Tesco, Gousto, Authentic Brands Group: 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.


Tesco hikes meal deal price for non-Clubcard members

Tesco is adding its popular £3 meal deals to its Clubcard Prices loyalty scheme, meaning that from next week, the price for non-Clubcard members will jump by 50p to £3.50.

As an additional bonus for members, 2,000 Tesco stores will allow Costa hot drinks to form part of a meal deal for 12 weeks from February 28. Normally a hot drink would cost as much as £2.85 by itself.

“Adding our ever-popular lunchtime meal deal to Clubcard Prices is the latest way we’re rewarding our 20 million Clubcard members with exclusive deals on thousands of products,” says chief customer officer Alessandra Bellini.

“Clubcard Prices have already given millions of customers the power to lower the cost of their weekly shop – and all while earning points for money off their shopping or rewards like family days out at Alton Towers or a Disney+ subscription.”

There are now over 3,000 products on Clubcard Prices. Last month the grocer announced Tesco Clubcard Pay+, a pre-paid debit card to help shoppers manage their budgets and pick up extra Clubcard points.

Elsewhere, Tesco has announced it is trialling a plant-based protection for fruit in its store, to help keep it fresh for up to twice as long. The product, ‘Apeel’, could also help reduce plastic packaging.

The trial is taking place in approximately 80 Tesco Extras and Superstores around the Peterborough area on Jaffa Oranges, Jaffa Sweet Easy Peelers and lemon packs. It will then be put through Tesco customer panels for feedback.

Sarah Bradbury, Tesco group quality director, says: “Tackling food waste is one of the ways we’re working hard to minimise our environmental impact and help protect the planet. Apeel could be a powerful tool in helping us cut waste in our supply chain and help customers reduce it in their homes.”

Gousto secures £170m in additional funding

Gousto box

Recipe box company Gousto has landed an additional $230m (£170m) in funding, having “succeeded in disrupting the traditional grocery channel”.

SoftBank Vision Fund 2, the equity arm of the Japanese tech giant, has increased its stake in the business, replacing other investors. The business had already invested $100m (£75m) last month, in a round that secured Gousto a valuation of $1.7bn (£1.3bn).

“We have been closely watching the growth and performance of Gousto for the last few years and have been greatly impressed with what Timo [Boldt, founder and CEO] and his team have achieved,” says Max Ohrstrand, investor for SoftBank Investment Advisers.

“We believe they have succeeded in disrupting the traditional grocery channel when it comes to how we consume the evening meal.”

Boldt says SoftBank’s increased stake “speaks volumes for where they see the business heading”.

Gousto also welcomed three additional blue-chip institutional investors onto its register in Fidelity International, Grosvenor Food & AgTech, and Railpen, which Boldt adds is “testament to the important role Gousto is playing in reducing food waste and carbon emissions in the food supply chain”.

The company currently employs over 220 people, and has plans to increase this number to 500 by the end of this year.

Discovery Sports appoints new marketing lead

Discovery has promoted David Bernard-Bret to vice president of marketing for Discovery Sports, overseeing all marketing activity for the broadcaster’s sports business and brands.

Bernard-Bret will lead the dedicated creative and brand marketing functions for the division, as well as the teams driving marketing activity for Discovery Sports’ consumer and B2B brands.

These include Eurosport, Global Cycling Network (GCN), Golf Digest and Discovery Sports Events, as well as all sports programming and content on streaming platform discovery+ and Discovery’s free-to-air TV networks in Europe.

He was previously Discovery Sports’ senior director of campaigns, and prior to that spent 13 years at Eurosport until its acquisition by the broadcaster in 2014.

“I look forward to leading our talented marketing and creative team ahead of what is a hugely exciting period of live sport and continued evolution of our Discovery Sports brands,” says Bernard-Bret.

“We have set a strong foundation through establishing sport on discovery+ and there is great opportunity ahead to continue to bring broader audiences, as well as new and different customers, to our platforms and help keep them engaged in our award-winning content.”

Authentic Brands Group in strategic partnership with David Beckham

Source: Authentic Brands Group

Retail and entertainment conglomerate Authentic Brands Group (ABG) has entered into a partnership with former footballer David Beckham to co-own and manage his global brand.

While ABG has not disclosed the financial terms of the deal, a source told CNBC the company paid around $269m (£201m) for a 55% stake in DB Ventures, which manages Beckham’s endorsement deals with companies such as whisky label Haig and Tudor watches.

Beckham has also become a shareholder in ABG, the company behind retailers such as Forever 21 and Barneys New York, and which counts celebrated athletes such as Muhammad Ali and Shaquille O’Neal within its entertainment portfolio.

Beckham and his management team are partnering with ABG to grow the David Beckham brand through strategic endorsements, innovative business models, compelling digital and media partnerships and new consumer products.

As part of the deal, ABG has become the largest shareholder in Studio 99, the creative and production studio co-founded by Beckham in 2019. The company is developing a number of documentary series for platforms including Netflix and Disney+, and also creates content and marketing campaigns for a range of global brand clients.

According to ABG, the partnership marks a “definitive step” in the business’s global strategy to expand its corporate footprint, launch new business verticals and drive growth in key territories, including EMEA and APAC. As part of this next phase, ABG has opened its European headquarters in London, which will house the David Beckham team.

“We are thrilled to welcome David Beckham to ABG’s esteemed entertainment division and even further honored to call him an ABG shareholder. David is a superstar talent with an incredible global brand reach and a highly influential presence,” said Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and CEO of ABG.

“David and his team have built an enterprise that spans sports, entertainment, lifestyle and luxury, and we see significant opportunities to scale his brand and expand it into new verticals.”

ABG is in the process of acquiring sports brand Reebok from Adidas for approximately $2.5bn (£1.9bn).

Ukraine crisis to cause further energy price surge

The Ukraine crisis could drive household energy bills over as much as £3,000 a year in England, Wales and Scotland, a report by Investec has warned.

The bank expects the energy price cap to reach £3,238 for the average home when next adjusted in October. The cap is already to rise by £693 to £1,971 in April.

Such a rise could “plunge many people into fuel poverty” and create an “eat or heat dilemma” next winter, Investec analyst Martin Young said.

Russia is the largest natural gas exporter in the world, and there are concerns President Putin may constrict supplies to Europe in response to any sanctions, driving up wholesale prices as a result.

Rising prices across energy and consumer goods has driven consumer confidence to its lowest score in 13 months over February.

GfK’s latest Consumer Confidence Barometer reveals a seven-point drop to an overall index score of -26 for February. A lower score hasn’t been seen since January 2021, which at -28 was one of the worst points in the Covid-19 crisis.

Read more: Ukraine crisis: Warning UK energy bills could top £3,000 a year

Thursday, 24 February

Lloyds Bank

Lloyds unveils new strategy backed by £4bn investment

Lloyds Banking Group says “successful strategic execution” is helping the business achieve its customer-focused ambitions, as pre-tax profits rose 6% to £6.9bn for the full year.

The organisation now plans to invest £4bn over the next five years in a new strategy to become a “UK customer-focused digital leader and integrated financial services provider, capitalising on new opportunities, at scale”. Lloyds wants to “deepen relationships” with existing customers by making its channels simpler and more personalised to use.

Describing this as an “exciting new chapter”, the company believes the new strategy will set the group on a higher growth trajectory with “more diversified revenue streams”. The bank says its purpose – helping Britain prosper – is driving the business model and strategic choices.

Efforts will focus on improving access to quality housing, promoting financial inclusion and education, enabling regional development and creating a more diverse workforce. Lloyds will commit to reduce the carbon emissions it finances by more than 50% by 2030, with its own operations becoming net zero by 2030.

“I am confident that the group’s purpose, customer focus, unique business model and significant competitive strengths, embodied in our ambitious strategy will ensure the group is able to deliver higher, more sustainable long-term returns and capital generation for our shareholders, whilst meeting the needs of broader stakeholders,” says group chief executive Charlie Nunn.

Describing growth as the “core focus” of the strategy, Lloyds will spend around two-thirds of the £3bn earmarked for strategic investment over the next three years on diversifying revenue.

The banking group has 26 million “customer relationships” and more than 18 million digitally active users, making it the UK’s “largest digital bank”. Lloyds wants to increase its digitally active customers by more than 10% by 2024 to in excess of 20 million customers, leaning into its data and analytics capability to deliver personalised engagement, offers and pricing.

Over the past year, Lloyds says it has succeeded in strengthening its digital offering and attaining “record levels” of customer satisfaction, with its all-channel net promoter score maintained at 69 for the year. The bank achieved 60% growth in SME products originated via digital compared to the previous year, driven by “increased digital marketing and improved client journeys”.

The plan is for Lloyds to increase the depth of its existing relationships by more than 5% by 2024, providing more personalised and relevant engagement.

The new strategy will also see Lloyds target a “mass affluent” audience, which the company deems an attractive and currently under-served segment. The business sees a “clear gap in the market” for a digital-first, integrated offering combining a full set of banking, insurance and investment products.

The idea is to offer this pool of mass affluent customers – with income or wealth above £75,000 – a scale digital wealth offering and integrated banking solution.

In terms of cost savings, Lloyds is looking to reduce “central functions and office overheads” through a combination of automation, process simplification and a move to hybrid working aimed at cutting the company’s office footprint by 30% by 2024.

Ikea opens £170m shopping centre in London

Ikea HammersmithIkea is opening the doors of Livat in London’s Hammersmith, the company’s first city centre shopping mall worldwide.

The retail giant has invested £170m in renovating Hammersmith’s former Kings Mall over the past two years to create Livat, the first shopping centre parent company Ingka Holding has refurbished rather than built from scratch, the Guardian reports.

Housing Ikea’s only high street store in the UK, Livat is just over a third the size of a typical mall in Ingka Holding’s retail portfolio, which currently spans 47 shopping centres globally. Alongside Ikea, the fully let mall will include supermarket Lidl, a rent-by-the hour retail/events space called Sook and Library of Things, a social enterprise.

According to the Guardian, there will be a small market hall for local food pop-ups, alongside Ikea’s Swedish deli and two further cafes selling meatballs, open sandwiches and coffees. Outside the developers have created a wildflower meadow and seating area for council tenants in the residential block above the mall.

Managing director of Ikea’s property arm Ingka Centres, Cindy Andersen, describes the opening of Livat as the “first step” on the company’s journey to develop more city centre locations.

“This was a perfect opportunity to refurbish an existing location which has been established for a long time and taking the next step to put some new energy into the place,” she says.

This is the first phase in a series of high street plans for Ikea in the UK. Ingka Holding bought Topshop’s 100,000sq ft former flagship store on Oxford Street in October for an estimated £378m. The long leasehold on the building also includes Nike Town and a store run by footwear brand Vans.

The Topshop outlet is set to reopen as an Ikea store in autumn 2023, as Ingka Holding plans to spend £1bn on projects in London over the next three years.

Ikea has, however, pulled out of smaller format high street locations. In July 2021 the retail giant closed its planning studio on Tottenham Court Road after three years, a site which specialised in kitchens and bedrooms, but did not sell products.

READ MORE: Ikea opens first city centre shopping mall in west London

Puma credits Olympics for fuelling ‘brand heat’ as sales soar

Puma is hailing the success of its sponsored athletes at the Tokyo Summer Olympics for underscoring the company’s credibility as a sports brand and driving “brand heat”.

Describing 2021 as an “excellent year” for the brand, Puma saw sales increase 31.7% over the full year period to €6.81bn (£5.7bn) and by 29.8% on a two-year basis. In the Americas sales rose by 53.9% to €2.64bn (£2.2bn) over the full year, while in EMEA sales were up 28.2% and increased by 10.6% in the Asia Pacific region.

Puma’s wholesale business was up 35% in the year to €5.08bn (£4.2bn), while direct-to-consumer sales increased by 22.8% to €1.72bn (£1.4bn). Sales across Puma’s owned and operated retail stores rose by 30.3% over the full year, with ecommerce sales up 11.3%.

Footwear sales grew fastest over the full year period, up 36% to €3.16bn (£2.6bn), with apparel sales up 28.6% to €2.52bn (£2.1bn) and accessories sales rising by 27.2% to €1.12bn (£934m).

Puma saw operating expenses rise by 20.3% to €2.72bn (£2.3bn), due in part to higher marketing expenses, the business says. Overall, EBITA increased “significantly” to €557.1m (£465m) due to “very strong sales growth”, higher gross profit margin and continued control over operating expenses, the highest operating result Puma has ever achieved.

Referring to the brand’s eight strategic priorities, Puma wants to continue to “create brand heat”, develop product ranges that are right for consumers and build a “comprehensive offer” for women.

The sportswear company is also looking to improve the quality of its distribution, increase the speed and efficiency of its organisational infrastructure, strengthen its positioning in North America by leveraging its re-entry into basketball and put a stronger focus on local relevance and sustainability.

Celebrating the “best year” in the brand’s history, CEO Bjørn Gulden called out continued brand momentum, combined with high operational flexibility, for the success.

“At the start of 2022 Covid-19 is unfortunately still negatively affecting our supply chain, inflationary pressures are having a negative impact on our costs and operating margins and the geo-political situation remains very tense,” he adds.

“We will have to continue our hard work in this difficult environment, but I remain very optimistic for the future of both our sector in general and Puma in particular. Our continued brand momentum, strong demand for our products and very good feedback from our retail partners make me very optimistic.”

Reebok eyes luxury collaborations with European partnership

ReebokReebok’s new owner Authentic Brands Group has signed a deal with premium design, production and distribution platform New Guards Group to explore luxury collaborations for the sportswear brand in Europe.

The long-term strategic partnership will see Farfetch-owned New Guards Group become the core operating partner for Reebok in Europe, taking on the sportswear company’s branded retail stores and ecommerce operations, as well as the wholesale distribution. The agreement includes footwear, sportswear and activewear for men, women and children.

The New Guards Group will also become the exclusive partner to “create, curate and bring-to-market” luxury collaborations and distribute premium Reebok products to fashion accounts in over 50 countries including the US, Canada and across Europe.

The partnership will come into force once Authentic Brands Group, the company behind brands such as Aeropostale and Forever 21, completes is €2.1bn (£1.8bn) acquisition of Reebok from Adidas. The takeover, first announced in August, is expected to be complete during the first quarter.

Authentic Brands Group CEO Jamie Salter says New Guards Group will bring its “expertise in luxury” to Reebok, alongside its global tech distribution capabilities, in a bid to “elevate Reebok’s legacy of product innovation”. New Guards Group will partner with Reebok’s global design hub on product design, development and creative direction to drive a “unified brand voice and vision”.

Calling Reebok an “iconic brand”, New Guards CEO Davide de Giglio says his business has fresh ideas to “infuse into the brand” and the partners see huge potential for growth.

Chief commercial and sustainability officer at New Guards Group’s parent company Farfetch, Giorgio Belloli says the partnership will drive “significant buzz and organic traffic” to the Farfetch website, where customers can shop future “exciting collaborations” between Reebok and other brands.

“This partnership is a key pillar of our strategy to expand Reebok’s presence worldwide,” adds Authentic Brands Group CMO Nick Woodhouse.

“New Guards Group is respected within the luxury fashion space and we are thrilled to welcome their expertise to the Reebok brand with this innovative partnership.”

Family optimism dips as cost of living bites, says M&S

Cost of living concerns driven by rising fuel and energy prices have led to a 7% drop in optimism for family prospects to 40%, according to Marks & Spencer’s Family Matters data. By contrast, during the national lockdown in March 2021 optimism stood at 51%.

The Family Matters index score this quarter is 53, down from 55 in August 2021. The index score is based on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being highest, with a mid-point score of 50 or above representing a positive, optimistic perspective.

Some 65% of families cite the environment as a key concern, compared to 64% in August and 61% in March 2021. More than half (60%) of consumers surveyed say they are educating themselves about their environmental impact, while 72% agree shoppers should make their clothes last longer. A further 41% have made changes to the food they buy, and 36% the clothing they purchase, due to climate change.

The research suggests consumers expect retailers to make similar changes, with 58% of respondents saying it’s important the shops they buy from make their products as sustainable as possible.

Family health has emerged as the fastest-growing concern since August among 56% of respondents, up 5% on the summer. However, less than a third (31%) of people are now concerned about their children’s education, down from 37% in March 2021 and 33% in August last year.

Furthermore, 53% of respondents are planning a lifestyle change this year, with two thirds (66%) of 18-24- and 25-34-year olds hoping to try something new in 2022. For 63% of 18-24 year olds, the priority is doing more exercise, while for 57% of 25-34 year olds exercise, as well as prioritising mental health, are top of their lists.

M&S points to different initiatives it has in place to support families, including extending its ‘Remarksable’ campaign from food to the home division in order to promote entry level price points across the range.

“As a business with 32 million customers, we know families across the UK trust us to meet their evolving needs and offer trusted value with great quality products sourced and sold with care, so we can help build a sustainable future,” says director of communications, Victoria McKenzie-Gould.

“That’s why we are expanding our Remarksable range to include home essentials, helping families to be more sustainable with our Sparking Change challenge and working towards becoming a net zero business by 2040, as part of our Plan A sustainability action plan.”

Wednesday, 23 February

Innocent ad banned by ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an ad for drinks brand Innocent, after upholding complaints that it was overstating the environmental benefits of its products. The regulator agreed that the ad could be misleading and ruled that it must not be shown again in its current form.

The ad, shown on video-on-demand, TV and as a paid-for ad on YouTube, featured animated characters singing a song with lyrics about how humans are ‘messing up the planet’ before resolving to ‘Fix it up real good’. The ad depicted a damaged planet and brown foodstuffs, before switching to images of a green planet while the characters consumer Innocent drinks.

The ASA received 26 complaints, including one from a person representing pressure group Plastics Rebellion, which challenged whether the ad exaggerated the environmental benefits of Innocent’s products and was therefore misleading.

Innocent responded to the complaints by saying the ad set out a purpose-led message that invited consumers to join it on a journey towards working towards a healthier planet, and that its environmental credentials gave it the standing to make that invitation.

However, the ASA ruled that many consumers would interpret the ad to mean that purchasing Innocent Drinks would have a positive environmental impact. While the ASA acknowledged that the brand was making efforts to reduce its environmental impact, it said there was no evidence to suggest the products had a net positive environmental impact and that for this reason the ads were misleading.

M&S launches partnership with Clinique

M&S CliniqueM&S Beauty has launched a new collaboration with skincare and make-up brand Clinique. From the summer around 500 Clinique products will be available in-store and online from the retailer.

Clinique counters are to be installed in 34 larger destination stores, with expert staff available to help customers, while a further 40 M&S branches will have bespoke Clinique fixtures in locations including the menswear departments. Click-and-collect and next day delivery services will be available for the ranges.

The selection offers products for women and men, including all of Clinique’s bestsellers. M&S says the tie-up is part of a strategic focus on skincare, an area of beauty sales which proved resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A compelling beauty offer is part of our plans to reshape M&S – innovating with our own brands and continuing to introduce complementary third-party products such as skincare experts Clinique,” says M&S clothing and home managing director Richard Price.

“Our broad customer base and reach makes us an attractive platform partner and in turn introducing beauty brands helps us become more relevant, more often for our 22 million customers – offering them a convenient and seamless shopping experience. We’re also pleased to be introducing a bespoke in-store offer in our destination stores where we know customers appreciate having someone on hand to help with purchasing.”

Clinique UK and Ireland vice-president and general manager, Rachel Baker, describes the tie-up as “an extremely exciting time for Clinique”, adding that M&S offers a “convenient hybrid shopping experience”.

New brand platform for PizzaExpress

PizzaExpress RebrandPizzaExpress has launched a new ‘Expressly for Everyone’ brand platform, with a new look and feel, in a bid to align itself with a sense of innovation and self-expression.

Working with agencies Truant London and VB&P, the chain has introduced a new logo, typography and colours as part of the project. The brand has also launched the PizzaExpress Club rewards scheme and new menu items, including lunchtime pizza wraps.

The loyalty scheme is to be promoted through a new TV and social campaign, which features pizza-loving customers doing mischievous things. TV ads will run at peak times across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, representing the first major TV campaign from the brand in a decade.

“Together with our valued agency partners we are reinvigorating one of the nation’s favourite brands,” says PizzaExpress chief customer officer Shadi Halliwell.

“While everyone undeniably loves pizza, what we get out of it is expressly different. Our new brand positioning of ‘Expressly for Everyone’ simply means we want to celebrate and elevate the many ways people enjoy our food. That’s why we’re always expanding our offering, so no matter who you are we’ll always have something for you at PizzaExpress.”

Jameson invites consumers to ‘Widen the Circle’ for St Patrick’s Day

Jameson Irish whiskey brand Jameson is launching a six-week campaign in the run-up to St Patrick’s Day this year in a bid to generate mass awareness of the brand.

Launching today, the ‘Widen the Circle’ campaign will see Jameson invest heavily in on- and off-trade activity, experiential promotions and PR, supported by TV, cinema, broadcaster video-on-demand and social media. The fully-integrated campaign will feature actor, writer and comedian Aising Bea, and focuses on messages of human connections.

Jameson plans to reach more than 71% of the UK’s ABC1 25-44 year-old market with the 30-seond hero ad during March. The brand will be partnering with retailers to offer consumers the chance to win drinks, while the London Eye will be hosting a Pub Pod takeover. A ‘Jameson Open House Party’ at The Bike Shed in Hackney will run from 11-19 March.

“We want to encourage consumers to spark conversation over a glass of Jameson and ‘Widen the Circle’ is our inclusive invitation to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with friends old and new,” says Leanne Banks, marketing director at brand owner Pernod Ricard UK.

“We have consistently invested in the occasion and this year will be going even bigger. Our new campaign will move away from the heavy broadcast campaigns of previous years to a more integrated multi-touchpoint approach, that will allow us to engage in a two-way dialogue with consumers in a relevant way. We look forward to delivering fun and engaging experiences that will inspire consumers to connect with others.”

Patagonia film explores black life in Britain

Outdoor brand Patagonia has launched its latest documentary ‘Run to the Source’, which sees the brand’s trail running ambassador, Martin Johnson, attempt to set a new fastest known time for the Thames River Trail.

He ran the 184-mile route, from the Thames Barrier in South-East London to the source of the Thames in the Cotswolds, on 25 May 2021, the first anniversary of the killing of George Floyd. The film sees Johnson, an athlete and a black British man, contemplate the history of black people in Britain while facing a gruelling physical challenge.

Johnson’s journey is interspersed with archive footage that contextualises the experience of being black in Britain over the last century.

“I hope Run to the Source might prompt viewers to seek out some of the lesser known and shared histories of the lands around us, which have shaped our societies and the layers of privilege which exist within them,” says Johnson.

Tuesday, 22 February

IcelandIceland expands Uber Eats tie-up to additional 200 stores

Supermarket Iceland is introducing rapid delivery with Uber Eats to a further 200 stores, as part of its commitment to “make customers’ lives easier”.

The additional stores will be added to the Uber Eats platform from April, the Grocer reports, bringing the total to over 300. Approximately 3,000 Iceland products are available for delivery in as little as 20 minutes.

“Iceland is committed to delivering a wide range of everyday essentials as well as big brand products at great value,” said Iceland trading director Andrew Staniland.

“Finding solutions to make customers’ lives easier is key and this partnership does just that.”

Iceland first partnered with Uber Eats in 2020 from its Hackney branch in London.

Several supermarkets have partnership deals with Uber Eat’s rival Deliveroo, including Co-op, Morrisons and Waitrose. Sainsbury’s products are available on both platforms.

Meanwhile, Iceland claims its peak home delivery capacity has increased by 375% since 2020 as it ramps up its online capabilities, having identified this as a key source of growth for the business.

READ MORE: Iceland to offer Uber Eats delivery from 200 more stores

Businesses raise concerns as government cuts free Covid testing

Trade organisations and unions have raised concerns that the government’s decision to scrap free Covid tests could have a damaging impact on businesses, arguing the economic benefits of testing “far outweigh the costs”.

While the government’s ambition to ease restrictions has been welcomed as the economy inches closer to pre-pandemic trading conditions, free testing has been deemed “key” to managing workplace sickness and maintaining consumer confidence.

“For many firms, this move will not be without its challenges and Government must not pass public health decisions on to the business community, who are not public health experts,” said the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)’s co-executive director, Claire Walker.

“Members continue to tell us that access to free testing is key to managing workplace sickness and maintaining consumer confidence. If the government is to remove this, companies must still be able to access tests on a cost-effective basis.”

Businesses also need to understand how the government will respond to further variants or a future pandemic, Walker added.

“Firms will only truly be able to ‘Live with Covid’ when they are confident that a plan is in place for future outbreaks. Uncertainty will put a brake on investment and the shadow of the pandemic could continue to loom over our economy for some time to come.”

Matthew Fell, chief policy director at the Confederation of British Industry, said while firms want the government’s new policy to be a “springboard for confidence”, they are “also aware that the virus hasn’t disappeared”.

“While free testing cannot continue forever, there is a balance to be struck between confidence building and cost-cutting. Mass lateral flow testing has kept our economy open and firms continue to believe the economic benefits far outweigh the costs,” he said.

On top of scrapping free tests, prime minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday (21 February) that people testing positive for Covid-19 will no longer legally have to isolate from Thursday 24 February, while sick pay rules will revert to pre-pandemic arrangements.

Low-income workers may suffer the most from these changes, the Trade Union Congress’ general secretary Frances O’Grady has warned.

“Charging for Covid tests in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis is a crazy decision,” she said.

“Ministers have been warned again and again by unions, businesses and public health experts not to scrap free Covid tests. But they have ignored these pleas.”

Heinz unveils pasta sauce range with tongue-in-cheek ad

Heinz has taken out a full-page print ad in the Guardian apologising to the British public and Heinz founder Henry Heinz for taking 150 years to develop a range of pasta sauces.

Created by Wunderman Thompson Spain, the ad’s long form copy promises the sauce is worth the wait, “because nothing so ridiculously good, has come so ridiculously late”. The creative agency has been involved in the conceptualisation of the product range from the beginnings, from packaging design to the launch strategy.

The campaign will be supported by TV, digital, social media, and out-of-home (OOH) activity, including a Leicester Square billboard featuring the range’s seven sauces and the line: “150 years late. 7 ways to apologise.”

According to Kraft-Heinz’s new ventures director, Caio Fontenele, the launch of the new range is an “important step” in the business’s strategy to expand the Heinz brand into new categories.

“Despite our extensive agriculture heritage and tomato expertise, this is the first Heinz pasta sauce launched in the UK —a market where Heinz is annually ranked amongst the most loved food brands,” he says.

“It was natural to have launched a pasta sauce, but we didn’t. Yes, we are ridiculously late. The Wunderman Thompson collaboration and fresh eyes on our brand resulted in a powerful and simple campaign, that points up the iconicity of Heinz in a rejuvenated way without trying too hard. And the result is ridiculously good.”

Outdoor assets were produced by Kiwi Visuals, with animations by Gimmewings. Oxígeno Productions produced 30 second and 20 second TVCs, while media planning and buying was handled by Carat UK.

LinkedIn sponsors Women’s Euros to further commitment towards working women

LinkedIn sports UEFA Women's EURO 2022
Source: LinkedIn/Christopher Lee/UEFA

LinkedIn will be furthering its promise to “make work work for women” this year with two strategic partnerships, the first of which is a national sponsorship deal with the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 football tournament.

Hosted in England, the tournament is due to be the biggest European women’s sporting event in history. LinkedIn will use the tournament as a platform to showcase female talent, with activations demonstrating how LinkedIn can support other women achieve their goals.

LinkedIn is also entering into a global partnership with International Women’s Day, which takes place this year on 8 March. The partnership will focus on tackling systemic barriers which hold back women’s careers and highlight the importance of flexibility at work.

“At LinkedIn we’re championing a gender equal world that’s diverse and inclusive – and it’s a privilege to support two organisations that actively share and celebrate these values,” says the platform’s vice president of communications and brand, Ngaire Moyes.

“UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 is set to be a landmark event that will provide professional female footballers with a platform to showcase their remarkable talent and achievements – inspiring others to do the same. And our partnership with International Women’s Day will engage LinkedIn’s community of over 810 million members to share experiences that will help make the workplace fairer for women.”

Last year LinkedIn saw “record” levels of engagement from members and companies around International Women’s Day, Moyes adds.

Research from LinkedIn last year found that 44% of women of childbearing age say the pandemic has made them more likely to give up work while raising children. Meanwhile, a report from the International Labour Organisation found women’s employment declined by 4.2% during the pandemic, compared to 3% among men.

Trump’s social-media platform now live

Donald Trump’s alternative social-media platform, ‘Truth Social’, has now officially launched on the US Apple App Store.

The platform is still only available in a limited form, and some early users have reportedly faced difficulties in registering accounts. According to the Reuters news agency, some of those trying to register were told they have been placed on a “waitlist” due to “massive demand”.

Head of the Trump Media and Technology Group Devin Nunes has said the platform is expected to be fully operational by the end of March.

Those who have managed to access the network have noted the similarities to Twitter, with similar reply, retweet and “like” functions, and a tick badge for verified accounts in red rather than Twitter’s blue.

Twitter is one of the platforms Trump was banned from last year following the US Capitol attack on 6 January 2021, after the social media site ruled Trump had glorified violence. He is also banned from Facebook for inciting violence, as well as YouTube.

Truth Social describes itself as a “big tent” social media platform encouraging an “open, free and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology”.

Truth Social is pitching its content as “family friendly” and has reportedly teamed up with San Francisco-based company Hive to moderate posts using cloud-based artificial intelligence.

READ MORE: Truth Social: Banned from Twitter, Trump returns with a new platform

Monday, 21 February

mcdonald'sMcDonald’s in row with investor over animal welfare

A McDonald’s investor is calling on the fast food chain to revamp its US pork supply chain, while also proposing two people for election to the company’s board.

Carl Icahn, who is reportedly a minority shareholder in the business owning 200 shares, says the way pigs are reared in the US supply chain is “obscene”. He argues the practice of housing pregnant pigs in small crates is cruel and wants all US pork producers supplying McDonald’s to switch to “crate-free pork” along specified timelines.

He has also nominated two individuals – Leslie Samuelrich and Maisie Ganzler – to stand for election to the McDonald’s board at the 2022 annual meeting.

In response, McDonald’s says the board will evaluate the nominees according to a selection process which has been updated to reflect the company’s values and business strategy.

On the issue of pork, the brand says it has a “decades-long commitment” to animal health and welfare, and its overall ESG strategy. McDonald’s claims to be leading the way by sourcing only 1% of its supplies from US pork production.

The chain points to its move in 2012 to become the first major brand to make a commitment to source from producers who do not use gestational crates for pregnant sows. By 2024, the company expects 100% of its US pork will come from sows housed in groups during pregnancy.

Reacting to Icahn’s stipulation to move to “crate-free pork”, McDonald’s says that given the current progress in the industry it would be “impossible” to make this type of commitment along his timelines.

“Furthermore, it reflects a departure from the veterinary science used for large-scale production throughout the industry and would harm the company’s shared pursuit of providing customers with high quality products at accessible prices,” the brand adds.

McDonald’s also points to the fact Icahn is the majority owner of Viskase, a company producing and supplying packaging for the pork and poultry industry. The brand describes it as “noteworthy” Icahn has yet to publicly call on Viskase to adopt commitments similar to those McDonald’s signed up to in 2012.

READ MORE: McDonald’s pig policy fight escalates with board nominations

Trump-backed social media app nearing launch

Donald Trump’s new social media app Truth Social is reportedly nearing launch, with suggestions it could go live in some capacity today.

The app is set to go live on the Apple App Store this week, according to head of the Trump Media and Technology Group Devin Nunes, The Guardian reports. The Truth Social app already appears on the App Store with a message saying: ‘Expected Feb 21’.

However, Nunes told Fox News the goal is for the app to be “fully operational” in the US by the end of March.

Trump’s son Donald Jr tweeted a screenshot of his father’s first Truth Social post, which appeared very similar to Twitter aside from the blue tick for verified accounts, which has been switched to red.

The former US president was permanently banned from Twitter following the US Capitol attack on 6 January 2021, after the social media site ruled Trump had glorified violence. He is also banned from Facebook for inciting violence.

According to The Guardian, Truth Social describes itself as a “big tent” social media platform encouraging an “open, free and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology”. From a video hosting perspective, the social media app will be backed by conservative video platform Rumble.

Truth Social is pitching its content as “family friendly” and has reportedly teamed up with San Francisco-based company Hive to moderate posts using cloud-based artificial intelligence.

READ MORE: Trump Truth Social app will be fully operational by end of March, Nunes says

Peloton CEO eyes app store potential

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New Peloton CEO Barry McCarthy believes the brand could revitalise sales by switching to a new subscription model with app store potential.

Speaking to the New York Times, McCarthy suggested the fitness company could become an “open platform” and part of the “creator economy”, which may include an app store hosting third-party content. This would move the brand, known for its at-home exercise bikes and treadmills, away from a reliance on fitness equipment.

“Today, it’s a closed platform – but it could be an open platform and part of the creator economy. What other apps would you put on it? Could it be running an app store?” the Peloton CEO told the New York Times.

In the interview McCarthy, appointed earlier this month as the company’s “next phase of leadership”, suggested the brand’s greatest value comes from the on-screen interaction with instructors, music and community features such as leader boards and video chatting.

The former Netflix and Spotify CFO also suggested the company could switch the focus of subscriptions to offer a lower entry point. The idea could be to make the upfront price of the equipment “dramatically lower”, but then recoup the money through a higher subscription fee of “maybe $70 or $80”, versus the current rate of $39 (£29) a month.

McCarthy joined Peloton as part of a major management shake-up, which saw founder John Foley step down as CEO to take on the role of executive chair. Speaking at the time, Foley highlighted McCarthy’s track record of running subscription business models and success in partnering with founder CEOs at other brands, adding that it had been a “humbling time” for the company.

Peloton has cut 2,800 jobs globally, including 20% of corporate roles, in a bid to forge a “clear path to consistent profitability”. The brand is focusing on “marketing spend efficiencies” as it looks to make $800m (£591m) in annual cost savings. In the second quarter, Peloton spent $349.6m (£258.5m) on sales and marketing, equivalent to 30.8% of revenue – an increase of 97% year on year.

READ MORE: Peloton’s new CEO sees app store and overhauled subscription model in its future

NatWest to cut ties with companies lacking ‘credible’ green plans

NatWestNatWest is pledging to cut ties with companies that lack “credible” decarbonisation plans, as the bank promises to stop doing business with coal companies and some “oil and gas majors”.

Head of climate James Close told the Financial Times the changes would be enforced “as soon as is practicable”, adding that the firms in question numbered “dozens or less”. He described the decision to end relationships with businesses that lack a green strategy as sending a “powerful signal”.

In 2020 NatWest, a sponsor of last year’s Cop26 global climate conference, committed to stop lending to companies with “more than 15% of activities related to coal”, as well as to large oil and gas producers, unless such companies had credible transition plans in place by the end of last year.

As of December, the bank had £1.43bn of exposure to such companies. The plan is to wind down lending and underwriting activities to businesses accounting for £967m of that sum, given their decarbonisation plans were deemed “insufficient”.

NatWest’s assessment was based on whether the company’s strategy was aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement and how credible the plans were, taking into account factors such as their investments and executive incentives.

In its annual results, reported on 18 February, NatWest outlined its target to provide an additional £100bn climate and sustainable funding and financing to customers by the end of 2025, alongside plans to launch a new green loan product for SMEs.

Reaffirming its commitment to help accelerate the transition to a net-zero economy, the bank has lent £728m via its green mortgage product, introduced a carbon-tracking feature in its mobile banking app and teamed up with Octopus Energy on an electric vehicle scheme.

READ MORE: NatWest cuts exposure to most polluting clients (£)

Market research apprenticeship looks to attract ‘much needed’ talent

The Market Research Society (MRS) has launched a Level 4 market research executive apprenticeship in a bid to attract diverse talent to the sector.

The programme is designed to attract and train school leavers aged 18 years or older, as well as to upskill employees already working within a research role. Apprentices will learn to collect, analyse and interpret findings using qualitative and quantitative – as well as digital and non-digital – techniques.

The apprenticeship standard has been created in collaboration with brands including Ipsos Mori, Disney, Channel 4 and Compare the Market, and has been approved by the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

Through the programme the MRS says it wants to promote social mobility, building a diverse and inclusive sector reflective of the population which market and social research seeks to understand.

“As industries across the UK grapple with labour shortages, apprenticeships offer us the opportunity to build vital skills and to attract and retain much needed talent,” says MRS CEO Jane Frost CBE.

“The programme we have developed alongside our partners is a significant practical step forward to supporting social inclusion and continuing to deliver a world-leading market and social research sector.”



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