Boots sales slump 30% as consumers shun stores
Sales at Boots fell by 30% in the three months to the end of August as the chain’s city centre and travel sites were hit by declining tourism and the mass adoption of working from home.
The retailer lost market share in every category it operates in apart from beauty, The Guardian reports, as shoppers chose to pick up products such as shampoo and soap during their supermarket shop.
However, during the three-month period online sales rose by 155%, encouraging Boots to up its investment in digital services by $400m (£309m) to $1bn (£772m) for the coming year. The chain is currently in the process of closing 200 stores and cutting 4,000 jobs in a bid to save $2bn (£1.5bn) by 2022.
Chairman of the Walgreens Boots Alliance, James Skinner, told analysts that Boots had carried out more than 1 million Covid-19 tests in the UK and could benefit if a vaccine became available. But he warned that trading would be tough for the next six months amid uncertainty in Britain over future lockdowns.
“The UK is the country where there might be [further] lockdowns. It is quite unpredictable. We don’t see major risk in the US, but the UK presents risks to the [sales] projections,” he stated.
YouTube tackles hate speech with QAnon conspiracy crackdown
YouTube has followed Twitter and Facebook by banning content linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory.
The company said it is prohibiting content which targets an individual or group with conspiracy theories used to “justify real-world violence”, including content which “threatens or harasses” someone by suggesting they are complicit in a conspiracy.
The QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims US president Donald Trump is secretly battling an elite group of Satan-worshipping paedophiles, has been designated a “potential domestic extremist threat” by the FBI.
Having already removed “tens of thousands of QAnon videos and terminated hundreds of channels”, YouTube said it was necessary to take the next step in its efforts to “curb hate and harassment”.
However, the company added that as context is crucial, news coverage on issues such as QAnon, or content discussing it without “targeting individuals or protected groups”, may stay up on the site.
The North Face commits $7m to exploration
Outdoor clothing brand The North Face has launched a global initiative encouraging people to “reset their lives” through exploration, supported by a $7m (£5.4m) investment focused on widening access to the natural world.
As part of the ‘Reset Normal’ initiative, the brand is launching the Explore Fund Council, a global fellowship bringing together experts across culture, entertainment, academia and the outdoors to develop ideas and scalable solutions to help support access to exploration. The recommendations from this group will inform how The North Face shares out its $7m fund between organisations seeking to build “equity in the outdoors”.
The Reset Normal campaign launches with a film designed to highlight the “crucial turning point” the world is experiencing culturally in 2020 and show how people can reset through the power of exploration. The North Face brand ambassadors will be tasked with creating personal pledge videos that share their aspirations about how they would like to reset in 2020. The brand will release Instagram AR lenses and TikTok filters to encourage consumers to get involved.
The North Face also plans to work with charities to empower future explorers who are passionate about the outdoors, but perhaps don’t possess the equipment to make this possible or have the experts to learn from.
“For 10 years, we’ve been working to reset the barriers to exploration and make it more accessible for all through our Explore Fund,” says global vice-president of marketing and product, Steve Lesnard. “But 2020 has proven we need to radically accelerate that work and collaborate with a broad-reaching community to help us do so.”
McDonald’s calls on consumers to savour the small things
McDonald’s is calling on the UK to embrace little moments of joy with a value-focused message reminding consumers they don’t need to spend a lot to enjoy the small treats in life.
Created by Leo Burnett, ‘The Gift’ follows the journey of a boy who receives his first car from his parents on his birthday. Running nationwide across TV, social and radio, the ad opens with his mum giving the boy the keys to her old car, but his reaction suggests this isn’t the car of his dreams.
As the boy heads off, some friends spot him and laugh as he awkwardly drives past. However, the freedom of having his first car, coupled with a trip to a McDonald’s Drive-Thru to get some fries, helps lift his spirits. He happily drives off to a soundtrack of Westlife’s Flying Without Wings, giving a proud nod to his mates as he heads home to his mum with some nuggets.
“In a challenging year, little treats and acts of kindness have increased sentimental value,” says McDonald’s UK and Ireland marketing and food director, Steven Howells.
“McDonald’s remains a dependable anchor for food quality and value, as well as providing feel good moments for our customers. We wanted to show that at McDonald’s you don’t need to spend much to get something that means a lot.”
BBC launches storybook-style trailer for Children in Need
BBC Creative has teamed up with children’s book author Tom Percival to create an “optimistic and hopeful” trailer for the 2020 BBC Children in Need Appeal, inspired by the charity’s own fundraising campaign ‘Together, We Can’.
The storybook-style ‘Goodbye Rainclouds’ film follows the story of three children who are trying to tackle challenges presented in the form of a raincloud that won’t leave them alone. With the help and support of some heroes – aka Children in Need funded project workers – they are able to tackle their challenges and leave their raincloud behind.
Each project worker featured in the story is based on a real charity worker funded by BBC Children in Need, including Thora, a hearing dog trained by Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.
“Children and young people across the UK are currently facing a multitude of challenges and sadly, the coronavirus pandemic has made life even harder for those who were already experiencing difficulties in their lives,” says BBC Children in Need commercial director, Claire Hoyle.
“We hope this beautiful trail will encourage our supporters to once again do all they can to help make a difference, enabling us to make an impact when children and young people across the UK need us most.”
Thursday, 15 October
Accenture trebles media spend to launch new purpose
Global consultancy and professional services group Accenture has trebled its annual media spend to $90m (£69m) as it launches a new brand campaign and company purpose.
Accenture describes the new image as its biggest brand move in a decade. Its ‘Let there be change’ campaign, launched today, was developed by creative agency Droga5, which is part of Accenture Interactive.
The campaign depicts change – both seismic and small – and seeks to capture its power and beauty to reflect the depth and breadth of Accenture’s expertise. It will launch simultaneously over multiple channels across the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Accenture’s new purpose is to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity, which will guide the company’s strategy and priorities.
“We are following the same advice we give our clients in this time of relentless change: Act with great agility and boldness,” says Accenture chief marketing and communications officer, Amy Fuller.
“Our new campaign departs from convention to both capture our new purpose and give voice to today’s—and tomorrow’s—most pressing question: How can we help our clients embrace change to better businesses, communities, and lives?”
Google joins European Advertising Standards Alliance as first corporate member
Google has joined the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA), the umbrella body that brings together 28 self-regulatory organisations in 26 European countries. Google is the first corporate member of the alliance.
Google will pay a membership fee and contribute to the funding of self-regulatory organisations, including EASA founding member the ASA in the UK. The regulation of online advertising – including paid ads, website claims and influencer ads – now accounts for around 60% of the ASA’s work.
ASA chief executive, Guy Parker, described Google’s membership of EASA as a “key milestone”, explaining that the regulator wants to work more closely with large online platforms to better help “protect people from irresponsible ads”.
“Maintaining consumer trust in the ads they see online is vital for the future of our industry and to keep the web open and affordable for everyone,” says Google UK and Ireland managing director, Ronan Harris.
“EASA and its network of European ad regulators play an absolutely vital role in this effort, and we are incredibly proud as part of the advertising industry in Britain and Ireland to be a part. We look forward to supporting EASA to maintain high standards of safe, responsible digital advertising for European consumers, whilst its members continue to evolve to keep pace with our rapidly changing digital advertising ecosystem.”
Digital ad spend slips despite increased time spent online
Digital ad spend fell by 5% in the first half of 2020 – despite consumers spending more time online during the Covid-19 pandemic – according to figures from IAB UK.
The Digital Adspend data, developed with PwC, shows a dip in spend during the second quarter as a result of the crisis. But IAB UK’s analysis is that the digital advertising market is relatively stable given the wider economic situation. The UK’s GDP fell by more than a fifth during the same period.
Figures show that the display market has grown slightly – by 0.3% to £2.84bn – and that within this there has been a 5.7% increase in video ad spend to reflect the increase in streaming during lockdown. Spend on search ads fell by 3.7%, with revenue down by £143m to £3.7bn compared to the first half of 2019. Spend on classifieds was down £235m, to £485m.
“It’s not surprising that this year has seen the total digital advertising market contract as our industry deals with the upheaval and uncertainty of the pandemic,” says IAB UK CEO John Mew.
“The data released today is hugely useful in understanding the health of the digital ad market as a whole and how different areas are faring – yet we know that this continues to be a hugely challenging time for many of our members and that the relatively small decline in digital ad spend at an industry-wide level won’t reflect the individual situations of all.”
China’s top brands see 12% growth in ‘extraordinary year’
The 100 most valuable brands in China have grown by 12% in value this year and are now worth $996bn (£768bn), according to the 1oth annual BrandZ ranking in the country.
The figures, published today by WPP and Kantar, show that China’s top 100 brands have increased their worth by $106.8bn (£82.3bn) in what is described as an “extraordinary performance in an extraordinary year”.
Alibaba remains China’s most valuable brand, with 9% growth seeing it valued at $153.3bn (£118bn). Tech group Tencent is the second-most valuable company, growing 9% to $151bn (£116bn). Third is premium alcohol brand Moutai, which has been boosted by 47% to $53.8bn (£41.4bn).
Fourteen of the 24 business categories measured saw growth, with entertainment experiencing the biggest upward shift for the second year running. Technology accounted for a quarter of the ranking’s total value, and retail a fifth.
Each of the 10 fastest-growing brands on the list saw their value grow by more than 50%. They include education provider Xueersi and alcohol brand Wu Liang Ye. Alcohol and education have both seen boosts during Covid-19 lockdowns.
“It has never been more critical for brands to respond to shifting consumer priorities. For example, alongside delivering superior products and services, they need to demonstrate that they care for their employees and customers, the environment and society as a whole,” says CEO of Kantar China and global head of BrandZ, Doreen Wang.
“Covid-19 will continue to influence consumer values, attitudes and behaviours, and this will impact needs, desires, brand selection and purchasing. Understanding Chinese consumers today, in all their diversity, depends on having deep human-centred insights. Brands must then act on those insights, making bold changes where necessary.”
Spotify celebrates streaming increase during Black History Month
Music streaming brand Spotify is celebrating Black History Month by teaming up with leading artists to mark its commitment to showcasing diverse voices in its latest campaign.
The ‘Black History Is Now’ campaign highlights black artists who are making waves in the music industry, such as Headie One – who released new album Edna last week – Arlo Parks and Young T. Spotify has created new playlists and podcast collections for its Black History Is Now hub, to educate, entertain and inspire its listeners. During 2020 the hub has see a 237% rise in streams of music and podcasts.
“The Black History Is Now Hub celebrates black music and culture today and every day since it’s launch in 2017,” says Spotify lead for artist and label partnerships, Safiya Lambie-Knight.
“While black music consumption continues to grow month-on-month on Spotify, this October we will also celebrate black creators who have had an incredible year. We are excited to highlight some amazing artists that are releasing music throughout October, including Headie One’s brand new album ‘Edna’ and OFB’s powerful new track ‘BLM’, as well as some other amazing artists, podcasts and brands.”
Wednesday, 14 October
Ikea to create circular business with second-hand furniture store
Ikea is launching a second-hand furniture venture in order to create a circular business model.
The Buy Back initiative will buy consumers’ unwanted Ikea furniture offering vouchers worth up to 50% of the original price, to be spent at its stores.
Customers with “as new” items, with no scratches, will get 50% of the original price, “very good” items with minor scratches will get 40% and “well used” with several scratches will get 30%.
The offer applies to furniture typically without upholstery, such as the famous Billy bookcases, chairs, stools, desks and dining tables. It said that anything that cannot be resold will be recycled.
Ikea plans to have dedicated areas in every store where people can sell back their old furniture and find repaired or refurbished furniture. The company has been trialling out furniture reselling in Edinburgh and Glasgow for more than a year.
The launch will coincide with Black Friday. furniture items you no longer need or want. A spokesperson says: “By making sustainable living more simple and accessible, Ikea hopes that the initiative will help its customers take a stand against excessive consumption this Black Friday and in the years to come.”
Ikea, which has been taking steps to become more environmentally friendly, says it aims to become “a fully circular and climate positive business by 2030”.
Asos profits quadruple on strong demand during Covid-19
Asos’s profits quadrupled as consumers in their 20s shopped more during Covid-19.
The online retailer made a pre-tax profit of £142.1m in the year to 31 August, up from £33.1m in the same period last year. Sales rose 19% to £3.26bn.
Asos’s CEO, Nick Beighton, says: “I am proud of the way Asos met this challenge head on, putting our duty to act as a responsible business at the heart of our approach and working to balance our performance in that context.
“As well as protecting staff, suppliers and customers, we’ve driven efficiency and have emerged a stronger, more resilient and agile business whilst delivering strong profit and cash generation.”
The group said it had made a “solid” start to the new financial year but was cautious on the outlook for consumer demand while economic prospects and lifestyles of its core customers remain disrupted.
Beighton adds: “I am pleased by the improvements we have made this year but there is still more for us to do to continue our progress. Whilst life for our 20-something customers is unlikely to return to normal for quite some time, ASOS will continue to engage, respond and adapt as one of the few truly global leaders in online fashion retail.”
PayPal launches pay-later tool to rival Klarna
PayPal is adding a new tool that will allow shoppers to pay for goods in interest-free instalments.
‘Pay in 3’ will be available for purchases between £45 and £2,000 from the end of the month and will allow people to pay for items in three monthly instalments.
Under the scheme, PayPal covers the full cost of the goods for the retailer or business at point of sale, and automatically takes the payment instalments on their due date. It said there were no charges for either the retailer or customer, though a missed payment would result in a flat £12 fee.
PayPal’s UK director of enterprise accounts, Rob Harper, says: “During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen the number of people in the UK shopping online increase dramatically. At the same time, many more consumers are looking to spread the cost of those purchases.”
O2 takes over Jubilee Line to celebrate 4G
O2 is taking over London Underground’s Jubilee Line to showcase its 4G network.
Appearing from Westminster station through to North Greenwich for three weeks, passengers will be welcomed by a wave of creative as a further evolution of O2’s recently launched network campaign.
To support the ongoing connectivity pilot, where O2 have brought 4G to the Jubilee Line for the first time, customers will be reminded that 4G is live across the selected stations. The takeover includes the platform entry and exit arches, lean bars and roundels, saying ‘hello to 4G’. The public will also hear bespoke tannoy announcements. The campaign will be supported across social media, on both O2 and TfL’s channels.
O2’s CMO, Nina Bibby, says: “I’m really excited to be working in partnership with TFL to bring our network to life for our customers. We know just how important it is to stay connected, and that’s why I’m delighted we’re welcoming 4G connectivity for commuters across London.
“With this advertising takeover, featuring the new face of O2, Bubl, we’ll ensure customers know we’re always there for them, including on the underground.”
The takeover will feature the new creative platform, Bubl, a loyal and reliable blue robot, to help showcase that the network is there for customers whenever they need, keeping them connected as they travel.
Since the trial went live in March 2020, millions of Londoners travelling on the Jubilee line have benefitted from access to O2’s 4G network.
Apple launches iPhone 12 range
After a delay due to Covid-19, Apple has released four models in its new iPhone 12 range, including the world’s smallest 5G device.
The new iPhones mark some of the biggest changes to Apple’s smartphones since the iPhone X in 2017.
They include a new line for Apple in the iPhone 12 Mini, which measures just 5.4 inches from corner to corner, making it the smallest 5G device available, and will retail for £699 from 6 November.
At the higher end, there are two iPhone 12 Pro phones with a 6.5-inch display and a 6.7-inch display that will be available for £999 and £1,099 respectively.
Alongside the new iPhones, Apple has launched a smaller version of its HomePod smart speaker, powered by the Siri smart assistant, which it hopes will help it better compete with Google and Amazon’s dominant smart speakers.
Tuesday, 13 October
Adidas launches Creators Club Week
Sportswear brand Adidas is starting a seven-day digital festival from tomorrow, with appearances from athletes, musicians and designers.
The Creators Club Week will also feature Adidas’s largest ever drop of exclusive and limited-edition shoes, with more than 70 designs making their debut over the course of the week.
Model Karlie Kloss will launch the UtraBoost DNA Loop running shoe, created from 100% recyclable TPU, while rapper Pusha T will take the stage to discuss the impact of 1990s street culture on the music and fashion industry.
Throughout the week a series of over 30 surprise raffles will take place where members can win unique creations, such as a piece of art from design Paolina Russo, through to Adidas Predator boots signed by World Cup winner Paul Pogba.
There will also be a series of collaborations, including the Adidas Superstar Tattoo, Adidas x Ninja and Adidas NMD.
Access to the exclusive designs, experiences and opportunities throughout the week will be limited to members of Adidas’s free-to-join Creators Club, a global loyalty programme.
“Creators Club Week is the biggest ever celebration of our global member community and an opportunity to bring people together through our curated program of digital experiences,” says Adidas SVP of digital Scott Zalaznik.
“Holding our first ever members week, and involving partners we’ve worked with so closely to headline it, is the most fitting way to introduce our latest innovations, freshest designs and sustainable products to the world.”
BRC-KPMG sees the first signs of Christmas
The latest BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor for September suggests an early start for Christmas shopping this year.
On a total basis, sales increased by 5.6% last month, against a decline of 0.6% in September 2019. It’s the best growth since December 2009, excluding Easter distortions.
UK retail sales increased 6.1% on a like-for-like basis from September 2019, when they had decreased 1.3% from the preceding year.
“September saw a big improvement in retail sales growth, however sales over the last six months are still down on the previous year,” explains British Retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson. “Tighter coronavirus restrictions have continued to hold back clothing and footwear, particularly as the Government further restricts social events.
“With office workers still at home for foreseeable future, the sales of electronics, household goods and home office products have remained high. September sales have also given retailers early signs that consumers are starting their Christmas shopping earlier this year, which retailers are encouraging their customers to do in order to manage demand at Christmas and keep people safe.
“However, store-based sales, excluding food are still in double-digit decline.”
Wagamama’s Noodle Union supports student’s mental health
Restaurant chain Wagamama has launched a support society for students returning to university during the pandemic.
The Noodle Union features online cooking lessons, food drops and giveaways and events in partnership with mental health charity YoungMinds.
With 41% of young people telling the charity that the pandemic has impacted their mental health, Wagamama has made a donation to YoungMinds to help in the development of its peer-to-peer support campaign.
“We know from student customers coming into our restaurants that they are struggling with this far from normal return to university life,” says Wagamama CEO Emma Woods.
“It feels for many like some form of Big Brother house mass experiment where students are being locked in and left to fend for themselves. We are delighted to be working with YoungMinds, a charity dedicated to supporting young people’s mental health when they need it most.”
MarketingKind puts Rory Sutherland and Mark Evans on eBay
MarketingKind, the membership community for marketers, is marking its launch with an eBay auction that will give the highest bidder a chance to work on a life-changing brief alongside industry big hitters like Rory Sutherland and Mark Evans.
The brief up for grabs is: ‘How can we get businesses to see the candidate, not the disability?’
“Once they’ve left education and all its associated support mechanisms, adults affected by disabilities want to access employment perhaps more than any other group, yet appallingly high numbers of them are never given a chance to show what they can do,” explains MarketingKind founder Paul Skinner.
“The UK was criticised by the UN for lack of progress on this issue, and it’s time to do something about it. How can we change recruitment and induction behaviours in businesses to correct this?”
All money raised from the auction goes directly to Sky Badger: a charity that restores fun and adventure to families with children affected by disabilities across the UK, and whose founder is leading a task force to enhance employment prospects for adults affected by disability.
AA calls for partnership between government and trade bodies
The Advertising Association (AA) has responded to the prime minister’s announcement of new measures to combat the sharp increase in Coronavirus cases.
Boris Johnson told Parliament that there will be a three-tiered system introduced in England, with most areas of the country on “medium alert” and continuing with restrictions like the 10pm curfew, but Merseyside singled out as having a “very high” risk, with stricter rulings to be implemented locally.
However, the AA’s chief executive Stephen Woodford believes that the different levels of lockdown need new strategies to protect the country’s economy.
“To help people find jobs, we are proposing a partnership between government and our fellow trade bodies for a skills programme to retrain and upskill people in areas of advertising and marketing services where there are national shortages,” says Woodford.
“This plan complements our existing proposal for an advertising tax credit to provide additional stimulus to consumer spending and to boost economic growth as we all work together to get through this pandemic.
“Meanwhile, the government’s communication and message-sharing must be as clear as possible for people to understand the new rules in their area and our industry is ready to ensure these vital public health messages land effectively.”
Monday, 12 October
British Airways CEO out as airline faces up to its ‘worst crisis’
British Airways CEO Alex Cruz is stepping down with immediate effect as the company navigates “the worst crisis faced in our industry” as coronavirus crushes demand for flying.
The management shake-up will see Cruz replaced Sean Doyle, who currently works at sister brand Aer Lingus. Both airlines are owned by IAG.
Donal Moriarty, currently Aer Lingus’s chief corporate affairs officer, will step up to interim CEO. IAG is also creating a new board level role of chief transformation officer, which will be held by Fernando Candela who is currently CEO at IAG’s low-cost airline Level.
Gallego says: “We’re navigating the worst crisis faced in our industry and I’m confident these internal promotions will ensure IAG is well placed to emerge in a strong position.
Furlough scheme ‘will not stop’ surge of unemployment
There are mounting concerns that the government’s new furlough scheme will not be enough to stop a surge of unemployment as the economic recovery falters amid a second wave of Covid-19.
Two think tanks – the Institute of Public Policy Research and the Centre for Economics and Business Research – are warning that the job support scheme will do little to prevent a rise in redundancies this winter.
The chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Friday (9 October) that the state will cover two-thirds of staff wages at workplaces forced to close due to new government restrictions, up to £2,100 a month. It is expected that a new tiered system of restrictions will be revealed later today, with the highest tier including the closure of pubs, bars and casinos.
Despite the warnings, businesses have broadly welcomed the scheme, although warned it may not be enough to stop some going bust.
The CBI business lobby group said it “should cushion the blow for the most affected and keep more people in work”.
“But many firms, including pubs and restaurants, will still be hugely disappointed if they have to close their doors again after doing so much to keep customers and staff safe,” adds CBI boss Dame Carolyn Fairbairn.
The Marketing Academy opens applications for its 2021 fellowship programme
The Marketing Academy has opened applications for its 2021 fellowship programmes – a nine-month mentoring, learning and coaching scheme that aims to help CMOs make the jump to CEO – in the US and Europe.
The programme, which has been running since 2013, is free but highly selective and requires a time commitment of 12 days between April and October 2021. Developed in partnership with McKinsey & Company and sponsored by Facebook, with Marketing Week the media partner, it awards places to a maximum of 20 marketing leaders.
Sessions include one-on-one sessions with professional executive coaches, media training, mentoring with broad directors and peer-to-peer learning.
2020 fellow Antreas Athanassopoulos, who is group CCO and CEO of financial services at Dixons Carphone says: “It is more than a course; it is a way of connecting, exchanging ideas, creating enthusiasm, and bringing marketing into business life from a holistic point of view. Interacting with top consultants and thinkers brings the global perspective to life while also it local by means of interacting with peers. Do not miss it.”
To find out more about the programme and download an application pack visit themarketingacademy.org. The deadline for applications is 8 December 2020.
The government pledges £1m to ITV’s mental health campaign
The UK Government has pledged £1m in support for mental health charity helplines as part of ITV and STV’s ‘Britain Get Talking Help Our Helplines’ appeal to mark World Mental Health Day.
The donation was announced during the final of Britain’s Got Talent and will support helplines through the Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund. Established in March, it is distributing more than £5m this year, reaching in excess of 130 mental health charitities.
ITV’s fundraising campaign launched on 5 October and has included editorial content in ITV and STV daytime shows and news programmes.
ITV CEO Carolyn McCall says: “This £1m donation from the Department of Health and Social Care is a real boost to ITV’s Britain Get Talking Help Our Helplines campaign. The number of people looking for help has risen significantly as it continues to be a challenging time for many.
“We are grateful to the government for recognising our campaign with this generous pledge. It will help mental health charity helplines continue to offer their support to everyone who needs their help.”