NatWest, TfL, Disney: Everything that matters this morning

Good morning and welcome to Marketing Week’s round-up of the news that matters in the marketing world today.

NatWest

NatWest convenes panel in ‘strategic push’ for younger consumers amid wider return to profitability

NatWest has convened a panel of social media influencers to help shape the bank’s products and propositions in a bid to reach a combined audience of 5 million young people.

The ‘We Are Tomorrow’ panel of 12 influencers have been signed up to help the bank more effectively reach parents and young people, advising on consumer trends and shaping future products. The six-month project is expected to reach the influencers’ more than 5 million followers in what NatWest describes as a “renewed push” into millennial and Gen Z communities.

Working with influencer marketing agency Takumi, the panel of influencers across the fields of comedy, sport, gaming and entrepreneurship will take part in “in-depth discussions with senior bank representatives” on the evolving needs of parents, young people and families across the UK. The panel will also work with NatWest’s newly formed youth team.

The bank has a “strategic focus” on engaging younger customers, as seen in the launch of products like Housemate, a bill-sharing app for renters, alongside in-app carbon tracking, enabling users to see the CO2 impact of their day-to-day spending.

NatWest also points to its increased focus on families through the acquisition in October of Rooster Money, a pocket-money fintech company that teaches children how to understand their finances.

Speaking this morning on the publication of the bank’s results for the year to 31 December, NatWest CEO Alison Rose praised the business for delivering a “strong performance” in 2021 and driving a return to profitability. NatWest’s operating profit for 2021 was £4bn, up from a loss of £481m the previous year.

Over the period, 1 million customers grew their savings with NatWest by £100 or more for the first time, while 60% of active current account customers exclusively use digital channels. The bank has, in particular, seen strong growth in mobile payments and video banking.

NatWest believes the digitalisation of customer journeys is crucial to its future growth, claiming its Net Promoter Scores are improving in key segments as a result. The bank pointed to its “much-improved” online process for renewing mortgages, which now takes under 10 minutes.

From a business perspective, the bank has allocated £4bn of the £6bn it previously promised to help SMEs grow, alongside doubling its funding of female entrepreneurship to £2bn.

NatWest also called out its tie-up with renewable energy supplier Octopus, offering retail, business and wealth customers a tailored package designed to improve the cost and efficiency of owning and running an electric vehicle.

TfL junk food ad ban cutting calorie consumption

Junk foodTransport for London’s bank on junk food advertising has led to a 1,000 calorie decline in unhealthy purchases in people’s weekly shopping, according to new research.

The ad ban on high in fat, sugar and salt products (HFSS), which came into force in 2019, covers the London Underground, Overground, buses, Docklands Light Railway, taxis and some roadside advertising on roundabouts and bus stops.

The researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine recorded an almost 20% decrease in purchases of chocolate and confectionery – equivalent to 317.9 calories – in average weekly household purchases, the Guardian reports.

Comparing almost 2 million weekly grocery purchases of HFSS products by households in London and the north of England between June 2018 and December 2019, the research found the TfL ad ban was helping to drive a decrease of 385 calories per person per week. That is equivalent to each Londoner studied buying approximately 1.5 fewer standard-size bars of milk chocolate weekly.

Overall, the researchers associated the ad ban with an estimated 1,001 calorie (6.7%) decrease in average weekly household purchases of energy from HFSS products, compared to the buying habits of consumers not exposed to the advertising ban.

The apparent success of the TfL ad ban comes as the government is set to introduce a 9pm watershed on HFSS products advertised on TV and a ban on paid-for advertising online in December, coupled with restrictions on promotional activity, in a bid to address the UK’s obesity crisis.

READ MORE: TfL junk food ad ban has helped Londoners shop more healthily – study

Disney branches out into ‘storyliving’ with residential business

Disney is looking to branch out from theme parks and streaming with a play for the residential market.

The entertainment giant is launching ‘Storyliving by Disney’, described as “master-planned communities” where residents will live and access “curated” Disney experiences. The first community will be built in California’s Coachella Valley, with additional locations in the US being planned.

Branded as ‘Cotino, a Storyliving by Disney community’, homeowners will be able to purchase estates, single family homes and condominiums, while there will also be a dedicated community for people aged 55 and over.

At each location Disney cast members will operate a community association, while through “club membership” the brand will offer curated experiences, such as wellness programmes, live performances, cooking classes and seminars.

The Cotino community is expected to surround a 24-acre “grand oasis”, with club membership offering access to a waterfront clubhouse, a club-only beach area and recreational water activities.

There is also a plan for shopping, dining and entertainment, a beachfront hotel and a beach park with recreational water activities, which the public can access by purchasing a day pass.

“As we prepare to enter our second century, we are developing new and exciting ways to bring the magic of Disney to people wherever they are, expanding storytelling to storyliving,” says chairman, of Disney parks, experiences and products Josh D’Amaro.

“We can’t wait to welcome residents to these beautiful and unique Disney communities where they can live their lives to the fullest.”

Morrisons looks to ease cost of living crisis with petrol push

MorrisonsMorrisons is hoping to address the spiralling cost of living crisis by offering shoppers vouchers towards their petrol.

Running until 27 February, customers spending £40 in store will receive a coupon for 7p off a litre of fuel, which can be redeemed until 6 March at any Morrisons petrol station. The move comes as over the weekend petrol prices hit a new high of 148p per litre, according to AA figures, with diesel prices hitting 151.57p a litre.

Morrisons chief customer and marketing officer, Rachel Eyre, acknowledges that with Covid restrictions easing customers are using their cars more often, meaning an offer of this kind will help them spread their budgets further.

“We know that the cost of living increases are really beginning to bite for everyone in the UK and we want to help our customers by saving them money on one of their biggest expenses,” Eyre adds.

The supermarket has been publicising ways customers can save money amid the cost of living squeeze, promoting price cuts to its fruit and vegetables alongside rolling out a ‘Feed the Family’ for £10 offer in its cafés nationwide.

The move comes as FMCG giants from Reckitt to Unilever warn of the need to increase prices, while BBC research suggests the cost of a basket filled with 15 standard food items has risen by £1.32, or 8%, in just one year.

READ MORE: Morrisons gives out fuel vouchers amid soaring prices at the pumps

UK SVOD access exceeds 19 million for first time

The number of UK households with access to a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service has exceeded 19 million for the first time, fuelled by the continuing growth of streaming service Disney+.

During the fourth quarter, 19.1 million UK homes – equivalent to 66.9% of households – had access to an SVOD service, up from 18.7 million homes (65.8%) during the third quarter, according to BARB’s latest establishment survey.

Disney+ enjoyed the largest increase in the number of homes with access to its service, rising to 5.5 million households during the fourth quarter compared to 5.2 million during Q3.

Some 16.8 million UK homes had access to Netflix during the fourth quarter, up from 16.7 million the previous quarter, while 12.6 million homes had access to Amazon Prime Video, growth from 12.5 million during the third quarter. Some 2.1 million homes have Now TV, up from 2 million the previous quarter.

The number of households subscribing to two or more SVOD services rose to 12.4 million (43.3%) during the fourth quarter, from 12.3 million homes (43.1%) in Q3.

BARB chief executive Justin Sampson describes this as the first time audiences for streaming services are being reported with “all the hallmarks of a joint-industry measurement system: independence, objectivity and transparency.”

Thursday, 17 February

NestleNestlé sales growth to continue says CEO

Nestlé saw a growing momentum in retail sales and a steady recovery in out-of-home channels during 2021, it has announced in its full year results.

Total sales for 2021 grew 3.3% to £69.47bn (CHF 87.1bn) in 2021, with the company forecasting organic sales growth of around 5% during 2022.

Online sales grew by more than 15% during 2021 and now account for 14.3% of total group sales. Coffee was the biggest contributor to organic growth, with sales of Starbucks products up by 17%.

“In 2021, we remained focused on executing our long-term strategy and stepping up growth investments, while at the same time navigating global supply chain challenges,” says Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider. “Our organic growth was strong, with broad-based market share gains, following disciplined execution, rapid innovation and increased digitalisation.”

Schneider says that the group has continued to evolve its product portfolio to focus on categories with growth opportunities and has further progressed its sustainability agenda.

Strong brands drive revenue at Reckitt

Reckitt RebrandReckitt has credited the improved strength of its brands for a 3.5% growth in revenue over 2021. The group, owner of brands including Dettol and Durex, says its business has become significantly stronger over the last two years.

The group set out a rejuvenation strategy in February 2020 and says it is on track to meet its medium-term objectives. It achieved revenues of £13.2bn in 2021, with hygiene sector products performing particularly well.  Adjusted group operating profit for 2021 was £2.87bn, below 2020’s figure of £3.3bn.

“Our innovation pipeline is 50% larger, our brands are stronger and more relevant, and our ability to serve our customers is greatly improved,” says Reckitt CEO Laxman Narasimhan. “We have a unique portfolio of trusted, market-leading brands in structurally attractive categories with significant headroom for growth. This, combined with our progress to date, gives me confidence in both our near term and medium-term prospects.”

O2 pushes roaming USP

Phone network O2 has launched a new campaign to highlight that – unlike rivals – it has not brought back EU roaming charges following Brexit.

The ‘Roam Freely’ campaign highlights that O2 customers can use their data, make calls and send texts while in the EU, just as they would at home. The campaign taps into research showing that nearly one in three UK consumers has already booked a holiday for 2022.

O2’s robot character Bubl is seen taking its first holiday, jetting across Europe to enjoy a whistle-stop tours of different cities and fitting in a visit to the French Alps, after two years of travel disruption. Still, postcard-like images of Bubl show the character in various locations.

“Our ‘Roam Freely’ campaign is a playful reflection of Britain’s mood as the nation gets excited about the prospect of travelling again. More so than ever, after two Covid disrupted years for travel, we’re delighted to be able to give our customers that extra benefit to make their holidays even more special. We’re very proud to say that we’re the only major UK network not to reintroduce EU  roaming charges and want to celebrate that our customers will be able to ‘Roam Freely’” says Simon Valcarcel, marketing director at O2, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Media O2.

Inflation bite sees price rises from Heineken

Heineken, the world’s second-largest brewer, is to increase beer prices due to soaring costs of energy and ingredients, reports the BBC.

The group includes brands such as Heineken, Strongbow and Amstel. It has warned that barley costs have doubled in a year, while aluminium prices are by half. Transport and energy costs are also up.

“These kind of prices increases and inflation, I think we have not seen in a generation,” says Heineken chief executive Dolf van den Brink. He said that drinkers may reduce their consumption of beer as a result of wider price increases and cost of living issues.

The price rises come after a strong year for the Dutch brewing group, as consumers increased their alcohol consumption during lockdowns. Heineken’s revenues increased by 11.3% to £18.3bn (€21.9bn) during 2021, with sales of the Heineken beer brand up by 17.4%.

Heineken joins companies including Unilever, Tesco, Greggs and Pret a Manger which have warned of increased costs.

READ MORE: Cost of living: Heineken to put up beer prices as costs soar

Better pay and benefits for M&S staff

Marks & Spencer has announced it will increase its hourly rates of pay for store staff, so that each is paid at least £10 per hour as part of broader improvements to their rewards package.

From April more than 40,000 staff will see their base rate of pay rise from £9.50 to £10, or from £10.75 to £11.25 in London. The increase is designed to reflect employee priorities, with base pay and wellbeing benefits frequently listed as key issues.

As well as improved pay M&S will be offering new services to staff, including a Virtual GP service, health check screening and advice on financial management.

“M&S is always at its best when we’ve put our people at the heart of it. The contribution our teams have made to support our customers and each other every day through some really challenging times has been remarkable,” says M&S CEO Steve Rose.

“By once again increasing our investment into one of the best all round reward offers for store colleagues across retail, we’re making sure that every colleague whatever they do and wherever they work, is properly rewarded and supported at M&S.”

Wednesday, 16 February

Burger-King-Whopper-Detour

Burger King using ‘better testing’ to ensure ‘more impactful’ advertising

Burger King is implementing “better testing protocols” to ensure its advertising and marketing initiatives are “well chosen and more impactful”, with the results of these new protocols to be seen in the back half of 2022.

The fast food chain has also been building “strong capabilities” within its new analytics and insights team, bringing “additional rigour” to all areas of the business, US and Canada president Tom Curtis said on a call with investors yesterday (15 February).

Curtis added Burger King has simultaneously been working on its brand positioning and how it builds relevance with all audiences.

“I won’t go into detail on that today, but I would note that we recently announced our decision to put our creative and accounts into review,” he said.

Burger King US saw a 1.8% year-on-year increase in comparable sales over the three months ending December 31, a 340 basis point acceleration from the third quarter when sales declined 1.6%.

“This was driven primarily by the impact of simple, more powerful messaging around our key core platform initiatives for the quarter, as well as increases in both delivery and digital sale,” Curtis explained.

Curtis’s statements follow those made in October by José Cil, CEO of Burger King’s parent company Restaurant Brands International, who said the chain was working on a plan to reclaim market share and get the Burger King brand on track for long-term sustainable growth.

Cil outlined how the brand intended to make its marketing communications and media planning in the US more “thoughtful” and “consistent”, in order to better communicate its value proposition.

“For years, we’ve been spreading ourselves too thin across too many messages with mixed results. In fact, historically, we’ve consistently had the most value constructs in the market – three times as many as our lead competitors – which diluted our marketing firepower, and added to operational complexity,” he said.

Burger King was the most awarded advertising client globally in 2021, according to the World Creative Rankings. The fast-food giant’s marketing strategy has included regularly goading its main competitors through high profile stunts and social media campaigns, with ads such as the ‘Mouldy Whopper’ and the ‘Whopper Detour’.

However, as Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson pointed out in his top 10 marketing moments of 2021, in 2020 the brand lost 5% of sales.

The “less loved” but more effective work at McDonalds and Wendy’s maintained sales, Ritson said, with Wendy’s replacing Burger King as the number two burger chain in the US despite having hundreds fewer restaurants.

Airbnb reports ‘strongest fourth quarter ever’ after increasing marketing efficiency

Airbnb has reported its ‘strongest ever’ fourth quarter, as net profit reached $55m (£40.6m) compared with a net loss of $3.9bn (£2.9bn) over the same period in 2020.

This change was driven by several factors, the business said, including higher revenue and a “significantly better cost structure”. Improvements to its cost structure have involved reducing variable costs and increasing marketing efficiency.

The travel accommodation business said in February last year it would be making a permanent cut to its overall marketing investment, having noted that slashing spend during Covid had little impact on traffic. CEO Brian Chesky said Airbnb now looks at the role of marketing as one of “education”, not “to buy customers”, leading to a substantial cut to performance marketing spend and increased focus on brand building and PR.

The business launched its first large-scale marketing campaign in five years in early 2021, ‘Made Possible by Hosts’. New ads were launched over the autumn to “continue the momentum” of the campaign, and in the fourth quarter, overall traffic to the Airbnb platform increased almost 20% in the seven countries where it ran the campaign compared to the final quarter of 2019. This was “significantly” ahead of non-campaign countries, the business said.

Airbnb also launched a new ad campaign in Q4, Strangers, featuring three unusual-looking, animalistic guests in an Airbnb listing. The campaign aims to get more hosts on the platform.

To continue raising awareness of hosting, Airbnb also launched digital campaigns focused on recruitment, with traffic to its hosting landing page in campaign countries increasing nearly 40% compared to Q4 2019.

Sales and marketing expense decreased 44% year-on-year to $351m (£259m). However, excluding the impact of stock-based compensation and other non-cash or one-time items, sales and marketing expense increased by 119% to $324m (£239m), “due primarily to an increase in brand marketing expense”. The business also continued to reduce performance marketing spend year-on-year.

Looking ahead to next year, sales and marketing expense as a percentage of revenue is expected to remain flat, the business said.

Airbnb’s revenue for the quarter also marked the period as its strongest fourth quarter yet, rising 78% year-on-year to $1.5bn (£1.1bn).

Waitrose revamps loyalty programme with personalised rewards

waitrose onlineWaitrose is relaunching its MyWaitrose loyalty scheme this month, doubling its investment in its offers and discounts.

From 23 February, loyalty members will receive personalised offers and discounts on a weekly and monthly basis. All members will receive a 20% discount across the supermarket’s cheese, meat, fish and deli counters for the first month.

The new scheme will increase customer savings by 112% compared with the previous programme, the company said, branding it its “biggest initiative to add value” for customers in a decade.

Waitrose revealed plans to overhaul its loyalty programme earlier this month, as it informed customers it would be scrapping its free newspaper offer. The supermarket halted its free coffee and tea offer during the initial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Customers will continue to receive free copies of Waitrose Food, Health and Drinks magazines, as well as discounts on dry cleaning, Cookery School courses, and cashback on healthy products with Vitality Health.

Last week, the John Lewis Partnership unveiled the hire of Co-op’s Charlotte Lock as its first “pan-partnership” customer director, who will be responsible for delivering a customer strategy that covers both John Lewis and Waitrose.

Sitting alongside the business’s existing brand customer directors, Martin George for Waitrose and Claire Pointon for John Lewis, Lock will also lead the development of the John Lewis Partnership’s customer capabilities and deliver a new loyalty proposition

Boohoo ad banned by ASA for objectifying women

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned two ads this week for “objectifying” women and using “sexually explicit” imagery, with one a product listing for online fashion giant Boohoo.

The product listing for a T-shirt on the website used two images of a model wearing the T-shirt with thong-style bikini bottoms and trainers. One was a rear view that showed her kneeling, while the other showed her sitting on the ground with her legs apart.

A third image was an upper-body shot showing the model lifting the T-shirt as if to remove it, exposing the skin on her stomach and side.

The one complainant argued the images objectified and sexualised women, and were therefore offensive, harmful and irresponsible.

Boohoo contested the images were part of their swimwear categories and the way they presented their garments “reflected the diversity of women in society and their customer base”. However, the brand removed the images from their website following the complaint.

The ASA determined that the images emphasised the model’s body rather than product and that she was posed in a “sexually suggestive” way, banning the ad from reappearing again in its current form.

Three emails from online underwear retailer Box Menswear also fell foul of the ASA this week, for using “sexually explicit” images to sell its products. While the brand disagreed they were explicit or offensive, the ASA determined that the images – in which the models’ genitals were visible through the underwear – were likely to cause offense, and consequently banned them from appearing again.

Discovery+ unveils ‘Ad-lite’ subscription offer in UK

American broadcaster Discovery is launching an ‘ad-lite’ proposition for customers of its streaming service Discovery+ in the UK and Ireland.

The ad-lite entertainment pass will include the same content and channels but with “limited ads”, and will be available from 16 March at a lower price of £3.99 per month. According to Discovery, this is “one of the most competitive price points in the market”, while still offering less than half the amount of ads viewers experience through linear television.

The Discovery+ entertainment and sport pass will remain ad-free on-demand for £6.99 per month.

The roll out follows the “successful” launch of the ad-lite product in the US, with a further roll-out across EMEA expected this year.

“Increased SVOD stacking is driving interest in ad-supported options globally and, as the market only gets more competitive, we want to offer UK consumers that same choice and value through Discovery+,” explains Discovery’s executive vice-president and general manager for the UK and Nordics, James Gibbons.

“We know there is an appetite for choice amongst our users as research shows us nearly three quarters of discovery+ subscribers are open to seeing adverts if it means a reduction in price, and we look forward to launching our new offering in response.”

Tuesday, 15 February

Source: Shutterstock

Peloton’s new boss dismisses talk of sale to Nike or Amazon

Peloton’s new CEO has ruled out talks of a potential sale, instead committing to finding long-term growth opportunities.

Barry McCarthy, who previously headed up finance at Netflix and Spotify, joined the struggling exercise business last week and will be moving from California to New York for the role.

“If I thought it was likely that the business was going to be acquired in the foreseeable future, I can’t imagine it would be a rational act to move across the country,” he told the Financial Times.

“There are lots of other things I could be doing with my time that are quite lucrative than hanging out with a business that’s about to be sold.”

Reports surfaced last week that both Amazon and Nike, among others, were potentially interested in buying the business after its market value dropped by more than 80%.

McCarthy conceded that any decision to sell would be down to shareholders, but said “I’m confident a large percentage of the votes will be cast in favour of my leadership of the business, which is why I agreed to step into the business in the first place.”

The company’s shares fell by as much as 5% after McCarthy’s comments.

READ MORE: New Peloton chief dismisses suggestions company will be sold (£)

Levi’s global brand boss ‘pushed out’ over Covid school views

Levi’s global marketing boss has left the brand after more than two decades claiming her views on Covid policies for schools in the US meant she was forced to leave.

Jennifer Sey, who rose through the ranks to become global brand president in 2020, says she was told by the company’s CEO her position was no longer “tenable” given her outspoken views.

Sey says she was offered a $1m severance package but refused as she knew she would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement about why she’d been “pushed out”.

Instead she wrote an 1,800 word post on Substack explaining the reason for her departure.

She claims a “dossier” of her tweets and social interactions were sent to the CEO by the head of communications on a daily basis and that some on Twitter were calling for a “boycott” of Levi’s “until I’d been fired”.

“At one meeting of the executive leadership team, the CEO made an off-hand remark that I was ‘acting like Donald Trump’. I felt embarrassed, and turned my camera off to collect myself.”

She adds that during a dinner with the CEO last year, he told her she was “on track to become the next CEO of Levi’s” given the stock price had doubled under her leadership and revenue had returned to pre-pandemic levels. “The only thing standing in my way, he said, was me. All I had to do was stop talking about the school thing,” she wrote.

She says the business is now “trapped trying to please the mob” and claims Levi’s is “held hostage by intolerant ideologues who do not believe in genuine inclusion or diversity”.

Absolut unveils brand refresh

Absolut’s brand refresh. Source: Pernod Ricard

Absolut has unveiled what it is billing as the brand’s “biggest” refresh since its inception in 1979.

While the bottle shape remains the same, the Swedish vodka brand wants to create better synergy between the various flavours it offers to create improved standout on shelf.

It has also added additional product information to the front of bottles, including ingredients, ABV-level and where it has been produced and bottled in Sweden.

To celebrate the brand’s heritage further, a medallion has been added to the front of the bottle to display the name of Absolut’s founder Lars Olsson Smith. Meanwhile, the Absolut logo has been made bigger and the font of the script used on bottles has been modernised.

Bottles are also now made with 50% recycled clear glass to support owner Pernod Ricard’s commitment to minimising its impact on the planet.

Absolut has also changed up its flavours, lowering the ABV of its Raspberri, Vanilia, Passionfruit, Watermelon, Mango and Pear varieties to 38% to create a sweeter flavour, while its Citrus, Lime and Mandarin options will remain 40%.

Marnie Corrigan, brand director at Pernod Ricard UK, says: “Mixing has been in Absolut’s DNA for four decades. Whether that’s bringing together different ideas, people, or drinks, we believe that life is best when you mix it up. The range refresh pays homage to the brand’s provenance, authenticity and progressive DNA.”

Great Ormond Street charity hires first marketing director

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity has named Emma Guise as its first director of marketing and communications, part of a wider recruitment drive that saw it hire 60 people within marketing and fundraising.

It follows a major restructure for the charity at the end of 2021, which was undertaken to help it deliver a new five-year strategy. Guise will head up the charity’s newly created marketing and communications division, which brings together brand marketing, communications and digital engagement, and she will also join the leadership team.

As part of the restructure, a fundraising function was also introduced, which will house the charity’s fundraising teams.

Guise joins from Macmillan Cancer Support where she was director of brand and communication, responsible for launching the award-winning ‘Whatever It Takes’ campaign. Prior to this she headed up media and PR at Shelter.

Guise will report into CEO Louise Parkes, who says there are some “transformational projects” in the pipeline.

“Emma brings both creative vision and strategic expertise, and with her impressive track record I know she will inspire our colleagues as we continue to build a truly unified and powerful brand and voice for GOSH Charity,” she says.

“We are in the first year of our ambitious five-year strategy. This will see us create a step change in the impact we deliver for seriously ill children from across the UK who are cared for at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and for children around the UK and internationally who rely on the paediatric research we fund to discover treatments and cures for their rare diseases.”

JD Sports and Footasylum fined £5m for breaking merger laws

JD Sports and Footasylum have been fined £4.7m for breaching competition rules during discussions around their now blocked merger.

The two retailers were found to have worked too closely together when discussing the proposed deal, with the UK’s competition regulator also finding a “black hole” related to meetings.

In addition to exchanging “commercially sensitive information”, which was not reported to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the regulator says it later discovered the two retailers had “deleted” some records of meetings.

The £90m deal was first brought to the table in May 2019 but was blocked by the watchdog in November last year.

READ MORE: JD Sports and Footasylum fined almost £5m over breaching merger rules

Monday, 14 February

Source: Shutterstock

Poundland expands fresh food offering

Poundland is to sell more fruit, vegetables and bread in its main stores as the budget chain aims to attract a higher number of shoppers for their weekly shop.

The retailer has been trialling fresh food in a handful of its convenience stores, but will now be stocking these items in a main store for the first time, as it launches its biggest ever shop in Nottingham.

The Nottingham store “feels like a supermarket”, the BBC reports, with trolleys and belted checkouts, as well as alcohol.

The new fresh food ranges will be rolled out in more than 20 other large stores this year. Meanwhile, the retailer’s chilled and frozen food ranges are to be stocked in 350 stores by the autumn.

Speaking to the BBC, managing director Barry Williams said fresh food is a “natural extension” of what Poundland’s customers are looking for.

Williams added that while Poundland has suffered over the pandemic from customers moving their weekly shops online, discounters are beginning to grow again.

“Our business is growing. The size of the basket that shoppers are spending with us is growing quite dramatically,” he said.

“I’m seeing shoppers shop around a lot more particularly than what they were doing during the pandemic. There are locations that are coming back to life again, I think shoppers are definitely on the hunt for value now.”

READ MORE: Poundland moves into fresh food

Two out of three Super Bowl ads were ‘average’ on effectiveness

Two-thirds of this year’s Super Bowl ads scored just ‘average’ on creative effectiveness, according to new data from market research firm Kantar.

Kantar ran all pre-released Super Bowl 2022 ads through its Link AI platform, which predicts the creative effectiveness of TV ads. Each was measured on its potential to breakthrough, drive brand equity and boost sales. The ads were categorised within Kantar’s database as ‘strong’ (top 30%), ‘average’, and ‘poor’ (bottom 30%).

Last year, Kantar found the advertising return on investment (ROI) of a ‘strong’ Super Bowl ad to be three times that of an ‘average’ Super Bowl ad.

“With the airtime for a 30-second ad reaching $6.5m, and A-list celebrity fees also breaking seven figures, Super Bowl ads in 2022 are an expensive proposition,” says Kerry Benson, Kantar’s North American content analytics practice lead.

“They may not be achieving what the companies running them intend. The data also highlights how in such an extraordinarily competitive environment, even with high production values and celebrity cache, it’s very difficult to achieve breakthrough.”

This year, 70% of all pre-released ads included celebrities, compared to 60% of total ads in 2021. The 2022 Super Bowl featured at least 13 Academy Award-nominated or winning actors, and 15 Emmy Award-nominated or winning actors.

Last year, Super Bowl ads featuring celebrities lifted brand equity 20% higher than ads without celebrities, according to Kantar.

Women’s Aid uses Valentine’s Day to illustrate what love ‘is not’

Domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid is subverting traditional Valentine’s Day messaging this year to educate people on the signs of unhealthy relationships and coercive control.

Instead of focusing on what love is, the out-of-home (OOH) advertising campaign illustrates what ‘Love is Not…’. The pro bono campaign by Engine Creative will run nationwide today (14 February), with supporting activity on social media.

The executions play on the well-known ‘Love Is…’ illustrations series originally created by cartoonist Kim Grove in the 1960s, involving a small drawing and a personal sentiment that captured Grove’s thoughts for the man she loved.

Cartoons in the original series included lines such as ‘Love is… when you’re lost for words’. In the Women’s Aid campaign, the ads instead tell viewers ‘Love is not… repeatedly putting you down’ and ‘Love is not… monitoring your social media and texts’.

“This campaign helps spread the vital message that many behaviours commonly perceived to be romantic – such as jealousy, demanding constant contact and somebody wanting you all to themselves – are actually dangerous,” explains Women’s Aid’s CEO, Farah Nazeer.

“Domestic abuse isn’t just physical: perpetrators use controlling behaviour to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive control creates invisible chains and a sense of fear that pervades all elements of a survivor’s life. Women’s Aid will challenge this abuse, help survivors recognise it, and continue to transform the lives of so many women.”

Although a Women’s Aid campaign successfully led to the criminalisation of coercive control in December 2015, records of such offences have been steadily rising, with the police recording 24,856 cases in England and Wales in the year ending March 2020. This marked a rise of more than 50% from the 16,679 recorded the year prior.

Within two weeks of the first pandemic lockdown in the UK, the charity claims there was a 41% increase in users visiting the Women’s Aid Live Chat site to seek help on the issue.

Research by Women’s Aid and Cosmopolitan in 2019 found that more than a third of teenage girls had been in abusive relationships, and when the remaining two thirds were asked about their relationships, 64% had been in abusive relationships without realising it.

High street bounce back strongest in small regional centres

High street spending has recovered faster at the start of 2022 in smaller UK regional centres than in London and larger cities, a new study reveals.

First reported in the FT, data from the Centre for Cities’ high streets recovery tracker found 13 cities and towns had returned to pre-pandemic levels of spending by the end of January, primarily in the north of England, the Midlands and Wales.

Wakefield registered the highest increase in spending on average over the month compared to the four weeks before the start of the pandemic in March 2020. On footfall, Plymouth, Barnsley and Southend were among the places with the highest recovery.

Meanwhile, London and Birmingham were among the places with the lowest spending compared to the pre-pandemic period. London ranks the lowest of all city centres on footfall recovery, and weekday spending is at just 44% of its pre-pandemic level.

According to the study, the division is a symptom of larger cities being more reliant on office workers for high street trade.

Valentine Quinio, an analyst at Centre for Cities, says homeworking has caused a bigger split nationally between weekend and weekday footfall. Weekend spending in the UK was above pre-Covid levels on average, but weekday spending was 30% lower.

READ MORE: High street spending recovers faster in smaller regional centres than in London

IAB UK encourages marketers to ditch ‘clickheads’ this Valentine’s

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK is furthering its campaign to discourage the use of click-through rates as a form of digital ad measurement with a new instalment for Valentine’s Day.

The Valentine’s campaign is centred around a short, tongue-in-cheek film, which claims to “take the deceit out of data-ing with the IAB data-ing app” and help advertisers find their “perfect metric match”.

Instead of shallow ‘clickheads’, the IAB data-ing app matches advertisers with metrics and methodologies such as econometrics, brand studies, attribution and attention.

The campaign comes as part of an initiative to mark the IAB UK’s fourth annual ‘National Anti-Click-Through Rate Day’. As part of this, it has mapped the different verification metrics offered by online media owners in one place for the first time.

According to Jon Mew, CEO of IAB UK, research by the body shows click-through rates continue to be advertisers and agencies’ most valued metric when it comes to direct response campaigns, “giving a one-sided and fragmented snapshot of how a campaign is performing”.

“The serious message behind our activation this year is that while CTRs will tell you something about your ad’s performance, it won’t tell you the full story,” he says.

“By getting comfortable with alternative digital metrics, advertisers can gain more reliable and holistic insight into performance. As an industry, we can then begin to realise digital’s potential as a brand building tool – particularly as channels that aren’t built for clicks go mainstream, such as digital audio and gaming.”

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