Amazon to create additional 4,000 UK jobs following ‘biggest’ Prime Day
Amazon is expanding its workforce in the UK. It says it will create 4,000 additional permanent jobs in the UK this year.
The jobs will be spread across the UK, and will be in areas like corporate, technology, software development, and order fulfilment. The creation of the jobs will bring Amazon’s workforce in the UK to 75,000 permanent staff.
The company says the hires will put it into the top ten private sector employers in the UK, alongside the likes of John Lewis and Boots.
“We’re continuing to invest in talent right across the UK, from apprentices in Swansea to data scientists in Edinburgh,” said Amazon’s UK country manager John Boumphrey.
The jobs’ announcement comes after Amazon announced that it saw its “biggest” ever Prime Day. The two-day event, which allows Amazon Prime members to buy discounted products, ended on Wednesday. Amazon reports that more than 300m items were bought across the two days.
In 2021, 250m items were bought during the same event. Amazon did not disclose exact sales figures for the event.
Amazon also highlighted increased use of its Amazon Live livestreaming service in the US during Prime Day. It reports 100 million views of the service, which is yet to be rolled out in the UK.
After the pandemic caused a boom in Amazon orders, growth at the ecommerce giant has slowed in recent times. The company says that the hires represent a return to “more normal levels of growth”. In the UK, Amazon created 10,000 jobs in 2020, and then added 25,000 in 2021.
Emirates rejects Heathrow Airport’s demands to stop selling summer tickets
Emirates has accused Heathrow of causing “an ‘airmageddon’ situation due to their incompetence and non-action”.
It has refused Heathrow’s demand that airlines cut flights after it capped passenger numbers to 100,000 per day over summer. Before the pandemic up to 125,000 per day left the airport.
Heathrow says it had no choice but to take the action.
“For months we have asked airlines to help come up with a plan to solve their resourcing challenges, but no clear plans were forthcoming and with each passing day the problem got worse,” it says.
But Emirates says that the cap number seems to have been “plucked from thin air”. It claims that it was given 36 hours to comply with the demands to cut passenger numbers, and threatened with legal action if it did not comply.
It says that it plans to operate flights to and from the airport as normal.
“They wish to force Emirates to deny seats to tens of thousands of travellers who have paid for, and booked months ahead, their long-awaited package holidays or trips to see their loved ones,” the airline says.
It blames the current crisis on a lack of planning and investment from the airport.
Co-op launches branded partnership to help families during school holidays
Co-op is partnering with five national brands to bring to life its ‘Joys of Summer’ campaign, designed to help families with kids find affordable activities during the school holidays.
The retailer is working with Arla’s Cravendale, Danone’s Volvic, Kraft Heinz’s Capri Sun, Mars’ Maltesers and Premier Food’s Cadbury’s baking kits to promote activities that use the products and their empty packaging. These activities include crafting bee hotels, bird feeders, garden games and baking recipes.
The campaign falls under two sub-categories: ‘joys of playing’ and ‘joys of sharing’. The sharing aspect of the campaign is tied into Co-op partnership with environmental charity Hubbub. The charity has a network of community fridges, which are local spaces to share food and reduce waste. As part of this initiative, the brands are funding several family-friendly picnics and events at the community fridge locations over summer.
The campaign is being communicated to customers through large store and window takeovers and vinyls, more than 10,000 shelf talkers, leaflets, over 2,200 radio adverts, a microsite, social content and till screens. It was realised by Threefold, Co-op’s commerce agency partner.
“The joys of summer campaign was inspired by 18 months of lockdowns and how during this time many parents ran out of ideas to entertain children,” says Co-op media centre manager Anthony Jackson.
“We also understand that the summer school holidays can be financially difficult for many families and we’re hoping this campaign, plus the funding of events in partnership with Hubbub, helps to provide some support to keep children entertained on a budget.”
Shell boss warns that energy rationing cannot be ruled out in Europe
The CEO of Shell Ben van Beurden says that energy rationing in Europe cannot be ruled out as the fuel crisis continues.
Speaking at an energy conference, he added that a “really tough winter in Europe” lay ahead, and that the continent is likely to see “significant” energy rises.
Energy prices have risen since the war in Ukraine. Russia supplies 40% of the EU’s natural gas, as well as 27% of its imported oil. The country receives around €400bn (£341bn) a year in return for providing fossil fuels to the EU.
Europe has been trying to move away from Russian fossil fuel, banning most oil imports by the end of 2022. But it has shied away from a ban on gas imports, with fears around how countries in the EU might cope.
There are fears Russia will move to further limit supplies to the EU, it has been accused of using fuel as a “weapon” in the war.
Countries like Germany and Italy, who heavily rely on Russia for their gas, are already reporting shortages. Supplies of natural gas to Germany were halted this week for 10 days maintenance, but there are worries that the import may not restart.
While the UK gets less than 5% of its natural gas from Russia, there are concerns that any further limitations on fossil fuel supply will drive up competition, and therefore, prices.
“Some countries will fare better than others but we will all be facing a very significant escalation in energy prices,” warns van Beurden.
Frasers Group scraps ‘unproductive’ home working
Frasers Group, which owns brands like House of Fraser and Sports Direct, has banned home working, after it said the practice made its staff “unproductive”.
The group was founded by Mike Ashley and employs over 25,000 people across its stores and two head office locations in Oxford Street, London and Shirebrook, Derbyshire.
It introduced “Frasers Friday” at the end of 2020 as a day when staff could work from home. However, in an internal memo seen by The Sun, chief operating officer David Al-Mudallal said that the practice had created an “unproductive day of the week”.
The memo reportedly claims that the company had found social media evidence that staff were “not treating Friday as a working day”.
“We have an incredible workforce of dedicated colleagues, and in-person collaboration is key to how we deliver value together. We believe that we are all at our best when we work together in an office environment,” said a Frasers Group spokesperson.
Thursday, 14 July
Currys introduces 12-month split payments to ‘help’ ease cost of living crisis
In response to the ongoing cost of living crisis, tech retailer Currys has launched a ’12 Month Pay Delay’ for customers spending more than £99.
The delay will allow shoppers to split payments across 12 months with no interest, as part of a wider range of ‘inflation busters’ from the company.
Currys’ chief commercial officer Ed Connolly says the initiatives have been designed “specifically to help” customers buy “essential products at this tough time”, as Currys data shows a 41% rise in its customers using credit to replace “vital” home appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers and cookers.
If customers fail to pay off their purchases within the 12 month interest-free period, they will be charged an interest rate of 24.9% APR. Currys says the introduction of the payment method is in “direct response” to the cost of living crisis.
“We know that it’s distressing when essential tech breaks down and we want to help people replace the appliances needed for everyday life quickly, easily and in the most affordable way possible,” says Connolly.
Alongside the pay delay, Currys is introducing a price lock where “popular” tech products will be locked at Currys’ 2021 lowest price to ‘inflation-proof” them, as well as ‘Cash for Trash’ where customers can swap old or broken tech for money off vouchers.
“At Currys, our mission is to help everyone enjoy amazing technology and the new inflation busters are intended to help us achieve that, even during financial uncertainty,” adds Connolly.
Netflix joins forces with Microsoft for cheaper ad-supported subscription offering
Netflix has appointed Microsoft as its global advertising technology and sales partner, to bring a “lower priced ad-supported subscription plan” to market.
“Microsoft has the proven ability to support all our advertising needs as we work together to build a new ad-supported offering,” says Netflix chief operating and product officer, Greg Peters, citing Microsoft’s “flexibility to innovate over time” across both technology and sales as well as the tech giant’s commitment to privacy.
While noting it’s still “early days” for the partnership, Peters says the “long term goal is clear” – “more choice for consumers and a premium, better-than-linear TV brand experience for advertisers.”
Microsoft president for web experiences, Mikhail Parakhin, says the company is “excited to offer new premium value to our ecosystem of marketers and partners while helping Netflix deliver more choice to their customers”.
The announcement comes as Netflix seeks to amend its programming deals with major studios to help get the ad-supported service off the ground, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Wetherspoon anticipating £30m loss as chain ‘heavily’ invests in marketing
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has warned it will report an annual loss for the third year in a row as sales fail to catch up with pre-Covid levels.
The company says its like-for-like sales for the first 11 weeks of its fourth quarter were 0.4% lower than the same period in 2019. Draft ale and lager sales, a main revenue contributor, were 8% down.
The chain says it has invested heavily in marketing, alongside labour and repairs, following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in order to “strengthen” its position for the financial year beginning 1 August 2022.
Marketing costs for the company have “increased substantially” it says, following changes to restrictions such as implementing new menus following government calorie intake guidelines.
Wetherspoon said that a combination of rising costs, such as fuel, as well as staff costs and falling sales have contributed to the company’s expectation to report losses of £30m for the year to the end of July.
The company says that “contrary to expectations” sales in major city centres, not including London, have been stronger than in suburban locations or smaller towns.
“The ‘fear factor’, used by governments to encourage compliance with lockdowns and restrictions, has also had lingering after-effects, with many people remaining cautious about leaving their homes,” says JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin.
“Inflation, mainly a result of the “money printing” which was activated by governments and central banks to finance lockdowns, has proved to be far higher and more intractable than anyone anticipated,” he continues.
“Wetherspoon has tried to take a long-term approach to these issues, investing heavily in the workforce, in buildings, in marketing and in contracts with landlords and suppliers, which will hopefully create a solid base for future growth. The company remains cautiously optimistic about future prospects.”
Channel 4 appoints its first director of inclusion
Channel 4 has appointed Marcia Williams as its first director of inclusion, who will be responsible for the strategic direction of inclusion and diversity at the broadcaster.
As the channel looks to ensure “greater alignment internally and externally” its employee-focused 4Inclusion team will now report to Williams, who will also “share dual reporting responsibility for the Creative Diversity team” with the director of commissioning operations, Emma Hardy.
“Channel 4 believes that everyone, regardless of their background, ethnicity, sexuality or ability should be respected for their point of view and values, recognised for their unique skills and capabilities and both enabled and supported to be their genuine selves,” says chief executive officer Alex Mahon.
He adds that the newly created role “recognises Channel 4’s successful history of pioneering change in diversity and inclusion that has inspired change in the creative industries and beyond” while continuing to embed inclusion at the core of the company.
Williams joins Channel 4 from her role as director, diversity, inclusion and talent for TFL, and has held senior inclusivity and diversity roles across organisations such as UK Film Council, Tideway, HM Treasury and The Law Society of England and Wales.
Commenting on how Channel 4 is “pioneering” when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Williams says: “This new role is an affirmation that Channel 4 is laser-focused on pushing forward to find new, and powerful ways to approach issues of equity and inclusivity across its talent and business practices to create and sustain true impact”.
Laura Ashley auditor fined after administration failures
The UK accounting watchdog, Financial Reporting Councik (FRC) has fined the auditor of Laura Ashley, citing its failures to highlight the potential risk to the fashion and homeware retailer before its collapse in 2020.
Auditor UHY Hacker Young has received a fine of £300,000 as well as other sanctions, while an audit engagement partner at the company, Martin Jones, has been fined £45,000 for the failures and banned from signing statutory auditors for public interest entities for the next two years.
Laura Ashely’s profits “consistently declined” for the four years following 2016, with the sanctions relating to audits on the brand’s financial statements for the years ending 30 June 2018 and 30 June 2019, which were signed off by Jones.
Despite the dwindling profits, the financial year reports were not moderated, says the FRC, and the auditors did not indicate the retailer wouldn’t continue operating. The watchdog notes that the audit failures didn’t directly cause the brand’s administration, but “failed in their principle objective” of providing “reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements as a whole were free from material misstatement”.
Laura Ashley employed more than 2,700 people across its 155 UK stores in 2019, before failing into administration in March 2020 as Covid-19 took hold.
Wednesday, 13 July
Twitter sues Elon Musk for exiting $44bn takeover
Twitter is suing Elon Musk in a bid to force him to complete the $44bn ($37bn) takeover he agreed in April and then pulled out of last week.
Claiming the Tesla CEO “mounted a public spectacle to put Twitter in play”, the social media platform insists Musk signed a seller-friendly merger agreement to purchase the company at $54.20 (£46.64) per share.
The lawsuit argues that unlike any other party in a legal agreement, Musk believes he is “free to change his mind, trash the company, disrupt its operations, destroy stockholder value and walk away.” The social media giant alleges the Tesla CEO’s actions have “cast a pall over Twitter”, the BBC reports.
The legal documents also claim Musk only walked away from the deal because it no longer “serves his personal interests”, noting that after agreeing to the takeover a stock market fall hit Tesla shares, the source of his wealth.
In a tweet, Twitter chairman Bret Taylor reaffirmed the company’s intention to “hold Elon Musk accountable to his contractual obligations.” In a post thought to be aimed at the lawsuit, the Tesla CEO responded with: “Oh the irony lol”. The original deal includes a $1bn (£842m) fee for breaking up the bid.
Musk backed out of the deal on Friday, claiming Twitter had failed to provide data on the scale of fake accounts on the platform. Last week Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal confirmed the site suspends around 1 million spam accounts daily, double the number he shared in May.
However, while Twitter estimates bots represent less than 5% of daily active users, Musk believes the figure is closer to 20%.
Lidl ad banned over savings claims
A leaflet promoting Lidl’s November 2021 Black Friday sale has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for failing to substantiate the savings claims made.
The insert in a national newspaper featured recommended retail price (RRP) savings claims for several items, including a Sharp 42-inch Android TV (Lidl price £259, RRP £409.99), an Emma Original single mattress (Lidl price £199.99, RRP £499), ASUS Chromebook Flip laptop (Lidl price £149.99, RRP £399.99) and Beldray Steam Surge Pro Platinum iron (Lidl price £39.99, RRP £79.99).
Rival Aldi complained the quoted RRPs “differed significantly” from the prices at which the items were generally sold, challenging whether Lidl’s RRP claims could be substantiated and were in fact misleading.
In response, Lidl explained the prices in the leaflet were those at which the products were generally sold, arguing that consumers generally understood the meaning of RRPs. The supermarket said it had used RRPs in the leaflet to avoid suggesting the products were previously sold by Lidl at the higher price.
Regarding the ASUS laptop, Lidl provided a screenshot of the manufacturer’s website which showed the price as £339.99. However, the ASA considered that RRPs set by the manufacturer did not constitute evidence the laptop was generally sold at this price.
For the Sharp TV, Emma mattresses and Beldray iron, Lidl provided screenshots showing the products available to purchase at the advertised RRP on one online retailer’s website around the time the ad was published. The retailer also provided screenshots of the manufacturers’ website for the mattresses and iron, which again the regulator ruled did not “constitute evidence” these were the prices at which the products were generally sold.
The ASA claimed the examples provided were “insufficient” to demonstrate the products were generally sold at the RRPs claimed in the ads. It was ruled the creative must not appear again in the same form. The regulator also warned Lidl to ensure future references to RRPs reflect the price at which the products are generally sold and adequate evidence is collected to substantiate the savings claims.
Netflix seeks new deals with studios as ad-supported plans ramp up
Netflix is looking to amend programming deals with major studios to allow shows to appear on its new advertising-supported service, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, the WSJ claims Netflix is in talks with Warner Bros, the studio behind hit drama You; Universal, which produces Russian Doll; and Sony, the studio responsible for shows such as The Crown. The intention is to renegotiate existing deals to allow ads to be shown next to popular shows.
Netflix is also on the lookout for a new boss to lead the ad-supported proposition, with Snap vice-president of sales Peter Naylor and Comcast chief growth officer Pooja Midha reportedly on the list of potential candidates.
Last month, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed the ad-supported tier will launch before the end of the year. He explained the business had left a “big customer segment off the table” of people who say the service is too expensive for them and don’t mind watching advertising for a lower price.
Netflix first began exploring plans for an ad-supported tier after announcing it had lost 200,000 subscribers during the first quarter of 2022, the first time the streamer had lost subscribers in more than a decade. Expectations are Netflix will lose another 2 million customers in the second quarter.
In response to the dwindling subscriber numbers, the streaming giant has also made significant cuts to its workforce. Last month Netflix sacked 300 employees, adding to the 150 roles already cut in May. The sackings amounted to around 4% of the workforce.
In a statement, Netflix claimed it is continuing to “invest significantly in the business” and the cuts to staff were to ensure costs grow in line with its “slower revenue growth.”
Women hold just 37% of leadership roles in media and comms
Women occupy just 37% of leadership roles in the media and communications sector, despite making up 48% of the total workforce, according to LinkedIn data.
Drawn from anonymised and aggregated profile information of LinkedIn’s 830 million plus members worldwide, the data shows women in the UK hold just 39% of leadership positions in the sector.
The country with the highest proportion of women in the media and comms sector in leadership roles is Singapore at 44%, followed by the US (43%) and Australia (42%).
Bringing up the rear is India, with 23% of women in leadership positions, followed closely by the Netherlands (28%) and the UAE and Germany (both 30%).
The share of women in leadership in the media and comms industry represents the total number of women holding director, vice-president, C-suite or partner positions, divided by the total number of men and women holding these positions. LinkedIn’s media and comms industry filter includes roles such as marketing manager, marketing specialist and digital marketing specialist.
While globally the share of women hired into leadership positions in the sector grew 5% between 2015 and 2022, the statistics reveal work is needed to close the gender gap within leadership.
“It’s critical that we work to reverse this imbalance now before the gap widens,” says senior director of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, Tom Pepper.
“In-house and agency teams must embrace flexible working, bolster internal mobility and retention schemes, and offer professional development experiences to ensure women are supported and have the opportunity to thrive.”
Offering greater workplace flexibility could be one route to redressing the balance, with LinkedIn data showing globally women are 24% more likely to apply for remote roles. Investing in training courses, mid-career reskilling, gender-equal candidate panels and no longer asking for prior salaries when hiring could also help women climb the career ladder, LinkedIn suggests.
Boohoo begins charging for returns
Boohoo has started charging shoppers to return items, blaming the rising cost of shipping for the fee.
The ecommerce retailer is charging customers £1.99 to return products, which is deducted from their refund. First reported by Retail Week, the charge came into effect on 4 July and follows the likes of Next and Zara, which charge customers £2 and £1.95 to return items, respectively.
Other fashion retailers also charging for returns include Uniqlo, Mango and Sports Direct, while Urban Outfitters is said to be testing charges in the EU.
In its June trading update, Boohoo pointed to the impact on net sales of the “ongoing normalisation” of returns due to a product mix change.
Reporting its results for the year to 28 February in May, the retailer called out the impact on distribution of “elevated returns and pandemic-related carriage surcharges”. Boohoo noted consumer habits and the “ease of shopping online” was feeding the scale of returns, as was the trend cycle “shifting into higher returning categories”.
Rival Asos has so far held out on charging for returns, despite revealing in June it had seen a “significant increase” in returns in the UK and Europe, which was having a “disproportionate impact on profitability”.
Speaking in an unscheduled update last month, Asos chief operating officer Mat Dunn described the rise in returns as a “broad-based phenomenon” that correlates with the “cost of living pressures.”
Tuesday, 12 July
Uber offered shares to media giants to win sway with governments
Uber offered shares to media barons in the UK, across Europe and in India to help it swing favourable coverage and influence governments, according to documents leaked to the Guardian.
The Uber files, as they have become know, show the ride sharing firm asked media investors to lobby on its behalf in return for a stake in the business.
Uber targeted the owners of the Daily Mail, Les Echos in France, Italy’s Le Repubblica and L’Espresso, Die Welt and Bild in Germany and the Times of India.
Uber’s former CEO Travis Kalanick met with Daily Mail group’s owner Lord Rothermere on a trip to Germany in 2015.
Kalanick reportedly outlined the difficulties Uber was facing in London with then mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London. As an Uber investor, he suggested the company would like Rothermere to use his political influence to help smooth out the situation, according to whistleblower Mark MacGann, Uber’s former European policy head, who was present.
Meanwhile, Uber offered Axel Springer, the publisher of Die Welt and Bild, a $5m share of the company in 2015/2016, a deal that was described internally as a route to gaining political “support and influence” in Germany and Brussels, according to the documents.
Uber made a similar deal with the owner of the Times of India group, Bennet, Coleman & Co in 2015.
MacGann says: “We didn’t really need the money, we believed we were doing them a favour by taking their money, because we wanted the top-level political access and influence that came with the money.”
Canesten reveals ‘the truth’ about vaginas in education-led campaign
Feminine health brand Canesten has launched the UK iteration of its ‘Vagina Academy’ campaign, called ‘The Truth, Undressed’.
The campaign is designed to teach people about vaginal anatomy and health, as well as highlighting the reality of how women’s bodies look and behave.
The Truth, Undressed features an educational microsite and videos that will be shared on social media.
Canesten has also created comprehensive lesson plans in collaboration with the national body for personal, social, health and economic studies, the PSHE Association. The content, which is available as a UK national curriculum resource for the first time, looks to teach 11- to 18-year-olds about vulval and vaginal anatomy and health using accurate, diverse and non-sexualised photography.
The images, which were taken by photographer Sophie Mayanne who shot Mothercare’s ‘Beautiful, isn’t she?’ campaign, look to break down stereotypes and remove stigma by showing true-to-life depictions of vaginal discharge, pubic hair and vulvas.
Daria Costantini, brand lead for Canesten at Bayer Consumer Health UK says: “The truth of the female anatomy is dressed up in a societal culture of sex and defined as explicit by default. We live in a world where porn is readily available on the internet, yet many young people don’t know the first thing about what kinds of infections there are or even what the vulva is supposed to look like.
“We hope that through this programme we can start to move imagery of real vulvas away from a sexualised depiction and into an informative, educational space to equip young people with the essential information they need to better understand their bodies as well as normalise conversations.”
Bayer worked with AnalogFolk London to develop the campaign.
Marketing Week spoke to Bayer’s chief marketing and digital officer, Patricia Corsi, last month who explained the company’s ambition to bring creativity into consumer healthcare, including the launch of Canesten’s Vagina Academy.
Half of marketers not spending enough to get maximum ROI
Marketers are often not spending enough on media to optimise return on investment, with new data showing allocating more budget to a channel can push ROI up.
Indeed around half of marketers are investing too little in media, according to Nielsen’s first ROI report.
The data suggests around 50% of media plans are underinvested in by a median of 50%. If the correct level of budget is allocated to each channel, however, ROI could be improved by 50%.
This tallies with the findings of research presented by econometrician Dr Grace Kite last month, which shows when advertisers commit to higher media spend ROI rises.
Beyond budgeting, the Nielsen report shows it’s rare for channels to deliver above average returns for both brand and sales outcomes, with little over a third (36%) of media channels performing above average on brand and revenue metrics.
To grow ROI, Nielsen suggests brands need to take a balanced approach for both upper and lower funnel activity. The study finds adding upper funnel marketing to existing lower and mid funnel marketing can grow overall ROI by 13% to 70%.
Energy bills to rise faster than previously forecast
UK energy bills are set to rise at a faster rate this winter than predicted, according to energy regulator Ofgem as the cost of living crisis intensifies.
Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem’s chief executive, has admitted to MPs that the £800 price hike for a typical household previously forecast from October was likely to be too low.
While giving evidence to MP he said it was “clear” this prediction was likely to be inaccurate, with one industry analyst suggesting the rise would be more than £1,200 in October.
Currently a typical annual bill is around £2,000, up from around £1,300 in April. However, data from Cornwall Insight suggests customers could be paying £3,244 a year from October and £3,363 from January.
Consumer spending continues to slow as inflation bites
Total sales dropped by 1% in June, compared to an increase of 10.4% in the same month last year, a rate of decline not seen “since the depths of the pandemic”.
This fall is below the three-month average decline of 0.8% and 12-month average growth of 3%.
The BRC-KPMG data for the five weeks to 2 July 2022 shows UK retail sales fell by 1.3% on a like-for-like basis given sales increased by 6.7% in June 2021
Over the three months to June, food sales increased by 2.2% on a total basis and 1.6% on a like-for-like basis, buoyed in part by the Jubilee weekend.
However, non-food sales over the same period dropped by 3.3% on a total basis and 4.2% on a like-for-like basis.
Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, says: “Sales volumes are falling to a rate not seen since the depths of the pandemic, as inflation continues to bite, and households cut back spending. Discretionary purchases were hit hard, especially white goods and homeware, while consumers also traded down to cheaper brands in food and non-food alike.
“While the Jubilee weekend gave food sales a temporary boost, and fashion sales benefited from the summer holiday and wedding season, this was not enough to counter the substantial slowdown in consumer spending.”
Monday, 11 July
Elon Musk backs out of Twitter bid
Elon Musk is looking to pull out of his bid to buy Twitter for $44bn (£36bn), less than three months after first securing the deal.
In a letter filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk’s lawyer said Twitter has failed to provide requested data on the number of fake or spam accounts on the platform.
Since 2014, Twitter has estimated that spam accounts equate to less than 5% of daily active users. However, last week Twitter confirmed it suspends more than 1 million spam accounts daily, double the number shared by CEO Parag Agrawal in May. This takes into account users removed before joining the platform for failing to pass human verification tests.
Musk has said he believes spam or bot accounts could account for as many as 20% of Twitter users.
In a tweet, the platform’s chairman Bret Taylor said Twitter remains “committed” to closing the deal as originally agreed. The company plans to pursue legal action to enforce the agreement.
Shares in Twitter fell by more than 5% following the news, according to CNBC.
Leak exposes Uber for breaching laws and courting politicians
Uber broke laws and enlisted the help of politicians to aid its plans to disrupt the European taxi market, according to more than 124,000 confidential documents leaked to the Guardian.
The Uber files include 83,000 emails and 1,000 other files spanning 2013 to 2017. They unveil a $90m-a-year lobbying and public relations effort to enlist the help of politicians, including now French president Emmanuel Macron and former EU digital commissioner Neelie Kroes.
Macron told Uber’s co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick he would reform taxi laws to the benefit of the business, even as more than 2,100 French taxi drivers protested against the firm in 2016. According to the files, Kalanick saw an opportunity to leverage violence towards Uber drivers during the protests to pressure governments to rewrite laws that limited Uber’s expansion plans, with little regard for the safety of the drivers at the time.
Meanwhile, Kroes is believed to have secretly lobbied top Dutch politicians for Uber before her term in the EU ended, in potential breach of the union’s ethics rules.
Kalanick also ordered the use of a “kill switch” in case of police raids on company computers, the files claim.
The former CEO was forced to step down in 2017 by shareholder pressure and replaced by Dara Khosrowshahi. Uber says Khosrowshahi has installed “rigorous controls and compliance”, adding that its “past behaviour wasn’t in line with present values”.
Cadbury Caramilk recruits Aussies as ‘human adverts’
Cadbury is sponsoring one thousand Australians to serve as “walking, talking advertisements” for its Caramilk bar, explaining to Brits why the chocolate developed a cult following in Australia.
Aussies can sign up via a dedicated website and will be decked out in Caramilk merchandise, bearing the message: ‘It’s amazing, just ask this Aussie’. Payment will be made in Caramilk.
A 30-second hero film will run across video-on-demand and YouTube, supported by activity across radio, social, website activation, digital out-of-home and electronic customer relationship management (eCRM). Influencer activity will also roll out across TikTok.
The campaign, created by VCCP, follows on from the brand’s ‘Just Ask An Aussie’ campaign series last year, which launched the product in the UK. Caramilk became Mondelez’s biggest ever confectionary launch in the market.
“Last year, we launched Cadbury Caramilk in the UK with a bang, sharing Aussies’ love of Caramilk far and wide,” says Mondelez brand manager Bryony Tate.
“This year, we’re excited to take the ‘Just Ask An Aussie’ idea to the next level, sponsoring a thousand Aussies to make sure there’s always one nearby for Brits to ask for themselves.”
Heinz returns to Tesco shelves as pricing row ends
Heinz and Tesco have reached an agreement to end their dispute over price rises, meaning the FMCG giant’s products will be restocked on the supermarket’s shelves over the coming days.
Supply of Heinz products to Tesco was paused last month, with a Tesco spokesperson stating at the time the supermarket “will not pass on unjustifiable price increases to our customers”, as household budgets come under “increasing pressure” from inflation.
Tesco has declined to reveal whether Heinz products will increase in price under the new agreement.
Last week Mars Petcare also halted supply of brands including Whiskas, Pedigree and Dreamies to the supermarket. This dispute has yet to be resolved, the BBC reports.
“We’re sorry that this means some products aren’t available right now, but we have plenty of alternatives to choose from and we hope to have this issue resolved soon,” Tesco said.
Meanwhile, a Mars spokesperson reassured pet owners the company’s products are still “widely available” across the UK.
Samsung unveils grassroots football campaign
Samsung is looking to empower Sunday league teams to become champions of creativity and tech with the launch of a major new grassroots football campaign.
‘The Grassroots Academy’ will help five local teams learn creative and digital skills to boost their clubs’ brand and content, using Samsung channels for amplification.
The campaign, developed with The Elephant Room, comes following the release of a report indicating that more than 5,000 of 43,000 active grassroots football clubs in the UK will close as a long-term effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some 96% of clubs have seen a reduction in income in the last year, according to ‘The Final Whistle For Grassroots Football’ report.
From late summer onwards, the academy will see experts in football and tech hold face to face and virtual masterclasses and workshops on how to use Samsung technology and create content to build a community around a grassroots club and boost visibility.
The campaign has launched on social media, through which football teams can apply to be one of the Academy’s five teams by showing their club in the most creative way in a 60-second film.
“We are excited to be launching The Grassroots Academy which will help the community Football teams with additional creative and tech skills to help grow their brand and following,” says Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland’s director of corporate marketing, Amy Campbell.