Pepsi, Saga, Dr Martens: 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 becomes first major UK firm to offer paid leave for grandparents

Insurance firm and cruise operator Saga has introduced a new paid leave policy for grandparents, offering its 2,500 staff a week of paid time off to celebrate the birth of a grandchild.

The brand, which is specifically for the over-50s, will also open its onsite nursery to grandchildren to further support working grandparents.

The policy was launched following a consultation with Saga’s employees, as well as a survey of 2,500 people over-50. A quarter of working grandparents said they found it “difficult” to balance work with childcare commitments.

Saga’s chief people officer Jane Storm says: “This is about helping new grandparents celebrate a special moment and play a role in their growing families from day one. And it’s also a symbol of how important older workers are to their companies and to society. Working life is getting longer, but the first question many people over 50 still hear is ‘when are you going to retire?’. We want to change that mindset and show that age is no barrier to continued professional success.

“As a purpose-led business we have a responsibility to build a representative, multigeneration workforce fit for the future, that serves the needs of our customers. Our customers are mostly over 50 and we want to have more colleagues here that reflect the community we serve. We also think this idea should be a key attraction for retention and recruitment.”

Earlier this autumn Saga launched a new brand platform, ‘Experience is Everything’, focused on changing the way people age and highlight the positive side of getting older.

Dr Martens bumps up price of footwear following consumer testing

Dr Martens is planning to increase the prices of its iconic footwear next summer to offset rising costs in the supply chain.

Each pair will have its price raised by £10 across America and the EMEA region, the shoemaker said, but the business does not anticipate any impact on demand.

The new price has been determined following a study across the retailer’s seven priority markets to assess brand strength and consumer pricing perception, including consumer testing and validation of potential pricing changes to calculate elasticity of demand.

The plan was revealed as Dr Martens reported a 16% rise in sales to £370m over the first six months of its 2022 financial year, with pre-tax profits up 46% to £61.3m.

Ecommerce revenue grew 10% to £82.6m, while its share of revenue marginally dropped from 24% to 22% as a result of retail reopening. The business hopes to reach an ecommerce mix of at least 40%, with DTC overall, including retail, to reach at least 60% of its revenue mix.

The company, which listed on the London stock market in January with a valuation of £3.7bn, also plans to open 20-25 new stores this year.

“We continue to take a long-term custodian approach to growing the brand, prioritising DTC channels and our priority markets,” says CEO Kenny Wilson.

“Our strong first half performance combined with the continued momentum in DTC trading into the second half gives us confidence in achieving market expectations for the full year. I remain hugely excited about the potential of the Dr. Martens brand.” slashes revenue guidance amid supply chain disruption has cut its revenue guidance for 2021 from £410m to £365m, as worsening supply chain disruption impacts the timing of stock intake.

In a trading update to the City, the online furniture retailer claimed consumer demand for its products had been “strong”, with gross sales forecast to have grown 40% year-on-year over 2021.

This growth has been achieved while maintaining marketing efficiency, the business said, as it credited the strength of its brand and consumer shift toward ecommerce with delivering “meaningful” market share gains.

However, supply chain disruptions have “worsened” in recent months, affecting the retailer’s stock levels. The recent extended closure of manufacturing in Vietnam, further port congestion and extended shopping times were all identified as major contributing factors. therefore warned that up to £45m in revenue would be deferred into the new year, when items eventually reach customers. Adjusted profits are also expected to take a £12m-£15m hit this year, with those earnings also pushed into 2022.

Pepsi jumps on NFT train with ‘Mic Drop’ collection

Source: Pepsi

Pepsi has launched a collection of 1,893 free non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which pay homage to the brand’s history in music and pop culture.

NFTs are unique digital objects, such as art, videos or music, which are supported by blockchain and bought and sold online. They are rapidly becoming a popular way to buy and sell digital art, with musician Grimes having sold some of her digital art for more than $6m earlier this year.

Pepsi’s ‘Mic Drop’ collection goes live on the Ethereum blockchain today. Each NFT is generated randomly by an algorithm, and are grounded in variations of a microphone visual and inspired by flavours such as classic blue Pepsi, silver Diet Pepsi, red Pepsi Wild Cherry, and black Pepsi Zero Sugar.

“Pepsi has always been a brand with a strong heritage in music and pop culture, so it’s only fitting for us to bring that legacy into the new world of NFTs with a ‘mic drop’ of epic proportions,” says Todd Kaplan, vice president of marketing at Pepsi.

“We created the Pepsi Mic Drop genesis NFT collection for our fans, putting their interests and needs at the forefront by ensuring the NFTs are all free of charge and presented equitably as an inclusive and accessible opportunity for anyone to experience the exciting world of NFTs. This collectible series of microphones is not only inspired by our history, but also represents the scale and scope of how accessible we see this space becoming in the future.”

Pepsi is implementing a carbon offset program for the launch to ensure a net carbon footprint of zero.

Holland & Barrett expands into at-home beauty with new acquisition

Holland & Barrett has purchased at-home beauty services business Blow Ltd as it expands into personalised services and “wellness solutions”, Retail Week reports.

The Blow Ltd app reaches customers across Greater London, the Home Counties, Birmingham and Manchester with a range of beauty services delivered at flexible times. Currently based in London, the business was founded in 2013 by the former editor-in-chief of magazines Elle and Grazia, Fiona McIntosh, and entrepreneur Dharmash Mistry.

Acquired for an undisclosed sum, the health shop chain said Blow Ltd would become a subsidiary business of its international arm.

“We have an exciting transformation strategy with the vision of helping 100 million customers globally achieve their health and wellness goals,” said Holland & Barrett’s chief business and science officer, Tamara Rajah.

This vision will see the business move “beyond” wellness products and advice, expanding into personalised services, diagnostics and wellness solutions across its digital and retail channels, she added.

READ MORE: Holland & Barrett snaps up at-home beauty business Blow

Thursday, 9 December

On The Beach credits investment in brand amid play for ‘long-term value’

Holiday provider On The Beach credits its investment in brand for helping the business sustain “high levels” of brand awareness and customer trust despite the Covid crisis.

Chief executive Simon Cooper called out the impact of the company’s decision to invest in digital platforms, brand and supply, adding that initiatives like free Covid tests and the ‘New Normal Booking Pledge’ had helped the brand sustain awareness amid times of weak consumer demand.

Revenue fell 27% in the year to 30 September to £21.2m due to low booking volumes under lockdown, dampened consumer confidence amid “complex and inconsistent rules” and the brand’s decision in May to suspend new bookings for holidays departing before 1 September. The group notched up a loss of £18.4m.

The travel operator spent £5.5m on online marketing in the year to 30 September. Some £6.1m was spent on offline marketing, relating to three distinct campaigns. These include the ‘Everything’s Better on the Beach’ and ‘We’re Ready When You Are’ brand campaigns, which went live on Christmas Day 2020, as well as the ‘Summer off Sale’ when On The Beach pulled all summer holiday sales.

The third batch of spend relates to £1m invested in the free Covid tests push, the company’s largest ever promotion.

On The Beach claims that as a result of these campaigns, even during a period of exceptionally low demand, brand awareness in September 2021 was ahead of September 2019.

Online marketing spend, which the brand flexes to fit holiday search demand, represented 42% of revenue during the period, versus 89% in 2020. This reduction in spend was due to a lower proportion of bookings which were subsequently cancelled. Adjusting for these cancellations, online marketing cost efficiency was found to be 25%, compared to 28% in 2020.

On The Beach says it has “sufficient funding” available to increase marketing spend ahead of an expected recovery in the international travel market in 2022. While the business plans to take a “disciplined approach”, it intends to increase spend on its digital platforms and “continue to drive brand through investment in online and offline marketing activity” to improve customer conversion.

The travel company claims that its wider investment in brand over the past year has better protected its reputation compared to its rivals. On The Beach says its marketing focus for the year has been on “reputational repair and reinvigorating the brand”, adding that putting consumers at the heart of its decision making had enabled the business to maintain its brand metrics “with a fraction of the spend”.

The company hailed the success of its move to offer customers cash refunds rather than credit notes and the “radical decision” to stop selling holidays in summer 2021 which it was not confident could be delivered.

Looking ahead, On The Beach says it wants to become a “brilliant digital brand” with a differentiated customer proposition and deliver a “superior customer experience”. There is also an ambition to leverage data to improve user level personalisation and grow the brand’s share of the long-haul beach holiday market.

Instagram denies prioritising profit over user care in US hearing

InstagramInstagram chief executive Adam Mosseri has denied the social media platform prioritises profit over its duty of care for users in a US congressional hearing.

Mosseri refuted claims from then Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen that Instagram had covered up data revealing the mental health impact of the platform on teenage girls surrounding body image issues.

The Instagram chief executive said that in the long run it “has to be better” for the business “if people feel good about the time that they spend on our platform”. He also called for the establishment of an industry body to determine best practice on age verification, how to design age-appropriate experiences and build parental controls.

Mosseri did, however, refuse to share the extent of Instagram’s internal research on the impact of its products on young people, which angered senators.

The Instagram boss also confirmed it would be his decision whether the platform scrapped plans completely for the launch of an Instagram Kids app, which was put on hold in September in order to get feedback from safety groups.

The initial plan was for the app to be open to children aged under 13 and free from adverts, offering what Instagram claimed was greater parental control. However, opponents argued the app would collect the children’s data and make them reliant on social media from an early age.

On Tuesday, Instagram rolled out a suite of new features designed to protect young people, insisting it will be “taking a stricter approach” to what the platform recommends to teens. The app will stop people from tagging or mentioning teens who don’t follow them, and there are plans to “nudge” teens towards different topics if they’ve been dwelling on one topic for a long time.

Instagram is also launching a take a break feature in the UK, meaning that if someone has been scrolling for a certain amount of time the app will ask them to take a break and suggest they set reminders to take more breaks in the future. From March, parents and guardians will also be able to view how much time their teens spend on Instagram and set time limits.

READ MORE: Instagram chief denies platform prioritises profit over users’ mental health (£)

ICO fines Virgin Media £50,000 for GDPR breach

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Virgin Media £50,000 for breaching GDPR rules by emailing customers who had opted out of communications.

In August, the ICO became aware Virgin Media had sent 451,217 marketing emails to people who had previously opted out of marketing communications from the company. The copy in the email told customers that Virgin Media wouldn’t be rising prices this year.

It added: “We’d like to stay in touch about all the great Virgin Media stuff we have on offer for you. You have currently said no to receiving marketing messages from us, which means that we are not able to keep you up to date with our latest TV, broadband, phone and mobile news, competitions, product and bundle offers via online, email, post, SMS, phone.”

A complainant claimed the email was “basically a service message dressed up as an attempt to get me to opt back into marketing communications”. The data needed to send out the prize freeze emails was obtained directly from customers.

In response to the claims, Virgin Media stated it had received “feedback” from an unspecified number of customers that they “would like to be informed about packages, products and discounts that may be available and some customers are unaware that they have not opted-in to all forms of marketing.”

The company went on to explain it had selected a “segment of opted-out customers who we reasonably considered might have changed their marketing preferences”, who had opted out over a year ago. Virgin Media operates a suppression list for marketing communications, but the suppression process was only applied “for opted-out customers who Virgin Media considered were unlikely to have changed their mind about their marketing preferences.”

The ICO, however, found the marketing preference reminder message in the email “sought to entice or encourage customers” to update their marketing preferences, as well as marketing Virgin Media’s commercial products, and as such fell within the definition of direct marketing.

Describing the contravention as “serious”, the regulator ruled that the “requisite consent was not obtained” because the 451,217 recipients of the direct marketing had opted out of marketing communications.

Consumers see big role for advertising in tackling climate change

Eco sustainabilityConsumers expect advertisers to play a significant role in combating climate change and educating the public, new research shows.

According to a survey of 2,000 UK adults commissioned by the IPA, 71% of people agree that advertising can educate consumers about products and services with a low carbon footprint.

In addition, the research found that 59% of people like seeing what companies are doing to help tackle climate change in their ads and that 87% agree that all companies have a responsibility to reduce the impact of climate change.

However, the survey also found that consumers are sceptical of green credentials in advertising – the practice known as ‘greenwashing’. Two-thirds (68%) of the public think that brands exaggerate their environmental claims in adverts, while 67% don’t believe that brands live up to the claims they make.

The Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow last month featured a session on the role of advertising in addressing climate change. The Advertising Association has also launched the Ad Net Zero initiative, an industry-wide drive to reduce the carbon impact of developing, producing and running advertising to real net zero by the end of 2030.

“These findings confirm that there is a vital role the ad industry can play in helping to combat the climate crisis, however, we must approach this responsibly and carefully,” says Paul Bainsfair, director general of the IPA.

“While there is a clear desire from consumers to buy more sustainably and play their part, there is a worrying lack of trust in the environmental claims made by brands.”

Mercedes drops Grenfell cladding sponsor

Mercedes has cut ties with sponsor Kingspan after just one race, amid outrage the Formula One team had signed a deal with a company that supplied combustible insulation used on Grenfell Tower.

The Kingspan logo had appeared on the nose cone of the cars driven by current Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

The UK government had warned Mercedes it could face an advertising ban if it promoted a firm that is a core participant in the public inquiry into the Grenfell tragedy.

In a letter, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, Michael Gove, told the Formula One team that a former Kingspan employee had already admitted to the inquiry he was involved in a “deliberate and calculated deceit by Kingspan”, given the company knew its products were more combustible than its advertising claimed.

Mercedes said the deal had been “intended to promote sustainability”, but that both parties had concluded that it is “not appropriate for the partnership to move forward at this current point in time”. In a statement, Kingspan noted it was “deeply aware of the sensitivities raised” and agreed it was not appropriate to continue with the deal.

Hamilton, who has shown solidarity with the Grenfell survivors, said he had no knowledge of the deal ahead of his race last weekend in Saudi Arabia, adding at the time that it was “unfortunate” his name was associated with the deal given he was driving the car.

READ MORE: Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes Team and Grenfell firm end deal

Wednesday, 8 December


TikTok uses UK market to launch first scheduled live shopping events

Today sees TikTok use the UK market to spearhead a move into anchored live shopping events, with the launch of a two-day initiative hosted by TV presenter Rylan Clark-Neal, reports the BBC.

While the social platform has held livestream shopping events before, the ‘On Trend’ initiative will feature scheduled content created in-house, including music, a quiz and influencers, over a sustained period. Consumers will be able to purchase featured products directly from the platform.

“We think it’s a really significant moment. E-commerce is a big opportunity for TikTok and it’s something we’re investing in significantly,” said TikTok general manager, UK and EU, Rich Waterworth. He describes social shopping as a ‘big prize’.

“People who have a shared interest or a shared love for a creator or a product area, these communities come together and make the experience of finding and enjoying those products more interesting,” said Waterworth. “So when you bring these two things together, the power of the TikTok community and the brands… it’s really exciting.”

TikTok is understood to have worked directly with a number of brands to create the product-focused streaming content.

READ MORE: TikTok gets into shopping

‘Stella Please’ campaign to support hospitality staff

Stella Artois will knock a pound off the price of a pint of its beer for customers who say please during the festive season, in a call for politeness towards hospitality staff.

Research from the brand and YouGov found that 41% of those surveyed are concerned that customers will be ruder this Christmas, with 40% reporting an increase in rude behaviour since lockdown measures were relaxed earlier this year.

As a result the brand is working with charity Hospitality Action for its Stella Please campaign, garnering the support of Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White, who is calling for better manners from customers. The charity is helping hospitality staff who have experienced a difficult time during the pandemic.

A selection of pubs across London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Newport will now reduce the price of Stella for customers who simply say “Can I have a Stella, please,” when ordering. In addition, the brand will make a donation to Hospitality Action for every pint ordered.

Christmas can be a difficult time of year for hospitality workers, even more so this year with many preparing for an unpredictable, yet their busiest festive season in years,” says Stella Artois global vice president Tim Ovadia. “We wanted to raise awareness on the pressure the hospitality workers may face this season and our research shows how small acts of kindness from the public really can go a long way for them. This is an industry that is very dear to us and our Stella Please campaign further builds on the initiatives we have run over the past year to best support hospitality staff whatever the challenges being faced.”

“Over the years I have witnessed my team be on the receiving end of rude and unnecessary behaviour from customers. And today, in the lead up to a very busy Christmas period, I would like to proudly stand alongside the hospitality industry and do my bit and say ‘please be polite’. Wishing everyone a happy Christmas,” adds Marco Pierre White.

“We praise the efforts of Stella Artois and Marco in helping spread awareness of this important issue and getting the nation to show kindness to the hospitality industry during this busy time of year for them. Hospitality staff will bend over backwards to ensure you enjoy the festive season, so please show them some kindness in return,” says Mark Lewis, chief executive of Hospitality Action.

Pret seeks to motivate gift subscriptions

Pret A Manger has launched its coffee subscription service as a gift product for the first time, teaming up with celebrity fitness guru Mr Motivator – also known as Derrick Errol Evans MBE – to highlight the offer which the brand hopes will be a popular Christmas gift.

Evans spent a morning outside the Pret a Manger branch in Cross Street, Manchester, with megaphone and organic coffee in hand to cheer passersby and encourage them to buy the subscription for coffee lovers.

The Pret Coffee Subscription gives recipients up to 150 barista-made drinks for £20 per month. It is available to purchase as a gift via the brand’s website.

“The Pret Coffee Subscription is the gift that keeps on giving and is the perfect present for Christmas 2021. We’re delighted to team up with Mr Motivator to give the nation a little extra motivation as they finish their Christmas shopping over the next few weeks and help people be jolly popular amongst friends, family and coffee lovers by gifting The Pret Coffee Subscription for the first time ever,” says Pret UK food and coffee director Briony Raven.

Lavazza becomes official coffee of Arsenal Women

Italian coffee brand Lavazza has extended its partnership with football club Arsenal by becoming the official coffee partner of Arsenal Women.

The brand has been the official coffee of the men’s team since 2018, and that relationship will continue. Lavazza’s iTierra! Colombia sustainable coffee range is available in around 150 hospitality boxes, with the single origin Kafa Forest Coffee served in VIP and player lounges, and at key points around the stadium.

Lavazza products will now be available at all Arsenal Women home games at the Emirates Stadium. The agreement was celebrated at Lavazza’s flagship store in central London – its first outside Italy.

“We are proud to be extending our partnership with Arsenal Football Club and to welcome Arsenal Women into our family”, says Lavazza UK regional director Pietro Mazzà. “Since 2017, Lavazza has been working to support the 17 goals set by the UN. This partnership showcases our commitment to supporting goal number 5, which is focused on Gender Equality, working to empower all women and girls. We are committed to celebrating sporting prowess and therefore this partnership is built on our shared values of excellence and the ability to innovate and inspire. We believe this will build a strong and successful partnership that celebrates football and provides both fans and players with an authentic Italian coffee experience.”

“Lavazza has been an outstanding partner for Arsenal since 2018 and we’re delighted to extend our relationship and welcome them as a partner of Arsenal Women,” adds Peter Silverstone, Chief Commercial Officer, Arsenal. “This presents a wonderful opportunity at a great time for both parties with Arsenal Women top of the WSL table and making good progress in the UEFA Champions League.

“We’re exceptionally proud of our heritage in women’s football and we’re excited to continue to work together with Lavazza to foster an even brighter future through our shared values of excellence, innovation and inspiration. Partnerships like this are extremely important for the growth of Arsenal Women and a powerful statement for the wider women’s game. Our collaboration with Lavazza will help us build on our success and enable us to continue to develop and attract the world’s best talent and inspire generations of young women in sport.”

Crew Clothing extends deal with Williams Racing

Fashion brand Crew Clothing is extending its deal to sponsor F1 team Williams Racing. It will now provide official trip kit for the racing team as part of a multi-year agreement, after seeing record-breaking sales of ranges launched for the 2021 season. A new product range will launch for the 2022 season.

The F1 deal will sit alongside Crew Clothing’s existing sponsorships for the Henley Royal Regatta, Exeter Chiefs, the Lawn Tennis Association, Middlesex Cricket and the Legends Tour, all part of a longstanding commitment to British Sport.

“We’re very proud to be partnered with Williams Racing. The extension of this partnership is a testament to the strength and success of the last year. Together, we will continue to inspire fans on the racetrack and beyond with memorable sporting moments spent wearing Crew Clothing,” says Crew Clothing CEO David Butler.

“We’re excited to extend our partnership with Crew Clothing and have them on board as the team’s official travel kit provider on a multi-year agreement. Their focus on quality, design and sustainability aligns perfectly with the spirit of Williams as we continue to transform both on and off track in this new era for the team,” adds Williams Racing commercial director James Bower.

Crew Clothing is using organically-grown cotton for its ranges, reducing the amount of water used in its production in a bid for improved sustainability levels.

Tuesday, 7 December


Tesco staff threaten strike action over pay

Tesco could be facing disruption before the key Christmas trading period as staff at more than half its UK distribution centres are in dispute with the supermarket over a pay rise offer.

Union Usdaw say 5,000 of its members have rejected a proposed 4% annual pay rise which the brand says is a fair offer. They will join Unite union members in taking industrial action at 14 of Tesco’s distribution centres.

Usdaw action will disrupt nine Tesco distribution sites, while 1,200 staff under Unite union will take action at five centres.

Unite says the 4% pay rise is a “real terms pay cut” due to inflation. The cost of living rose by 4.2% in October, its highest rate in almost 10 years.

Usdaw national officer Joanna McGuinness says: “We hope that the company is listening and that they will return to the negotiating table with a better deal that is acceptable to our members.”

“Industrial action and possible stock shortages in stores in the week before Christmas can be avoided. It needs the company to engage positively in talks with Usdaw and we stand ready to reopen negotiations.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham adds: “Our members have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep Tesco’s shelves filled throughout the pandemic. At the very least the UK’s largest and wealthiest retailer should be making our members a decent pay offer.”

A Tesco spokesperson says: “Our distribution colleagues have worked tirelessly through the pandemic in order to keep products moving for customers. The pay offer we have made is a fair recognition of this.”

READ MORE: Tesco: Pre-Christmas strikes planned by 6,200 depot staff

Rohingya sue Facebook for enabling hate speech

Facebook MetaRohingya refugees in the UK and US are suing Facebook, accusing the social media giant for allowing hate speech against them to spread on its platform.

The group is accusing Facebook, now called Meta, of enabling “the dissemination of hateful and dangerous misinformation to continue for years”.

A letter from a British law firm representing some of the refugees states Facebook’s algorithms “amplified hate speech”, it “failed to invest” in moderators and fact checkers, stalled in taking down posts that incited violence, and did not “take appropriate and timely action” despite warnings from charities and the media.

A lawsuit in the US filed against Facebook in San Francisco accuses Facebook of being “willing to trade the lives of the Rohingya people for better market penetration in a small country in Southeast Asia.” It cites a Reuters investigation that featured a post that stated in 2013: “We must fight them the way Hitler did the Jews.”

The group is demanding more than $150bn (£113bn) in compensation, claiming Facebook’s platforms promoted violence against the persecuted minority.

It is estimated around 10,000 Rohingya Muslims were killed during a military crackdown in the Buddhist majority Myanmar during 2017. Facebook has 20 million members in Myanmar with the platform a popular destination for news. Facebook said in 2018 it did not do enough to prevent the incitement of violence against the ethnic group in Myanmar.

Meta has not commented immediately on the case.

READ MORE: Rohingya sue Facebook for $150bn over Myanmar hate speech

Arsenal appoints new marketing lead

Arsenal Football Club has appointed Juliet Slot chief commercial officer, replacing departing Peter Silverstone who is seeking new opportunities at the end of January next year.

She will be responsible for marketing as well as overseeing the Premier League club’s commercial partnerships, ticketing, hospitality, digital experience and retail.

The incoming commercial chief held the same role at Ascot Racecourse from 2012 to 2020. Prior to that she was managing director at marketing agency Pitch Media for two and held the same role at Haymarket Network where she was the first externally recruited MD.

She was also sales and marketing director for Fulham Football Club and women’s brand manager from Adidas International. Currently she holds a non-executive role at the British Olympic Association.

Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham says: “I’m delighted to welcome Juliet to the team. She brings immense experience and expertise and will be an important part of our executive team as we look to take the club forward. I would like to thank Peter for his positive contribution to the club and wish him every future success.”

DMA rallies for youth employment support from creative industries

The Data and Marketing Association (DMA) is calling on creative industries to step up recruitment and support for entry-level marketing talent.

At 11.7% the youth unemployment rate is worse than many countries, according to government data. Today more than one in eight (12.6%) of under-25s are neither working or in full-time study.

Talent has become of increasing concern to the data and marketing industry and society since the pandemic began, says the DMA. Research from the trade association, which asked 220 senior marketers what they believed were the biggest challenges impacting the data and marketing industry, shows retaining talent (53%) and attracting talent (49%) are two of the three most significant issues. But the most cited issue is diversity and inclusion (58%).

Marketing plans were put on ice or abandoned over the lockdown period due to businesses putting survival as a priority. The challenge for the industry now is to recruit in data and marketing roles but there they are “notoriously hard to recruit for” says the DMA, as employers end up paying high salaries in their competition for a small pool of talent.

To tackle the youth unemployment issue, the DMA has launched the Marketing Jobs board to provide trusted, skilled and keen entry-level talent, who are resourceful to organisations across the industry.

DMA Talent general manager Kate Burnett says: “With youth employment hit hard due to the coronavirus epidemic, DMA Talent remains determined to support young talent at a crossroads in their career who are seeking entry-level roles. Marketing recruitment had a short-term outlook long before the pandemic – this needs to change. There is a tendency across the industry to hire experienced people rather than grow, upskill and support our own people and the next generation.

“We need young people within our businesses for a number of reasons. They are essential for helping organisations to stay relevant to customers, bringing fresh insights and a unique perspective on how to attract a younger demographic.”

Consumers continue to spend despite grocery price rises

Take home grocery sales fell by 3.8% over the 12 weeks to 28 November compared to the same period last year. Sales remain strong compared with the market before the pandemic, though, and grocery spend was 7% higher in the latest 12 weeks than in 2019.

Price inflation is not “denting” consumer desires to treat themselves and their loved ones, as supermarket premium own-label ranges, such as Tesco Finest and Asda Extra Special, are the fastest growing ranges in store. Last year premium own label supermarket ranges raked in more that £587m and the figure is forecast to be higher this year.

Christmas food staples are “nudging up in price” as the average cost of a meal for four is now £27.48, an increase of 3.4% compared to last year. Grocery prices are up 3.2% in the latest four weeks the “highest rate of inflation” Kantar recorded since June 2020.

“Consumer behaviour hasn’t caught up with these changes though. Habits we’d expect to see shift, like swapping branded products for own label or seeking out promotions, haven’t altered just yet,” says Kantar head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt.

Development of the next stage of the pandemic with the Omicron variant has only “slightly tempered” anticipation for Christmas, he adds.

Online grocery sales fell by 12.5% in the four weeks to late November compared to the same period last year, but online sales are expected to rise again as concerns over case numbers increases.

All supermarket retailers saw growth compared to pre-pandemic 2019, but year-on-year grocery sales were down across the board.

Market leader Tesco’s sales fell by 1.4% but this was a softer decline than the total market, and the grocer bagged 0.7% of market share this period, its biggest jump over 12 weeks since 2007, taking it to its highest market share since February 2019.

Lidl and Aldi also made share gains over the past 12 weeks. Both limited their annual sales decline to just 1.1%. Lidl hit a new record market share of 6.4%, while Aldi won 0.2 percentage points to move to 7.9%.

Sales at Ocado fell by 2.4% year on year but have grown by 35.0% compared with two years ago. It boosted its market share from 1.7% in 2020 to 1.8% in the past 12 weeks. Sainsbury’s now holds a 15.4% share of the market, Asda 14% and Morrisons 10%. Waitrose’s market share was steady at 4.9%, while Co-op now stands at 6.1% and Iceland at 2.3%

Aldi’s Christmas ad with festive mascot Kevin the Carrot was the most effective ad of 2021 according to Kantar research based on consumer feedback and emotional responses.

Monday, 6 December

Source: Selfridges

Selfridges pursues £4bn acquisition by Thai retail giant

UK luxury department store group Selfridges is to be bought by Thai conglomerate Central Group for up to £4bn, after 18 years under the ownership of the Weston family.

The retailer has 25 outlets, with a flagship store in London’s Oxford Street. Other branches are situated in Dublin, the Netherlands and Canada.

According to the Times, which first reported the deal, sales terms with Central Group were agreed in the last week.

The Weston family put the chain up for sale in June. It has not been disclosed why, but the last two years have been incredibly tough on high street retail businesses, with pandemic lockdowns keeping tourists at bay and shoppers at home.

Central Group is another family-owned business, with 3,700 shops worldwide ranging from supermarkets to electronics retailers to department stores. The group’s non-executive director, Vittorio Radice, ran Selfridges between 1996 and 2003.

READ MORE: Selfridges set for £4bn sale to Thai retail giant

Trump’s social media platform claims to have raised $1bn

A new social media company launched by former US president Donald Trump claims to have entered into agreements to raise $1bn (£755m) from investors, ahead of a planned listing on the stock market.

The Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), launched in October, unveiled plans for a new messaging app called Truth Social early next year.

The company hopes the platform will rival the likes of Twitter and Facebook, which banned Trump in January following the terrorist attack on the US Capitol. Announcing plans to launch Truth Social earlier this year, Trump said the platform would allow conversation “without discrimination on the basis of political ideology”.

Speaking this weekend on the raised investment, Trump said: “$1bn sends an important message to Big Tech that censorship and political discrimination must end.

“As our balance sheet expands, Trump Media & Technology Group will be in a stronger position to fight back against the tyranny of Big Tech.”

TMTG plans to become publicly listed through a merger with publicly traded special purpose acquisition business Digital World Acquisition. The institutional investors have not been identified but were said to be from a “diverse group”.

Trump is listed as chair of the TMTG, and is set to make tens of millions in special bonus shares if the combined company performs well. At present, the former president’s personal worth is thought to have plummeted, with Trump dropped from Forbes’ 400 wealthiest Americans list in October for the first time.

READ MORE: Trump social media firm says it has raised $1bn

Activision Blizzard dropped from The Game Awards after allegations of misconduct

The Games Awards, one of the gaming industry’s biggest award shows and media opportunities, has confirmed that Activision Blizzard “will not be a part” of this year’s awards show, as the video game company continues to deal with allegations of workplace sexual harassment and unequal pay.

While nominations for Activision Blizzard games in awards categories will stand, the publisher will not be allowed to showcase any of its upcoming games to the show’s more than 80 million viewers.

“Beyond its nominations, I can confirm that Activision Blizzard will not be a part of this year’s The Game Awards,” the awards’ executive producer and host, Geoff Keighley, tweeted on Saturday (4 December).

“There is no place for abuse, harassment or predatory practices in any company or any community.”

However, Rob Kostich, the president of Activision Blizzard, continues to serve on The Game Awards’ board of advisors.

Earlier this year, the company behind Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush was taken to court by California’s state department of fair employment and housing (DFEH) over allegations of sexual harassment, unequal pay and discrimination against its female employees.

The complaint claims female employees at Activision Blizzard start on lower pay and earn less than male employees doing similar work. Female employees were also allegedly subjected to “cube crawls”, in which inebriated male employees crawled through office cubicles and engaged in inappropriate behaviour.

More recently, a November report in The Wall Street Journal accused the company’s CEO Bobby Kotick of his own history of harassment and abusive behaviour, suggesting the problems go all the way to the top of the business.

READ MORE: Activision Blizzard won’t play a part at The Game Awards this year

Walkers runs print ad apologising for product supply difficulties

Source: Walkers

Crisp brand Walkers has run a full-page apology ad across UK newspapers, after an IT system upgrade disrupted supply of its products and left some shoppers struggling to find them on shop shelves.

The ad plays on the saying ‘eating humble pie’, with the image of a special packet of ‘Humble Pie’ flavoured crisps.

“We’ve been left eating humble pie as we’ve had some trouble getting our crisps out to you. We feel terrible we’ve let you down,” the ad reads.

“To crisp fans everywhere, we’re truly sorry. To our retailers and customers, thank you so much for bearing with us.”

The ad ran across the Sun and Metro newspapers and across Walkers’ social channels.

A spokesperson for Walkers says: “We’ve made good progress in recent weeks and more of people’s favourite crisps and snacks are heading to shops every day.

“We’ve increased production of our most popular Walkers products and we’re making a wider range of flavours each day which will continue until our full range is back on shelves. We’re sorry for the issues this has caused.”

Digital media claims more than three-quarters of UK ad spend in 2021

Digital media captured 78% of the UK’s advertising industry in 2021, with new forecasts expecting its share to reach 82% by 2026.

However, deceleration in digital advertising is “inevitable”, according to GroupM’s end-of-year forecast, as the UK faces Brexit-related and globally driven economic speed bumps.

Overall, the global ad industry is forecast to have grown 37% in 2021, an upwards revision from September’s prediction of 19.2%. The US, UK and China account for approximately 70% of the industry’s growth, despite making up around 60% of the total market.

The UK is expected to have experienced the highest growth among major markets this year at a forecast of 35.7%, well above September’s forecast of 30%.

Next year, GroupM predicts global growth of 9.3%, an increase on its previous forecast of 8.8%.

Television advertising is expected to exceed its pre-pandemic 2019 levels in 2021, with the UK experiencing the sixth fastest pace of growth, the fastest among the world’s top 20 markets.

Audio and outdoor advertising are expected to surpass 2019 levels in 2022 and 2023 respectively, though both will see growth stall after. Audio is expected to revert to mostly flat results, while outdoor advertising will return to low- to mid-single digit growth.



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