already familiar with the Balmain universe will note that this unique collaboration includes a signature motif of the house – the oversized golden chain. Whenever I’ve included that eye-catching adornment in my collections, it has served as a bold symbol of the defiant spirit of our rebellious and inclusive Balmain Army – a bold and audacious attitude that both Chivas and Balmain celebrate.”
“Both brands are redefining what it means to be a luxury brand within their industries,” adds Pernod Ricard UK marketing director, Leanne Banks.
“Just as Balmain has evolved its vision and broken down fashion boundaries with a younger generation, Chivas is redefining what Scotch Whisky means to a new status-conscious generation of drinkers. The collaboration with Balmain marks the start of an exciting year for Chivas as it undergoes the biggest transformation in its history, and comes as the brand is growing +22% in value.”
UK brands face growing price pressures
Nearly two-thirds of UK manufacturers expect to raise their prices before Christmas after being hit by growing price pressures, reports The Guardian after both Greggs and Hotel Chocolat warned of growing price pressures.
It quotes new research from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which shows inflation expectations to be at their highest since its records began in the late 1980s. The BCC found 62% of UK manufacturers are planning to increase prices in the next three months. Companies blame “spiralling” costs of raw materials and transportation for the issue.
“The supply chain crisis, alongside wider labour shortages and spiralling price rises, is clearly starting to drag on our economic recovery from Covid-19,” says BCC director general Shevaun Haviland.
“Businesses are being battered by a deluge of upfront cost pressures, including huge increases in the price of raw materials and shipping, as well as now facing a rise in national insurance contributions. At the same time, they are losing out on opportunities for growth due to the labour shortages, despite many already raising wages and offering training.”
A separate study from IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) shows price pressures are hitting service sector companies as well as manufacturers, with prices rising at their fastest rate since it began publishing data in 1996.
Tuesday, 5 October
Greggs promises to increase marketing spend in loyalty push
Greggs says it will “increase marketing investment in the months and years ahead” to drive visit frequency and average transaction value.
The bakery chain claims the recent relaunch of its app is laying the foundations for future growth as the business looks to attract “many more customers” to its loyalty scheme. Greggs says it will adopt a “CRM approach” to offer customers reasons to visit more often, as it looks to grow its membership base from the current 400,000 members.
Despite disruption to staffing and supply chains, sales rose by 3.5% during the third quarter, compared to the same period in 2019. Growth was particularly strong in August when Greggs benefited from a ‘staycation’ effect and remained positive into September, with two-year like-for-like growth of 3% in the four weeks to 2 October.
Greggs says delivery sales have continued to “develop well”, with 943 shops now involved in supplying customers. The business expects delivery to expand to around 80% of its company-managed estate in the years ahead.
Claiming that its menu already has “great relevance” for early evening dining, Greggs is planning to develop further hot food options for evening meals and identifies click-and-collect as offering further scope to drive sales, including made-to-order range extensions.
This early evening market is of interest to the business, which is planning for two-thirds of its estate to be suitable for late trading – both walk-in and delivery. By the end of 2022, 500 shops will be open until 8pm.
From a menu perspective, Greggs says the broadening of its vegan-friendly food and drink options has been well received, notably the limited-edition vegan sausage, bean and cheese melt, while pizza and savoury boxes are proving popular for delivery.
The business opened 68 new shops in the year to-date and expects to add a further 100 net shop openings this year. The plan is to accelerate the rate of net shop growth to 150 per year from 2022, with potential for at least 3,000 shops. Greggs wants to meet its “ambitious target” to double turnover to £2.4bn by 2026.
Hotel Chocolat hails evolution to ‘digital-led brand’ as profits soar
Hotel Chocolat says it is “performing strongly” against its goal to evolve from a “UK store-led brand to globally ambitious digital-led brand” as profit growth has exceeded expectations.
The premium British chocolatier saw revenue increase by 21% to £164.6m in the 52 weeks to 27 June, 70% of which was generated through “digital, partners and continuity products”. Pre-tax profit rose from £2.4m in 2020 to £10.1m, while statutory profit after tax hit £5.7m compared to a loss of £7.5m during the same period last year.
Following a year of “strong digital growth”, which the brand claims more than offset disruption to physical retail, sales growth accelerated further from April with the re-opening of UK stores post-lockdown. Hotel Chocolat says these results indicate the “effectiveness of the multichannel sales model”.
The company experienced a 31% increase in its active customer database to 1.8 million, while its in-home hot chocolate system Velvetiser is said to be offering a high lifetime-value subscription model.
The brand also pointed to success in the US market, where it has pivoted from a store-led to digital-led strategy, and the growth of its Japanese joint venture, which is now trading from 27 Hotel Chocolat stores. From a global wholesale perspective, the business claims its strategy of creating capsule ranges tailored for each partner retailer is driving strong growth.
Hotel Chocolat says it is continuing to strengthen its brand, for example through the launch of its Gentle Farming Charter. The charter enables every farmer suppling the brand to earn a ‘living income’ by further increasing the price paid for cacao to better reflect local costs of living. In return farmers commit to sustainable farming practices, zero deforestation and zero illegal child labour.
The business is also pressing ahead with innovation, including introducing new Velvetiser flavours, enhanced gifting ranges and a new Rabot Estate Coffee range. Some 94% of all Hotel Chocolat product packaging is now ‘widely recyclable’, on track for 100% recyclability by the end of 2022.
The brand plans to ramp up investments to enhance its digital customer experience, including improved VIP Me loyalty capabilities in-store launching in the spring. In addition, tech upgrades will be rolled out to support “scalable multichannel growth” and improved CRM and subscriptions.
Hotel Chocolat cofounder and CEO Angus Thirlwell says the company has improved on many fronts over the past year, with digital and subscription-continuity models surging ahead and its global aspirations ramping up.
“The continued challenges of Covid-19 pushed us to accelerate many of our existing plans and strategic initiatives, helping to strengthen our financial position, improve our multichannel capability, deepen customer engagement and loyalty, and accelerate the rate of product innovation, while continuing to make good progress in our two new and sizeable markets of the USA and Japan,” he adds.
“I am confident that the strategic progress we have achieved over the past year has improved the performance and prospects of the business for significant years to come.”
Facebook back online after six-hour outage
Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are back online after an almost six-hour outage, which saw shares in the social media giant slip by 4.8%.
The three platforms, which could not be accessed over the web or on app, first went down around 4pm UK time, with 10.6 million problem reports being logged by outage tracking site Downdetector.
In a statement, vice-president of infrastructure Santosh Janardhan said the outage was due to a faulty configuration change and insisted there is “no evidence” user data was compromised as a result. The underlying cause of the outage impacted many of Facebook’s own internal systems, such as emails and messaging tool Workspace, complicating attempts to solve the problem.
Janardhan apologised to all people and businesses affected, saying the company was working to make its infrastructure “more resilient”, while CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement: “Sorry for the disruption today – I know how much you rely on our services to stay connected with the people you care about.”
The outage comes a day after former product manager turned whistle-blower Frances Haugen told US show 60 Minutes that Facebook repeatedly chooses “profit over safety”.
“Facebook has realised that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they’ll click on less ads, they’ll make less money,” she said.
Haugen is testifying today before a US Congress sub-committee entitled ‘Protecting Kids Online’, which is probing the impact Instagram has on the mental health of young users. Last week the Wall Street Journal published leaked internal research commissioned by Instagram, which showed the app was affecting girls’ mental health around issues such as body image and self-esteem.
While Facebook refuted the research findings, stating that on 11 of 12 wellbeing issues teenage girls who struggled with mental health issues said “Instagram made them better rather than worse”, the company has since paused work on Instagram Kids, a service pitched at users aged under 13.
John Lewis kicks off first media agency pitch for a decade
The John Lewis Partnership is undertaking its first media agency pitch process for a decade as the business adjusts to “enormous changes” in the media landscape.
The account has been held by MG OMD since 2006, which currently plans and buys the media – including digital and programmatic – for John Lewis, Waitrose and John Lewis Financial Services.
Working with Oystercatchers, a specialist in media agency evaluation, engagement and selection, the process will run from October, with a decision expected early in the new year.
MG OMD will be included as part of the process should the agency wish, while the pitch does not include a review of the Partnership’s creative account held by Adam&eveDDB.
Waitrose customer director Martin George explains it is important for the business to review its supplier relationships, including those with key agency partners.
“MG OMD have made an invaluable contribution to our business during our time working together, however we have not reviewed our media buying agency support in more than ten years and given the enormous changes in the media landscape this is the right time to assess,” adds John Lewis customer director Claire Pointon.
Asos rolls out ‘seven-figure’ campaign co-created with influencers
Asos is launching a “seven-figure” advertising campaign returning to its ‘As Seen On Screen’ roots, co-created with influencers.
Aimed at the fashion site’s core twenty-something female customer, the three-month campaign will run across video-on-demand, social media and programmatic channels in the UK, France and the US.
Developed by the Asos Creative Lab, The Sunshine Company, Byte London and Smuggler Productions, the campaign centres on a film designed to “reaffirm” Asos as “relevant and inspirational” during the peak shopping period running up to Christmas.
The creative is designed to offer a “renewed interpretation” of the brand’s founding ‘As Seen On Screen’ idea of fashion inspiration and features self-filmed footage from influencers including musician Sasha Keable, philanthropist Eva Apio and activist Gabrielle Richardson, aka Frida Cash Flow. The content submitted by the influencers has been used to create more than 150 social assets, tailored to how Asos customers find fashion inspiration across each social platform.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be launching this new advertising,” says Asos global brand creative director John Mooney.
“It’s smartly planned, targeted and timed, and the creative embodies Asos’s belief that inspiration comes from everywhere, no matter who or where you are, while positioning the brand as a creator, curator and champion of style. The screens have changed, but at our core we’re still about as seen on screen.”
Monday, 4 October
US company wins Morrisons auction
US private equity company Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) has won the auction for supermarket Morrisons with a bid of £7bn and is now in position to take over the brand next month.
The takeover of Morrisons has dragged on since June due to fierce competition between CD&R and fellow private equity company Fortress.
CD&R has offered 287p per Morrisons ordinary share beating Fortress which bid 286p per share. Morrison’s board recommended accepting a bid higher than 285p per share in August after turning down a bid from CD&R worth £5.5bn in July, stating this undervalued the brand.
The board is expected to recommend shareholders accept the new offer at a meeting on 19 October. Once accepted CD&R will be official owners of the brand by November.
The acquisition also means a return to the grocery sector for former Tesco CEO Terry Leahy, who is a senior advisor to CD&R.
CD&R has said previously under its ownership, it will aid in building Morrisons strength including its close relationship with suppliers and leverage its property portfolio. It recognises Morrisons’ “history and culture” and considers its “strong heritage” when building its strategy for the brand.
Morrisons began in Bradford 1899 where it still operates its HQ, and runs almost 500 shops, employing 110,000 staff.
Wetherspoons posts record loss
JD Wetherspoons has posted a record annual loss placing the blame on Covid-enforced lockdowns.
The pub chain posted a £154.7m loss as sales fell sharply in the year to 25 July, after a £34.1m loss a year earlier.
Revenues generated through pints, meals and soft drinks fell by 38.8% from a year earlier to £772.6m.
Despite the loss, the chain says there are signs of recovery since the UK has come out of lockdown but it is struggling to find staff in some parts of its operations.
Like-for-like sales were 8.7% lower in the last nine weeks than in the same period before the pandemic.
Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin says: “Pubs have been at the forefront of business closures during the pandemic, at great cost to the industry – but at even greater cost to the Treasury.
“In spite of these obstacles, Wetherspoon is cautiously optimistic about the outcome for the financial year, on the basis that there is no further resort to lockdowns.”
Martin has previously said lockdowns and other restrictive measures designed to curb the spread of the pandemic as “draconian”.
Chancellor to announce £500m boost for job support
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a £500m boost to job support to curb a surge in unemployment after the furlough scheme came to an end last month.
The Chancellor is expected to make the announcement today at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, where he will outline funding for schemes to increase employment among the over-50s and those coming off furlough.
Measures in the new package from the government include one to one support in jobcentres and extending a £3,000 incentive for employers to hire apprentices to 31 January.
Sunak is expected to pledge he is “doubling down” on his 2020 promise to do “whatever it takes” to support people through the crisis.
Around 11.6 million jobs were supported under the furlough scheme which came to an end on 30 September, despite unions and businesses urging the government to not scrap it.
Sunak is also expected to highlight government plans to invest in infrastructure and skills.
“We are going to make this country not just a scientific superpower, not just the best place in the world to do business, I believe we’re going to make the UK the most exciting place on the planet,” he will say.
Quaker Oats launches purpose-led campaign
Quaker Oats is aiming to stand out in the cereal category with the launch of a multimillion-pound purpose-led campaign.
‘The Fire Inside’ campaign will be led by a TV campaign that shows the evolving needs of consumers at breakfast. It goes live today across TV, digital, social and in-store. It will see the introduction of a new identity across its advertising activations.
PepsiCo senior marketing manager Claire Molyneux says: “We have big ambitions for Quaker, and the Fire Inside campaign epitomises our brand purpose. To re-discover the unique role that Quaker plays in consumers’ lives, we went back to our 1909 brand manifesto.
“Quaker Oats were made not only to offer the best in wholesome nutrition, but to act as a fuel for life. With what we have seen over the past few months, we know this message is more relevant than ever before. The Fire Inside campaign will help us to deliver this iconic message but in a fresh and modern way. We are confident the activity will stand out in the cereals category, providing cut-through for retailers and ensuring Quaker is the breakfast of choice this winter.”
The campaign also builds on the brand’s 10 years of support for charity Magic Breakfast, driving awareness of child food poverty by showing empty bowls on limited edition packets. The brand, which is owned by PepsiCo, pledges to fill a child’s bowl for every packet sold, tying in with World Food Day on 16 October.
This will see an additional 500,000 breakfasts provided over the winter months, on top of the nearly 3 million bowls of porridge Quaker will supply across the full 21/22 school year.
Three celebrates football with a new perspective
Three UK is “celebrating the passion of football fans” through its latest advertising campaign which uses smartphone footage.
The activation, created with agency Wonderhood Studios uses footage entirely from smartphones to “capture the essence” of what it is like to be a football fan and player, instead of through the lens of high budget broadcasters.
The campaign is made in partnership with Chelsea FC, which the mobile operator has partnered with since July 2020 in a three-year deal.
It shows footage from Chelsea players and fans waking up with excitement on match days, travelling to grounds, players stepping off the bus and being in the crowd during high energy moments.
The latest activation is of the network’s new brand platform ‘Life Needs a Big Network’, which aims to show how important football is to the lives of millions and how mobile connectivity is integral to being a fan in this age.
All fan content featured in the advert was sourced through Seen.it, a platform that allows fans to film and submit their own content. Around 300 submissions were sent from Chelsea fans globally on the first game of the current English Premier League season.
Three marketing director Aislinn O’Connor says: “Football has been an important part of people’s lives for generations no matter what team you support. With our network fans can immerse themselves in matchday excitement from the moment they wake up, as we keep them connected to every single moment that matters, big or small.”