Netflix, Nike, Asda: 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.


Asda closer to launching standalone convenience chain

Asda looks set to launch a standalone convenience chain, as it starts to hire for new roles within its wholesale and convenience division, according to The Grocer.

The supermarket is currently recruiting for two property acquisition managers that it wants to “spearhead” plans to develop a convenience chain, “a new format for the business”.

It is also looking to hire two senior managers who it hopes will “significantly contribute to Asda’s growth ambitions”.

One of the roles will take responsibility for “shaping and developing Asda’s convenience brand and customer position that underpins the convenience and wholesale strategy”.

In another job ad the retailer says it plans to open “hundreds more stores over the next couple of years”.

Asda currently has 35 On the Move branded stores throughout the UK. It outlined plans to take this to 200 by the end of 2022 in its Q2 trading statement.

READ MORE: Asda moving closer to standalone convenience offer

Nike cuts ties with Russia

Nike is the latest brand to completely withdraw from Russia in light of its attack on Ukraine.

The sportswear giant suspended operations in March, closing the stores it owns in the country and halting online orders. A number of stores that are operated by independent partners remained open.

However, the company has now confirmed it is exiting Russia completely.

“Nike has made the decision to leave the Russian marketplace. Our priority is to ensure we are fully supporting our employees while we responsibly scale down our operations over the coming months,” Nike told Reuters.

Sales in Russia and Ukraine reportedly contribute less than 1% of Nike’s revenue.

Nike follows brands including McDonald’s and Renault that have now completely withdrawn from Russia.

READ MORE: Nike to make full exit from Russia

Netflix to cut another 300 jobs

NetflixNetflix has confirmed another round of job cuts as it looks to offset slowing growth and a knock to subscriber numbers.

The streaming giant plans to axe 300 jobs from its workforce, equivalent to around 4%. It already reported it was cutting 150 jobs in May after posting its first loss to subscribers in more than a decade the previous month.

“While we continue to invest significantly in the business, we made these adjustments so that our costs are growing in line with our slower revenue growth,” Netflix said in a statement on Thursday.

The majority of the cuts will be in the US and the company says it still plans to hire in other areas.

The cuts come as Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of the year, meaning its overall subscriber number dropped from 221.8 million to 221.6 million. At the same time the streamer said it was exploring the option of introducing advertising to the platform.

The firm has said it expects its subscriber count to fall by another 2 million this quarter.

READ MORE: Netflix cuts 300 more jobs after subscriptions fall

Naked Wines’ market value drops 40%

Online wine retailer Naked Wines saw its market value drop by nearly 40% yesterday, making it the latest brand that benefited during lockdown to face challenges as consumers return to pre-pandemic habits.

The firm has warned of slower growth and waning customer retention in light of inflation and “greater uncertainty” in the economy.

Naked Wines says it had a customer retention rate of 80% in the year to the end of March, down from 88% the previous year.

The brand reportedly cut marketing spend at times as a result of inflation, which could have dented its ability to attract new customers.

Naked Wines CEO Nick Devlin, admits there are areas where the business “could have done better”, referring to how the brand should have faced into the rising cost of living and its impact on customers sooner.

READ MORE: Naked Wines shares tumble on sobering outlook

Juul e-cigarettes banned in US

Electronic cigarette brand Juul has been ordered to stop selling its products in the US by health officials.

It is part of a clamp down on the vaping industry by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which says Juul had failed to provide “sufficient evidence” that its products can help people quit smoking. It also suggests flavours such as mint, crème brulee and mango are encouraging teenagers to take up vaping.

FDA commissioner Dr Robert Califf says: “The agency has dedicated significant resources to review products from the companies that account for most of the US market. We recognise these make up a significant part of the available products and many have played a disproportionate role in the rise in youth vaping.”

The brand is the market leader in the states, accounting for nearly two-thirds of e-cigarette sales in the country. Juul is fifth largest vaping brand in the UK, with sales of £13.1m in 2021.

READ MORE: E-cigarettes: FDA bans market-leading Juul in blow to US tobacco industry

Thursday, 23 June


Twitter makes first foray into long-form content

Twitter is trialling a new feature allowing users to post long-form content of up to 2,500 words, alongside photos, videos, GIFs and embedded tweets.

Called Notes, the content will be written, published and shared on Twitter, while also being accessible to read elsewhere online. Users will be able to edit their Notes prior and post-publish, while a Notes tab on their profile will catalogue their published work.

The feature is being tested by a small group of writers in Canada, Ghana, the UK and US over the next two months, the intention being to release Notes to a broader test group soon.

To help showcase the work published via Notes, Twitter is creating a new handle – @TwitterWrite – providing updates on what’s next for writers on the platform. As part of this move, Twitter is folding Revue, the email newsletter startup it acquired last year, into the Notes product.

Twitter says research found writers want more control and were asking the platform to make it easier to create long-form content. The rise of screenshot announcements and boom in newsletters convinced the social media platform of the “new reality” of users writing elsewhere and then sharing on Twitter. With Notes, the social media giant is hoping to keep users on its platform for longer.

The company has been exploring longer content since 2017, when it increased the maximum number of characters for a tweet from 140 to 280.

READ MORE: Twitter tests ‘notes’ feature with 2,500 word limit

Unilever accused of ‘secretly’ trying to evade ban on plastic sachets

UnileverUnilever is accused of secretly lobbying to prevent a ban on tiny plastic sachets used to sell single servings of shampoo and toothpaste in Sri Lanka, India and the Philippines.

A Reuters investigation claims the FMCG giant “worked to undercut laws” aimed at eliminating these packets, allegedly pressing the Sri Lankan government to reconsider a proposed sachet ban. A senior environmental official in Sri Lanka told Reuters Unilever then tried to “manoeuvre” around the ban once regulations were imposed.

According to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Environment and two local plastic pollution charities, Unilever continued to sell tiny 6 ml single-portion sachets of shampoo and conditioner in Sri Lanka, despite the new ban on plastic sachets sized 20 ml or smaller. The company is alleged to have done so by relabelling the 6 ml sachets to say they should not be sold separately, but in four-packs forming a 24 ml unit.

Sources also claim Unilever lobbied against proposed sachet bans in India and the Philippines, regulation which was later dropped.

The palm-sized pouches, associated with single use ketchup sachets or cosmetic samples, are increasingly being used in the developing world to sell everything from detergent to snacks to low-income households. In India, for example, these sachets have been used to sell Unilever’s Sunsilk and Clinic Plus shampoo.

The packets are not biodegradable and cannot be recycled as they are made from layers of plastic and aluminium. According to environmental group A Plastic Planet, 855 billion plastic sachets are sold every year industry-wide.

Publicly Unilever has been a fierce critic of these plastic sachets. In 2019, president for global food and refreshments, Hanneke Faber, described the multi-layered design of the packages as “evil”, because they cannot be recycled.

In 2020, Unilever CEO Alan Jope stated the company had “to get rid” of these pouches, adding that they are “pretty much impossible to mechanically recycle” and therefore have “no real value.”

In response to the Reuters investigation, Unilever declined to comment on its lobbying activities and said it adheres to Sri Lankan law. A spokesperson added that the company is “phasing out” multi-layered sachets by using a variety of potential fixes, including product refill systems, new recycling technology and packaging material that’s easier to recycle.

READ MORE: Unilever’s Plastic Playbook

Mars names new CEO as sales outstrip Coke

Mars has revealed annual sales of $45bn (£37bn), outstripping those posted by Coca-Cola, as the company announced its CEO Grant Reid is stepping down after eight years of “unprecedented growth”.

Reid, who kicked off his career at Mars as a marketing manager in 1988, will be replaced by current Mars Petcare global president Poul Weihrauch in September.

Under Reid’s leadership, sales have grown by more than 50% to $45bn, while the number of employees has risen from 60,000 to 140,000. As the Financial Times reports, revenue of $45bn would put Mars ahead of growth reported by not only Coke, but also Nestlé, Unilever and Mondelēz.

Citing Reid’s tenure as CEO as a period of “transformation”, his leadership is credited with kickstarting the company’s “significant expansion” into new areas such as veterinary health, pet services and healthy snacking.

Board chair Frank Mars paid tribute to Reid’s “extraordinary legacy”, which he says includes “fusing performance with purpose, delivering sustainable growth, ramping up digital capabilities, building its iconic brands”. He also thanked Reid for embedding purpose into the heart of the company’s business strategy.

“I’m proud that, in the face of challenges such as a global pandemic, we have never lost sight of our strategic path or our ambition to help create the world we want tomorrow – and to drive both purpose and performance,” says Reid, who will stay in the business until the end of 2022.

His replacement Weihrauch also comes from a marketing background, having joined Mars as a management trainee in 1992, before leaving in 1994 for a series of sales and marketing roles at Nestlé. Weihrauch returned to Mars in 2000 as brand leader for Snickers, before assuming several general management positions.

While acknowledging that we live in “challenging times”, Weihrauch describes himself as an optimist who believes in the “power of business to have a positive impact”.

READ MORE: Mars reveals bigger revenues than Coca-Cola as it appoints new chief executive (£)

Asda warns inflation causing ‘massive’ changes to customer behaviour

asdaAsda chairman Lord Rose has warned inflation is sparking a “massive change” in consumer behaviour, as shoppers trade down and set spending limits.

Speaking to the BBC, Rose explained Asda shoppers are asking cashiers to stop scanning items when the till total hits £30 and are imposing similar spending limits on their petrol purchases. The cost of living crisis is also resulting in smaller basket sizes and customers switching to budget products.

According to Asda’s latest analysis of disposable income, the average household had £44 less a week to spend in discretionary income in May compared with a year ago, down close to 18%.

Rose insists the supermarket is doing “everything” it can to support shoppers, telling the BBC: “We’ve invested nearly £100m in the last month or so making sure customers get essentials at very, very attractive prices to try and help them.”

In May, Asda began the transition of its ‘Smart Price’ range to new brand, ‘Just Essentials by Asda’, which the retailer claims will become the largest budget-friendly essentials range in the market. The Just Essentials range will comprise 293 products, 50% more than Smart Price, with more than 130 of these items available by the end of the month.

Asda is also pushing its ‘Dropped and Locked’ initiative, intended to lower prices on 100 items and keep them at the same price for the rest of the year.

Urging more help for struggling families, Rose told the BBC a VAT reduction or further reduction in fuel tax would be “helpful”, adding that the short-term priority must be to “kill inflation” even if that means entering a recession.

His words come as prices have risen at their fastest rate for 40 years, with UK inflation hitting 9.1% in the 12 months to May, according to the Office for National Statistics.

READ MORE: Asda says some shoppers asking cashiers to stop at £30

Harrods postpones summer sale as supply chain pressures bite

Luxury retailer Harrods has been forced to push its summer sale back two weeks due to ongoing supply chain issues.

Speaking to Bloomberg TV at the Qatar Economic Forum, managing director Michael Ward confirmed Harrods’ supply chain is running two to three weeks behind, making it necessary to delay the sale so the retailer can receive “another 10% of new-season stock” in order to function in the new year.

China’s Covid-enforced shutdowns and the war in Ukraine are being blamed for delays to luxury products across the board. To compound the supply chain issues, Ward also pointed to the challenges of a post-Brexit employment market.

“It’s almost impossible to find the right staff,” he added. “We’ve lost significant amounts of people as a result of Brexit. And it’s not the skilled or qualified, it’s the people we need to do jobs that unfortunately the British will not do.”

At the other end of the retail spectrum, JD Sports said yesterday (22 June) it is continuing to manage supply chain disruption, noting the “widespread turbulence” in international logistics and ongoing “cost consequences” resulting from the loss of tariff-free, frictionless trade with the European Union post-Brexit.

Focusing specifically on the group’s outdoor businesses, such as Go Outdoors and Millets, JD Sports recognised these brands “did not achieve their full potential in the year”, due to supply chain delays “negatively impacting” the performance of certain seasonal categories.

READ MORE: Harrods Delays Summer Sale as New Season’s Goods Slow to Arrive

Wednesday, 22 June


LinkedIn CEO says creative skills are declining in the advertising industry

The share of creative skills in the ad industry has decreased by 17% over the past five years, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky told the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity yesterday (21 June).

The data from LinkedIn suggests creative skills like design, creative strategy, branding and art direction are becoming less common in the ad industry. At the same, technical skills, such as data analytics, SQL (structured query language) and programming language Python, are growing their share in the ad industry. The share of these technical skills has increased by 47% in the past five years.

LinkedIn figures found that this trend, of a growth in tech skills and a loss in creative skills, was exacerbated when it looked specifically at companies that regularly attend Cannes. At these companies, the share of tech skills has increased 67% over the past five years, while the share of creative skills has decreased by 32%.

Overall, LinkedIn’s data suggests talent is leaving the ad industry. Advertising has lost 5.5% more people than it gained over the past five years. To compare, the figures indicate that the tech industry has gained 23% more people than it has lost in the same period.

Roslansky told the audience that the advertising industry was in the business of “promise-making”.

“I also see an industry that needs to make a much bigger promise to the next generation of talent. That promise has to be: advertising is where you can have an incredible career; advertising is where you make promises so big – that they change the world; advertising is where you create huge economic value,” he said.

The LinkedIn CEO pointed to the B2B industry as being where the “future winners” and drivers of growth for the ad industry would be.

“There’s huge scope for your industry to help them to build their brands,” he said.

Advertising leaders make commitment to a net zero industry worldwide

Leaders in advertising, including Unilever, Google and Meta, have committed to the rollout of Ad Net Zero worldwide.

The Ad Net Zero programme was launched in the UK in November 2020 by the Advertising Association, ISBA and the IPA. It has a membership of over 100 advertisers, agencies, commercial media owners and production companies.

Yesterday (21 June) saw the major agency holding companies (Dentsu International, Havas, Interpublic Group, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe and WPP), Unilever, Google, Meta and Sky commit to rolling out the programme to other key markets.

The newly formed global Ad Net Zero group will aim to roll the programme out to the US and EU rapidly, before looking at extending into other markets.

“Our five-point action plan pledges to reduce carbon emissions from UK advertising operations to net zero by 2030, with businesses committing to robust, verified plans to reduce their emissions. It also pledges to use advertising’s power to accelerate the switch to more sustainable products and services for consumers,” says Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford.

“We are excited to be working now on a roadmap for development internationally, with the flexibility to adapt and develop market specific solutions and share best practice in sustainable ad operations.”

Kellogg’s reveals plans to spin off parts of business

Source: Shutterstock

The Kellogg Company says it will split its food business into three independent companies, a move it says will promote growth and allow increased focus on particular categories.

The business will be divided up into three arms; a global snack food business that will include international cereals, a North American cereal business and a plant-based foods business.

The snacking business will include brands like Pop-Tarts and Pringles. It will be the biggest of the three companies formed and will be led by current Kellogg’s CEO Steve Cahillane. This new company will also look to add to its portfolio through acquisitions, the company says.

Cahillane told analysts the decision to break up the business into three parts was to allow more strategic focus on specific categories.

“(Cereals) will not have to compete for resources against a high-growth snacking business. Frosted Flakes does not have to compete with Pringles for resources,” he said.

Kellogg’s has been focusing on its snack business in recent years. In 2021 the business brought in sales of $11.4bn (£9.3bn), accounting for 80% of total revenue. In 2012, the company acquired Pringles for $2.7bn (£2.2bn).

The cereal business has been declining in the US, as consumers look to other foods for breakfast. Kellogg’s no longer sees its cereal brands, such as Special K and Froot Loops, as major drivers of growth.

The division of the company is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

READ MORE: Kellogg to focus on snacks with surprise three-way split

ITV-backed Woo launches show on OnlyFans

Woo, the ITV media brand aimed at young people, is premiering its new documentary series on OnlyFans today (22 June).

The three-part documentary series, ‘Life in Love’ will be available for 24 hours on Woo’s OnlyFans profile, before being made available on ITV Hub, and on the media brand’s website. OnlyFans is a platform more well known for its adult content and Woo claims the premiere on the service is an “industry-first”.

Woo was launched by ITV in April. It was described by the broadcaster as a “cultural movement”, which combines platform agnostic, digitally-led editorial content and a marketplace, all centred around the theme of wellness.

The docuseries takes a look at the unfiltered love lives of Gen Z, exploring themes like asexuality and sex work. It marks the beginning of Woo’s OnlyFans strategy, which will see the media brand release six pieces of content per week on the platform.

Woo says the launch on OnlyFans fulfils two of its objectives; to subvert expectations and to reach its young audience “where they hang out”.

Pretty Little Thing advert banned for objectifying women

Online fashion retailer Pretty Little Thing (PLT) has had an advert banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for sexually objectifying women.

The ad was for a pair of jeans and had an image of a woman wearing the jeans, with the front unzipped, showing the top of her underwear. The model was wearing nothing on her top and her hands were crossed over her chest to cover her breasts.

A second photo on the listing depicted the same model with the jeans zipped up and in a similar pose, but the photo cut off her head and shoulders.

While it agreed to remove the image, Boohoo-owned Pretty Little Thing rejected the idea that the ad objectified women. The brand said it had a history of shooting jeans ads with models wearing nothing on top and that this was considered “tasteful and inoffensive”. Pretty Little Thing also said the way it shot its promotional pictures promoted empowerment and freedom of expression.

However, in its ruling the ASA said it did consider the ad to be objectifying. It noted that the nudity featured was not related to the product and “caused viewers to focus on the woman’s breast”. It also said that the decision to cut off the woman’s head in the second photo in conjunction with her bare torso “removed the woman’s individuality and objectified her”.

The ASA ruled that the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence through its objectification of women. It told PLT the ad should not appear again in its current form and told the brand to make sure that future ads are “prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society”.

Tuesday, 21 June

Coca-Cola ‘most chosen’ brand of the decade

Coca-Cola is the world’s “most chosen” FMCG brand of the past 10 years, according to analysis of shopping behaviour since 2012 by Kantar.

As part of the study Kantar has identified 11 FMCG brands, each of which saw the biggest growth within their respective category. Overall these brands accounted for 25.1 billion (6.6%) of purchases in 2021, up from 19.2 billion (5.8%) in 2012. The growth rate of these brands was 31% over the decade, almost double the total branded market’s growth rate.

However, while Coke was the most chosen brand it has the lowest growth rate of the 11 brands identified, although it started from the highest level. Cleaning brand Vim is the world’s fastest growing FMCG brand over the past decade (265%), followed by Dettol (142%) and Sunsilk (64%).

The analysis shows intergenerational loyalty – children continuing to buy the same brands their parents do when they set up their own household – is the biggest driver of growth.

In the 10 years to 2021 the number of households globally has increased by 17% to 1.2 billion. Across the 11 brands identified as part of the study, growth in penetration accounted for an average of 87% of their growth. This means it’s crucial for brands to ensure children establishing their own homes make the same shopping choices as their parents as this is key to long-term success, Kantar suggests.

For example, the number of households buying Coca-Cola has increased by 17% over the decade, which is in line with household growth.

The average number of FMCG brands households choose per year has remained consistent at 55 over the past 10 years, while the average spend on branded groceries has increased from $730 per year in 2012 to $862 in 2021.

Guillaume Bacuvier, CEO of Kantar’s Worldpanel division says: “Increasing household penetration rate – at least keeping up with population and household growth – is the best way to grow and the only way to consistently grow year after year.

“There is finite space in consumers’ basket. Securing a spot on the list of ‘go-to groceries’ – which is unique to each household – is a must. If you’re out of the list, you’re out of consumers’ choice.”

Mondelēz acquires energy bar brand Clif as it continues to ‘reshape’ portfolio

Cadbury owner Mondelēz International has acquired energy bar brand Clif Bar & Company for $2.9bn (£2.4bn), part of its strategy to diversify and “lead the future of snacking”.

The acquisition is part of the business’s strategy to “reshape” its portfolio by extending its ‘baked snacks’ offer, which it believes will help “sustain higher long-term growth”.

Mondelēz says the acquisition extends the value of its global snack bar business to more than $1bn. It follows the acquisition last year of Grenade in the UK and refrigerated snack business Perfect Snacks in the US.

Mondelēz says it will continue to operate the Clif Bar & Company business from its headquarters in Emeryville, California in order to keep its “entrepreneurial spirit” alive and maintain the brand’s “purpose and authenticity”.

“We are thrilled to welcome Clif Bar & Company’s iconic brands and passionate employees into the Mondelēz International family,” says Dirk Van de Put, chairman and CEO of Mondelēz.

“This transaction further advances our ambition to lead the future of snacking by winning in chocolate, biscuits and baked snacks as we continue to scale our high-growth snack bar business. As a leader and innovator in wellbeing and sustainable snacking in the U.S, Clif Bar & Company embodies our purpose to ‘empower people to snack right’ and we look forward to advancing this important work with Clif’s committed colleagues in the years ahead.”

Hiscox appoints Ovo’s Fiona Mayo as marketing director

Insurance firm Hiscox has appointed Ovo’s Fiona Mayo as UK marketing director.

She has been tasked with developing the business’s UK marketing and brand strategy, building affinity with new audiences and accelerating growth of its digital acquisition channel.

Mayo joins from Ovo where she was most recently brand and marketing director. She initially joined SSE Energy Services in 2016 ahead of its acquisition by Ovo. Prior to this she spent nearly a decade at Vodafone UK, culminating in her role as head of marketing communications. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry having started her career agency side at AMV BBDO.

Mayo will lead a team of 20 and report directly to Hiscox UK interim CEO Stéphane Flaquet.

He says she will play “an important part in delivering the next chapter of our marketing and brand strategy” in the UK.

“Her diverse experience and innovative marketing approach are a great match for our growth ambitions,” he adds.

Mayo says: “The opportunities ahead for Hiscox are immense and I look forward to working with colleagues across the business to build on the powerful brand and marketing heritage that has helped turn the business into the insurance force it is today. Digital innovation can help support our customers through challenging times and I believe we can place Hiscox at the forefront of that innovation, with effective marketing that supports our ambition.”

Ocado looks to raise £575m to fund global expansion

OcadoOcado wants to raise £575m from investors to accelerate the growth of its technology arm, which will allow overseas retailers to sell groceries online.

The firm already has clients including supermarket chains Kroger in the US and Casino in France, with the new technology designed to help them accelerate their move into online shopping.

However, on announcing the plan yesterday evening, ratings agency Fitch downgraded Ocado’s credit rating from stable to negative.

Fitch says: “Our rating reflects the growing scale, upfront investments and execution risks associated with the progress on 40 of its international [distribution centres] over the next four years.”

It added while the pressure on profits would be temporary, short-term profits would be impacted by customers spending less amid the cost of living crisis, coupled with higher labour, marketing and energy costs.

In May, Ocado warned its sales would grow at less the half the rate it hoped as a result of inflation and people’s shopping behaviour starting to return to pre-pandemic times.

READ MORE: Ocado aims to raise £575m from investors to fund tech arm expansion

Mango hands over Russian stores to local partners

Spanish fashion retailer Mango has handed over the first two of the 55 shops it had been operating in Russia to local partners.

Mango temporarily closed the stores in March following Russia invasion of Ukraine, at the same time it also stopped selling goods via its website to Russia and cut exports to the country.

The retailer expects to transfer another 22 shops in Russia over to third parties to operate in June and July and is still in talks on the future of the remaining stores.

“Given the uncertainty regarding the evolution of the geopolitical situation and to guarantee continuity for its 800 employees in the country, Mango will cease to operate directly in Russia,” the company said.

READ MORE: Spanish fashion retailer Mango to hand over Russian shops

Monday, 20 June

Primark plots click-and-collect rollout as sales soar

Primark is inching closer to ecommerce with the rollout of a click-and-collect service set for later this year, amid a wider ambition to “transform” its digital capability.

The click-and-collect trial of childrenswear will take place in up to 25 stores in the northwest, providing what Primark describes as a representative sample of store sizes and formats across its UK estate.

The retailer believes the click-and-collect childrenswear service has the potential to satisfy “unfulfilled demand”, driving footfall from both existing and new customers to deliver incremental sales in store. Orders will be free to collect and returns will be accepted free of charge in store.

The aim is to grow the click-and-collect offering to 2,000 options across children’s clothing, accessories and lifestyle products. Around 40% of these options will be exclusive to click-and-collect.

Primark believes the expansion of the children’s offering will be attractive to customers who shop at its average size stores, which only stock a limited range. For these customers, Primark anticipates the options of children’s products will broadly double through click-and-collect.

The trial comes as the retailer has seen “positive customer reaction” to the launch of its new UK website in April, which showcases products and offers stock availability by store. Traffic to the site is up around 60%, with customers on average viewing twice as many pages per session. Currently, around 15% of visitors to the site are using the stock checker facility.

As Primark plots its digital transformation, sales are soaring. In the third quarter to 28 May, sales hit £1.73bn, up 81% on 2021 levels. On a year-to-date basis, sales are up 69% to £5.27bn. Furthermore, sales in the third quarter are 4% higher than the comparable period pre-Covid.

The retailer’s share of the UK clothing, footwear and accessories market by value, comprising online and offline, for the 12 weeks ending 1 May is broadly in line with the comparable period three years ago.

In the UK and Republic of Ireland like-for-like sales have “improved markedly”, although progress is slower in Continental Europe as Covid restrictions have been removed. Primark says it remains on track to deliver a full year adjusted operating profit margin of 10%.

Footfall to destination city centre stores has improved, aided by the “marked return” of tourism and higher levels of office working. Brightly coloured spring/summer women’s fashion ranges have been “well received”, while sales of luggage and holiday essentials strengthened over the quarter.

Licensed product has reportedly been in “great demand”. Primark’s Lilo & Stitch tie-up with Disney has become a top performing range, while its Stranger Things collection is receiving an “exceptionally strong customer response”, it says.

Primark has increased its retail selling space by 0.3 million sq ft since the beginning of the financial year and by the end of the third quarter was trading from 403 stores. Five further stores are expected to open before the financial year end, the ambition being for Primark to grow its store estate to 530 stores by the end of the 2026 financial year.

Cost of living tsar calls on brands to ‘refocus’ marketing spend

Newly appointed cost of living tsar David Buttress is urging brands to “refocus” marketing spend in a bid to bring prices down for consumers.

Speaking to the BBC, the Just East co-founder asked businesses to think about the money “spent on marketing and doing deals to promote some of the big leisure activities” in the UK.

“Let’s take some of that money,” he suggested. “Let’s refocus it on what really matters to people, which is making their prices more competitive so their money goes further and they can still enjoy a good day out as a family.”

In his role as cost of living tsar, over the next six months Buttress is tasked with tackling the soaring prices in food, fuel and essentials faced by families in the UK. He told the BBC his three measures of success will be making practical interventions to get food shops, utilities and leisure businesses to cut costs.

Buttress is calling on his old colleagues in business and industry “to come to the party” over the next six months to help UK consumers. The Cabinet Office suggests one area Buttress will look into is “price locking” campaigns, where retailers such as Sainsbury’s and Asda cut the cost of essentials and keep the savings in place for a limited period. The government regards such campaigns as examples of positive moves already being put in place by business.

READ MORE: Companies must help cut living costs, says new cost of living tsar

Mars ups female representation in ads to 45%

Women made up 45% of characters shown in advertising from Mars last year, up 11 percentage points since the business started auditing its gender representation in 2018.

The figures are derived from a comprehensive audit of representation across the company’s global advertising carried out in partnership with the Geena Davis Institute (GDI) on Gender in the Media. Using a machine learning tool, the institute analysed more than 1,000 characters in 285 global ads from 2021.

The research finds ads from Mars “showed no gender differences for portrayals of work” in 2021. This is described as a “significant improvement” compared with 2018, when men were nearly twice as likely to be shown working than women and more male than female characters were depicted with an occupation (26% vs 11%, respectively).

Furthermore, female characters are now as likely as male characters to be depicted in leadership positions in Mars’ advertising. Back in 2018, 22% of male characters were shown as leaders, compared with 17% of female characters.

In addition, female characters now have the same amount of screen time as male characters, although Mars admits there is progress to be made on speaking time, with female characters accounting for 43%.

At a brand level, the company points to notable year-on-year improvements in the presence of female characters in adverts from Snickers, Whiskas, Twix and M&M’s, with Ben’s Original also said to have improved the parity of its marketing.

“As a global advertiser, we know marketing has the power to influence how people see themselves and others,” says Mars Wrigley global president Andrew Clarke.

“I believe we can make a massive impact on representation across the whole industry. This is not something we can accomplish as individual businesses, but when we come together our collective action can make a real difference.”

In 2021 Mars launched #HereToBeHeard, a global listening study which found 80% of women cite putting an end to systematic discrimination and harmful gender stereotypes as the top factor that needs to change in order for women to reach their full potential.

Mars intends to keep improving its representation and breaking down harmful gender stereotypes, says global vice-president of brand and purpose, Michele Oliver. She insists Mars is committed to being transparent and encourages industry peers to measure representation within their own advertising.

“Adverts must speak to, and celebrate, the diversity of the audiences who enjoy them. We are pleased with the progress that has come from rigorously ensuring we have diversity not just in front of the camera but behind the camera, in the agencies and in our own teams,” Oliver adds.

“However, we will not rest until we are representing the true diversity of the people who enjoy our services and products around the world.”

Snapchat confirms subscription service trial

SnapchatSnapchat is reportedly trialling a subscription service offering “exclusive, experimental and pre-release features”.

Known as Snapchat+, app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi shared screenshots on Twitter of how the subscription service will work. Potential features include giving users the ability to pin one of their friends as their ‘#1 BFF’, get access to exclusive Snapchat icons and see who re-watches their stories. It is also reported subscribers will be able to display a badge in their profile and see their friends’ whereabouts over the past 24 hours.

According to Paluzzi, Snapchat+ will cost €4.59 (£3.94) a month or €45.99 (£39.46) a year, although these prices are yet to be confirmed by the brand.

The move made by Apple to allow users to turn off in app ad tracking appears to be provoking social media companies to find new ways to harness first-party data. Speaking at Snapchat’s first quarter results in April, chief business officer Jeremi Gorman said the team wanted to help advertisers navigate “platform policy changes” by making a “significant push” to improve the brand’s “first-party solutions”.

Snapchat is following in the footsteps of rival Twitter, which in 2021 launched its subscription service Blue in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Subscribers have access to an undo button to recall tweets before they are sent, while other early features include bookmarks folders and the ability for users to theme the Twitter app and app icon.

Elsewhere, this weekend messaging app Telegram launched its premium subscription, offering users faster downloads and a larger maximum file upload size for $4.99 (£4.08) a month.

READ MORE: Snap is working on a paid subscription called Snapchat Plus

Renault reinvents 1990s ‘Papa, Nicole’ campaign for Father’s Day

Renault has reinvented its 1990s ‘Papa, Nicole’ campaign to mark the launch of its Megane E-Tech electric car.

Going live to celebrate Father’s Day, the new campaign aims to add a “modern dimension” to the Papa, Nicole narrative, with real stories exploring the issues faced by fathers and daughters in 2022.

The original 1990s campaign, which helped sell 300,000 Renault Clios during its seven-year run, featured Nicole and her father having fun driving around the Provence countryside.

The car marque claims the campaign helped the name Nicole break into the top 40 for girls’ names in the UK, with ONS data showing more than 7,000 Nicoles were born between 1996 and 2000. Renault put a call out to the 7,000 Nicoles born over that four-year period to find out more about their lives.

The three daughters featured in the ‘Papa, Nicole: The Story Lives On’ campaign are real-life Nicoles named after Renault’s famous protagonist. The idea behind the unscripted, documentary-style videos is to tell the stories of modern fatherhood and female independence. Meanwhile, the classic Clio from the 90s has been replaced by the Megane E-Tech electric car.

Running across social, display, print and out-of-home until the end of July, the campaign intends to speak to two audiences at different life stages – the 20- to 39-year-old “modern-day Nicoles” and the 40- to 60-year-olds who remember the 90s Papa Nicole campaign.

“Bringing the nostalgic Papa Nicole ad into a modern dimension hits the nail on the head,” says marketing director for Renault UK and Ireland, Louise O’Sullivan.

“We’re adding a modern chapter into the much-loved story as we get to know real-life Papas and Nicoles. From exploring the ever-adapting dynamic between fathers and daughters, to the fact that the campaign will run on social instead of TV: every aspect of this campaign is relevant right now in 2022.”



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