Troubled Victoria’s Secret finds new buyer
Victoria’s Secret CEO Leslie Wexner has stepped down from the role he’s held since taking over the company in 1982.
Wexner has come under increased pressure in recent years, with press coverage of the company’s internal culture focusing on allegations of bullying and harassment.
He has also been under fire for his relationship with the former financier Jeffery Epstein, prompting questions about his leadership.
The luxury lingerie brand is to be sold to Sycamore Partners, who will buy 55% of the company, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal. The brand has been valued at $1.1bn (£854m).
Victoria’s Secret has struggled of late to recapture the profile and profits it enjoyed during the 1990s, caught out by the digital landscape and changing sensibilities around body shape and gender identities.
Stormzy becomes first recipient of Greggs’ VIP service
Greggs has launched a VIP service for its celebrity fans, with BRIT winner Stormzy the first invited to join up.
The singer shared a clip on Instagram of him receiving a sleek black Greggs membership card on the eve of his latest tour, telling his 3.1m followers: “Public Service Announcement: The game has changed forever. Check this.”
As well as the card, Stormzy was presented with a pair of size 12 Greggs slippers and a number of pastry privileges, allowing him to order whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
A Greggs spokesperson says: “Our Concierge card is strictly by invite only to some of our biggest fans. That’s all we can say.”
Amazon Prime growth outpaces Netflix thanks to live Premier League games
Amazon’s strategy of buying up rights to stream live Premier League games appears to have paid off, with the tech giant’s Prime Video service enjoying its most successful quarter yet as its growth outpaces rivals Netflix.
Figures for the fourth quarter of last year show a 35% leap in subscriber numbers, with many signing up to watch the first round of Amazon-aired matches.
Netflix remains the UK’s most popular subscription streaming service.
European Commission warns of Fitbit privacy risk
The European Commission’s European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has claimed that Google’s purchase of smartwatch Fitbit could see a “potential combination and accumulation of sensitive personal data in Europe by a major tech company”.
There have been concerns that Google’s $2.1bn (£1.6bn) takeover could allow the search engine access to private data belonging to millions of users.
The board says: “The EDPB reminds the parties to the proposed merger of their obligations under [EU law] and to conduct a full assessment of the data protection requirements and privacy implications of the merger in a transparent way.
“The board urges the parties to mitigate possible risks to the rights to privacy and data protection before notifying the merger to the European Commission.”
The UK remains subject to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
Heathrow aims to be a zero carbon airport
Europe’s busiest airport wants to become zero carbon by the middle of the next decade, but won’t be including emissions from suppliers, terminal retailers, flights or a possible third runway.
Officials claim that Heathrow has reduced carbon emissions by 93% since 1990 and now aims to increase that figure through tree-planting schemes in Indonesia and Mexico.
Heathrow’s director of sustainability Matt Gorman says: “The enemy is not aviation, it’s carbon.
“Our collective challenge, this isn’t just for aviation, is to get carbon out of the economy as quickly as possible.”
Thursday, 20 February
Premiership Rugby hires UKTV’s Zoe Clapp as CMO
Premiership Rugby has named Zoe Clapp its new chief marketing officer, while Mark Brittain will take on the role of chief commercial officer.
Clapp, who was most recently chief marketing and communications officer at UKTV, will be responsible for marketing and brand, events, communications, social and digital products. Her goal will be to grow the popularity, reach and social impact of the sport, working closely with the league’s clubs and players.
“Sport has the power to entertain fans, transform lives and create moments that shape culture,” says Clapp.
“Whether working with the league’s world-class players to reach new audiences or driving rugby’s vital inclusivity agenda, there are fantastic opportunities for Premiership Rugby to become yet more popular and successful in the years ahead.”
Brittain, meanwhile, joins Premiership Rugby from Sports Rights Management, where he has held the position of chief executive since 2018. Brittain will lead Premiership Rugby’s commercial strategy as the business seeks to grow the value of its rights and explore new markets and partnerships.
Both Clapp and Brittain will join Premiership Rugby on 24 February and report into chief executive Darren Childs.
WhatsApp unveils first brand campaign
WhatsApp is launching its first global brand campaign, aiming to reinforce its positioning as being “more than a messaging app”.
The campaign will launch in Brazil with a film telling the story of a community that got together on WhatsApp to help a samba school that loses all allegories in a fire ahead of Carnival.
Based on several true stories that have happened throughout the years, the film then sees members of a rival school organise donations and help rebuild the damaged warehouse.
WhatsApp says it relied on the participation of the community to realistically convey the “emotional connection and solidarity” of the people, who communicate daily through the messaging platform.
“Brazil is one of the main markets for the company worldwide, so we decided to launch the campaign here and pay tribute to the solidarity of Brazilians inspired by one of the country’s dearest traditions,” says Taciana Lopes, head of consumer marketing at Facebook Brazil.
WhatsApp will launch local versions of the campaign in various countries. Like the debut film, dedicated to Carnival in Brazil, the productions will signify the tagline ‘Fica só entre vocês’ (‘It’s between you’) within cultural moments of individual regions. Some of the creations will be co-productions between countries.
Barnardo’s highlights child sexual abuse in new ad
Barnardo’s is launching the second of its ‘Believe In Me’ awareness-raising adverts, which aim to highlight the issue of child sexual abuse.
Created with FCB Inferno, the advert shows a young girl looking nervous in a masculine-looking bedroom, before a computer-generated Komodo dragon emerges from the bathroom and makes its way towards her.
The audience is shown that she is the subject of online grooming, whose abuser coerces and manipulates her into a sexual relationship that she cannot escape from.
At the end of the 40-second spot, it is revealed that the girl is recounting her story of abuse to a specialist Barnardo’s counsellor and receiving support.
“There’s no doubt that ‘Komodo’ is a harrowing advert to watch. But it was really important for us to reflect the feelings of children who have suffered this kind of abuse, and the life-changing work Barnardo’s does to support them,” says Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan.
“At Barnardo’s we believe all children can recover from trauma and go on to achieve a positive future. But to help keep children safe we need better awareness and understanding of child sexual abuse, among parents, professionals, government, and the public, so children at risk are identified earlier and given the support they need.”
John Lewis most recommended high street retail brand
John Lewis, Polo Ralph Lauren and HomeSense are the brands most recommended by their consumers across the high street retail, fashion and general retail sectors, according to YouGov’s 2020 Recommend rankings.
Not only is first-placed John Lewis recommended by 81% of its customers but the 91-year-old high street department store has a history of strong performances in YouGov rankings, topping the brand health rankings for the past two years.
Five of the top 10 ranked high street brands are in the health and beauty space, including second-placed handmade cosmetics company Lush with a recommend score of 78% and fourth-placed L’Occitane en Provence on 75%.
Polo Ralph Lauren is the UK’s most recommended fashion brand, with 79% of its customers recommending it to others. It is just ahead of both Zara and Joules (each on 78%). The fashion rankings see the top 10 brands separated by just four percentage points, highlighting how close the competition is throughout the sector.
The rankings feature a broad range of retailers, from the upper end of the market such as seventh-placed Gucci (76%) to value fast fashion brands such as fifth-placed Asos (77%).
HomeSense, the Canadian discount furniture brand, is the general retailer most recommended by its customers with a recommend score of 81%. HomeSense faced strong competition from seven other homeware retailers, narrowly beating IKEA. Online furniture retailers such as Habitat (77%) and Made.com (74%) also scored well.
Trade tool and hardware retailer Screwfix, and self-building supplier Toolstation – which was launched by Screwfix founders in 2003 – have also earned high customer advocacy scores both earning a recommend score of 77%, finishing in third and fourth place respectively.
Advertising Association supports Government post-Brexit migration plans
The Advertising Association (AA) says it welcomes the Government’s post-Brexit migration plans, however it is “concerned” businesses will not have enough time to transition to the system by 1 January 2021.
The AA believes while the industry has “greatly benefitted” from free movement, the new points-based system – enabling foreign skilled workers to enter the country if they have a job offer earning above £25,600 – coupled with the ability of students to stay on in the country for two years after graduating, and the temporary worker visa “are to be welcomed”.
“The UK is a global hub for advertising and the flow of skilled talent to and from the UK has helped attract business to this country and increase the number of advertising jobs for domestic workers,” a spokesperson says.
“We would ask the government to ensure that the Shortage Occupation List is flexible and future-looking to respond to the economy’s present and future demands. The government should also tie educational outcomes with immigration reforms to ensure that domestic talent coming into the workplace has the right skills.”
Wednesday, 19 February
Mark Zuckerberg insists on greater ‘accountability’ despite potential hit to Facebook’s business
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the social media platform needs “more oversight and accountability”, despite the fact this may harm business in the short-term.
In a statement relating to Facebook’s latest whitepaper on online content regulation, Zuckerberg said people need to feel that global technology platforms “answer to someone” and regulation is needed to hold companies to account. He admitted that Facebook requires better oversight when making decisions, which is why it is creating an independent Oversight Board to rule on content decisions.
“I believe good regulation may hurt Facebook’s business in the near term, but it will be better for everyone, including us, over the long term,” said Zuckerberg.
“These are problems that need to be fixed and that affect our industry as a whole. If we don’t create standards that people feel are legitimate, they won’t trust institutions or technology.”
The Facebook CEO stated that the social media giant is not “passing off responsibility” or waiting for regulation, but argued that “clearer rules” would be better for everyone.
“The internet is a powerful force for social and economic empowerment. Regulation that protects people and supports innovation can ensure it stays that way,” Zuckerberg added.
His statement comes at a time of intense scrutiny for Facebook as Democratic US Presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, said she would break up the ‘Big Tech’ giants and regulate them as if they were utilities if elected.
Co-op releases ad celebrating recyclable packaging
The Co-op is releasing a TV campaign to promote its move to become the first UK retailer to introduce recyclable pizza packaging.
Launching tonight during the ad break of ITV’s Coronation Street, the ‘Pizza and Plastics’ campaign shows how the Co-op has replaced traditional polystyrene pizza discs with corrugated cardboard across all of its own brand pizzas, eliminating 200 tonnes of waste.
The ad, created by Lucky Generals, opens on a family setting where a Co-op Irresistible pizza is crisping up in the oven. A young girl picks up a cardboard pizza disc from the counter and starts to draw on it. The scene then jumps to a number of different households, all holding up hand-drawn messages in sequence, which spell out “all Co-op pizzas are so delicious plus they also come on cardboard trays making them better for”.
The pizza campaign is the first phase in a series of recent commitments from the supermarket, which has said that by the summer it will only use 100% recyclable packaging in everything from ready meal trays to crisps packets.
The Co-op’s switch to 100% recyclable packaging will be facilitated by the largest ever UK-wide scheme to recycle plastic film, currently not collected by local councils for recycling. The supermarket, which makes over 750 million pieces of plastic film each year, will develop its own national collection programme for the material, rolling out this summer.
“We continue to innovate in this area and reducing the environmental impact of products is and always has been at the core of Co-op,” says customer director, Ali Jones.
“We continue to innovate in this area and reducing the environmental impact of products is and always has been at the core of Co-op. We’re committed in helping our members and customers to help to make a difference to the world and we want to encourage communities to come together and look after the planet and spaces around us.”
Asda’s festive sales hit by ‘budget conscious’ shoppers
Asda has blamed “highly budget conscious” consumers for 1.3% fall in like-for-like sales during the fourth quarter of 2019 as shoppers remained “cautious” over the festive period.
“We know that our customers mindsets during the quarter were cautious and whilst customers were enthusiastic for Christmas, they were more mindful in their spending – with many choosing to pare back gift lists and focus presents on kids rather than adults and extended family,” said Asda CEO and president, Roger Burnley.
The supermarket claims that while overall performance during the quarter was impacted by “challenging market conditions”, particularly in clothing, the core food business proved to be more stable and the company saw “continued progress” around its strategy of “winning on price”.
Sales of Asda’s Extra Special products were up 5% year on year, while home delivery also grew by 10.3% year on year in the fourth quarter, during which time Asda rolled out same day delivery to 284 stores and trialled a ‘one hour Click and Collect’ service in two shops.
Burnley said the supermarket would “thoughtfully grow” its partnerships with new brands it trialled during the quarter, including Sushi Daily and Claire’s Accessories. From a sustainability perspective, Asda also plans to introduce a new batch of recyclable packaging for its steak range, which will eliminate 700 tonnes of plastic every year.
“We’re ambitious to deliver even more for customers in 2020 and have entered the year with an even sharper focus on driving forward our strategy, which is anchored in saving our customers time as well as money,” Burnley added.
LinkedIn marketing boss launches event celebrating diversity
LinkedIn head of brand for EMEA and LATAM, Darain Faraz, is launching a quarterly networking event celebrating the work of black and minority ethnic professionals in the media and communications industries.
The inaugural People Like US event, co-founded by Faraz’s brother Sheeraz Gulsher, senior account manager at PR and marketing agency Pretty Green, will take place on 18 March at Snap Inc. Open to professionals of all levels and free to attend, the event will seek to celebrate excellence in marketing and media, encouraging a “positive dialogue”.
“Having worked in the industry for the best part of two decades, in roles spanning the globe, it’s clear that our industry at large hasn’t woken up to the realities of woeful minority ethnic representation,” says Faraz.
“People Like Us is more than an ethnic networking event, it’s a gathering for and celebration of BAME media and marcomms professionals. Whether you’re a PR, a marketer, journalist or expert in social media, we want you to come on down and meet people like us. We hope this simple gesture, of allowing the time and space to celebrate ourselves will nudge our respective industries forward. We’re hoping that this could create that ripple to help facilitate that change.”
Fast fashion retailers donate profits to mental health in support of Caroline Flack
Fast fashion retailers are donating profits to help raise awareness of mental health following the suicide of former Love Island presenter Caroline Flack at the weekend.
Manchester-based In the Style raised £200,000 in 24 hours for the Samaritans through sales of its £10 #BeKind T-shirts, 100% of the profits of which are being donated to the charity.
The fast fashion brand said that in light of the “ongoing mental health battle faced by so many” it wanted to use its platform to raise further awareness of mental health and would not make any money from the sale of the T-shirts, having also waved the delivery charge.
Meanwhile, Boohoo-owned Pretty Little Thing is donating 100% of its latest collection with 2019 Love Island finalist Molly-Mae Hague to mental health charity Mind.
Tuesday, 18 February
BT creates flexible packages to compete in streaming wars
BT is rolling out out a string of new flexible TV packages as it looks to compete in the subscription market and appeal to a new generation.
The telecoms giant has unveiled a range of subscription options that allow customers to choose the TV shows, films and sport they want, with the flexibility to change their package each month.
As part of the deal, which launches on 21 February, customers can watch Sky Atlantic, Sky Sports and Now TV in addition to BT Sport. The platform also gives access to streaming services Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Chief executive of BT’s consumer division, Marc Allera, says: “Our new range of TV packs bring together the best premium services, fully loaded with a wide range of award-winning shows, the best live sports in stunning 4K and the latest must-see films – all with the flexibility to change packs every month – with quick and easy search to find what you want to watch.”
In addition to the packages, which start at £10 per month, viewers have the option to pay for a 30-day add-on, meaning they can catch up on an extra TV show or sporting event without committing to a permanent subscription.
HSBC to axe 35,000 jobs as profits fall
HSBC is planning to axe around 35,000 jobs as it profits for 2019 fell by 33%.
The bank is implementing £3.5bn of cost cuts by 2022 as part of a major restructuring plan. The bank’s interim chief executive, Noel Quinn, is promising it will scale back its workforce from 235,000 to around 200,000 over the next three years.
HSBC reported an annual profit before tax of £10.3bn, blaming the fall on its investment and commercial banking operations in Europe.
The 35,000 job losses are deeper than expected, and represent about 15% of the workforce, with analysts originally predicting around 10,000 job cuts.
The bank currently operates in more than 50 countries, with more than 40,000 staff based in the UK.
Hey Girls creates UNsanitary campaign
Social enterprise Hey Girls has teamed up with agency adam&eveDDB and The Big Issue to raise awareness about period poverty.
The UNsanitary campaign includes a film and outdoor ads that aim to raise awareness of the fact that one in 10 girls and young women are suffering from “period poverty”.
The Big Issue, meanwhile, has created a 24-page mini magazine about periods, menstrual products, poverty, activism and the environment. It will be included with copies of the main title sold by vendors across the UK.
A range of branded products, created by adam&eveDDB and Hey Girls, will be on display at pop-ups in selected Asda stores to highlight the poor conditions some women are forced to endure while on their period. The items appear to resemble genuine sanitary products, but on closer inspection are revealed to be unsanitary alternatives used by some women, such as socks, newspaper and loo roll.
Hey Girls founder Celia Hodson says: “We created UNsanitary to provoke awareness about the shocking extent of period poverty in the UK. Progress is being made, but we knew we needed to do something drastic for large numbers of people to take notice of what so many women and girls are going through.
“We hope the campaign will rally businesses and the government to instigate more radical changes.”
Hey Girls gives a girl or young woman one pack of sanitary products for every item bought.
THINK! campaign calls on young men to stop friends drink driving
The government’s THINK! is calling on young men to stop friends from drink driving. In its latest campaign, called ‘Pink Block’, the organisation is targeting men aged 17 to 35 to intervene if they see friends about to drink more than they should.
Pint Block, created by VMLY&R, comes off the back of government research which revealed that a third of people don’t think it is important to intervene if someone they know is planning to drink and drive. While the majority agreed that drink driving is unacceptable, only 64% said it was important to step in to stop a friend drink driving. That number drops to 45% for young men.
To launch Pint Block, THINK! has commissioned 60 unique illustrations by young artists from across the country – one for each of the 60 young drivers killed or seriously injured when found to be driving over the limit every month in the UK.
The pint blocks, which involve everything from Mexican waves to mosh pits, are a tongue-in-cheek way to spread the message that it’s ok, and indeed important, to step in and stop a friend from drinking alcohol if they are intending to drive.
The illustrations will be displayed at a pub takeover in Birmingham on 18 February where consumers will be introduced to the concept of Pint Blocking with zero alcohol drinks provided by Heineken.
Pint Block builds on THINK’s ‘Mates Matter’ campaign, which it says saw the biggest shift in more than a decade in young men’s attitudes towards drink-driving.
Laura Ashley calls for emergency funding
Laura Ashley is looking for emergency funding as it reveals a steep drop in sales.
The furniture and fashion brand confirmed that its Malaysian owner is in talks with its bank over access to emergency funding as it looks to save the struggling company.
Sales slumped by 10.8% year on year in the second half of 2019.
The retailer admitted it is facing “challenging conditions” as it plans to close more of its 155 UK stores. It blames “market headwinds and weaker consumer spending”, which has dampened demand for larger, more expensive items.
The British company says it will have to “consider all appropriate options” if it cannot get hold of more cash, raising fears for the jobs of more than 2,700 workers.
Owner MUI Asia is trying to reach an agreement over Laura Ashley’s funding requirements in the short to medium term.
Monday, 17 February
Tesco illegally stopped rivals opening nearby stores, says competition regulator
The competition regulator has told Tesco to stop illegally blocking rivals from buying its land or leasing land in nearby sites after an investigation.
The Competition and Markets Authority found that Tesco has on 23 occasions blocked rivals from opening a store by using restrictive contracts. In three of the cases, Tesco had put in place covenants when selling land to stop rival supermarkets buying it. In 20 of the cases it was leasing the land but stipulated in contracts that landlords could not lease the same building or site to a rival for 20 years or more.
Companies are allowed to make such demands of landlords but only for up to five years.
The CMA’s executive director of markets and mergers, Andrea Gomes da Silva, says: “It’s unacceptable that Tesco had these unlawful restrictions in place for up to a decade.
“By making it harder for other supermarkets to open stores next to its branches, shoppers could have lost out.”
Tesco blames the cases on “administrative errors” that happened between 2010 and 2015, and says it has strengthened controls and training to avoid this happening in future. The issue came to light after the CMA found one such problem, with an investigation by Tesco itself uncovering the other 22.
The CMA has written to the other major supermarkets to ensure they are not engaging in similar practices.
Facebook must accept regulation, says founder
Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has admitted the social network must accept some form of state regulation, acknowledging that in terms of providing content it falls somewhere between a newspaper and a telephone company.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, he tried to dispel notions including that Facebook had undermined democracy or spread public distrust of the West. According to The Guardian, he said he supported state regulation in four areas: elections, political discourse, privacy and data portability.
“We don’t want private companies making so many decision-balancing social equities without democratic processes,” Zuckerberg said.
While, he admitted Facebook had been slow to understand the scale of the problems it faces, he claimed that it is working to over its challenges including by employing 35,000 staff to work on content monitoring and security.
British Heart Foundation launches campaign to raise awareness of vascular dementia
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is running a marketing campaign that aims to raise awareness of vascular dementia.
The campaign, called ‘Swear Jar’ and created by MullenLowe, shows a young boy – Billy – going to great lengths to get his family to swear by setting up a series of pranks around the house. The audience sees why when the youngster is shown visiting his grandad in a care home – to raise money for the charity.
The TV ad will be supported by a social media campaign that includes behind-the-scenes footage of Billy’s pranks, as well as content that shows the impact of vascular dementia. It will also run in cinema, video-on-demand and outdoor.
“Grandad in our campaign had two strokes and now sadly has vascular dementia – this story is unfortunately only too real and common,” says the BHF’s director of marketing and engagement Carolan Davidge.
“With this campaign, we are continuing to talk about the breadth of the BHF’s research and the fact many heart and circulatory conditions are connected. We want people to understand just how valuable the BHF’s research is and that it’s only with their support we can continue to make life saving breakthroughs.”
Companies forced to tell customers when contracts are coming to an end
Broadband, TV and phone companies are being forced to tell customers when their contracts are coming to an end under new rules implemented by UK watchdog Ofcom that came into effect on Saturday (15 February).
The regulator estimates that around 20 million customers are out of contract, with many paying more than they need to. It estimates consumers could save £150 a year just on broadband if they knew of alternative deals.
Companies will have to text, email or write to their customers between 10 and 40 days before their contracts come to an end. The messaging will have to include the date their contracts can be terminated without a penalty; the price they have been paying; the price they will automatically pay after the contract ends; how much notice they need to give to cancel the contract; and the best alternative contract – including those offered to new customers.
Ofcom’s consumer group director Lindsey Fussell says: “Millions of people are out of contract right now and paying more than they need to. These new rules make it easier to grab a better deal.
“But you don’t need to wait to hear from your provider. Just a few minutes of your time could save you hundreds of pounds today.”
Shoppers carrying healthy eating into February
Shopping are continuing to pick healthier food and drink offerings despite January, the month when people typically focus on their health, ending more than two weeks ago.
According to Waitrose, sales of no and low alcohol wines, beers and spirits were up 102% in the first week of February compared to 2019, with beer the most popular as sales soared 209%.
Veganuary is also pushing into the month, with sales of vegan food up 13% year on year.