Hasbro drops ‘Mr’ in Mr Potato Head toy
Toy manufacturer Hasbro is rebranding its Mr Potato Head toy line to Potato Head, a move to break away from traditional gender norms.
The brand says is making the move “to promote gender equality and inclusion”.
However, the Mr and Mrs Potato Head characters will remain in the manufacturer’s toy line-up this year. The company will launch the ‘Create Your Potato Head Family’ in autumn, which will include two large and one small potato bodies, with 42 accessories.
Hasbro’s move is in line with rival manufacturers that also updated their lines. Mattel, the maker of Barbie, launched a series of gender neutral dolls and added female trains to the Thomas The Tank Engine range.
Mr Potato Head went on sale in 1952 and had a starring role in the animated film series Toy Story.
Publicis Groupe launches apprenticeship platform
Publicis Groupe is launching an apprenticeship programme to attract ethnic minority and low-income talent to the marketing industry.
The holding company says it aims to attract 10,000 people to the Open Apprenticeship scheme. It will focus initially on reaching young people from ethnic minority and low-income backgrounds, and by 2022 it will look to other underrepresented groups, including disabled people.
The programme coincides with the well documented decline of job prospects for young people in the UK which has disproportionately impacted those from less fortunate backgrounds and disabled people.
Launch partners include the School of Marketing, Future TalentEd, Brixton Finishing School, Apprentice Nation, MultiVerse and Pathways.
Publicis Groupe will create new jobs for those that go through the programme. The agency group will also partner with the AA and hostel firm LHA London to offer accommodation to those who secure roles.
Publicis Groupe UK CEO, Magnus Djaba, says: “Ours is an industry that is closed. An industry full of people who look the same, have similar backgrounds and often upbringing.
“The irony is it’s also an industry looking for new solutions and innovation, from all the same pools of talent. If you don’t know someone in the industry it’s so hard to see in, to understand the careers and opportunity. The Open Apprenticeship is part of our commitment to open up our industry and we invite anyone interested to join us.”
Peugeot updates brand identity
French automaker Peugeot has revamped its brand identity and logo and is launching its first major brand campaign in 10 years.
‘The Lions of Our Time’ campaign is designed to reflect Peugeot’s “innovative” model line-up and mark the company’s transition into electric vehicles. It has committed to offer electric variants across its entire model portfolio by 2023. The first car to feature the new logo will be the next iteration of the Peugeot 308 which will see launch later this year.
Peugeot UK’s managing director, Julie David, says: “A new logo and brand identity are significant developments for any marque, let alone Peugeot, who has a history spanning more than 210 years. The new logo reflects our changing model line-up and new philosophy around living in the moment, and we are very excited to showcase both the logo and the brand identity to our customers this year.”
Asda accelerates ecommerce drive with major restructure
Asda is set to cut 5,000 roles in a major restructure to fulfil online customer demands.
The supermarket chain says its sweeping business plan is “in response to the changing demands of the retail sector”, after seeing a “structural shift in customer behaviour towards online grocery during the pandemic”.
Of the 5,000 jobs, 3,000 are back office roles in areas such as cash handling where there will be a reduction in work. Staff at risk will be moved to alternative roles with redundancy the last option. The company employs 145,000 people.
However, to support its shift to ecommerce the brand intends to expand its ‘instore pick’ model by creating 4,500 new roles across the country.
It notes delivery volumes have doubled to reach levels that were predicted to be achieved in nine years. The brand has increased online capacity by 90% since March, providing customers with 850,000 weekly shopping slots, and will have the capacity to provide one million orders by the end of the year.
Asda CEO and president, Roger Burnley, says: “We know that these proposed changes will be unsettling for colleagues and our priority is to support them during this consultation process. Our plans to transform the business will result in more roles being created than those we propose to remove and our absolute aim is to ensure as many colleagues as possible stay with us, as well as creating the opportunity to welcome new people to our business.”
Primark preps for April opening
High street fashion chain Primark aims to sell £400m of clothing from old lines when stores reopen on later this year to recoup losses suffered during the pandemic.
The company expects to resume business in its 153 stores on 12 April, the date Prime Minster Boris Johnson earmarked in his roadmap for the reopening of bricks-and-mortar stores. Store openings in Scotland will occur on 26 April.
Primark expects to have lost £1.1bn in sales dues to lockdown measures and does not offer ecommerce services unlike other fashion brands. It says its current supply chain is designed to keep costs low for customers and a shift to ecommerce would result higher retail prices.
Parent company Associated British Foods reports sales for the 24 weeks to 27 February 2021 were £2.2bn, compared to £3.7bn in the same period last year, due to government orders across many nations to shutter to stem the spread of Covid-19.
Associated British Foods finance director, John Bason, says: “We know that people will welcome us back when we reopen” and “there is pent-up demand.”
Thursday, 25 February
Ikea hit hard by lockdown
Home furnishings retailer Ikea saw its UK sales fall by more than 10% last year due to lockdown closures, despite online sales rising by nearly a third.
In its results for the year to 31 August, the company says UK sales were down to £1.9bn, from £2.12bn in 2019. Footfall fell by more than a fifth to £44.2m visitors, leading to an overall loss of £32.7m for the year.
Online sales grew by 31% – after rising by 27% in 2019 – and click-and-collect services were expanded. Closed stores were used as fulfilment centres for online orders. The company also introduced remote planning services for products such as kitchens, and even released recipes to let customers cook its Swedish meatballs at home.
Ikea committed to paying employees 100% of their salaries while stores were closed and stepped up its community programmes during the crisis. It closed stores early to protect staff and launched an emergency fund for any staff experiencing hardship due to the lockdown.
Ikea UK and Ireland chief financial officer Constantinos Mourouzides says the retailer was seeing year-on-year growth of 4% before Covid-19 struck.
“With our stores closed for up to three months of the financial year, we became an online-only retailer overnight,” says Mourouzides. “As a business we were already on a transformational journey, but in response to this swift change in circumstances we accelerated many of our plans. As such, the ecommerce operations of the business represented approximately 27% of total turnover during 2020, compared to around 19% in the year prior.”
Boots promotes Serum ranges as lockdown wrinkles emerge
Boots-owned skincare brand No7 says the Covid-19 pandemic has made women more aware of wrinkles, which it has dubbed ‘lockdown lines’.
The brand says its Line Correcting Booster Serum was one of the biggest lockdown sellers of 2020, as consumers sought to resist the lines, and it is now selling the product at half price to capitalise on the trend.
A survey by No7 says nearly 60% of women have become more aware of lines since the start of the pandemic, while more than 55% say that issues such as lack of sleep has caused their skin to age by up to five years.
A fully integrated campaign from WPP is to run across paid and organic social media, PR and influencer marketing, with a partnership with Mail Online.
Dettol helps clean up football
Disinfectant brand Dettol has teamed up with the Football Association in a sponsorship deal that seeks to help reinforce good hygiene across every level of the sport. A recent survey of football clubs found that more than 90% of them had identified cleaning and disinfection as a priority.
Dettol becomes the Official Hygiene Partner of the England Men’s and Women’s senior teams, Wembley Stadium connected by EE, and the wider grassroots game. There are more than 17,000 clubs and 1.4 million players participating in affiliated football, who will be given access to educational materials and a wide range of Dettol products.
At Wembley Stadium the brand will help explore new cleaning protocols to support the return of fans to matches at the lockdown is eased.
Susan Egstrand, regional general manager for North Europe at Dettol parent company Reckitt Benckiser, says: “Whether it’s fans eagerly anticipating a return to watching England play live at Wembley or players at all levels, our goal is to provide the football community with simple and effective hygiene routines when they enjoy the game they love.”
Companies with emotive brand names have higher revenues
Businesses with emotive brand names drive the most revenue, according to a new study by the UK Domain – an educational resource run by Nominet, the official registry of .uk internet domain names.
In a bid to advise startups on picking the most effective names, UK Domain studied the most popular brand names of the 21st century. It took into account revenue, rankings and brand values to calculate what brand names are likely to succeed.
It noted that companies with emotive names, such as Red Bull, achieved turnover of £70.32bn, beating those with invented names, at £57.65bn, and acronyms (£48.59bn).
Emotive brand names listed in the study include Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory. Brands with compound names had on average the lowest revenues, despite including famous brands such as Lego and PayPal.
DMA launches ADHD employer guidance in diversity push
The Data & Marketing Association has published DMA Talent: ADHD Employer Guide, a new resource featuring insights from neurodiversity consultants, brands and employers, and employees with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) from across the creative, marketing and data industries.
ADHD affects around 5% of children and 3% of adults in the UK, making it the most common behavioural disorder. The new guide seeks to help employers understand the condition, and what actions they can take to make their workplaces more inclusive.
“Even though organisations are increasingly looking at ways to address broader diversity and neurodiversity in the workplace, they must start adopting practices that will make them become more inclusive workplaces,” says DMA Talent general manager Kate Burnett.
“Our ADHD Employer Guide offers free guidance on reasonable adjustments that employers can make to recruitment processes, the workplace environment, and support networks to help them become more neurodiverse-friendly,”
Wednesday, 24 February
O2 campaign looks to lockdown lifting
O2 has brought back Bubl the robot for an ad and integrated campaign that showcases how consumers can get the most of out of the telecoms brand’s tech offerings as they prepare for life free of lockdown.
The hero ad debuted on 23 February, with slots booked this weekend during the Six Nations rugby coverage and Saturday Night Takeaway. As well as television, the campaign encompasses video-on-demand, outdoor, social and online.
Bubl will be appearing on TikTok using a branded effect AR lens, allowing users to bring the robot into their home and interact with him using a secret handshake.
The song used in the campaign, written and performed by Wilma Archer and the US rapper Vritra, will also be released on limited-edition vinyl.
“Beginning the year in lockdown has been difficult, and it’s impacted every part of all our lives,” says O2 CMO, Nina Bibby. “We’ve felt this along with everyone else, which is why we’ve focused on how we can help customers get the most of technology.”
David Gandy stars in Vodafone Neo ad
British model David Gandy is the face of a campaign promoting the Neo, a smartwatch for children produced by Vodafone in collaboration with Disney.
Gandy’s role includes a behind the scenes video in which he’s directed by an eight year old photographer, accompanied by an all-children production crew.
The latest product from the Designed & Connected by Vodafone range, the watch launches this week and features Disney characters Elsa, Buzz Lightyear and Minnie Mouse.
“Our aim was to create a fun, lighthearted campaign that will empower kids to enjoy the independence that Neo can provide on every step of their adventure,” says Vodafone Smart Tech CMO, Pamela Brown.
“Listening to parents and guardians, we know they care deeply about giving their children the freedom to explore the world around them.”
Elon Musk loses world’s richest title
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is no longer the richest person on the planet following both a big investment in Bitcoin and a 20% drop in the electric car manufacturer’s share price.
Musk recently announced a $1.5bn (£1bn) investment in Bitcoin, seen by many as a huge risk given the cryptocurrency’s unpredictability on markets.
Tesla shares dropped partly as a result, with investors in the US notably switching their attentions from big tech to more traditional cyclical stocks.
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos returns to the number one spot.
CMA boss unhappy with Google and Facebook duopoly
The CEO of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Andrea Coscelli, has warned that Google and Facebook enjoy too big a share of the UK online advertising market.
The two tech giants have a near 80% share of the £14bn digital advertising market, with Coscelli describing the situation as a “duopoly”.
“We think it would be good if we got to a situation where others had a bigger share of the market,” he told the BBC.
“When companies have too much economic power, that creates a number of distortions, first for competitors, secondly for consumers, and at some level potentially in terms of the political process as well, in some cases,” he added.
“We, in general terms, like to see markets more competitive, with more players, with more diversity of players, because we think that delivers better outcomes.”
The CMA is to create a Digital Markets Unit to draw up rules concerning tech giants and what it calls “anti-competitive behaviour”.
Former WeWork boss could net $500m in deal
WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann is set to make $500m (£354m) in a deal 18 months after losing his job as CEO in the wake of a failed public flotation.
Together with other major shareholders Neumann is in talks with SoftBank, the Japanese group who stepped in to rescue WeWork from possible bankruptcy in 2019.
The two parties are hoping to solve a legal dispute which would then pave the way for another potential buyout, with the Financial Times reporting that WeWork could be purchased by special purpose acquisition company BowX Acquisition.
The valuation would be considerably less than SoftBank’s $47bn (£33.4bn) price in 2019, but it would still be a significant windfall for Neumann at a time when WeWork continues to face problems with enforced closures and reduced cashflows during the pandemic.
Tuesday, 23 February
Peperami marketing push drives 19% sales spike
Peperami’s celebrity-fuelled marketing campaign ‘Love at First Bite’ for the launch of its new chicken bites product led to a 19% jump in sales last year.
The video content series starring boxer Anthony Joshua, presenter Maya Jama and singer Lewis Capaldi saw mystery cooks create a dish using Peperami Chicken Bites for each of the stars.
The campaign, created by PR agency Spider, featured on the brand’s YouTube channel and social media platforms and resulted in more than 8 million views across the series.
It also generated more than 500 pieces of editorial coverage and delivered a reach of 46 million people in the UK. The brand also achieved a 12% increase in followers on social media.
Peperami’s head of marketing Paven Chandra, says: “Although shining a light on our latest NPD launch, the ‘Love at First Bite’ campaign also had a halo effect on our other products – adding more than 120,000 unit sales to our five-pack Original SKU.
“Thanks to multiple marketing touchpoints, we are pleased to say we’ve been able to welcome new consumers to the brand and increase penetration.”
Holiday bookings fly after lockdown exit plan revealed
Holiday firms saw an instant spike after the Prime Minister outlined the UK’s roadmap for exiting lockdown.
Tui had its best day of bookings in over a month, according to the BBC, with people looking to book summer holidays in Greece, Spain and Turkey.
Meanwhile, Thomas Cook said bookings were “flooding in” and traffic to its website was up more than 100% after 3pm yesterday, and EasyJet recorded a 337% increase in flight bookings and a 630% boost in holiday bookings. It said bookings were strongest in August, followed by July then September.
As part of the government’s lockdown exit plan, Boris Johnson said a travel taskforce would lay out plans on how to return to international travel on 12 April. Restrictions on international travel will not be lifted before 17 May at the earliest though, meaning Easter getaways are off the table.
Thomas Cook’s chief executive, Alan French, says: “While we await more details, it’s clear that the government’s ambition is to open up international travel in the coming months and hopefully in time for the summer holidays.”
EasyJet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren, meanwhile, said the government’s announcement had “provided a much-needed boost in confidence” for UK customers.
LVMH buys stake in Jay-Z’s champagne
French luxury giant LVMH has bought a 50% stake in Jay-Z’s Armand de Brignac champagne brand. The rapper and music producer has owned the brand since 2014 and hopes the deal will provide the “power it needs to grow”.
A bottle of the champagne, also known as ‘Ace of Spades’ owing to the metallic bottle design featuring an ace of spades, sells for hundreds of pounds.
LVMH owns other champagne brands including Dom Perignon and Veuve Cliquot.
He says: “We are confident that the sheer power of the Moët Hennessy global distribution framework, its unparalleled portfolio strength and its long-established track record of excellence in developing luxury brands will give Armand de Brignac the commercial power it needs to grow and flourish even further.”
Armand de Brignac sold 900,000 bottles in 2019, but sales last year were impacted by the pandemic.
TransferWise rebrands to Wise
TransferWise is rebranding to Wise as it looks to better reflect the fact it has expanded its offering to include an international payments network.
The brand now offers three products – Wise, for personal international money transfers; Wise Business, its global business account; and Wise Platform, which is used by banks and companies including Monzo and GoCardless to offer customers payment and banking features.
The company processes £4.5bn in cross-border transactions every month, and claims to save customers approximately £1bn each year compared to making the same transfers via their bank.
Wise CEO and co-founder, Kristo Käärmann, says: “We’ve evolved to fix more than just money transfer but the core experience of using Wise will remain faster, cheaper and more convenient than anything else. Our mission remains the same. We’re still making — and always will be making — money work without borders.”
Facebook lifts news ban in Australia
Facebook will lift the ban on news content being shared on its platform in Australia.
The social network has blocked news on the platform in the region since last Thursday after a proposed law in Australia would mean it and Google would need to pay news publishers for content.
Amendments are now being made to the law, which led Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg to reverse the ban.
The regulation, which was seen as a test case for potential global roll-out, has been opposed by both Facebook and Google who argue it misunderstands how the internet works.
Monday, 22 February
John Lewis poised to close more stores as cost cutting continues
John Lewis is said to be considering closing a further eight of its 42 remaining stores in a bid to cut costs, with bigger, older shops thought to be most at risk.
The expectation is that in some cases the retailer may close a store and then relocate to a smaller property nearby, The Sunday Times reports. John Lewis already announced in July it was closing eight stores resulting in the loss of 1,300 jobs, alongside cutting 1,500 positions at head office. This cull included the chain’s Birmingham Grand Central store, first opened in 2015.
An internal review carried out before the arrival of current chairwoman Dame Sharon White, and prior to the pandemic, found that 20 John Lewis stores were not economically viable. Since then White has been exploring the possibility of converting excess department store space into flats or offices.
Whereas previously the retailer estimated £6 out of every £10 in sales was linked to browsing in stores, in September John Lewis said this figure had halved to £3 out of £10 due to Covid-19.
John Lewis, as with all retailers, has benefitted from the shift to online precipitated by lockdown and now anticipates that by 2025 60% to 70% of its sales will come from ecommerce. The chain repaid the £300m it received from the government’s coronavirus loan scheme following better than expected Christmas trading.
Leon warns it could fold if restrictions continue
Leon CEO John Vincent says it is “quite possible” the chain could fold if weeks and months of restrictions continue. The healthy food-to-go chain is losing around £200,000 a week, which rises to £800,000 when the amount of money the company would be making is taken into account.
Vincent told the BBC that extending the lockdown by even a matter of weeks could “cost lives” as hospitality businesses, which are the “heart of a functioning and healthy society”, are losing money that could be paid to employees in wages and to the state in taxes.
“That’s money that isn’t going into the economy, it’s not going into the wallets of the people who work for Leon, and it’s not going to pay the taxes that we need to pay,” he told BBC Radio 4.
“No one’s asked us for these numbers, so how does the government know what’s going on in the economy?”
The Leon CEO warned against positioning businesses as “uncompassionate” for wanting to reopen and criticised the government for not producing a holistic cost-benefit analysis. Vincent questioned how decisions can be made that are causing “huge economic destruction” and costing lives, without proper analysis.
“How can we be saying, glibly, ‘It doesn’t matter if lockdown carries on for a few weeks or months longer than necessary’ without the analysis? I wouldn’t launch a chicken wrap without analysis,” he added.
British American Tobacco accused of spending £1bn on influencers
British American Tobacco (BAT) is accused of spending £1bn on campaigns that harness the popular appeal of social media influencers to push its e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches.
A report into the company’s marketing campaigns by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, suggests BAT’s influencer activity has attracted younger adults, non-smokers and has even been seen by children.
The Guardian also reports that an employee from a PR firm working with BAT in Kenya allegedly offered journalists bribes for information about the investigation.
BAT has since cut ties with the PR agency, but continues to back its ‘A Better Tomorrow’ marketing strategy, which aims to drive sales of what it defines as less harmful alternatives to cigarettes, such as e-cigarettes, vapes and nicotine pouches. By 2023, the brand intends to use a £100bn annual marketing budget to target 500 million nicotine consumers.
The company made an annual pre-tax profit of £8.7bn in 2020, with the number of customers using BAT’s so-called “non-combustible” products rising by 3 million to 13.5 million.
Asos makes play for Topshop customers with new campaign
Asos is launching a multi-million pound campaign aimed at Topshop and Topman customers, following its £330m acquisition of the former Arcadia brands earlier this month.
The two-week social-led campaign, running across YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, will focus on consumers in the UK, US and Germany. The campaign coincides with the first major drops of new product from the Topshop and Topman brands since they joined the Asos stable. The amount of Topman and Topshop product available via Asos has already doubled since early February, with plans in place to double it again over the next few weeks.
Alongside offering customer discount codes in the UK and Germany, Asos is planning 25% off promotions for both brands across Europe, Australia and the US both today and Tuesday, as a way of welcoming new and returning customers.
“Topshop and Topman were well-established, strong-performing brands on Asos prior to the acquisition, and we know our customers loved them just as much as us,” says Asos chief commercial officer, José Antonio Ramos.
“Their integration with Asos is going well and our long-term plans to revitalise the brands and inject new life into them will translate into more new, exciting and fashion-led products launching in the months ahead.”
Itsu makes TV debut to support surging supermarket sales
Asian-inspired food brand Itsu is making its TV debut with a multichannel campaign designed to support its supermarket range of frozen gyoza and broths, sales of which grew by 59% in 2020.
Expected to reach 16 million households, the campaign features TV chef and stylist Gok Wan cooking easy Asian-fusion meals in his kitchen using Itsu products. Spanning TV, video-on-demand, PR, social and outdoor, the campaign heroes Itsu’s frozen gyoza range, one bag of which was sold in supermarkets every 10 seconds in 2020. The campaign will be complemented by in-store activities and promotions.
January was the brand’s biggest month to date for supermarket sales, prompting Itsu to decide to introduce its Brilliant’Broth range to its restaurant menu by the end of March.
“Launching our first TV advert marks an exciting new chapter for our grocery range, and Gok is the perfect partner for it: he has a genuine passion for Asian cooking, who better to bring our ‘eat beautiful’ mantra to life?” says Itsu founder, Julian Metcalfe.