Netflix, Primark, Aldi: 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.

Primark says prices remain ‘locked and loaded’ despite rising costs

Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) has said the value chain will not be increasing prices despite rising costs, describing them as “locked and loaded”.

Regardless of inflationary pressure, the group’s finance chief John Bason has said prices for the retailer’s spring/summer range “will remain where they are”.

This comes despite Primark taking a hit to trading over the festive period as shoppers kept away in response to the rise of the Omicron variant. The chain’s like-for-like sales for the 16 weeks to 8 January were 10% lower than pre-pandemic levels two years ago.

But ABF said the situation is improving, with shopper numbers now higher than this time last year, with group-wide sales at Primark 36% ahead year on year.

At the same time, the company confirmed it plans to cut 400 jobs at Primark, as it looks to simplify the management structure, provide more opportunities for career progression and offer greater flexibility.

ABF, which also has ingredients and agriculture arms, and owns brands including Twinings and Ovaltine, said higher energy and transport costs may push up prices elsewhere in the business.

READ MORE: Primark to cut 400 store management jobs

Unilever’s management hit with fresh Terry Smith attack

Unilever shareholder Terry Smith has launched a new attack on the FMCG giant, telling its management to focus on improving the existing business before eyeing up big acquisitions.

In his latest assault on the company, Smith, who is the founder of Fundsmith Equity Fund and has a 0.9% share in Unilever, criticised the firm’s management, strategy, communication with shareholders and “penchant for corporate gobbledegook”.

He and the fund’s head of research, Julian Robins, shared their views in a letter to investors, a copy of which was seen by the Financial Times.

In it they referred to Unilever’s rejected £50bn bid for GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) consumer healthcare division as a “near-death experience”.

“It seems to us that Unilever management’s response to its poor performance has been to utter meaningless platitudes to which it has now attempted to add major M&A activity. What could possibly go wrong?” they added.

Last week Smith branded Unilever’s focus on purpose as “ludicrous” and suggested the company’s management had “lost the plot”.

READ MORE: Terry Smith launches new attack on Unilever management (£)

Netflix shares plummet as subscriber growth slows

NetflixNetflix’s growth has slowed considerably since the start of the pandemic, with the streaming giant adding 18.2 million subscribers last year, roughly half the number it signed up in 2020.

The company added 8.3 million members in the last three months of 2021, taking its total to 222 million last year. But it has now revealed it expects to add just 2.5 million in the first three months of this year, which immediately knocked 20% of its share price in after-hours trading.

Netflix said that while retention and engagement remain “healthy”, acquisition of new customers has not “re-accelerated to pre-Covid levels”.

The launch of streaming rivals such as Disney+ and the growth of Apple and Amazon’s offers is having an impact too.

It says: “Consumers have always had many choices when it comes to their entertainment time – competition that has only intensified over the last 24 months as entertainment companies all around the world develop their own streaming offering.

“While this added competition may be affecting our marginal growth some, we continue to grow in every country and region in which these new streaming alternatives have launched.”

READ MORE: Netflix faces rocky road after pandemic wins

Aldi drops Deliveroo grocery deliveries

Aldi has pulled the plug on its grocery delivery partnership with Deliveroo, as it looks to focus on its own click-and-collect service.

The German discounter started offering deliveries through Deliveroo during the pandemic when fewer shoppers were visiting stores. At its peak, about 100 Aldi stores offered grocery orders and home delivery via the app.

The move to end the tie-up, which was first reported by The Grocer, came about as data shows consumers are increasingly returning to stores.

Data from NielsenIQ shows online shopping visits dropped by 1.7% over the four weeks to 1 January, while in-store visits increased by 6.3%. As a result, the online share of grocery sales fell to 11.3% compared to 12.1% in December last year, the lowest it has been since April 2020.

An Aldi spokesperson says: “We have decided to end our trial with Deliveroo to focus on our click-and-collect service, which remains on offer at more than 200 of our stores nationwide.”

READ MORE: Aldi ends Deliveroo deliveries as UK return to stores

Superdry ditches shop discounts as it warns of price hikes

Retailer Superdry says higher prices are on the cards and it will also no longer be offering in-store discounts, as it looks to deal with the pressure of rising costs.

The company also plans to reduce the number of items it puts on sale online.

Superdry’s boss Julian Dunkerton said prices on some clothing would rise by around 2% as a result of rising inflation.

The firm reported a pre-tax profit of £4m for the six months to late October, up from a loss of nearly £19m the year before when non-essential shops were forced to close as a result of lockdown. The chain’s sales were down by 1.9%, however, which it blamed on the pandemic and its move to reduce discounts.

The brand said its use of influencers had helped it attract younger shoppers, with Dunkerton adding that he hoped the addition of some new product lines would help Superdry become “cool again”.

READ MORE: Superdry warns prices to rise as it axes shop discounts

Thursday, 20 January

DeliverooDeliveroo maintains order growth despite easing of Covid restrictions

Deliveroo has reported a “strong” performance over the fourth quarter of 2021, as the food delivery company continues to register growth in its customer base, orders and gross transaction value (GTV).

GTV rose 33% to £1.7bn versus the final quarter of 2020, a comparison period that included lockdown restrictions in most of the business’s markets, including the UK.

The company has also reported “healthy” growth in monthly active consumers and orders. The former rose 37% year-on-year to an average of eight million, as the business expanded its coverage of the UK population to 77% from 53%.

Meanwhile, average order frequency remained 3.4 per month despite the widespread removal of restrictions. Total orders for the quarter were up 42% year on year. However, GTV per order was down 5% to £21.4 versus last year, as average order values continue to “revert” towards pre-Covid levels.

In the UK alone, GTV grew 36% to £945m as orders grew 41% to 40.4 million. Across the whole of 2021, GTV growth hit 71% and order growth reached 72%.

Overall, 2021 saw GTV rise 67% compared to 2020 to £6.6bn, not including results from Spain where operations ceased in November.

Deliveroo says it is also continuing to develop its on-demand grocery offering, as on-demand grocery represented 8% of total GTV in the second half of 2021. By the end of the year, the company had 11,000 grocery sites lives globally.

“I am proud of what we achieved in 2021; despite a challenging backdrop, we continued to strengthen our customer proposition, widen our customer base and execute against our strategy,” says founder and CEO Will Shu.

“We are excited about the opportunity ahead and look forward to making further progress in 2022.”

Unilever ‘will not increase’ £50bn offer for GSK’s consumer arm

FMCG giant Unilever says it will not offer more than its already rejected £50bn bid for GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) consumer healthcare division.

Earlier this week GSK revealed it had received three unsolicited acquisition offers from Unilever, but had dismissed all as having “fundamentally undervalued” the business. Unilever’s most recent proposal was made on 20 December last year.

However, despite formerly stating GSK Consumer Healthcare would be a “strong strategic fit” for its portfolio of brands, Unilever has said GSK’s recently shared financial assumptions “does not change” its view on its value.

In 2020 GSK announced plans to separate into two companies by 2022, with one entity to focus on the pharmaceuticals side of the business and the other to remain a consumer healthcare company. GSK Consumer Healthcare is currently a joint venture between GSK and Pfizer, with GSK holding a majority stake of 68%.

If the deal had taken place, Unilever would have added brands including Sensodyne toothpaste, Nicorette and Voltaren to its extensive portfolio of consumer brands, which already includes Marmite, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Ben & Jerry’s and Dove.

BrewDog staff ‘pressured’ to flout US import laws

brewdogBeer brewer BrewDog sent multiple shipments to the US in 2016 and 2017 which broke US federal laws, an investigation by the BBC has uncovered.

The shipments were sent despite its products containing ingredients that had not been legally approved.

According to the BBC, staff at one brewery claim to have been put under “enormous” pressure by the business to ship the beer, despite knowing it violated US laws.

“’Just make it happen’, that was the culture,” a former worker said. “It was clear to us this was coming from the top – from James [Watt].”

Another said workers were “worried” about being fired if they refused to do as they were told.

The BBC claimed to have written to BrewDog last week detailing its allegations.

In a LinkedIn post yesterday (19 January) titled ‘My Biggest Mistakes as BrewDog CEO’, the brewer’s co-founder and chief executive James Watt admitted to taking “shortcuts” in getting BrewDog’s beer to the US, as well as making “mistakes” with paperwork.

“The process of importing our own beer was new to us,” he wrote. “The paperwork was not always correct in the first few months back in 2017 and we did not realise we needed to get things like the Elvis Juice recipe and ingredients approved in advance”.

Watt added the illegal ingredients were later approved, and that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) would be taking “no further action”.

BrewDog was last hit with allegations of a “toxic” working culture in June last year, when former employees published an open letter to Watt on Twitter under the name ‘Punks with Purpose’.

Upwards of 250 ex-employees accused the business of a “toxic attitude” and creating an internal “culture of fear”, as well as using “lies, hypocrisy and deceit” to generate positive PR for the brand.

READ MORE: Brewdog flouted US laws over beer imports

Diageo’s Massey named co-chair of WFA’s Global Media Board

Diageo’s global media director Isabel Massey is taking over as co-chair of the World Federation of Advertiser’s (WFA) Media Forum and Global Media Board, working alongside P&G’s vice-president of global media Gerry D’Angelo.

Massey replaces Benjamin Jankowski, who has left his role as senior vice-president of global media at Mastercard to set up his own consultancy. Jankowski remains a WFA advisor.

In June 2019, Massey worked with the WFA as part of a group of advertisers and national advertiser associations to set up the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), with the goal of eliminating harmful content in ad supported digital media.

In her new role, she will assist the WFA team in supporting the organisation’s growing media forum, a peer-to-peer network of global media leaders from the WFA’s 130 corporate members. The forum’s current priorities include addressing supply chain transparency and ecosystem health, privacy and data governance, and media agency models.

Diageo is also one of a select group of advertisers which constitute the WFA’s Global Media Board, alongside Danone, L’Oréal, LVMH, Nestle, P&G and Unilever. The board works to launch and steer some of WFA’s media-centric industry work.

“The next few years are shaping up to be industry-defining, so I’m keen to take a front-seat, ensuring the common interests of advertisers, including Diageo, are represented,” Massey said

In April 2021, as GARM launched its first report tracking the brand safety performance of digital platforms and setting a benchmark for progress, Massey warned advertisers to maintain their “laser focus” on reducing harmful content online.

“I ask everyone to stay focused on this as the challenge is not going away,” she said.

Premier Foods praises ‘branded growth model’ as sales jump

Sharwood's Premier FoodsThe CEO of Premier Foods has credited the business’s advertising campaigns, product innovation and online focus with driving “strong” sales growth during the third quarter of its financial year.

Sales across the FMCG group’s grocery and sweet treats businesses were up 11.3% on a two-year basis, comparing against pre-pandemic results. CEO Alex Whitehouse claims the company was “well ahead” of the market across all its categories, resulting in “very encouraging” share gains of 90 basis points compared to the same period last year.

“This performance continues to underline the popularity of our brands but also demonstrates the strength of our established branded growth model, with many of our brands supported by advertising campaigns and new product innovation during the quarter,” Whitehouse says.

Premier Foods also highlighted its “continued focus on executing [its] brands well online” as driving growth ahead of the market. Online sales were up by more than 90% in the quarter versus two years ago, and the business gained 240 basis points of share.

Whitehouse says he is “particularly pleased” with the performance of the sweet treats business, with Mr Kipling reporting its “biggest Christmas ever” due to increased sales across its core cake ranges and also healthier ranges, such as reduced sugar Angel Slices. The category delivered top line branded growth of 11.6% on a two-year basis.

Meanwhile, multiple brands in the grocery business experienced double digit sales growth, as branded revenue grew 11.2%. These brands include Bisto, Sharwood’s and Nissin.

The group has also reported its healthier product ranges grew ahead of the wider market, up 13%.

After three successful quarters of trading, the business has upgraded its trading profit expectations for the financial year to £145m.

Wednesday, 19 January

New CMO joins Gorillas for global brand push

Grocery-on-demand service Gorillas has appointed Luanne Calvert as CMO to lead its global marketing team. Founded in 2020, Gorillas now plans to intensify its marketing activity and create a globally-recognised brand.

Calvert has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising, mostly in fast-growth sectors and including roles at Virgin, Google, Walmart and Fendi. She will be based at the Gorillas headquarters in Berlin and report directly to company founder and CEO Kağan Sümer.

“I became a fan of the company when I tried Gorillas for the first time. Beyond the incredible service, I was impressed with Gorillas’ mission to provide consumers instant access to essential needs,” says Calvert.

“This unique experience is what I want to build upon to create a love brand that stands for how we live and consume food in the 21st century. It’s truly inspiring to be part of a company that has the ability to change that equation at scale – and delight customers along the way.”

“Luanne has shown countless times how to create and develop successful brands in fast-growth sectors through innovative ideas,” adds Sümer. “Her boldness and courage to try new things reflects the spirit of Gorillas in the best way. This mindset paired with her incredible experience in the tech, retail and start-up field is what makes Luanne the perfect fit to further develop our brand and customer experience.”

Microsoft plans Activision Blizzard acquisition

Microsoft plans to buy Activision Blizzard in a $68.7bn (£50.5bn) deal that would represent the biggest buyout ever seen in the gaming industry. It would give Microsoft control of gaming franchises including Call of Duty and Warcraft, and give the Xbox platform an advantage over the rival Sony Playstation.

The BBC reports that the deal would establish Microsoft as the world’s third-biggest gaming company by revenue, behind Chinese group Tencent and Sony.

“We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive and accessible to all,” said Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella.

The games industry is seeing new competition from companies such as Facebook owner Meta, which is investing in metaverse games.

READ MORE: Sony slides on Microsoft-Activision Blizzard tie-up plan

Aldi tests Shop&Go concept

Supermarket group Aldi has joined the race for checkout-free stores with the opening of its first Shop&Go store. Located in Greenwich in London, the trial store has opened for public testing, after being used by Aldi staff over recent months.

Customers who have downloaded the Aldi Shop&Go app can enter the store, pick up their chosen items and simply walk out. They are automatically charged via their chosen payment method after leaving the store, with a receipt appearing in the app.

The system uses cameras to detect which items customers have picked up. Facial age technology is employed for those wishing to purchase alcohol or other age-restricted products, although staff can verify age for those choosing not to use the age-estimating system.

“Today is the culmination of months of work, not least from the team here in Greenwich and I’m looking forward to seeing how customers react to our trial,” says Aldi UK and Ireland CEO Giles Hurley. “This store utilises the very latest in retail technology.”

“For us, steps like this are always about improving the customer experience and the whole team are looking forward to being on hand and ready to help to ensure that experience is as smooth as ever,” adds Greenwich store manager Lewis Esparon.

Ads fall foul of ASA for misleading environmental claims

Two brands have seen ads banned by regulator the Advertising Standards Industry this month for making unsubstantiated claims about the environmental performance of packaging.

Pepsi Lipton International’s bus shelter ad for Lipton Ice Tea, which featured headline text claiming it was “Deliciously refreshing, 100% recycled” was challenged because the cap and label were not made of recycled materials. While an asterisk linked to small text pointing this out, the ad also featured pack shots of two bottles which featured a recycling logo and the claim “I’m 100% recycled plastic.”

Pepsi Lipton International accepted that the text of the qualification was small, but felt its wording was sufficient. The company said that the general understanding of consumers was that bottles and labels are not generally made of recycled materials.

However, the ASA considered the 100% claim alongside images of the bottle to refer to all components – including label and cap – and felt the qualification could easily be overlooked.

It ruled that because of this, the “100% recycled” was misleading and the ad must not appear again in its current form.

Meanwhile a TV ad for Aqua Pura, sold by Roxane UK, attracted four complaints from three complainants. The ad ended with images of two Aqua Pura bottles on a rock, with a backdrop of a lake and hills, and the claim “100% recycled and recyclable bottle with eco-friendly cap.” An asterisk linked to text explaining that the claim related only to 500ml bottles.

The complainants challenged claims that the bottle was 100% recycled, that it was 100% recyclable, that it had an eco-friendly cap and that it could be considered nature-friendly.

The ASA felt that the recycled claims could be considered misleading as the bottle cap was not made of recycled materials, and there was no evidence for claims that the cap did no environmental damage at any point of its lifecycle. It also found no evidence for calling the product ‘nature-friendly,’ deciding this was an absolute claim and that there was no evidence of a positive impact on the environment.

However, the ASA found that all components of the bottle were recyclable. It ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

In other judgements the ASA banned Mondelez UK from repeating an ad showing Dairylea being eaten by a child who was hanging upside down, banned a social media ad from clothing retailer Mamnick for glamorising guns and banned an ad from Travelpo – a holiday rental company – for making unsubstantiated claims that it was the number one holiday website globally.

Tuesday, 18 January

Morrisons

Morrisons becomes latest brand to cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff

Morrisons is joining the likes of Ikea, Next and Ocado by cutting sick pay for unvaccinated staff forced to isolate after exposure to Covid-19.

Under the new rules, unvaccinated employees who test negative but are required to isolate will receive statutory sick pay of £96.35 a week, the BBC reports.

However, staff who test positive for Covid will receive full sick pay regardless of their vaccination status. The supermarket confirmed its policy only applies to workers who are unvaccinated by choice and decisions will be taken on a case-by-case basis.

Morrisons first raised the prospect of cutting sick pay for the unvaccinated on an investor call in September, after which the Guardian reported the supermarket was considering the move to address the “biblical costs” of coping with Covid.

The retailer follows the likes of Ikea which, while admitting this is an “emotive topic”, said last week unvaccinated workers without mitigating circumstances required to isolate due to a close contact will receive the £96.35 a week statutory sick pay figure. Days later Next and Ocado confirmed they too would be cutting sick pay for unvaccinated staff.

READ MORE: Morrisons confirms sick pay cut for unvaccinated staff

Unilever to shift operating model as pursuit of GSK Consumer Healthcare continues

Source: Unilever/Seven Hills

Unilever will announce a “major initiative” to enhance its performance later this month, following what it describes as a “comprehensive review” of its organisational structure.

The FMCG giant intends to shift from its existing matrix structure to an operating model that will “drive greater agility, improve category focus and strengthen accountability”.

The news comes as it was revealed Unilever has had three separate bids to buy the consumer goods arm of healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) rejected, as recently as 20 December. The revelation these offers have been rebuffed by GSK wiped more than £7bn off the value of Unilever yesterday, as investors and analysts raised concerns about the acquisition plans.

Describing its intention to “reposition” into higher growth categories, Unilever believes its strategic direction lies in expanding its presence in health, beauty and hygiene. This means mixing “major acquisitions” with the accelerated divestment of lower growth brands and businesses.

Unilever points to the establishment of fast-growing new businesses in prestige beauty and functional nutrition, as well as the divestment of its spreads and tea segments.

Calling GSK Consumer Healthcare a “strong strategic fit”, Unilever notes that 45% of the GSK business is in oral care and vitamins, minerals and supplements, categories where the FMCG business already has a presence. Unilever also described over the counter healthcare as an “attractive adjacent category”, where the organisation can combine its “consumer and branding expertise” with GSK’s technical capabilities.

The news comes a week after Terry Smith, founder of Unilever’s ninth biggest shareholder Fundsmith Equity Fund, slammed the business for having “lost the plot” as a result of its commitment to brand purpose. Smith blamed the company’s “obsession” with its sustainability credentials for his fund’s underperformance in 2021.

Iceland promotes Caspar Nelson to marketing director

Iceland has promoted Caspar Nelson to the role of marketing director following almost four years at the supermarket.

In his new position, Nelson will lead Iceland’s marketing trading and strategy divisions, taking responsibility for both marketing and design. The marketing director role was vacated in September 2020 by Neil Hayes, who left the supermarket after more than six years to become managing director of RTW & Riteway, a retail and wholesale business based in the British Virgin Islands.

Nelson joined Iceland in 2018 as head of brand communications, moving onto the position of head of customer and marketing just prior to the first Covid lockdown in February 2020.

Before joining Iceland, he was marketing and sales director at Powerleague, the five-a-side football league spanning 366 pitches and 36 venues. Prior to that Nelson served as head of brand at Ideas by Music and head of brand communications at Phones 4U.

At Phones 4U, Nelson was responsible for the development of the long-term strategy, as well as overseeing the day-to-day execution of all creative, media planning, CRM, brand development and content. He drove a 100% increase in media spend over a three-year period, overseeing all media and brand agency relationships.

Prior to that, Nelson worked agency side as an account executive at Manchester-based creative agency BJL.

Oatly hopes to make plant-based diets the norm with biggest UK campaign

Oatly has launched its biggest UK campaign to date in a bid to kickstart a nationwide conversation about why eating a plant-based diet is the norm in 2022.

At the heart of the push is ‘The New Norm&AL Show’, a mini-series of five episodes (between two to five minutes long) featuring two oat drink carton puppets named Norm and Al who are navigating the shift to plant-based eating. The series begins with a five-minute pilot called ‘Norm’s Old Pal Milk’, which tells the origin story of how Norm and Al met.

Each episode offers a look into the plant-based world of Norm, the wiser of the two characters, and Al, who always tries to do the right thing. The puppets ask viewers to embrace a flexitarian lifestyle and seek to reassure people that they don’t need to go “fully vegan” to make a difference to the planet.

Developed by the Oatly Department of Mind Control, in collaboration with BAFTA-winning production company Nexus Studios, the brand describes the campaign as a “fresh and entirely new approach”, as well as its biggest production to date, spanning ten puppets and eight different sets.

All five episodes of The New Norm&AL Show are now live on YouTube and Oatly.com, supported by the brand’s largest UK digital media buy across broadcast video-on-demand (VoD) on Sky, All4 and ITV Hub, as well as programmatic VoD on YouTube, display ads and social VoD via Facebook and Instagram.

In addition to the digital campaign, Oatly has partnered with The Guardian across print, display and audio channels. There will be an Observer magazine cover wrap and advertorials, plus display takeovers, sliding doors and 30-second podcast ads.

There is also an outdoor campaign running until 30 January throughout London, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow, as well as across thousands of buses nationwide. From an experiential perspective, Oatly will be giving away thousands of sample oat coffees in special Norm and Al cups from ‘Oatly Not Milk’ bars in Manchester and London, as well as in partnership with coffee shops around the UK.

The campaign will launch over the next few weeks in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Australia.

“After trying to help people eat more plant-based with super long Instagram posts, dorky Superbowl ads, nonsensical headlines and picking on dads in the UK, we’ve now landed on puppets to do the job,” says Oatly’s creative director Michael Lee.

“The cool thing about The New Norm&AL Show is that it lets us deliver a message that people might normally roll their eyes at, but because it’s puppets, well, who doesn’t like puppets? Despite that last sentence, Norm & Al are really just about adding some fuzzy felt, wobbly arms and flappy heads with well-styled wigs to the plant-based movement, and if that all makes it easier for society to grab on to, then yeah, these puppets will be a total success.”

Ocado pushes ‘Everyday Savers’ message with new campaign

Ocado Everyday TableOcado is pushing its range of Everyday Savers products in a new campaign focused on highlighting the “competitive pricing” across its range.

The ‘Ocado – Bringing Great Value to the Table’ campaign, devised by creative agency St Luke’s, is designed to show the retailer’s “philosophy” of offering quality products at affordable prices.

Running across TV, video-on-demand, digital, social, press and radio until 13 March, the ad shows Ocado’s own brand products and other branded goods emerging from an Ocado van on a never-ending table on wheels. The table travels along streets and through houses, as consumers look on.

As the supermarket price war hots up, the ad is designed to promote a value message suggesting Ocado can deliver customers a table full of everything they need, for less than they’d expect. The advert ends with the message: “At Ocado we’re bringing great value to the table with our Everyday Savers.”

“With a wider range than any other supermarket, Ocado truly has something for everyone,” says chief customer officer Laura Harricks. “We’re excited to bring to life our extensive selection of Everyday Savers, perfectly illustrated with a never-ending table of essentials. Whatever your weekly shop looks like, ‘There’s An Ocado Just For You’.”

Businesses fear it could take ‘two to five years’ to achieve best-in-class data and analytics

Some 79.2% of businesses believe it will take between two to five years for their organisation to achieve best-in-class data and analytics, according to new research, with 7% claiming it could take even longer than five years.

According to the survey of more than 80 C-suite executives, conducted by analytical consultancy Realise Unlimited, just 34.6% of respondents strongly agree they know what best-in-class data and analytics looks like, while less than half (46%) strongly agree their business has a clear data strategy in place.

Just 25.9% of those surveyed strongly believe their data and analytics capability is ahead of other companies in their sector, while only 28.4% strongly agree their organisation has a data-driven culture.

More than one in three of the businesses surveyed doesn’t currently have a board member primarily responsible for all data and analytics capabilities. Of those that do, 59.1% leave data capabilities to their CEO, compared to just 9.1% delegating responsibility to a chief data officer. Just 6.8% put their CMO in charge of managing data and analytics.

The research finds the most significant challenge to maximising the value of data and analytics in business is a lack of training (33.3%), followed by a lack of budget (32.1%), lacking awareness of what data can do (28.4%) and struggling to recruit and retain specialist staff (24.7%).

Other issues raised include a lack of investment in analytics and insight (23.5%), data teams lacking business understanding (23.5%), poor internal communication (21%), data teams not working closely enough with business teams (17.3%) and having siloed data (17.3%).

That being said, 95% of those surveyed believe they work with high-quality data and 88.9% think their data systems are integrated, scalable, functional and stable. Some 86.4% believe their data and analytics function has improved significantly in the last five years and utilises advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques.

A further 85.1% of respondents attest to their data and analytics functions helping their business achieve growth, enable better business decision-making (86.4%) and drive tangible value (86.4%). In fact, 81.5% agree data and analytics are crucial to growing their business.

“Our research highlights that while UK businesses are aware that data is critical to achieving their targets, they often lack the capability to truly harness the information they have,” says Realise Unlimited managing director, Stephen Welch.

“Collecting and storing vast amounts of data is all well and good, but businesses must look to solutions that help them truly understand their data.”

Monday, 17 January

GSK

GSK rejects multiple Unilever offers for consumer division

Unilever has made three separate bids to buy the consumer goods arm of healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), but has been turned down on each.

In an update to media and investors, GSK said the “unsolicited, conditional and non-binding proposals” were rejected because they “fundamentally undervalued” GSK Consumer Healthcare and its future prospects. The most recent proposal, received on 20 December last year, was for a total acquisition value of £50bn.

If the deal took place, Unilever would add brands including Sensodyne toothpaste, Nicorette and Voltaren to its extensive portfolio of consumer brands, which already includes Marmite, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Ben & Jerry’s and Dove.

In a statement, Unilever said GSK Consumer Healthcare would be a “strong strategic fit” for the business as it continues to “re-shape” its portfolio.

In 2020 GSK announced plans to separate into two companies by 2022, with one entity to focus on the pharmaceuticals side of the business and the other to remain a consumer healthcare company. GSK Consumer Healthcare is currently a joint venture between GSK and Pfizer, with GSK holding a majority stake of 68%.

IPA outlines five ways marketers can ‘enhance’ purpose discussions

A new report from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) has identified five steps marketing practitioners can take to have better conversations around the role and impact of brand purpose.

The IPA defines purpose as “the reason a commercial brand exists beyond maximising profit to produce other meaningful forms of positive impact for individuals, societies, or the environment. It communicates both an organising principle for action in the brand’s present and an aspiration for its future”.

It’s one of the more divisive marketing and business strategies, with critics claiming it to be ineffective in driving sales and profit while advocates argue that consumers are increasingly looking for brands to take a stand on social and environmental issues.

According to the report, the first step marketers should take to help improve conversations around purpose is to “keep evidence centre-stage”, by investing in capturing and evaluating the full potential impact of a brand’s purpose activities on all relevant measures, “especially” on non-financial outcomes.

The IPA is also encouraging marketers to always ask what part of outcomes were driven by purpose, to make efforts to prove which elements of purpose marketing are long-term positions for the brand that are less vulnerable to being imitated, and to emphasise new learning and thinking about purpose as practice in the area evolves.

The final step is to choose whether to talk about purpose at all, the report says, stating that brands such as Guinness and John Lewis are part of organisations committed to purpose at a corporate level, but do not significantly use it in advertising.

“Opinions about brand purpose are not in scarce supply. It is our view that the biggest challenge for purpose-oriented marketers today lies in isolating and quantifying the specific impact purpose makes on outcomes from that attributable to other brand activities,” says the IPA’s director of marketing strategy, Janet Hull.

“Until purpose-oriented marketers account for the contribution of purpose more convincingly, they are unlikely to win over their critics. What is needed is detailed evidence about how effectively individual commercial brands have used activities, including advertising and other forms of marketing communications, to create a positive impact related to their stated purpose, as well as a financial benefit.”

Last week the founder of Fundsmith Equity Fund, a major investor in Unilever, slammed the business’s focus on sustainability and brand purpose as “ludicrous”, claiming the strategy led to the FMCG giant’s underwhelming performance last year.

In his annual letter to investors in the fund, Terry Smith took aim at Ben & Jerry’s refusal to sell its ice cream in Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, as well as Unilever’s decision to define a brand purpose for Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

However, in November Unilever’s vice-president of global ecommerce, Claire Hennah, said the business’s sustainability credentials have not only been a “real talent magnet”, but that brands in its portfolio with a strong purpose were growing sales more than two times faster than the rest.

Walkers’ ‘comeback campaign’ is first to unite full snacks portfolio

Walkers’ new multimillion pound campaign brings its full snacks portfolio together for the first time, to remind consumers about the brand’s “unique and diverse” range.

The “comeback campaign” is the brand’s first since supply chain difficulties and product shortages saw its crisps briefly absent from UK supermarket shelves towards the end of last year.

Created by VCCP London, ‘Britain’s Most Loved Crisps’ launched on Saturday (15 January) with a 30-second TV ad, which shows the variety of ways in which people consume their crisps of choice, from a crisp sandwich to tipped into their mouths to straight from the packet. Walkers says the ad highlight’s the brand’s “versatility”, and continues to showcase its new brand purpose to bring “levity and positivity” to the nation.

“We realise how much the nation has missed their favourite crisps, and the launch of our new advert recognises this by celebrating the enjoyment that the Walkers portfolio provides,” says senior marketing director for Walkers Snacks at PepsiCo, Fernando Kahane.

“Many of the nation’s favourite snacks are now widely available, and we are incredibly thankful to our retailer partners and shoppers for continually demonstrating their love for our brands.”

The campaign will run in the UK until 25 February, with the hero creative to run across TV, social and in-store. Media has been planned and executed by OMD and Sips+Bites.

Aldi boosts spend with British suppliers

German discount supermarket Aldi claims to have invested an extra £1.6bn with British suppliers since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the business continues to grow in the UK.

In December 2020, the grocer committed to increasing the amount it spends with British suppliers by an additional £3.5bn a year by the end of 2025.

This initial boost includes £125m more spent with British meat, poultry and dairy farmers, as the supermarket moves to sourcing 100% of its core range of fresh products in these categories from British suppliers.

Aldi UK’s chief executive, Giles Hurley, has credited British suppliers with helping to make the supermarket the fastest-growing in the UK in 2021.

“As we continue to grow, opening new stores across the UK, we are determined to ensure that the vast majority of our grocery products continue to come from British suppliers, just as they do now,” he says.

Aldi, the UK’s fifth biggest supermarket, has promised to create 2,000 new jobs across the nation this year as it aims to open an average of one new store a week.

Fanta celebrates ‘colourful’ people in first global campaign

Drinks brand Fanta has unveiled its first ever global campaign with a TV ad embracing people who don’t take themselves too seriously.

The ‘Colourful People’ campaign, created by Santo Buenos Aires, will run in Great Britain with a 30-second TV spot, as well as activity across digital and social channels and out-of-home.

The ad features firemen skipping with a hosepipe, a rapping flight attendant and an elderly lady riding a shopping trolley, interspersed with shots of people drinking Fanta’s various flavoured drinks.

“Fanta is a delicious colourful drink that has been enjoyed for over 80 years. With Colourful People, we want to inspire fans to find the colourful moments in the grey of everyday, from joining a video call to savouring their favourite snacks,” explains Fanta GB brand manager Charlotte Walsham.

“Fanta lovers have a playful spirit at heart and we want to celebrate those who never let go of this quality, which is now more important than ever.”

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