Adidas, Twitter, Peloton: 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.

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Adidas to sell Yeezy stock and split proceeds with charity

Adidas has confirmed it will sell off some of the Yeezy stock it created with Kanye West, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.

The sportswear giant ended its partnership with the rapper, now known as Ye, last year following his anti-Semitic comments. At the same time it put a hold on selling all Yeezy trainers and merchandise, meaning it was sitting on €1.2bn (£1bn) of unsold stock.

Despite the scandal, Yeezy products have continued to be popular on the resale market. As a result, Adidas CEO Bjoern Gulden said the firm had made the call not to donate the stock in fear it would end up on the market indirectly.

Talking at the firm’s annual shareholder meeting, he added that “burning the goods would not be a solution” either.

Last week, Adidas said it would cost the company €500m if it decided not to “repurpose” its remaining unsold Yeezy stock.

READ MORE: Adidas to sell Yeezy shoes and donate proceeds

Elon Musk appoints new Twitter CEO

Elon Musk says he has found a new CEO for Twitter who will be starting in around six weeks.

He did not reveal their identity, only that she is a woman. There is speculation, however, following a report in the Wall Street Journal citing people close to the situation, that it will be NBCUniversal’s chairman of global advertising and partnerships, Linda Yaccarino, who takes on the top job.

When the role holder does take over, Musk confirmed via a tweet he will become executive chair and CTO [chief technology officer] overseeing product, software and sysops.

The Tesla owner said in a tweet at the end of last year that he was preparing to step down from leading Twitter “as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job”.

Musk took over as CEO of Twitter in October after his $44bn acquisition of the social platform, with job cuts, the launch of Twitter Blue, the resurrection of banned accounts and advertisers leaving all marring his tenure.

READ MORE: Elon Musk announces he has found new Twitter CEO

Peloton’s reputation takes another hit as it recalls 2 million bikes over safety concerns

Peloton has hit another speed bump after being forced to recall more than 2 million exercise over fears they could break during use.

It has received 35 reports from users of “seat posts breaking” causing injuries including a fractured wrist and lacerations.

The recall applies to bikes sold in the US between January 2018 to May 2023, which equates to 2,160,000 as of 30 April. Peloton said customers who purchased a bike in the UK, Germany and Australia will not be impacted by the recall.

News of the recall sent the firm’s stock plunging by more than 8% on Thursday.

It is the latest issue to plague the exercise bike brand. In 2020, the company recalled the product after a child was killed and more than 70 people reported injuries.

Meanwhile, in 2019 the company was accused of “sexist” and “dystopian” behaviour after releasing an ad showing a husband gifting his wife a bike for Christmas. The ad ends with the woman saying: “A year ago, I didn’t realise how much this would change me.”

The death of Mr Big in the Sex and a City comeback following a heart attack while on his Peloton also saw the brand’s share price tumble. The brand responded with an ad featuring Mr Big actor Chris Noth, which it reportedly knew nothing about, but this was then axed after the actor was accused of sexual assault.

READ MORE: Peloton recalls 2 million bikes over injury risk

JD Williams launches campaign to ‘reframe and reclaim’ midlife

JD Williams, the online fashion and lifestyle retailer, is launching a campaign it hopes portrays midlife women in a more realistic and positive way.

The campaign, by House 337, celebrates getting older, tapping into the confidence and self-assuredness of women in middle age.

It features lines like ‘No it’s not my daughter’s, and yes I still look hot’, ‘Feeling more girlfriend than grandma’ and ‘Admit it, this age thing suits you’.

It’s driven by research, which shows women in their 40s and beyond stop seeing advertising that reflects who they are.

Esme Stone, head of brand marketing for JD Williams, hopes the campaign “truly demonstrates our commitment to midlife women”.
“We have developed a platform that allows us to speak to our style conscious audience in a way that resonates with her and her life stage.”

Zara Ineson, executive creative director, House 337, adds: “Advertising has misrepresented midlife for too long: showing extremes, labelling it as menopausal or simply ignoring it altogether. We’re doing ourselves a disservice if we keep hiding from reality and overlooking middle-aged women.”

She says: “It’s about bloody time someone reframes and reclaims midlife.”

Dobbies launches value focused ad to raise consideration

Garden centre brand Dobbies has launched a campaign focused on value as it looks to raise awareness and consideration.

The retailer is also hoping to increase footfall to its stores and sales online, by focusing on the value for money message as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

Dobbies is testing out a new media mix for the campaign, using broadcast video-on-demand, out of home and digital audio, supported by digital display, social and eCRM.

The campaign was developed by agency Elvis, which has B Corp status, and was developed as “sustainably as possible”, according to the brand. It say the ad was shot at its store in Tewkesbury to avoid any large set build requirements, with all props coming from Dobbies and being recycled or reused in-store after the shoot to minimise waste. The creative idea was also realised through CGI rather than producing large scale props.

The ad was produced by The Operators, with media planning and buying by EssenceMediacom and Clean Digital.

Thursday, 11 May

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Disney losses narrow as it eyes up ad-supported streaming options

Posting its first quarter financial results, Disney shared it has cut its streaming losses by $400m (£318m), but Disney+ also lost 4 million subscribers in this period.

The narrowed losses come as a result of a price increase for the service and a cut to marketing spend. The service’s operating loss is $659m (£552m), down from $1.1bn (£873m) last quarter.

Disney’s overall revenues reached $21.82bn (£17.3bn), up from $19.25bn (£15.29bn) for the same period last year. For the six months ending 1 April 2023, revenues were $45.33bn (£36bn), up 10% year on year from $41.1bn (£32.6bn).

In a call with investors, Disney shared its plans to reduce the amount of content it offers on the platform and its intention to create a cheaper ad-supported subscription and higher subscription fees.

“We have only just begun to scratch the surface of what we can do with advertising on Disney+, and I’m incredibly bullish on our longer-term advertising positioning,” says Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO.

For those wanting to access an ad-free Disney+, they will face higher subscription fees in a move that will “better reflect the value” of the content.

Beyond Meat cuts losses and gains profit as it reduces marketing spend

Plant-based meat brand Beyond Meat has reported a gross profit of $6.2m (£4.9m) in its first quarter results, up from $0.2m (£0.16m) in the same period last year.

At the same time, the company posted a net loss of $59m (£47m), down from $100.5m (£80m) last year. Meanwhile, net revenues reached $92.2m (£73m), representing a 15.7% decrease year on year.

Beyond Meat’s adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $45.8m (£36m), compared with a loss of $78.9m (£62.6m) last year.

The business attributed its narrowed losses to a reduction in marketing-related expenses, including advertising, alongside a reduced headcount and lower production trial spending.

It cited short-term uncertainty in terms of the macroeconomic environment alongside an uncertain demand for plant-based meat. However, the company forecasts revenues between $375m (£297m) and $415m (£319m) for the full year.

“Late last year, we articulated a strategy to drive Beyond Meat to cash-flow positive operations and sustainable long-term growth,” said Ethan Brown, CEO. “We remain focused on our strategy and committed to pursuing our vision of transforming the $1.4trn global meat industry.”

John Lewis boss insists business will always be staff-owned

The John Lewis Partnership’s chairperson Dame Sharon White says the company will always be owned by its staff, “no ifs, no buts”, following a vote of confidence in her leadership, which she survived.

It was recently rumoured that John Lewis was considering changing its ownership structure. The business has been employee-owned for more than 70 years, however lacklustre results as of late had led to concerns the business was eyeing up outside stakes.

Chris Earnshaw, president of the Partnership Council, said yesterday (10 May) the council did not support the business’s performance in the last year, which includes losses and no staff bonus. However, the group voted in support of White.

“Our model is the very reason I joined the partnership because I believe profoundly in an approach of kinder capitalism in the 21st century,” said White. “It’s what makes us special.”

READ MORE: John Lewis will always be owned by staff, says boss

McDonald’s celebrates 40 years of McNuggets

McDonald’s has released a campaign to celebrate 40 years of its chicken nuggets, McNuggets.

The campaign, ‘#McNuggetWorthy’, created with Leo Burnett, plays on how McDonald’s customers don’t want to share their McNuggets with others. McDonald’s is aiming the campaign at driving Gen Z participation, while leaning on what it calls genuine audience insight.

The 30-second film features two best friends, who despite their strong friendship, do not share their food. It features the tagline: “They might be your bestie, but are they #McNuggetWorthy?”

McDonald’s is also partnering with youth-focused media platform LadBible to support the campaign by inviting fans to share what makes a friendship “McNuggentWorthy”.

“McNuggets are one of the most iconic products on our menu so, when the 40th anniversary came around, we knew we needed to make a splash,” says Steve Howells, director of marketing for UK and Ireland at McDonald’s.

“Our approach for this campaign was to engage true McNugget lovers by unlocking a genuine fan truth and spreading the word through a fun, interactive campaign.”

Industry pays homage as IPA effectiveness stalwart Janet Hull announces retirement

Janet Hull OBE, the IPA’s director of marketing strategy, is retiring from the business after more than 20 years. Hull will take on a part-time role from July before full retirement at the end of the year.

Hull has played a pivotal role in driving the IPA’s effectiveness agenda, notably in bringing key industry research, such as Les Binet and Peter Field’s The Long and the Short of it, to market.

Her career has spanned a range of agency and board positions, and Hull worked as a consultant with the IPA between 1994 and 1998 before joining full-time in 2005.

“When I joined the IPA, I was given a one-line brief to take the learning from the IPA Effectiveness Awards into the mainstream. I couldn’t have had a better challenge,” says Hull. “Throughout my career at the IPA I have always been given the freedom to go beyond, to look outward, to forge new connections. I have found that the IPA name can open doors to Government, academia, industry both in the UK and around the world.”

Reflecting on her retirement, Les Binet, group head of effectiveness at Adam&eveDDB says: “Janet has been immensely supportive of the work that Peter Field and I have done with the IPA Databank over the last 20 years.”

“In many ways, she has been the driving force behind our research, getting sponsorship, pushing us to deepen our understanding of the data, and helping to bring our findings to the wider world. In fact, it was Janet who suggested we call our 2013 book “The Long and the Short of It”, which was a stroke of genius. We will miss her terribly,” he adds.

Wednesday, 10 May


Airbnb shares fall despite record-setting first quarter

Airbnb has posted its first ever profitable Q1 as its net income reached $117m (£92.7m) on a GAAP basis – but a more cautious outlook for Q2 meant shares fell in extended trading.

The rental company says it reached a record high of 120 million nights and experiences booked over the quarter as revenue grew 20% year-on-year to $1.8bn.

Its net income of $117m was a positive swing from the net loss of $19m during the same period in 2022.

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky was upbeat about the results – which beat out analyst expectations – describing it as a “record-setting Q1” which will “accelerate growth supply around the world”.

“And with over 50 new features and upgrades released last week, our service has never been better,” he added.

However, the company offered a more cautious outlook for Q2 2023, as it expects nights and experiences booked to have an unfavourable year-on-year comparison. Something the firm puts down to pent-up 2022 demand following the Covid omicron variant.

This caused the market to react negatively with shares in the travel company falling by as much as 11.5% in extended trading on Tuesday.

Instagram puts family safety at heart of new campaign

Instagram is launching a new campaign to raise awareness of its family tools as the company looks to reassure families that young people are safe on the app.

The social media giant says it has developed 30 different tools to support families, including a daily time limit and default private accounts for teenagers, as it looks to promote that Instagram can be used in a safe and healthy way.

The ad campaign will run across a suite of channels including online, social, steaming, connected TV and radio for two months in the UK, France and Belgium.

Ciara Farren, marketing director for Europe at Meta, says: “We want to help keep young people safer online, which includes supporting parents and guardians to be more involved in their teens’ experiences.”

She added that she hopes the campaign will make parents “aware” of the supervision tools open to them.

Ryanair looks to ‘widen gap’ to competition with new aircraft order

RyanairRyanair has ordered a further 300 aircraft from Boeing in a deal worth $40bn (£31bn) which could allow the budget airline to double passenger capacity over the next decade.

The Boeing 737-Max-10 aircraft are 10% larger than its current fleet and will offer 21% more seats, burn 20% less fuel and be 50% quieter than its outgoing B737NGs.

Half of the order is described as firm with the airline holding an option on the remaining 150 planes.

Ryanair claims that the deal will create more than 10,000 jobs at the airline and allow it to grow its passenger numbers from 168 million to 300 million a year by 2034.

Ryanair’s group chief executive Michael O’Leary describes the deal as “the ideal growth aircraft order” that will “widen the gap between Ryanair and competitor airlines for many years to come”.

“In addition to delivering significant revenue and traffic growth across Europe, we expect these new, larger, more efficient, greener aircraft to drive further unit cost savings, which will be passed on to passengers in lower air fares,” he added.

READ MORE: Ryanair plans expansion as it orders up to 300 new Boeing jets

Lynx looks to Gen Z as it labels itself the G.O.A.T

Male fragrance brand Lynx is hoping to capture the attention of Gen Z as part of its £13m marketing investment.

The ad will see the brand declare its famous Lynx Africa scent as the G.O.A.T, or Greatest Of All Time, complete with an animated goat that sends its young users on a wild night out.

The new ATL campaign is targeted at younger consumers and will show up on channels closely associated with the group included gamers and streamers on Twitch, a sign of how important the creator-led platform has become in targeting younger audiences.

It will be supported by OOH at key moments, such as the half-term break, which will be fully digital for the first time.

Lynx is also creating social-first assets that are shorter and sharper for use on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok based on passion points for Gen Z including music, sports and anime.

“We’re continuing to evolve the brand in line with Gen Z’s values, interests, and aspirations to recruit the next generation of shoppers by getting closer than ever to their world,” says Josh Plimmer, senior brand manager at Lynx.

“It is crucial for Lynx that we continue to maintain relevancy amongst younger consumers and so Gen Z will continue to be a real focus for us.”

Depop to host live music event as part of new campaign

Fashion resale marketplace Depop has launched its new UK campaign encouraging shoppers to buy “pre-loved” this summer.

Looking to draw on the marketplace’s community-first ethos ‘I Got It On Depop’ sees excited shoppers sharing the excitement of finding that unique second-hand purchase.

The campaign will see OOH assets in close proximity to London retail spaces such as Oxford Street and Westfield. Alongside this the company looks to utilise influencer and talent partnerships and will host a live music event later in the summer.

Peter Semple, chief marketing officer at Depop, says; “Community is, and will continue to be, one of the most important parts of the Depop experience.

“This campaign leans into the energy of how our buyers and sellers already proudly talk about their Depop purchases; we’ve named it ‘I Got It On Depop’ because we know that’s what our community is already saying to each other.”

Tuesday, 9 May

Source: Direct Line

Direct Line issues Q1 trading update

Direct Line Insurance Group has issued its 2023 Q1 trading update, highlighting its gross written premium (GWP) for the period and its outlook for the year ahead.

The company’s GWP for its motor division was £358.7m for the first three months of 2023, a 3.3% year-on-year increase on 2022’s £347.3m. Its home category GWP increased by 2.1% to £129m for the quarter, up from £126.4m in the same period last year.

For its rescue and other personal lines category, GWP was £64.7m, up from £66.1 last year. Meanwhile, commercial saw GWP growth of 27.6%, from £171.9m in Q1 2022, to £219.3m this year.

Average renewal premiums also increase 19% year-on-year, reflecting the price increases Direct Line introduced in 2022 and during the beginning of this year.

“Trading has been positive over the first quarter with premium growth across Motor, Home and Commercial and this trend has continued into April. Our focus continues to be on restoring the capital strength of the Group and improving Motor margins, where we have made good progress,” said Jon Greenwood, acting CEO of Direct Line Group.

He added that the business’s 2023 outlook “continues to be challenging”, and that the company will “continue to take the actions required to drive business performance”.

LinkedIn announces layoffs amid ‘slower revenue growth’

LinkedInLinkedIn is laying off 716 of its 20,000 employees as the professional network looks to navigate a “rapidly changing landscape”, making cuts to its global business organisation and its China presence.

As part of the changes, LinkedIn is closing its business productivity team. In an attempt to be more agile, it is set to work more with vendors and reducing management roles. LinkedIn will also phase out its China careers app, InCareer, amid a “challenging macroeconomic climate”.

Alongside the layoffs, LinkedIn will be introducing 250 new roles across its operations, new business and account management teams.

These plans were laid out in a letter from LinkedIn’s CEO, Ryan Roslansky, who said: “As we plan for FY24, we’re expecting the macro environment to remain challenging.”

“We’re adapting as we have done this year and will continue to operate with the ambition we need to deliver on our vision and the pragmatism required to run the business well,” he said.

King Charles III’s coronation led to a drop in footfall

The UK’s retail footfall fell by 20.6% on Saturday 6 May, the day of King Charles III’s coronation, and was 24.6% lower between 10am and 3pm as the ceremony took place, compared with the week prior according to data from MRI Springboard.

London’s footfall drop was lower, at 9.3%. However, some areas witnessed an increase in footfall, such as Knightsbridge, which saw it rise by 9.7%, as crowds gathered to watch the event.

Across the UK, retail footfall was 21.2% lower than 2019’s figure while London was 6.1% lower than 2019. Non-retail areas in Central London saw a 32.9% uplift on 2019’s numbers.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at MRI Spingboard, says the coronation “somewhat inevitably drew consumers away from stores and destinations as many were watching the proceedings”.

Twitter announces plans to delete inactive accounts, sparking backlash

Twitter’s owner Elon Musk yesterday (8 May) announced plans for the social platform to cut inactive accounts.

In a tweet, he wrote: “We’re purging accounts that have had no activity at all for several years, so you will probably see follower count drop”.

The move is in part aimed at freeing up “abandoned handles” for users. Twitter’s policy states users should log in to their account at least once every 30 days to avoid permanent removal due to inactivity.

It’s the latest decision from the platform to spark a backlash, as users shared their worries that the removal of inactive accounts would delete those belonging to deceased family and friends.

READ MORE: Twitter to remove idle accounts, archive them

Shaving subscription brand Harry’s launches long-term brand platform

Harry’s, the shaving subscription brand which launched in 2012, has launched a long-term brand platform aimed at driving the messaging that shaving can foster inner confidence.

‘Feel Good, Fellas’ is part of a long-term vision for the brand, created by London-based agency The Or.

The film features an older business leader who goes into a moment of self-reflection off the back of being around his younger colleagues, and links back to the brand’s mission to improve mental health access for me – to date, the brand has donated $12.5m to support this purpose.

“In a world that’s dictating how men should be and what they should look like, Harry’s celebrate guys who carve their own path and make choices that work best for them,” says Ben Dancer, direct of brand marketing at Harry’s.

He adds: “We’re proud to be partnering with The Or, who through our new creative brand platform have grasped this sentiment of championing inner confidence perfectly through simplistic everyday wins.”