Amazon Prime, Unilever, John Lewis: 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.

amazon primeAmazon Prime nets nearly half of new streaming consumers in Q4

Amazon Prime secured nearly half of new UK sign-ups to subscription video on demand (SVoD) services in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to data from Kantar’s Entertainment on Demand service.

The figures show Amazon secured 49.1% of new subscriptions in Q4, meaning 53.5% of UK households are now Prime members. Nearly 2 million households joined Prime during 2020, and 16.7 million British households had at least one SVoD subscription by the end of the year.

More Amazon Prime members used Prime Video during the period, with 62.6% watching programmes compared to 60.5% in the previous quarter.

“Q4 saw 1.3 million British households take out a new video streaming subscription, with Amazon Prime Video capturing almost half of these,” says Kantar senior vice president Dominic Sunnebo.

“BritBox had a solid Q4, rising above both Now TV and Apple TV for the first time, in terms of share of new subscribers. The relaunch of Spitting Image was a key element to this uptick, with 33% of new subscribers who cited content as their key driver for taking out a BritBox subscription, naming Spitting Image as the key title.”

Netflix continued to dominate the battle for the most popular streamed content, with shows such as The Crown pulling in viewers. The brand saw a record year of growth, adding 8.5 million new members globally in Q4,

New social commitments from Unilever

unileverUnilever has introduced a range of commitments to building a fairer society through the way it deals with companies across its supply chain. These include a promise that it will no longer do business with suppliers that do not pay a living wage to their staff after 2030.

From 2025, the FMCG giant will spend at least €2bn annually with suppliers owned and managed by people from under-represented groups, and it will seek to pioneer new employment models and equip 10 million young people with skills that prepare them for future job opportunities by 2030.

“The two biggest threats that the world currently faces are climate change and social inequality,” says Unilever CEO Alan Jope. “The past year has undoubtedly widened the social divide, and decisive and collective action is needed to build a society that helps to improve livelihoods, embraces diversity, nurtures talent and offers opportunities to everyone.”

Unilever’s ambition is to improve living standards to low-paid workers worldwide. It will focus most specifically on low-paid workers in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

“Unilever’s plan shows the kind of responsible action needed from the private sector that can have a great impact on tackling inequality, and help to build a world in which everyone has the power to thrive, not just survive,” says Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International.

Next withdraws from Arcadia purchase plans

NextRetailer Next has pulled out of plans to buy the troubled Arcadia Group, with the retailer saying it was “unable to meet the price expectations of the vendor”.

The withdrawal of Next may clear the path for Chinese group Shein to acquire Arcadia. Other bidders have included Boohoo, Asos and Authentic Brand Group.

Arcadia, which includes brands such as TopShop, Miss Selfridge and Wallis, went into administration in November 2020. It was one of a roster of casualties in the UK retail sector during a tough year.

READ MORE: Next pulls out of plans to buy TopShop-owner Arcadia

John Lewis and Waitrose increase support for vulnerable families

Retailers John Lewis and Waitrose have pledged to continue their efforts to support families in need, with a raft of initiatives to provide nutrition, warmth and comfort during and beyond the UK’s third Covid-19 lockdown.

Parent group the John Lewis Partnership has promised a further £2m to provide food, warm clothing, blankets, pillows and stationery to families, via partnerships with charities Home-Start and Fareshare. Its Christmas 2020 campaign, ‘Give a Little Love’ raised £3m.

“The aim of our Christmas campaign was to harness the spirit of kindness we saw in the first lockdown and there’s no doubt that we achieved this. But families in need are facing a whole new set of pressures,” says John Lewis executive director Pippa Wicks. “Although Christmas is traditionally the time for giving, we believe we need to continue this spirit of kindness into the new year.”

Home-Start chief executive Peter Grigg says: “This critical next phase will ensure we can play our part in standing alongside families who are struggling and provide emotional and practical support with heating, clothing and human interaction.”

UK retailers ‘could burn goods stuck in EU’

UK retailers might abandon, or even burn, goods that are stuck in the EU because consumers want to return them, reports the BBC.

The companies face expensive duties on returning goods after Brexit, at a time when many retailers are already struggling.

UK Fashion & Textile Association head Adam Mansell says it is “cheaper for retailers to write off the cost of the goods than dealing with it all, either abandoning or potentially burning them.”

Many customers are returning goods because couriers are delivering them with an invoice for customs clearance. According to the BBC retailers are stockpiling returns in Belgium, Ireland and Germany, with one brand facing charges of £20,000 to get them back.

READ MORE: Brexit: Retailers could burn goods stuck in EU

Thursday, 21 January

BT helps jobseekers with ‘Stand Out Skills’ campaign

BT is teaming up with television stars Anita Rani, Iain Stirling and Divina De Campo as part of its ‘Stand Out Skills’ campaign aimed at helping jobseekers of all ages.

Offering free support and advice on the skills needed to stand out from the competition when applying for a job, the three celebrities will draw on their own experiences and each has created content for the online Stand Out Skills hub that will sit alongside other expert-led tools and resources.

BT research has found 81% of jobseekers believe their predicament has led to problems with mental health, with 45% admitting to a lack of motivation and 44% a drop in self-confidence.

The campaign is part of ‘BT Skills for Tomorrow’ initiative, set up to help people make the most of life in the digital world.

Just Eat campaign celebrates service expansion

JustEatJust Eat’s ‘We Got It’ campaign marks the delivery service’s latest expansion, with McDonald’s, KFC and Greggs added to the brand’s fast food offerings.

The ad will run alongside the ongoing ‘Did Somebody Say’ campaign, featuring Snoop Dogg.

We Got It plays on a recurrent theme of highly personalised consumer targeting and was created by Ben Buswell and Jo Griffin and directed by Finn Keenan out of Riff Raff. The integrated campaign comprises TV, VOD, radio and OOH, developed by McCann London.

The ad launches initially in the UK, but is expected to be adapted to other Just Eat markets, including Australia and Ireland.

P&G 2021 second-quarter net sales up by 8%

Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) second-quarter fiscal year 2021 net sales are up by 8% on the previous year, amounting to $19.7bn. Organic sales also increased by the same amount.

The period, covering October to December, saw beauty sector organic sales rise by 5%, grooming sales by 6% and appliances by 20%. Healthcare organic sales increased by 9%.

“We delivered another strong quarter of results across all key measures – top line, bottom line and cash,” says P&G president and CEO David Taylor.

“We remain focused on executing our strategies of superiority, productivity, constructive disruption and improving P&G’s organisation and culture.

“These strategies enabled us to build strong business momentum before the COVID crisis, accelerated our progress in calendar year 2020 and remain the right strategies to deliver balanced growth and value creation over the long term.”

Häagen-Dazs’ Wonder Woman 1984 giveaway

Häagen-DazsIce cream brand Häagen-Dazs is giving away 25,000 ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ limited edition ice cream stickbars via Deliveroo orders in London and Manchester.

The free bars, available until 24 January, are to mark Häagen-Dazs’s global partnership with Warner Brothers and the recent release of the latest Wonder Woman film.

Consumers must order from a restaurant participating in Deliveroo Editions to receive a complimentary Wonder Woman 1984 Limited Edition Vanilla Caramel Almond multipack.

The pack is also available to purchase nationally exclusively on Amazon Fresh for 50% off until 22 January, using a discount code accessible via social media.

Roadchef extends partnership with Cancer Research UK

Motorway service operator Roadchef has extended its partnership with Cancer Research UK until 2023, having raised £2.6m since first working with the charity in 2018.

Cancer Research UK recently named Roadchef as its corporate fundraising team of the year, and named the company’s director of supply chain management and head of charity Mike Jackson as its corporate charity champion of the year 2020.

“Raising £2.6m is an incredible achievement and we want to say a huge thank you to Roadchef’s staff and customers for the support we have received, especially over the last year,” says Cancer Research UK’s head of partnership management Eve Mitchell.

Roadchef CEO Mark Fox adds: “We’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved in aid of Cancer Research UK, even during the difficult circumstances of 2020.

“It’s clear that our colleagues are keen to continue supporting the charity’s life-saving work and we look forward to three more years of partnership helping to raise more vital funds.”

Wednesday, 20 January


Netflix crosses the 200 million subscriber mark

Netflix added 8.5 million new paid subscribers during the fourth quarter, helping the streaming giant cross the 200 million subscriber mark amid a record year of membership growth.

Average paid streaming memberships increased 23% year on year during the fourth quarter, while for the full year Netflix attracted a record 37 million paid subscribers, up 31% on 2019. As a result, the streaming giant’s annual revenue rose by 24% to $25bn (£18.4bn), while its operating profit grew by 76% to $4.6bn (£3.4bn).

The service is attracting an increasingly global audience, with 83% of new paid subscribers in 2020 coming from outside the US and Canada. EMEA accounted for 41% of Netflix’s full year paid subscriptions, while the Asia Pacific region contributed 9.3 million subscriptions, up 65% year on year. Since 2018, the company’s average revenue per membership has risen from $9.88 (£7.26) to $11.02 (£8.09).

Netflix currently has more than 500 titles in post-production or preparing to launch on the service, and plans to release at least one new original film every week in 2021. Three of the platform’s biggest shows of 2020 were Tiger King, Bridgerton and The Queen’s Gambit, the latter which was watched by 62 million households in its first 28 days – making it the biggest limited series in Netflix history.

The streaming giant explains that it has been moving quickly to strengthen its original content library due to the growth in streaming entertainment from “legacy competitors” such as Disney, WarnerMedia and Discovery.

“Our strategy is simple: If we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” says Netflix. “This past year is a testament to this approach. Disney+ had a massive first year (87 million paid subscribers) and we recorded the biggest year of paid membership growth in our history.”

Burberry focuses on ‘strategic priorities’ as Covid hits store sales

Retail store sales fell by 9% at Burberry during the third quarter, as the pandemic took its toll on international tourism and global lockdowns forced shop closures.

The luxury brand’s retail revenue fell to £688m in the 13 weeks to 26 December, from £719m during the same period in 2019. Digital full-price sales, however, increased by 50% with growth in mainland China alone in triple digits. Describing digital as a key channel for growth, Burberry used its live chat functionality, virtual appointments and online client events to connect customers with its stores during lockdown.

Full-price sales growth during the third quarter was driven by a “new, younger clientele”, as well as repeat customers. The brand says that despite the closure of up to 62 stores during the third quarter – equivalent to 15% of its store network – full-price sales were particularly strong in the Americas, China and Korea. To strengthen its brand and maintain a full-price strategy, Burberry went ahead with a reduction in its markdown periods and products.

The “exceptional” consumer response to the launch in November of its festive campaign, in partnership with footballer and anti-poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford, drove engagement with Burberry’s Instagram campaign posts of more than double its second quarter average. Imagery featuring Rashford became the brand’s most liked Instagram post of all time.

Despite the “challenging external environment”, CEO Marco Gobbetti believes Burberry has made good progress on its strategic priorities during the third quarter.

“We saw a strong increase in full-price sales as our collections and communication resonated well with new, younger clientele as well as existing customers. Our localised plans and digital capabilities helped drive growth in rebounding markets and we implemented our planned reduction in markdown,” Gobbetti adds.

“While the short-term outlook remains uncertain due to Covid-19, we are well placed to accelerate when the pandemic eases.”

Arcadia puts 700 jobs at risk with closure of 31 stores

TopShopTopshop parent company Arcadia is poised to close another 31 shops following its fall into administration in November, putting 700 jobs at risk.

As part of the closures the fashion group, which owns Topman, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Evans, will not reopen 21 of its Outfit stores. The Outfit chain is largely made up of out-of-town shops selling a mix of products from the group’s other brands.

Prior to going into administration Arcadia had approximately 444 UK stores, which if they were to all close would threaten 13,000 jobs. The company has already taken the decision to close its Topshop flagship store on London’s Oxford Street.

The retail group is expected to be broken up as bidders compete for different strands of the business. Fellow high street brand Next is reportedly the frontrunner to acquire the group, although Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has expressed an interest. The BBC also reports that Authentic Brands, which owns US department store Barneys, and JD Sports have tabled a joint offer, while online retailer Boohoo is also thought to be interested in the brands, but not the physical stores.

In December, Australian company City Chic made a £23m offer for the brand and wholesale business of plus-size clothing label Evans, but not its store estate. This resulted in the closure of its five stores and concessions.

READ MORE: Arcadia set to shut 31 shops with loss of 700 jobs

Emirates to trial vaccine passport app

Emirates is to begin trialling a digital vaccine passport designed to help airline and border staff verify if passengers have received their Covid-19 vaccination.

From April, Emirates customers travelling from Dubai will be able to share their pre-flight Covid-19 test status directly with the airline through the IATA Travel Pass mobile app, which will then auto-populate the details on the check-in system, City AM reports.

Emirates, which was one of the first airlines to launch free pre-flight Covid-19 tests, eventually hopes to use the tech to help passengers prove they have been vaccinated against the virus.

While non-essential international travel is currently banned in the UK, anyone entering Britain has to prove they have received a negative Covid-19 test prior to departure and then show a second negative test five days into their quarantine period.

READ MORE: Emirates launches vaccine passport app to collate flyer data on pre-flight testing and Covid-19 jab

CMOs resorting to ‘low risk, low return’ strategies

Some 73% of CMOs are falling back on “low risk, low return” strategies and relying on existing customers rather than new markets to fuel growth in 2021, according to new research from Gartner.

The data found that 39% of CMOs plan to increase sales of existing products to existing customers, while 34% will introduce new products to existing customers in 2021.

However, Gartner believes this behaviour is at odds with the desire amongst CMOs to “reinvent and rescale key strategies” in response to the challenges of 2020.

In a survey of 381 marketers from September to October exploring 11 key marketing strategies that could accelerate growth post-pandemic, half of the respondents said they intend to “rescale or reinvent” six of the 11 strategies. Nearly one-third (31.8%) plan to rescale or reinvent eight of the 11 strategies.

“Focusing on existing customers has a number of benefits for CMOs, namely being low cost and low risk. But low risk is matched by relatively low return,” says Gartner vice-president analyst, Jay Wilson.

“At the same time, we see CMOs being overly ambitious in terms of the change they expect to bring to how their organisations interact with customers. With the scale of recent change organisations have experienced as a result of Covid-19, CMOs must take care to ensure their own strategic approach is matched to the enterprise’s aspirations.”

Tuesday, 19 January

Premier Foods

Premier Foods attributes sales growth to investment in brand strategy

Premier Foods, which owns Mr Kipling, Bisto and Sharwoods, has posted Q3 sales growth of 9% for the 13 weeks to 26 December 2020, as it continues to invest in its “branded growth model strategy”.

The group says the boost is in part thanks to restrictions forcing people to eat at home, but it has also invested heavily in its brands, launching a number of new products and supporting five major brands with TV advertising.

Sharwood’s low sugar stir fry sauces was one such product launch, helping the brand grow its sales by 40% during the quarter.

Bisto and Batchelors also achieved double digit sales growth, supported by increased investment in TV advertising.

Meanwhile, Mr Kipling’s UK sales rose by 7% alongside further market share gains putting it on track for another record year, the business says, thanks to the launch of new products and an extended period of marketing investment.

Online sales were up 90% during the quarter, with notable gains in flavours and seasonings.

Premier Foods chief executive, Alex Whitehouse, says: “We continue to deploy our branded growth model strategy, launching a series of new products in the quarter such as Sharwood’s low sugar stir fry sauces and supporting five of our major brands with TV advertising.

“Together with excellent execution both instore and online, we continue to take market share in volume and value terms. Online sales were up 90% in the quarter, ahead of the broader channel and we saw higher household penetration for brands such as Bisto, Oxo and Paxo, as more meals were eaten at home this Christmas.”

The business says it will be increasing marketing investment in Q4 and expects trading profit for the year to be between £145m and £150m.

Birkenstock eyes private equity sale

German footwear company Birkenstock, known for its chunky leather sandals, is considering selling to private equity group CVC in a deal that could value it at more than €4bn (£3.6bn), including debt.

The family-owned business, which dates back to 1774, has been working with Goldman Sachs and eyeing the opportunity of a sale for months, according to the Financial Times.

A number of other firms are also said to have shown interest, including buyout group Permira, which owns Dr Martens and is currently planning to list.

READ MORE: £ Birkenstock explores sale to private equity group CVC

Cinch appoints Robert Bridge as chief customer officer

Cinch, the online car-selling platform known for its ads featuring Rylan Clark-Neal, has named Robert Bridge as chief customer officer as it looks to “extend the reach of the Cinch brand across the UK”.

Bridge has held senior marketing positions at Yahoo and The Telegraph, and joins from his role as CEO of kids’ toiletries brand Childs Farm where he led its digital and ecommerce transformation.

At Cinch, he will oversee all marketing and customer experience, tasked with accelerating the brand’s growth.

Bridge says: “I’m extremely excited to join such a dynamic, technology-led, consumer-centric business. At a time when people are evermore online, Cinch’s ability to deliver world class digital experiences and enable quality used cars to be bought online and delivered to your door, faff free, is ground-breaking.”

BT faces £600m compensation claim for overcharging

BT is facing a £600m lawsuit for reportedly overcharging more than 2.3 million landline customers.

The compensation claim relates to a 2017 ruling by telecoms regulator Ofcom that people with only a landline were getting “poor value for money” in a market that is “not serving them well enough”.

Law firm Mishcon de Reya, which has filed the claim to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, says if successful it could result in payments of up to £500 for each of the customers affected.

BT said it “strongly disagreed” with the claim and will be “vigorously” defending itself.

READ MORE: BT faces £600m lawsuit over alleged overcharging of 2.3 million customers

EasyJet launches ‘therapeutic’ travel films as summer bookings rise 250%

EasyJet is launching a series of three-minute escape films to remind people how therapeutic travel can be, despite not being able to go anywhere currently.

The campaign, created by VCCP and OMD, features seven films focused on popular European destinations, including Greek beaches and Austrian ski slopes.

EasyJet will also be releasing two guided meditation episodes as part of a partnership with digital coach app Mindshine, which it says are to help improve psychological wellbeing.

EasyJet’s head of brand and central marketing, Lucy Outram, says: “While we are unable to travel on holiday right now, we hope that these serene and peaceful videos of our favourite European locations will provide the public with some well-deserved time to take a little break until we can welcome them back onboard in the coming months.”

The firm’s holiday arm, meanwhile, says summer bookings are up 250% on last year, with May currently the most popular month for holidays.

Monday, 18 January


Channel 4 creates ‘cheery Covid bubble

Channel 4 has created a bright pink Covid bubble logo as part of a campaign to remind people the broadcaster can provide some light relief during lockdown.

‘Bubble Up With Channel 4’ hopes to share a warmer message and promote upcoming releases including The Great Pottery Throwdown, First Dates and Junior Bake Off.

The logo will appear over the next six weeks across the channel’s network, on All4 and social platforms.

“Lockdowns are really challenging at the best of times but this one, coming in January with the post-Christmas blues, is going to be a very tough time for everyone,” says Channel 4’s CMO Zaid Al-Qassab.

“We wanted to create a warmer, cosier message which invites people to bubble up with Channel 4 and enjoy some much-needed escapism.”

LinkedIn data puts digital marketing among fastest-growing job sectors

A report from LinkedIn has found that digital marketing, digital content freelancing and creative freelancing are among the UK’s fastest-growing job sectors.

LinkedIn analysed 29 million members in the UK, with a list of the top 15 fastest growing job categories headed by ecommerce personnel, followed by healthcare supporting staff and digital content freelancers.

Creative freelancers (covering everything from editing to voiceovers) are in fifth place, while social media and digital marketing sit in ninth.

“Despite the challenges the industry experienced last year, it’s positive to see the rise in demand for digital marketing and social media talent, as well as creative and digital content freelancers, as companies invest in their brand to support a return to growth,” says LinkedIn’s head of marketing solutions UK, Ireland and Israel, Tom Pepper.

“Digital skills are going to continue to grow in importance this year as brands increasingly shift spending to digital channels to drive greater reach and business impact.”

Barclays family ponders flotation of Very Group

The Barclays family is potentially looking into plans for a £3bn-plus flotation of the Very Group retail business, according to Sky News.

Although it is not yet clear whether Very’s board has appointed bankers to advise on an IPO, a flotation could be logical step, given how strongly the online retailer has been performing.

Very Group is run by Henry Birch, a former boss of the casino operator Rank Group, and chaired by Aidan Barclay.

Last year the company reported more than 500,000 new customers, with 139 million website visits, a year-on-year rise of nearly 50%.

“While the economic picture remains unpredictable, we have strong momentum as we begin the year,” Birch said in a recent trading update.

Very Group last looked into a possible flotation in 2017, when the company was valued at £3bn.

READ MORE: Barclays weigh £3bn float of online retailer Very Group

Clarins invests in TV sponsorship to ‘reach people at home’

ClarinsSpark FoundrySkincare and cosmetics brand Clarins is sponsoring ITV drama Finding Alice as part of its promotional push for its Total Eye Lift product.

The sponsorship covers the six-part series, from 17 January to 21 February. Clarins is the sole sponsor of the drama, with idents surrounding each episode.

“ITV viewers are a key audience for Clarins,” explains Clarins Group marketing director Lorraine Barnett. “Given that we aren’t able to reach potential customers through our store partners given the current situation, the ITV partnership is a great opportunity for us to reach people at home.”

Finding Alice stars Keeley Hawes, Nigel Havers and Joanna Lumley.

Feel Good Club and Manchester’s Finest put positive spin on Blue Monday

BlueMondayManchesterWellbeing café Feel Good Club and city guide Manchester’s Finest have joined forces with Jack Arts to spread messages of positivity on outdoor spaces and billboards across Manchester, launching today on so-called Blue Monday.

The third Monday in January is claimed to be the most depressing of the year, caused by the weather, the comedown from festive celebrations and a dwindling bank balance. And then there’s the national lockdown to consider.

A series of posters carrying various messages of positivity have been created with local agency Jack Arts, aiming to let people know that they’re not alone in how they feel.

“On Blue Monday it was more important than ever for us to do something that could possibly bring a smile to someone’s face,” says Feel Good Club co-founder Kiera Lawlor-Skillen.

Manchester’s Finest director Steven Pankhurst adds: “At a time where we all face our own unique challenges, we want to show support and spread a bit of positivity to everyone in our city.”



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