AB InBev, Premier League, National Express: Everything that matters this morning

Good morning and welcome to Marketing Week’s round-up of the news that matters in the marketing world today.


Gambling industry is failing to protect ‘problem gamblers’

The rise in online betting has left the Gambling Commission struggling to protect “problem” gamblers from harm, a government report has warned.

The National Audit Office (NAO) says the commission lacks the powers or the resources it needs to regulate a “huge and fast-evolving” industry and is failing to adapt to technological advances.

Funding constraints have also limited the commission, which has an annual budget of £19m.

Licensed gambling in Great Britain has grown by 57% over the past decade, making £11.3bn annually for the operators. Mobile online gambling is also on the rise, from 23% of revenue in 2015 to 44% in 2018.

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, says: “The risks to gamblers are changing as technologies develop. Yet the Gambling Commission is a small regulator in a huge and fast-evolving industry. While the commission has made improvements, gambling regulation lags behind the industry.”

While the commission has ramped up the level of fines it issues, from £1.4m in 2014-15 to nearly £20m last year, it has struggled to keep up with the industry, including advertising. There has been a 56% rise in advertising spending between 2014 and 2017, most of it via online and social media channels rather than television.

The report comes after the ASA warned yesterday that the volume of gambling ads is driving distrust of advertising.

READ MORE: Gambling Commission ‘is being outgunned’ by betting companies

AB InBev  predicts profit slide due to coronavirus

The world’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev is facing a 10% profit decline after the coronavirus outbreak hit beer sales during Chinese New Year.

The maker of Budweiser and Stella Artois said the virus had led to a significant decline in demand in China – both at bars and drinking at home leading to the worst quarter in a decade.

The outbreak, along with an expected weaker Brazilian market, could lead to a 10% drop in first-quarter core profit year-on-year, AB InBev said.

The Belgium-based company, which sells more Budweiser in China than in the lager’s key US market, said the disease shaved up to £220m off its revenue in China in the first two months of this year, 2.3% of its first-quarter group revenue last year.

However, AB InBev is betting on a rebound in the later part of this year, the lower end of the 2020 forecast of 2% to 5% would be the weakest growth in four years.

Premier League to launch Hall of Fame

The Premier League is partnering with Budweiser to launch a Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame will recognise players of “exceptional skill and talent” from home and abroad who have played in the top division since it began in 1992.

A separate English Football Hall of Fame has existed since 2002 and is housed at the National Football Museum.

Candidates for the new Premier League Hall of Fame must have retired and only a player’s Premier League career is considered.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says: “A place in the Premier League Hall of Fame is reserved for the very best.”

Two players will be inducted initially alongside a shortlist of nominees for future inclusion, voted for by fans. The first inductees will be announced in March.

Budweiser’s global vice-president of marketing, Steve Arkley, adds: “We are passionate about football, and so are our consumers, so we couldn’t be prouder to celebrate the sport and the players’ legacies with the Premier League Hall of Fame.”

Each inductee will receive a personalised medallion, engraved with the year of their induction.

Jameson launches multi-million pound campaign for St Patricks day

Jameson is launching a multi-million pound campaign in the lead up to St Patrick’s day.

The national drive ahead of the Irish holiday includes cinema, TV and social. There is also an experiential partnership with Sofar Sounds, with events taking place between now and May in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, London, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The ad promises to demonstrate that on St Patrick’s Day it doesn’t matter where you are, but who you’re with.

Marketing director for Pernod Ricard UK, Raja Banerji, says: “Shared experiences in large mixed groups are at the heart of sociable occasions both at home and in the on-trade. We’re delighted to be sharing this new creative, which will excite, inspire and facilitate them to get together with friends and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and beyond.”

National Express to achieve fully electric fleet by 2035

National Express is promising to buy no more diesel buses for its British fleet in order to achieve its new target of a fully zero-emission bus fleet.

The brand is promising to have all buses running on electricity by 2035 – about 10% of its buses are electric now.

Bosses at the bus and coach business have agreed to link their bonuses to environmental targets.

Chief executive Dean Finch admits that electric coaches will be harder to achieve due to the long distances they travel, adding that without improvements and investment in major infrastructure achieving zero emission targets will not be possible.

“The focus is on residential use, but what will happen is people like us will become their biggest users… That’s something they’re only vaguely aware of despite our best efforts,” he says.

£ READ MORE: National Express says fleet will be all-electric by 2035

Thursday, 27 February 

asdaWalmart mulls sale of Asda

US retail giant Walmart is considering selling its majority stake in Asda amid interest from a “small number” of external parties.

Walmart, which purchased Asda in 1999, says it would look to retain a stake in the supermarket, but is considering bringing in a third party to “support and accelerate” the delivery of Asda’s long-term success. The company did, however, reiterate that no decisions have been made.

The retailer says: “Walmart firmly believes that an IPO is an attractive long-term objective for Asda. Asda is a great business with a clear strategy for the future and Walmart is committed to ensuring it has the resources and support it needs to deliver that strategy.

“Walmart has a clear international strategy around ‘strong local businesses, powered by Walmart’ – which involves a number of different ownership arrangements depending on the needs of its different markets.”

Last April, Asda’s proposed merger with Sainsbury’s was blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which ruled that the deal would raise prices for consumers.

At the time Asda CEO Roger Burnley said it was right for the supermarket to explore the potential merger with Sainsbury’s, claiming it would have delivered “great benefits for customers and supported the long term, sustainable success of our business.”

READ MORE: Walmart in discussions to sell stake in Asda

WPP revenue flat amid ‘foundational year’ for new strategy

WPP notched up revenue of £13.2bn during 2019, with growth flat for the year, in what CEO Mark Read described as a “foundational year” for the company’s new strategy.

Despite pre-tax profit decreasing from £1.3bn in 2018 to £982m in 2019, Read says the agency giant had made “substantial progress” over a short period of time on its journey to return to growth.

WPP claims to have simplified its structure, with a focus on fewer, stronger agency brands, and renewed its commitment to “creativity and collaboration”. This simplification strategy has included 100 office mergers, either completed or in progress, the closure of 80 business units and 3,500 “planned redundancies”.

Read points to the fact the business has hit its restructuring targets and completed the sale of a majority stake in Kantar, while performance has been improving globally. He also notes that during 2019 the team  secured new business with the likes of Instagram, Mondelēz and eBay.

“Perhaps most importantly, our clients and our people tell us that WPP has a clear new sense of purpose and is successfully instilling a culture of creativity, collaboration and openness,” Read adds. “As we enter the second year of our three-year turnaround plan, our ability to attract and retain the best people is key to long-term growth.”

Tesco opens permanent cashless store

TescoTesco has opened its first cashless store in central London accepting a variety of electronic payment methods via self-service tills.

Planned as a permanent store, the shop in Holborn offers consumers the option to pay via contactless cards, debit and credit cards, Apple Pay and Tesco Pay+. It is the supermarket’s second cash-free store, the first of which was opened at its headquarters in Welwyn Garden City.

The store has 14 till points, two of which are staffed to enable the purchase of age restricted items such as cigarettes and alcohol.

The store is located minutes from the spot where Sainsbury’s trialled the UK’s first till-free supermarket, where shoppers were encouraged to pay via smartphone. The scheme was, however, abandoned in September due to low up-take and the retailer has since opened a new format On the Go store at London’s Mansion House, designed for busy city workers.

The store features a ‘grab and go’ station rearranged three times a day to offer products for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, as well as a self-service porridge station and perch tables to consume food on the premises.

READ MORE: Tesco opens cashless store in central London

Direct Line, Lloyds and Virgin Money blame ‘changing customer behaviour’ for job cuts

Direct Line has cited “changing consumer behaviour” as the reason for 800 job cuts across its various sites between 2021 and 2022. The BBC reports that one regional office will close, which could include its headquarters in Bromley, as well as Doncaster, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and Ipswich.

In a statement, the insurer says: “Like many companies we are having to prepare for changes in the way we operate reflecting changing customer behaviour where people are increasingly opting to interact with us digitally. We are therefore proposing a number of changes across the business which sadly mean the loss of jobs for some of our people.”

The same day, Lloyds Banking Group confirms it will axe 780 full-time jobs in 2020 across its branch network, as Virgin Money announced plans to close 52 branches resulting in 500 job losses.

While Lloyds had previously announced the branch closures, this latest round of job cuts – which will take place between June and October – will hit roles such as customer advisers, banking consultants and branch managers.

The bank told the BBC: “As customers are using our branches less often, we are reducing the number of roles across our branch network. This means we can shape our service according to customer behaviour and local demand.”

At Virgin Money around 215 jobs will be cut following the 52 branch closures, while the rest of the redundancies will come at its central offices in Leeds, the North East of England and Scotland.

Virgin Money UK group business transformation officer, Lucy Dimes, said: “As our customers change the way they want to bank with us, we are evolving the role of our stores – investing in all of the ways that customers are choosing to bank with us.”

READ MORE: Lloyds, Virgin and Direct Line to cut hundreds of jobs

Just Eat trials drone delivery

Just Eat Mann Drone Just Eat is trialling commercial drone delivery in a bid to accelerate the takeaway ordering experience.

The food delivery company’s Irish arm is partnering with Manna, an aviation-grade B2B drone delivery service, on an airborne logistics platform which promises to deliver to customers in a selected area in under three minutes from restaurant to consumer.

Just Eat Ireland managing director Amanda Roche-Kelly says the partnership will “greatly improve” the delivery experience for customers, adding that the company was proud to be the world’s first online food ordering and delivery platform to provide commercial drone delivery.

“Technology is at the core of everything we do at Just Eat, so we’re delighted to be involved in these pioneering trials with Manna, who have clearly built a groundbreaking drone delivery system,” she states.

There are more than 2,100 takeaway restaurants available via the Just Eat Ireland app. More than 80% of customers order either via the app or on a mobile device in Ireland, where the app has been downloaded over 2 million times since it was launched in the country five years ago.

Wednesday, 26 February 

Heineken unveils new anti-drink-driving campaign

Heineken has launched a new ‘When You Drive, Never Drink’ campaign starring Formula One champions Keke and Nico Rosberg.

The TV ad shows the father and son duo competing with each other in activities such as tennis and fishing. It hopes to highlight that no matter how confident a driver you are, the best driver is always the one that doesn’t drink and drive.

The insight for the campaign was drawn from Heineken’s global research on drink driving triggers, which found overconfidence in driving ability after consuming alcohol is a key cause of drink driving.

The research also showed that the prominence of alcohol-free options made a positive impact on drink driving behaviour.

“These insights have given us the opportunity to better target our marketing to make real impact by developing a new communications campaign which focuses on the root cause of drink driving,” says Heineken’s senior global brand director, Gianlica Di Tondo.

The campaign includes a 30, 60 and 95-second film, as well as digital and social assets that will launch in multiple countries around the world. The When You Drive, Never Drink message will also appear on F1 circuit branding.

Just Eat trials seaweed-lined box

Just Eat and sustainable packaging company Notpla are launching a fully recyclable seaweed-lined box for the takeaway sector.

The cardboard box, which can decompose in four weeks in a home compost, is being tested with three of Just Eat’s restaurant partners in London. The delivery brand estimates this will stop around 3,600 plastic boxes from entering the waste stream.

The London trial will assess the feasibility of rolling out the box more broadly to Just Eat’s restaurant partners across the UK followed by other Just Eat markets.

“We are committed to using our scale and influence to drive a more sustainable future for the food delivery industry,” says Just Eat’s UK managing director, Andrew Kenny.

“From removing single use plastics to pioneering the use of seaweed sauce sachets, we’ve already taken a number of positive steps to encourage more environmentally-friendly behaviour among our restaurant partners.”

Department for Transport launches campaign to promote inclusivity

The Department for Transport is launching a campaign aiming to create a more inclusive transport system for disabled passengers, especially those with non-visible impairments.

It’s Everyone’s Journey, created by VMLY&R, is composed of a series of animated films, prints and radio, depicting multiple journeys across train and bus networks.

The campaign uses animal characters as visual metaphors to highlight how people’s behaviour can change when taking public transport. It hopes to convey a sensitive and serious message with a light-hearted tone.

“We want disabled people to travel from A to B easily. We know that there are a number of barriers which make this difficult every day,” says The Department for Transport’s deputy director of campaigns, marketing and digital, Andy Raven.

“This campaign is one step in our journey of making transport more inclusive. We want to show that we can play a part in making transport more inclusive.”

The campaign will also run on VoD, OOH, radio, online and social.

Tesco to cut jobs as it overhauls bakeries

Tesco is set to cut more than 1,800 jobs as part of plans to convert 58 of its in-store bakeries so they only finish pre-baked products on site.

The supermarket says shoppers are buying fewer loaves and opting for wraps, flatbreads and bagels instead.

“We need to adapt to changing customer demand and tastes for bakery products so that we continue to offer customers a market-leading bakery range in store,” says Tesco’s UK and Ireland chief executive, Jason Tarry.

257 in-store bakeries will remain unchanged, while a further 201 will still offer some products baked from scratch.

Udsaw, the main union representing Tesco staff, says the news is “devastating” for staff and many of those affected by the proposed changes are skilled workers.

“While we will do everything possible to maintain jobs or support impacted staff to redeploy into alternative roles, the reality is the opportunities to find alternative skilled roles may be limited for these workers,” says Udsaw’s national officer, Pauline Foulkes.

Tesco has cut more than 15,000 jobs over the last 12 months. The bakery overhaul comes a year after Tesco announced plans to close fresh food counters in around 90 stores.

READ MORE: Tesco puts 1,800 jobs at risk as it scales down in-store bakeries

Macmillan launches podcast

Macmillan Cancer Support has launched a national podcast, Talking Cancer, which tells real stories of people living with the disease.

Hosted by radio presenter and Macmillan supporter Emma B, the charity’s debut podcast follows Emma across the six-part series as she meets people living with cancer to talk about their experiences.

Macmillan professional Dany Bell will also give her take on frequently asked questions and misconceptions around the main theme of each episode.

Topics covered will include diagnosis, treatable but not curable cancer, life after cancer, end of life, work and cancer, and cancer treatment.

Tuesday, 25 February 

Yorkshire Tea

Yorkshire Tea calls for more kindness on social

Yorkshire Tea found itself at the centre of a Twitter storm after chancellor Rishi Sunak posed for a photo making a cup of tea for his treasury team.

The politician pictured with the brand’s teabags led to social media calls for a boycott, prompting a Yorkshire Tea spokesperson to call for calm.

“We weren’t asked or involved – and we said so the same day. Lots of people got angry with us all the same,” the company said. “We’ve spent the last three days answering furious accusations and boycott calls.

“For some, our tea just being drunk by someone they don’t like means it’s forever tainted, and they’ve made sure we know it. It’s been pretty shocking to see the determination some have had to drag us into a political mudfight.

“It’s easier to be on the receiving end of this as a brand than as an individual. There’s more emotional distance and I’ve had a team to support me when it got a bit much.

“But for anyone about to vent their rage online, even to a company – please remember there’s a human on the other end of it, and try to be kind.”

READ MORE: Yorkshire Tea reveals how boycott calls brewed thanks to Chancellor Rishi Sunak

First three brands join the Attention Council

The Attention Council, bringing together ad industry professionals, academics and marketers to drive thought-leadership around the attention economy and share learnings and best practices, has brought its first brands on board.

Representatives from Mars, Microsoft and Diageo have joined the council. Mars will be represented by global consumer insights director Sorin Patilinet, Stacy Chagnon will represent Microsoft and Diageo will be represented by Chris Cable, director of insights, analytics and strategy.

The council is chaired by Karen Nelson-Field, CEO of Amplified Intelligence, and Marc Guldimann, CEO of Adelaide. Founder members include TVision’s Yan Liu, Avocet’s Ezra Pierce, and Lumen Research’s Mike Follett.

“Brands are a crucial part of any conversation about the attention economy,” said Nelson-Field. “They are the buy-side of the advertising ecosystem.

“I’m delighted that three such important and forward-thinking brands have chosen to join the Attention Council as we steer the conversation towards a sensible trading future.”

Starling Bank campaign celebrates small and medium-sized businesses

Starling BankStarling Bank is launching a marketing campaign, ‘Helping business fly’, that targets small and medium-sized enterprises with the aim of growing its business banking customer base.

The 60-second spot, created by Uncommon, features a small business owner waving goodbye to her family and heading off to work in her home office/garden shed. The ad then shows how Starling helps her on every step of the journey to success.

The campaign uses a blend of live action with miniatures, sound-tracked by a full orchestra.

The digital bank’s CEO Anne Boden says: “We wanted to do something different and authentic that hadn’t been done before.

“When business owners see the campaign, we want them to feel inspired and courageous. To see that they can do it as well.”

Cash-strapped Ted Baker looks to sell London HQ

Ted BakerTrouble retailer Ted Baker is selling off its London HQ to raise funds.

The fashion chain is reportedly close to signing a deal with the British Airways pension scheme that could be worth tens of millions of pounds.

Selling the Ugly Brown Building in north London would ease some of the pressure for the retailer after a series of profit warnings and a £58m overstatement in the value of its stock.

Ted Baker is also currently without a CEO or permanent chair.

READ MORE: Ailing Ted Baker flies off with cash from sale of London HQ

Expedia announces job cuts

Expedia says it will cut 3,000 jobs, or 12% of its workforce as it looks to streamline its online travel service.

“We are announcing our intent to reduce and eliminate certain projects, activities, teams, and roles to streamline and focus our organisation,” the company said in an email to employees.

The cuts will include 500 staff at its Seattle headquarters.

READ MORE: Expedia to cut 3,000 jobs

Monday, 24 February 

mcdonalds candle

McDonald’s launches fan club selling Quarter Pounder-scented candles

McDonald’s has launched a Quarter Pounder Fan Club – an offshoot of its official merchandise line – that will sell items celebrating its cheeseburger.

Items include a 2020 calendar, mittens, socks, T-shirts, a beanie and a pin. But perhaps the strangest is a pack of scented candles, with each one of the six candles in the pack smelling like a difference Quarter Pounder ingredient – bun, ketchup, pickle, cheese, onion and ‘100% fresh beef’.

The pack of candles is not currently for sale but the website says it is “coming soon”.

McDonald’s just a list of food brands creating food-scented candles. Mexian food chain Qdoba introduced a queso-scented candle, while Chili’s created one that smelled like BBQ ribs.

Broadband companies criticised over charges for old email addresses

Broadband companies including BT and TalkTalk have come under fire for charging customers £7.50 and £5 a month respectively if customers switch providers but want to keep their email addresses.

Virgin Media, meanwhile, deletes email addresses it gives to customers 90 days after they leave. Sky, however, allows people to keep their email addresses for free even if they switch providers.

The revelation has led to the regulator Ofcom writing to broadband companies to ask why they are charging for email addresses. Speaking to Radio 4’s Money Box, Ofcom says it can see no reason for the charge and is considering whether it needs to take action.

It will also look at whether people are being put off switching providers because of the hassle of losing their email address.

An Ofcom spokesperson says: “We can’t see a reason why you should have to pay these amounts to keep your email address. So we’re looking at this to consider whether we need to step in and take action.

“Last year we also secured commitments from companies to treat customers fairly, so we’ve asked them to explain how this fits with that promise.”

READ MORE: Email address charges branded ‘daylight robbery’

Tesco introduces range of plaster to match different skin tones

Tesco PlastersTesco is introducing a range of plasters that will match different skin colours as it looks to better reflect racial diversity.

The plasters, part of Tesco’s own-brand range, will go on sale across its 741 stores and online today. They will be available in light, medium and dark shades and be promoted through an outdoor and print campaign, created by BBH London.

Tesco developed the plasters after a member of staff raise the issue having seen a tweet last year in which a black American man described his emotional response when he was first able to use a plaster that matched his skin tone.

Tesco’s health, beauty and wellness director Nicola Robinson says: “As one of the largest retailers in the UK, we understand that we have a responsibility to ensure our products reflect the diversity of our customers and colleagues.

“We believe the launch of our new skin tone plaster range is an important step and a move that we hope will be replicated by other retailers and supermarkets across the country.”

JPMorgan Chase reportedly set to launch consumer bank

JPMorgan Chase is reportedly close to a launching a range of banking products for consumers in the UK.

A report from Sky News says the bank could introduce savings and loans products using the Chase brand in the next few months. It has held talks with City and banking regulators to ensure it has the approvals it needs to launch, according to sources quoted by Sky.

In the US, JPMorgan has more than 50 million digital banking customers.

The move comes after Goldman Sachs also made a move into the consumer banking market with the launch of Marcus in 2018.

READ MORE: JPMorgan plots launch of digital consumer bank in Britain

Waitrose rated best UK supermarket

Waitrose has topped Which?’s annual satisfaction survey, making it the best for in-store customer experience in the UK.

The chain scored five stars in almost every category including ease of finding products, fast-moving queues, friendly staff and the appearance of its shops. However, it scored only two out of five in terms of value.

This is the second year in a row Waitrose has secured the top position despite the increasing popularity of Aldi and Lidl. Asda was rated the worst in the ranking, which is based on a survey of more than 14,000 of its members.

The report also found that when shopping in-store, people are most frustrated by having to wait for help at self-service checkouts – cited by 26% of respondents – and a lack of staffed checkouts (25%). Quality of fresh products is the factor that is most important when choosing where to shop.

Carling brings back ‘Made Local’ campaign

Carling is bringing back its ‘Made Local’ marketing campaign as it looks to once again champion and support local communities.

The ads aired on TV yesterday (23 February) during the Six Nations rugby match between England and Ireland and during the Premier League fixture between Arsenal and Everton. The first tells the story of Burton brewers and the second of Black County Fusion FC, a LGBTQ+ Sunday League football team in Wolverhampton.

The campaign will also run across social media, outdoor and video-on-demand.

“Made Local is a campaign about championing and supporting those people who are making things happen in their hometown – just like Carling, proudly brewed by local people in its historic home of Burton-on-Trent,” says the brand.

“Up and down the country, regional towns are often misjudged, stereotyped or simply overlooked, and this campaign celebrates that when you look closer, there is more to these local communities and their ambitious inhabitants than meets the eye.”



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