M&S, Next and Wilko among retailers shunning Black Friday
Major high street retailers including Next, Marks & Spencer, Wilko and B&M will not be taking part in the Black Friday sales event this year, now seen as a key trading day in the run-up to Christmas for many businesses.
A number of retailers told the BBC that rather than discount around an event, they are focused on offering value all-year round. This despite the fact that the UK is expected to spend £750m on Black Friday this year, up from £718m last year, according to Lloyds Bank.
M&S said it had not offered specific Black Friday deals for a number of years, with no plans to do so this year. It added that it would be “offering great value and deals throughout the festive season”.
That is a similar line to that taken by Wilko and B&M, with B&M pointing out that many deals at other businesses during Black Friday are not as good as they appear. Consumer champion Which? says only around 15% of the ‘deals’ on Black Friday truly offer good value.
Tech giants to face new rules to limit their dominance
The UK is planning to impose new roles on the tech giants like Google and Facebook aimed at stopping them from abusing their market dominance.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is imposing the rules, says they will attempt to give consumers more control over their data, help small businesses thrive, and ensure news outlets are not forced out by bigger rivals. Between them, Google and Facebook accounted for around 80% of the £14bn spent on digital advertising last year.
“There is growing consensus in the UK and abroad that the concentration of power among a small number of tech companies is curtailing growth of the sector, reducing innovation and having negative impacts on the people and businesses that rely on them,” says digital secretary Oliver Dowden.
“It’s time to address that and unleash a new age of tech growth.”
The new code will lay out how the biggest firms are expected to behave when it comes to competitors and users. For example, platforms funded by digital ads could be required to be more transparent about the services they provide and how they use customer data.
They will also be expected to give consumers more choice over personalised advertising and not restrict the use of rival platforms.
The code is to be enforced by a new unit within the CMA called the Digital Markets Unit. It could be allowed to suspend, block and reverse moves made by tech firms and impose penalties for non-compliance.
Ad execs regain title as least trusted profession
Advertising executives have regained their title as the least trusted profession, according to a poll from Ipsos Mori.
In a survey of 1,873 UK adults in October, just 13% said they ‘generally trusted’ ad execs, down from 17% in 2019. That was enough to push them below politicians, whose trust level increased from 14% in 2019 to 15% this year, and make them the least trusted profession.
Rounding out the bottom of the list, government ministers’ trust levels came in at 16%, journalists at 23% and estate agents at 27%.
Among the most trusted professions, meanwhile, 93% say they generally trust nurses, 91% doctors, 89% engineers, 85% teachers and 84% judges. Bankers, once the least trusted, saw their trust levels increase once again to 44%.
Disney increases redundancies as Covid surges again
Disney is to increase the number of workers it make redundant to around 32,000 as the ongoing pandemic hits its theme park business.
The job cuts, which equate to roughly 15% of its workforce, will happen during the first half of 2021. They will come primarily in its theme park division.
Disney posted its first loss in four decades this year after the closure and then social distancing measures hit revenues. The company also has around 37,000 workers on furlough, which are not expected to be laid off.
Overall, Disney employs just over 200,000, with around three-quarters working in its parks, experiences and products division.
dvertising needs to be controlled and changed to reduce its impact on the climate, according to a report released as consumers prepare to spend billions on Black Friday.
Report calls for cuts to advertising to help tackle climate crisis
Advertising needs to be better controlled and changed to reduce the impact it has on the environment, according to a report by thinktank the New Weather Institute and charity We Are Possible.
The report says the promotion of consumerism, as well as the industry’s role in promoting sales of beef, tobacco, flying and high-polluting cars are all part of its indirect role in climate change. It suggests that in order to tackle the crisis, advertising should play a role in the types of products it promotes.
“This report argues that enough sound empirical evidence exists to support the conclusion that the advertising industry indirectly contributes to climate and ecological degradation.
“This is through its encouragement of materialistic values and goals, the consumption-driving work and spend cycle, and the consumption of two illustrative products, namely beef and tobacco,” says report co-author and emeritus professor of psychology at Knox College in Illinois, Tim Kasser.
Thursday, 26 November
Channel 4 and UK supermarkets make stand against racism
Broadcaster Channel 4 and supermarket brands Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose are to unite against racism on Friday night during two exclusive ad break takeovers.
Ads from the high street rivals will be split across two ad breaks on the channel, airing at approximately 8.15pm during Bake Off: An Extra Slice and at 10.15pm during The Last Leg. All ads will carry the hashtag #StandAgainstRacism.
Special introductions will explain to viewers that “Channel 4 stands up against racism. After the reaction to this year’s Sainsbury’s Christmas commercial, retailers have put their usual festive rivalries aside across two ad-breaks tonight to stand side by side with us too.”
Channel 4’s chief revenue officer Verica Djurdjevic explains that the move was prompted by offensive social media comments posted following Sainsbury’s recent Christmas ad featuring an all-black cast.
“As an anti-racist organisation we are incredibly proud to stand together with Sainsbury’s and our retail partners against racism, using our national platform to call out the unacceptable reaction to Sainsbury’s Christmas advert,” says Djurdjevic.
PG Tips ad hopes to inspire rivals to go biodegradable
Tea brand PG Tips has launched a campaign to support its move to biodegradable teabags, with a 30-second TV ad airing this week.
‘Have you made the switch?’ features a young girl hosting a tea party, telling her toy companions how each small sustainable choice can make a big difference.
The campaign aims to encourage more people to make the switch to a more sustainable cup of tea. Unilever UK and Ireland tea director Fiachra Moloney is confident that rival brands will now follow PG Tips’ example.
“Earlier this year, we completed the transition to biodegradable tea bags and now have the opportunity to shout about it in the hope that it will encourage other brands to do the same,” says Moloney.
“With its warm and heart felt message we want this TV campaign to encourage tea lovers to question what their tea bags are made of and if they can make the switch to a more sustainable cuppa.
“In the meantime, we are continuing to work hard to remove our plastic wraps and make our packs fully plant-based.”
Great British Bake Off final attracts record audience
This week’s final of series 11 of The Great British Bake Off attracted a record average audience of 9.2 million viewers and a 39.7% share of the viewing audience from 8pm to 9.15pm when it aired on Tuesday night.
With a 10.4 million peak, the figures are the show’s biggest ever overnight audience on Channel 4 and the broadcaster’s highest rating since 2002.
The final, which saw 20-year-old Peter Sawkins named 2020 champion, drew a 63.5% share of viewers aged between 16 and 34, the highest share of young viewers for any Bake Off episode to date and Channel 4’s highest share of young viewers since the 2006 Big Brother final.
The previous highest overnight rating Bake Off episode on Channel 4 was the 2017 final, which attracted 7.7 million viewers and a 34.6% share of the viewing audience and a 57.5% share of young viewers.
UK supermarket and fast food brands linked to rainforest destruction
A number of popular high street brands, including Tesco, Lidl, Asda, McDonald’s and Nando’s, are reportedly sourcing chicken fed on soya from the Cerrado ecoregion of Brazil.
A story in The Guardian reports that the harvesting of soya has been linked to thousands of forest fires and at least 300 square miles of tree clearance in the area, known for its rainforest.
Quoted in the piece, broadcaster and campaigner Chris Packham says it’s time for consumers to be given more information about where the food they’re buying comes from.
“We’ve got to wake up to the fact that what we buy in UK supermarkets, the implications of that purchase can be far and wide and enormously damaging, and this is a prime example of that,” he urges.
The UK slaughters at least 1 billion chickens a year, many of which are fattened up with soya beans imported by the US trading company Cargill. Analysis of shipping data shows that Cargill imported 1.5 million tonnes of Brazilian soya to the UK in the six years to August 2020.
All the companies mentioned in the report say they are working to lower the environmental impact of their offerings, to varying degrees.
Industry leaders react to chancellor’s spending statement
Advertising and retail figures have reacted to the chancellor of the exchequer’s statement yesterday on the Government Spending Review, after Rishi Sunak warned that the “economic emergency” caused by the global pandemic is only beginning.
However, Advertising Association CEO Stephen Woodford broadly welcomes the statement’s focus on jobs.
“Employment and growth must be prioritised after the massive impact of coronavirus on our economy and our impending departure from the Single Market and Customs Union,” says Woodford.
“Advertising is an important economic lever to support the recovery, delivering – as it does – a £6 return to GDP for every £1 invested. This is why we have developed a series of industry proposals for government which can assist our country in our recovery from the pandemic.
“These include a tax credit for advertising as well as a programme to boost skills in industry, so that our workforce is equipped for the future jobs market with the necessary skillset to handle the structural changes to our economy.”
British Retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson adds that she is encouraged that the government is considering further rates relief for businesses hit by lockdown and social distancing.
“Many retail businesses have been shuttered for the past month, depriving them of £8bn in sales,” Dickinson says. “A return to full business rates liability in April would be impossible for some firms to meet and freezing the multiplier in 2021/22 does not solve this problem.
“The government should adopt our proposal for business rates relief at 50% which reflects the fall in retail property values and brings market reality into the system, while generating much needed revenue for the Treasury.”
Wednesday, 25 November
GoCompare CMO joins On the Beach
The chief marketing officer of GoCompare, Zoe Harris, is joining On the Beach Group.
Harris joins the holiday company as its CMO on 1 January and will be its first CMO in two years, replacing marketing director Alan Harding who left earlier this year.
She says: “There is no doubt that the travel industry has had a tough 2020 and, with the prospect of vaccines on the horizon, I believe now is a very exciting time to be moving into this sector. The disruptive nature of the Group’s business model, alongside incredibly strong performance marketing and a distinctive brand tone of voice is a heady combination.”
Harris joined GoCompare in 2018 as CMO and was previously group marketing director at Reach, formerly known as Trinity Mirror, for nearly six years. She has also held roles at Channel 5 and MTV.
CEO of On the Beach Group, Simon Cooper, says: “[Zoe’s] extensive experience heading up marketing functions at a variety of large digital organisations will be invaluable as we look to further accelerate our progress in 2021. We go into next year with a strong balance sheet and look forward to taking advantage of the large number of opportunities that will be available.
Pets at Home boosted by surge in lockdown puppies
A boom in the number of people buying pets during lockdown has led to a surge in sales and profits at Pets at Home.
Britain’s largest pet supplies retailer announced a 5.1% increase in sales to £574.4m for the 28 weeks to 8 October, while statutory pre-tax profits increased by 14.6% to £38.9m.
Its chief executive, Peter Pritchard, says that pet ownership had surged during Covid-19, dubbing it a “baby boom”. He says: “More people working from home means that more people can have a pet.”
The company sells some small animals and fish but does not sell cats or dogs. It said, however, that membership of its Puppy & Kitten Club for new owners had risen by 25% during the six-month period.
Pets at Home said the first half of its financial year, which runs between April and October, reflected the entire period since the week after national lockdown was implemented. Restrictions on households weighed on trade in the first quarter before a 12.7% jump in like-for-like sales in the second three months.
Allbirds raises prices for Black Friday
Allbirds is raising prices for Black Friday as it calls on consumers to “break tradition, not the planet”.
The sustainable accessories and footwear brand is flipping tradition and will increase all its prices by £1, which will be matched with £1 from the brand. The additional proceeds will go to Fridays For Future, the youth-led international climate movement founded by climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The initiative follows the brand’s 2018 Black Friday plans, which saw all of its UK stores closed and the retail offer complimentary workshops for consumers providing education around their buying decisions and how these have a long-lasting impact.
Airlines offer passengers health passes to help industry recovery
Airlines will begin offering digital health certificates in a bid to help the struggling industry.
Five international airlines are to begin providing passengers with digital health certificates to confirm they’re Covid-free earlier than journey.
United Airlines, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, Swiss International Air Lines and JetBlue will start rolling out the CommonPass to passengers on some flights from December.
The pilot, developed by non-profit group The Commons Project and backed by the World Economic Forum, makes use of a digital certificate downloaded to a cell phone to show a passenger has tested negative for Covid-19. Users can then use the certificates as proof if the nation they’re visiting requires one. The airlines will not make the CommonPass necessary, however in time it is going to be used to present proof of vaccination.
The Commons Project CEO Paul Meyer told the FT he was additionally in discussions with cruise lines, delivery corporations and lodge chains about how they could use health passes for their companies.
Ryanair boss hits out at government handling of Covid-19
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is accusing the government of failing to take on aviation interests.
O’Leary told Sky News that transport secretary Grant Shapps “doesn’t talk sufficiently to the industry and take on board our views” and was dismissive of plans for travellers to buy tests to shorten their quarantine time.
Passengers arriving from countries with high infection rates will be able to buy tests from next month and if they test negative for Covid-19 on the fifth day can leave.
O’Leary accused the government of “mismanagement”, arguing that Shapps had failed to listen to industry over the plans, arguing it would be simpler for passengers to be tested a couple of days prior to departure instead.
He explained: “If people are willing to get their tests within the 72 hours prior to their departure or prior to arriving in the UK, it’s a much simpler, much easier way of ensuring that those people who fly in, particularly on short-haul flights, are Covid-free.”
O’Leary added: “We are the orphan of UK government policy, nothing has been done to facilitate aviation.”
Tuesday, 25 November
Diageo launches 10-year sustainability plan
Diageo has outlined a series of 25 commitments it aims to achieve over the next decade around the promotion of positive drinking, sustainability and diversity in its ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’ action plan.
As part of the plan, the drinks giant aims to reach more than 1 billion people with messages of moderation from its brands, educate 10 million people on the dangers of underage drinking, and change the attitudes of 5 million drivers on drink-driving.
Meanwhile, Diageo aims to have 45% representation of leaders from ethnically diverse backgrounds by 2030 and it states 50% of all leaders will be women. It will also provide skills and training to more than 1.7 million people within the sector.
Diageo has also committed to using 100% renewable energy to achieve net zero carbon emissions across direct operations and will work with suppliers to reduce indirect emissions by 50%. By 2030, the brand says it will also ensure every drink it produces will take 30% less water to make and it will use 100% recycled content in plastic packaging.
Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes says: “As a global business, we are committed to playing our part to protect the future of our planet and to leading the way for others to follow. I am immensely proud of Diageo’s sustainability and responsibility achievements to date, and this new, ambitious action plan will challenge us even further to deliver more over the critical decade to 2030.”
The drinks giant selected the three core areas of promoting positive drinking, championing diversity and sustainability as its focus for the next 10 years as they align with the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.
JD Sports in talks to takeover Debenhams
JD Sports is reportedly holding exclusive talks with Debenhams about a rescue plan to acquire the department store chain.
The FTSE 100 sportwear retailer is interested in buying the whole of the Debenhams business, which could secure thousands of jobs ahead of Christmas.
It is understood JD Sports entered exclusive talks with Debenhams’ advisor Lazard and administrators at FRP yesterday.
Debenhams has 12,000 staff and 124 shops. Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley had shown interest in acquiring the business but dropped out of the sale earlier this month.
Industry welcomes post-lockdown rules but urges clarity
The ad industry and retailers have welcomed the fact shops and the hospitality sector will be allowed to reopen when the second lockdown ends on 2 December. However, they have urged government to provide more clarity to help businesses plan effectively in the run-up to Christmas, particularly as the tier system means there will be differences between regions.
Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford says: “The final month of the year is a crucial one, particularly for the retail and hospitality industries, both of which depend heavily on advertising to reach consumers, drive sales and support jobs.
“The government must provide as much information as it can for businesses to plan effectively, so they can deliver their products and services to consumers during this challenging period for all. This is especially important given the possibility of differing tiers in the regions of England and the variations we may see in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
While he acknowledges the pandemic presents a “fast-changing situation”, he says any further changes must be handled clearly to support “as successful a festive season as possible”.
British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson reiterates the “relief” retailers will feel following the government’s confirmation that shops can reopen, and highlights the fact retail is a safe environment, according to SAGE data.
Plus, she says: “Firms have spent hundreds of millions on safety measures including perspex screens, additional cleaning, and social distancing and will continue to follow all safety guidance. As a result, customers can be reassured that retail premises are Covid-secure and safe to visit over the festive period.
“Shops – from high streets to retail parks – play an integral role in the run up to Christmas. While retailers have stepped up their online delivery over the course of 2020, the bulk of Christmas shopping tends to be done in store. The government’s decision to keep all of retail open will help to preserve jobs and the economy and help keep Christmas a festive occasion for everyone.”
Snapchat launches TikTok rival offering people $1m for entertaining posts
Snapchat is taking on rival TikTok with the launch of Spotlight, a new section of its app offering a curated, scrollable feed of short videos generated by users.
To encourage users to share their content publicly, Snapchat has a daily fund of $1m, which it will share between the most entertaining creators. The money will be distributed based on how many people watch the clip and how long they watch it for.
The feature will be available in the UK, US, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France and New Zealand initially, with more countries to follow.
Spotlight replaces the dedicated Discover tab on the Snapchat app.
British Airways sells off champagne flutes and first class memorabilia as gifts
British Airways is selling off thousands of items as it looks to offset the massive loss it has endured during the pandemic and offload surplus stock.
The airline is offering up “memorable” gifts in the form of champagne flutes, drinks trolleys and bedding, as well as items from its now retired Boeing 747s such as insulated boxes and serving trays.
BA’s parent company IAG last month posted a £5.1bn loss for the first nine months of 2020, a complete turnaround from the £1.6bn profit it made during the same period in 2019.
The airline says it is offering these items for sale as a result of changes to its aircraft fleet and the likelihood it will be a slimmer operation post-pandemic, meaning its warehouses are full of items that will never be used.
BA’s director of brand and customer experience Carolina Martinoli says it is the first time the airline had organised a sale of this kind and with the timing ahead of Christmas it hopes it will “give people the opportunity to make it memorable during a difficult year”.
Monday, 23 November
Britvic, Unilever and Mars object to proposed online ad ban
Britvic, Unilever and Mars are among 3,000 brands that have written to the prime minister expressing anger over a recently launched public consultation into a complete ban on online advertising for high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) products .
The coalition of brands, which also includes Kellogg’s, Mondelez, PepsiCo and General Mills, say they are shocked at the suggestion the ban could restrict how they describe products on their own websites and social media channels. This is despite previous assurances the government had “no interest” in doing so.
While the 800 food and drink manufacturers and 3,000 UK brands that have signed the letter say they “wholeheartedly” support the government’s public health policy and will continue to reformulate their products, they criticise the timing of the consultation. The coalition say they are being forced to discuss this “disproportionate proposal” in an “impossibly short time period” given the level of technical detail needed.
The brands argue they are playing a vital part in feeding the nation during the Covid-19 crisis, while the advertising sector continues to help the government communicate its health messages to the public, and both sectors are negotiating the looming Brexit deadline.
The statement adds: “The timing of this consultation is frankly astonishing, especially as the government’s stated ambition is to introduce these proposed advertising restrictions at the end of 2022. There is no reason to introduce this consultation and demand submission of responses with such haste, while effectively limiting our opportunity to respond before the end of December.”
While they agree HFSS products should not be targeted at children, the brands are asking why the government is disregarding the “sophisticated online tools” advertisers can use to ensure they target adult-only audiences.
The coalition, backed by the Advertising Association and ISBA, is now asking the government for an extension to the deadline for the consultation and requests a meeting to discuss the way forward.
Daily Mail Group takes 16% hit to ad revenues amid Covid woes
The Daily Mail Group (DMGT) saw total combined advertising revenues across its media portfolio fall by 16% to £283m in the year to 30 September, as the Covid-19 crisis caused print ad revenues to plummet by 30%.
Total ad revenue across the Mail businesses (Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, MailOnline and DailyMailTV) declined by 9% to £231m, including a 26% fall in print advertising revenues reflecting the “impact of Covid-19, as well as the continued structural and competitive challenges facing the UK national newspaper advertising market”.
Digital accounted for 65% of total advertising across the combined Mail businesses during the year to 30 September.
MailOnline continued to focus on attracting traffic directly to its homepages on desktop, mobile and across its apps. The business experienced “good audience growth” during the period, with total average daily global unique browsers up 38% to 17.3 million. Total minutes spent on the site, excluding time viewing videos, increased 14% to a daily average of 145 million.
The onset of the first coronavirus lockdown across the UK reduced the Metro’s circulation to approximately a quarter of the usual pre-Covid level. While readership has started to creep up, volumes are less than half the pre-pandemic level.
As a result, the Metro’s revenues decreased by 40% to £47m for the year to 30 September. Prior to Covid-19, the Metro boasted the largest Monday to Friday advertising market share by volume of any weekday UK newspaper.
The ‘i’, which was acquired by DMGT in November 2019 for £50m, saw revenues decrease by 10% to £27m, reflecting the “impact of lockdown measures on circulation and the particularly challenging advertising market”.
Looking ahead, DMGT says the advertising market for its consumer media brands “lacks visibility and conditions are likely to remain both challenging and volatile”. The company expects circulation volumes to decline from current levels as the “structural changes in newspaper readership continue”.
Non-essential shops set to reopen post-English lockdown
Non-essential shops and gyms across England are expected to be allowed to reopen once the lockdown ends on 2 December.
It is thought that England will return to a toughened three tier system but gyms and shops, which have been closed since 5 November, will reopen. The current curfew for pubs and restaurants is also expected to be relaxed, meaning last orders will remain at 10pm but customers will be able to stay to finish their meals and drinks until 11pm.
However, the BBC reports that pubs in the highest tier (tier three) will only be allowed to open for takeaway and those in tier two must serve substantial meals, even to customers sitting outside. It is also thought the current ban on grassroots sports will be lifted.
While greater detail is expected on Thursday, more regions of England look set to be placed in the high risk or very high risk tiers after the lockdown. The new system is likely to be supplemented by rapid testing, as seen in the pilot in Liverpool, supported by the Army.
Tenzing backs BrewDog’s climate action fight
Plant-based energy drink Tenzing is showing solidarity with BrewDog by adding its can to the beer brand’s banned climate action campaign.
Banned last week by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for being “likely to offend”, the outdoor ad featured large text reading ‘F**k you CO2. BrewDog Beer Is Now Carbon Negative’. The letters between F and K were obscured by a can of BrewDog Punk IPA.
In a bid to get the ASA to “back down in the name of the planet”, Tenzing has released its own version of the ad on social media, adding a can of the energy drink alongside the can of Punk IPA to obscure the ‘K’ in ‘F**K’.
The brand, which is set to announce its own carbon strategy in January, tweeted to say it stands “shoulder to shoulder” with BrewDog on its mission to become carbon negative: “We are indeed in an existential crisis, which is why we’ve also been working hard on our plan to kill carbon for over a year, and lots more to come. Any other brands fancy joining us and supporting BrewDog’s ASA battle?”
Weetabix strikes FA deal
Weetabix has struck a deal with The Football Association (FA) to become the official breakfast partner of the England Women’s and Men’s Senior Teams, as well as lead partner of girl’s participation programme Wildcats.
The new partnership, which will run from April 2021, will focus on Weetabix Original’s nutritional credentials as a product low in sugar, salt and fat, as well as high in fibre. Supporting activity will feature across all Weetabix-branded cereal products, including Oatibix.
Weetabix and The FA are also committing to double the current 1,600 Wildcats providers across England by the end of 2024. Set to be renamed the ‘Weetabix Wildcats’, the programme is aimed at girls aged five to 11 who want to get involved with football for the first time or are seeking the opportunity to play with other girls their own age. The breakfast brand will work closely with performance experts at England’s base at St. George’s Park to ensure learning about nutrition is part of the programme.
Head of brand, Gareth Turner, describes the deal as “huge news” for Weetabix, which he hopes will cement its status as the “nation’s favourite cereal”.
“We are looking forward to collaborating with our customers in all trade channels to bring this to life during what are set to be two huge summers of sport,” says Turner. “Stand-out activations in store, warehouses and online will undoubtedly drive footfall to the cereal aisle and raise awareness of the entire category, tapping into heightened shopper interest.”
Providing girls with equal access to participate in football is a priority for The FA, says commercial and marketing director Kathryn Swarbrick, one she believes can only be achieved with the support of “committed partners”.
“The joint ambition to double Weetabix Wildcats sessions by the end of 2024 will play a crucial role in ensuring girls across the country have a fun, friendly and safe environment to play the game,” she adds.