Questions raised over Elon Musk’s Twitter bot claims
The creator of bot measuring tech used by Elon Musk to make claims about the scale of fake accounts on Twitter has questioned the veracity of the data.
The Tesla CEO used online tool Botometer to estimate a third (33%) of “visible accounts” on the social media platform are fake, despite Twitter consistently saying bots make up fewer than 5% of daily users.
However, Botometer’s creator Kaicheng Yang has told the BBC the 33% figure generated by Musk’s team “doesn’t mean anything”. He questions the methodology employed to use the tool and confirmed the Tesla CEO’s legal team had not approached him about using Botometer.
The tool examines when and how often an account tweets, as well as analysing the content, to give a score out of five – zero indicating the account is likely to be human and five likely to be spam.
Yang has told the BBC the tool does not give “definitive answers” as to whether an account is a bot or not, and much depends on the threshold score chosen. He explains the Musk legal documents fail to make clear the threshold used to reach the 33% figure.
Twitter is suing Musk to force him to complete the $44bn (£36.5bn) takeover of the platform agreed back in April. The Tesla boss is countersuing the social media giant, claiming Twitter “overstated” the scale of daily active users who see ads, a number he alleges is in fact 65 million lower than reported.
While Musk insists figures provided by the platform to the US financial watchdog are “inaccurate and have distorted the value” of the company, Twitter insists his allegations have “cast a pall over” the business.
The court case will be heard in October and if the judge rules in favour of Twitter, Musk will be forced to complete the $44bn acquisition.
Netflix ad-supported tier ‘will block downloads’ of content
Netflix looks set to prevent users of its forthcoming ad-supported tier from downloading films and series to watch offline, according to code found inside the company’s iPhone app.
Developer Steve Moser told Bloomberg News the text in the app suggests downloads will be “available on all plans except Netflix with ads”. He also claims the code suggests users won’t be able to skip ads and playback controls will not be available during ad breaks.
While the launch of Netflix’s ad-supported tier is months away and plans could change, the streaming giant has already confirmed not all content will be offered to customers watching the advertising product.
Bloomberg suggests the option to download content to watch offline could be used to “upsell” customers to a more expensive subscription, offering more than the “no frills” ad-supported approach.
Furthermore, the app text is said to include “hidden references” to Netflix’s plans regarding tailoring ads to specific users, Bloomberg reports. According to Moser, there is text in the app which reads: “Now, let’s set up your ad experience. We just need a few details to make sure you get the most relevant ads on Netflix. It’ll be really quick, we promise!”
The streaming giant is on a mission to find new revenue streams after losing 1 million subscribers during the second quarter of 2022. The business is also coming under increasing pressure from rivals such as Disney+, which moved ahead of Netflix in subscriber numbers during its most recent quarter.
Last week Disney+ revealed its ad-supported tier will launch in the US on 8 December at a monthly cost of $7.99 (£6.53), matching the current price of an ad-free subscription. The existing ad-free tier will increase in price to $10.99 (£9.01) per month, or $109.99 (£90.13) for a year.
Starbucks replaced in Russia by ‘Stars Coffee’ chain
Starbucks is being replaced by a new chain of Russian-owned coffee shops, following its decision in May to pull out of the country in response to the war in Ukraine.
Known as Stars Coffee, the chain is opening in vacated Starbucks stores across the country, complete with a circular logo featuring a similar female figure and font.
Russian rapper Timati and restaurateur Anton Pinskiy bought the brand’s assets and intend to gradually open Stars Coffee outlets in the 130 stores vacated by Starbucks across the country, Sky News reports.
While the Stars Coffee founders are banned from using the original Starbucks logo, Timati told Sky News the team wanted to offer consumers “continuity”, adding that the circular design and “female gender” contrasts the logo’s “masculine” brown shade. Pinskiy claims that apart from the logo’s circular appearance, consumers “won’t find anything in common”.
Starbucks pulled out of Russia in May, 12 weeks after shuttering its 130 outlets in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The move ended 15 years of trading in Russia, where the coffee chain employed close to 2,000 people.
A similar deal was struck by Russian fast food chain Sistema PBO, which assumed the management of former McDonald’s restaurants when the US giant permanently withdrew from Russia in May after 30 years of trading.
Having already closed its 800 Russian restaurants in March following the invasion, McDonald’s said in May the humanitarian crisis caused by the war meant ownership of the business in Russia was “not consistent” with its values.
While the new Russian fast food chain is yet to be named, a logo was revealed in June featuring a circle and two lines designed to depict a burger and fries against a green background.
Discovery sells stake in troubled GB News
Warner Bros Discovery has sold its stake in GB News, as the loss-making TV channel looks to secure a fresh cash injection to stay afloat.
According to the Guardian, the US media giant made the decision to step away from GB News due to the rationalisation of its portfolio following the merger of Discovery and WarnerMedia. Discovery had initially invested £20m in the TV channel in January 2021, becoming the broadcaster’s first major investor.
Since then, however, GB News co-founders Andrew Cole and Mark Schneider have sold their stakes in the business, while chairman Andrew Neil departed last September due to differences over the direction in which the channel was heading.
GB News was also hit with an advertising boycott within 48 hours of launch last August, as brands such as Sainsbury’s, Nivea and Kopparberg said they needed more time to assess the tone of the output.
“Following the merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia earlier this year our portfolio now includes several wholly-owned news brands including CNN Worldwide, TVN Group in Poland and Newshub in New Zealand,” a spokesperson Warner Bros Discovery told the Guardian.
“In light of this, and our continued evaluation of our global and local investment portfolio, we have exited our investment in GB News and are no longer shareholders.”
The US media group credited the broadcaster with having built a “growing and loyal audience” over its first year, bringing “another voice” to British news broadcasting.
The channel has secured additional funding from existing investor Legatum Ventures, owned by current GB News chairman Alan McCormick. Remaining bullish about prospects for the business, McCormick told the Guardian the additional investment will allow GB News to “embark on robust and exciting plans” for the next phase of its development.
This next phase for GB News will have to take into account the growth of rival TalkTV, launched by Rupert Murdoch in April this year and fronted by Piers Morgan.
Made.com eyes £50m cash injection amid ‘volatile’ trading
Made.com has responded to press speculation about its financial future, confirming the business is keeping all options open to “strengthen its balance sheet”, including a potential equity capital raise.
However, the Financial Times reports the homeware retailer is already exploring a £50m fundraising push, as it looks to “cut costs and refine its strategy”. It is feared the business will struggle to raise such funds given it is currently valued at £38m following its IPO last year.
When Made.com went public, the furniture brand said it was targeting £1.2bn in annual sales by 2025, before being hit with supply chain issues and a slump in consumer demand following the lockdown interiors boom.
Speaking to the Financial Times, a banker described Made.com as “one of a number of ecommerce companies where the profit hasn’t really come through in the way that was once imagined.”
The recent speculation about the company’s financial future was fuelled by a second quarter trading update in July. At the time, Made.com highlighted the impact of “volatile” trading and effect of worsening consumer confidence on demand for discretionary big-ticket items like furniture, describing new customer acquisition as “challenging”.
The company’s group gross sales for the first half of 2022 fell 19% compared to 2021 and were down 55% on the same period in 2019. Made.com also confirmed its profitability in 2022 would be adversely affected by £20m costs associated with promotional and clearance activity related to excess inventory and supply chain disruption.
Thursday, 18 August
Cineworld enters rescue talks as audience numbers remain low
Cineworld says it is in talks with stakeholders over potential funding or considering restructuring its balance sheet, having accumulated $4.8bn (£3.89bn) in debt after lower visitor numbers post-pandemic.
The company also owns the Picturehouse chain in the UK and Regal Cinemas in the US and is the world’s second-largest cinema chain. It says that it has seen audience numbers “below expectations” post-pandemic, blaming this on a lack of blockbuster films.
“These lower levels of admissions are due to a limited film slate that is anticipated to continue until November 2022 and are expected to negatively impact trading and the group’s liquidity position in the near term,” the business said in a statement.
Cineworld’s market value almost halved on Wednesday to just over £100m on Wednesday. Before the pandemic it had been valued at as much as £4.4bn.
In a stock exchange statement, Cineworld said it was in “active discussions with various stakeholders”. It said it was looking at its strategic options including restructuring its balance sheet. It warned that “any deleveraging transaction will likely result in very significant dilution of existing equity interests in Cineworld”.
Stranger Things season four generates over £22m in brand placement value
Netflix series Stranger Things season four has generated over $27.4bn (£22.7bn) in brand placement in the UK and US so far, finds data from YouGov Stream.
It perhaps unsurprising that the series is so valuable to brands, with YouGov estimating that Stranger Things has an audience of 0.6 billion in the UK and US. The fourth season of the Netflix series was released in May this year.
The research also found that Coca-Cola had the highest placement value of any brand with $3.4m (£2.82m). Its highest highest performing asset was its can, at $1.66m (£1.38m), Coca-Cola’s total valuation across all assets saw them receive almost six times the value of Pepsi, which had a placement valuation was $586k (£486k) across both the UK and US.
Other brands like Sony, Reebok and Lacoste also see strong returns on their product placement. Lacoste’s value of $2.3m (£1.91m) was partly driven by Stranger Things’ character Jason Carver (portrayed by Mason Dye) wearing the brand’s white polo shirt for the entirety of episode 2.
YouGov associate director of product Dominic Prince says that Netflix is providing “an extremely healthy return” for brands.
“It’s also important to look at this data in the context of the broadening push by SVOD services to offset production costs by creating new revenue streams. Our total valuation of $27.4m demonstrates the value that this media can generate for brands. A blue-chip streamer like Stranger Things is effectively a marketing tool with monumental reach for brands looking to target even the most stubborn, ad-averse consumers,” he adds.
Ladbrokes reimagines Hollywood classic in ad
Ladbrokes has launched a film which sees it reimagine one of the most iconic scenes from Hollywood blockbuster Rocky.
The 90-second film sees boxer Rocky Balboa joined by a crowd as he runs through Philadelphia. It uses visual effects to replace the original cast members from the famous scene in Rocky II with a modern day cast of athletes, dancers, drag queens and many more.
The advert culminates with the famous scene with Rocky and the crowd on the steps, followed by Ladbroke’s brand line ‘We Play Together’. The betting brand’s lead creative agency Neverland created the work.
The media campaign will launch on 19 August, the day before the Anthony Joshua v Oleksandr Usyk fight, it is planned and executed by the7stars. The launch film will run during flagship entertainment programmes including House of the Dragon, Gogglebox and The Last Leg. There will also be accelerated YouTube activity during the launch weekend.
The UK will also show during top Premier League matches over the weekend and beyond, culminating with a spot at full time in the Manchester United v Liverpool match on 22 August.
Entain UK brand marketing director James Kennedy says that Ladbrokes is “backing Rocky all the way”.
“Creating this campaign has been incredibly challenging and exciting. Under our endline of ‘We Play Together’ we’re bringing more entertainment and shared experiences to Ladbrokes, and we love to do this in unexpected ways,” he says.
Ofgem director resigns over energy price cap change
Ofgem non-executive director Christine Farnish has resigned from the board of the regulator, saying that changes to the way it calculates the energy price cap fails to strike “the right balance between the interest of consumers and the interests of suppliers”.
She had disagreed with other members of the board over a decision to change the cap to allow energy suppliers to recoup their wholesale costs sooner. She wanted suppliers to recoup their costs over 12 months, to spread out the impact on consumers.
However, the rest of the board disagreed with her, claiming that allowing energy companies to recoup their costs over six months would reduce the “very real risk of suppliers going bust”.
Farnish quit the board over the decision, stating that she believes it “would add several hundred pounds to everyone’s bill in order to support a number of suppliers in the coming months”. She had been a member of the Ofgem board since 2016.
“Due to this unprecedented energy crisis, Ofgem is having to make some incredibly difficult decisions where carefully balanced trade-offs are being weighed up all the time,” says an Ofgem spokesperson.
“But we always prioritise consumers’ needs both in the immediate and long term.”
The regulator has come under fire in recent months for raising the energy price cap amid the cost-of-living crisis. Consumer rights campaigner Martin Lewis has previously accused it of “selling consumers down the river”.
Bensons for Beds says good night’s sleep costs as little as 15p per night
Bensons for Beds has launched a campaign claiming that a good night’s sleep can cost as little as 15p per night.
The calculation, which the brand centres in its new campaign designed to emphasise its affordability, is based on the nightly cost of a Bensons’ £245 double mattress, which comes with a five-year minimum guarantee.
“We understand buying a new bed and mattress can seem like a big investment – especially in the current climate when families are thinking about rising prices on energy, fuel and food,” says the brand’s CEO Nick Collard. “But the right mattress is an investment that on a price-per-night basis, is highly affordable.”
The campaign also highlights Bensons’ “your bed, your way” initiative, which allows customers to tailor their choices to suit their sleep style with a made-to-order bed.
The furniture retailer has recently received additional funding from owners Alteri Investors. It says it will use the additional funding to drive its growth and transformation plans. Specifically, the retailer says it will accelerate its digital development by integrating its online platform with its store network.
Bensons is also seeking to expand its physical footprint. It currently has 166 shops and wants to grow to 180-190 stores across England, Wales and Scotland in the next two years. The retailer says it also wants to relocate to better store locations in the towns it is already in.
Wednesday, 17 August
Just Eat’s Matt Bushby joins Rightmove as CMO
Rightmove has hired Just Eat’s UK marketing director Matt Bushby as its new CMO, replacing Iain Kennedy as he steps down after eight years.
He will report into CEO Peter Brooks-Johnson when he joins the real estate platform next month, who says his role will be “building on and elevating our marketing strategy to ensure Rightmove is front of mind for our customers”.
Bushby joined Just Eat in 2016 as global head of customer acquisition, before rising to head of growth marketing in 2017, and UK marketing director in 2019. He worked under the company’s top marketer Susan O’Brien, who was promoted from CMO to vice-president of global brand in late 2020.
Between 2013 and 2016 Bushby was marketing director at family history company Findmypast, where he claims to have repositioned the brand, doubled brand awareness, and built a new marketing team and structure to support growth in the UK and US.
Before that, he spent three and a half years as head of the Friends Reunited platform at Brightsolid, where he rebuilt and relaunched the platform across all device types.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Rightmove, an iconic brand that plays a big part in so many people’s live,” Bushby says. “I can’t wait to work with the team to further grow and shape the future of the business and the brand.”
Rightmove has not revealed why Iain Kennedy is departing the business, while Just Eat is yet to announce Bushby’s replacement.
Reebok owner secures Ted Baker takeover for £211m
UK fashion retailer Ted Baker has accepted an acquisition offer from US-based Authentic Brands Group (ABG) for £211m, marking ABG’s most high-profile takeover of a British brand to date.
According to the BBC, Ted Baker’s share price jumped by 17% to 109p after it confirmed the offer.
Ted Baker has been up for sale since April after suffering a challenging few years, including the resignation of disgraced founder and CEO Ray Kelvin in 2019 over claims of “forced hugging”. Coronavirus lockdowns also forced the business to close the doors of its almost 400 stores and concessions worldwide.
However, the company has reported narrowing losses. Pre-tax losses fell from £107.7m to £44.1m in the year to 29 January, while sales jumped 40% to £428.2m.
ABG has said it believes Ted Baker is a “distinctive British lifestyle brand with a rich, authentic heritage and strong worldwide customer recognition”.
ABG completed its deal to buy Reebok from Adidas earlier this year, adding it to its portfolio of brands including Juicy Couture and Sports Illustrated magazine, as well as David Beckham branded goods.
Iceland to offer customers loans as UK inflation hits new high
Iceland is rolling out interest-free loans nationwide to help struggling customers afford their food shop, as UK inflation enters double digits for the first time since 1982.
The loans are provided through charity-owned lender Fair For You, with repayments set at £10 per week. Customers apply online, with successful applicants to receive a preloaded food club card within seven business days.
The scheme has been trialled in regions including Wales, Huddersfield and Rhyl, and Denbighshire for 18 months. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday (16 August), managing director Richard Walker said the results had been “phenomenal”. Some 92% of customers previously using food banks had stopped or reduced their use of them.
Walker said Fair For You would only loan to customers who can afford to make the repayments. Customers had paid interest on the loans during the pilot phase, but as they roll out nationally, Iceland has decided to make the loans interest-free.
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), released today, inflation reached 10.1% in the 12 months to July, up from 9.4% in June. The Bank of England has said inflation could peak at over 13%.
Meanwhile, the ONS reports the “real value” of pay has fallen by 3%, as average wages rose by just 4.7% between April and June.
Asda launches loyalty scheme nationwide
Asda is rolling out its loyalty programme, Asda Rewards, across all 633 of its UK stores and online, following customer trials in various regions since October last year.
The app-based loyalty scheme already has over 1 million members, the supermarket claims. Rewards build up as a ‘Cashpot’ in pounds rather than points, which can then be spent during grocery shops online or in-store.
Shoppers earn rewards by completing in-app “missions” such as buying 10 fruit and vegetables, by spending with Asda regularly, and by buying ‘star products’ which are highlighted throughout stores. There are over 400 star products available across own brand and branded lines.
“We’re incredibly excited to be able to give all our customers access to Asda Rewards across the UK so they can start to earn rewards and build their Cashpot,” says senior director for loyalty Mark Baxter.
“We know that times are tough for families right now, so it’s great to be able to reward them for simply shopping with us.”
Royal Mail and Ecosia among winners of Sky’s £2m sustainable ad fund
Sky has revealed the five brands to win this year’s Sky Zero Footprint Fund, each awarded £250,000 in media value to fund their sustainability-focused ads.
The winning businesses include non-profit search engine Ecosia, eco cleaning brand Homethings, British postal service Royal Mail, sustainable toilet roll brand Serious Tissues, and period underwear company Wuka.
The broadcaster’s initiative supports brands hoping to encourage the adoption of more sustainable behaviours among consumers through advertising. Judges from across the industry – including Sir John Hegarty, Advertising Association CEO Stephen Woodford, GroupM UK CEO Karen Blackett OBE and AdGreen founder Jo Fenn – assessed 15 live pitches from shortlisted brands earlier this month.
Having won a combined £1.25m for their pitches, the selected brands will move into ad production, ahead of a final stage of judging in December which will see one creative secure an additional £750,000 in media value.
“Each of the winning brands from this year’s Sky Zero Footprint Fund delivers a critical message that aligns with ours; that sustainable can be attainable,” says Sky’s group director of the bigger picture, Fiona Ball.
“And, with the opportunity to use the power of TV advertising, this message is amplified, ultimately driving positive change.”
Supermarket brands have ‘greatest credibility’ around cost of living messaging
Almost half of consumers (43%) feel supermarkets have the greatest credibility to talk about the soaring cost of living in their advertising, followed by food and drink brands (38%) and finance brands (31%).
According to the survey of over 2000 UK adults by Reach Solutions in June, only 20% of respondents believe it appropriate for tech, car and home technology brands to reference cost of living in their messaging, dropping to 18% for both fashion and beauty brands, and 14% for gaming.
Consumers expect these brands to stick to messaging around quality instead, the survey suggests.
However, almost nine in 10 consumers do expect to hear from brands during the cost of living crisis, with 29% expecting brands to advertise more than usual over the next three to six months.
Meanwhile, the results suggests the crisis is having a “deeper emotional impact” on middle-income households earning between £20,000 and £40,000 a year than those on lower incomes (£20,000-£30,000) or higher incomes (£50,000+).
“We should keep a careful eye on middle-income earners, who like everyone are having to make cuts but seem to be feeling a disproportionate effect on their quality of life, possibly due to anxiety and uncertainty about what lies ahead,” explains Reach’s director of market strategy and brand insight, Andrew Tenzer.
“Advertisers will need to respond to this, offering value and credible messaging to support them and reassure them of their choices.”
Tuesday, 16 August
Expedia launches first campaign after switching focus from performance to loyalty
Expedia is kicking off a campaign focused on its loyalty offer as it looks to build “longer-lasting direct relationships” with customers.
The travel firm outlined its plan to shift spend from performance to loyalty at the beginning of August, as it looks to grow customer life time value and increase retention.
Its latest campaign, ‘Arrows’, talks up Expedia’s offer as a travel provider while also showcasing the benefits of its loyalty scheme, Expedia Rewards, which allows customers to collect points across multiple parts of their trip. These can then be redeemed against future travel, with the idea being that one trip leads to the next.
Hector Muelas, senior vice-president of global creative at Expedia Group, says the campaign emphasises the brand’s promise that “experiences matter more than things”.
“The work encapsulates Expedia’s traveller-first mindset by communicating how our members get rewarded with savings and points across their trip, fuelling what really matters: their future travel aspirations,” he says.
“This product truth is what led us to the arrow concept – a universal icon for what’s next. The film shows artful glimpses of reality, featuring different types of arrows, all over the world.”
The campaign, created in partnership with Anomoly, will run across TV, social, out of home, audio, cinema and digital.
Expedia CEO Peter Kern told investors on a call on 5 August, that loyalty members and app users are far more valuable to the business than non-members and non-app users. He added that the “entire company” is now focused on getting these customers into the business.
“We have been evolving our consumer approach from being largely transactionally focused, where we and the industry spent virtually all of our time tuning our products for maximum arbitrage and performance marketing channels and spending more and more money on intermediaries, to a future where we build longer-lasting direct relationships with loyal high-lifetime value customers,” he explained.
Gü invests £4.5m as it repositions brand to double growth
Dessert brand Gü plans to invest £4.5m in its brand, innovation and people over the next year as it looks to double its global business by 2025.
The brand has identified a new “treat occasion” in Friday nights and is looking to tap into consumers’ desire for “more interesting” options than the usual ice cream or chocolate, which its research shows nine in 10 people are seeking.
To tap into this market, Gü has refreshed its pack design and will be unveiling four new treats at the end of August as it looks to grow the category for branded chilled desserts, which is currently dominated by supermarket own-labels.
The new-look packs are black with a more “grown up” typography, which the brand hopes will simplify segment identity, while drawing the eye to the bold pictures of the product itself and the colourful descriptions.
As well as brand bay takeovers in more than 300 Sainsbury’s and experiential activity, next year Gü will also be launching its first TV campaign in over four years.
Anthony Wells, Gü’s CMO, says: “Gü’s fresh positioning reflects its appeal as a premium treat alternative to ice cream or chocolate and, with an exciting innovation agenda, we aim to help consumers upgrade their Friday night in with Gü.
“A period of economic and retail uncertainty is upon us all and whilst other brands are making drastic cuts, Gü is undertaking its most ambitious growth journey to date. Led by brand and innovation, we have our sights set on doubling the size of the business over the next three years and are equipped with the investment, plan and talent to deliver.”
As part of this plan, Wells has also made a number of key hires within the marketing and innovation team.
Supermarket own-labels reach ‘record levels’ as inflation soars
Grocery price inflation hit 11.6% over the past four weeks, its highest level since 2008.
The average household is now likely to spend an extra £553 per year on groceries, according to the latest figures from Kantar, the equivalent of £10.25 a week if consumers buy the same products as last year.
As a result supermarket sales rose by 2.2% in the 12 weeks to 7 August, the fastest growth the industry has seen since April 2021.
Escalating prices are also causing consumers to switch from branded goods to own-label products, which are at “record levels of popularity”. Sales of own-brand products increased by 7.3% last month and now account for 51.6% of the market compared to branded products. This is the biggest share Kantar has ever recorded.
Meanwhile own-brand value ranges saw a 19.7% boost to sales last month. People are also shopping around between supermarkets more frequently to find the best value products.
Retailers are relying less on promotions today than they were in 2008, though.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, says: “People are shopping around between the retailers to find the best value products, but back in 2008 there was much more of a reliance on promotions.
“It’s harder to hunt out these deals in 2022 – the number of products sold on promotion is at 24.7% for the four weeks to 7 August 2022, while 14 years ago it was at 30%. Instead, supermarkets are currently pointing shoppers towards their everyday low prices, value ranges and price matches instead.”
A number of grocers have expanded their own value ranges across the store to reflect demand over this time. Asda, for example, launched its Just Essentials range earlier this summer, which is already in 33% of customers’ baskets.
“Over the past month we’ve really seen retailers expand and advertise their own value ranges across the store to reflect demand. Consumers are welcoming the different choices and options being made available to them on the shelves, with sales of own-label value products increasing by 19.7% this month,” he adds.
Lidl remains the fastest growing supermarket, with sales up by 17.9% over the past 12 weeks, raising its market share to 7%. This is the retailer’s highest rate of growth since September 2017.
Aldi also performed well, with its market share rising by 0.9 percentage points to 9.1%. Together Lidl and Aldi have gained 1.8 percent of British grocery sales over this period, representing a £2.3bn annual shift in spending towards the discounters.
Of the big four supermarkets, just Tesco (1%) and Asda (0.2%) increased sales. Sainsbury’s saw a 0.1% drop, while Morrisons suffered a 4.9% decline.
Reebok owner eyes £200m Ted Baker takeover
US-based Authentic Brands Group (ABG) is close to agreeing a cut-price deal to acquire Ted Baker for £200m, according to Sky News.
The London-listed fashion retailer is reportedly preparing to recommend a 110p per share offer to the group, which could be seal the deal as early as this morning.
It is far less than the 160p per share ABG was preparing to offer in May. But it is around 20% higher than Ted Baker’s closing share price of 93.1p on Monday, and more than double the 69p it dropped to at the beginning of July.
ABG completed its deal to buy Reebok from Adidas earlier this year, adding it to its portfolio of brands including Juicy Couture and Sports Illustrated magazine, as well as David Beckham branded goods.
The Ted Baker deal would represent ABG’s most high profile takeover of a British brand to date.
Walkers unveils health-focused campaign
Walkers has launched a campaign to highlight the fact its multipack packs of Wotsits, Quavers, French Fries, Squares and now Monster Munch all have fewer than 100 calories.
It is part of the PepsiCo brand’s ambition to generate 50% of its snack sales from non-HFSS products or those sold in portions of 100 calories or less by 2025.
The campaign follows last year’s ‘100 calories or less’ activity, which helped Walkers grow its top five family snack brands by 8% during the campaign period versus the year prior.
It shows consumers acting surprised by the fact Wotsits, Quavers, French Fries, Squares and Monster Munch are lower in calories than they thought, and will run across TV, shopper, digital, out of home and social. Walkers will also be running a competition offering people the chance to win £1,000 by sending in their best surprised face.
Katherine Cook, marketing manager for Walkers Snacks at PepsiCo says: “More permissible choices are a key purchase driver for families when considering snacks. However, 69% of UK consumers are still not aware that Walkers’ current portfolio of multipack snacks contain 100 calories or less per pack.
“We want to change this narrative by shining a light on our family snacks multipack range – which spans Wotsits, Quavers, Squares, French Fries and now Monster Munch. Our hope is to pleasantly surprise the public and drive further sales for our customers.”
Monday, 15 August
Tesco denies claims the supermarket has cut back on value
Tesco has denied cutting back on its value range, following analysis from Assosia and The Grocer which revealed the supermarket chain had reduced the number of own-label products on sale between 2019 and 2022.
The analysis found that as of 4 August, Tesco had 316 own-brand value products on its website, compared with 422 in 2019. The products, from Tesco’s private labels such as Creamfields and Grower’s Harvest, had fallen while products for the premium range had grown “slightly” by 10 lines to 831.
The supermarket called the claims “misleading” in a comment to MyLondon, suggesting it has instead increased its value offering. Tesco introduced its ‘Clubcard Prices’ offering in May 2019, and its Aldi price match in March 2020.
In a statement, the retailer said: “Exclusively at Tesco is just one way we’re helping customers with the cost of their weekly shop, and alongside Aldi Price Match and Low Everyday Prices, we have more than 2,500 products in our value ranges.”
It added how the supermarket is “more committed than ever” when it comes to providing value.
Zalando scales back marketing spend instead of cutting jobs
Zalando has “scaled back” its marketing spend, as the European fashion retailer faces up to its first ever fall in revenue.
While job cuts have been seen across many industries is recent months, Zalando’s cofounder and co-CEO Robert Gentz insisted in an interview with the FT that the company can avoid mass job cuts. Zalando generated a €7m (£5.9m) operating loss with revenue dwindling in the first half of 2022, and a cash outflow of €668m (£565m).
“Our plan is to keep employment by the end of this year steady,” Gentz told the FT, who added that his optimism about the fashion industry has not changed, after “two years of enormous growth”. He added that revenues were still 60% higher than in 2019, pre-pandemic.
Gentz said the company is focused on profitability, and is scaling back marketing spend as well as postponing the building of new logistics centres, as well as pulling back on free shipping offers, to protect itself against the current conditions.
Last year, Zalando was investing in its brand marketing to “capture the full demand opportunity”, increasing its marketing spend by 4.6% in 2021’s second quarter.
Premier League turns 30 with new campaign highlighting fan support
To mark 30 years of the Premier League, it has launched a new campaign to highlight the anniversary and thank fans for their support.
The ‘More than 90 minutes’ multichannel campaign emphasises how the league has impacted fans and provided support to communities across England and Wales.
The FCB Inferno produced ad also features cameos from the likes of Michael Owen, Jamie Redknapp, Micah Richards and Teddy Sheringham. Rachel Riley, who helped create the Premier League Primary Stars maths resources, also appears.
“Thirty years of the Premier League has brought so many remarkable stories, both on and off the pitch,” says Premier League chief commercial officer Will Brass.
He adds that as the league celebrates its three “incredible” decades, while looking “to the future with optimism”, that the film “provides a snapshot of how the thrilling football on the pitch has allowed the League to provide unparalleled levels of support and investment for communities across the UK, benefitting millions of people”.
Bourne Leisure founders expected to take back control of Butlin’s
The Harris family, who founded Bourne Leisure, one of Britain’s largest leisure chains, is finalising a £300m+ deal to buy back control of Butlin’s, according to Sky News.
The report suggests a deal could be made as soon as this week, taking the total proceeds from the sale of Butlin’s to more than £600m, following the sale of Butlin’s underlying real estate assets to the private pension fund, Universities Superannuation Scheme, for £300m in June.
Private equity firm Blackstone bought Bourne Leisure, which operates Butlin’s as well as Warner Leisure and Haven Hotels, for around £3bn in early 2021. The sale of Butlin’s comes as Blackstone is allegedly reshaping its Bourne Leisure parks arm.
The Sunday Times had originally reported earlier this year that Butlin’s would be sold by the firm for £700m.
Gaming slows down post pandemic
As the world shifts post-pandemic, gaming companies are suffering from slowed down sales, according to an analysis by the FT.
This quarter has seen a fall in demand across the gaming industry, which is raising the question of whether gaming as “recession proof”. The analysis comes as Sony reported a 15% drop in PlayStation engagement year-on-year last month, and gaming chip producer Nvidia last week reported a lower second quarter revenue.
The FT reports that gaming revenue in the second quarter fell 44% from the previous one, and 33% from last year, to $2bn (£165bn).
Chief executive of Take-Two Interactive, the company that makes Grand Theft Auto, Strauss Zelnick, told investors that he doesn’t believe “the entertainment business is recession proof or even necessarily recession resistant”.
Gaming was one of the industries that seemed to benefit from the pandemic which brought increased demand to the sector.
Zelnick seemed to point to the cost of living crisis in his warning, saying: “If you are feeling the pinch of inflation, specifically with regard to non-discretionary expenditures like fuel and food, you could imagine that if you’re playing a game, you might choose to spend a bit less or spend a bit less frequently.”