The Telegraph pulls out of ABC audits
UK newspaper The Telegraph will no longer take part in Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) audits.
The announcement was made by its publisher the Telegraph Media Group (TMG), which said in a statement that the ABC metric was “not how we measure our success”.
The metric has come under increased scrutiny in a multi-platform media landscape, with The Telegraph’s decision to pull out potentially a major blow.
TMG says it will continue to release subscriber numbers each month, independently assured by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, with the aim of reaching 10 million registered users and 1 million subscribers within the next three years.
ABC CEO Simon Redlich says: “We understand The Telegraph’s wish to promote its growing subscription numbers across print and digital, but believe that doing so via an industry-agreed ABC standard would be the best route.”
The number of digital subscribers to The Telegraph passed its print counterparts for the first time last month. But the latest ABC figures show a 12% audience decline since December 2018 for both the daily and Sunday editions of the newspaper.
IPA director general Paul Bainsfair says the institute is “extremely concerned” by the news: “We know our members strongly support the independent, agreed JIC standards of ABC and a separate audit from elsewhere, which may not be in the public domain, does not give them the same confidence needed to support advertising expenditure.
“We urge the Telegraph to reconsider its approach and work within ABC to achieve its strategic aims.”
Brands found advertising around climate change denial videos on YouTube
Brands including Samsung, Nintendo and Uber have been advertising around YouTube content that includes climate change denial, according to a report by online global activism network Avaaz.
Ads from 180 brands were found next to YouTube misinformation videos. The report criticises the video-sharing platform for giving such content “free promotion and showing misinformation to millions who wouldn’t have been exposed to it otherwise”.
The report calls for brands to “follow through on their own corporate social responsibility commitments and track what kind of content their advertising revenue is inadvertently funding”.
Co-founder of the Conscious Advertising Network Harriet Kingaby says: “In the year that the UK hosts COP26, the urgency to base the narrative on truth has never been clearer.
“We call on everyone in the advertising ecosystem to step up and take responsibility right now, starting with a long hard look at where their advertising is going and funding.”
Birds Eye and Iceland launch competition to find a new Captain
The search is on for a new Captain Birds Eye as Birds Eye joins forces with Iceland in a nationwide competition.
The aim is to find a Captain who represents “household heroes”, rather than the usual salty sea dog.
Birds Eye UK general manager Steve Challouma explains: “As the two leading brands in frozen food, it made sense to team up to inspire and educate consumers on the benefits of shopping frozen.
“Through recognising some of the nation’s smartest shoppers and sharing their tips, we hope to pass on valuable knowledge and advice for anyone trying to get the most out of their food shop.”
The winner – chosen for their ability to use frozen food to create meals, save money and reduce waste – will appear on packets of Birds Eye Fish Fingers.
They’ll also receive £100 of shopping vouchers to spend at Iceland, and a year’s supply of fish fingers.
Pub and bar openings on the rise for first time in a decade
The number of pubs and bars opening has risen for the first time in 10 years in the UK, boosted by larger pubs and the sale of food.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed a 0.8% rise, with 315 new venues opening for business in 2019.
ONS senior statistician High Stickland says: “While smaller pubs have been struggling to survive in recent years, bigger pubs have been growing in number.
“We’ll have to wait to see if this marks a revival for smaller ‘locals’.”
The British Beer & Pub Association hopes the forthcoming budget could include extra incentives for new pubs and bars.
“Policy makers have a great opportunity in the March Budget to help pubs flourish, by easing the significant tax pressures they face from beer duty and business rates,” says a spokesperson.
Man U striker Marchus Rashford launches Fnatic and Unicef campaign
Esports organisation Fnatic is teaming up with Unicef to promote positivity in gaming and children’s rights, with the help of footballer Marcus Rashford.
Beginning on 23 January, the ‘#GotYourBack’ campaign will feature content tackling widespread problems in gaming and other communities, including racism, homophobia, sexism, hate speech and other forms of bullying.
The Manchester United player will appear alongside Fnatic gamers and influencers to raise funds for various Unicef initiatives, including the creation of child-friendly spaces.
These sanctuaries also offer essential health services such as vaccinations and counselling and help to protect children from exploitation and trafficking.
Rashford says: “I have experienced the effects of toxic online behaviours myself, I know what that feels like, so partnering with Unicef and Fnatic to promote positivity in gaming was a no-brainer for me.
“It’s important our platforms are used positively to offer a voice to causes and, in this case, children, who sometimes struggle to be heard.
“I’m very happy to provide that.”
Thursday, 16 January
Greggs partners with Just Eat in delivery tie-up
Greggs is partnering with Just Eat to provide home delivery across the UK.
The bakery brand will begin making deliveries in Bristol and Birmingham this week before expanding to London, Newcastle and Glasgow. Greggs is aiming for delivery to be available across the UK by the end of the year.
However, Greggs and Just Eat have said they will choose future destinations for expansion depending on customer demand. Customers can vote for their local area to receive delivery and the roll-out plans will be reviewed every few months based on the poll.
Asda, Unilever and Kellogg’s team up for new refill store
Asda is partnering with Unilever and Kellogg’s as it launches its first refillable store.
The supermarket chain noted that it “can’t go on alone” when it comes to removing plastic, which is why it is partnering with suppliers to remove unnecessary packaging.
The refillable store will launch in May in Middleton, Leeds. Shoppers will be able to fill their own containers with a range of products, from big brands to own-label coffee and pasta.
Shoppers will also be able to use refill points stocked with Kellogg’s cereals such as Rice Krispies and Unilever’s PG Tips tea.
Asda chief executive Roger Burnley says: “[The quest to remove unnecessary plastic] is a journey we can’t go on alone, which is why we invited our suppliers to innovate with us and I’m delighted that household names like Kellogg’s and Unilever have joined us in testing new ideas and approaches to sustainability at our Middleton store.”
Alongside the refill stations, the store will have a “naked florist’s shop” offering plastic-free flowers, and loose produce with items such as cucumbers removed from their plastic packaging.
A range of recycling facilities will also be provided including a reverse vending machine for plastic bottles and cans, and clothes hanger recycling.
The new-style store will be a live trial, monitored from its nearby head office.
Customers shopping at the store will be asked to give their feedback on various trials that will last for at least three months before a decision is made on whether to roll out, re-trial or stop the scheme.
The supermarket has prioritised plastic concerns over the last two years, removing 8,000 tonnes of plastic from its own-brand packaging since 2018 and recently committed to reducing plastic by 15% by February 2021.
NHS calls on betting firms to end incentives
The NHS is calling for an end to gambling incentives as it urges brands to take action against gambling addiction.
The head of mental health services in England, Claire Murdoch, says the link between betting and mental illness is “increasingly clear”, adding that incentives including free bets and tickets should be banned.
Murdoch has written a letter to five major bookmakers warning that the NHS can no longer “pick up the pieces” from gambling addiction.
In the letter to the chief executives of William Hill, BetFred, bet365, GVC and Flutter, Murdoch highlights the predatory tactics that “turn the occasional flutter into a dangerous habit”.
She adds: “I am concerned that offering people who are losing vast sums of money… free tickets, VIP experiences, and free bets, all proactively prompt people back into the vicious gambling cycle which many want to escape.”
In response to the letter, which is backed by MPs, betting firms have agreed to meet Murdoch for a summit on the issue of problem gambling, which has been linked to suicide.
The Betting and Gaming Council says it is “determined to raise standards and improve safer gambling” and that it is working on ways to combat the issues, such as including new age-verification checks and increasing funding for research, education and treatment.
Hyundai and Kia invest in electric car startup
Car making giants Hyundai and Kia are investing £85.6m in electric vehicle firm Arrival as they look to create zero emission cars.
The move will mark the beginning of a strategic partnership between the trio that will see Hyundai and Kia use the firm’s technology to develop mobility solutions and electrify their vehicles.
Arrival, which has more than 800 employees in five countries, will use the money to fund the next stage of its development as it prepares to scale up production of an electric van. Hyundai and Kia will work with it to develop new commercial vehicles with zero exhaust emissions.
Hyundai’s head of innovation Youngcho Chi says: “This investment is part of an open innovation strategy pursued by Hyundai and Kia. We will accelerate investment and cooperation with companies with advanced technology such as Arrival, to respond to the rapidly changing eco-friendly vehicle market.”
The cash injection means that Arrival is now valued at £3bn, meaning it has achieved ‘unicorn’ status – where a new company is valued at more than $1bn (£770m) – a rare feat for a British manufacturer.
IAG complains to EU over Flybe bailout
The owner of British Airways has filed a complaint to the EU about the UK Government’s plan to rescue struggling airline Flybe.
IAG has asked whether the government’s support for Flybe constitutes a breach of EU rules over providing state aid.
The airline group’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, describes the intervention as a “blatant misuse of public funds” and accuses the government of providing preferential treatment.
Ryanair has also written a letter to UK chancellor Sajid Javid, warning him that any move to help Flybe by cutting air passenger duty (APD) for all domestic flights — and not international flights — would “constitute unlawful state aid” to the airlines operating on those routes.
The government on Tuesday agreed a rescue deal for Flybe including a short-term deferral of some of its APD, which costs the airline about £106m a year, and a potential government loan. As part of the agreement, Flybe’s shareholders, which include Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group, have agreed to put more money into the business.
Ryanair adds: “[We have] already called for more robust and frequent stress tests on financially weak airlines and tour operators so the taxpayer does not have to bail them out.”
Flybe services dozens of UK domestic routes that are not flown by other airlines, making it the largest carrier to fly out of some regional airports.
Wednesday, 15 January
Google extends control over online data as it opts to phase out third-party cookies
Google wants to make third-party cookies “obsolete” within two years on its Chrome web browser amid user demand for “transparency, choice and control” over how data is used.
Fears are that the introduction of the policy – known as Privacy Sandbox – will only boost Google’s status as a gatekeeper of customer online data.
However, Google says it wants to create a “trustworthy and sustainable web”. Director of Chrome engineering, Justin Schuh, says some browsers had reacted to user privacy concerns by blocking third-party cookies, which has had negative “unintended consequences”.
“By undermining the business model of many ad-supported websites, blunt approaches to cookies encourage the use of opaque techniques such as fingerprinting (an invasive workaround to replace cookies), which can actually reduce user privacy and control. We believe that we as a community can, and must, do better,” says Schuh.
Chrome will start by limiting insecure cross-site tracking next month to make third-party cookies more secure and give users more precise browser cookie controls. It is also launching new anti-fingerprinting measures to discourage “deceptive and intrusive techniques”.
Dating apps under fire for leaking data to advertisers
Dating apps Tinder, Grindr and OkCupid have been accused of breaching GDPR laws by sharing sensitive personal user information with advertisers.
The Norwegian Consumer Council claims the Android app versions of Tinder, Grindr and OkCupid sent location data, sexual preferences and answers about users’ personal lives to a number of advertising networks including Google, Facebook and Twitter.
The investigation claims that Grindr, in particular, sent precise location data and other information to a “wide range of advertising networks”, which was then used to target adverts to users.
Claiming they are in breach of GDPR, the council has filed complaints against Grindr, Twitter and other advertising firms.
Twitter has since suspended Grindr from its MoPub network, which places adverts on smartphone apps, and said it is investigating the issue.
Under Armour rolls out new global brand platform
Under Armour has unveiled a new global brand platform positioned as a “rallying cry” to motivate and inspire athletes worldwide.
Running throughout 2020, ‘The Only Way Is Through’ campaign will focus on the stories of athletes across different countries and sports, including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, former Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and Liverpool FC right-back Trent Alexander Arnold.
“This isn’t a clever advertising slogan. It’s a statement that encompasses what every person striving to achieve a goal understands in his or her heart,” says vice-president of global brand creative, Brian Boring.
As well as the 90-second TV advert, the campaign will run across digital, social and outdoor. There will be additional content including personal letters from athletes, an eight-part Under Armour podcast and experiential events in cities such as London, New York and Shanghai. The campaign will focus on “key global sport and cultural moments in 2020”.
Boohoo now worth more than M&S
Fast fashion retailer Boohoo has overtaken the stock market value of high street stalwart Marks & Spencer (M&S) after a strong Christmas in which group revenue rose 44% in the four months to 31 December.
M&S, on the other hand, faces a downgrade in its investment rating to junk status and last year dropped out of the FTSE 100.
“I am delighted to report the group has enjoyed record trading in the last four months of 2019. All of our brands have performed exceptionally well and delivered strong market share gains,” says CEO John Lyttle.
“We have continued to see operating leverage in our more established brands and will continue to invest into them and our newly-acquired brands. The newly-acquired brands, MissPap, Karen Millen and Coast, are showing great promise and open different target markets for the group, in line with our strategy to build our multi-brand platform.”
Revenue for the Boohoo brand rose by 42% to £232.6m during the period, while Pretty Little Thing revenue increased by 32% to £190.8m and Nasty Gal saw revenue rocket by 102% to £41.5m. Aside from the three core brands, the group owns fellow fast fashion company MissPap and acquired the online businesses of Karen Millen and Coast in August for £18.2m.
Such is the success of the Boohoo business that group revenue for the financial year to 29 February 2020 is expected to grow by between 40% and 42%, ahead of previous expectations.
Time Out appoints global CMO
Time Out has appointed Sumindi Peiris as its global chief marketing officer (CMO) in a bid to bring together the “media and markets” elements of the brand.
Reporting into group CEO Julio Bruno, Peiris will be tasked with developing and building the global brand team, and leading on strategy and marketing activity across Time Out’s two business divisions – Time Out Media and Time Out Market.
“We brought a CMO on board at this important stage in our journey to further strengthen our leadership team and our global marketing team, bringing together the marketing functions and activities of our two business divisions – media and markets,” explains Bruno.
“Sumindi’s success in building strong brands and leading worldwide teams will be instrumental for the ongoing transformation and growth of Time Out Group.”
Peiris started her marketing career at Unilever, before roles as group marketing director at Bacardi US, vice-president of marketing at Russian Standard Vodka and global director of Johnnie Walker at Diageo. Most recently she served as vice-president of global marketing for luxury and lifestyle brands at Hilton.
“I am thrilled to join the Time Out Group family during this transformative stage and as we take this iconic, global brand forward,” says Peiris.
“My passion is building brands in the lifestyle arena and understanding how brands live within culture, where digital and social platforms play a critical part in creating brand narrative.”
Tuesday, 14 January
Shop Direct rebrands as The Very Group
Shop Direct, the company behind retail brands including Very and Littlewoods, is rebranding as The Very Group as it looks to raise awareness of its corporate identity.
The change includes a new corporate identity, created by St Luke’s, that will bring The Very Group brand closer to the Very.co.uk brand by using the same brand codes, such as the pink cube synonymous with the retailer. It also includes a new logo and typography, as well as brand character, guidelines and tone of voice.
The Very Group has also developed a new employee value proposition that aims to make it a more attractive place to work. The core proposition is ‘Join the reinvention. Rewrite retail’ and hopes to show how company has made the move catalogues to mobile.
The decision comes in the same year Very.co.uk celebrates its 10th anniversary. It now has annual revenues of more than £1.5bn, accounting for three-quarters of The Very’s Group’s turnover.
John Lewis trials first men’s make-up counter
John Lewis is opening its first men’s make-up counter at its flagship store in Oxford Circus in response to growing demand.
The concession in its menswear department will be run by War Paint For Men. It offers a make-up line specifically catered for men that includes foundation, bronzer and powder brushes. The brand launched in November 2018 and last year raised a £70,000 investment after appearing on Dragons’ Den on the BBC.
The men’s make-up industry accounts for less than 1% of the global industry but is seeing strong growth and globally expected to be worth $70bn by 2023.
The counter in John Lewis will be available until the end of the month, with John Lewis then evaluating its popularity before deciding whether to roll out the concept.
Oatly looks outside its ‘London bubble’ in new campaign
Oat milk brand Oatly is launching its first national campaign as it targets customers outside its “safe London bubble” for the first time.
The campaign will target people in cities including Brighton, Manchester and Glasgow, as well as London, and promote a range of products to coincide with Veganuary. It will run in outdoor, print, radio, podcasts, experiential, influencer and social activity, as well as through sampling.
Oatly creative director Michael Lee says: “So we’ve been mostly hanging around East London for a while now, chatting up the post-milk lifestyle to anyone willing to listen and figured it might be cool to spread our oat propaganda to new people and parts of the UK we’ve never been to before.
“If you find yourself thinking about oat drink on a bus in Manchester or imagining a more plant-based future on the streets of Glasgow, don’t worry, it’s just our advertising trying to sell you on a cooler, cow-less and altogether more progressive way of life – through oats. Or something like that.”
UK economic growth weakens
The UK’s economy grew by just 0.1% in the three months to November as “lacklustre” growth in manufacturing and a weakening service sector hit GDP.
While growth was slightly stronger in September and October, according to the Office for National Statistics, the economy contracted by 0.3% in November, dragging down the three-month figure.
ONS head of GDP Rob Kent-Smith says: “Overall, the economy grew slightly in the latest three months, with growth in construction pulled back by weakening services and another lacklustre performance from manufacturing.
“The UK economy grew slightly more strongly in September and October than was previously estimated, with later data painting a healthier picture.”
The figures come amid mounting speculation that the Bank of England may cut interest rates as economic growth stalls. The interest rate is currently 0.75%.
Monday, 13 January
TikTok eyes opportunities of curated content in a bid to woo brands
TikTok is considering introducing a curated feed to provide a safer space for brands to advertise amid concerns over content on the platform.
According to the Financial Times (FT), the Chinese social media app is exploring launching a stream of “carefully selected content” from TikTok “creators” and professional publishers. Suggestions are that this would allow the platform to charge higher rates to more premium brands than it does via its existing feed.
Last month, the FT reported that researchers had discovered “unsuitable content” on the app, including violence against women, which violated TikTok’s own policies.
The social media app is also considering how to enable users to shop directly from brands on the platform and has reportedly been “aggressively” pitching its proposition to brands in the US and Europe.
Just Eat goes live with Love Island sponsorship
Just Eat has kicked off its debut sponsorship of the winter series of Love Island by introducing a “surprise islander” to the mix.
The ‘Get Stuck In’ campaign, devised by McCann London, positions Just Eat delivery driver Derek at the epicentre of island life. Launched on social with his own Love Island-style entry VT, Derek appeared in a number of idents when the ITV 2 show went live last night (12 January).
The idents, narrated by Love Island voiceover Iain Stirling, will run on TV and on-demand services across Love Island, the Aftersun programme hosted by Laura Whitmore and the Unseen Bits Saturday night catch-up show. Just Eat will also feature on the Love Island: The Morning After podcast.
The campaign is the first instalment of Just Eat’s two-year sponsorship of Love Island, which includes the summer series in June.
“Love Island is without doubt the most talked about show on TV, especially among the 18 to 34s,” says UK marketing director, Matt Bushby.
“These young, urban consumers are driving the growth of the food delivery sector and our sponsorship of Love Island enables us to continue building affinity with them. We look forward to amplifying the joy of villa life with Derek’s emotional rollercoaster of burgeoning love, bro-mances and bombshell break-ups over the next six weeks.”
Mattress startup Casper cites influencers as a risk as it files for IPO
Casper warned potential investors that its use of influencers could pose a risk when it filed its prospectus to go public on the New York Stock exchange.
In the papers, the mattress startup warns that its use of influencer marketing “may materially and adversely affect our reputation or subject us to fines or other penalties”.
The company has based much of its social strategy on “unboxing” videos showing influencers – and customers – reacting to the experience of unpacking their mattress at home. The startup has also branched out with sleep stores offering a “holistic sleep experience” that allows customers to try out the mattresses in semi-private environments.
Casper is the latest company to be explicit about the risk of working with influencers in its IPO. Exercise bike company Peloton talked about the challenge of monitoring ads across social media when it went public in September, while US clothing company Madewell described influencer marketing as “experimental” in its IPO prospectus.
The IPO documents also show Casper spent $422.8m (£323.5m) on marketing between 1 January 2016 and 30 September 2019. From January 2019 to September 2019 alone, the mattress company splashed out $113.9m (£87.1m) on marketing, up 23% year on year.
Casper claims, according to Business Insider, that its team of data scientists has helped it drive $3 of revenue for every $1 spent on marketing.
Retail footfall down 2.5% in December as Black Friday brings Christmas trading forward
Retail footfall fell by 2.5% during December, the eighth consecutive year visits to shopping destinations have decreased, according to the latest Springboard data.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday brought Christmas trading forward, leading to a noticeable decline in footfall over the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Footfall over the third and fourth weeks of December plummeted by 6.1% as a result, compared to a drop of 2.2% during the same period in 2018.
The data, covering the five weeks from 24 November to 28 December, shows that high street footfall slumped by 3.5%, compared to a decrease of 2.1% in November 2018. Visits to retail parks were down 0.5%, an improvement on December 2018 when footfall decreased by 2.1%.
Shopping centre footfall was down by 2.1%, an improvement on December 2018’s decline of 3.9%.
Overall these figures reflect consumers’ “caution and spending restraint”, says Springboard marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle, typifying the low consumer confidence that has been ongoing for the last three years.
The data also suggests the growing importance of experiences over shopping when it comes to consumer footfall. On Boxing Day, for example, footfall up to 5pm fell by 10.6%, however post 5pm – when most stores had ceased trading – footfall dropped by just 5.1%, benefitting restaurants and bars.
UK ‘generations away’ from achieving gender equality in senior roles
The UK is still “generations away” from achieving gender equality as women remain absent from the most senior roles in sectors such as business, media and sport.
The 2020 Sex and Power Index from the women’s rights and equality charity the Fawcett Societ, highlights a stark lack of women – particularly women of colour – among the top jobs in the UK.
The index found, for example, that women make up just 6% of the CEOs of FTSE 100 companies and none of them are women of colour, while only 32% of the directors of FTSE 100 companies are female.
Just 20% of the CEOs of social media companies are female and 21% of the editors of national newspapers. In the world of sport, women make up 21% of the CEOs of sports governing bodies and just 4% of the CEOs of Premier League football clubs.
“Despite much lip service about the importance of having women in top jobs, today’s data shows we are still generations away from achieving anything close to equality. We are wasting women’s talent and skills,” Fawcett Society chief executive, Sam Smethers, tells The Guardian.
“Male dominance of positions of power remains strong, as this 2020 Sex and Power Index shows. If we want change, we have to make it happen. That means quotas, targets and policy interventions to remove the barriers to women’s progression.”