VW, Asda, Nestlé: 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.

Volkswagen to invest £3.2bn in digital transformation

Volkswagen is to invest €3.5bn (£3.15bn) to build digital businesses and services including a cloud-based platform that will connect vehicles and drivers to offer services such as car sharing and software to facilitate autonomous driving.

The German car marque is currently building an operating system, dubbed vw.OS, that will run in its electric cars from 2020 and help with self-driving. The aim is that rather than having sensors around the car acting independently, the OS will connect them up to make the system more efficient. That could mean, for example, that information from a parking sensor could be linked to the steering and brakes so a car could park itself.

VW sees a big business opportunity in digital services, and expects to generate around €1bn (£900,000) in sales by 2025 from offering features such as car sharing, parking and parcel delivery. The push will including embedding smartphone apps such as We Park and connecting vehicles with retailers such as Amazon.

“We will be a device and software company,” Michael Jost, the VW brand’s strategy chief, said at a Berlin press conference. “To deal with this development, we need to reinvent the automobile.”

READ MORE: Volkswagen to invest $4 billion to build digital businesses, software

Sainsbury’s and Asda merger faces competition investigation

The competition watchdog has launched a formal investigation into the merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda that will look to address concerns over a loss of choice for consumers, high prices and poorer services.

The Competition and Markets Authority has launched a Phase 1 probe that will assess how competition could be affected both for consumers and suppliers. The two supermarkets have asked the CMA to “fast-track” the first phase of the investigation, a ploy used when then expect a more in-depth review to be carried out.

Sainsbury’s and Asda revealed plans for a to merge in May to create a firm with £51bn in annual sales and that would account for around 30% of the UK market. While the two companies have said the deal will reduce prices, they are expected at the minimum to have to sell some stores to allay competition concerns.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson says: “The combination will benefit consumers and the wider UK economy. We are confident in our case and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the CMA.”

Nestle’s digital chief leaves to run a startup hub

Nestle’s digital chief Pete Blackshaw is leaving to become the boss of startup hub Cintrifuse. The hub, based in Cincinnati, aims to make the city a bigger attraction for tech startups.

The move sees Blackshaw, who will start the new role in November, move back to Cincinnati after he previously worked there while at Procter & Gamble but left to join startup Planetfeedback. That company became part of Nielsen, where Blackshaw worked until he joined Nestle in 2011.

While at Nestle, Blackshaw led its digital acceleration team and established its open innovation platform Henri@Nestle. At Centrifuse, he sees an opportunity to re-establish consumer trust in marketing through startups that can clean up the digital ad space.

“There are probably another dozen or so companies that will emerge to clean up the ad space,” he tells AdAge. “We are in a big trust crisis. You’ve heard that a lot in speeches from [P&G’s] Mark Pritchard and [Unilever CMO] Keith Weed and I think they’re spot on. I’m not sure all the solutions are going to be coming from the big players, or everyone will accept them coming from the big players.”

READ MORE: Nestle digital chief Blackshaw will head Cincinnati startup hub

Foxtons launches first major ad campaign

Foxtons marketing campaign

Estate agents Foxtons is launching its first ever major marketing push with an ad campaign that aims to “celebrate the energy and drive that make the brand famous”. Using the slogan ‘Get Foxtons on it’, the campaign will run across London in outdoor – including on London buses and the Underground – as well as digital, online and social media.

Created by M&C Saatchi Accelerator, it aims to target home buyer and sellers. It launches against the backdrop of a slowing properly market in London, which has hit Foxtons business. Its pre-tax profits for 2017 were down by 65% year on year to £6.5m, while revenue from home sales fell 23% to £42.6m.

Steve Rodgers, marketing director at Foxtons, says: “At Foxtons, our mission is to set the standard in property for our customers, wherever they are in life. We have a strong foundation in our well-known brand and this advertising campaign marks the start of a number of new marketing activities that will engage Londoners.

“Our business is built to serve customers better – with the size and strength to reach more people, fuelled by the commitment and expertise of our people. This advertising campaign brings that message home.”

P&G files trademarks applications for WTF and LOL

Procter & Gamble has filed trademark applications in the US for popular initialism such as WTF and LOL, suggesting they could be used to market consumer goods such as soap, air fresheners and dishwasher detergent.

The move is widely seen as an attempt by P&G to attract younger consumers to its products. While CEO David Taylor says its brands do well with millennials, activist investor Nelson Peltz has criticised P&G for being too slow to adapt to consumer trends.

P&G will have to wait for trademark approval, however. The US patents and trademark office has sought clarification from P&G, which has until early next year to respond.

READ MORE: WTF? Why P&G seeks to trademark LOL initialisms

Thursday, 23 August

TUI under fire for ‘deeply sexist’ stickers

TUI has landed itself in trouble after staff were seen handing out “future pilot” stickers to boys and “future cabin crew” stickers to girls.

A number of passengers on a flight from Bristol to Cyprus said the flight attendants were intentionally handing the stickers out to children based on their gender.

One passenger told Metro: “The stickers were gender neutral but it’s the way they were handed out that makes it complicated.

“It happens implicitly all the time. The boys can have Lego, the space rocket going to the moon, and the girls can have a little pony. We desperately need more women to do science, maths and engineering but little things like this take us backwards by providing restricting roles.”

However, a spokesperson for TUI says it was a “simple mix-up”.

“We’re sorry to hear a small number of customers have been upset by this,” the spokesperson says. “We think it has just been a simple mix-up since our future pilot and cabin crew stickers are designed for use for any child regardless of gender.

“The stickers are part of our activity packs which are intended to be used by crew to interact, engage with and create special moments for our customers on their holiday.”

READ MORE: Boys given ‘future captain’ badges while girls got ‘future cabin crew’ by TUI staff

Levi’s and Liverpool FC come together to support local communities

Levi’s and Liverpool Football Club are looking to support local communities and ‘give back’ to fans through football, lifestyle and music with a new long-term partnership.

The deal will include a Levi’s Music Project studio which will open in Liverpool in November to give young people the opportunity to develop their musical abilities.

Over the course of the project, they will take part in various masterclasses and workshops with artists and industry experts, as well as having the opportunity to perform at Liverpool’s Sound City music festival next year.

Liverpool FC will work closely with Levi’s to develop the music project, as well as creating an exclusive Levi’s x LFC capsule collection.

“With the city’s history of music, Liverpool FC’s fundamental connection to the community, and our core values of giving back, expanding the Levi’s Music Project to Liverpool is the perfect way to connect the two partners and demonstrate shared values,” says Richard Hurren, Levi’s vice president North Europe.

“Having worked with communities across Europe, the Levi’s Music Project is a long-term commitment that aligns with our key values, that giving back never goes out of style.”

Virgin Media and Scope team up to raise awareness of disability

Virgin Media is handing over its shirt sponsorship of Southampton FC to Scope for one game to raise awareness of the charity’s ‘Disability Gamechanger’ campaign, which looks to highlight and address the issues disabled people face across the UK.

Southampton FC’s players will wear the unique kit featuring Scope’s logo during their match against Leicester City on Saturday (25 August), as well as special Scope warm-up tops, while St Mary’s Stadium will feature the charity’s logo on its LED screens throughout the game.

A giant version of the shirt will also be carried out on to the pitch before kick off.

“It’s time disabled people had the same opportunities as everyone else and no longer feel relegated from society,” says Jeff Dodds, managing director of consumer at Virgin Media.

“That’s why we’re using the wide appeal and exposure of Southampton’s kit to highlight these issues to people across the UK.”

David Thomas, commercial director ad Southampton FC, adds: “Equality and opportunity are key in driving everything we do here at the football club, and it means a lot to use that our commercial partners share and support these values so openly.

“We are committed to ensuring disabled fans get the same opportunities as everyone else so they can enjoy the sport we all love.”

The shirt swap comes as Scope publishes research which reveals half of disabled adults in the UK feel excluded from society because of their impairment or condition, while two in five do not feel valued by society and only 42% think the UK is a good place for disabled people.

Robinsons Cordials to sponsor James Martin’s Saturday Morning

Robinsons will become the official sponsor of James Martin’s Saturday Morning when it returns to ITV for its second series in September.

The squash brand launched its Cordials range last year in an effort to attract a new adult customer base and it has since grown to become worth £4m.

“We are confident the partnership will unlock further sales opportunities with a wider audience,” says Bruce Dallas, marketing director at parent company Britivic.

“The launch of Robinsons Cordials has really strengthened the brand’s offering by providing adult consumers a premium squash from a trusted household name.”

The ITV sponsorship was secured by m/SIX, the long-standing media partner to Britvic, while the idents were created by Saatchi & Saatchi.

Young’s Seafood appoints new media agency

Young’s Seafood has made a “significant step change” with its media buying as it looks to grow its audience and inspire more of the nation to ‘love fish’.

The latest agency it is adding to its roster is Total Media, which will use behavioural science and technology to help the fish and seafood business strengthen its market-leading position and encourage more people to try its products.

“It’s an extremely challenging time for brands to connect with consumers and in order to maintain our position as the UK’s leading fish and seafood business we needed to make a significant step change with our media buying,” says Yvonne Adam, marketing director of Young’s.

“Total Media’s deep knowledge of multiple channels and its approach to audience insight proved to us that they were the right team to work with.”

Total Media will join Young’s existing agency portfolio: integrated creative agency Quiet Storm, digital agency Activation, consumer lifestyle PR agency Kazoo and brand design agency Springetts.

Wednesday, 22 August


Facebook removes thousands of ad targeting options

Facebook is removing more than 5,000 ad targeting options in a bid to axe discriminatory advertising, particularly toward ethnic groups.

The majority of the ad targeting options to be removed either identify and exclude ethnic and religious groups. For instance, advertisers and businesses will no longer be able to use terms such as Passover, Evangelicalism, Native American, Islamic and Buddhism.

The move comes less than a week after the social networking service received a complaint from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, which argued Facebook had allegedly enabled discriminatory housing practices with its ad targeting options.

Facebook is also in the midst of investigating ways its platform can be manipulated.

A spokesperson from Facebook says: “We’re committed to protecting people from discriminatory advertising on our platforms. While these options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimising the risk of abuse is more important.

“This includes limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences that relate to attributes such as ethnicity or religion.”

Facebook acknowledges axing certain terms will not completely eliminate discrimination from making its way into its ads.

READ MORE: Facebook to remove 5,000 ad targeting options to prevent discrimination 

Superdrug sees sales boost on men’s skincare products thanks to Love Island

Love Island has helped drive a 16% surge in sales for men’s skincare products at Superdrug in the 12 weeks to 12 August, likely due to its well-groomed male cast.

Superdrug has sponsored Love Island for the past two seasons and launched a campaign in June featuring products from beard oil to charcoal toothpaste alongside the slogan, ‘[the products] the Love Island boys will be using all summer’.

Superdrug’s parent company AS Watson revealed a 16% rise in pretax profits to £93m, as well as a 2.3% rise in revenues to £1.2bn last year, which has been linked to its partnership with the show.

The boost in sales has also been attributed to the summer heatwave.

READ MORE: Love Island helps drive surge in sales of men’s skincare products

Sainsbury’s sales continue to lag behind rivals


Sainsbury’s has some catching up to do after new figures reveal it’s the worst performer of the nation’s ‘big four’ supermarkets, with its sales lagging behind rivals, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons.

According to data from Kantar Worldpanel, sales at Sainsbury’s rose 1.2% in the 12 weeks to 12 August, falling behind Morrisons (2.7%), Asda (2.6%) and Tesco (1.8%).

Just last week Asda reported a 0.4% rise in life-for-like sales in the three months to June, marking a fifth consecutive quarter of climbing sales while also beating its rivals for the first time in four years.

Sainsbury’s reported a 0.2% rise for its first quarter.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, says: “Sainsbury’s has a lot on its plate at the moment and is also undergoing a period of price re-sets, bringing everyday prices lower. That has had the effect of removing some value from what it’s selling but has not yet brought the volume uplifts to replace that.”

The results come as Sainsbury’s prepares to merge with Asda, overtaking Tesco to become Britain’s biggest supermarket group.

READ MORE: Sainsbury’s lags rivals in UK grocery market – Kantar Worldpanel

Tui TV spot banned for ‘misleading’ summer holiday offer while Walkers Snacks ad escapes injunction

A TV ad for Tui Holidays has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for “misleading” consumers by offering a “perfect summer holiday” which could only be taken in September or October.

The spot aired in June and was advertising holiday deals in Turkey.

In the advert, a voiceover could be heard stating: “It’s not too late to discover Turkey with Tui from £279 per person this summer… perfect summer holidays that put you in the middle”. This was accompanied by on-screen text which indicated the travel dates were during September and October.

However one consumer complained the ad was misleading, prompting the ASA to agree that between 1 September to 31 October was “unlikely to align” with the consumers’ conception of the summer term.

Tui claims the ad has since been altered but argued its summer holiday period runs from 1 April to 31 October and that it would have been confusing to explain the offer covers summer and autumn.

Meanwhile an advert for Walkers Doritos has escaped a ban. The ad appeared on YouTube in April and featured a man grabbing the hand of a colleague to suck Doritos crumbs off his fingers while another scene showed him rip the trousers off another man in order to sniff Doritos crumbs from them.

An accompanying voiceover says: “Doritos. For the bold”

The Obesity Health Alliance argued that the advert breached the Code because it was promoting a product high in fat, salt or sugar, and was aimed at people under the age of 16 “through the media or context in which it appeared”.

But Walkers Snacks claimed it took a number of steps to ensure the ad was not targeted at children under the age of 16.

After investigating a number of criteria including the fact Walkers Snacks had applied an age restriction which meant that the ad was only targeted to signed-in YouTube users who declared themselves to be older than 18, ASA did not find it in breach.

Ryanair compensation cheques ‘bounce’


Ryanair has issued an apology after a number of customers complained that they had not received compensation cheques for cancelled or delayed flights and were instead charged additional fees by banks who had rejected the cheques because they did not contain signatures.

The airline has since blamed an “administrative error” for the blunder.

According to reports, more than one million Ryanair passengers in Europe have been delayed or had their flights cancelled since April.

The low-cost carrier blames delays on poor weather conditions and traffic control shortages, although almost 400 Ryanair flights were cancelled earlier this month when its pilots staged a strike.

Travellers should receive £224 in compensation for flights of up to 932 miles and £358 for longer flights throughout Europe and Northern Africa.

READ MORE: Ryanair compensation cheques with no signatures ‘bounce’

Tuesday, 21 August

Nike criticised over marketing of balaclava

Nike has been criticised for selling a balaclava in its latest range – The Nike x MMW – as many argue that it is marketing to gang culture.

The  balaclava is intended to act as heat protector for winter keeping the wearer warm across their face and neck but many argue that it is marketing to young people involved in gang violence.

On the website, a young male model wore a military garment alongside the balaclava which critics point out glorifies a look favoured by gangs. The image appears to have been removed from the company’s website on Monday.

In one popular Facebook video a commentator, Paul McKenzie, argued: “You know these young people on the street adore these manufacturers, they buy everything that they sell.

A Nike spokesperson says: “These products were part of a wider Nike Training collection, styled on different models and available in multiple markets around the world. We are in no way condoning or encouraging the serious issue of criminal and gang culture.”

READ MORE: Nike under fire for marketing of ‘menacing’ balaclava

Ofcom investigates business parcel delivery sector 

The UK communications watchdog has launched an investigation into the business parcel delivery sector over competition concerns. Ofcom says it is trying to determine whether arrangements between companies breaches EU law.

The investigation will look into “suspected market sharing and/or customer allocation arrangements between operators in the business parcel delivery sector in the UK and/or European Union.”

The watchdog says the investigation is at an “early stage”, and stressed it has not yet concluded whether competition law had been breached and refused to outline which firms were being investigated.

The notice comes just one week after Ofcom fined Royal Mail £50m after it was accused of abusing its dominant position by discriminating against its only major competitor for delivering letters.

READ MORE: Ofcom launches anti-competition probe into parcel delivery sector

Mulberry warns House of Fraser collapse will hit profits

Luxury handbag designer Mulberry’s profits have slumped after taking a £3m hit from House of Fraser’s collapse.

Shares in the group slumped 30% in early trading, before recovering to a 17% decline, by lunchtime on Monday. Mulberry employs 88 staff in House of Fraser and said the collapse of the department store would cost it £3m in the six months to 30 September.

Mulberry also warned investors that it continued to face a sales slowdown as the designer is reportedly struggling as wealthy tourists favour Paris and Milan over London,

The company says: “The UK market has continued to remain challenging and sales in House of Fraser stores have particularly been affected.”

READ MORE: Mulberry shares plunge 30% as luxury bag maker takes hit from House of Fraser collapse

Charities and businesses  come together for police campaign to tackle anger

A campaign by the police and charities is telling people to “take 90” in a bid to help tackle anger related offences, which increase in the summer.

The initiative, which started today, emphasises that 90 seconds has been suggested by scientists as the time in which anger dies down in the brain. Supported by Scotland Yard and charities such as The Prince’s Trust, it will say that taking time to calm down could reduce public disputes, acts of aggression and violence.

The campaign has been launched with a film that shows a character looking and acting in an extremely angry way – however the words being spoken are actually a calm expression of how taking 90 seconds can help you stay in control. It will be supported by posters and digital content included a series of original meditations created by the mindfulness app Calm, specifically created ‘angry-mojis’.

Tor Garnett, co-founder of Police Now and Take:90 initiator, says: “Some violence has complex causes, but often violence is caused by people feeling angry and reacting in that first 90 seconds. If we let those moments of anger lead to aggression, whether it’s during an argument with a friend or stranger or getting squashed on the commute, it makes people feel unsafe, unhappy and cross and can use up people’s time and attention in a very negative way.

“Take:90 is an effective practical tool that we can all use and share with others to help keep our cool – it’s not always easy but it is essential if we are to live happily in a diverse and busy world. “

Monday 20 August 


Superdry co-founder donates £1m to People’s Vote campaign

Julian Dunkerton, one of the co-founders of fashion brand Superdry, has donated £1m to the People’s Vote, a cross-party campaign calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal.

Dunkerton explained that he is backing the People’s Vote because he sees a “genuine chance” to turn Brexit around, despite the fact that the government has ruled out another EU referendum and plans to exit the European Union on 29 March 2019.

The Superdry co-founder said that his brand “would never have become the global success that it did” if Brexit had happened 20 years earlier. His money, which is the largest donation ever received by the People’s Vote, will be used to fund what has been described as “one of the most detailed polling exercises ever undertaken” to better understand the demand for a second vote.

The People’s Vote campaign wants to build a coalition of MPs, including the Labour leadership, that will back a referendum on the final deal struck by the government, which is expected to be put to a vote in Parliament in October.

READ MORE: Brexit vote campaign gets £1m from Superdry co-founder

Amazon makes play for Homebase stores to boost delivery service

Amazon is reportedly eyeing up the purchase of a number of Homebase stores in a bid to expand its delivery services.

The struggling DIY chain plans to close 42 of its 241 sites as part of a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) adopted by many retailers, such as House of Fraser, to manage the insolvency process. The Telegraph reports that as the Homebase stores are located in urban areas they would work well as fulfilment centres for Amazon to rapidly deliver goods to customers.

Homebase fell into trouble in May when its then owner, the Australian retail conglomerate Wesfarmers, sold the business to turnaround specialist Hilco for £1 after clocking up a £210m loss. Wesfarmers originally bought Homebase from Home Retail Group in 2016 for £340m.

Under the CVA agreement 1,500 jobs are at risk across the Homebase business.

READ MORE: Amazon bids for Homebase stores to boost delivery arm

EU mulls plans to fine social media giants if they are too slow to remove extremist content

The European Commission plans to force social media companies to identify and delete content featuring terrorist propaganda and extremist violence within an hour or face a fine.

According to the Financial Times, this is the first time the EU has abandoned its voluntary approach and explicitly addressed how companies such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube remove terror-related videos, posts and audio clips from their websites.

While the regulation is still being drawn up, the FT reports that the draft legislation is likely to impose a limit of one hour for platforms to delete material flagged as terrorist content by police and law enforcement bodies, or face a fine.

Julian King, the EU’s commissioner for security, told the FT that Brussels had “not seen enough progress” on the removal of terrorist material from the tech giants and would need to take stronger action to counteract what he called a “shadowy and destructive phenomenon”.

READ MORE: Brussels to act against tech groups over terror content

Uber rival Ola launches in Wales


Indian taxi-hailing firm Ola is hoping to take on US rival Uber in the UK market when it launches in Wales today.

The firm’s drivers will begin operating in Cardiff, Newport and the Vale of Glamorgan, with the service likely to move next to Greater Manchester. Ola claims it will be the only ride-hailing app in the South Wales area to offer customers the option of private hire vehicles and black taxis on one platform.

On its website Ola is currently offering rides in the South Wales region from £2.50 and an introductory offer of 50% off your first five rides. Users can also earn £5 for every successful referral.

Founded in 2011, the ride-hailing firm hopes to expand across the UK by the end of the year, which is just its third market after India and Australia, the latter where it started operating in March. Ola currently has 125 million customers across 110 cities.

READ MORE: Taxi-hailing firm Ola starts operating in Wales

Monzo on track for billion-dollar valuation

Monzo Bank

Digital bank Monzo is on track to become a tech “unicorn” after sealing investment valuing the business at $1.5bn.

The London-based smartphone-only bank, which in just three years has amassed 900,000 customers, has recently received investment from singer Tom Odell and the Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom. During its first round of crowdfunding in 2016 Monzo raised £1m in 96 seconds.

The investment puts Monzo amongst a group of UK tech unicorns valued at more than $1bn including Deliveroo and Skyscanner.

According to reports in the Guardian and the FT, Monzo will use the investment to add new products such as unsecured loans and high-interest savings accounts via another bank. The bank launched with its signature pink prepaid debit card and from last year began offering current accounts after gaining a banking licence.

Speaking to the Guardian in 2017, Monzo founder and chief executive Tom Blomfield said that the bank’s biggest appeal was its ability to let people organise their money on a smartphone. At the time the piece was written half of Monzo’s customers were under 30 and a further quarter were under 40.

READ MORE: Smartphone-only bank Monzo eyes billion-pound valuation