Lego, Mondelez, ‘sexist’ Covid ad: 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.

Government faces backlash for ‘sexist’ Covid ad

The government has withdrawn a “sexist” coronavirus ad urging people to stay at home after drawing criticism on social media.

The ad shows pictures of women ironing, cleaning and home schooling, while the only man is seen lounging on the sofa.

People took to Twitter to share their outrage, with one woman saying “I don’t think every day sexism even starts to cover this”.

The government has since removed the ad saying it did “not reflect” its views on women.

Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, who is chair of the parliament’s women and equalities select committee, tweeted the image and said, “someone signed this off”.

READ MORE: No 10 pulls ‘sexist’ Covid ad showing all chores done by women

Lego’s CMO credits her diverse team as ‘key to success’

Lego’s chief product and marketing officer, Julia Goldin, says having a truly diverse team has been vital to the growth of the brand.

In addition to having people from a variety of backgrounds, both culturally and when it comes to age, race and gender, Goldin believes it’s also crucial to have a mix of experience.

“I have engineers with very technical backgrounds coming together with creatives with very creative backgrounds. I have people who have been in product development for a long time [working] with great marketers who have marketed great brands around the world,” she said, talking at the Reset 2021 conference yesterday (28 January).

“When all of these cultural and experience differences come together and people work as one team they’re able to really leverage their diversity to get to very good outcomes. And I think that’s also one of the keys to the success Lego has seen.”

Marketers upbeat about employment and budgets for 2021

Some level of normality looks to be returning to marketing organisations globally, with 65% of marketing leaders expecting to increase spend in 2021, according to a new report.

A quarter of marketers (24%) expect no change to budgets this year, while 10% will need to cut spend, according to the survey of 200 marketing leaders by the CMO Council.

Marketing jobs also look to be safer this year given 64% of businesses say they have no plans to downsize or restructure their marketing organisations in 2021.

Working more efficiently across business functions is a top priority for marketing leaders, though, who are keen to lower costs, increase efficiency and do a better job at both globalising and localising campaigns.

More than half of marketers also want to optimise customer journeys, and over a third want to boost acquisition and conversion rates though better data-driven interactions and digital innovation.

The majority of marketers (70%) also plan to invest heavily in marketing technology to improve effectiveness. The most important areas for investment will be sourcing and using customer data insights, executing campaigns more effectively, as well as improving operations and performance.

CMO Council senior vice-president for Europe, Manuel Hüttl, says: “The most relevant and compelling areas of conversation among our members right now are all about ROI, efficiency and revenue optimisation. This means being more focused on digital marketing transformation, creating value from customer data, and upgrading customer engagement and experience.”

Mondelez investigated for price fixing

CadburySnack giant Mondelez is being invested by the European Commission for allegedly pushing up prices by restricting the trade of its products across EU borders.

In the EU single market, retailers and traders look to buy products where they are cheapest and sell them in countries where prices are higher, which lowers the price in the more expensive countries.

The investigation will look at whether Mondelez “restricted free competition” by limiting where traders could buy and sell products, and if it raised prices or limited volumes for companies that traded across the region.

It has also been accused of compensating firms so they wouldn’t make cross-border trades, and investigators are looking into whether it restricted imports by refusing to supply some traders.

Mondelez, owner of Cadbury, Toblerone and Oreo, says it will “work constructively” with the Commission to resolve the issue.

Beer firm AB InBev was fined €200m (£176m) for using similar methods in May 2019. It reportedly prevented cheaper beer from the Netherlands and France from being sold in Belgium by changing the design and size of beer cans to make them unavailable to sell across borders.

READ MORE: EU opens competition investigation into Cadbury owner

Weleda celebrates centenary with insight-driven garden campaign

Natural beauty brand Weleda is marking its 100th anniversary with the launch of a campaign celebrating nature.

‘The Open Garden’ is an immersive online platform that is designed to bring to life Weleda’s gardens and offer insight into how the plants and flowers it grows are cultivated for its products.

It follows research done with agency Studio of Art and Commerce into how consumers’ views around culture and nature align with how Weleda operates its business. Soil health, inter-species diversity, plant and animal relationships and biodynamic farming were all highlighted as important, so these pillars were then used to help build the platform.

A further study shows Brits say connecting with nature is among the top three benefits to come out of lockdown.

Weleda’s head of global brand experience and digital marketing, Daniel Kugler, says: “This exciting new initiative is intended to engage and inspire people, helping us feel closer to the natural world at a time when we have become acutely aware of its importance to our wellbeing.

“People are becoming increasingly protective of the environment, and genuinely want to understand the provenance of the products they use. The Open Garden hopes to bring to life the unique way we do things at Weleda.”

Thursday, 28 January

Apple storeApple reports record results

Apple has reported a record performance in the first quarter of its current financial year, achieving a highest-ever revenue of $111.4bn (£81.7bn).

The figure, for the fiscal quarter ending on 26 December 2020, represents a 21% increase on the same period last year. International sales accounted for 64% of the revenue.

“We’re gratified by the enthusiastic customer response to the unmatched line of cutting-edge products that we delivered across a historic holiday season,” says Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Each of the company’s product categories saw double-digit sales growth, says Apple CFO Luca Maestri, adding, “These results helped us generate record operating cash flow of $38.8bn. We also returned over $30bn to shareholders during the quarter as we maintain our target of reaching a net cash neutral position over time.”

UK car production figures ‘worst in a generation’

JaguarThe Covid-19 pandemic has caused UK car manufacturing to slump to its lowest level since 1984, according to new figures from the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders). It adds that uncertainty over Brexit further depressed demand in key export markets.

Production last year fell by 29.3% last year to 920,928 units, with production for the UK market down by 30.4%, and production for export down by 29.1%. Eight in 10 cars produced in the UK are sold overseas. Production is forecast to reach 1 million units in 2021.

Jaguar Land Rover saw production drop by 36.7%, while production of the Vauxhall Astra at Ellesmere Port was reduced by 47.8%. Brands including Nissan, Mini, Toyota and Honda all saw substantial drops in output.

However, amid the gloom combined production of battery and hybrid vehicles increased to represent 18.8% of all cars made in the UK.

“These figures, the worst in a generation, reflect the devastating impact of the pandemic on UK automotive production, with Covid lockdowns depressing demand, shuttering plants and threatening lives and livelihoods,” says SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“The immediate challenge is to adapt to the new conditions, to overcome the additional customers burdens and regain our global competitiveness while delivering zero emission transport.”

UK consumers rush to book staycations

UK consumers are rushing to book domestic holidays for later this year as they fear further travel restrictions. Independent Cottages has seen a 300% increase in traffic during the current lockdown, while has seen bookings taken for the summer holidays up by 98% compared to last year.

The operators warn of a shortage of accommodation, as some owners must honour earlier bookings rolled over from previous periods of lockdown.

“Straight after Boxing Day, people usually start thinking about summer holidays, but we’re also seeing very early bookings for the festive season,” says Independent Cottages head Steve Jarvis.

“We anticipate another strong summer for the UK staycation industry,” says CMO James Starkey.

READ MORE: Staycations: Bookings ‘coming in thick and fast’

One in seven businesses at risk says report

More than one in seven UK businesses are at great risk of imminent closure, with micro businesses employing fewer than 10 people especially vulnerable, according to research published by the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) and the Alliance for Full Employment (AFFE).

Based on data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the study says that 2.5 million jobs are at risk at companies in danger of failing by early April, when current pandemic support schemes are due to end, unless remedial action is agreed. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has written an introduction to the report, describing it as “meticulous”.

“Without further policy action, businesses face a cruel spring of bankruptcy,” says report co-author professor John Van Reenen. “The current policy trajectory must be altered to provide further protection now and to map a path for post-pandemic prosperity.”

The report advises a range of measures, including loan subsidies stretching into 2021, debt restructuring, and new collaboration between government and banks.

CAP enforcement notice warns on ads for prescription-only products

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has published an enforcement notice that instructs a number of businesses not to advertise prescription-only medicines (POMs) to the public.

The notice follows an ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) investigation into health clinics that were found to be advertising POMs designed to aid weight loss, via social media posts. The clinics were trading as Skinnyjab, Skinny Clinic and Skinny Revolution.

The ASA will take targeted enforcement action from 12 February against the companies if they to do not comply with the notices, and may refer them to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which can issue further sanctions.

Wednesday, 27 January


Apple back in top spot as world’s most valuable brand

Apple has been named the world’s most valuable brand in the Brand Finance Global 500 2021 ranking, worth $263.4bn.

It’s the first time in five years that the tech giant has claimed the top spot, overtaking Amazon and Google, boosted by an 87% brand value increase.

The report highlighted the brand’s ability to reinvent itself under Tim Cook’s leadership, looking beyond the iPhone and diversifying into digital and subscription services, including the App Store, iCloud, Apple Podcasts, Apple Music, Apple TV and Apple Arcade.

“Steve Jobs’ legacy continues to flow through Apple, with innovation built into the brand’s DNA,” says Brand Finance CEO, David Haigh. “We are witnessing ‘Think Different’ once again, from Mac to iPod, to iPhone, to iPad, to Apple Watch, to subscription services, to infinity and beyond.”

Making way for Apple, Amazon dropped to second place, but still boasts 15% growth, valued at $254.2bn. In third place, Google saw a relatively paltry 1% growth, now worth $191.2bn, its change in fortune blamed on drops in advertising revenues.

Elsewhere in the report, Tesla enjoyed the fastest brand value growth in the ranking, up by 158% to a value of $32bn. In stark contrast, traditional auto brands generally enjoyed a torrid time, typified by Mercedes-Benz which saw a 10% drop in value to $58.2bn.

Smarties switches to fully recyclable paper packaging

Nestlé’s Smarties has become the first global confectionery brand to use recyclable paper packaging for its products worldwide.

The switch means the removal of approximately 250 million plastic packs sold globally every year, replaced by paper packaging that is sourced sustainably and made of a coated paper, paper labels or carton board.

Information about how to properly dispose of Smarties paper packaging is also included on its labels to raise consumer awareness.

“Developing safe and convenient paper-based solutions for Smarties has required the pioneering of new materials and testing by Nestlé packaging experts at our R&D Centre for confectionery in York, UK and the Swiss-based Institute of Packaging Sciences,” says head of the Nestlé Confectionery Product Technology Centre, Louise Barrett.

“We adapted our existing manufacturing lines to allow for the careful handling that is required for paper, while also ensuring recyclability across all new formats.”

Lego and Universal team up on music video maker for kids

LegoThe Lego Group and Universal Music Group have teamed up to create Lego Vidiyo, a music video maker designed to help expand children’s creativity and passion for music.

The platform is aimed at the 7-10 age group and uses Lego System in Play technology along with music from Universal artists around the world, allowing users to take charge of their own music video productions, which can then be uploaded to a moderated Lego Vidiyo app feed.

Tools available include augmented reality and various Lego elements, as well as the app, and ‘BeatBits’ scanning and editing options.

The concept is the first collaboration between Lego and Universal Music since the two signed a partnership deal last year.

“We want to feed the imagination of the next generation of creatives, providing a new canvas for kids to creatively express themselves,” says Lego CMO Julia Goldin.

“Research shows over three quarters of parents globally wish their children had more creative confidence, so we’re launching Lego Vidyo to help make that happen.”

Leica campaign celebrates photographic witnesses

Legendary German camera brand Leica has produced its first global campaign in a decade, one that pays homage to the many photographers who have documented change over the past 150 years.

‘The World Deserves Witness’ was created using the work of more than 30 photographers and put together by the advertising agency TBWA\Paris. The campaign includes print and online in more than 15 countries.

The aim is to show how eyewitness accounts, whether capturing global events or smaller stories, can prompt us to look at the world in a more meaningful way.

Klarna official ticketing payment partner of Mighty Hoopla festival

Klarna is partnering with UK music festival Mighty Hoopla in a deal that will see the payment and shopping service offering the opportunity for customers to pay for tickets in three instalments.

As official ticket partner for the event, payments using Klarna will be scheduled automatically, with the first made at the point of purchase and the final two being taken 30 and 60 days after purchase, interest and fee free.

Taking place in Brockwell Park, London on 4 September, confirmed guests at Mighty Hoopla so far include En Vogue, Jimmy Somerville, Betty Boo and Love of Huns presents Katie Price.

Tuesday, 26 January

marketing budgets

UK ad spend forecast to recover quicker than expected

The UK ad market is forecast to grow by 15.2% this year, reflecting a “stronger and quicker recovery” than expected, according to the latest Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report.

The figure is 0.8 percentage points higher than the forecast in October, with preliminary estimates for growth in 2020 down 7.9% on ad spend of £23.2bn. This reflects an improvement of 6.6 percentage points.

The actual fall in ad spend during Q3 2020 was 3.3% to £5.9bn, far better than the 17.9% drop forecast in October, thanks to better than expected online spend.

Internet spend grew by 10.1% to £4.2bn during the quarter, triggered by a 14.5% rise in search spend, which in turn was driven by ecommerce advertising.

Overall, UK ad spend was down 11.1% over the first nine months of 2020 at £16.2bn.

The new forecast for the UK’s ad market in 2021 will make up for the decline seen in 2020, with accelerated growth putting total ad spend at £26.7bn for the year, above the previous high of £25.4bn recorded in 2019.

The UK’s projected ad market growth in 2021 is also expected to be ahead of other key international markets, with China expecting to grow 10.3%, Germany 9.3%, the US 3.8% and Europe as a whole (excluding the UK) predicted to grow 8.8%.

The UK’s decline in 2020 is also expected to be less pronounced than other markets, with the global ad spend figure expected to fall by 10.2% and the rest of Europe expected to see a drop of 13.7%.

The Advertising Association’s chief executive, Stephen Woodford, says: “Not only does the data show the overall decline expected in 2020 may be less than feared, but the recovery in 2021 will be stronger than we would have dared hope even a few months ago.

“With the vaccine rollout accelerating and a Brexit trade deal in place, the 2021 business outlook is brightening, reflected by these new forecasts showing a stronger and quicker recovery in ad spend, with a stronger rebound than in other large economies. With every £1 of advertising spend generating £6 of GDP, this is good news for jobs and growth in the wider economy.”

Ikea to sell spare parts in sustainability drive

Ikea plans to start selling spare parts for furniture as it looks to scale up its sustainability credentials and banish the misconception its products are throw-away.

The retailer is considering offering items such as sofa legs and arm rests so consumers can repair furniture and prolong the life of its products. It already offers replacement nuts and bolts for free.

Ikea’s chief sustainability officer, Lena Pripp-Kovac, told the Financial Times the brand is “testing a lot” as it looks to improve sustainability and change consumers’ perception that Ikea furniture is disposable given its affordable price tag.

The Swedish retailer aims to become a climate-positive company by the end of the decade, meaning it cuts more emissions than it produces.

Ikea is already trialling selling second-hand furniture, as well as buying back old items and leasing office equipment.

READ MORE: £ Ikea to sell spare parts in sustainability push

Facebook News launches in the UK

Facebook is rolling out Facebook News in the UK, a dedicated news feed featuring leading national, local and lifestyle publishers.

Publishers including Channel 4 News, Daily Mail Group, the Financial Times and Sky News join already confirmed names such as The Guardian, The Economist, local news sites from Archant and lifestyle brands Vogue, GQ and Cosmopolitan for the UK launch – the first outside the US.

The product is designed to put original journalism in front of new audiences, while also providing publishers with millions in additional revenue from advertising and subscription opportunities.

Facebook says the investment is intended to “support the industry in building sustainable business models”. But the Guardian suggests it could be seen as a strategic play designed to discourage wider international regulation of news media.

The UK roll out comes ahead of other European markets, including France and Germany.

People will see the top headlines of the day alongside personally curated stories based on their interests.

Tony’s Chocolonely mimics rivals’ old packaging in fight against child labour

Tony's ChocolonelyTony’s Chocolonely has launched four limited edition chocolate bars mimicking 20-year-old packaging of other brands to raise awareness of the fact the industry is still using child labour despite promising to eradicate it two decades ago.

Through the ethical brand’s ‘Sweet Solution’ campaign it is urging consumers to sign a petition to support the need for human rights legislation that holds companies to account for modern slavery and illegal child labour in their supply chains.

In 2001 chocolate companies committed to eliminating illegal child labour and modern day slavery by supporting the Harkin-Engel Protocol. But more than 1.6 million children and 30,000 victims of modern slavery are still forced to work on cocoa plantations today, according to the US-government sponsored NORC report published in October.

Tony’s Chocolonely’s head of impact, Paul Schoenmakers, says: “Fifteen years after we launched our first chocolate bar to call on the industry, not enough has changed. With these bars, we aren’t pointing a finger, we’re calling on the whole chocolate industry, all brands, to take responsibility and to collaborate to make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate.”

The limited edition bars are only available online after Tony’s Chocolonely claimed other chocolate companies put pressure on UK supermarkets to remove them from their shelves as they didn’t want to be associated with the claims of illegal labour in the chocolate industry.

Schwarzkopf Live highlights diversity in latest campaign

Home hair colour brand Schwarzkopf Live has extended its diversity campaign following a 31.5% rise in sales last year.

The Henkel-owned brand has signed up nine female influencers with varying ages and backgrounds for the #GenerationColour campaign to celebrate their diversity and strength.

Schwarzkopf saw a sharp increase in sales last year as a result of salons closing during the pandemic, forcing women to colour their hair at home.

Schwarzkopf Live brand manager, Ana Faria, says: “Celebrating your identity with fun colours can help lift the spirits and the huge increase in sales last year bears this out.

“Live colour celebrates everyone living their life in their own way, without constraints. That’s why we work with influencers who embody a wide range of ages, backgrounds and lifestyles – each woman brings to the table a unique experience, creating an inclusive campaign.”

Monday, 25 January

Boohoo buys Debenhams for £55m

Boohoo has acquired the Debenhams brand and website for £55m, in a deal that excludes the department store’s remaining 118 high street shops and cuts thousands of jobs.

The fast fashion retailer, which is also buying the Maine, Manataray, Principles and Faith brands, says the remaining stores will be wound down when they are in a position to reopen.

Boohoo executive chairman, Mahmud Kamani, says the acquisition is a “transformational deal for the group”, which helps fuel the company’s ambition to create the UK’s biggest marketplace.

“Our acquisition of the Debenhams brand is strategically significant as it represents a huge step which accelerates our ambition to be a leader, not just in fashion ecommerce, but in new categories including beauty, sport and homeware,” Kamani adds.

The struggling 242-year-old department store chain first fell into administration in April 2019, before entering liquidation in December after talks failed to find a buyer.

A reported £125m bid from Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group was rejected for being too low. Then JD Sports pulled out of a potential deal last month after the collapse of Arcadia. The Arcadia Group operated more concessions in Debenhams than any other retailer, selling £100m worth of clothing through the department store annually.

A closing down sale began across Debenhams’s 124 UK stores in December and within the past couple of weeks the retailer confirmed six stores would not reopen after lockdown, including its flagship on London’s Oxford Street.

Boohoo has a habit of acquiring failing high street brands. Over the past two years the company has bought the Oasis, Warehouse, Coast and Karen Millen brands – but not their stores. The Boohoo Group also includes BoohooMan, Nasty Gal, Pretty Little Thing and Miss Pap.

READ MORE: Debenhams to close all stores with job losses as Boohoo buys brand for £55m

Asos emerges as frontrunner to buy Topshop

AsosAsos has emerged as the frontrunner to buy the Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge brands out of administration following the collapse of the Arcadia Group in November.

It is thought any deal would include the brands but not their store portfolios, putting jobs at risk. Some 13,000 jobs are already on the line across Arcadia, which also owns Burton and Dorothy Perkins. Asos is currently a major wholesaler of the Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge brands.

The likes of JD Sports, Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group and Boohoo are also thought to be interested in parts of the Arcadia Group. The BBC reports that the Issa brothers, who bought the Asda supermarket chain for £6.8bn in October, have tabled a bid for Topshop, while Chinese fashion brand Shein is also thought to be in the running.

On Thursday, Next withdrew its interest in Arcadia after being “unable to meet the price expectations of the vendor”. The retail chain did, however, wish any future owners well in their endeavours to “preserve an important part of the UK retail sector”. Next has already made moves in the acquisition space, buying a majority stake in the UK arm of failing US lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret in September.

READ MORE: Asos joins race for Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge

WhatsApp ‘loses millions of users’ as privacy concerns spread

WhatsApp is reportedly losing millions of users amid concerns an update to its terms of service could compromise privacy.

The Facebook-owned messaging service has been forced to delay the implementation of the new terms, set to be introduced on 8 February, as users flock to rival services such as Signal and Telegram.

Home affairs committee statistics, reported by the Guardian, show during the first three weeks of January Signal gained 7.5 million users globally, while Telegram added 25 million. Signal is now the most downloaded app in the country, according to analytics firm App Annie, while by 12 January WhatsApp had fallen to the position of 23rd most downloaded app.

WhatsApp is fighting to allay users’ fears that data will be shared with its parent company Facebook through the update. The brand says the update only refers to a new set of features enabling users to message businesses via WhatsApp and provides further transparency about how the app collects data.

Two weeks ago WhatsApp issued a statement aimed at addressing the “confusion” and “misinformation” surrounding the update. The messaging app believes that while shopping with businesses via WhatsApp is still relatively new, more people will choose to do so in the future and that is why the update is important.

The company says it will allow people to “gradually review the policy at their own pace” before new business options are introduced on 15 May. WhatsApp has also thanked those users who have “helped spread facts and stop rumours”.

READ MORE: WhatsApp loses millions of users after terms update

Sky ramps up UK content to add value to subscriptions

Sky is planning to double its amount of original British content and release a new, exclusive film every fortnight from 2022.

This investment in film is in addition to the £1bn Sky has already budgeted to spend on original shows by 2024. The main aim of the content push is to add value to Sky Cinema subscriptions, the Guardian reports.

The broadcaster has increased its number of original films from two in 2020 to 30 this year and the focus will be on exclusivity, with original films being available only to Sky customers unless a limited cinema release is required to qualify for an award.

Sky claims audiences went “through the roof” in 2020 as lockdowns were imposed across the UK, while the number of subscribers cancelling their subscriptions was at an “all-time record low”.

The commitment from Sky comes as rival Netflix said last week it plans to release at least one new original film every week in 2021. The streaming giant has now crossed the 200 million subscriber mark after adding 8.5 million new paid subscribers during the fourth quarter alone.

In December, Disney+ announced it had signed up 86.8 million subscribers, exceeding its “wildest expectations” according to CEO Bob Chapek. The entertainment giant also outlined plans to launch new films directly onto Disney+, skipping a traditional cinema release.

READ MORE: Sky UK boosts original content as it takes on streaming rivals

Heycar secures sponsorship of BT Sport FA Cup coverage

Heycar Heycar has been named broadcast sponsor of FA Cup coverage across BT Sport, marking the online car marketplace’s debut TV sponsorship deal.

Looking to drive awareness among a “core target segment”, the partnership sees Heycar sponsor all BT Sport FA Cup broadcast coverage, as well as live streams across the app and online.

The broadcast creative, designed by Atomic, consists of three separate Heycar FA Cup executions and will be complemented by a digital campaign inviting fans to vote for their ultimate football chant. A wider integrated campaign aims to bring the romance of the FA Cup to life, despite the fact fans cannot attend the games in person.

Tonight, Heycar will also unveil a large banner outside Championship side Wycombe Wanderers’ Adams Park home ground for the club’s FA Cup fourth round clash with Tottenham Hotspur. The company’s branding will feature on perimeter boards and broadcast idents.

“There is something uniquely special about the FA Cup,” says Heycar CMO, Tracy Woods. “The passion, the drama, the upsets, the plucky underdogs going for glory against the giants of the game all combine to make it unmissable viewing for every fan. While the nation remains in lockdown, it offers some much-needed real feelgood moments – which fit perfectly with the Heycar brand.”



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