Unilever, Walkers, Audi: 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.

Source: Unilever

Unilever to sell its tea business to private equity for €4.5bn

Unilever has agreed to sell its global tea business, including the PG Tips, Lipton and Pukka brands, to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for €4.5bn on a cash-free, debt-free basis.

It comes as CEO Alan Jope says the business is looking to transition its portfolio into “higher growth spaces”, describing it as an “important part” of the company’s growth strategy. He says the decision to sell the tea portfolio “demonstrates further progress” in delivering against this plan.

Unilever’s tea business, which is known as Ekaterra, houses 34 brands and generated revenues of around €2bn in 2020. The deal excludes Lipton ready-to-drink teas, which Unilever operates as a joint venture with Pepsi.

Jope says: “We are proud of the place that our tea business has in our company’s history. We look forward to seeing Ekaterra, with its strong brands and global footprint, prosper under CVC’s ownership. I would like to thank our tea colleagues around the world for their passion and commitment to our tea business and wish them well for the future.”

Pev Hooper, a managing partner at CVC Capital Partners says the fund was attracted to the tea business as it is “built on strong foundations of leading brands and a purpose-driven approach to its products, people and communities”.

He adds: “Ekaterra is well positioned in an attractive market to accelerate its future growth, and to lead the category’s sustainable development. We look forward to working with the team to realise Ekaterra’s full potential.”

Completion is subject to a works council consultation process and regulatory approval but is likely to be completed in the second half of 2022. The deal also excludes Unilever’s tea business in India, Nepal and Indonesia.

Costa to start selling M&S Food

Costa Coffee is adding M&S Food to its menu, with more than 30 products to be available across its 2,500 stores and via drive-thrus next year.

M&S Food options will include sandwiches, salads, hot meal boxes and children’s food, which will be available alongside Costa’s existing food range.

For M&S it means extending its reach beyond the high street to more neighbourhood locations and retail parks.

Neil Lake, managing director of Costa Coffee UK&I, says: “We are bringing together two of the very best brands in a UK-first to launch the Costa Coffee Now Serving M&S Food range. This collaboration with M&S Food will build on our existing food range and help us fulfil our ambition to become the first choice for customers buying food and coffee on-the-go.

“We’ll use our joint expertise to develop a food experience of the highest quality, freshness and value.”

Stuart Machin, chief operating officer and M&S Food managing director, adds: “This collaboration gives many more customers the opportunity to enjoy our wide range of delicious sandwiches, salads and snacks in over 2,500 locations across the UK – not just on the high street but in neighbourhood locations and retail parks.

“Bringing together delicious, great quality M&S Food and the Nation’s largest chain of coffee shops is great for customers as it extends our reach and supports our strategy of making M&S more relevant, more often for families.”

Walkers crisp shortage could push consumers to try rival brands

Nearly a third of shops are running low on crisps, which is partly down to a computer upgrade glitch at Walkers, which one analyst believes could tempt normally loyal customers to try alternative brands.

Some 29% of shops reported either low or no stock of multipack crisps last week, according to data from the Office for National Statistics, making crisps the least available items in stores.

Walkers, which is one of the biggest suppliers of multipack crisps, has been forced to limit production as a result of a IT system upgrade, which disrupted the supply of some of its products.

Retail analyst Bryan Roberts, founder of Shop Floor Insights, told The Telegraph that supermarkets are trying to fill the “hideous gaps” on shelves with other brands and own-label crisps, which could mean usually loyal customers are tempted to try an alternative to Walkers.

“Crisps are one of the few categories where consumers care about the brand,” he said.

A spokesman for Walkers added: “Our sites are still making crisps and snacks but at a reduced scale. We’re doing everything we can to increase production and get people’s favourites back on shelves. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience caused.”

READ MORE: Crisp shortages at one in three shops following glitch at Walkers factory

US parenting brand urges mums to share real birth stories to break taboos

US mother and baby brand Frida is launching in the UK, supported by a campaign that looks to encourage more honest and open conversations around childbirth and postpartum mental health.

‘Real Birth Announcements’ is being fronted by singer Paloma Faith and calls on new mums to share their real birth stories and raw images.

The campaign, which has been developed by One Green Bean, kicks off with digital billboards nationwide sharing six real mothers’ unfiltered views and experiences on becoming a mum for the first time.

It will be supported by PR, events, social and influencer content, with presenter Fearne Cotton, TOWIE’s Georgia Kousoulou and Maria Fowler, soap star Catherine Tyldesley and presenter Sarah Jane Crawford all contributing their own stories and unseen photos.

Faith will also be co-hosting an event alongside Frida CEO Chelsea Hirschhorn to mark the brand’s launch on this side of the Atlantic.

Hirschhorn, a mum of three, will also be sharing her own Real Birth Announcement on buses running throughout London.

She says: “Frida is here to prepare parents for the unfiltered, unsexy moments of parenting – the ones you don’t typically see on Instagram. And that starts with mum: we want to demystify the realities of becoming a mother and encourage more upfront conversations about what really goes down in the delivery room – and beyond.”

“We aren’t afraid to push the envelope and talk about the very real moments and challenges of parenting. Ultimately, we want first-time mums to feel as prepared as a third-time mum and that ambition is at the heart of Real Birth Announcements.”

Frida isn’t the only brand looking to tackle the taboos around the realities of childbirth and parenting. Today Maltesers is launching the second phase of its campaign to address the issue of maternal mental health.

Audi promotes head of product planning to top UK marketing role

Audi has appointed Tony Moore as head of marketing, its most senior marketing role in the UK.

Moore has worked within the Volkswagen Group for more than 25 years, most recently as head of product planning at Audi UK. He has also held senior leadership roles across Volkswagen Financial Services, Volkswagen Group UK, and Audi UK, including financial controlling, planning, supply and product.

He has been been tasked with accelerating Audi UK’s direct and data-driven marketing focus, as well as strengthening the Audi brand in the UK.

Andrew Doyle, director of Audi UK, says: “Tony’s vast experience and wealth of knowledge gained across financial, planning and product roles at the Volkswagen Group will prove invaluable as he leads our digital transformation. Under his leadership, and the expansion of our fully electric e-tron line-up, the Audi brand will go from strength to strength.”

Moore adds: “Audi has established itself as the leading brand for e-mobility, luxury and innovation in the premium sector. I’m really eager to start leading the team into what will be an exciting and truly sustainable future.”

Thursday, 18 November

Aldi ad a Christmas winner for emotional response

Aldi has fielded the most effective Christmas ad this year, according to a ranking based on the emotional responses that ads spark in consumers. Big name Christmas ads from John Lewis and Coca-Cola have not made it into the top five of the ranking, which is dominated by grocery retailers.

The ranking has been created by System1, owner of the Test Your Ad decision-making platform. It ranks Aldi’s ‘A Christmas Carrot’ ad in top position, followed by seasonal ads from Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Lidl.

“This year the big supermarkets have brought the fun back to Christmas advertising, and it’s been a hard-fought battle for who can entertain the public most,” says System1 CMO Jon Evans. “Kevin The Carrot’s familiarity won but all these ads are especially effective. They strike a great balance of mouthwatering products for short-term sales impact but also plenty of imagination and laughs, which will help build positive brand image. It’s great to see ads aiming to entertain again, and there’s no better time for that than Christmas.”

Aldi is the first brand to achieve a five-star rating from the survey for two Christmas campaigns in a row. “The not-so-secret weapon is Kevin, whose profile has built up over the last six years to make him a real Christmas tradition. Familiarity breeds contentment in advertising, not contempt, and the lesson is to invest in campaigns people will want to see return year after year,” says Evans.

Channel 4 celebrates audience as W for Weird

Channel 4 has created ‘Altogether Different,’ a film featuring more than 30 famous faces from its programmes as they celebrate the collective differences of everyone in the UK.

First being shown on-air tomorrow (Friday 19 November) before Gogglebox, the spot opens with a new twist on the film ratings system by classifying the content as W for Weird, before Davina McCall announces that there is nothing normal about the UK or anybody who lives here.

Familiar faces including Rosy Jones, Greg Davies, Adam Hills, Big Narstie, Mo Gilligan and Prue Leith feature in the film. The ad seeks to encapsulate Channel 4’s unique public service remit by showcasing the diversity of its content and how that reflects the population of the country.

“Altogether Different reflects why Channel 4 was created – to authentically represent unheard voices and the cultural diversity of the UK,” says Channel 4 CMO Zaid Al-Qassab. “This film is an entertaining celebration of our collective differences as something that unites us all, and reminds viewers that Channel 4 is the number one destination for the diverse, distinctive British content that they love.”

“These days we’re often made to think that different is what divides us. At Channel 4 we think different is brilliant, that in fact it’s our shared uniqueness that brings us together. So quite simply, we wanted to tell a story of this odd little land – a place that’s never been normal – and celebrate our peculiarities on telly and beyond. Because no one does weird like we do, UK,” says 4Creative executive creative director Lynsey Atkin.

TfL aims for zero road deaths with drive for consideration

In a bid to achieve zero road deaths or serious injuries on London streets by 2041, TfL has launched a campaign that seeks to drive cultural change.

‘See their side’ targets all road users. It encourages them to be considerate of each other by highlighting the lack of empathy road users often show to one another. The campaign’s hero film features a disturbing interaction between a car driver and a cyclist who narrowly avoid a collision – along with interior monologues as their initial anger subsides.

The integrated campaign will be aired on TV and in cinemas and be reflected on OOH sites.

“At TfL we want to make London safer for all. We’re incredibly passionate about this objective and ‘See their side’ is a film we wanted our audience to resonate with. The end product is a film which pulls at the heart strings and really encourages all road users to wake up and think about the potential of their actions. We’re fully behind helping The Mayor achieve his Vision Zero ambition to eradicate deaths and serious injuries from our roads and make London a safer place to live,” says TfL head of customer marketing and behaviour change Miranda Leedham.

Amazon and Visa in public spat over card fees

Global brands Amazon and Visa are engaged in a public disagreement over fees. Amazon has announced that it will no longer accept payments on Visa credit cards issued in the UK, effective from 19 January next year. Visa debit cards will still be accepted.

Amazon is offering £20 to Prime customers who switch to an alternative payment method and £10 to non-members. The online retailer says that Visa’s transaction fees are too high. According to the BBC, Visa is “Very disappointed that Amazon is threatening to restrict consumer choice in the future.”

The retailer says costs are rising despite technology advances that should see them fall. “The cost of accepting card payments continues to be an obstacle for businesses striving to provide the best prices for customers,” according to Amazon.

Both Visa and rival Mastercard have been accused by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) of charging excessive fees. The BRC says fees have doubled in two years.

READ MORE: Amazon to stop accepting Visa credit cards in UK

Pret emphasises UK origins in US stores

Pret a Manger USA has introduced a new brand identity and store design that emphasise its roots as a UK company.

A modified logo notes that the brand was created in London in 1986, while a streamlined store format – introduced on New York’s Seventh Avenue – seeks to offer a frictionless experience for customers.

The sandwich and coffee brand is launching its coffee subscription programme and order ahead facilities in the US market before the end of the year. It will use the Seventh Avenue branch as a testbed for new ideas. The company also plans a refurbishment programme across further stores.

“What I love about the new shop is we’re getting back to what makes Pret special,” says Jorrie Bruffett, president of Pret A Manger USA. “Pret is a brand that thoughtfully sources every ingredient and cares deeply about creating a great experience for both its teams and its customers. What we’re bringing is that touch of London while serving delicious food with friendly service that lifts you up without slowing you down.”

“It’s been an incredibly tough few years but we are focused on reinvesting and innovating to improve the customer experience while staying true to what we do best. We’ve got a great future ahead.”

Wednesday, 17 November

Sainsburys

Sainsbury’s trials check-out free store

Sainsbury’s has partnered with Amazon to trial a checkout-free store in central London, joining rival Tesco and Lidl in the development of the concept.

The ‘Smartshop Pick & Go’ store is located in Holborn and is currently only available to Sainsbury’s staff. It uses the same technology as the Amazon Fresh stores, which employs cameras and weight-sensitive shelves to figure out what shoppers have in baskets, to automatically charge them as they walk out.

Sainsbury’s SmartShop app will in future enable access to the store by generating a QR code. The app is currently being used to scan items with mobile phones in supermarkets.

This trial comes after the supermarket opened a till-free store on the same site, only to close it after shoppers found the experience less than seamless.

Sainsbury’s says: “We regularly trial new and convenient ways for customers to shop with us and we’re currently testing an upgraded version of SmartShop with colleagues at one of our Holborn stores.”

Amazon currently has six ‘Fresh’ checkout-free grocery stores, with plans to open hundreds more in the UK.

READ MORE: Sainsbury’s joins the smart set with checkout-free trial in London

Clarks brings in mediators to alleviate warehouse strike

Shoe retailer Clarks has allowed mediators in to resolve a strike at one of its warehouses.

Conciliation service Acas has said it is in contact with Clarks and the Community union about arranging talks.

Staff have been on strike since 4 October in a dispute over pay and working conditions, while the brand wants workers to sign new contracts which will cut pay for long-serving employees.

The Community union accuses Clarks of using “fire and rehire” tactics, whereby a company cuts staff and reemploys them on cut down contracts.

READ MORE: Clarks agrees to mediation in fire-and-rehire strike

ASA bans Motorway ad for dangerous driving

A TV ad from used car sales platform Motorway has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for encouraging “dangerous” driving behaviour.

The ad, which aired during August and September this year, showed cars crossing lanes and overtaking each other, while drivers smiled on. It ends with one driver jumping out of a moving car to unhook a house from a trailer.

Motorway argued its ad was designed to be fantastical not based in reality. It added that the cars did not look like everyday cars and the driving style was choreographed showing drivers were in complete control.

The brand believes those scenes “cemented the idea that ad was not set in the real world” and that it was happening in the character’s imagination.

However, the ASA disagreed: “Because we considered the driving depicted in the ads condoned competitive and unsafe driving, we concluded the ads were irresponsible.”

UK advertising inclusion champions to be revealed in summer

Industry action drive ‘All In’ from the Advertising Association, IPA and ISBA will announce which companies have hit criteria to make their workplaces more inclusive in summer 2022.

The ‘All in Champion’ status will be awarded to companies that evidence completion of actions from All In action plan. Initially, there are three actions to improve the representation and experience of black, disabled and working-class talent.

A further six actions will be added in the first quarter covering gender, age, Asian talent, mental health and LGBTQ+. These new actions are being developed by the Advertising Association’s Inclusion Working Group in partnership with industry groups including MEFA (Media for All), WACL, Bloom, Outvertising, NABS and 40 Over Forty.

The work will lead towards a repeat of the All In Census, a survey which was completed by more than 16,000 participants from advertisers, agencies, media owners, tech platforms and production companies in March this year.

Advertising Association commercial director and inclusion lead, Sharon Lloyd Barnes says: “We have had a tremendously positive reaction from the industry to All In. Many leaders are determined we make good on our promise to build back better when it comes to inclusion. The introduction of the All In Champion status is a result of multiple requests to demonstrate real, tangible delivery on the action plan to improve inclusion levels in our workplace.”

Refuge shows domestic abuse through technology

Domestic abuse charity Refuge is launching a campaign that highlights how technology can be leveraged by abusers to control their partners, after seeing a 97% surge in “complex” tech abuse cases between April 2020 and May 2021.

Central to the campaign created by BBH is a 40-second film that appears as a new smartphone ad with a voiceover detailing features of the device, but then highlights how it can be used for controlling behaviours.

At one point the voiceover says: “Keep you up to date with traffic in your area…and her movements”. The ad describes how smart home features can be used to control heating and lights, “even when you’re not at home, so you can control her from wherever you are”.

It ends with the tagline ‘Domestic abuse is getting smarter, our job is getting bigger’. The ad will run on TV, cinema and social media, with a 15-second version also being shared by influencers.

Social media influencers will lend their Instagram Stories to Refuge for a day to highlight the content, showing how far abusers will go to monitor their partners, such as checking bank statements and tracking their movements outside the home.

At the end of the takeover, the influencers will reveal that Refuge is behind the strange posts, encouraging their followers to donate. Also part of the campaign are radio and out-of-home activations.

Refuge CEO Ruth Davison says: “Fifty years on from opening the world’s first Refuge there is sadly little to be celebrating. The numbers of women experiencing domestic abuse appear to be rising, not decreasing, and Refuge has never needed support from the public to support its work more.

“The rise of tech and smart products are of major concern to Refuge. While it is a massive enabler in our lives, for women experiencing domestic abuse it is an ever-growing tool used to create fear, harass, intimidate and control them.”

Tuesday, 16 November

Sharwoods Premier Foods

Premier Foods plots ‘exciting brand plans’ as Mr Kipling poised for US trial

Premier Foods is prioritising expansion into new categories amid a suite of “exciting brand plans”, as the business commits to support six of its key brands with “emotionally engaging” advertising campaigns.

The parent company behind Mr Kipling, Sharwood’s and Bisto saw revenues hit £394.1m during the 26 weeks to 2 October, down 6.5% on the £421.5m generated during the height of the pandemic in 2020, but up 7.5% on 2019. The business’s sales through online channels are up 80% compared to two years ago.

Premier Foods posted a statutory pre-tax profit of £30.7m, down 39.2% on the £50.5m generated in 2020, but up 104.7% on a two-year basis. Compared to pre-pandemic in 2019, the company’s second quarter group revenue was up 8.5%, with branded revenue ahead by 13.3%. For the half year period, revenue rose by 11.4% on a two-year basis, reflecting what Premier Foods describes as the strength of its branded growth model.

The business called out the impact of “sustained consumer marketing investment” and new product development programme in driving “very good strategic progress”, as well as both volume and value market share gains compared to 2019.

Premier Foods spent £59.6m during the period on ‘selling, marketing and distribution costs’. Looking ahead, this will be the second consecutive year the business has invested in TV advertising for its Ambrosia, Batchelors, Bisto, Mr Kipling, Oxo and Sharwood’s brands.

Several of the group’s brands are said to have retained higher household penetration rates (a measure of how many consumers buy a brand on at least one occasion in a given timeframe), than pre-pandemic. The business concludes that some consumers have tried Premier Foods’s brands during the pandemic and re-purchased them.

Spurred on by international revenue growth of 7% versus two years ago, Premier Foods is preparing a test launch for Mr Kipling in the US during the second half of the year, running alongside a full rollout in Canada. The Mr Kipling brand is set to enter the biscuit category for the first time and expand into a range of branded ice cream, backed by further TV advertising spend. Ice cream launches are also planned for Ambrosia and Angel Delight.

The business is poised to launch a range of “insight driven new products” in adjacent categories, building on the initial success of its Cape Herb and Spice, and Oxo rubs and marinades products. Growth has also continued across the Nissin noodle range, which saw revenue rise 140% compared to 2019 and market share hit 45%, versus 11% in 2017.

“We have delivered a very good first half performance, with revenue growth ahead of expectations; quarter two was particularly strong, with revenue growth of 8.5% versus two years ago,” says CEO Alex Whitehouse.

“Our brands have performed especially well with growth versus two years ago of 11.4% and increased market share in both grocery and sweet treats, illustrating the continued success of our branded growth model.”

Tesco’s Christmas campaign becomes most complained about ad of 2021

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has received more than 1,500 complaints about Tesco’s Christmas campaign, making it the most complained about advert of the year so far.

The ‘This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us’ ad, devised by BBH, celebrates the British public doing everything they can to enjoy a proper festive celebration, from bribing elves with mince pies to get an audience with Santa, to lighting up the office party with brandy-soaked Christmas puddings.

The contentious scene shows Father Christmas displaying his Covid vaccination passport at airport border control. According to the ASA, most complaints claim the scene is “coercive and encourages medical discrimination”. The ad, which only went live on Saturday, received a backlash from people on social media who oppose the Covid vaccination.

The ASA is said to be reviewing the complaints to see if they warrant investigation for a potential breach of the rules. A spokesperson told the Guardian: “The large majority of complaints assert that the ad is coercive, and encourages medical discrimination based on vaccine status. We are currently carefully reviewing these complaints to determine whether there are any grounds for further action.”

Speaking on the release of the advert, Tesco chief customer officer Alessandra Bellini explained that whenever the retailer creates campaigns it wants to be sure it captures “how the nation really feel”, adding: “We hope our joyful festive ad will resonate and put a smile on people’s faces as we prepare for a season of well-deserved celebrations. After all, this Christmas, nothing’s stopping us.”

READ MORE: Tesco Christmas ad: 1,500 complain over Santa with Covid vaccine passport

P&G acquires Gen Z focused beauty brand

Procter & Gamble is moving further into the world of direct-to-consumer skincare with its purchase of Gen Z focused US brand Farmacy Beauty.

Founded in 2015, Farmacy positions itself as an ethical producer of “farm-to-face skincare”, manufacturing serums, cleaners and moisturisers made from farm-sourced ingredients based on “clean, thoughtful formulas”. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, it is estimated Farmacy will end 2021 with net sales in the region of $80m (£60m).

President of skin and personal care at P&G Beauty, Markus Strobel, told WWD that the company had its eyes on the Farmacy brand for a while, adding: “It’s an attractive brand with amazing potential and an unusual positioning – deeply rooted in science combined with natural ‘farm-to-face’ ingredient sourcing. This combination is super attractive and fills a space in our portfolio that we don’t have.”

P&G sees the acquisition of the “conscious” DTC beauty brand as strengthening its appeal to the Gen Z consumer, while Farmacy founder David Chung believes that for the company to grow to the next level it needs an organisation like P&G with “tremendous resources” globally.

Following the acquisition, Farmacy’s current vice-president of global marketing Mina Chae will become president and CEO. Prior to joining Farmacy, Chae served for more than five years as global marketing director at Revlon.

While Farmacy is still focused on the US, international expansion is said to be a priority. However, Strobel told WWD that P&G has learnt a lot from its $250m (£186m) acquisition of First Aid Beauty in 2018, sales of which have since doubled.

“Strategy is the ability to say no and we want to be very selective about expansion plans, and consciously develop the brands and their potential,” Strobel added.

READ MORE: Procter & Gamble buys Farmacy Beauty (£)

TV advertising drives cheaper online journeys, study finds

Magic Numbers ThinkboxTV advertising helps create cheaper online journeys for brands, according to new research from Thinkbox and Magic Numbers.

The econometric analysis of 10 online businesses proven to have used TV to drive their growth found that of the online search journeys initiated by TV ads, 66% were direct/URL or organic search visits, which carry no additional cost to the advertiser.

A further 20% were paid brand search clicks, which carry a small search cost, while 14% were for paid generic searches, which carry the highest search cost.

The ‘The TV playbook for online businesses’ study found TV advertising has a positive effect on click-through rates in both organic and paid search. The analysis of a furniture retailer in the study, for example, revealed that during three years of increasing TV investment focused on driving traffic, its brand search click rate improved from 37.4% to 38.8%.

Another example cited in the Magic Numbers analysis is that of a second-hand online car dealership, which reached 500,000 visits per week in five months after scaling up its TV spend, with TV driving 48% of all visits across this period.

The research suggests that advertising on TV can have an immediate and visible response. Across the 10 brands modelled, TV drove 42% of all visits online – 50 million in total – at an average cost per visit of £2.11. Six of the 10 brands the study modelled had a TV cost-per-visit of between £1.90 and £2.50.

Furthermore, the study reveals that brand-focused TV advertising, alongside outdoor, has the longest-lasting effects, generating 50% of sales in the first 14 weeks following activity and 50% in the two years afterwards.

Thinkbox research and planning director Matt Hill explains that the study focused on online brands which have found success with TV advertising in order to learn from their success.

“The study is rich in guidance for online brands on the brink of TV advertising and will help them navigate what can sometimes be an intimidating and confusing journey,” says Hill.

“We can’t claim that all brands will achieve the same results as those in the study, but we do now understand the blueprint, what the playbook should be for online brands looking to turbocharge their growth with TV.”

UK supermarkets enjoy in-store shopping boost

In-store visits to UK supermarkets grew 6.5% in the four weeks to 6 November, equal to 28 million more visits compared with the same period last year.

The data from NielsenIQ shows shoppers are embracing local and last-minute shopping trips, as growth at convenience stores surged by 2.1% versus the same period in 2020.

Industry-wide the average spend per visit has increased for the first time since July – up to £18.60 – as shoppers return to a “regular grocery shopping mindset”. NielsenIQ anticipates shoppers will spend £33bn across the major supermarkets during the fourth quarter.

The shift back to in-store shopping over the past four weeks has seen the supermarkets’ online share of sales fall to 12.2%, down from 12.6% in the previous four weeks. The analysis shows that while total online sales have declined by 8.6%, this drop is primarily due to smaller online basket spend as shoppers no longer need to stock up.

Consumers do, however, appear to be sticking with ecommerce given the percentage of households shopping online every four weeks is down only 3% on 2020.

The NielsenIQ data also reveals total till grocery sales fell by 2% in the four weeks to 6 November, compared to last year when shoppers stocked up ahead of the second national lockdown commencing on 4 November. When compared with pre-Covid figures in 2019, sales increased by 4.9%.

Over the last 12 weeks, Lidl (10.3%) and Aldi (7.9%) both experienced “strong growth”, fuelled by new store openings and consumers choosing to ‘shop around’. Marks & Spencer (9.1%) also enjoyed a growth spurt, indicating shoppers may be looking for special treats ahead of the festive season.

“Shoppers are also returning to stores again and spending is expected to remain robust for the next six weeks with Christmas advertising campaigns now helping to boost the festive shopping momentum,” says NielsenIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight

“Last year, Christmas was effectively cancelled, so this year we can expect shoppers to be spending far more than last year on festive food and drink, especially if they choose to economise by entertaining at home rather than eating out.”

Monday, 15 November

Abrdn unveils first campaign since simplifying under a single brand

Investment firm Abrdn has launched a new brand platform to reframe investment as a force for good, its first campaign since rebranding in July.

Research by the brand found 54% of people believe investing their money can have a positive impact on society. The new campaign aims to build on this, repositioning investment from a pursuit for financial return to a power for positive change.

The 60-second spot follows Sol and his dad Ben as he is fitted with a prosthetic arm, showcasing the progress made in the field of robotics and prosthetics technology as a result of investment. Created by Iris, ‘The Power of Investment’ will run across TV, out-of-home, radio, press, digital advertising, social and PR.

“We want to show people that they have the power to create a better future for themselves and society through investment, and that they can do so in a way that suits their personal beliefs, objectives and financial means,” says chief brand, marketing and corporate affairs officer Stephen Whitehead.

“The Power of Investment also represents what we want to achieve as Abrdn. Our name change brought five brands together with a renewed sense of purpose. We are future-focused and committed to giving our clients and the next generation the tools and support they need to achieve their ambitions.”

Formerly Standard Life Aberdeen, Abrdn – pronounced ‘Aberdeen’ – was heavily criticised over its new name early this year, which came following the sale of the Standard Life brand to another financial giant, Phoenix Group. The business claimed the rebrand would make it “modern” and “dynamic”, but critics said the vowel-less name was confusing and unremarkable.

Johnson & Johnson to separate consumer and pharmaceutical businesses

Healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson plans to separate its consumer products business from its pharmaceutical side and launch it as a new, publicly traded company within the next two years.

The new consumer health company, which has not yet been given a name, will encompass 24 brands, including Neutrogena, Aveeno, Tylenol, Listerine, and Johnson’s. The company claims that together, these brands touch over 1 billion consumers globally every day, and following the planned separation it would operate in over 100 countries.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson will remain a global leader in healthcare, making and selling prescription drugs and medical devices, including its Covid-19 vaccine. Although riskier, the division is the faster-growing of the two.

According to the firm, the separation will “enhance” the operational performance and “strategic flexibility” of both divisions and accelerate growth. It also aims to provide each company with a “compelling” financial profile that more accurately reflects the strengths and opportunities of each business and therefore offers investor a “more targeted” investment opportunity.

The consumer health segment of the business is expected to generate revenue of approximately $15bn (£11.2bn) in 2021.

“Following a comprehensive review, the board and management team believe that the planned separation of the consumer health business is the best way to accelerate our efforts to serve patients, consumers and healthcare professionals, create opportunities for our talented global team, drive profitable growth, and – most importantly – improve healthcare outcomes for people around the world,” says CEO Alex Gorsky, adding that the company is “committed” to the success of both organisations.

“For the new Johnson & Johnson, this planned separation underscores our focus on delivering industry-leading biopharmaceutical and medical device innovation and technology with the goal of bringing new solutions to market for patients and healthcare systems, while creating sustainable value for shareholders,” he says.

“We believe that the new consumer health company would be a global leader across attractive and growing consumer health categories, and a streamlined and targeted corporate structure would provide it with the agility and flexibility to grow its iconic portfolio of brands and innovate new products.”

Sustainable period start-up Dame launches first TV ad with Sky

Startup Dame wants women to “Bleed Red. Think Green” after seeing its new 30-second advert, which brings the brand’s sanitary products to TV for the first time.

Created by Recipe, the spot opens with a series of shots exposing a tampon string outside of women’s underwear, in what the brand claims is a first for sanitary product advertising. According to Dame cofounder Alec Mills, the aim was to make the “most authentic ad possible” in order to “normalise” menstruation.

The highly targeted campaign has been produced in partnership with Sky Media’s Direct to Scale division, which nurtures young brands wishing to accelerate visibility and build fame through Sky content and platforms.

The media plan uses Sky’s AdSmart technology to reach 18- 44-year-old women in 21 specific postcode areas, relevant to the nearby stockists, with the aim to build brand awareness among women in the UK.

“Working with Sky and the Direct to Scale team has been invaluable to help get the most out of our ad and meant we were able to target the people it will most resonate with,” says Mills.

He adds that he was “enthused” to see Clearcast taking “strong action” against greenwashing throughout the development of the ad, with the clearance body asking for “full substantiation” on all environmental claims made.

“It gives us strong hope for the future that brands are being scrutinised closer than ever so customers can make easy purchasing decisions on the best products for our planet.”

Launched on Kickstarter in 2018, Dame produces period products free from toxins, harsh chemicals, bleach and single-use plastic. The brand is one of 25 companies that Sky has invested in over the last three years through the Sky Ocean Ventures impact investment fund, which was set up as part of Sky’s broader campaign on ocean health.

Toshiba to split company into three separate businesses

Japanese tech giant Toshiba has confirmed it will be spinning off two of its core businesses into separate companies, focused on energy and infrastructure, and device and storage operation.

Toshiba will instead become centred around semiconductors, and will continue to own a 40.6% stake in memory chipmaker Kioxia. The reorganisation is expected to be completed by the second half of 2023.

According to the BBC, the move is being taken to increase the stock market valuations of Toshiba’s different businesses, after coming under increasing pressure from activist investors since an accounting scandal in 2015. Then-chief executive and president Hisao Tanaka resigned after the business said it had overstated its profits by more than $1bn.

While Toshiba is one of Japan’s largest firms, ranging from home electronics to nuclear power stations, in recent years the conglomerate has suffered huge losses linked to its US nuclear unit.

Last week US giant General Electric also announced it would be splitting into three separate companies, spinning off its healthcare business in early 2023 and combining its renewable energy, fossil-fuel power and digital units into another company the following year. That will leave the business with jet engine maker GE Aviation.

READ MORE: Japanese giant Toshiba announces breakup plan

Online fashion giant Shein accused of violating Chinese labour laws

A number of workers for suppliers of the Chinese fashion company Shein are working as many as 75 hours a week, according to a report by Swiss advocacy group Public Eye.

Public Eye’s researchers interviewed 10 workers across six of 17 factories supplying Shein, with these sites solely receiving orders from Shein at the time.

The workers they spoke to allegedly worked three shifts per day, with as little as one day off a month. The report says the workers are paid per item of clothing, which encourages them to take on long hours, while Public Eye’s David Hachfeld claims there was “enormous pressure” on staff to turn around clothes quickly.

However, these hours violate local labour laws in Guangzhou, China, where the factories were located. These laws set out a maximum working day of eight hours, and a 40 hour working week.

Online fashion giant Shein has said it takes supply chain issues seriously and will review the report.

A spokesperson told the BBC: “Upon learning of the report, we immediately requested a copy and when we receive and review the report, we will initiate an investigation.

“We have a strict supplier Code of Conduct which includes stringent health and safety policies and is in compliance with local laws. If non-compliance is identified we will take immediate action.”

READ MORE: Shein suppliers’ workers doing 75-hour week, finds probe

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