KFC, Asda, Ocado: 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.


‘The Colonel is not crazy’: KFC launches fried chicken image bank for rivals

KFC has launched a media library featuring pictures of its products for competitor restaurants to use – free of charge.

It comes as the fried chicken chain says it found other brands had been using its images “improperly, pixelated and in low resolution”.

In a tongue-in-cheek post launching the site, the brand says: “It has come to our attention that many shops are using photos of our chicken to sell, well, their chicken. We get it. They look so crunchy, juicy and irresistible. If it’s a temptation for customers, we can imagine what it’s like for competitors.”

However, KFC says it “can’t accept” the way some of the images are used so it has created the image bank so rivals can download its assets “free of pixelation, free of distortion, free of charge. Ready to be borrowed”.

“No, the Colonel is not crazy,” it adds. “We’re just happy they love our images as much as we do. Because even though they can borrow our pictures, they will never borrow our taste.”

KFC pulled a similar stunt in 2019 when it took aim at all the chicken shops that trade on its name, such as LFC, Lip Lickin’ and Memphis Fried Chicken. The TV ad ended with the line ‘KFC. Only available at KFC’, while the print ad said ‘Guys, we’re flattered’ under a collage of imitation KFC brand names.

Ocado U-turns on Z logo after ‘Zwastika’ comparisons

Ocado is set to redesign the branding for its rapid delivery service Zoom after the logo featuring a white Z was likened to the symbol used by Russian forces invading Ukraine.

The branding for its new business, which was only launched last Friday, has been compared to the symbol used on Russian military vehicles dubbed the ‘Zwastika’.

Sharing the logo on Twitter alongside a picture of the Ukraine flag, one campaign group said: “What a time to launch a rebrand using a white Z.”

Ocado has confirmed it will be rethinking the logo as a result.

“In light of current circumstances we are making a small change to an icon ahead of our upcoming Zoom by Ocado rebrand,” the online supermarket said.

“Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people and everyone impacted by Russia’s invasion of their country. The human tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, and the refugee crisis along its borders, has shocked the world.”

Ocado says it has contributed £150,000 to the DEC Ukraine crisis appeal to help provide food, first aid, shelter, medicine, clothes and other aid to those most in need.

READ MORE: Ocado to redesign Zoom logo after it draws ‘Zwastika’ comparisons

Asda extends trial of first loyalty scheme to 48 stores

asdaAsda has confirmed it is extending its loyalty scheme to a further 32 stores after seeing early signs of success from its initial 16-store trial.

The supermarket chain launched Asda Rewards in West Yorkshire and the West Midlands in October and is now rolling out the offer to all stores in West Yorkshire – 32 in total – along with four stores in the North East and four in central Scotland. The pilot will also continue in the existing eight stores in Birmingham.

The app-based scheme allows customers to build up their ‘Cashpot’ after buying selected branded and Asda own-label products, including everyday groceries, household and pet products, which can then be converted to vouchers to spend in store.

Shoppers will also earn rewards by completing in-app “missions” such as buying five fruit and veg items to unlock a ‘5 a day badge’.

Missions will also take into account seasonal events such as Mothers’ Day, with one current mission encouraging people to buy a bunch of flowers for £10 to receive £1 in their Cashpot.

Since launching, 90,000 customers have downloaded the app and 50,000 are using it on a regular basis. Customer in the initial trial have earned more than £800,000 in their Cashpot.

Matt Mclellan, vice-president customer proposition and planning, says: “We are really pleased that customers in our trial stores are benefiting from the Asda Rewards app and we’re excited that from today 32 more stores will be taking part across different areas of the UK, as we continue to evolve the programme.”

People’s data privacy concerns falling

Consumers are less concerned about data privacy than they were a decade ago, with people who show little or no concern about how their data is used doubling from 16% in 2012 to 31% in 2022, according to new research.

At the same time, the number of people who are unwilling to share their personal information, even in return for a better service, is declining. This figure has fallen from 31% 10 years ago to 23% today. Age plays a big factor in this scenario though, with 40% of people aged over 65 unwilling to share their data compared to just 9% of those aged 18 to 34.

The highest proportion of consumers fall into the ‘data pragmatist’ category, with 46% happy to share their data as long as there is a clear value exchange. This figure is down from 53% in 2012.

However, while the data does show people’s worry around data privacy is falling, the research by the UK DMA, the Global Data and Market Alliance and Acxiom still finds 69% of UK consumers have high levels of concern about their online privacy, although this is down from 84% in 2012.

This drop is being driven by younger consumers, with 77% of over-65s concerned about online privacy, versus 54% of those aged 18 to 24.

People are also more likely to view the exchange of personal information as essential to enable things to run smoothly. This figure has risen from 38% in 2012 to 60% in 2022.

Consumers are also increasingly realising the value of their personal data, with 61% of people today viewing their personal information as an asset compared to 40% in 2012.

Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA, says: “As the UK’s digital economy, alongside digital markets around the world, continue to advance and mature, there has been an increase in public ease and engagement with data sharing and the digital world. Younger people are digital natives – this is reflected in both their willingness to share data and acceptance of its importance to modern society.”

Arla Food boss warns of milk supply issues if prices don’t rise

Arla Foods, the UK’s largest dairy, has warned milk supplies could be impacted as farmers can no longer cover their expenses.

The pandemic, coupled with rising feed, fuel and fertiliser prices means some farmers are producing less milk but at a higher cost, according to the company’s managing director Ash Amirahmadi.

As a result he says supermarket milk prices need to rise by about a third to cover these spiralling costs and to “keep the milk flowing”.

Costs have risen by some 36% he says and with milk production down 2% in February and 4% in March, “cashflow on the farm is negative”, he told the BBC.

He also pointed out that the price of milk in shops now is 7% lower than it was 10 years ago, but the price consumers pay is different to the price farmers receive.

One Arla dairy farmer told the BBC he had “never experienced conditions like this in 30 years” of working in the industry. The cost of fuel has more than doubled and fertiliser has rocketed from £350 to £900 a tonne.

“There’s no doubt, if the economics don’t stack up one of the options is to scale back production…milk prices need to go up. It’s no longer sustainable,” he said.

READ MORE: Dairy giant warns of supply issues unless wages rise

Thursday, 24 March

Next rounds off ‘exceptionally productive year’

Next has credited its rapidly growing third-party branded business, rebounding sales from physical stores and the continued high performance of its online business for ‘another exceptionally productive year’.

Full price sales of branded goods were up by 12.8% in the full year to January 2022, compared to 2019/20, and by 32.4% compared to 2020/21. The group achieved profit before tax of £823m, an increase of 10% versus 2019/20 and 140% ahead of 2020/21.

Online sales continued to grow during the year, to £3.1bn – compared to physical retail sales of £1.4bn. However, retail sales did see growth of 50.1% year on year as stores reopened following the Covid-19 lockdown. The company made significant capital investments in its warehouse and website technology during the year.

“We have navigated out way through the pandemic and the structural changes affecting our sector, to deliver record sales and earnings per share,” says Next chief executive Lord Wolfson. “We went into the pandemic with a well established online business and a diverse product offer. This allowed our online business to make up for much of the sales we lost in retail; and accommodate the dramatic shift in sales between different product categories experienced during the lockdown.

In guidance for the coming year Next has moderated growth expectations for some overseas markets, after closing its websites in Ukraine and Russia. However, it notes an improved outlook for UK sales.

Nestlé pulls popular brands from Russian market

NestleGlobal food giant Nestlé has pulled popular brands including KitKat and Nesquik from the Russian market but will continue to sell essential foodstuffs, such as baby food ranges, reports the BBC.

The company had faced criticism from Ukranian politicians for continuing sales, leading #BoycottNestle to trend on Twitter. Nestlé had defended its decision to continue selling in Russia by saying it had a responsibility to more than 7,000 employees there.

It stopped investing in Russia last month and has now suspended sales of some ranges.

“As the war rages in Ukraine, our activities in Russia will focus on providing essential food – not on making a profit,” the business said in a statement. “We are fully complying with all international sanctions on Russia.”

“While we do not expect to make a profit in the country or pay any related taxes for the foreseeable future in Russia, any profit will be donated to humanitarian relief organisations. We stand with the people of Ukraine and our 5,800 employees there.”

According to research from YouGov, nearly three-fifths of UK consumers are less likely to buy from brands that continue to do business with Russia.

Food and drink brands including Heineken, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and KFC have suspended sales in Russia.

READ MORE: Nestle pulls KitKat and Nesquik out of Russia

Continued growth for Eve Sleep

Eve Sleep Channel 4 ad takeoverDTC sleep wellness brand Eve has reported its third consecutive year of growth in the UK and Ireland, with revenues up by 22% on the pre-pandemic performance of two years ago. The figures represent the second consecutive year of overall group growth, up 11% on two year comparisons.

The brand saw group revenue of £26.6m for the year ending 31 December 2021, compared to £25.2m in 2020 and £23.9m in 2019. Gross profit for 2021 was £14.7m.

The marketing contribution – which represents the profit or loss after marketing costs but before central overheads – was £3.1m, down from £4.1m last year. Marketing costs accounted for 27% of revenue during 2021.

“Delivering a third year of growth in revenues and marketing contribution in our core UK&I business, notwithstanding the many external challenges faced during the period, demonstrates clearly the sustainability of our recovery and the success of the rebuild strategy,” says Eve Sleep CEO Cheryl Calverley.

“We have managed and mitigated inflationary pressures and supply chain disruption throughout 2021, while the Q4 issue of Covid-related labour supply shortages has now abated. Our push into the sleep wellness space will continue at pace in 2022, including the launch of our first digital services.”

NatWest and Meta offer support for female entrepreneurs

NatWest has teamed up with Meta to offer financial readiness training and other support to female business owners. The support is available as part of the social technology company’s #SheMeansBusiness programme, which provides digital skills, training and networking opportunities.

The partnership builds on existing activities from both brands. NatWest, the UK’s biggest business bank, has ringfenced £2bn to invest in female businesses and taught entrepreneurial skills to 56,000 16- to 18-year-old women during 2021. Meta launched #SheMeansBusiness six years ago as a long-term commitment to support the economic empowerment of women.

A competition will launch next month offering 50 female entrepreneurs the chance to win Meta advertising credits, a digital mentorship to build an advertising campaign, and NatWest coaching and peer-to-peer sessions.

The initiative comes as NatWest, Meta and Getty Images launch a virtual gallery of pioneering female business owners, built in the metaverse. The Female Focus collection is an attempt to challenge narrow views of women in business. Now in its second year, the gallery features images of 30 competition winners from businesses across the UK.

“More women than ever are starting up businesses and we must harness this potential. The latest Rose Review progress report showed that women are starting more businesses than ever: last year 140,000 new businesses were founded by women compared to 56,000 in 2019. Supporting women to build their companies is a key next step and it’s great news that NatWest and Meta have partnered to offer all female entrepreneurs tuition and networking, and a lucky fifty women business owners an even bigger boost to their companies,” says NatWest head of enterprise Julie Baker.

“We know the images of women in business used by the media leaves much to be desired. That’s why Getty Images and NatWest’s project to smash stereotypes by exhibiting pictures of women in different industries is so refreshing. Get inspired and give the metaverse gallery a visit.”

Meta director of global business marketing EMEA Carrie Timms adds: “Women small business owners have fought to keep their doors open during this pandemic. We at Meta want to stand by them, which is why we’re proud to partner with NatWest on this new #SheMeansBusiness programme. Whether it’s help getting an ad campaign up and running, or expert advice on business finance, we hope these new offerings will help women entrepreneurs come back from the pandemic stronger than ever.”

Pilot for online ad regulation launched by ASA and IAB

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), and companies including Google, Meta and TikTok are launching a pilot scheme designed to bring greater accountability and transparency to the role the companies play in advertising regulation.

Heralded as a world first, the set of principles cover how participating companies will raise advertiser awareness of the rules that apply to ads and help the ASA secure compliance. The pilot will run for a year from June 2022.

The participating companies, which include Adform, Amazon Ads, Google, Index Exchange, Meta, TikTok, Twitter and Yahoo, have voluntarily agreed to provide information to the ASA to show how they will operate in accordance with the principles. The ASA will use this and other data gathered during the year to publish an interim report and a final report. The process will help the ASA and other industry stakeholders consider whether and where gaps exist in the ASA’s ability to enforce the CAP Code online.

“The role that leading digital companies play to uphold advertising standards online and help deliver better outcomes for the public is not well-known or understood.  This pilot brings more accountability and transparency to this area of our work and serves as an important contribution to future policy thinking in this area,” says ASA chief executive Guy Parker.

“Creating more transparency and accountability within digital advertising is in all of our best interests and it’s really positive to see our members proactively volunteering to be part of the pilot and demonstrate their commitment to the regulatory system. It’s no secret that the most effective regulatory measures are developed with the co-operation and input of the industry, and based on robust evidence, and we believe that this pilot will set an example of how that can best be achieved,” adds IAB UK CEO Jon Mew.

Wednesday, 23 March

Source: Shutterstock

NatWest to enter ‘buy now, pay later’ market

NatWest will enter the “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) market this summer and become the first high-street bank to offer the service, which allows consumers to spread out payments over time.

The BNPL product will be available to NatWest customers this summer. The bank says the service will be available anywhere that accepts Mastercard, meaning it can be used for both online and in-person payments.

The BNPL sector has so far been dominated by specialist companies like Klarna and Clearpay, while in September digital bank Monzo launched its own BNPL service. PayPal also has a “pay in three” option.

NatWest’s BNPL product will exclude certain transaction, such as spending on gambling and cash transfers. The bank says it is committed to putting safeguards in place for this new offering.

“There’s a clear demand for buy now, pay later and we are determined to make it better and safer,” said David Lindberg, CEO of retail banking at NatWest.

The BNPL market is largely unregulated. Last year, the UK government announced its intention to legislate in 2022 to bring the market into line with Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations.

The NatWest Group also includes the Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank. The expectation is the product will be rolled out to these group members after the initial launch for NatWest members.

READ MORE: NatWest to launch ‘buy now, pay later’ credit scheme this summer

Asda unveils new budget brand to compete during cost-of-living crisis

Asda is to launch a new budget range called ‘Just Essentials’, in a bid to appeal to budget-conscious customers amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

The Just Essentials range will be launched in just four weeks and includes over 300 products. The products in the range will consist of every day food items, as well as other essential items like washing powder.

In a presentation seen by The Grocer, Asda described the new value brand as “bold, upbeat and positive”.

Last month, Asda came under criticism from food blogger and activist Jack Monroe for discontinuing some of its current ‘Smart Price’ value range. In response, the supermarket pledged to ensure its budget ranges are stocked in all of its 581 stores and online.

The Just Essentials range is expected to eventually replace the current Smart Price budget brand.  Asda is also conducting a wider range review across all its products.

Asda is also currently in the process of introducing its first loyalty scheme. Asda Rewards is currently being trialled in 16 stores, with other customers able to register their interest for when the scheme rolls out further.

READ MORE: Asda launches Just Essentials range in major pricing overhaul

Camelot fined £3.15m over National Lottery errors

National Lottery operator Camelot has been fined £3.15m over three errors it made on its mobile app.

One error saw the company’s National Lottery app send marketing messages to individuals who had self-excluded from gambling due to concerns, and those who had been identified by the company as showing signs of a gambling addiction.

Some 64,500 people were erroneously targeted with marketing messages.  However, these individuals were not actually able to buy a product through the app.

Up to 20,000 players were also incorrectly told their winning ticket had lost when they attempted to scan it with the app’s QR code reader. This failure took place between November 2016 and September 2020.

The final error Camelot is being fined for saw over 22,100 lottery players who bought single tickets charged for and given two. These players were either refunded for the duplicate or rewarded with their winnings from both tickets.

The fines were made by the Gambling Commission and were accepted by Camelot in full.

“We are sorry that some of our controls fell short of the mark in certain very specific circumstances and have paid the fine,” says a company spokesperson.

“We always strive to operate The National Lottery to the highest possible standards and, given its scale and complexity, we’re proud of our track record of running The National Lottery with extremely high levels of integrity.”

Last week it emerged that Camelot was set to lose its licence to operate the National Lottery after 28 years. Rival operator Allwyn is reportedly the favoured candidate to take over after a tough bidding process.

Camelot will still run the National Lottery until February 2024. Reacting to the news last week, Camelot CEO Nigel Railton said he was “incredibly disappointed” by the news, but that the company still had “a critical job to do”.

Morrisons considers options for struggling convenience store partner McColl’s

Morrisons has called in advisors as the grocer considers how to deal with the financial difficulties facing its convenience store partner McColl’s Retail Group.

Morrisons, a privately-owned company, has appointed bank Houlihan Lokey to consider its options around the partnership, Sky News reports. McColl’s is a listed company and has seen its stocks slump by 90 percent in the last year.

Morrisons supplies its products to 1,200 McColl’s stores. The supermarket had previously announced plans to extend its partnership with the convenience store retailer, and was in the process of converting and rebranding McColl’s store to Morrisons Daily stores. The retailer had been targeting 350 conversions by the end of November 2022.

McColl’s had reported 20-25% sales increases on conversion to the Morrisons Daily brand. Morrisons Daily stores offer a full convenience range provided by the supermarket, but continue to be owned and operated by McColl’s.

Last month Sky News reported that McColl’s had received a takeover bid from petrol stations operator and Asda owner EG Group, but that talks between the two companies had already ended without an acquisition.

City sources say Morrisons is unlikely to look to takeover the group, but instead may look to acquire sites as part of any break-up or insolvency process.

Rival supermarkets Tesco and Sainsbury’s have long operated convenience offerings. Last year, Asda opened 28 “on the move” convenience stores after a trial of the proposition.

READ MORE: Morrisons weighs options for struggling convenience store group McColl’s

Matalan unveils expanded own brand range in spring campaign

Matalan has launched two own-brand womenswear brands in its spring campaign ‘More to Love at Matalan’, named Et Vous and Be Beau.

Et Vous consists of “wardrobe classics”, the retailer says, while Be Beau “targets the more fashion-conscious consumer”. The new brands are showcased alongside existing Matalan brands such as menswear range Tailor & Wright.

Matalan is also featuring its homeware edits for the first time in a campaign. The retailer’s homeware range has recently expanded to include furniture, as well as existing ranges of home accessories and outdoor homeware.

The campaign was created by McCann Manchester and features a track from singer Paloma Faith. The aim of the campaign is to showcase Matalan’s own-brand offering, from furniture to childrenswear, while highlighting its competitive pricing.

“We understand that many customers are feeling the financial squeeze in the current climate so re-enforcing our value credentials was important too,” says Jeff Howarth, omnichannel marketing director at Matalan.

The spot is running across TV, streaming services, digital and social media. For the first time Matalan is running this campaign across Sky and Channel 4, in addition to ITV.

Tuesday, 22 March

NikeHQNike regards revenue rise as vindication of DTC strategy

Nike’s third quarter revenue rose by 5% to $10.9bn (£8.3bn), prompting the US sportswear giant to claim it has the “right playbook to navigate volatility”.

Sales in the Nike Direct division rose by 15% during the three months to 28 February, compared to the same period last year. Digital sales increased by 19%, led by 33% growth in North America. The Nike mobile app was up more than 50% during the quarter, overtaking Nike.com on mobile as driving the highest share of digital demand.

“Nike’s strong results this quarter show that our consumer direct acceleration strategy is working, as we invest to achieve our growth opportunities,” says president and CEO, John Donahoe.

“Fuelled by deep consumer connections, compelling product innovation and an expanding digital advantage, we have the right playbook to navigate volatility and create value through our relentless drive to serve the future of sport.”

Revenue for the Nike brand hit $10.3bn (£7.8bn), up 8% compared to the prior year, led by 13% growth in EMEA. Sales of Converse products fell 1% to $567m (£431m), with strong performance in North America and Europe partially offset by declines in Asia.

The sportswear giant saw its “demand creation expense” rise by 20% to $854m (£648m), primarily due to the “normalisation of spend” against brand campaigns and continued investments in digital marketing to support “heightened digital demand”.

During the third quarter RTFKT, the digital design studio acquired in December, released the first official Nike-branded NFT, which Donahoe describes as the company’s first step into the world of digital product creation.

CFO Matt Friend notes Nike’s ability to serve consumers directly and digitally at scale, with demand continuing to “significantly exceed” available inventory supply.

The business also points to the “steady normalisation” of footfall to its owned stores, with sales up 14%. Wholesale revenues fell by 1% over the period, with growth in EMEA, Asia Pacific and Latin America offset by declines in North America and Greater China.

Over the past four years, Nike has reduced its number of wholesale accounts worldwide by more than 50% to focus on its DTC strategy.

“Our confidence as we look long term hasn’t changed one bit,” Donahoe adds. “We’ve been resolute in fuelling innovation and our brand is as strong as ever. Nike’s unique strengths continue to set the pace and keep us in the lead.”

P&O allegedly paying new crew ‘less than £2 an hour’

Source: Shutterstock

P&O Ferries is allegedly paying agency workers, hired to replace the 800 employees sacked on mass last week, as little as £1.81 an hour.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) claims the low pay – far below the national minimum wage of £8.91 per hour – is an example of “shocking exploitation” and “a betrayal” of the 800 workers sacked with immediate effect via video last week.

While P&O told the BBC the figure is “inaccurate”, the ferry giant was unwilling to say how much it is paying the agency workers. As some of the ferry fleet is registered in Cyprus, the company is not required to pay the UK minimum wage.

The government is reviewing its contracts with P&O Ferries, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who has asked the insolvency service to investigate whether the sackings are a matter for “criminal prosecution and unlimited fines”.

Shapps has also asked P&O to remove any British references from its ships, given British employees have been replaced with non-UK staff. The fleet includes ships with names such as the Pride of Hull and Spirit of Britain.

It is, however, alleged the government knew about the plan for the mass firings and did nothing to prevent it. The Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh claims to have a copy of a government memo about P&O’s sacking plans, which was reportedly also seen by No 10.

Yesterday Marketing Week revealed the health of the P&O Ferries brand has plummeted since news broke of the staff cull last week. According to YouGov’s BrandIndex tool, P&O’s overall index score – a measure of total brand health using an average of its impression, value, quality, reputation, satisfaction and recommend scores – fell 18 points from 14 to 20 March.

The impact of the scandal on public opinion is stark. Consumers are now considerably less likely to recommend P&O Ferries to a friend or colleague, with the company’s recommend score tumbling by nearly 22 points from 14.6 to -7.1.

READ MORE: New P&O crew on less than £2 an hour, union claims

Renault and Nestlé under fire for continuing Russian operations

French car marque Renault has resumed manufacturing in Moscow after suspending production last month amid logistical issues relating to the war in Ukraine.

According to Reuters, Renault has restarted operations with the backing of the French government, its main shareholder. The car brand employs 40,000 people in the country through its controlling stake in Russian carmaker Avtovaz.

Last year Avtovaz sold close to 2,900 vehicles, making pre-tax profits of €186m (£156m) for Renault, equivalent to 12% of its earnings in 2021, the Guardian reports.

The decision to resume manufacturing in Russia is out of step with Renault’s rivals. Volkswagen has suspended production at its Russian sites and Suzuki has paused car exports to Russia, while Toyota has halted all production in the country and Ford has suspended its Russian operations until further notice.

Another brand under fire for maintaining a presence in Russia is Nestlé. In a speech to Swiss protestors on Saturday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy criticised Nestlé for continuing to sell “essential” products such as baby food, cereals and pet foods in Russia. Zelenskiy is said to have pointed out the difference between the company’s slogan – ‘good food, good life’ – and its actions.

Nestlé has, however, defended its decision to remain in Russia, saying it would not profit from its operations in the country. The business claims to have “significantly scaled back” its presence, suspending all imports and exports apart from “essential products”, while cutting investments and marketing spend. The Financial Times reports six Nestlé factories are still delivering product to Russian retailers.

By contrast, one of the latest brands to pull out of Russia is Authentic Brands Group, owner of Reebok. As of Sunday the company had suspended all branded stores and ecommerce operations in the country in response to “Russia’s unrelenting attacks on Ukraine and the escalating humanitarian crisis”.

READ MORE: Renault resumes car production in Moscow as rivals cut ties with Russia

ASA ramps up crypto crackdown

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is accelerating its crackdown on cryptocurrencies by issuing an enforcement notice to more than 50 companies.

The notice warns cryptocurrencies the ASA will monitor their advertising for compliance and implement sanctions if improvements are not made. Deemed a “red alert” priority issue for the regulator, in December the ASA banned seven crypto ads for misleading consumers and being socially irresponsible.

The current guidance requires advertisers of crypto assets to state clearly in their communications that cryptocurrencies are unregulated in the UK and the value of investments are variable, meaning they can go down.

The notice insists companies must not state or imply investment decisions are “trivial, simple, easy or suitable for anyone”, nor must ads imply a sense of urgency to buy, create a fear of missing out, or suggest investments are ‘low risk’.

Working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the notice applies to ads for cryptocurrencies and crypto exchanges. The notice also covers ads or promotions involving the transfer, sale or supply of cryptocurrencies targeted at UK consumers, or those targeted globally on behalf of UK-based advertisers.

The ASA’s compliance team will conduct follow-up monitoring and, if problem ads persist after 2 May, targeted enforcement action will be taken to “ensure a level playing field.” This will include non-compliant advertisers being reported to the FCA.

The regulator believes most consumers don’t fully understand how cryptocurrencies work, how volatile they can be or that they are not regulated, posing a “real risk” people could lose money.

Given the explosion in popularity of cryptocurrencies in recent years, chief executive Guy Parker explains the ASA is concerned consumers might be “enticed by ads” into investing money they can’t afford to lose, without understanding the risks.

“Working alongside the FCA, we’ll take strong action against any advertiser who fails to ensure that their ads are responsible,” says Parker.

FCA executive director, Sarah Pritchard says the organisation will work closely with the ASA to tackle unclear or misleading crypto advertising, adding: “People should be wary of any promotion promising high investment returns and do further research before investing, including through the FCA’s InvestSmart website. Those who invest in crypto assets should be prepared to lose all their money.”

Platform launched to link brands with Ukrainian talent

A new platform has been developed allowing brands worldwide to link up with Ukrainian creative talent.

The є!Креатив platform – e!Creative in English – has been launched to help businesses commission creative professionals in Ukraine, many of whom have lost their entire income due to the war. Launched by ElloWorks by Talenthouse, the platform is intended to simplify scoping, selection and collaboration with creatives. Talenthouse will take no commission from the projects, with 100% of the fee going directly to the creatives.

The є!Креатив team have already identified more than 1,000 Ukrainian creatives who qualify for the initiative.

Brands and agencies can publish their brief for graphic design, print design, illustration, infographics, digital and social content on the platform. They will then be matched with Ukrainian creatives and can select their top pick.

Once the creative accepts the task, the work begins. Clients can interact and provide feedback on drafts via the platform and will receive the work by their preferred deadline.

Upon registration, creatives will be prompted to complete their profile, including examples of their work, before they can qualify to match for a job. The fee for the work is set automatically, according to the average market rates in Europe. Ukrainian creatives will be paid within seven days of submission.

The є!Креатив platform is being spearheaded by creative director at AdBakers Ukraine, Nadia Skrynnyk, former managing director at Scholz & Friends International Ingmar Janson and head of operations at Talenthouse, Liz von Loewen.

“The war not only deprived us of our homes, it also took away the opportunity to feed ourselves and shook our confidence in the future,” says Skrynnyk.

“But creativity knows no bounds and the work of a top-class designer or copywriter will always be in demand. We just need to establish new connections, open new doors. That is exactly what є!Креатив/e!Creative platform does, and I hope it will become a lifebuoy for many creative specialists.”

Monday, 21 March 

Source: Shutterstock

Epic Games and Microsoft to donate Fortnite proceeds to Ukraine

For a two week period ending 3 April, Epic Games will be donating all proceeds from its Fortnite game to humanitarian organisations providing relief for people affected by the war in Ukraine.

Microsoft’s Xbox brand is joining the games company in the initiative, committing its own net proceeds from Fortnite sales on the Microsoft Store.

Players can therefore support these organisations, including Direct Relief and Unicef, by making in-game purchases with real-world money during the time period. The initiative coincides with a new season of the game, which is always a peak time for in-game purchases.

Epic Games is the latest video game company to offer its support to Ukrainian people during the war with Russia in this way. Riot Games recently ran a player fundraiser around in-game passes and customisable options in League of Legends, claiming to have raised more than $2m (£1.5m) as of 9 March.

Rishi Sunak promises government investigation into P&O Ferries  amid backlash

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has called P&O Ferries’ mass sacking of 800 staff without warning last week both “awful” and “wrong”, as he confirmed to the BBC that the government is examining the legality of the company’s actions.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, Sunak said P&O’s actions had been “appalling in the way that they’ve treated their workers”.

However, a Sunday Times report this weekend revealed ministers may have known of the job cuts in advance. A memo sent to ministers by a senior Whitehall official outlined the strategy before it took place.

Meanwhile, PR experts have branded the move a “disaster” for P&O Ferries, labelling it a case study in how not to handle a challenging situation.

“It’s the worst example of how to treat employees I’ve seen in more than 30 years of doing crisis communications,” said Stuart Bruce, who advises companies on their PR strategy, speaking to the BBC.

The British shipping company, which operates ferries from the UK to Ireland and Europe, fired 800 of its staff via video call last week. Staff were told it was their “final day of employment”, as the company reportedly lined up coaches carrying replacement agency staff at Dover and Hull.

Government transport minister Robert Courts condemned the “wholly unacceptable” move in the House of Commons shortly after the news broke.

The company transports around 15% of all freight cargo in and out of the UK and carried more than 10 million passengers a year pre-pandemic, but has suffered, like many transport companies, due to Covid-19.

The BBC reports that parent company DP World asked the government for £150m in direct aid to safeguard ‘vital supply routes and jobs’, but the request was turned down as the company had already claimed for more than £15m in grants and furlough, and paid out £270m in dividends to shareholders.

READ MORE: P&O sackings were appalling, says Sunak

Hermes relaunches as Evri with first TV campaign

Parcel delivery company Hermes has relaunched its brand with an ad campaign unveiling its new name and identity, Evri.

The brand campaign is the company’s first on TV. Created by VCCP London, the multimillion pound campaign introduces a “total revamp” of the courier service.

A 30-second film, ‘New Arrival’, centres around the relationship delivery drivers build with their customers, to “inject emotion” into the delivery service category. The spot will debut during Gogglebox and Coronation Street and follows an expectant mother and her partner as they prepare for the birth of their child and beyond, ending on the tagline ‘Evri delivery made for you’.

Supporting activity will run across video-on-demand (VOD), online video, out-of-home (OOH), online display and social media for six months, to achieve “maximum awareness” across Evri’s B2B and B2C customers. Media has been planned and bought by MediaCom.

Evri’s new brand strategy, visual identity and logo was created by WPP creative company Superunion. The brand intends to appear “diverse and inclusive” with a more modern look, reflecting a new customer-centric business strategy powered by technology and “embedded” in community.

Evri says it is committed to “positive” customer experiences and sustainable innovation.

“Through close consultation with customers, couriers, partners and employees about what is important to them, we have arrived at an innovative and exciting new brand to serve the needs of the UK,” explains head of marketing Sarah Taylor-Jones.

“We are thrilled to communicate this ground-breaking brand to the market as we embark on our mission to create responsible delivery experiences for everyone, everywhere.”

Hermes UK claims to have tripled in size over the past five years to become a £1.5bn revenue business, delivering more than 700m parcels for 80% of the UK’s top retailers.

Asda opens its biggest convenience store

Asda has opened its largest ‘Asda On the Move’ store yet, at 5,000 sq ft.

Based on an EG Group forecourt in Retford, Nottinghamshire, the store offers 2,500 Asda own-brand and branded products, including its Extra Special premium range.

EG Group’s foodservice brands Leon and KFC will also have a presence in the store.

Customers can also access Asda’s full range through click and collect, as well as collection and returns for its clothing range George and over 100 other brands.

Asda now claims 32 On the Move sites, with further openings planned across EG Group’s UK forecourts to bring the total to more than 300.

EG Group’s head of retail integration, Barry Westley, says this is Asda’s “most ambitious” convenience store to data.

“There is a real opportunity to bring customers something different by combining our experience in foodservice and convenience retailing with a carefully curated range of Asda products and services,” Westley says.

“The complementary strengths of both EG Group and Asda enables us to make it even more convenient for motorists to access everything they need when they fill up with fuel.”

Head of Asda On the Move Oliver Silvester adds the opening marks “an important step” in the supermarket’s commitment to “ensure customers have greater access to our extensive range of value products and services”.

Škoda unveils first UK campaign for Fabia range in six years


Škoda’s latest campaign puts its Fabia range back in the spotlight with its first UK ad since 2016, which highlights safety, entertainment, and comfort.

Created by Fallon London, the ‘A lot goes into the all-new Škoda Fabia’ campaign aims to “humanise” features of the car, using dancers with illuminated ribbons to represent LED headlights, for example, and cheeky crash test dummies to highlight its safety rating.

The film is played over the famous Disney soundtrack ‘The Magic Song’, or ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’. According to UK head of marketing Kirsten Stagg, this song was picked to evoke a “warm-feeling of nostalgia”, while also a subtle nod towards the brand’s successful Fabia cake advert from 2007.

“The Škoda Fabia has been part of the Škoda family for over 21 years and the new model has truly been designed with the driver in mind with technology and connectivity at their fingertips,” Stagg adds.

“The campaign showcases that Fabia for most people will be all the car they need, and of course the finished film has the playful tone that people have come to expect from our adverts.”

The campaign will run for three months initially across TV, social and digital in the UK. Media planning and buying is handled by PHD.



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