Nike, M&S, Debenhams: 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.

M&S Food launches major push on quality

Marks & Spencer is upping its focus on quality with the launch of a major campaign designed to show consumers how far it goes to ensure food is sourced ethically and responsibly.

‘Fresh Market Update’ highlights M&S’s Select Farm partners, with each of the 19 ads prepped to run over the next four months introducing a different farmer, grower or producer.

It comes as the retailer’s research shows consumers are increasingly interested in where their food comes from and how it is produced, which has only risen in importance since the pandemic.

As well as quality, the campaign will also promote M&S’s value positioning for a weekly shop.

Each ad will be presented by ITV weather presenter Lucy Verasamy and will also include recipe ideas from M&S chef Chris Baber. The TV campaign will be supported by a monthly in-store magazine called What’s Fresh featuring Select Farms suppliers and their food, as well as direct mail social and in-store activity.

M&S Food marketing director Sharry Cramond says: “We know from customer research, that particularly in a post-Covid world, customers want to know more about the story behind their food; they care about where it’s come from and how it was produced.  It’s therefore the perfect time to show customers the faces and stories behind what makes our food taste fresher and better than anyone else’s.”

Nike wins trademark lawsuit over ‘Satan Shoes’

Nike has settled a lawsuit against the firm which collaborated with rapper Lil Nas X to produce ‘Satan Shoes’, customised Nike Air Max 97 trainers, which claim to contain a drop of blood in the sole.

Nike filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against MSCHF Product Studio last week over the black and red devil-themed Nike shoes costing $1,018, all 666 of which have been sold. They also feature a biblical passage referring to Satan’s descent from heaven.

The Brooklyn firm previously made a collection called Jesus Shoes also based on the Air Max 87 back in 2019.

Nike has agreed to buy back all customised trainers in both collections in order to “remove them from circulation”.

MSCHF has previously defended the shoes as works of art, while Lil Nas X said on Twitter “I feel like it’s fucked up they have so much power they can get shoes cancelled. Freedom of expression gone out the window.”

READ MORE: Lil Nas X Satan Shoes will be recalled as part of settlement with Nike

Morrisons to scrap plastic carrier bags

MorrisonsMorrisons will remove all plastic carrier bags from stores over the next year, replacing its ‘bags for life’ with paper alternatives.

It claims the move will make it the first UK supermarket to stop using and selling plastic bags completely, and follows a successful trial in eight stores last year.

Morrisons will begin selling reusable paper bags, which it says are recyclable, water and tear resistant, and claims each bag can carry the equivalent of 13 bottles of wine, the same as a plastic bag for life.

The supermarket also sells string, jute, cotton and reusable woven bags, which are priced between 75p and £2.50.

The removal process will begin in Scotland this month, followed by England and Wales over the next 12 months until all 500 stores are plastic bag free.

Morrisons’ chief executive, David Potts, says: “We have been listening hard to our customers over the past year and we know that they are passionate about doing their bit to keep plastics out of the environment.

“Removing all of the plastic bags from our supermarkets is a significant milestone in our sustainability programme.”

READ MORE: Morrisons to stop selling plastic carrier bags

Debenhams to reopen stores to shift unsold stock

Debenhams is to reopen its stores for a final push next week to clear stock before closing its doors for good on 15 May.

The department store, which was acquired by Boohoo earlier this year, will open 97 of its stores on Monday for a final closing down sale, with up to 70% of fashion and homeware, and 50% of beauty and fragrance.

Debenhams’ flagship store on Oxford Street will not reopen, nor will its 15 Scottish stores.

When stores close the Debenhams brand name will live on as an online entity thanks to its acquisition by Boohoo for £55m in January. The online specialist plans to relaunch Debenhams online by the end of May.

Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson argued there is no downside to Boohoo buying up the struggling department store.

READ MORE: Debenhams to briefly reopen 97 stores in closing down fire sale

Samsung targets Gen Z in ‘Awesome’ push

Samsung is targeting Gen Z with its latest Galaxy A smartphones campaign, collaborating with young creators to highlight the phones’ features and more affordable price.

‘Awesome for everyone’, which has been created by Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam, celebrates creators and communities from around the world who are “pioneering and remixing what smartphone technology can do for them”. This includes a troupe of Nigerian teenagers called The Critics who make sci-fi movies on their smartphones.

The launch videos features creatives from around the world, highlighting the culture of co-creation on social media and how it inspires other creators.

Matthew Leem, vice-president of Samsung Mobile Marketing, says: “Gen Z is potentially one of the most creative generations in human history. These social savvy creators leverage their smartphone as a tool to turn their ideas and passions into reality and share them with the world.

“When armed with the right technology, their creativity is endless. That’s why Galaxy A’s mission is to make premium features more accessible to everyone, enabling more creativity and connections with the world.”

Thursday, 8 April

AsosRecord sales for Asos as lockdown shoppers buy online

Online fashion retailer Asos achieved a 24% sales increase in the six months to 28 February, compared to the same period in 2020, according to interim results published this morning. Sales reached £1.9bn, for a gross profit of £890m.

The group saw its active customer base grow by more than 1.5 million people over the period, offsetting the fall in event-led reasons for people to shop during lockdown. The company credited an exceptional UK performance, where sales grew by 39%. EU markets saw 18% growth, with 16% in other markets.

“These record results, which include robust growth in sales, customer numbers and profitability, demonstrate the significant progress we have made against all of our strategic priorities and the strength of our execution capability. The swift integration of the Topshop brands and the impressive early customer engagement is also especially pleasing,” says Asos CEO Nick Beighton.

Future plans include investment in pricing to strengthen the customer proposition, further development of ‘lockdown’ products that focus on casualwear, continued expansion and better fulfilment of orders.

Asos has raised its expectations for full-year performance in line with its first half figures.

Volvo digital strategy credited for sales growth in falling market

Volvo electric carUK sales of new cars by Volvo rose by 15% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, the Swedish car brand says in its quarterly trading statement. The overall market saw a 12% decline in sales over the same period.

The boost gave Volvo – which is increasing its online sales and marketing efforts while introducing more electric models – its highest market share for 30 years. The company says that deployment of digital services has been key to its performance.

“With conventional, physical showroom sales no longer a possibility, our retailers have responded magnificently in working with us to adopt new methods for maintaining a great service to customers,” says Volvo Car UK managing director Kristian Elvefors.

“It’s the combination of their efforts, the effectiveness of our digital services and the continued success of the Care by Volvo car subscription that have enabled us to trade truly online and outperform our Q1 2020 result.”

New giving model for footwear brand Toms

Footwear brand Toms is celebrating its 15th anniversary by introducing a new impact strategy and visual identity.

The changes include switching the brand’s ‘one for one’ shoe giving model for a commitment to give at least one third of annual net profits to good causes.

Since 2006, Toms has been donating shoes, and funding projects to protect sight and provide clean water, with feedback identifying additional issues that it will now support. The three main pillars will include promoting mental health, increasing access to opportunity and ending gun violence.

The 2019-2020 Toms Impact Report shows that over the past two years the brand has engaged with 71 partners in 28 countries to give away more than 7 million pairs of shoes, and more than $4.4m in grants. Partners including Indian educational provider Magic Bus and US gang rehabilitation programme Homeboy Industries.

“On behalf of the Toms Giving Team I am thrilled to be able to carry the brand’s legacy in a new and powerful direction with these inspiring grassroots organisations,” says Toms chief strategy and impact officer Amy Smith. “Toms has been using business to improve life for 15 years now, and with that experience, plus a whole lot of research and a bit of sole [sic] searching, we have learned there is so much we can do when we come together as a community.”

Retail boom predicted as stores reopen

Consumers are set to splurge £3.9bn on the high street as they set to shopping and dining with renewed confidence when non-essential retail outlets reopen next week, according to predictions from Kantar.

In the week after last year’s reopening consumers spent £3.8bn. With longer opening hours, and growing confidence due to the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, Kantar thinks this year’s performance will be stronger.

“Based on our data and experience after previous lockdowns, we know that shoppers are excited to get back to the high street and we’re expecting pent-up demand to fuel an immediate surge in sales. Last year, footfall was driven by young people but older shoppers, now largely vaccinated, are much more eager to get back to shops this time around,” says Kantar business unit director Simon Quirk.

“While the pandemic has brought economic uncertainty for many British households, others have actually saved money in the past 12 months and we are predicting that spending will surpass last year’s levels.  We expect Brits will spend £3.9m on the high street in the first week of reopening.”

Clothing, homeware and outdoor stores are predicted to perform well, as shoppers buy outfits for warmer weather and get their gardens ready for summer. Meanwhile, independent restaurants are expected to be the first choice of consumers choosing to dine out.

Rebel Kitchen offers holiday flavours to stay-at-home Brits

Rebel Kitchen us offering its coconut water product as a chance to taste holiday flavours despite travel restrictions introduced in response to Covid-19.

A series of outdoor ads dub the virus a “massive git” and “king idiot” in response to an announcement by Boris Johnson that it is too early for UK consumers to book foreign holidays.

“Things are pretty gloomy at the moment, so we wanted to use our marketing budget and a bit of rebellious, dry humour to pick on Covid and make a few people who are sitting in traffic on a grey UK day, laugh,” says Rebel Kitchen co-founder Ben Arbib. “At Rebel Kitchen, we do things differently – whether that be the way we make our coconut water or the way we advertise it.”

Wednesday, 7 April


Specsavers promotes Amazing Sight

High street opticians Specsavers is urging the nation not to forget eye tests in the rush to get back to normality after lockdown.

The ‘Amazing Sight’ campaign uses press, outdoor, radio, social and digital to encourage people to book a test online, so they ‘don’t miss a thing this summer’.

The radio slots play out scenarios where people are ‘reunited’ with their favourite sight, including a freshly poured pint of beer. Press and poster ads focus on the things we’ve missed the most, especially members of our own families.

A recent Specsavers survey found six in 10 respondents are keen to enjoy some of life’s simpler pleasures again once lockdown eases. Social and PR around the campaign will encourage people to share what they’re most looking forward to seeing, whether it’s family, holidays or sport.

“Amazing Sight was borne out of consumer insight gathered by our social listening and insight teams throughout lockdown,” says Specsavers UK marketing director, Chris Carter.

Created in-house by The Agency, Amazing Sight will run until 25 April.

McDonald’s does breakfast properly

Fast food chain McDonald’s is relaunching its breakfast platform with a ‘Breakfast, Done Properly’ campaign, spearheaded by a 60-second film.

Developed with advertising partner Leo Burnett, ‘Own Little World’ features various people in a range of scenarios, escaping everyday life to enjoy the whole breakfast experience, including a nurse enjoying a treat after a busy shift and late-night revellers on their way home.

The campaign also features an outdoor ad revealing the aftermath of a McDonald’s breakfast, with just a wrapper and a few crumbs on show.

The campaign will run in the UK and Ireland initially for four weeks and then in shorter bursts throughout the year across radio, OOH, display and social.

“Breakfast can be a meal that people view in binary terms, either necessary or unnecessary, but rarely in terms of the most satisfying meal of the day,” says McDonalds’ director of marketing and media, Steve Howells.

“We wanted to show, whatever the mood or occasion, McDonald’s is there to provide a little moment of enjoyment and proper satisfaction at breakfast time.”

Heineken’s green pint technology pushes pub sustainability

Beer brand Heineken has launched a new campaign to highlight sustainability and waste reduction in the pub trade, utlising eco-friendly draught cooling tech currently found in over 6,500 pubs and bars all over the UK.

Powered by Heineken’s SmartDispense technology, a green pint saves 83% of water compared to a pub using a standard system. The tech also ensures that customers are always handed a pint served at sub-5°C.

“When we make sustainable purchase decisions, we think that may apply to cars, clothes or groceries, but not our choice of pub,” explains Heineken UK’s head of SmartDispense and draught quality, Richard Stephens.

“Many British pubs may not have changed in appearance for centuries, but thanks to green pint powered by SmartDispense technology they are at the vanguard of the latest innovation in sustainability and waste reduction.”

Volvo presents the ultimate safety test

Swedish auto giant Volvo Cars is highlighting its ambitions to become fully electric by 2030 and carbon neutral by 2040. The global campaign, covering television, online video, social, digital, OOH, radio and print, features a two-minute film as its centrepiece.

‘The Ultimate Safety Test’, a two-minute film created by agency Grey, features a tour of Volvo’s testing over the decades, before heading up to the Arctic Circle where a collapsing glacier interrupts the film, reminding viewers in stark terms that our greatest test comes from climate change.

“Sustainability is now as important as safety to us, with climate action having the highest priority and Volvo Cars has one of the most ambitious climate plans in the car industry,” says head of marketing and brand at Volvo Cars, Mike Johnstone.

“That’s why we’re proud to highlight the work we are doing through this campaign taking real action to combat global warming.”

UK supermarkets enjoy bountiful Easter ahead of lockdown lifting

UK supermarkets saw big increases in sales of clothing and home and garden goods during the four weeks leading up to Easter and ahead of the lifting of lockdown restrictions, according to research from NielsenIQ.

Clothing sales doubled compared to the same period last year, increasing by 106% to £313m, while sales of homeware were up by 61% and garden goods by 92%, collectively worth a total £175m.

A grand total of £349m was spent on confectionery, a 34% increase, while grocery sales suffered a 2.9% dip, prompted by the marked 24% decrease in packaged grocery products. That was due to stockpiling by panicked consumers back in March 2020. Cleaning and paper products also suffered a major drop, falling by 31%.

Lidl was the fastest-growing supermarket over the last 12 weeks, up by 16.2%. Iceland (7.8%) and Aldi (7.6%) also performed strongly. Asda (6%) and Morrisons (5.9%) were the fastest-growing supermarkets of the ‘big four’ retailers.

“With the economy slowly reopening we will soon see a rebalancing of consumer spend in the months ahead,” says NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight, Mike Watkins.

“As 80% of consumers say they would feel confident returning to restaurants once they’ve had their vaccine, many billions of pounds are set to return to cafes, pubs and restaurants which could impact on grocery sales. But, with the likelihood of a ‘stay at home summer’ supermarkets are still well-positioned to capture incremental spend.”

Tuesday, 6 April

LG axes smartphone range

South Korean electronics giant LG will scrap its smartphone business as losses in the segment total around $4.5bn (£3.2bn) after six years of consecutive decline.

The manufacturer says it viewed all plans for the division including a sale, but this fell through. LG once saw the heights of being the third-largest smartphone brands in the world in 2013.

Analyst company Counterpoint Research says the brand shipped 28 million phones, while in comparison Samsung produced 256 million.

But LG bosses say the smartphone sector became “incredibly competitive” with the brand failing to keep pace with market leaders Apple and Samsung.

New smartphone brands from China such as Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi turned the heat up on LG over the years, despite innovation efforts from the Korean brand including a dual-screen t-shape design.

LG’s smartphone business accounts for just 7.4% of revenue and holds a global market share of 2%.

“Moving forward, LG will continue to leverage its mobile expertise and develop mobility-related technologies such as 6G to help further strengthen competitiveness in other business areas,” says an LG spokesperson.

READ MORE: LG scraps its smartphone business as losses mount

Burger King CMO joins Activision Blizzard

Former Restaurant Brands International (RBI) CMO Fernando Machado will join gaming giant Activision Blizzard after seven years with the fast-food conglomerate.

Machado was promoted as RBI’s chief marketer in January last year overseeing the company’s brands Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons. He first joined as Burger King’s head of brand marketing in 2014 before being promoted to CMO in 2017.

Global CMO for Popeyes Paloma Azulay will be promoted to replace Machado. RBI credits Machado for recruiting and nurturing strong marketing talents at RBI.

On his departure, Machado says: “I am super proud of the team’s impact on the brands, especially Burger King, and work around sustainability, food quality, and diversity and inclusion. Restaurant Brands International now has a really strong marketing team, and I am confident they will continue to do great work.”

READ MORE: Burger King Brand Mastermind Fernando Machado Departs As Restaurant Brands International’s Global CMO

UK watchdog probes Facebook acquisition of Giphy


The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is opening an in-depth investigation of Facebook’s $400m (£287m) acquisition of graphics creation tool company Giphy, after the social media giant declined the opportunity to offer concessions.

The watchdog says the completed acquisition may result in a “substantial lessening” of competition in the UK market and Facebook was given the opportunity to offer undertakings to the CMA to address concerns.

It fears the acquisition could squeeze the supply of GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) to other platforms. Rival social media companies such as Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter have integrated Giphy on their platforms, this will not change says Facebook, which plans to deepen Giphy into Facebook Messenger and Instagram.

An initial investigation from the watchdog finds if Facebook and Giphy remain merged it could cut the latter’s “incentive to expand its digital advertising leading to a loss of potential competition in this market”. Facebook accounts for more than 50% of the £5.5bn display advertising market in the UK, says the CMA.

A Facebook spokesperson says: “We will continue to fully cooperate with the CMA’s investigation. This merger is good for competition and in the interests of everyone in the UK who uses Giphy and our services – from developers to service providers to content creators.”

READ MORE: UK watchdog to investigate Facebook takeover of Giphy

Halfords unveils first motor services TV ad

Halfords has ambitions to become Britain’s most trusted motoring provider after launching its first TV ad to showcase its services.

The brand broadcasted its 30-second ad in a prime time ITV slot, created with agency BJL, on 3 April showing the brand’s motoring services which range from selling spare parts to providing MOTs. It will be supported by VOD, paid social, in-store, online and through CRM.

The ad stars TV presenter Steve Jones demonstrating Halford services for motorists through a fast-paced rhyme and a montage.

Halfords claims to be the UK’s largest motoring services provider with over 400 stores, 350 garages and a fleet of 120 Mobile Expert vans.

Halfords Group marketing director Lisa Bond says the TV campaign “showcases the huge breadth of services we provide to motorists in the UK. Whether it’s spare parts, repairs or MOTs, our teams across our stores, garages and mobile experts ensure customers’ vehicles are always safe and road-ready.”

Manchester United unveils anti-discrimination campaign

Manchester United has launched its ‘See Red’ campaign to tackle racism and discrimination in football.

The campaign builds on the work by the football club under its long-standing All Red All Equal anti-discrimination programme. The campaign will feature a thought-provoking video highlighting how diversity has brought success to the club, by highlighting the “immeasurable contribution” black and Asian players have brought to the club.

The campaign also encourages fans to take responsibility for reporting incidents of racism or other hate crimes, to speak out and to stand up for those who may be on the receiving end of discriminatory abuse.

The campaign follows recent news of footballers receiving racist abuse from fans on social media and allegations of racism between players on the pitch.

Group managing director Richard Arnold says: “Sadly, footballers across the country continue to receive abuse online, seemingly without fear of censure. United has been, and always will be, a club for all. We do not believe real fans are racist and today, we call on those fans to join us in the battle against discrimination.”



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