Primark, Fitbit, Kia: 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.

Kia reveals new name and brand strategy

Car brand Kia has unveiled a new brand strategy and slogan, as it ditches the Kia Motors name in favour of just Kia.

The change in name comes as the brand looks to move away from its manufacturing-driven business model and expand into new and emerging business areas, which have “innovative mobility” at their heart.

This new direction is summed up by the slogan ‘Movement that inspires’.

Dropping ‘Motors’ from its name also signals Kia’s commitment to sustainability, which it first outlined in its long-term ‘Plan S’ business strategy last year. The car marque is developing a number of electric vehicles and will also introduce more sustainable production methods through the use of clean energy and recyclable materials.

The introduction of Kia’s new name, brand strategy and slogan follows the launch of its new logo last week.

Kia’s president and CEO, Ho Sung Song, says: “Changing our corporate name and logo is not only a cosmetic improvement. It represents us expanding our horizons and establishing new and emerging businesses that meet and exceed the diverse needs of our customers worldwide.

“More importantly, it also means adapting our working culture, enabling the creativity of all our employees and establishing an inspiring work environment.”

Google completes Fitbit deal after allaying ad data concerns

Google has completed its $2.1bn (£1.5bn) takeover of wearables brand Fitbit, following a lengthy investigation by regulators amid concerns the tech giant could use people’s health data in targeted advertising.

The tech giant bought Fitbit in November 2019, but faced questions from regulators over privacy. The European Commission cleared the merger last month on the understanding Google will not use health and location data for advertising purposes for 10 years.

Google says the acquisition has always been about “devices, not data”.

Google’s vice-president of devices and services, Rick Osterloh, says: “We worked with global regulators on an approach which safeguards consumers’ privacy expectations, including a series of binding commitments that confirm Fitbit users’ health and wellness data won’t be used for Google ads and this data will be separated from other Google ads data.”

Google has also agreed to store Fitbit data separately from data used for advertising, to maintain third-party access to the Fitbit platform and not to degrade the user experience of third-party smartwatches paired with an Android phone.

READ MORE: Google tries to allay Fitbit-deal privacy fears

Primark will not go online despite sales drop

Primark has confirmed it has no plans to sell its products online despite admitting it expects to lose £1.05bn of sales if all its stores stay closed until the end of February.

Several consumers took to Twitter to ask the retailer if it was considering a move into ecommerce, but it responded saying, “we can confirm that it is not in our plans to open an online store”.

Primark’s sales dropped by 30% to £2bn in the 16 weeks to 2 January, but it said a move to online would mean price rises.

Currently, 305 of the retailer’s 389 global stores are shut as a result of various lockdowns, including all 190 of its UK branches.

READ MORE: Primark refuses to go online despite £1bn lockdown loss

Knorr returns to TV with £6m push

Unilever stock brand Knorr is returning to TV after a three year hiatus, with a campaign starring cooking duo The Hairy Bikers, who are encouraging people to #cheatonmeat as it looks to take advantage of the Veganuary trend.

The campaign by MullenLowe shows the cooks – who are renowned meat lovers – showing a sceptic how to jazz up meat-free meals with Knorr Veggie Stocks

Unilever’s foods marketing director for the UK and Ireland, Fikerte Woldegiorgis, says: “More consumers are keen to cut down on meat for various reasons, including health, environmental impact or animal welfare. However, they just don’t know how to do that without sacrificing on taste or satisfaction… Veganuary is a great time to give eating less meat a try, which is why we’re investing in a mass media campaign and returning to TV screens for the first time in three years.”

In addition to the TV ad, Knorr will be amplifying its in-store presence through online and point of sale, and investing in social and PR with recipe ideas and a BBC Good Food recipe takeover.

London named Europe’s leading startup hub

London-based startups raised more than $10bn (£8.2bn) in funding last year, more than any other European city, confirming its place as the leading tech hub in Europe.

Despite the pandemic, London tech firms received $10.5bn (£8.6bn) in new investment, down marginally from the $10.7bn (£8.8bn) they raised in 2019, and much higher than the $5.9bn (£4.9bn) generated in 2018.

This figure was three times more than any other city in Europe, according to the study by data provider Dealroom and London & Partners.

The research also suggests prospects for 2021 are “strong” as investors have “unprecedented” amounts of cash.

READ MORE: £ London leads Europe with $10.5bn funding for tech start-ups

Thursday, 14 January

Christmas Tesco‘Market-leading Christmas performance’ from Tesco

Tesco had a “record” Christmas, with the retailer posting like-for-like sales growth of 8.1% over the festive period, valued at £18.2bn.

“We delivered a record Christmas across all of our formats and channels. In response to unprecedented demand for online groceries, colleagues delivered over 7 million orders containing more than 400 million individual items over the Christmas period,” says Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy.

UK sales grew across all formats, channels and categories, but online sales growth was particularly high at over 80%. This equates to nearly £1bn of extra online sales over the full 19-week period.

Food sales were strong, with a 14% increase in sales of own-brand Finest ranges, as shoppers sought treats over a difficult Christmas.

Amazon challenged over Prime cancellation process

amazon primeConsumer watchdog groups in Europe and the US are challenging delivery and streaming service Amazon Prime over the process required for users to cancel memberships.

US group Public Watchdog and the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) have both filed complaints, with consumer groups in France, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Switzerland also calling for action.

The NCC says Amazon Prime’s six-page cancellation process nudges consumers to keep their Prime membership, describing this as an example of “dark patterns”, defined as techniques or features of design meant to manipulate users.

Amazon Prime has more than 150 million members globally, and costs £79 per year in the UK. “Customer trust is at the heart of all our products and services and we reject the claim that our cancellation process is unfair or creates uncertainty,” Amazon said.

In 2019, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that an Amazon page layout was misleading and meant people could sign up for Prime unintentionally.

READ MORE: Amazon faces legal challenge over Prime cancellation policy

TikTok tightens teen security

TikTok users aged under 16 will now have their accounts set to private-by-default, as part of new privacy features introduced for younger users.

The changes will include tightened commenting options for videos created by those aged between 13 and 15. These users will be able to choose between making their content visible by friends or no-one, with the ‘everyone’ option removed.

Certain TikTok features will no longer work with content created by people under 16 and users won’t be able to download content created by those under 16. For those aged 16 to 17 this function will default to ‘off’, but those users can choose to allow downloads.

“The privacy rights and online safety of our community is a top priority for TikTok, and we place a particular emphasis on the privacy and safety of our younger users, which is why we’re making these significant changes,” says TikTok Europe head of privacy, Elaine Fox.

“We want to encourage our younger users to actively engage in their online privacy journey and by doing so early we hope to inspire them to take an active role and make informed decisions about their online privacy.”

Debenhams flagship closes for good as lockdown bites

Troubled retailer Debenhams, which is in the hands of administrators, is to permanently close six branches including its Oxford Street flagship store.

Stores in Portsmouth, Staines, Harrogate, Weymouth and Worcester will also shut, with the loss of 320 jobs. Lockdown measures have complicated plans for the stores to remain open to sell remaining stock.

FRP Advisory joint administrator, Geoff Rowley, says: “Inevitably the latest lockdown has had an impact on our plans for the wind-down of the business. We regret the impact on those colleagues affected by today’s announcement.”

READ MORE: Debenhams to shut six stores including Oxford Street flagship

Jameson champions live music with virtual gigs

Irish whiskey brand Jameson has partnered with Sofar Sounds, a global community of music lovers, to give up-and-coming musicians a platform during the latest UK lockdown.

The Seen & Heard Listening Room series will profile a different emerging artist every night for two weeks, with each offering a 20-minute pre-recorded ‘virtual gig’ premiered via Sofar’s Listening Room. The artists will be paid for their performance, as well as benefitting from national exposure in the free-to-view gig series.

Artists taking part include writer and performer Otis Mensah, Birmingham funk bank I.M.O, and alt-pop poet Tiërny. Jameson will offer drinks kits, to replicate the experience of being in a real gig while at home.

“The Jameson Seen & Heard platform proudly champions new music and we’re excited to be partnering with Sofar Sounds once again to support performing artists and create real impact in the music space,” says Laura Stephen, brand director at Jameson parent company Pernod Ricard UK.

“It continues to be a challenging time for live music and we hope by giving some of the UK’s brightest emerging talents a virtual stage, passionate music lovers will join in and support local artists in the community.”

Thursday, 14 January

LV English Cricket Board sponsorship

LV becomes ECB’s title partner

LV=General Insurance is to partner the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in a three-year deal that covers all of England Men’s and Women’s domestic Test Series, including the 2023 Ashes and the County Championship.

The agreement expands on LV’s joint £1m funding of the #Funds4Runs initiative, providing financial assistance for recreational cricket communities most impacted by the pandemic.

It also marks a return to professional cricket in England and Wales for the brand, whose involvement with the sport dates back to 2002 and includes three separate stints as title partner of the County Championship, most recently from 2007-2015.

“This partnership with the ECB gives us a fantastic opportunity to build on what we’ve done already and deepen relationships across all forms of cricket,” says LV=General Insurance manging director, Heather Smith.

“Away from the professional game, we also want to help strengthen cricket communities across the UK, and our values around supporting communities closely align with those of the ECB.”

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison adds that the sponsorship deal is set to benefit all levels of the game: “The strength of our partnerships are vital and in LV= I know we have a partner that shares our ambition to support the growth of cricket from grassroots to our England teams.”

Non-alcoholic brand Desperados Virgin 0.0% begins global rollout

Heineken DesperadosHeineken-brewed beer brand Desperados is introducing Virgin 0.0%, a non-alcohol drink backed with a ‘Live Today, Love Tomorrow’ campaign.

Already available in France, the drink will be launched in the Netherlands and Poland this month, before being made globally available throughout this year.

The campaign invites consumers to “step beyond the obvious”, with the move into the low and no-alcohol category seen by the brand as a major strategic move.

Desperados Virgin 0.0% will complement a wider portfolio, including the original tequila-flavoured beer.

Land Rover renews Premiership Rugby deal

Land Rover has extended its partnership with Premiership Rugby, continuing in a role as official vehicle partner that it has held since 2002.

As well as the partnership with Premiership Rugby, Land Rover continues to sponsor club sides Cardiff Blues, Glasgow Warriors and Bath Rugby.

Jaguar Land Rover marketing director, Anthony Bradbury, says that the brand is equally committed to supporting the sport away from the elite level, with initiatives like the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, a national series of rugby festivals for under-11 and under-12 teams.

“Grassroots rugby will continue to be an area which Land Rover champions, as it is where the values of the sport are fostered,” says Bradbury.

Premiership Rugby chief commercial officer, Mark Brittain, says that Land Rover’s renewal is vital for the sport’s growth and development: “The brand’s contribution to rugby cannot be understated, so to extend our partnership is something everyone at Premiership Rugby is incredibly excited about.”

Rebel Kitchen campaign takes aim at Donald Trump

Rebel KitchenA series of billboards and roadside ads from diary brand Rebel Kitchen contains not-quite-so-hidden messages, calling President Trump “an ass” and telling him to “f off”.

The ads form part of the London-based company’s Veganuary campaign and the recent launch of its Organic Barista Mylk, with Rebel Kitchen creating the messaging in response to recent events in the US.

“At Rebel Kitchen we do things differently,” says co-founder and owner Ben Arbib. “We are rebels with a cause, so we take risks and never shy away from telling it like it is.”

The Rebel Kitchen Veganuary campaign will continue this month on social media and outdoors across the UK, in partnership with Clear Channel.

The brand produces organic, plant-based diary alternatives and boasts of being 100% carbon neutral. Rebel Kitchen also donates 1% of its revenue to projects that support regenerative organic agriculture and is a certified B Corporation.

Online sales growth hits 13-year high

The latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, tracking the online sales performance of over 200 retailers, has found a 37.6% year-on-year increase in growth during December. Growth for the full year rose by 36%, the best figure since 2007.

With Christmas shopping starting early and varying degrees of restrictions in place, online sales continued to build momentum throughout the final quarter of 2020, driven in large part by November’s year-on-year increase of 39% and the Black Friday sales period.

Electricals was a particularly strong sector during December, up by 116%, while gardening sales increased by 165%. That compares with clothing, which saw a small rise of 3.2% and footwear, 5% down on the same time last year. The clothing performance for the year saw an increase of just 1.3%, with shoes down by 10.8% over the same period.

“Learnings from 2020 will be crucial as we navigate the uncertainties this year and a sense of a new baseline will take a while to be established,” says Capgemini managing consultant for retail insight, Lucy Gibbs.

“Retailers best set to ride out the storm are those with a strong online presence and the ability to remain nimble, using demand sensing to react to the changing landscape and adapt to surges both instore and online, combined with a readiness to take on opportunities as they come in 2021.”

IMRG strategy and insight director Andy Mulcahy adds that now really isn’t the time to make predictions for what’s to come: “We could end up with a year where significant pandemic disruption lasts for the first quarter, the first half, or most of the year; shopper spend might divert strongly to experiences and holidays if things open up again; the economic situation might lead to a squeeze on spend; the list of potential macro variables goes on.”

Tuesday, 12 January


Coca-Cola removes logo from cans as it urges consumers to commit to change

Coca-Cola has removed the logo from its cans as part of its latest campaign ‘Open To Better’, which urges people to make a commitment to do things differently in 2021.

Instead of Coca-Cola’s iconic logo, the limited edition packs of original, Zero Sugar and Diet Coke feature a series of resolutions with a blank space for consumers to fill in their own pledge.

Cans featuring messages such as ‘I will never take my friends for granted again’ will be available in-store, but consumers can also buy personalised cans from Coca-Cola’s recently launched online store Your Coca-Cola.

It follows the brand’s hugely successful ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, which saw the brand put people’s names on-pack.

Coca-Cola Great Britain marketing manager Bryony Lester tells Marketing Week the new campaign “aims to encourage change and the opportunity to make a difference” and she describes the direct-to-consumer platform as “step forward in our evolution”.

“We’re excited to have launched Your Coca-Cola, our first ever online store in Europe, which offers people direct access to Coca-Cola brands and products… It’s an exciting moment for Coca-Cola and a step forward in our evolution, enabling us to offer fans of the brand even more options.”

Open To Better is part of Coca-Cola’s ‘Open Like Never Before’ campaign launched last July, which marked the drinks giant’s return to UK advertising after putting the brakes on in April as a result of the pandemic.

The multimillion pound campaign featured a manifesto poem by spoken word artist George The Poet and set out Coca-Cola’s intent to focus on optimism and its search for a “better normal” as the world continues to deal with the impact of Covid-19.

Coca-Cola has enlisted celebrities including footballers Marcus Rashford and Alex Scott, as well as presenter Laura Whitmore to share their pledges as part of the new campaign.

Open To Better is launching across 13 European markets, with awareness and engagement cited as key benchmarks of its success.

M&S buys Jaeger fashion brand

Marks & Spencer has acquired fashion brand Jaeger after it fell into administration last November, taking on the brand but not its stores and concessions.

It is in the process of finalising a deal to buy its products and “supporting marketing assets”.

The move is part of M&S’s plan to start selling complementary fashion brands as it looks to boost sales and accelerate its transformation.

It first outlined its Never the Same Again programme last May and has since started selling clothing online from fashion brands Nobody’s Child and Ghost London, as well as products from Early Learning Centre.

M&S revealed its quarterly figures last week, showing sales in its clothing division had dropped by nearly a quarter.

READ MORE: Marks & Spencer snaps up Jaeger fashion brand

PizzaExpress names Shadi Halliwell chief customer officer

PizzaExpress has appointed former Three UK CMO Shadi Halliwell as chief customer officer.

She has been tasked with finding new opportunities for the casual dining brand, particularly as consumers’ dining habits have changed as a result of Covid restrictions.

Prior to Three, Halliwell was group marketing and creative director at Harvey Nichols before which she spent 15 years at O2, most recently as head of brand and marcoms.

She says: “With such an iconic brand that uniquely spans casual dining, takeaway, digital delivery and retail, this is an exciting time to be joining PizzaExpress. I’m delighted to be joining the team to build on the existing strengths and develop new opportunities as customers’ needs evolve in their homes and as millions of people pour back out into our neighbourhoods, high streets and city centres.”

She will report into CEO David Campbell who says the recapitalisation of the company at the end of last year and the “substantial further funds being committed” put it in an “increasingly strong position to grow when Covid restrictions are eased”.

Halliwell will sit on the PizzaExpress exco along with Campbell, managing director Zoe Bowley, people director Kate Daines and newly appointed chief business officer Jo Bennett.

Consumer spending fell 2.3% in December

Consumer spending dropped 2.3% in December compared to the same period in 2019, the largest decline since June 2020 as restrictions tightened.

Data from Barclaycard shows spending on essential items grew 4.5% year on year, with Christmas shopping leading to an 88% rise in online grocery spend.

Online retail also had a good month, with spend up 52.2% as consumers were forced to stay home once more. But spend in department stores dropped 15.2% and 7.3% in clothing.

The hospitality sector was again hit hard, with pubs and bars (down 71.4%) and restaurants (down 65.4%) seeing a steep drop in spend.

However, airlines and travel agents saw a slight improvement thanks to the roll out of the vaccine. Airlines saw a less steep decline in December (58.1% compared to the previous month’s decline of 72.3%), and travel agents saw a drop of 72.3%. One in five Brits (22%) have also said they are planning a big holiday this year.

Barclaycard’s head of consumer products, Raheel Ahmed, says: “Changing restrictions continue to have an impact on our spending habits – which was particularly acute across the high street and hospitality sectors in December, with restaurants, pubs and bars hardest hit during a low-key festive season in the majority of the UK.

“As a result of further restrictions, online grocery spend surged and fuel declined as the majority cancelled their plans and stayed home for the holidays.”

Vodafone enlists Stephen Mangan for business campaign

Vodafone is launching a campaign for the business community talking up the benefits of the internet of things (IoT).

Featuring actor and comedian Stephen Mangan, the campaign looks to humanise technology and show how businesses can take advantage of being better connected to help them navigate the changes brought about by Covid-19.

‘Let’s Talk IoT’ shows how every aspect of a business could run more smoothly if it was connected, from the machines on the factory floor and the delivery vans out on the road, to the air conditioning unit.

Vodafone UK’s business director Anne Sheehan, says: “Our new campaign sets out to educate, inspire and support the business community who are so vital to the UK economy. With this campaign we want to take away complexity, and help businesses see that technology can be simple to deploy, simple to manage, and simple to see the return on investment.

“Our customers are looking to us for solutions so that they can continue to do business, and be as efficient as possible. We hope this digital campaign sparks imaginations and inspires new ideas for what’s possible with technology.”

The digital and print campaign will initially run for six weeks.

Monday, 11 January

twitterTrump permanently ousted from Twitter, as Apple pulls ‘free speech’ app Parler

Outgoing US president Donald Trump has been permanently banned from Twitter on the grounds his posts have the potential to incite further violence following the storming of the US Capitol building on Wednesday.

Twitter joins Facebook and Instagram, which already banned Trump “indefinitely” on Thursday and will not lift the sanctions until at least after Joe Biden is sworn in as the new US President on 20 January.

However, speaking on Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show, health secretary Matt Hancock suggested such moves by the social media giants could cause a rethink on regulation. Responding to Trump’s Twitter ban, Hancock said companies such as Twitter and Facebook were taking “editorial decisions”, because “they’re choosing who should and shouldn’t have a voice on their platform”.

Elsewhere, Apple and Google have pulled so-called ‘free speech’ social network Parler from their app stores and Amazon has removed the site from its web hosting service for violating rules.

Self-styled “unbiased” social media site Parler, which is popular with people who have been banned from Twitter, was found to be hosting 98 posts that encouraged violence, according to Amazon.

READ MORE: Trump Twitter ban ‘raises regulation questions’ – Hancock

Latest official Covid campaign urges UK to ‘act like they have the virus’

The government’s latest Covid-19 public information campaign is urging UK citizens to “act like they have the virus” in a bid to reinforce current lockdown measures.

The TV ad, fronted by chief medical officer professor Chris Whitty, urges people to stay at home due to the rapidly rising rate of coronavirus infections and pressures facing the NHS. Running across TV, radio, outdoor and social media, the campaign reiterates the government’s ‘Stay at home, save lives’ message, as well as the ‘Hands, Face, Space’ guidance.

In the advert, Whitty also seeks to remind the public that the spread of the new Covid-19 variant is accelerating, putting people at “risk of serious disease” and while the vaccines give “clear hope for the future”, the message remains to stay home.

The government is ramping up its ‘Stay at home’ message as Covid-19 cases and deaths hit an all-time high and the NHS is put under extreme pressure. According to official statistics, on 8 January the UK recorded 68,053 new coronavirus cases – the highest daily total of the pandemic so far – as well as 1,325 fatalities, the highest ever daily tally of Covid-19 deaths.

Marriott pulls donations from Republicans opposing US presidential result

Hotel group Marriott has paused donations to the 147 US Republican senators who opposed the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential win.

The hotel group said it took the “destructive events” at the US Capitol building to “undermine a legitimate and fair election” into consideration and in response has decided to pause any political donations to the Republican senators who voted against the certification of the presidential result.

The move from Marriott comes after CEO Arne Sorenson published an open letter on Thursday, describing the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters as a “stunning, outrageous and unprecedented attack” that sought to disenfranchise millions of Americans.

Sorenson said: “I recognise that we have associates who have very different views on the results of this election and the direction of the United States. We serve guests who also have a wide range of opinions and perspectives. In the US, we can use our voice and our vote to share our views. But what we can’t do is trample the Constitution; we can’t use violence and terror to force an agenda.”

Some advertisers are also reportedly reassessing plans to run ads around the inauguration of Joe Biden on 20 January amid fears there could be another attack. Business Insider reports that while 50% of advertisers have reinstated ads since the storming of the Capitol, many are closely monitoring the news.

READ MORE: Businesses rethink political donations after Capitol siege

Fears 250,000 small businesses could disappear due to Covid-19

Fears are mounting that a record 250,000 small businesses could fold over the next 12 months as a result of the pandemic.

A survey of 1,400 small firms carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that 5% expect to close in 2021, which if replicated nationwide would mean 250,000 of the UK’s 5.9 million small businesses could fold.

FSB national chairman, Mike Cherry, says business support measures have failed to keep pace with the intensifying coronavirus restrictions and as a result hundreds of thousands of ultimately viable small businesses could be lost “at a huge cost to local communities and individual livelihoods”.

In an attempt to stem the tide of closures, the FSB is proposing a support scheme to help self-employed workers currently excluded from government aid. The federation is also calling for help to extend beyond the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, taking into account the impact of restrictions on the newly self-employed, businesses within wider supply chains and those without commercial premises.

READ MORE: Covid: Record number of small firms ‘set to close’

Brands team up on vaccination volunteering push

Sun Jab Army BT, Paddy Power, Morrisons and Sky are among a number of brands throwing their weight behind The Sun newspaper’s campaign to support the NHS to deliver Covid-19 vaccinations.

As part of the ‘Jabs Army’ campaign, the Sun is hoping to help recruit volunteers for a range of roles as the UK looks to vaccinate more than 13 million over-75s and vulnerable people by mid-February. To date 28,000 Sun readers have signed up for volunteering roles, which include guiding people at vaccination sites, transporting patients and medicine, supporting those self-isolating and administering the jab.

Among the brands volunteering to help the campaign is brewer Greene King, which will make its pub car parks close to vaccination centres available as part of the national effort, while Paddy Power has offered the use of its 345 betting shops and support of its staff nationwide.

British Airways director of external communications and sustainability, Louise Evans, says the airline is pleased to support the push to recruit as many volunteers as possible, with furloughed cabin crew, pilots and head office staff having volunteered during the first national lockdown.

Morrisons CEO David Potts adds: “We’re continuing to put our assets at the disposal of the nation and will help Jabs Army in any way we can. From use of our car parks to a cup of tea – Morrisons will be there for you and I’m very happy to volunteer to help in any way myself.”



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