Diageo, BT Sport, Unilever: 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.

Sure launches deodorant for people with disabilities

Sure is developing what it says is the world’s first deodorant for people’s with visual impairment and upper limb motor disabilities.

The Unilever brand has been working with the disabled community to trial the prototype design, which is called Sure Inclusive, alongside a diverse community of engineers, design experts and occupational therapists on the product innovation.

Sure Inclusive features a hooked design for one-handed use, a magnetic closure to make it easier to remove and replace the cap for those with limited grip and/or vision impairment and an enhanced grip placement. It also has a larger roll-on applicator so people can cover more surface with one swipe and a braille label.

The product was shown to US consumers this week and the UK trial is expected to begin in August.

Kathryn Swallow, global Sure brand vice-president, says: “More than 1 billion people are estimated to live with some form of disability, yet products and experiences are still not designed with this community in mind. With Sure Inclusive we hope to inspire bold action across the industry to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal playing field.”

Aline Santos Farhat, Unilever’s executive vice-president of global marketing and chief diversity and inclusion officer, adds: “Breaking stereotypes unleashes creativity and drives growth. Sure Inclusive challenges what a deodorant product should be. It’s a breakthrough accessible design that genuinely serves the needs of people with visual impairment and upper limb motor disabilities.”

Diageo to drop Hop House 13 brand in the UK

Diageo is to stop selling its Guinness spin-off brand Hop House 13 in the UK following a strategic review, according to The Grocer.

The brand, which was launched in 2015 to take advantage of the growth in craft beer, has been delisted by Diageo meaning it will soon be removed from supermarkets and pubs. It will continue to be sold in Ireland and other markets.

Diageo confirmed the move, saying the business had taken the “strategic decision to prioritise the main Guinness trademark in Great Britain” after reviewing the brand.

Hop House 13 performed well when it was launched, but its sales slumped last year, with Nielsen data showing it lost 8.7% of its value, falling £2.5m to £26.7m in the 52 weeks to 5 September 2020.

READ MORE: Guinness spin-off Hop House 13 to be axed in the UK

BT Sport in talks with potential investors and buyers

BT has confirmed it is talking with several companies, including Amazon, ITV, Disney and Dazn, about the future of its BT Sport paid TV service.

The business says it is looking to strengthen its sports arm and drive growth and is assessing all options, including a full sale, joint venture partnership with a media firm or selling a stake.

“BT can confirm that early discussions are being held with a number of select strategic partners to explore ways to generate investment, strengthen our sports business and help take it to the next stage in its growth,” a spokesperson says.

“The discussions are confidential and may or may not lead to an outcome.”

READ MORE: BT in talks to sell stake in BT Sport

Martin Sorrell launches legal battle as WPP blocks payout

Sir Martin SorrellSir Martin Sorrell has launched a legal battle against his former employer WPP after it refused to pay him hundreds of thousands of pounds in share awards.

The agency group, which Sorrell founded, is refusing to pay the money as it says he leaked confidential information to the media when he exited the business three years ago.

Sorrell left WPP abruptly in 2018 following an investigation into personal misconduct. He started WPP in 1985 and rapidly bought up advertising agencies, turning it into one of the world’s biggest agency holding companies.

WPP warned at the time of Sorrell’s departure that it could look to block future payouts and has now confirmed in its annual report that it is refusing to honour these awards payments.

“Awards granted to Sir Martin Sorrell, the former group chief executive, will lapse as a result of Sir Martin Sorrell’s disclosure of confidential information belonging to WPP and certain of its clients to the media during his tenure as a WPP director,” the company says.

READ MORE: Martin Sorrell in legal battle with former employer WPP over payout 

Amazon triples profits as pandemic changes consumer behaviour

Amazon continues to prosper from consumers spending more time at home, with its profits more than tripling in the first three months of the year.

The ecommerce giant has posted an $8.1bn (£5.8bn) profit for the first quarter, up from $2.5bn in the first three months of 2020.

Sales surpassed the billion dollar mark for the quarter, rising to $108.5bn (£77.8bn) compared to $75.5bn in the first quarter last year.

CEO Jeff Bezos highlighted the growth of its streaming service Amazon Prime and web services division AWS, saying he was “proud to have them in the family”.

“Two of our kids are now 10- and 15-years-old – and after years of being nurtured, they’re growing up fast and coming into their own,” he says. “As Prime Video turns 10, over 175 million Prime members have streamed shows and movies in the past year, and streaming hours are up more than 70% year over year.”

The brand also highlighted some of the efforts it has taken to support children in need across Europe during the pandemic. In the UK, for example, Amazon says it donated 10,000 Fire tablets to schools lacking technology and delivered more than 4 million breakfasts to kids from low income families through its charity partner Magic Breakfast.

Thursday, 29 April

Cadbury Mum

Cadbury urges support for independent chocolatiers

Cadbury is encouraging consumers to forego buying a bar of Dairy Milk in favour of an alternative product from an independent high street chocolate shop, as the Covid-19 lockdown further eases across the UK.

The chocolate brand quotes figures from Simply Business that show small UK businesses have lost nearly £69bn in sales during the lockdown. It’s #ForTheLoveOfChocolate campaign is seeking to rally support for independent brands and retailers.

Cadbury started as an independent chocolate shop on Birmingham’s Bull Street in 1824. It has formed a partnership with six independent stores around the UK to create the campaign, which will run on TV, YouTube, and out of home, as well as featuring a shop activation and PR activity.

A reworked version of the Dairy Milk ‘Mum’s Birthday’ TV ad, featuring the products of partner brand Chouchoute instead of Cadbury, will run for two weeks.

“We are proud to be supporting local chocolatiers across the UK. As a nation, we’ve always been lucky to have a thriving chocolate scene, full of variety and creativity; and at Cadbury, we of course understand what it’s like to start out as a small independent chocolate shop. So, we wanted to take the opportunity to support our fellow chocolatiers and ask the nation to do the same. After all, it’s all for the love of chocolate,” says Colin O’Toole, associate director of marketing for Cadbury UK and Ireland at Mondelez.

Threefold increase in ads withdrawn or amended by ASA and CAP

The use of new technology saw a threefold increase in the number of ads withdrawn or amended last year, according to the ASA and CAP Annual Report 2020.

Regulation of advertising is evolving to protect young and vulnerable people from misleading ads, according to the report. Published today, it highlights how the bodies are using innovative technology, data science, and industry partnerships to better tackle irresponsible advertisers.

In 2020, the ASA and CAP resolved 36,342 complaints and 22,863 ads. A record 36,491 ads were withdrawn or amended – an increase of 346% compared to 2019 – thanks to the use of tech-assisted monitoring of online ads.

Online ads were responsible for 61% of all cases considered, and nearly half of all complaints. There was also a 43% increase in complaints about TV ads, possibly driven by increased viewership during lockdown. TV ads accounted for one fifth of cases, while influencers make up a quarter, despite a fall in the number of complaints about them. The health and beauty sector saw more ads withdrawn or amended than any other.

Last year saw the ASA and CAP prioritise action against harmful or irresponsible ads related to Covid-19, continue monitoring children’s online media and influencer claims, launch a Scam Ad Alert system, and work with organisations such as the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) to combat fake claims about weight loss products.

LinkedIn plants career growth message

LinkedIn is launching a new TV-led campaign to highlight the benefits of its platform, after a challenging year in which many employees have faced redundancy.

The campaign focuses on taking small steps towards new opportunities. It features the story of Vik and his sorry-looking desk plant, Robert. As Vik takes small steps on LinkedIn towards finding a new job the audience sees his confidence and opportunities – and Robert the plant – grow steadily.

The story plays out in 60 and 30 second spots, across TV and social channels, including LinkedIn. The brand will also make its TikTok debut to drive momentum for the second half of the campaign. A series of influencers will team up with LinkedIn to talk about career growth, while a #KeepGrowing activation will give members the chance to win plants.

“It’s been a challenging year for all of us, but green shoots are emerging, and we wanted the new ad to reflect that. The pandemic has changed how our members interact with LinkedIn – we’ve seen extraordinary engagement on the platform and countless heart-warming examples of the LinkedIn community coming together to support each other through these challenging times,” says LinkedIn brand marketing director Darain Faraz.

“We hope the creative reminds our audience of the power of LinkedIn and the opportunities their connections can facilitate, as well as the wealth of content and conversation that can support them at this time. We want our members to recognise LinkedIn is a place for everyone and that the next small step in their career, at this most unusual of times, starts with us.”

Asda embraces second-hand fashion

Supermarket Asda is underlining its commitment to sustainable fashion with the launch of a new second-hand vintage range in in the George departments of 50 stores.

The initiative is run in partnership with vintage fashion specialist Preloved Vintage Wholesale. Following a trial period in Asda’s Leeds branch it is being introduced to the additional stores. It is part of the ‘George for Good’ programme to reduce textile waste.

“We know that sustainable fashion is something that is really important to our customers and colleagues. They’re passionate about us encouraging everyone in the UK to think about the issues of waste and how we can make fashion and textiles more circular, so that we really can reduce the number of garments that go into landfill,” says Asda lead of sustainable sourcing and quality Mel Wilson.

“This is an exciting partnership for George, it’s unique in that not only can our customers pick out some vintage and often designer garments at an affordable price, but they’re also helping to reduce waste by giving these items a second lease of life.”

Ad recovery to stretch into 2022

Ad spend will grow by 15.2% this year to a total of £27bn, with full market recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic happening in 2022, according to forecasts in the latest Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report.

The report says that ancillary forecasts suggest the UK is on course to achieve the strongest ad trade recovery of any major global market. Spend is expected to increase most significantly in media that were hardest hit during lockdown. Spend on cinema ads is forecast to rise by 268.8%, and digital out of home by 52.3%.

Online display spend (+13.4%) and paid search (+18.4%) are together expected to account for two thirds of all UK ad spend this year, up 10% from 2019.

Figures for 2020 show a total decline in spend on 7.2% during 2020, with a shift by advertisers towards online video, social media and search.

“Across the economy that advertising serves we saw remarkable innovation and agility, which helped to lessen the economic impact as firms adapted to keep serving their customers, despite the disruption. The predicted growth this year of 15.2% is good news, with every £1 of advertising spend generating £6 of GDP, this will be a welcome boost for jobs and growth in the wider economy,” says Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford.

Wednesday, 28 April


Waitrose and Deliveroo enter two-year partnership

Waitrose is to increase the number of its shops that offer a Deliveroo service, creating 400 jobs in the process.

The supermarket brand is to expand its Deliveroo service by an additional 110 stores, nearly quadrupling in number and equalling 150 in total.

It’s part of a two-year partnership and follows a successful five-store trial last year, with both brands hoping to widen their respective consumer bases.

Deliveroo customers will be able to order from a range of up to 1,000 Waitrose products from stores spread across the country, including new locations in Cheltenham, Lincoln, Exeter, York and Sheffield.

“We have grown our online business at pace in the last year, responding to huge demand for online groceries and offering more choice in when and how people want to shop with us,” says Waitrose executive director James Bailey.

“We know convenience is key for many of our customers and the expansion of the service with Deliveroo will play an integral role in helping us make Waitrose food more convenient than ever before.”

Deliveroo’s chief business officer UKI Carlo Mocci adds: “As we expand further across the country, this partnership will mean more choice and selection for our customers, delivered in as little as 20 minutes, and will create even more work for riders right across the UK.”

Drop in Sainsbury’s profits offset by Covid costs

Sainsbury’s preliminary results for the year ending 6 March 2021 have revealed a 39% reduction in pre-tax profits, totalling £356m.

However, that was offset by direct costs of £485m incurred by the pandemic, as well as costs involved in moving food back to the heart of the brand’s offerings, as part of a strategy introduced late last year.

That has meant looking to lower prices to see off competition, increasing the number of local convenience stores and closing down meat, deli and fish counters in the face of falling demand.

The shift online, accelerated by the pandemic, appears to be paying off, with a 102% increase in online sales, with overall grocery sales up 7.8% and general merchandise up 8.3%.

“This year’s financial results have been heavily influenced by the pandemic,” says Sainsbury’s CEO Simon Roberts.

“We have a bold three-year plan to put food back at the heart of Sainsbury’s and drive improved performance. We are transforming the way we work and I am encouraged by how all of our teams have responded and the early momentum and performance towards our plan.

“We have accelerated our digital transformation this year as we focus on serving customers however they want to shop with us. We have more than doubled our online grocery sales and have done this while improving profitability.

“Argos digital sales grew almost 70% and our Argos transformation plan is on track to improve customer availability while reducing our costs.”

Spotify challenges Apple with podcast subscription platform

Audio streaming brand Spotify has gone into direct competition with Apple after launching its paid subscription platform for podcasts in the US.

The news comes just days after Apple announced it was to provide a similar service that will cost creators £17.99 annually to charge for ‘premium’, ad-free podcast content. The creators can then decide how much to charge listeners for the content.

Spotify won’t be charging a commission for any subscriber revenue for the next two years. However, while Apple’s concept will be available in 170 countries from next month, Spotify is initially only focusing on the US, with other, as yet unspecified, territories to be announced at a later date.

READ MORE: Spotify launches podcast subscription platform to challenge Apple

Asahi to be worldwide partner at Rugby World Cup in France

Asahi Rugby World CupAsahi Super Dry is to sponsor the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, opening up the beer brand to a global audience across 200 countries.

As the tournament’s official beer, it will be served at all stadiums and tournament venues throughout the host country, while fans will be given the chance to interact with players across specially created platforms.

“Rugby World Cup 2023 France and Asahi Super Dry share a declared passion for creating memorable and moving occasions,” explains Asahi Super Dry CMO Grant McKenzie.

“We look forward to sharing the unique taste of modern Japan with rugby fans around the world.”

Heineken had previously been the Rugby World Cup’s official beer partner since the 1995 tournament.

Food prices fall ahead of expected rises

The latest BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index, covering 1-9 April, reveals a 1.3% drop in prices, slower than March’s 2.4% figure.

Non-food slowed by 1.7%, compared to 4% last month, the slowest rate of decline since January 2020. Food prices were down 0.6% this month, the first time they have shown a persistent decrease since January 2017.

Fresh food prices fell for a fifth consecutive month, down 1.5% compared to a 0.8% drop in March, while ambient food prices came in at 0.6%, down from 1.7% last month.

“Prices fell in April year-on-year for both non-food and food,” says BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson. “The decline in food prices was the result of fewer promotions in the comparison period, April 2020, as retailers tried to deter shoppers from stockpiling before and during the first lockdown.

“Non-food deflation continued, with retailers discounting goods, particularly on last season’s stock as they made way for the latest products ahead of re-opening.”

However, Dickinson believes falling prices are unlikely to last, with retailers expected to counteract both the pressures of Brexit-related bureaucracy and rising food and oil prices across the globe.

Tuesday, 27 April

HSBC beats expectations as profits surge to £4.1bn in Q1

HSBC’s pre-tax profits grew by 79% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021 to reach $5.8bn (£4.1bn), far surpassing analyst forecasts of $3.35bn (£2.41bn).

The bank saw profit in all regions over the quarter, notably in the UK, where it reported pre-tax profits of more than $1bn (£720m).

However, revenues fell 5% to $13bn (£9.37bn), which HSBC attributes to the impact of 2020 interest rate reductions in all global businesses. To help offset lower revenues, the bank cut operating expenses by 11% to $8.2bn (£5.9bn), including a $100m (£72m) reduction in marketing and travel costs.

With an improved economic outlook, HSBC says it has “increasing confidence” in its revenue growth plans. CEO Noel Quinn says the execution of the bank’s growth and transformation plans is “proceeding well”.

“We had a good start to the year in support of our customers, while achieving materially enhanced returns for our shareholders,” Quinn says. “Global banking and markets had a good quarter, and we saw solid business growth in strategic areas, including Asia wealth and trade finance, and mortgages in Hong Kong and the UK.”

He adds: “We carry good momentum into the second quarter, while maintaining conservative positions on capital, funding, liquidity and credit.”

Standard Life Aberdeen mocked over Abrdn rebrand

Investment bank Standard Life Aberdeen has been criticised for its “ill thought-out” rebrand to Abrdn – pronounced “Aberdeen”, as its press release explains.

With the rebrand, the business hopes to be seen as a “modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand” while building on its heritage as an almost 200-year-old business.

“It is a highly-differentiated brand that will create unity across the business, replacing five different brand names that have each been operating independently,” says CEO Stephen Bird.

“Our new name reflects the clarity of focus that the leadership team are bringing to the business as we seek to deliver sustainable growth.”

However, the business’s break-up with vowels has been met with confusion and derision on social media, with critics pointing out the pronunciation issue.

“This is ill thought-out, it could be pronounced ‘a burden’,” brand expert Jonathan Gabay told the Guardian. “They are a financial company. What they do for customers is look at details, getting rid of vowels and letters makes it look like they’ve skipped over the most basic details in their name.”

The new identity was developed by branding agency Wolff Olins and will be rolled out over the summer.

American Express experiments with 15 second strategy in new global campaign

In its first major global brand campaign since 2018, American Express is banking on a series of 15-second ads to communicate the benefits reaped by its members.

With a humorous tone, the series of quickfire spots illustrate how the financial services brand supports its members through everyday moments, under the banner of Amex’s ‘Don’t Live Life Without It’ tagline.

The new campaign is in response to the “rapidly evolved” needs of customers since the beginning of last year.

Services highlighted by the ads include the ability to buy now and pay later with its ‘Plan It’ feature, round the clock fraud protection, and 24/7 text-based personal assistance.

The campaign will run throughout the year in the US, UK and Japan, with the first round of spots to run across TV, online video, podcasts and social media.

Take-home grocery sales rise as UK lockdowns ease

Take-home grocery sales were boosted by 5.7% during the 12 weeks to 18 April, with growth accelerating to 6.5% over the final four weeks, according to the latest figures from Kantar.

The past four weeks were the busiest in-store for supermarkets in more than a year, as the number of trips made in April increased by 4% compared to March. With much of the over-65 community now vaccinated, older shoppers accounted for nearly half of the increased footfall.

At the same time, the number of people shopping online in the past month fell for the second time in a row. Having peaked with a share of 15.4% in February, digital orders now account for 13.9% of grocery spend.

And while online is still growing strongly at 46%, the rate is half what it was at the height of the pandemic.

Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight, Frances McKevitt, says the figures reflect a growing sense that the worst of the pandemic is over, alongside renewed consumer confidence in venturing outside.

“The return to overall sales growth in the latest four-week period also reflects what was happening in April 2020, a highly unusual month for grocery shopping. After the initial pre-lockdown rush, this time last year was comparatively quiet,” he adds.

“While the market may fluctuate between growth and decline in the months ahead, depending on the year-on-year comparison being made, the fact that trip numbers are up and basket sizes down suggests that habits are slowly returning to normal.”

NABS stats warn of Covid’s long-term impact on financial security

Over the first quarter of 2021, requests for NABS grant service rose by 6% year-on-year and accounted for 39% of calls to the charity’s advice line.

According to NABS, the support organisation for anyone working in roles related to advertising and media, the rise in grant requests reflects the financial strain put upon industry employees following a year of increased job loss, pay cuts and furlough periods.

Emotional support calls were the second most common after grant requests, making up 29% of all calls.

However, in more encouraging news, redundancy calls have eased off since December 2020, representing just 7% of calls in the last three months.

“The reduction in calls regarding redundancy is really encouraging for our industry, but we are seeing the longer-term challenges of the significant impact on individuals,” says NABS CEO Diana Tickell.

“It’s critical that we remember to support the wellbeing of all our talent who are still coping with the many challenges of living and working through the pandemic.”

Across 2020 NABS experienced a 35% rise in demand for its services, despite suffering a loss of £1.1m in income due to the pandemic. The organisation is funded by donations from individuals and companies.

The first quarter of the year also saw demand for NABS’ services shift from its advice line onto its coaching and masterclasses. Demand for wellbeing coaching and stress coaching has increased by 50% and 42% respectively, while masterclass attendance has risen by 30%.

Monday, 26 April

Football fans

English football plans social media boycott to combat abuse

Clubs from the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship are joining forces to condemn abuse and discrimination with a four-day boycott of social media starting on 30 April.

The Football Association and anti-discrimination charity Kick it Out are joining the boycott of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to raise awareness of the abuse being suffered by players on social media channels.

According to the FA, the decision was taken to leave social media across a full fixture programme in both the men’s and women’s game to put pressure on social media companies to do more to eradicate online hate.

The move comes three weeks after Swansea left social media for a week in protest against the abuse being suffered by the club’s players, while similar boycotts have taken place at fellow Championship side Birmingham City and Scottish champions Rangers.

The FA wrote to Facebook and Twitter in February to urge the social media giants to ramp up their use of filtering, blocking and the swift removal of offensive posts, as well as asking them to introduce improved verification processes and re-registration prevention. The organisation is also calling for active assistance to help police identify and prosecute the abusers.

Furthermore, the FA is urging the government to bring in “strong legislation” to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms.

“Social media companies need to be held accountable if they continue to fall short of their moral and social responsibilities to address this endemic problem,” says FA director of international relations, corporate affairs and co-partner for equality, diversity and inclusion, Edleen John.

“We have recently seen how powerful it can be when everybody is united for the good of the English game. We are calling on organisations and individuals across the game to join us in a temporary boycott of these social media platforms, to show solidarity and unite in the message that English football will not tolerate discrimination in any form.”

READ MORE: Social media boycott: Premier League clubs join four-day move to tackle abuse

Gousto on lookout for marketers in recruitment push

Gousto boxGousto is looking to recruit marketers amid a wider push to hire 1,000 employees after more than doubling sales since the start of the pandemic.

The meal kit company doubled its workforce to 1,000 last year and is now on a mission to double it again by the end of 2022, according to the Guardian. As well as looking for marketers, Gousto wants to fill tech roles and hire people to work in packing and preparing its kits, with new fulfilment centres set to open in Cheshire and Essex.

In the year to 31 December, Gousto’s sales rose 129% to £189m and it sold 53 million meals, with the company taking market share away from the supermarkets. In the first quarter of 2021 alone, the number of meals sold rose to 25 million.

“We have doubled the business every single year over the last couple of years,” says founder and chief executive, Timo Boldt. “During the pandemic we have grown faster, but we were growing fast before.”

In January, the brand launched its first campaign with new creative agency Mother, with a view to pushing for growth and becoming a household name. Last year, Gousto also launched a partnership with the fitness influencer Joe Wicks, who is an investor in the company.

With a view to sustainability, the business has committed to make all Gousto own-brand packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by the end of next year.

READ MORE: Gousto to take on 1,000 staff as sales more than double in Covid crisis

O2 CMO Nina Bibby to step down

O2Nina Bibby intends to step down as CMO at O2 if the telecoms company’s proposed merger with Virgin Media gains final approval.

Bibby joined O2 in 2013 from her role as global CMO at Barclaycard, taking responsibility for the O2 brand, marketing communications, innovation, sponsorship, data and analytics, as well as customer value management, product, proposition, pricing and global device/service partnerships.

Reflecting on her eight years at the company, Bibby credits her team for growing the customer base to become the number one network for connections, as well as focusing on existing customers to achieve “market leading churn” and the company’s highest NPS scores. She also points to the impact of partnerships with the RFU, Live Nation, AEG and Disney.

“I wish everyone from both businesses every success in building on the plans to become the UK’s connectivity champion,” says Bibby.

“It’s something UK customers truly deserve and I hope they’ll benefit from it for years to come. I am grateful to my team, to our agency partners and to the rest of the O2 leadership team for all of their support. My time at O2 has been a true privilege. However, [I] am not leaving just yet and in the meantime it is business as usual and my focus will remain on O2 and delivering for our customers.”

The £31bn merger, which earlier this month was given provisional approval by the Competition and Markets Authority, would bring together O2’s 34 million mobile network customers with Virgin Media’s 5.3 million broadband, pay-TV and mobile users.

Channel 4 launches ‘world’s first’ dedicated pregnancy loss policy

Channel 4 is launching what it describes as the “world’s first” dedicated pregnancy loss policy for employees, covering miscarriage, stillbirth and abortion, in a bid to support staff and pave the way for other companies to follow suit.

Following consultation with several leading charities, the policy offers two weeks leave on full-pay, paid leave for medical appointments, flexible working and a number of resources including medical support, counselling and a buddy scheme to support employees returning to work after a loss.

The policy will support both women and men who have been affected, regardless of the nature of their loss or length of service, and has been designed in recognition of the fact pregnancy loss is not isolated to women or heterosexual couples.

The broadcaster’s new policy has also been devised to help line managers and colleagues of staff directly affected who wish to provide appropriate practical and emotional support.

Channel 4 has appointed a pregnancy loss champion within the business and support will be offered by the broadcaster’s mental health employee network 4Mind, the parents and carers community, as well as in-house gender equality staff network 4Women.

In a bid to end the stigma surrounding women’s health issues, Channel 4 is publishing its policy to make it easier for other organisations to copy it and create their own.

The launch of the pregnancy loss policy follows the introduction of Channel 4’s menopause policy in 2019, which is designed to support women suffering menopausal symptoms, while providing guidance to colleagues and line managers.

“At Channel 4 we recognise that the loss of a pregnancy, no matter the circumstances, can be a form of grief that can have a lasting emotional and physical impact on the lives of many women and their partners,” says Channel 4 CEO, Alex Mahon.

“Our dedicated policy by 4Women will help confront a subject that remains taboo whilst providing Channel 4’s employees with vital tools and support. We hope that by giving away this pioneering policy we’re able to encourage other organisations to do the same.”

Ex-Post Office CEO quits Dunelm and Morrisons boards amid legal scandal

Former Post Office CEO Paula Vennells has stepped down from the boards of Dunelm and Morrisons after the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions of 39 Post Office workers wrongly accused of fraud following an IT error.

Described as one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in British history, the flawed Horizon software system showed shortfalls in the accounts of more than 700 people which did not exist, causing them to be wrongly convicted of theft, fraud and false accounting between 2000 and 2014.

A former marketer, Vennells joined the Post Office in 2007 as sales and network director and served as CEO from 2012 and 2019, a period when reports of the faulty Horizon system were found not to be properly investigated.

In his ruling last week, Lord Justice Holroyde said the Post Office “knew there were serious issues” and had a duty to investigate, but that the business “consistently asserted that Horizon was robust and reliable” and in adopting this position “effectively steamrolled over” any sub-postmaster who challenged its accuracy.

In 2019, Vennells was awarded a CBE for her services to the Post Office. She joined the Morrisons board as a non-executive director in January 2016 and took on the same role on the Dunelm board in September 2019. In her biography on the Morrisons board website, Vennells is described as having “significant experience in large scale business turnaround, digital transformation and in culture change”.

Vennells started her career as a graduate trainee at Unilever, with roles following at L’Oréal, Dixons and Sears. In 1998 she became marketing and ecommerce director at Argos, before being appointed as strategy and marketing director for restaurants at Whitbread in 2001.

By 2004, Vennells had been promoted to Whitbread commercial director, before joining the Post Office in 2007. She held several roles prior to becoming CEO in 2012, including sales and network director, chief operating officer and managing director.

READ MORE: Ex-Post Office chief Vennells quits Morrisons and Dunelm boards



    Leave a comment