Nike, Twitter, Ovo Energy: 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.

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Twitter no longer deemed ‘high risk’ for advertisers, says GroupM

Twitter is no longer “high risk”, WPP-owned media agency GroupM has reportedly told its clients, days after the appointment of Linda Yaccarino as CEO.

The former head of advertising for NBCUiniversal will take over at the helm from owner Elon Musk, who continues as chief technology officer and executive chair.

When Musk first acquired Twitter in November, GroupM declared it was “high risk” for advertisers given brand safety fears on the platform. The advertiser pull back reportedly wiped around 50% off Twitter’s $5bn a year revenues. But the agency has now removed this tag, according to the Financial Times, citing three people familiar with the situation.

The change of leadership marked a “return to normalcy”, according to one source, referring to the level of harmful content on the platform. The agency has also reportedly been working with Twitter to improve brand safety.

READ MORE: Twitter no longer ‘high risk’ after new chief hired, says top ad group (£)

Nike could face $560m fines over workers dispute

Nike could face fines of more than $530m after potentially misclassifying thousands of temporary office workers, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.

The sportswear giant, which employs more than 79,000 people worldwide, uses independent contractors for some work, including business consulting, T-shirt graphics, photography and event planning.

But according to independent analysis seen by the Guardian, its handling of independent contractors might have left it open to fines from tax authorities and the possibility of class-action lawsuits.

Countries including the US and the UK have strict rules around the use of independent contractors to protect workers’ rights around pay, holiday entitlement, sick leave and other benefits.

Last year, Uber agreed to pay $100m after it was found to have misclassified drivers as independent contractors, while in 2020 Microsoft paid $97m to settle claims workers had been classified as “temporary” for years.

Meanwhile, in 2016 FedEx paid $240m to settle lawsuits with drivers in the US who claimed they had been misclassified as independent contractors.

Nike has so far not responded to the Guardian’s requests for comment.

READ MORE: Nike could be fined over $530m for misclassifying thousands of workers

Vast majority of financial services failing on trust

Four out of five financial services brands are failing online trust signals across a number of key measures, according to new research.

The study of 50 household brands, including banks, comparison sites and insurance firms by digital marketing agency Balance, reveals the majority are not following Google’s EEAT guidelines and the FCA’s upcoming Consumer Duty rules.

Each brand could have been awarded a score of up to three across four different areas – accessibility, experience, expertise and authority – to give an overall trust score out of 12.

Just one brand – which falls in the price comparison category – of the 50 analysed scored top marks in each area. At the other end of the spectrum, one bank – a well known household name – scored zero.

Overall, price comparison websites performed best with an average score of 9.4, followed by consulting firms (9), investment firms (7.9) and banks (6.5). The worst performers were insurance firms (5.9) and building societies (5.3).

Alex Murphy, co-founder and CMO at Balance, describes the findings as “troubling”, especially given the imminent introduction of Consumer Duty in July. Meanwhile, the economic downturn means “businesses are fighting to survive and correct financial choices are more important than ever for consumers”, he says.

“While many marketers are looking at how to make their businesses perform better in Google, and many compliance teams have a keen eye on Consumer Duty, no one else appears to be noticing the gaps between the two. In this lies a huge opportunity for financial services companies, but more importantly, to join the dots to a better experience for customers,” he adds.

“Consumer Duty asks financial services brands to improve their online communications. The finding that stood out to me the most is, while the FCA is asking brands to “increase trust in the sector” a huge 84% of the websites we audited are not ticking all the trust boxes, with over a third scoring very low or not even scoring at all.”

Ovo and Good Energy to refund customers £2.7m

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Ovo Energy and Good Energy have been ordered to refund customers hundreds of pounds after regulator Ofgem found they had been overcharged.

The energy firms must pay a total of £4m, £2.7m of which will be split between 18,000 households.

Affected Ovo customers will receive an average of £181, while households with Good Energy will get around £109.

Good Energy will pay the remaining £1.25m into Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund, which has been set up to help “vulnerable” customers.

Dan Norton, deputy director of retail at Ofgem says: “It is totally unacceptable that Good Energy and Ovo Energy customers were overcharged, particularly at a time that is already so challenging and stressful for consumers across the UK.”

READ MORE: Ovo and Good Energy forced to refund overcharged customers

Royal Mail owner blames strike action for £1bn loss

Royal Mail has reported a loss of £1bn, with owner International Distribution Services (IDS) blaming strike action and a failure to improve productivity. In the same year, the business made 10,000 job cuts.

Overall IDS made a loss of £748m for the year to 26 March, down from a profit of £577m in the previous year.

The firm said it was impacted by the industrial action taken by unionised staff over pay and working conditions. This led to the resignation of CEO Simon Thompson last week. Royal Mail agreed to a pay deal with workers last month as it looks to bring an end to the dispute.

The company also cited an “inability to deliver the in-year benefits of planned productivity improvements” for the loss. A slow down in online shopping and demand for Covid tests post-pandemic also had an impact.

READ MORE: Royal Mail reports £1bn loss after postal workers’ strikes

Thursday, 18 May


Premier Foods’ full-year profits grow

For the full year ending 1 April 2023, Premier Foods reported an 11.8% revenue increase alongside an 11.5% profit boost.

Revenues reached £1bn, up from £900.5m last year. Meanwhile, the business reported a trading profit of £157.5m, up from £141.2m last year.

The business’s grocery revenue grew by 15.3%. However, the company’s Sweet Treats function grew by a lower figure of 2.7%. In total, Premier Foods’ brands grew by 9.1%. Alex Whitehouse, chief executive officer for the business, attributed this to its “branded growth model and supported by higher pricing”.

“We know that consumer budgets remain under pressure in the current environment and our broad portfolio of brands continue to provide great options to prepare and eat good value, delicious meals at home,” he added.

Whitehouse highlighted Batchelors and Nissin as two of the companies best performers this year, as the business continues to “see consumers looking for convenient, affordable and tasty meal solution”.

“Batchelors, well known for its tasty Super Noodles, has now become our largest grocery brand, increasing revenues by over 20% this year,” he added.

The business highlighted its “strong plans” in place across product innovation, consumer marketing and increased capital investment as 2023 continues.

Purplebricks bought for just £1

Embattled online estate agent Purplebricks is selling its business and assets to Strike, one of its estate agent rivals, for just £1.

Once valued at £800m, the business has struggled of late and put itself up for sale in February this year. That month, Purplebricks said it expected to make a £15-£20m loss in 2023.

Chief executive officer Helena Marston is expected to step down once the sale is complete. Chairman Paul Pindar says he is “disappointed” with the financial value outcome. “However, there was no other proposal or offer which provided a better return for shareholders, with the same certainty of funding and speed of delivery necessary to provide the stability the company needs,” he says.

In December 2022, Purplebricks hailed the effectiveness of its marketing strategy after it brought back its ‘Commisery’ campaign in October. In August, Marston blamed “poor” marketing effectiveness for the business’s loss of £42m at the time.

Purplebricks had also brought back Ed Hughes as chief marketing officer.

“Our approach to marketing will be radically different this year, a change designed to deliver better results. We need to make our marketing investments work harder than ever before to reposition us as the preferred choice for our customers,” said Marston last year.

READ MORE: Purplebricks snapped up by rival Strike for £1

BT to cut 40% of staff by 2030

BT is set to cut 40% of its workforce by the end of the decade in an attempt to be a “leaner business”.

The group will cut between 40,000 and 55,000 jobs, it says, made up of employees and contractors. As it stands, the business employs 130,000 people, including third-parties.

“By continuing to build and connect like fury, digitise the way we work and simplify our structure, by the end of the 2020s BT Group will rely on a much smaller workforce and a significantly reduced cost base,” says chief executive officer Philip Jansen.

The business has made £2.1bn in cost savings since April 2020, it says, making headway towards its target of £3bn.

Last November, BT warned it would have to cut more jobs amid rising costs and a 18% fall in profits.

READ MORE: BT to cut up to 40% of workforce by end of decade

Oatly thanks cow’s milk in latest campaign effort

Oatly has launched its biggest out-of-home campaign yet, ‘Thanks Milk’, the company says. The campaign is running with the tagline: “Oatly has a lot to thank milk for – if you think about it, Oatly only really exists because of cow’s milk.”

“Oatly doesn’t need to educate people on how to consume oat drink, because dairy companies have been doing it for years. So who better to show the versatility of our products than the voice of the UK dairy industry?” the business asks.

As part of the campaign across digital and OOH, Oatly is directing consumers to, which features an archive of milk-based recipes the brand hopes its customers will substitute with Oatly products instead.

“Oatly wouldn’t exist without milk and we wouldn’t be here talking about this campaign if it weren’t for milk. So this was our way of giving a shout out to the dairy industry for all the great work they’ve done over the past hundred years educating the public,” says Oskar Pernefeldt, creative director.

“Because of them, people know exactly how to drink, eat, cook, bake and fry using our products. And we’ve not had to explain a thing.”

Non-alcoholic beer brand Days launches ‘out-of-bed’ campaign

Days, the non-alcoholic beer brand, has launched a campaign aiming to highlight the sleep benefits of drinking alcohol-free beer.

‘Change your Beer, not your Mattress’ puts to use a physical mattress to get consumers thinking about their alcohol consumption and the impact it might be having on their sleep.

Alongside the bed, the campaign will run across digital and social, but exclusively at night to target consumers who are struggling to sleep, citing recent research that suggests heavy alcohol consumption can decrease sleep quality by 39%.

“We’re always looking for new ways to spread the word about the benefits of alcohol free beer so when the team came to me with OOB (out-of-bed) I was pretty sceptical. Turns out, mattresses make great portable billboards… who knew?” says Mike Gammell, cofounder of Days.

Wednesday, 17 May

On The Beach’s ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ ad. Source: YouTube

On The Beach marketing team praised for record revenues

Travel operator On The Beach has credited its marketing team for record revenues in the six months up until 31 March 2023.

The company posted a 38% year-on-year growth in income which brought revenues to a record £38m, something chief executive Simon Cooper credited to its “largest ever offline campaign”.

It still added up to a £6m pre-tax loss for the Manchester-based travel company (down from £7m the year prior) but Cooper pointed to the company’s historically stronger second-half performance as a reason to be positive.

Cooper, who is stepping down from the role in June, believes there are “substantial” growth areas for the company to push into.

In a letter to investors supporting the results, he said: “I am pleased with the group’s strong performance in the first half [of the year]. This was supported by our largest ever offline marketing campaign, ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’, which included sponsorship of ITV’s Masked Singer and the Magic Radio breakfast show.

“This marketing effort also delivered the Group’s highest ever top 3 brand consideration score, despite a more aggressive competitive environment.

“The travel sector continues to recover post-pandemic and the group has experienced significant increases in demand for its holiday product.”

ChatGPT creator pushes for greater regulation of AI

The creator of ChatGPT has called on US lawmakers to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) as it continues to develop at a rapid pace.

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, who are the company behind the popular chatbot ChatGPT, was testifying before a US senate committee on Tuesday about the possibilities and dangers that come with the burgeoning AI market.

Altman told the committee that a “new agency” should be formed to license AI companies and create standards for the field – and also addressed safety concerns associated with the programs, such as spreading disinformation and emotional manipulation, describing it as “risky” behaviour.

“If this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong,” Altman told the senators.

He said that AI could be as big as “the printing press” if it continued to develop at the rate it is currently growing, but also accepted job losses may happen in the future as AI replaces work traditionally done by humans.

“There will be an impact on jobs. We try to be very clear about that,” he said.

Senators were quick to point out that they missed a similar opportunity to regulate a burgeoning field when social media upended the tech industry in the early 2000s and that mistakes needed to be learned.

“We need to maximize the good over the bad. Congress has a choice now. We had the same choice when we faced social media. We failed to seize that moment,” warned Democrat senator Richard Blumenthal.

Others pointed out though that at the rate the technology is developing it might not be possible for a regulatory agency to keep up.

READ MORE: CEO of OpenAI calls for US to regulate artificial intelligence

TfL to increase licensing deals in bid to boost revenue

TfLTransport for London (TfL) is set to ramp up its branded merchandise efforts after agreeing a multi-year deal with licensing agency IMG.

The agreement will see IMG build on TfL’s existing licensing programme which has seen collaborations with the likes of Arsenal Football Club, Kurt Geiger and Uniqlo.

TfL manages the London Underground, which dates back to 1863, and it is hoping to leverage its most famous brand – including the iconic roundel, distinct fabric designs and tube map – to help other brands access these assets for a range of apparel and accessories.

Brands will also have access to TfL’s extensive poster archive dating back to the early 20th century.

Ellen Sankey, brand licensing manager at TfL, says: “We are delighted to be partnering with IMG to grow our brand licensing work.

“Every penny made by TfL is reinvested back into the transport network, and working with such a recognised leader in this field will help us reach new markets and engage with new audiences. We are so excited to see where we can take the brand.”

Vauxhall owner says UK needs to amend Brexit deal

Vauxhall parent company Stellantis has called on the government to renegotiate its Brexit deal with the EU as it warned the future of UK car manufacturing plants is at risk.

Stellantis, which also counts Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat among its brands, had committed to making electric vehicles in the UK just two years ago, but now it says that the negotiated Brexit deal has made that much harder.

In a submission to a Commons inquiry into electric car production, the firm said unless the government changed its plans on where parts could be sourced then it would no longer be able to meet new rules.

The incoming rules state that from next year, 45% of the value of an electric car should originate in the UK or EU to qualify for trade without tariffs, Stellantis though claims it is “unable to meet these rules of origin” after the surge in the cost of raw materials in recent years.

It has called on the government to come to an agreement with the EU to keep the rules as they are until 2027.

“To reinforce the sustainability of our manufacturing plants in the UK, the UK must consider its trading arrangements with Europe,” Stellantis says.

READ MORE: Vauxhall-maker says UK needs to change its Brexit deal

Tuesday, 16 May

Lidl store

Lidl to ditch cartoons from sweets and chocolates

Lidl plans to remove cartoon characters from unhealthy products such as sweets, chocolates and savoury snacks by spring next year as it looks to help children eat healthier diets and aid parents in combating pester power.

More than 30 products over 14 categories will get a fresh look, including its sweet fruit chews and multi-coloured fizzy belts.

The discounter has said the changes will not apply to its Christmas, Easter and Halloween ranges as it deems these special occasions that do not define children’s everyday diets.

At the same time Lidl has been working to make fruit and vegetables more appealing to kids and it is now calling on other retailers to follow suit.

It comes as Lidl reveals sales of its Oakland Funsize range has increased by more than a third since introducing new packaging in 2017.

It claims to be the first British supermarket to introduce healthy product specifically targeted at children, with products such as Banana-Llamas and Tawny Tomatowl. It has also used competitions to name products to help increase awareness and interest among kids. The launch of Koala Pears is one example, which led to nearly a quarter of a million additional units being sold a year after the competition closed.

Peter de Roos, chief commercial officer at Lidl GB, says: “Our ambition is to make high quality, healthy food accessible to all, and the principal way we achieve this is through our best value prices. But we also recognise that there are other barriers in place, particularly concerning children, and parents are telling us that unhelpful packaging is one of them.

“This is something that’s so simple for us supermarkets to change, and our results show the positive impact these small changes can make. We hope other supermarkets follow in our footsteps so that, as a sector, we can be confident we’re doing all we can to support parents in helping to improve the diets of the next generation.”

Investigation into supermarket price rises to be ‘stepped up’

The government has said it is “stepping up” its investigation into grocery prices to ensure supermarkets aren’t increasing the cost of items more than they should.

While the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says global factors have been the main driver of supermarket price increases, and it has “not seen evidence pointing to specific competition concerns”, it wants to ensure weak competition is not adding to the problem.

It will be focusing on areas where people are experiencing the greatest cost of living pressures. It will first assess how competition is working overall in supermarkets, while also looking to identify which product categories might require “closer examination”.

Sarah Cardell, chief executive of the CMA, says: “Grocery and food shopping are essential purchases. We recognise that global factors are behind many of the grocery price increases, and we have seen no evidence at this stage of specific competition problems. But, given ongoing concerns about high prices, we are stepping up our work in the grocery sector to help ensure competition is working well and people can exercise choice with confidence.”

At the same time, the CMA is continuing its investigation into fuel prices, which started last year. Like rising food prices, it shows the majority of increases are due to global factors like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, its evidence indicates fuel margins have increased across the retail market over the past four years, but in particular at supermarkets. As a result of these increasing margins, average 2022 supermarket pump prices appear to be around five pence per litre more expensive than they would have been had their average percentage margins remained at 2019 levels.

While supermarkets do still tend to offer the cheapest price on fuel, the CMA’s investigation suggests “at least one supermarket has significantly increased its internal forward-looking margin targets over this period”.

The CMA will now conduct formal interviews with the supermarkets, with its final report to be published before 7 July 2023.

“Although much of the pressure on pump prices is down to global factors including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we have found evidence that suggests weakening retail competition is contributing to higher prices for drivers at the pumps. We are also concerned about the sustained higher margins on diesel compared to petrol we have seen this year,” Cardell adds.

“We are not satisfied that all the supermarkets have been sufficiently forthcoming with the evidence they have provided in our Road Fuel market study, so we will be calling them in for formal interviews to get to the bottom of what is going on.”

Britvic’s profits up 18.5% with ‘modest’ volume decline

Britvic says it is has “successfully mitigated” the impact of inflation, with profit after tax up 18.5% to £54.4m for the six months to 31 March.

It recorded a “modest” volume decline over the period. However, it says actions it has taken to manage revenue growth and “cost discipline” have helped it to mitigate the pressures of cost inflation. This has led to a 0.6% rise in volume in its second quarter compared to last year.

In Great Britain, the business says it went early with price movements in the first quarter to offset double-digit cost inflation and “avoid the lag” it experienced last year when rising costs impacted it from the start of its financial year. However it says it was only able to respond through pricing in Q2.

The business says its focus on healthier and low-calorie options is also paying off, contributing to “standout performances” from Pepsi Max and Tango in Great Britain.

It says Pepsi Max “continued to lead the cola category growth”, pointing to its taste challenge revealing 70% of consumers prefer it over competitors.

Meanwhile, Tango saw 39.7% revenue growth. Its brand retail sales value now stands at £84m, up £53m since 2019, with much of this growth driven by its range of sugar-free variants. The company’s focus on flavour innovation has led to new flavours accounting for 50% of brand value, compared to 20% in 2019.

Simon Litherland, CEO of Britvic, says: “Our continued focus on lower calorie, healthier drinks has resulted in some standout performances, including Pepsi Max and Tango in Great Britain as well as Ballygowan ‘Hint of Fruit’ in Ireland.

“We have successfully mitigated the impact of the challenging inflationary environment, while continuing to offer consumers great quality and value at affordable prices. Looking ahead, we will be activating a series of exciting marketing and innovation campaigns this summer. We have a fantastic portfolio, a well-invested business, and a very talented team, so I am confident that we will continue to make further strong progress this year and beyond, creating value for all our stakeholders.”

53% more ads were amended or withdrawn in 2022

A total of 31,227 ads were amended or withdrawn in 2022 as a result of action taken by the Advertising Standards Authority, this is a 53% increase on the year prior.

The vast majority of these (94%) were the result of proactive work by the ASA, such as tech-assisted monitoring. The remaining 6% was based on reactive work responding to complaints.

The ASA received 24% fewer complaints in 2022 compared to the previous year. In total, it resolved 33,542 complaints about 21,110 ads last year, and delivered more than 1 million pieces of advice and training to businesses – a new record.

Online ads made up around half of all complaints (18,430) – although this figure is down 11% on 2021 – but this represents around two-thirds of cases. The majority of complaints and cases were about content on brands’ own websites or social channels, followed by influencer content, paid-for online ads and video-on-demand.

TV ads made up half of all complaints but two-thirds of cases, while out of home was the third most complained about ad media.

With 6,727 complaints, brands within leisure attracted the most negative feedback by sector. Retail was the biggest offender in 2021, however the total number of complaints about ads in this category is down 53%, putting it third behind health and beauty (up 6% on 2021). Complaints about ads in food and drink came fourth (down 18%), followed by non-commercial organisations (down 42%) and business (up 3%).

The majority of offending ads were deemed to be ‘misleading’ following investigation by the ASA. For non-broadcast ads, this represents 67% of complaints and 75% of all cases, while for TV ads this drops to 21% of complaints and 37% of cases.

A significant number were also deemed to cause ‘harm’. For non-broadcast ads, this represents 13% of complaints and 14% of cases, but for broadcast ads this rises to 16% of complaints and 24% of cases.

TV was also home a higher portion of ‘offensive’ ads. Nearly two-fifths (18%) of complained about TV ads were deemed to be offensive, 22% of all cases. This compares to 5% of complaint and cases for non-broadcast ads.

There was ‘no issue’ found with nearly half (45%) of complained about broadcast ads (17% of cases), versus 15% of non-broadcast ads (7% of cases).

The latest report from the ASA also marks its 60th anniversary.

The watchdog’s CEO Guy Parker says: “Responsiveness to change is as important today as it was when the ASA was formed in 1962. We’ve had to be agile and evolve in light of huge legal, societal and technological changes during that time – protecting people, providing a level playing field for responsible businesses and working collectively with other regulators and industry.

“The ‘one-stop shop’ ASA system, with the independent ASA at its heart, provides clear benefits to the public, businesses and society. With the pace of change accelerating, we remain focused on ensuring ads continue to be legal, decent, honest and truthful in the years ahead.”

Boots becomes headline sponsor of Heart Breakfast

Boots has become the headline sponsor of Global’s Heart Breakfast show until 2025.

The show, hosted by Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden, is listened to by 3.9 million people each week, with Boots CMO Pete Markey suggesting the audience is “closely aligned to the core Boots customer”.

He believes the synergies between the two plays into Boots’ ‘With you. For life’ brand ethos, adding “it is the ideal platform to demonstrate how Boots is there for everyone, at every stage of their life”.

Markey says Boots will use the tie-up with Heart to “showcase its extensive range of health and beauty products, services and expertise”.

In addition to live radio, Boots will also feature on Heart’s website, on Global Player and across Heart’s social channels which reach 9.7 million people.

As part of the sponsorship deal, Boots will have access to Global’s outdoor estate, its portfolio of podcasts and digital audio through DAX.

Boots is also becoming the first brand to sponsor Heart’s new launched breakfast show in Scotland, presented by Des Clarke and Jennifer Reoch.

Monday, 15 May

Pernod Ricard stops all exports to Russia after backlash

Pernod Ricard has halted exports of all its brands to Russia, following a backlash after it emerged the drinks company had exported brands such as Jameson and Beefeater to the country, a year after the invasion of Ukraine.

Last month, the company halted its export of Swedish vodka brand Absolut, after a fallout in the brand’s country of origin. At the time it said it was continuing to export a limited supply of some of its other international brands to Russia. It said this was to avoid “intentional bankruptcy”, which is a criminal offence in the country, and to stop its brands falling into the “grey market”.

However, the drinks company has now said it has completely stopped international exports to Russia, as of the end of April, and that it plans to end distribution of its brands to the country. It has said it will keep a “limited team” in Russia in order to eventually resume business in the future.

Representatives from the UK and Ireland, where Beefeater and Jameson are produced, respectively, had expressed anger at the continued distribution of the brands to Russia.

Irish senator Garret Ahearn had called for Pernod Ricard to be added to the EU sanctions list earlier this month.

“While Russian drones and missiles rain down on Kyiv this week, our Jameson whiskey continues to quench Putin’s thirst. Time’s up. This can’t continue,” he said. “The time has come for EU action to be taken as the Pernod Ricard commercial decision has not been clear enough or transparent.”

READ MORE: Pernod Ricard halts all drinks exports to Russia

Coral allegedly paid parenting blogs to link to its gambling games

Gambling brand Coral allegedly paid parenting blogs to embed links to its online games in content aimed at new mothers.

Some of the content appeared to present the gambling games as a way to alleviate the stress of being a new parent, reports The Guardian, with one post reading: “If as a mum you can’t leave the house, then why not consider bingo online?

“You can click here to play Bingo online at Coral – this momentary break from childcare can prove beneficial.”

Another post on a parenting blog recommended “opulent games of online roulette that are easy to learn and can provide some handy winnings too”.

According to the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) guidelines, gambling ads must be socially responsible, and not targeted at any vulnerable group. The rules also forbid brands from presenting gambling as “an escape” from problems or challenges.

The Guardian reports it found these links in a total of five parenting blogs, and quotes a source which reports Coral paid for these to be included.

Coral is owned by Entain, which also owns gambling brands such as Ladbrokes and Gala Bingo. It says these links were posted before it bought Coral in 2018.

“Neither Coral nor any Entain brand actively targets young mothers or any other potentially vulnerable group through the use of affiliate marketing,” a spokesperson said.

It also said Coral does not pay any of the sites found by The Guardian to link to its game but did not state whether it had done so previously.

READ MORE: Gambling firm allegedly paid blogs to link new mothers to its online games

Currys reports ‘better than expected’ results

Currys has reported “better than expected” financial results in a trading update for its year ended 29 April, despite seeing its sales figures decline year on year.

The electronics retailer now expects its profit before tax to be in the range of £110m to £120m. It had previously forecast this figure would be around £104m, but has upgraded expectations after a focus on cost efficiencies and gross margin improvements.

However, even at the top end of this guidance, profit before tax would still be markedly below the year prior, when this figure was £186m.

Like-for-like sales also declined in the year by 7% across the group. However, the company still hailed “stronger than expected” trading, particularly in the final two months of its financial year.

Last July, at its full-year results, the retailer indicated it would be focusing on customer retention, rather than acquisition in the coming months. Currys CEO Alex Baldock told investors he was focused on building a base of “valuable customers who keep coming back”, through initiatives like loyalty schemes, credit and the retailer’s omnichannel approach.

Cancer charities call for sun cream tax to be scrapped

Value-added tax (VAT) should be scrapped on sun cream, to make these products more affordable, argue several UK cancer charities.

Sunscreen is classed as a “cosmetic” item and therefore carries a VAT tax of 20%, adding around £1.50 to the cost of a bottle.

The extra cost of sun cream due to tax may make it difficult for some to afford, particularly in the context of the cost of living crisis, say cancer charities.

Most skin cancers are caused by sun damage. One form of skin cancer, melanoma, is the most common cancer among young people.

“Few realise that getting painful sunburn just once every two years can triple your risk of skin cancer,” says Teenage Cancer Trust chief nurse Dr Louise Soanes.

“Preventing skin cancer by using an effective sun cream is essential – and sun cream shouldn’t be a luxury that only some can afford.”

A survey from the charity Melanoma Focus found around half of respondents thought sun cream was too expensive, with one in 10 saying they don’t use it all due to the cost.

READ MORE: Scrap tax on sunscreen, say cancer charities

Ferrari will continue to make internal combustion cars into late 2030s

Ferrari says it would be “arrogant” to dictate consumer choice by phasing out internal combustion engines in its cars, despite efforts by governments around the world to transition to electric vehicles only.

The supercar brand will continue to make vehicles with internal combustion engines into the late 2030s. In the UK, new conventional petrol and diesel cars will not be allowed to be sold from 2030.

While Ferrari is set to introduce its first electric car in 2025, it says internal combustion engine vehicles remain “an essential part of the company’s heritage”.

Rival supercar manufacturer McLaren’s CEO told an automotive summit last week that electric vehicle technology was “not ready” to be used in supercars yet, due to the weight of the batteries.

However, the future of the production of supercars in some markets remains in doubt over scheduled internal combustion bans. In the EU, sales of new CO2-emitting vehicles will be banned by 2035. However, in March, an amendment was made, which will allow cars which run exclusively on synthetic “e-fuels”, produced using renewable energy to continue to be sold beyond 2035.

However, no such loophole yet exists in the UK’s law, as well as those of some other markets.

READ MORE: Ferrari resists pressure to phase out combustion engine