Airbnb, Currys, Uber: 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.

Airbnb credits ‘optimised marketing strategy’ as it posts highest ever profits

Shifting marketing spend from performance into brand building, combined with the post-pandemic travel rebound, has helped drive Airbnb to its strongest ever quarter this autumn.

The travel and hospitality business posted a net income of $834m (£618m) in its results for the third quarter of 2021, nearly four times higher (280%) than a year ago. With net income also 213% higher than the pre-pandemic third quarter of 2019, Airbnb says this quarter is the business’s most profitable ever.

Adjusted EBITDA exceeded $1bn (£741m) for the first time at a total of $1.1bn (£815m), doubling the $501m (£371m) it posted in the third quarter of 2020 and more than tripling the $314m (£233m) it posted in 2019.

The business also achieved its highest ever revenue at $2.2bn (£1.6bn), 36% higher than the same period in 2019, and nearly 70% up on 2020. Year over two year revenue growth more than tripled from 10% in the second quarter of this year.

The third quarter of the year is typically Airbnb’s largest due to the summer travel peak, and the rebound of travel following the loosening of pandemic restrictions has driven this further. Over the summer the business reached a “major milestone” of one billion cumulative guest arrivals.

But the company also highlights the launch of its first large-scale marketing campaign in five years at the beginning of this year, ‘Made by Hosts’. The brand campaign runs in countries including the UK, US, France and Canada across TV and digital, and came as the business declared it would be making a permanent cut to its overall marketing investment, having noted that slashing spend during Covid had little impact on traffic. Those cuts have primarily been made in performance marketing spend.

The third quarter of 2021 is continuing to see traffic rise as a result of the campaign, Airbnb says, with overall traffic up by over 15% compared to 2019 in the seven countries where the campaign ran – “significantly ahead of non-campaign countries”. To continue the momentum, Airbnb launched new ads for the autumn season.

Sales and marketing expense for the quarter was therefore up by 136% year-on-year to $264m (£196m), excluding the impact of stock-based compensation and acquisition-related impacts. This was “primarily” a reflection of the increase in brand marketing expense, the business says, which also includes the ‘Olypara’ campaign the brand ran during the Olympic and Paralympic games.

For the nine months ending September 30 2021, Airbnb delivered 28% adjusted EBITDA margin growth compared to 2019. The business estimates that approximately two-thirds of that margin expansion has been driven by its financial disciple and “optimised marketing strategy”.

The brand remains focused on “making progress” towards achieving its long-term profitability goals through “high marketing efficiency”, reduced variable costs, and tightly managed fixed expenses. As such, it expects to deliver greater margin expansion in Q4.

Uber reaches ‘milestone’ with first-ever adjusted profit

After recording a staggering $625m (£463m) loss a year ago, the third quarter of 2021 has seen Uber make $8m (£5.9m) in profit, the first adjusted profit the business has ever posted as a public company.

Compared to the second quarter of the year, the figure marks a $517m (£383m) rise.

Profit has been driven by a 57% year-on-year rise in gross bookings to $23.1bn (£17.1bn), with mobility gross bookings of $9.9bn (+67%) and delivery gross bookings of $12.8bn (+50%).

Trips during the quarter grew 39% over the year to 1.64 billion, nearly 18 million trips per day on average. Revenue grew 72% compared to last year to $4.8bn (£3.6bn).

“While we recognize it’s just a step, reaching total-company adjusted EBITDA profitability is an important milestone for Uber,” says chief financial officer Nelson Chai.

“Not only did our mobility business recover to pre-Covid margins this quarter, our core restaurant delivery business was profitable on an adjusted EBITDA basis for the first time as well, bringing the full delivery segment close to breakeven.”

Lego appeals to stressed-out adults in latest campaign

The Lego Group is positioning its products as both an escape and a mindfulness exercise for busy adults who need to relax from the daily grind.

In its new ‘Adults Welcome’ marketing campaign, which features the tagline ‘Find your Flow’, the brand highlights the rhythmic and repetitive motions of Lego building, which it claims can help adults to relax.

Global research by the group found that 91% of adults say they experience stress at least once annually, with 77% checking emails when not at work and 64% worrying about work in their down time.

The campaign features three films following a day in the life of three busy adults, who face spilled drinks, missed buses, and flat tyres. However, unboxing and building a new Lego set eventually helps them unwind at the end of the day.

The films are supported by a range of testimonial videos showing how adults around the world are already using Lego building in their lives.

Created by the Lego Group’s internal creative agency, the global campaign will run across TV, digital, out of home, ecommerce channels and in-store.

“Children are at the centre of everything we do, but we are delighted that the love of Lego building transcends age,” says chief product and marketing officer Julia Goldin.

“With our research showing that adults often find it hard to relax, this new campaign hopes to show the valuable role Lego building can have in the lives of those looking for new ways to unwind and encourages them to try the calming building experience for themselves.”

Currys teams up with Uber on rapid delivery trial

UK technology retailer Currys is partnering with Uber on a trial which will enable Londoners to have small tech items delivered to their homes in as little as 30 minutes.

Currys claims the delivery service is quicker than any electronics competitors and will run for a pilot period of three months. Shoppers using Currys’ website can choose from a range of 1,800 items, including headphones, printer cartridges, laptops and phone chargers.

Uber will power the delivery service with its network of couriers. It is the business’ biggest UK retailer partnership.

Launching the week of 15 November in 15 London stores, the service builds on Currys growing online and delivery proposition, which includes its ShopLive 24/7 video shopping service and its one-hour order and collect service.

To order, customers visit the Currys website or app and opt for same day delivery at the checkout. The delivery charge will be £5.

“The world has shifted to a hybrid way of working and more customers are demanding greater convenience and speedier delivery to get their hands on tech,” says Currys’ chief operating officer Mark Allsop.

“We want to make it easy to shop for all of our customers. We want customers to get products in their hands and homes as soon as they want them – right now, with super-fast delivery.

“This new ‘from store to door’ delivery pilot with Uber is the next step in our exciting omnichannel journey.”

JD Sports lashes out at CMA as it is forced to sell Footasylum

The Competitions and Marketing Authority (CMA) has ruled that JD Sports must sell rival chain Footasylum, a decision the retailer has called “inexplicable”.

The CMA believes the takeover could lead to a “worse deal” for customers, as its investigation found that JD Sports was the closest alternative for Footasylum shoppers and would therefore reduce competition.

But JD Sports chairman Peter Cowgill has said the regulatory body is in “a minority of one”, arguing that its main competition is from brands like Nike and Adidas increasingly selling their goods direct to consumers online. The CMA claims to have taken this into consideration when making its decision.

Half of 1,300 online shoppers surveyed by the competition watchdog said that they would go to JD Sports if they were unable to shop at Footasylum as usual.

The £90m takeover deal was first announced in April 2019 but was blocked by the CMA, triggering an in-depth investigation.

Appealing against a ruling by the watchdog in September, JD Sports said it was “perplexed” that it had not included online sales to consumers by major brands.

READ MORE: JD Sports furious after being forced to sell Footasylum

Thursday, 4 November

The FA celebrates 150 years of cup competition

The Football Association is launching a season-long campaign to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the FA Cup.

The world’s longest-running knockout football competition celebrates the milestone on 11 November, when it was conceived by Secretary of the association, Charles W. Alcock, in 1871.

Central to the campaign will be a film featuring two-time winner of the competition and former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, who will showcase Alcock’s founding values and how they possess relevance today.

It will be released through The Emirates FA Cup’s digital channels and highlight the impact it continues to have at all levels of the football pyramid.

The Emirates FA Cup is unique in how it offers teams at amateur and semi-professional the potential chance to compete with Premier League sides.

Supporting the film will be a series of large-scale image projections up and down the country of key figures and moments during the FA Cup’s history.

The projection sites are: The Oval, Trulife Factory (Sheffield), Coventry Transport Museum, LNER Stadium (Lincoln), and the Marine Travel Arena (Merseyside).

The FA’s CEO Mark Bullingham says: “The Emirates FA Cup may be 150 years old but it’s a competition that has never felt more relevant as it continues to lift the clubs, communities and supporters of more than 700 teams that take part each year. The competition has transformed the fortunes of many clubs and individuals over 15 decades and this campaign will highlight some of these life-changing stories.

“Over £25 million in broadcast fees and prize money will be distributed this season, which should help clubs across the country to tackle some of the issues that they face as we move out of the pandemic. We will continue to celebrate the competition throughout its historic season and look forward to seeing clubs across the country create even more memories through to the Final in May.”

Sainsbury’s hails focus on food for growth


Sainsbury’s hails its efforts in tapping into the trend of home consumption as the supermarket puts “food back at the heart” of its business.

In results highlighting the brand’s H1 2021/2022 results, group revenue is up 5.3% to £15.7bn.

Grocery sales for the brand grew 9.1% compared to the same period a year ago, with the brand crediting improved value, innovation and service.

Digital sales were “strong” in the half with sales amounting £5.8bn and accounting for 39% of retail sales but is stagnant in growth overall.

Underlying profit before tax was £371 million, up 23 per cent versus H1 2020/2021, reflecting higher grocery sales and “effective cost reduction programmes”, particularly at sub-brand Argos.

The supermarket expects to report underlying profit before tax of at least £660m at the end of the financial year.

The brand’s ‘Food First’ plan was set out last November which pushed to triple the number of innovative new products. Another aspect was improving customer service with the brand maintaining strong customer satisfaction scores “ahead of key competitors”. Investments were also made to improve its Groceries Online channel with sales up 13% there.

Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts says: “We are making good progress delivering our plan to put food back at the heart of Sainsbury’s. We have grown market share through improving value for customers, tripling our rate of food innovation and delivering customer satisfaction ahead of our key competitors.

“Whilst customers are returning to many pre-pandemic shopping habits, online sales have remained very strong and we continue to grow market share. At the same time, our plan to transform Argos is on track, delivering significantly improved profitability.”

Brands end sponsorship with Yorkshire County Cricket Club amid racism accusation

Major sponsors of Yorkshire County Cricket Club have cut ties or distanced themselves from the club after revelations of racial abuse.

Former player Azeem Rafiq who has played for the club between 2008 and 2018, accused the Yorkshire club of “endemic racism” over its handling of his case.

Yorkshire Tea says its partnership with the is nearing the end but has terminated it with immediate effect.

David Lloyds Clubs has put its partnership “on hold a few weeks ago” but it will not be resumed. Publishing group The Emerald Group and the Age Partnership also cut ties with the team. The brands follow Anchor Butter which ended its sponsorship on Tuesday (2 November).

READ MORE: Azeem Rafiq: Sponsors distance themselves from Yorkshire cricket club amid racism claims

CNG Energy latest to go bust amid rising gas prices

Energy provider CNG Energy has become the latest victim of rising wholesale energy prices as it ceases trading.

There has been an unprecedented rise in wholesale gas prices with the number of defaulting energy brands now rising to 19 with CNG Energy.

The North Yorkshire brand served 41,000 non-domestic customers, regulator Ofgem pledges they will continue to be supplied however funds paid into accounts by non-domestic customers are not guaranteed protection.

Domestic customers will also be protected by the energy price cap when a new supplier has been appointed.

CNG Energy says it is “saddened” to cease trading after 27 years in business.

Ofgem director of retail Neil Lawrence says: “Ofgem’s number one priority is to protect customers. We know this is a worrying time for many people and news of a supplier going out of business can be unsettling.

The regulator says customers will continue to see their energy supply continue as “normal” and there will be an update when a new provider is appointed.

Xiaomi taps fans for regional campaign

Chinese smartphone vendor Xiaomi is launching a regional marketing campaign that spotlights customers to support its latest device launch.

The brand is launching the ‘New Talent’ campaign to support the new Xiaomi 11 Lite 5G NE smartphone in six countries including the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Netherlands.

Xiaomi has invited members of the public to put themselves forward to be the star of the marketing promotion.

More than 300 people entered by sharing a photo on their social media and explaining why they want to represent the brand. Chosen candidates were invited to a series of professional photoshoots, with the 52 finalists picture and bios uploaded and presented for voting for a winner.

The campaign is supported by across Xiaomi’s social channels and its community forums which has 420,000 fans.
Doris Pan, Xiaomi head of regional marketing for Western Europe says: “Our community is at the centre of everything we do, so we wanted to launch a campaign that celebrated them and gave back to our supporters.

Making the Xiaomi fans the face of our campaign, was a natural next step for us as their continued support has been integral to our success and growth as a brand”

Wednesday, 3 November


Next plans to ramp up digital marketing spend amid online sales surge

Next plans to ramp up its investment in digital marketing after full price sales rose by 17% during the third quarter to 30 October, compared to 2019 levels.

During the past five weeks alone Next beat its full price sales forecast by £14m, generating £4m of profit, with sales up 14%.

This success was driven by ecommerce. Online sales of Next branded products rose by 21% during the third quarter and 37% for the year, compared to 2019/2020. Demand was even stronger for third-party brands, with online sales up 86% during the third quarter and 73% for the year.

International online sales increased by 41% during the third quarter to 30 October and 55% for the year. Overall, online sales were up 40% over the third quarter period.

By contrast, Next UK and Ireland retail sales fell by 6.1% over the period and were down 28.8% for the year, compared to 2019/2020.

However, the retailer’s push for full price sales, rather than relying on discounting, appears to be working. Third quarter full price sales were up 18.7% and 12.8% for the year so far.

Next does not expect sales to continue at the levels seen during the third quarter for several reasons, including expectation that pent‐up consumer demand will likely diminish. The brand notes that while stock availability has improved, the situation “remains challenging” with delays across the international supply chain being compounded by labour shortages in the UK transport and warehousing networks.

Next also points to the fact consumer spending on “more discretionary purchases” could be hit over the fourth quarter by price increases for essentials such as fuel.

The retailer says the £4m of profit generated during the third quarter will be offset by “further investment in digital marketing” and the increased use of inbound air freight, alongside other online distribution costs.

For these reasons, Next is maintaining its fourth quarter full price sales guidance at 10% and full year profit before tax at £800m.

Netflix makes first foray into gaming

NetflixNetflix is making its first foray into mobile gaming in a bid to claim a larger slice of the entertainment market.

The five games, two of which are inspired by its Stranger Things series, are available for subscribers to download via the Netflix app on Android smartphones. Unlike other mobile games, there are no in-game adverts, additional fees or in-app purchases required. The games are expected to be available on Apple phones in “the coming months”.

Subscribers on Android smartphones will see a dedicated games row and games tab where they can select any game to download, while on tablets they can select games from the categories drop down menu. Members will be able to play games on multiple mobile devices on the same account, until they hit their device limit, and the games will not be available on children’s profiles.

While some games will require an internet connection, others will be available to play offline.

The streaming giant says it is at the “beginning of a long journey” in gaming and wants to provide a “differentiated” experience that suits the needs of “every kind of player”.

“Whether you’re craving a casual game you can start from scratch or an immersive experience that lets you dig deeper into your favourite stories, we want to begin to build a library of games that offers something for everyone,” says vice-president of game development Mike Verdu.

Verdu, who joined the company in July from his role as vice-president of augmented reality and virtual reality content at Facebook, is pitching a Netflix subscription as an “all-access pass” to gaming.

READ MORE: Netflix launches first games on smartphones

Government rolls out £162.5m social care recruitment drive

Social careThe government is rolling out a major new social care recruitment campaign, pumping £162.5m into the sector in a bid to attract new staff and retain existing carers.

Launching today, the ‘Made with Care’ campaign will run across broadcast and social media for five months, encouraging people to join the social care workforce with a view to filling 105,000 existing vacancies in the sector. Some additional 500,000 job opportunities in adult social care are expected to arise by 2035.

Running on TV until 21 November across ITV, Sky and Channel 4, the ad shows real care workers making a difference in people’s lives, inspiring others to consider a career in social care.

The wider campaign will run until March 2022 highlighting vacancies in the sector, as well as showcasing the amazing work care workers do and shining a light on the emotional reward of the role. The creative will also tackle perceived barriers to taking up care work, emphasising the importance of personal qualities over qualifications, the opportunities for training and the availability of flexible working.

The recruitment campaign follows the announcement of £5.4bn of additional funding to reform social care over the next three years, including £500m to support training and career development. Made with Care builds on the previous phase of the campaign launched in February, which celebrated the huge impact adult social care workers made during the pandemic and addressed the barriers stopping people from considering it as a career option.

“We need more people who possess the core values this workforce embody so strongly – kindness, compassion and resilience – to look after our friends and family with dignity and respect,” says health and social care secretary, Sajid Javid.

The government is reacting to a staffing crisis in the sector, as a combination of Covid burnout, low pay and Brexit have taken their toll. Couple with that the requirement from 11 November for all frontline staff to have had two Covid vaccinations, a move the Homecare Association predicts could cut staff by more than 25%.

READ MORE: Ministers launch TV ad campaign to tackle care worker shortage

Mars, EY and Nomad Foods join WFA’s Planet Pledge

Mars, EY and Nomad Foods have become the latest brands to sign up to the World Federation of Advertisers’ Planet Pledge, a global commitment to make their marketing teams a force for positive change both internally and for consumers.

The brands join the likes of Diageo, Tesco, Unilever and PepsiCo to sign up to the pledge, which is encouraging CMOs to take action in four key areas. The first is to commit to champion the United Nation’s Race to Zero campaign, promoting a resilient zero carbon recovery, across their organisations and marketing supply chains.

The second area is to help scale the capability of marketing organisations to take a lead on climate action by providing tools and guidance for their marketers and agencies. Thirdly, signatories commit to harness the power of their marketing communications to drive more sustainable consumer behaviours.

Lastly, the brands signed up to the WFA’s pledge promise to reinforce a trustworthy environment where sustainability claims can be easily substantiated, meaning consumers can trust the marketing messages they are presented with.

Progress on these goals will be reported annually by the WFA, which will also work with advertising standards bodies worldwide to deliver industry guidance aimed at preserving trust in the evolving language of environmental claims and preventing claims of ‘greenwashing’.

Describing himself as “thrilled” that three more multinational brands have signed up to the pledge, WFA CEO Stephan Loerke says marketing has the opportunity to harness its “huge power” for good by encouraging consumers to buy low carbon products and change established behaviours.

“It’s a complex challenge but one that our industry is keen to embrace. We look forward to more brands signing up in the future,” he adds.

CMO of Nomad Foods, the parent company of Birds Eye, Aunt Bessie’s and Goodfella’s, Steve Axe says signing up to the Planet Pledge aligns with the company’s own emission reduction targets.

“As one of the biggest advertisers in Europe, we take our role in stepping up and delivering a net-zero economy very seriously and will now focus on collaborating with our agencies, to help deliver the wider change needed across the entire advertising industry,” Axe adds.

Former John Lewis marketing boss joins fashion retailer M&Co

Former John Lewis head of marketing and strategic projects Louisa Nicholls has joined Scottish fashion chain M&Co as chief customer officer.

Nicholls has been brought in to execute “exciting plans” the retailer has in the digital and brand space over the next year. Her role is part of the C-suite and sits on the M&Co board, with responsibility for all key customer touchpoints across stores, digital, marketing, brand and operations. Nicholls’ focus will be on driving growth and brand elevation.

“I’m thrilled to be joining M&Co. The brand has exciting plans to scale, especially in the digital, brand proposition and CX space,” she says. “I’m looking forward to driving this agenda with the team, building and landing compelling strategies for future growth.”

Nicholls left John Lewis at the end of July after 17 years with the partnership, which began in 2004 in a series of management positions in store. Several online product management roles followed, prior to becoming senior ecommerce manager with responsibility for developing the website strategy to deliver sales and conversion targets.

By 2015, Nicholls was head of online trade for the John Lewis home division, responsible for £600m in sales and delivery against key online metrics such as conversion and net promoter score (NPS). She became head of trade marketing in 2019, before taking on the role of head of digital and social later that year.

Responsible for driving £2.4bn online sales, Nicholls led the company’s digital response to Covid-19, delivering 70% year-on-year online growth over a 10-week period during lockdown.

In January, she was appointed head of marketing and strategic projects, leading the John Lewis brand, advertising, trade marketing, media sales, campaign and marketing planning teams. Nicholls also served as the senior business lead on the retailer’s transformation project to reorganise its head office structure.

Tuesday, 2 November

Tennent’s highlights home town environment efforts during COP26

Tennent’s Lager, which positions itself as Scotland’s favourite beer, has launched a multi-channel campaign to coincide with the opening of COP26 in its home town of Glasgow.

The OOH, digital and PR campaign underlines the importance of sustainable brewing practices. It features creative lines such as ‘Rebrewable Energy’ and ‘Ayr Miles’ to illustrate the processes undertaken at its brewery. The brand uses 100% renewable energy at its Wellpark site and only ever uses local barley for its beer.

Photographer David Boni has created portraits of real-life Tennant’s staff and suppliers for the campaign.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Tennent’s delivered on promises to invest £14m in environmental initiatives during 2019. These included the installation of a new cardboard packaging plant to remove the need for single-use plastics, an anaerobic digestion plant and a carbon capture facility.

“As one of Scotland’s oldest businesses, we take sustainability and the climate change crisis very seriously. We have been brewing from the same site in Glasgow for 450 years, and we certainly have ambitions to continue for the next 450 year,” says Tennent’s Lager senior brand manager Cameron Matthews.

“Like many businesses, we know there is still a lot of work to be done. We are committed to lasting environmental change, and want to lead by example in our industry. Our continued progress means we are now completely free of single-use consumer plastic, our brewery is zero-waste, and we only ever use renewable electricity at Wellpark.”

Animated melting ice brings home WWF message

WWF’s Arctic Programme has launched an ad – created using stop motion techniques and melting ice – to highlight the devastating effect of global warming on the Arctic.

Launched to coincide with the opening of COP26, the ad reminds world leaders that “Once arctic ice melts we can’t get it back.” The film follows a young polar bear as it tries to survive in an increasingly melted environment.

Animation company Nomint used only melting ice to make the film to emphasise the link between the real-life environment and its message. It is intended as a stark reminder that action is required now to make a difference.

“Animations are powerful tools to tell stories with emotion in a simple, effective way. So, when Nomint told us about this new animation technique using melting ice, we were intrigued,” says WWF Arctic Programme senior communications manager Andrea Norgen. “The climate crisis and the devastating effects it has on the Arctic and the rest of the world are not new but this way of communicating the urgency of world leaders to limit global warming within 1.5°C is.”

WWF has had a programme focused on the Arctic since 1992, and its work spans seven Arctic countries.

E.ON Next seeks to raise awareness with lift campaign

E.ON Next, a sub-brand of energy group E.ON that provides electricity backed by renewable sources, has created a multi-sensory campaign in some of the UK’s biggest shopping centres.

Working with media owner Limited Space and experience agency Starcom, the energy brand is taking over lift areas of centres in London, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow and Liverpool to create ‘positivity boxes’.

The spaces will see the brand engage visitors with scent showers, sound boxes and vibrant colours. It is seeking to drive awareness of E.On Next and to make the concept of renewable energy more tangible to shoppers.

The lifts feature 360 degree interior wraps, with motion-driven scent shower dispensers that create a mist of bergamot, orange and lavender. A soundtrack of soothing sounds will be accompanied by a voiceover encouraging lift passengers to breathe in and out while visualising a way to save the planet with cleaner energy.

“We are excited to do something that challenges people’s relationship with energy. Our brand is built on the belief that climate action needs to be enjoyed, else it won’t last. So the thought of making this positivity tangible to people really fits with our times,” says E.On Next brand and marketing manager Patricia Synephias.

The campaign will run for two weeks.

Reebok powers young creators around UK

Footwear brand Reebok has commissioned three emerging UK creators to tell their stories through its new Young Creators campaign. The initiative gives a platform to young creatives from under-represented communities in the UK, providing them with full creative control and funding.

The output of the campaign will underpin Reebok’s ongoing Radicalm activity, launched last month, which seeks to accept without exception and seek out positivity. The brand has described Radicalm as “the intersection of radical optimism and radical acceptance”.

Glasgow-based Huss, a performance and visual artist, has produced a series of visual content celebrating Arab identity; Rivka Cocker from London has created a campaign that champions women who refuse to minimise themselves in male-dominated spaces; and dancer and creative director Antoine Thomas-Surge has used video to tell stories about dance, music and movement.

“Working on the Radicalm brief with support from Reebok has felt amazing and I really valued having creative direction over my shoot. I wanted to outline that these are public spaces most of us use every day, despite the uncomfortable feelings that come from being subjected to the threat of male harassment,” says Rivka Cocker.

Class Polish campaign highlights the UK’s class-based pay gap

The Department for Opportunities – the Social Mobility Foundation’s advocacy and campaigning arm – is using an ad for fictional product Class Polish to call for action to close the UK’s class-based pay gap.

Social Mobility Commission research highlights that employees from working class backgrounds earn, on average, £6,000 less each year than middle class colleagues. The new ad tackles the use of euphemisms – including terms such as ‘polish’ – to justify paying middle class candidates higher salaries even when doing the same job as lower-paid colleagues.

The ad features comedian Fern Brady using the Class Polish product to hide her regional accent in favour of one more acceptable to employers.

“The Class Pay Gap is something most people won’t realise exists – but it does, and we should be outraged. In 2021 what your parents did and where you grew up should not determine your opportunities. Employers should value performance over polish,” says Social Mobility Foundation CEO Sarah Atkinson.

Class Polish is being sent to influential figures in government, business and media throughout November to highlight the pay differential. The film will be shown in cinema and on TV, with support from OOH activity.

Monday, 1 November

Patagonia blasts Facebook for lack of action

Fashion brand Patagonia says Facebook “failed to reform” in the wake of the social media company rebranding as Meta.

In a letter titled “Stop Hate for Profit”, Patagonia chief executive Ryan Gellert says: “The internal Facebook documents released over the last few weeks have made it incredibly clear that they know the irreparable damage that their lack of accountability causes their three billion users and the corrosive effects they have on society itself.

“Facebook’s executives know what steps it can take to mitigate such harm — yet they have repeatedly failed to reform.”

Internal documents from the social media giant were shown to US senators by former Facebook employee and whistle-blower Frances Haugen, who accuses Facebook of failing to act on harmful content.

Patagonia adds the brand has stopped using paid advertising on Facebook in June 2020 accusing the platform of spreading hate speech and misinformation about climate change and democracy.

“We continue to stand by that boycott 16 months later,” he says, despite admitting plugging the channel has “affected our business” and the non-profit companies it supports.

“We believe Facebook has a responsibility to make sure its products do no harm, and until they do, Patagonia will continue to withhold our advertising. We encourage other businesses to join us in pushing Facebook to prioritize people and planet over profit,” says Gellert.

Energy watchdog to review consumer price cap

gas cooker
UK energy regulator Ofgem review the price cap on gas and electricity bills following a series of companies going bust.

The watchdog has said there has been a “unprecedented” rise in wholesale energy prices, and suppliers were unable to raise consumer prices because of the current cap, resulting in them going out of business.

Ofgem says it said it will “consult on the price cap methodology to ensure it appropriately reflects the costs, risks and uncertainties facing suppliers”.

Gas prices have surged more than 250% since the start of this year and pushed brands such as Avro Energy, People’s Energy and Green Supplier, out of business.

The most recent price cap review by Ofgem raised prices by 12% to a record £1,277.

Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley says: “The unprecedented rise in energy prices this year has changed the perception of risk and uncertainty in this market.

“In order to protect the interests of consumers, we must ensure that the regulatory frameworks, including the price cap, fully reflect the costs, risks and uncertainties facing the supply companies we regulate.”

READ MORE: Energy price cap to be reviewed as firms go bust

Sky launches sustainability fund winning brand ads

Sky is launching a series of net-zero carbon ad breaks to coincide with the Cop26 summit, featuring winners of the broadcaster’s Sky Zero Footprint Fund.

Feminine hygiene brand Here We Flo secured the £1 million Grand Prix with the other four finalists, food sharing app OLIO, OVO Energy, Pura and Path Financial, each receiving £250,000 in media value.

Sky says the winning ads followed best practice advice and recommendations from the Advertising Association’s AdGreen programme, in which Sky is a founding member.

The winning ad from Here We Flo is a period drama creative that playfully recreates a Victorian-era dinner setting to promote their natural and biodegradable sanitary products.

The first 170-second ad break will tun tonight (1 November) at 8pm on Sky Nature and 9pm on Sky News, they will continue to run across those channels every day for the duration of the COP26 conference, which ends on 12 November.

Thereafter, brands will use the rest of their prize money to launch their own campaigns and tailored to their own objectives and audiences.

The Sky Zero Footprint Fun imitative s a £2m advertising fund that supports businesses to inspire others to become net-zero firms.

Sky Group CMO, corporate affairs and people officer Debbie Klein says: “At Sky, we’re proud to be playing our part as the Principal Partner and Media Partner at COP26, and we’re delighted to be working with like-minded partners throughout the summit to cast a spotlight on sustainability and positive behavioural change during TV ad breaks.”

BT/EE highlights sustainability practices in campaign

BT/EE has unveiled a new campaign to showcase its continued investment and commitment to sustainable business practices.

The ‘Not Tomorrow, Today’ platform acknowledges the climate emergency the world is facing and explains what the telecoms company is working on to build a sustainable future.

A national press campaign and out of home media began the platform across Glasgow, where the COP26 summit took place. Central to the campaign is a manifesto film to cut through “the humdrum of corporate commitments” and emphasises BT/EE’s commitment to the environment.

The campaign lists sustainability credentials including how EE/BT uses 100% renewable electricity to power networks. It also refurbishes and recycles broadband hubs and TV boxes, offers free annual phone MOTs to extend their life, as well as offering eco-friendly devices to customers that recycle their old phones.

The film also explains the impact of the above actions and highlights how BT has already refurbished and recycled over 900,000 hubs and TV boxes, saving 11,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to electricity powering 3,563 homes for a year.

The ‘Not Today, Tomorrow’ campaign will be housed on a dedicated website featuring the manifesto film and information on the sustainability initiatives from across the business.

HSBC celebrates Black History Month

HSBC is marking Black History Month with a global creative campaign celebrating textile traditions from African and Caribbean cultures.

The ‘Tapestries of Diversity’ campaign created with Wunderman Thompson UK, features six types of fabric as a starting point to showcase Black creativity, culture and heritage.

Wunderman Thompson UK has written a story for each textile and selected a pattern that will be used in a suite of assets, as well as creating a single design incorporating all six of the patterns.

The purpose of the campaign is to celebrate the identities, colours, rhythms and traditions of each fabric and the stories of Black people.

The assets are being used across a variety of HSBC media from Zoom backgrounds to email headers and banners. HSBC is also sharing textiles and descriptions on social posts.

HSBC Group Head of Brand and Brand Partnerships Jonathan Castleman says: “Each of these patterned textiles carry their own stories of expression, fashion, history and communication, so Wunderman Thompson’s inclusion of them in our Tapestries of Diversity has a real beauty to it. It’s a privilege to be able to feature them during Black History Month, and by doing so to help amplify awareness of the Black cultures behind them.”



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