Dunelm, L’Occitane, Netflix: 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.


Dunelm praises ‘resilient’ business model amid sales surge

Dunelm has praised the “resilience” of its business model as the retailer saw sales rise 69% to £399m during the third quarter, compared to the same period last year.

When drawing a comparison to 2020, sales are up 40% for the 13-week period to 26 March, although the final three weeks of the third quarter of 2020 were impacted by the onset of Covid.

Year-to-date total sales are up 37% on a two-year basis, with continued strong growth in-store and digital sales now more than double the level seen in 2020.

Digital sales, which include home delivery, click-and-collect and tablet-based sales in-store, represented 35% of total sales during the third quarter. In comparison, ecommerce accounted for more than 92% of sales during the same period in 2021, as non-essential retail was closed under lockdown.

Dunelm opened a new superstore in Leeds on 1 April, taking its estate to 176 stores, the intention being to open one further new outlet before the end of the financial year.

CEO Nick Wilkinson notes “sustained growth” across all Dunelm’s homewares categories and a “strong” performance across all channels, with the opening of a new furniture fulfilment hub designed to “enhance” the retailer’s multi-channel proposition.

“Whilst the macro environment remains uncertain, with significant headwinds and increasing pressures on the consumer, our wide product range offers choice for every budget, whether replacing everyday essential items or refreshing a room in your home,” says Wilkinson.

“The resilience of the Dunelm business model and the ability of our colleagues to adapt quickly to changing circumstances give us confidence in our plans and we remain well placed to continue to grow market share.”

Leading on the multi-channel strategy is Ben Carter, who joined Dunelm from Purplebricks in January in the newly created role of CMO. Reporting directly into Wilkinson, Carter’s remit covers brand building, enhancing performance marketing, and driving both customer acquisition and retention.

The business has seen a good response to its winter sale held during the first few weeks of the quarter, while work is underway to refresh the range with ‘Summer Living’ products. Dunelm’s collaboration the Natural History Museum, launched in February, will be expanded in the summer following good sales and “positive sentiment on social media”.

Dunelm’s gross margin increased by 30 basis points during the third quarter compared to the same period last year, due to a slightly lower proportion of sales coming from discounted lines during the winter sale. The retailer is also building a higher level of inventory in order to mitigate ongoing supply chain disruption.

While noting the “highly uncertain” macro-economic outlook and pressures on UK consumers, Dunelm sees “significant opportunities” to grow market share given its broad product range, low average item and basket values, and “focus on providing great value at all price points”. Some 85% of the company’s growth over the past five years has been driven through market share gains.

L’Occitane refuses to pull out of Russia as Netflix faces lawsuit

French beauty brand L’Occitane says it will keep its Russian stores open in a bid to protect staff from “potential retaliation”.

The retailer told the BBC that while it had discussed closing its stores and spas “at length”, the brand believes it cannot guarantee the safety of its 700 Russian employees who might “face retaliation” if L’Occitane were to cease trading. The spokesperson added that the brand is particularly concerned for employees with relatives in Ukraine or who are of Ukrainian descent.

The beauty retailer has stopped shipping to Russia, although website sales appear to be continuing, and has suspended investment plans in the country.

L’Occitane is one of several companies, including computer brand Lenovo and airline Emirates, which have chosen not to pull out of Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. Other businesses such as fast food chain Burger King and hotel groups Marriott and Accor have been unable to fully pull out of the country due to complex franchise arrangements.

One firm which has paused its service in Russia is Netflix. However, the Guardian reports the streaming giant is being sued by a group of Russian subscribers for “violating their rights”, with the customers demanding 60m roubles (£560,200) in compensation.

Netflix is estimated to have 1 million subscribers in Russia, who pay 599-799 roubles a month (£5.55-£9.26) to access content. The brand paused its service in Russia in March, as well as halting the development and acquisition of all Russian-made or commissioned content.

READ MORE: Beauty firm L’Occitane keeps Russian stores open

Superdrug adds marketing to ecommerce director’s remit in wider rejig

Superdrug ecommerce director Matt Walburn has been promoted to ecommerce, customer and marketing director in a wider rejig of the beauty retailer’s top team.

With responsibility for driving the omnichannel strategy, Walburn will have oversight of Superdrug Marketplace, an online site launching in September that will see the retailer partner with premium brands and startups. He describes the Marketplace concept as a “vital step” for the business to strengthen its role and “build into new associated categories” within health and beauty retail.

Walburn kicked off his marketing career at Sainsbury’s in 1997, before assuming the role of head of brand at Homebase in 2004. After four years he joined Superdrug’s parent company A.S Watson as marketing director, before departing to become Dixons Carphone marketing director in 2016. Walburn then re-joined the Superdrug fold in 2019 as ecommerce director.

The wider rejig sees commercial director Simon Comins become chief commercial officer to mark his 35 years with the business, while Meg Potter moves to trading director and Jamie Archer will sit on the board as own brand director.

“We truly believe that our own brand ranges measure up to the biggest brands in the market in terms of efficacy, whilst bringing real value where our customers need it most,” says Archer.

“Not only that, we’re proud of our record of creating and building our own innovative brands into household names, and I’m excited at the step up to focus on driving this even more at the top level of our business.”

In addition, Joanne Mackie will move from customer and people director at Superdrug to take on the role at group level within parent company A.S Watson.

“At Superdrug, our strategy focuses on introducing our customers to the newest and best trending products in health and beauty while bringing them the value they know and love from us,” says Comins. “I know these new roles will help us achieve this goal, while creating an amazing culture for anyone who works or shops with us.”

Pizza Hut warns of ‘perfect storm’ of inflationary pressures

pizza hutThe managing director of Pizza Hut UK has warned price rises are “inevitable” amid a “perfect storm” of inflationary pressures and staff shortages.

Neil Manhas told Sky News that while the business would pull every lever possible to prevent passing on increased costs to customers, prices will inevitably rise as the “business model can only withstand so much”.

He explained the fast food chain is experiencing “low double-digit cost inflation” with regards to materials such as wheat, meats and oils, as well as packaging. Another issue impacting Pizza Hut is the ability to attract talent.

According to Manhas, the business currently has “over 1,500 vacancies”, 1,000 of which are for delivery drivers. The fast food chain is competing for this talent against other food delivery companies, as well as rapid delivery and ecommerce services. The Pizza Hut UK boss explained the company also has plans to open 50 outlets in 2022, which would create an additional 1,200 jobs.

The news from Pizza Hut comes as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed inflation hit a 30-year high of 7% in March. This is the highest rate of inflation since 1992 and an increase from the figure of 6.2% seen in February.

The rising cost of fuel was found to have had the biggest impact on inflation, with average petrol prices rising by 12.6p per litre between February and March, the largest monthly rise since records began in 1990.

The ONS reports the rate of inflation is also being driven by furniture, restaurant and food prices, with the analysis yet to take in the impact of the rise in the energy price cap implemented on 1 April.

READ MORE: Cost of living: Pizza Hut warns price hikes are inevitable as dining chains face ‘perfect storm’

Virgin Media O2 pushes for gender parity with first combined DE&I strategy

Virgin Media O2Virgin Media O2 is committing to fund gender transition treatment for transgender and non-binary employees as part of its first combined diversity, equity and inclusion strategy (DE&I) since the companies joined forces last year.

With a view to becoming a more inclusive employer, Virgin Media O2 is creating a package of support for its transgender and non-binary employees, offering access to medical care and advice.

The wider ‘All In’ strategy will seek to achieve the equal representation of women and men in the company’s wider leadership team by 2027. Another key goal is for 15% of Virgin Media O2’s leadership team, and 25% of the wider organisation, to be from minority ethnic groups within the next five years.

These ambitions are aimed at the wider leadership level – representing around 1,000 employees – and have been set to drive accountability and enact change at the top of the organisation. In addition, Virgin Media O2 will set goals for teams across the business, which will be measured and reviewed regularly to ensure the organisation stays on track to meet its 2027 commitments.

The business will encourage its employees to confidentially share a greater level of diversity information in a bid to understand and then tackle potential barriers in its hiring, promotion and retention practices.

Virgin Media O2 will also partner with youth empowerment organisation 20/20 Change, funding free mentoring courses to help young people from underrepresented ethnic groups fulfil their potential.

“With our All In strategy we’re taking a step-change in our approach to creating a more inclusive and equitable company – both for our employees and customers, where we truly represent the diverse communities we serve,” says chief people officer, Philipp Wohland.

“Virgin Media O2 is a great place to work and we’re committed to creating a culture where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”

Wednesday, 13 April


Strong performance from Tesco as profits rise

Tesco has today reported a 35.8% rise in annual profits, but cautions the cost of living crisis could hit profits over the coming year.

The retailer’s 2012/22 preliminary financial results show strong sales and growing profit performance as the supermarket chain increased its customer proposition.

Group sales have risen 3% at a constant rate to £54.8bn, from £53.45bn in 2020/21.

Adjusted operating profit is up 58.9% at a constant rate, from £1.8bn last year to £2.8bn this year. Between retail and Tesco Bank, the profit split is £2.65bn and £176m respectively, with retail seeing a 35.8% rise at constant rates.

Profit before tax is up by 219.7% to £2bn, rising from £636m last year, while operating profit rose 65.5% to £2.56bn, from £1.5bn.

These results come as Tesco notched up its highest brand NPS to date, extended its Aldi Price Match to around 650 lines and relaunched its ‘Low Everyday Prices’ line.

“Over the last year, we delivered a strong performance across the Group, growing share in every part of our business,” says chief executive Ken Murphy. “We did this by staying focused on our customers and doing the right thing for our colleagues, our supplier partners and the communities we serve.”

Speedy delivery app Zapp launches full-service advertising platform

Following the boom in the ultrafast delivery sector, rapid delivery player Zapp has launched its own full-service advertising platform.

Zapp Media Services is aimed at supplier brands and will allow them access to consumer insights from which they can create connected campaigns across third-party channels with Zapp.

The new platform intends to enable brands to get “maximum results” from their advertising investment by tapping into Zapp’s marketing channels and technology. The move is in partnership with Threefold, a retail focused commerce media agency.

Of all the quick retail delivery services on the market, Zapp claims to be the only one to offer round the clock service, an advantage the company plans to leverage by giving brands access to 24/7 and hyper local data.

The move comes as Zapp has seen “significant appetite” from its brand partners to innovate and engage the business’s customer base.

“Brands want to deliver marketing campaigns with Zapp that leverage our unique offering of 24/7 delivery, our premium product range and our increasingly loyal customer base,” says vice-president of procurement and partnerships at Zapp, Alex Hough.

He adds that by partnering with Threefold, Zapp can now “offer brands the ability to deliver high-performing connected co-marketing campaigns that tap into specific shopper missions and reach new audiences more directly and faster than ever before.”

Brands can expect account management within the full-service offering, as well as campaign planning, creative development, and execution assistance across the UK and Netherlands.

KP Snacks and ECB under fire for sending HFSS product promos to under-16s

Source: Shutterstock

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned two ads from KP Snacks’ partnership with the England and Wales Cricket Board for the cricket tournament The Hundred, for advertising high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) products to the under-16 market.

Complaints from Sustain’s Children’s Food Campaign and Food Active probed whether the ads broke UK rules for advertising HFSS products to under-16s.

The campaign saw each of KP Snacks’ brands sponsor a team in The Hundred, with material covering email promotions, Instagram content and paid for ads across social.

The banned ads are one promotional email sent out to the ECB’s “family category” database with logos for McCoy’s and a paid for Instagram ad featuring high in sugar Butterkist Popcorn.

Some 1.3% of the 29,276 recipients receiving emails were identified as being below 16. The ECB and KP Snacks confirmed the products featuring in the ads were HFSS products and said future communications for HFSS products wouldn’t be directed at those under 16.

The email ad also featured a “colourful, cartoon-style” image which could appeal more to children, but the ECB and KP Snacks deny the images were cartoonish in nature.

The ASA investigated another seven ads, but found they didn’t breach CAP code.

The ad watchdog determined the two ads must not appear again, and that the ECB and KP Snacks must take “reasonable steps” in future to ensure HFSS product ads are not directed at children.

A spokesperson for The Hundred said: “We are sorry that due to an internal error an email promoting a giveaway of free cricket bats and balls was sent to a number of under-16s as well as the adults it was intended to be sent to.”

They added that while the email contained a logo of one of its partner’s brands, applicants were not required or encouraged to buy any products in order to engage with the competition.

The Hundred is putting in place “additional systems” to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

March’s online sales suggest customer behaviour increasingly unpredictable

Online retail sales fell 25.5% year on year last month, according to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which also found month-on-month growth was up 5%, “typical” for this time of year.

Put down to “unpredictable” consumer behaviour, IMRG says this was expected given the high growth seen in March 2021, which was up 57%. The current figure puts online sales back on par with March 2019.

The analysis also finds average basket volumes have increased by £15 to £136, which has been put down to inflation increasing prices across the market.

“Many retailers are reporting volatile traffic and sales spikes to us, with very little consistency in when one retailer does well and another badly,” says strategy and insight director at IMRG, Andy Mulcahy.

He adds: “Retailers also report having to employ strategies such as discounts and offers to stop sales dropping, so while the index isn’t tracking major fluctuations, behind the scenes things are more frenetic than they seem; there is consistency in the inconsistency.”

Womenswear and menswear show positive growth at 20% and 14% respectively, while other categories show poor year on year changes, including a 2% decrease in footwear and 44% drop for homeware and decorations.

Marketing chartered professionals respect on the rise, but still not as much as others

Respect amongst chartered professionals in the marketing and public relations industries has come on in the last decade, according to a new study from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

Some 40% of practitioners believe the level of respect has risen. However, when compared with other industries, 72% argue respect remains low.

The new research also suggests chartership can give a competitive edge to professionals in these industries, with 43% saying it is very important for their careers and 31% suggesting being chartered provides an edge to win new business.

In terms of pay, the study found 15% of respondents have been able to leverage a higher salary because of their chartered status.

With upskilling garnering more attention recently, the study found 72% of its 311 chartered professionals surveyed argue that regularly upskilling is crucial to their career progress.

Chief executive at CIM, Chris Daly, describes how the past few years have “underlined the critical role” marketing and PR professionals have.

“Rising consumer expectations for organisations to act ethically and communicate effectively, coupled with ‘the great resignation’ has put a greater emphasis than ever on the development of skilled PR and marketing practitioners,” he says.

While he says there’s “always been a concern” that investing in development of staff, in case it accelerates their decisions to leave, the research shows chartered practitioners can provide a “real financial boost” for businesses.

“Compared to other sectors, our industries have the advantage of low barriers of entry into the profession but a disadvantage in the number of qualified and professionally accredited professionals,” says CIPR CEO Alastair McCapra.

“This research highlights how chartered status overcomes this by providing pride, status, and confidence to individual practitioners. When compared to other professionals, or as seen by other professionals, our status is low but improving. Chartered status is an essential tool in increasing this further and faster.”

Tuesday, 12 April


Asos plans to up ‘scale up’ marketing to drive long-term growth

Asos has committed to increasing marketing investment, despite short-term cost pressures brought about by rising inflation as it looks to “capture significant long-term opportunities”.

The online retailer increased marketing investment to £119.7m in the six months to 28 February 2022, which is 6% as a percentage of sales. This is up from 5.5% in the first half of its previous financial year.

During the period, Asos says it rolled out the “test and learn” phase of a broad reach marketing campaign targeting females aged 18 to 34 in the UK, US and France as it looks to build awareness and consideration. It did this via platforms including TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Hulu and Roku for a 90-day period and says it has received both “positive feedback and constructive criticism” that will be taken on board ahead of launching the next iteration. This comes before the planned “scale-up” of the campaign at the end of its 2022 financial year.

Overall, the business delivered revenue growth of 4% in the six months to 28 February, and an adjusted profit before tax of £14.8m. However, this is down from £106.4m from the same period in 2021, an 87% drop, reflecting the expected unwind of all Covid-related benefits, which it puts at £48.5m, investment in marketing, as well as “significant” cost inflation and a rise in warehouse labour, freight and delivery costs, which it says it partially offset by cost efficiencies of around £50m.

In the UK, Asos grew total sales by 8% to £895.5m, buts says the six month period was “tough” compared to the comparative periods in its 2020 and 2021 financial years, driven by lockdown restrictions as well as supply chain constraints.

During the period, Asos added 1 million new customers in the UK compared to the same time a year prior, with 300,000 added since the end of its 2021 financial year. It grew the number of subscribers to its Premier unlimited delivery offer by 23%, driven by events promoting the offer in October and February.

Across all markets, Asos now has 26.7 million customers, up 7% year-on-year, with the net addition of 1.8 million people. This is despite it having a strong period of customer acquisition at the height of the pandemic.

M&S lowers prices across Remarksable range

M&S has lowered the price of everyday staples within its Remarksable range, as part of its ambition to “transform” its value proposition.

The retailer has cut the price of frequently bought items such as milk, bread, beef mince and pasta, as well as many fruit and vegetables, all benchmarked against key competitors.

Over the past three years, M&S has invested more than £100m in “sharpening” its value, according to chief operating officer and managing director of Food, Stuart Machin. As part of this, the business has been focusing on “busting the myth” that the price of its everyday items is higher than elsewhere in the market.

“It has been working, and customer perception is stronger than ever, but with value front of mind for everyone, we know now is the time to go further,” says Machin.

While M&S has been lowering prices, he says the retailer has ensured these products retain their “M&S quality point of difference”. This means all milk is RSPCA assured, bread is enriched with vitamin D, bananas are responsibly sourced and beef is 100% British.

“That quality is part of the ‘magic’ we must protect and, as we transform our value, it will not come at the cost of these standards or our suppliers who uphold them,” he adds.

M&S will also be introducing bigger packs which offer an average saving of 10%, and making its Family Dine In meal deals a permanent fixture.

Sky launches £10m fund to tackle digital inequality

Sky has launched a £10m fund to help tackle digital inequality and enhance the skills of a quarter of a million people.

As part of the Sky Up programme, the media company will invest in 100 digital hubs to reach those most at risk of being left behind. The two main groups it is focusing on are under-25s in low-income areas, and over-65s.

One in five school children do not have consistent access to a suitable device to work from at home, according to research conducted by Ofcom during the pandemic, so Sky will be providing digital training, internet connections and technology to help those in need.

Meanwhile, it will be tackling the lack of skills and trust in digital technology among those aged over-65, as this is the age group who are most digitally excluded according to Age UK. Working with local Age UK charities, Sky will be offering advice and training to help people aged over-65 get online safely, as well as showing them how to make the most of online services and opportunities.

The first two hubs will be located in Hackney, East London with the support of Badu Sports, and in Leeds, Yorkshire in partnership with Age UK. Sky will work with other local charities across the UK to launch the hubs.

As part of the programme, Sky is also offering Sky Up tech grants to help young people aged 16 to 25 who have left the care system. They will be given an individual grant of £550 to help them stay connected and will also receive a personal tech device pre-loaded with relevant software, and a Sky internet connection, as well as access to skills training.

Elsewhere, the media company will also be expanding its Sky Up Academy Studios though which is aims to engage 20,000 students a year who are looking to work in the creative industries.

Sky Up is part of parent company Comcast’s ‘Project Up’ initiative, through which it aims to advance digital equity backed by a $1bn commitment to reach tens of millions of people over the next decade.

Sky’s group CEO Dana Strong says: “Digital connections can unlock opportunities for those who are most excluded. Sky Up will give people in need a chance to create a better future.”

Weetabix looks to grow Oatibix by 30% in two years with £2m marketing push

Weetabix spin-off Oatibix is returning to TV for the first time in a decade, leaning on its sister-brand’s long-standing ‘Have you had yours’ message.

Through the £2m campaign, which also includes on-demand, social, digital and shopper marketing, Weetabix hopes to introduce Oatibix to 600,000 new households this year, and is part of a wider drive to grow the brand by 30% by 2023.

Oatibix has recently undergone a brand refresh, with the introduction of new green packaging, which the company says is unique for the category so will help with stand-out, and a recipe reformulation of its original product in February.

All Oatibix products are HFSS-compliant, with the new packs also featuring prominent nutritional credentials via the red-free traffic light, including the newly-launched Oatibix Flakes Nutty Crunch product.

Gareth Turner, head of marketing at Weetabix, says: “Alongside the refreshed pack designs and delicious new flavours, this is a major investment into the Oatibix brand, so it’s a product to look out for in 2022. As the whole Oatibix range is HFSS-compliant, we will be putting our full support behind the relaunch – raising awareness of the Oatibix brand and driving sales in the months ahead.”

The Oatibix TV ad by BBH, which shows a pirate outwitting his fellow shipmates after having a bowl of Oatibix, will run until 24 April.

Shop sales slow as the cost of living crisis takes hold

Sales in shops have started to slow down as people feel increasing pressure from the rising cost of living.

Across food and non-food, total sales increased by 3.1% in the five weeks to 2 April 2022, this is compared to a rise of 13.9% in March 2021, according to the latest BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor. UK retail sales dropped by 0.4% on a like-for-like basis versus last year which saw an increase of 20.3%.

Food sales took the biggest hit in the three months to March, dropping by 2.6% on a total basis and 3.1% on a like-for-like basis. This is below the 12 month total average growth of 0.8%.

Over the same three-month period, non-food sales increased by 14.9% on a total basis and 8.6% on a like-for-like basis, particularly driven by in-store purchases, which were up 92.9% on a total basis and 74.9% on a like-for-like basis.

Conversely, online sales on non-food dropped by 29% during March, having increased by 64.7% in the same month in 2021.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, says: “The rising cost-of-living and the ongoing war in Ukraine has shaken consumer confidence, with expectations of people’s personal finances over the next 12 months reaching depths not seen since the 2008 financial crisis.

“Furthermore, households are yet to feel the full impact of the recent rise in energy prices and national insurance changes. There is also potential for further supply chain disruption, with China putting key manufacturing and port cities into lockdown. Ultimately, consumers face an enormous challenge this year, and this is likely to be reflected in retail spend in the future.”

Monday, 11 April

Burger King launches campaign to encourage customers to order via its app

Burger King has launched an out-of-home (OOH) campaign that encourages consumers to order without leaving home, via its app.

The campaign highlights the delivery feature of Burger King’s app and features a delivery bag from the fast-food chain left on a doorstep.

The series of ads contain some cheeky references to rivals. In one ad, the door depicted is yellow and the house is red, and there are clown shoes beside the doorstep, hinting that this may be the home of rival fast-food chain McDonald’s mascot, Ronald McDonald. Similarly, in another ad, there are hints that KFC mascot Colonel Sanders may live at the address, with his iconic cane resting outside the house.

The idea is that “every home can be the Home of the Whopper”, says Burger King. The Burger King app enables consumers to have items from the chain like the Whopper burger delivered to their home. Consumers just have to download the app and select their region.

“Nothing beats the taste of our flamed-grilled patties and we know fans just can’t wait to get their hands on the iconic Whopper,” says Soco Nunez, brand and communications director at Burger King.

“With the Burger King delivery app, we are making it easier than ever to ‘Have it Your Way’ and conveniently delivered at home,” he adds.

UK economic growth slows to 0.1% in February

The UK economy grew only 0.1% in February 2022, down from the 0.8% figure in January, and below analysts’ estimate of 0.2%. However, the travel industry provided a boost to the economy, as it experienced a strong rebound.

GDP is 1.5% above its pre-coronavirus pandemic level (February 2020).

The services sector was the largest contributor to February’s growth, says the Official for National Statistics (ONS). The services industry grew by 0.2% and was largely driven by a strong rebound in both outbound and inbound tourism. ONS data found that travel agencies, tour operators and other reservation services and related activities grew 33.1% compared to the previous month.

Manufacturing and construction were some of the sectors that contributed to the lower-than-expected growth in February 2022. Production output fell by 0.6% in February 2022. Manufacturing was the main driver of negative growth, falling by 0.4%.

Meanwhile, construction output decreased by 0.1% in February 2022 following growth of 1.6% in January 2022. However, this output remains 1.1% above its pre-coronavirus pandemic level in February 2022.

The ONS says that factors like the impact of storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin, which all hit the UK between 16 and 21 February, may have also weighed on economic growth that month.

Virgin Media O2 uses campaign to raise awareness of first customer proposition since merger

Virgin Media O2 has launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of ‘Volt’, the first customer proposition from the company since it was formed through a merger between mobile network O2 and broadband provider Virgin Media.

The campaign will run for five weeks across multiple touchpoints. It includes an exclusive content partnership with ITV. On Saturday, the company’s minute-long ad debuted during the finale of Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway on ITV1. The campaign aims to demonstrate how Virgin Media and O2 are “better, connected”.

The campaign highlights Volt, the first customer proposition since the £31bn merger between O2 and Virgin Media in June 2021. Volt offers consumers perks like faster broadband speed and double data at no extra cost if they are customers of both O2 and Virgin Media.

The content partnership with ITV, led by MG OMD, will also see the campaign transform the set of the broadcaster’s shows. The campaign film also debuted in cinemas during the opening day of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.

The Volt energy bolt is used throughout across all touchpoints of the campaign, whether that’s on TV or in OOH settings. The 60-second ad shows consumers doing things they love in different settings, powered by broadband and data.

VCCP London worked with partners Electric Theatre Collective and director Rich Hall from Riff Raff Films to produce the ad.

Cannes Lion owner planning to split up the business

Ascential, the owner of the Cannes Lions festival, is exploring plans to split off its digital operations, reports Sky News.

The company is publicly listed and has a market capitalisation of £1.5bn. The plan would see the digital operations split off and listed separately on the New York Stock Exchange. The events business, which includes Cannes Lions and World Retail Congress, would remain listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Sources told Sky that the move was being driven by CEO Duncan Painter, who wants to create more value for shareholders. Digital marketing and insights are highly valued on the US stock exchange, which may be one reason behind the company exploring the move.

Ascential’s digital operations include Edge, a data insights company that supplies “digital shelf experts” to optimise online sales. It is used by the likes of Apple and Coca-Cola, and OneSpace. Other subsidiary digital operations brands include FlyWheel, a digital commerce agency.

The company’s last set of results in March showed profits and earnings ahead of marketing expectations.

READ MORE: Cannes Lions owner Ascential plots £1.5bn transatlantic break-up

M&S launches new food magazine

M&SM&S has launched a bi-monthly food magazine, replacing its existing in-store publication. The magazine was released into stores on Saturday.

The new magazine, which is simply entitled Food, replaces M&S’s existing Fresh magazine. Food magazine will be more regularly released than Fresh, which was published quarterly.

The magazine costs £2 but is available free to members of M&S’s loyalty scheme, Sparks. This first issue contains 45 recipes, as well as wine tips from First Dates cast member Fred Siriex, and an interview with comedian and M&S ambassador Tom Allen.

The issue is entitled Spring Feasts and focuses on recipes made with seasonal British produce. This includes an orzo recipe made with seasonal courgettes and asparagus, and  a chicken katsu curry from chef Chris Baber’s new book.

Each edition will also aim to help customers save money with a regular budget-friendly feature centred around M&S’s Remarksable Value range.

M&S food marketing director Sherry Cramond says that the magazine “is all about bringing more of the M&S magic direct to our customer’s homes at great value”.

“The launch of the magazine is also another great reason for customers to sign up to our Sparks loyalty scheme, benefitting from personalised offers, relevant treats and helping us to support local communities and good causes,” she says.