Uber faces losses despite sharp rise in food delivery
Uber reported a 29% decline in revenue as a surge in food delivery was unable to mitigate a decline in ride sharing as a result of coronavirus.
During the period ending 30 June, coronavirus limited people’s travel and commuting, sending trip bookings down 75%. However, global lockdowns did drive demand for Uber’s food delivery business, with delivery up 113%.
On an earnings call, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said: “The Covid crisis has moved delivery from a luxury to a utility” as he believes Uber users will continue to order food and other items through Uber delivery services even as the world returns to normal.
Overall quarterly revenue dropped 29% year on year, falling to $2.2bn as the rides business weighed on results. Revenue Uber collected from trips fell 67% to $790m, while gross bookings – the total from the trips – were down 75% to $3bn.
Khosrowshahi added: “We haven’t seen any signs now that there will be any kind of permanent damage to the business.”
LinkedIn launches ‘In It Together’ campaign
LinkedIn is launching a campaign inspired by its community “pulling together” during Covid-19.
‘Working It Out’, created by agency BMB, follows three stories of adapting to the new normal – taking a virtual job interview, starting a new job remotely and delivering an important presentation from home.
More than one in 10 (12%) of UK workers who have been working from home since the start of lockdown have had a virtual job interview and 13% have started a new job remotely, according to research from the brand.
LinkedIn’s director of brand marketing in EMEA Darain Faraz says: “This shift has impacted how our members interact on the platform and we have seen countless examples of the community sharing their stories, finding new jobs, upskilling with learning courses, and supporting each other in whatever way they can.”
Up to 130 head office positions to be cut at Wetherspoons
A third of head office staff at pub chain Wetherspoons are facing redundancy because of the impact of coronavirus.
The cuts would not directly affect staff in the firm’s 873 pubs but between 100 to 130 head offices jobs are at risk.
Chief executive John Hutson says the move is “mainly a result of a downturn in trade in the pub and restaurant industry” and scaling back of expansion plans. But he says “no firm decisions” have been made.
In May, Wetherspoons said that it planned to invest an initial £11m on the new social distancing measures to protect drinkers and staff.
Travelex goes into administration
Foreign exchange firm Travelex has collapsed into administration, with the immediate loss of more than 1,300 jobs.
Advisory firm PwC has been appointed to carry out a restructuring deal, with the administrators saying the impact of a cyber attack in December and the ongoing pandemic had “acutely impacted the business”.
Around 1,300 jobs have been axed as a result, but a reported 1,800 jobs in the UK and a further 3,635 globally have been saved. The deal has slashed the group’s debts form £385m to just £160m, and £84m of new cash has been injected into the business.
As part of the deal, Travelex chief executive Tony D’Souza will be replaced by “turnaround specialist” Donald Muir.
Virgin Media to relaunch V Festival
Virgin Media is relaunching its V Festival online after three years, featuring headline performances from artists including Olly Murs and Dizzee Rascal.
Despite mass cancellations of festivals, Virgin Media, in partnership with ITV and Manning Gottlieb OMD, will be relaunching the event in August in a three-part TV special.
This year’s V Festival performers will still be heading to its original Chelmsford site, Hylands Park, with the public able to tune in from home. Each one-hour episode will feature a mix of live music performances and a look back at previous V Festival sets and exclusive interviews
The campaign for the event, which will air on ITV2 between 21 and 23 August, will run across TV, online, radio and digital.
Virgin Media’s executive director of brand and marketing, Cilesta Van Doorn, says: “Festivals are a catalyst for connecting to each other, and they’re often social events as much as they are musical. Although we can’t flock to the fields physically this year, we’re so excited to enable people to stay connected not only to incredible live music, but to their friends and families online too.”
Virgin Media’s in-house creative brand team has also launched a customer centric campaign, gifting one thousand V Festival goodie boxes to customers.
Thursday, 6 August
ITV ad revenues plunge 43%
ITV saw its ad revenues fall by 43% in the second quarter of the year, as the Covid-19 crisis reduced demand. Despite strong momentum in the first quarter of 2020, the network saw revenues fall by 21% over the first half of the year.
Overall, ITV saw a 17% decline in total broadcast revenue to £824m and a 17% decline in external revenue to £1.2bn.
“This has been one of the most challenging times in the history of ITV,” says ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall.
“While our two main sources of revenue – production and advertising – were down significantly in the first half of the year and the outlook remains uncertain, today we are seeing an upward trajectory with productions restarting and advertisers returning to take advantage of our highly effective mass reach.”
A number of temporary cost cutting measures have been introduced to mitigate the impact of reduced revenues, but the level of uncertainty means the company could not provide guidance to its performance for the remainder of the year.
Cadbury supports small businesses with Chelsea deal
Cadbury has become the official chocolate partner of Chelsea Football Club, in a deal that will see the confectionery brand supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses through Chelsea’s Edge of the Box Club.
The programme provides skills, training and connections for those starting out in business. Cadbury will share expertise through bespoke webinars about brand marketing, sales and strategy. Three webinar attendees will win donated pitch-side perimeter board advertising space at Kingsmeadow, Chelsea Women’s home ground, during the 2020/21 season.
“Start-ups and entrepreneurs are critical to the economic recovery of the country,” says Cadbury global brand director, Samantha Greenwood. “By partnering with Chelsea FC who have such a long standing platform to support small and emerging businesses we are thrilled to be able to use our privileged position to help developing businesses.”
Football fans will have chances to win Chelsea-themed prizes in Cadbury’s on-pack Match and Win promotion.
GSK targets daytime TV viewers with new campaign
GSK Consumer Healthcare is encouraging people watching daytime television to discover the Joy of Movement with its latest campaign for pain relief brand Voltarol.
A series of 60-second ads will air across ITV Daytime, marking the first time the Daytime brand has been opened up for commercial opportunities. The campaign will see presenter Dee Thresher-Jones interviewing ITV viewers about their experiences of coping with pain and how exercise has improved their lives. A bespoke studio has been created by the ITV Studios Daytime team to mimic the look and feel of ITV’s programmes.
“Rather than repeating the same message, Voltarol really wants to understand the experiences of 45+ adults’ back and joint pain, how it makes them feel and how it impacts their lives to help us work out what support they need in order to make authentic content based on real life stories,” says Voltarol brand manager, Clodagh Hennessy.
An ITV survey found 80% of respondents suffer from joint or back pain.
Diners drive footfall at retail destinations, but Covid-19 fears remain
Footfall at retail destinations across the UK showed some improvement in July, driven by the reopening of hospitality venues, according to the Springboard Footfall Monitor.
Although July footfall was down by 39.4% year on year, it had improved by nearly a fifth compared to June. “Footfall in July was clearly boosted by the reopening of hospitality businesses and the fact that footfall strengthened as much in July as it did in June when retail reopened indicates the importance of this sector for bricks and mortar retail,” says Springboard marketing and insights director, Diane Wehrle.
However, Wehrle sounded a note of caution: “All of the key changes that are recognised as obvious boosts to footfall have now been implemented, and yet bricks and mortar destinations are still only attracting six out of every ten shoppers that visited last year.”
Meanwhile, the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) has warned in its latest report that two-thirds of consumers are nervous about the idea of eating out.
“With consumers hesitant about going out to eat, food service providers will need to demonstrate the safety measures they are taking while providing a relaxing and enjoyable environment. Maintaining this balance is going to be exceptionally difficult for some operators with physical space constraints,” says IGD director of global insights, Simon Wainwright.
Consumer fears look set to last, with 56% of those polled by the IGD saying they are less likely to attend public events for Bonfire Night in November.
Auto Trader to sponsor Weekends on Dave
New and used car marketplace Auto Trader is set to unveil its first long-term TV sponsorship deal this weekend, when it becomes the sponsor of Weekends on Dave.
The 12-month deal will see Auto Trader screening a series of 10-second ident ads based on different car-based lifestyles. These include off-roading, tinkering with classic cars, going to the seaside and visiting a drive-thru restaurant. The presentation reflects the tone and humour of Dave, and seeks to appeal to a male, upmarket audience
“We’re truly excited about the potential of this sponsorship as we look to increase brand visibility and frequency with a channel that has significant reach and opportunity with new and used car buyers,” says Auto Trader head of marketing communications, Ben Darby.
“Sponsorship of Weekends on Dave enables us to show more of the brand’s personality and develop a strong strand of familiar advertising amongst the increasingly popular weekend programming on Dave.”
Car dealers see pent up demand in July
New car registrations rose by 11.3% in July – the first increase this year – as dealers reopened to pent-up demand that saw 174,887 vehicles take to the road, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, sales for the year to date are currently still down by 41.9% compared to 2019, and are expected to end the year nearly a third below last year. The crisis means £20bn in lost sales for car companies. Eight out of 10 major manufacturers have offered incentives to drive sales, says SMMT.
“July’s figures are positive, with a boost from demand pent up from earlier in the year and some attractive offers meaning there are some very good deals to be had. We must be cautious, however, as showrooms have only just fully reopened nationwide and there is still much uncertainty about the future,” says SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.
“By the end of September we should have a clearer picture of whether or not this is a long-term trend. Although this month’s figures provide hope, the market remains fragile in the face of possible future spikes and localised lockdowns as well as, sadly, probable job losses across the economy. The next few weeks will be crucial in showing whether or not we are on the road to recovery.”
Wednesday, 5 August
Disney ramps up streaming focus as pandemic takes its toll
Disney plans to launch a new streaming service outside the US to drive paid subscriptions as its parks and films businesses are hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The entertainment giant intends to roll out the new service under its Star brand and stream a wider variety of content than Disney+. The idea would be to offer content from the Disney group, which includes broadcaster ABC, 20th Century Films and SearchLight Pictures.
With many cinemas still closed due to global lockdowns, the company also plans to premiere its live action remake of Mulan on Disney+ in September at a cost of $29.99 (£23). In markets where the streaming service is not available the film will continue to be shown in cinemas.
Disney+ has already attracted 60.5 million paid subscribers, while the business as a whole has more than 100 million subscribers across its on-demand sites, including ESPN+, Hulu in the US and the Hotstar streaming service in India.
The hope is that putting its energy into streaming will help Disney weather the storm after the business reported a $4.7bn (£3.6bn) loss in the three months to 27 June, caused by the closure of its theme parks and delays to film releases. During the same period in 2019, the company made a profit of almost $1.8bn (£1.4bn).
The pandemic was blamed for a $3bn (£2.3bn) hit to operating income. Overall revenue is down 42% to $11.8bn (£9bn).
Disney’s broadcasting revenues during the quarter did, however, rise by 12% to $2.5bn (£1.9bn), while operating income was up 55% to $477m (£365m). The company credited the increase in broadcast income in part to lower network programming, production and marketing costs, although these increases were “partially offset by lower advertising revenue”.
“Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we’ve continued to build on the incredible success of Disney+ as we grow our global direct-to-consumer businesses,” says CEO Bob Chapek.
“The global reach of our full portfolio of direct-to-consumer services now exceeds an astounding 100 million paid subscriptions — a significant milestone and a reaffirmation of our DTC strategy, which we view as key to the future growth of our company.”
Apple marketing boss steps down
Apple’s senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, Philip Schiller, is stepping down after decades at the tech giant.
Schiller, who headed up Apple’s product marketing work, will continue to lead on the App Store and Apple Events in his position as an Apple Fellow reporting to CEO Tim Cook. He most recently led the effort to plan and execute Apple’s first-ever virtual Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
His replacement is Greg Joswiak, who has served as vice-president of worldwide product marketing for the past four years and worked at Apple for two decades. He will manage the team responsible for Apple’s product management and product marketing, developer relations, market research, business management, as well as education, enterprise and international marketing.
With a background in computer engineering, Joswiak has overseen the product management and marketing for numerous Apple products including the original iPod and iPhone.
“Joz’s many years of leadership in the product marketing organisation make him perfectly suited to this new role and will ensure a seamless transition at a moment when the team is engaged in such important and exciting work,” says Cook. “I’m thrilled that the whole executive team will benefit from his collaboration, ideas and energy.”
High street job losses soar as closures loom at Pizza Express and Dixons Carphone
Pizza Express is on the brink of closing 67 restaurants, putting 1,100 jobs at risk.
Despite reporting “encouraging” customer demand across its 166 restaurants that reopened post-lockdown, the chain said any restructure – which could see the closure of 15% of its total UK outlets – would put the business on a more secure footing in a new socially distanced reality.
The news comes just a day after the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ £10 meal deal kicked in. All Pizza Express’s reopened restaurants are participating in the scheme.
Elsewhere, Dixons Carphone plans to cut 800 jobs with the aim of creating a “flatter management structure”, as it pivots to ecommerce.
The retailer said it hopes streamlining in-store management will allow for “clearer accountability” among the teams selling “electricals and mobile offerings”.
Prior to lockdown, Dixons Carphone had already closed its 531 Carphone Warehouse shops and brought its mobile phone business into Currys PC World stores, a move that led to the loss of 2,900 jobs.
CMA clears Amazon’s investment in Deliveroo
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has cleared Amazon’s 16% investment in Deliveroo after ruling the deal will not substantially lessen competition in the sector.
The CMA began its initial investigation into the deal in December, at which point it concluded there was a “realistic prospect” the transaction could harm competition.
The second phase of the investigation, set up to probe these concerns, concluded the investment could cause a “substantial lessening of competition”. However, Deliveroo argued that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business meant that it would fail financially and exit the market without the Amazon investment.
The CMA concluded that given the “seriousness and urgency of Deliveroo’s financial situation”, the food delivery business met the criteria for a ‘failing firm’ and that its exit from the market would be worse for customers.
After reviewing the situation post-lockdown, when Deliveroo’s business had improved, the CMA eventually ruled that Amazon’s 16% stake would not substantially lessen competition in the sector. However, if it were to acquire a greater level of control over Deliveroo, the CMA might need to open a new investigation.
WhatsApp rolls out fact check feature
WhatsApp has launched a new feature allowing users to fact check the contents of viral messages in a bid to combat fake news.
Users taking part in the pilot, which has been rolled out to six countries including the UK, can perform a Google search on content they have been forwarded to check the claims.
To do this, users click on the magnifying glass icon that appears next to messages which have been forwarded through chains of five or more people. The feature then searches for the content online, identifying whether the claim is fake news or a conspiracy theory.
The idea is to enable users to check facts even though their chats are encrypted. This feature allows them to upload the message to their browser without WhatsApp ever seeing the content.
To date, WhatsApp has cut the spread of viral messages on its platform by 70% by introducing limits on the forwarding of messages from 250 groups in 2018 to one group in 2020.
Tuesday, 4 August
Diageo profits drop 47% as lockdown closures hit sales
Drinks company Diageo’s profits plunged 47% year on year as the closure of restaurants and bars around the world due to Covid-19 hit sales.
The company, which owns brands including Guinness, Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff, had to take a one-off hit of £1.3bn to reflect the lower valuation of its business in India, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Korea as the virus spread in those markets. That meant operating profits for the year ended 30 June were down 47% to £2.1bn, while net sales fell 8.7% to £11.8bn.
Sales in North America were up, but this was offset by declines in all other regions.
CEO Ivan Menezes describes 2020 as a “year of two halves” with consistent performance in the first half, before the outbreak of Covid-19 led to “significant challenges”.
“Through these challenging times we have acted quickly to protect our people and our business, and to support our customers, partners and communities,” he says.
“While the trajectory of the recovery is uncertain, with volatility expected to continue into fiscal 2021, I am confident in our strategy, the resilience of our business and am very proud of the way our people have responded. We are well-positioned to emerge stronger.”
Heineken non-alcoholic beer to sponsor Europa League
Heineken will use its sponsorship of the UEFA Europea League to promote its flagship non-alcoholic beer, Heineken 0.0%, when the tournament resumes tomorrow (5 August).
The brewer claims this is the largest single sponsorship deal involving a non-alcoholic beer brand and will run from the resumption of the 2019/2020 competition until 2024. Rights include LED pitch boarding exposure, digital rights, team greeter, match screenings and ticket giveaways, which will be incorporated into its brand campaign, ‘Now You Can’.
Heineken has sponsored the Champions League since 1994, adding the Europa League in 2015 to promote its Amstel brand. Amstel will now focus on smaller, local platforms in its fastest growing markets.
Heineken’s global sponsorship director Hans Erik Tuijt says: “Heineken 0.0% has seen incredibly strong growth over the past few years, so we’re delighted to announce its first major sponsorship at a time when football is available to watch almost every day of the week. We feel it’s crucial to encourage responsible drinking and give consumers a choice.”
EasyJet passenger numbers plunge 99.6% but demand returning ‘faster than expected’
EasyJet’s passenger numbers plunged 99.6% in the second quarter of the year as the coronavirus pandemic grounded most of its flights.
The airline flew just 117,000 passengers in the three months to the end of June, with only 10 aircraft operating 709 flights, down from 315 running 165,656. That led to revenues also falling 99.6% to just £7m, while it plunged to a loss of £324.5bn, compared to a profit of £174.2m in 2019.
However, CEO Johan Lundgren says he has been “encouraged” by higher than expected levels of demand since lockdown restrictions were eased, with flights in July to destinations such as Faro and Nice operating with a load factor of 84%. With bookings for the rest of summer performing better than expects, it has decided to expand its schedule in the fourth quarter to around 40% of its normal capacity.
“This increased flying will allow us to connect even more customers to family or friends and to take the breaks they have worked hard for,” he says.
“As we look ahead, I am confident that easyJet will continue to serve our customers well, delivering our renowned friendly service and value across our unrivalled network.”
Think tank proposes ad ban for large polluting cars
A think tank is calling for a ban on advertising of large polluting cars, saying the government should clamp down on sports utility vehicle (SUV) car ads in the same way it did smoking ads.
A report from green think tank The New Weather Institute and the climate charity Possible says the trend towards buying big cars is propelled by advertising. SUVs account for more than four in 10 new cars sold in the UK.
The proposal suggests advertising for cars with average emissions of more than 160g of CO2 per kilometer and those exceeding 4.8 meters in length should be banned.
Andrew Simms, one author, says: “We ended tobacco advertising when we understood the threat from smoking to public health. Now that we know the human health and climate damage done by car pollution, it’s time to stop adverts making the problem worse.
“There’s adverts, and then there’s badverts, promoting the biggest, worst emitting SUVs is like up-selling pollution, and we need to stop.”
In response, a car industry spokesperson says modern SUVs are among the cleanest in history and many can run on batteries. A government spokesperson says it has a plan for transport to ensure it reaches its goal of net zero by 2050 and offers incentives for cleaner vehicles.
Nike ad celebrates sport as a source of inspiration
Nike has released a new ad coinciding with the return of the NBA in the US that aims to celebrate sport as a source of inspiration.
Narrated by American footballer Megan Rapinoe, it features a split screen that show 36 pairings of athletes and is meant to underscore what athletes have in common. It features both everyday and elite athletes including Rapinoe, Eliud Kipchoge, Caster Semenya, Serena Williams and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The ad is the third in Nike’s ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ campaign, which launched in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic spread around the world. The first invited athletes to ‘Play Inside’ while the second, ‘Never Too Far Down’, aimed to tell athletes they are capable of anything.
Monday, 3 August
Microsoft continues talks to buy TikTok
Microsoft has confirmed it is still in discussions to buy the US operations of the video-sharing app TikTok, despite reports over the weekend that the deal might be off.
Microsoft says CEO Satya Nadella spoke with president Donald Trump about the acquisition on Sunday, amid White House concerns about the Chinese-owned app and security issues.
It’s been reported that Nadella assured the president that a full security review of the app will be carried out and a list of “proper economic benefits” presented to US government officials.
Last week Trump had threatened to ban TikTok from the US market, throwing a potential Microsoft deal into doubt.
“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the president’s concerns,” the company says in a statement. “It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”
TikTok’s US presence is valued at anywhere between $15bn and $30bn, with 80 million active users. Microsoft is hoping to conclude discussions with the app’s parent company ByteDance by 15 September.
Google security updates improve user privacy in digital advertising
Google has issued a number of security updates and tools that will provide greater transparency and more control when it comes to accessing ad-supported content.
There will be a number of improvements made to its ‘Why this ad’ feature, (telling users some of the factors that came into play when selecting a certain ad for them), with an enhanced ‘About this ad’ option that will also show users the verified name of the advertiser behind each ad.
There will also be an ‘Ads Transparency Spotlight’ tool, to provide people with detailed information about the all the ads that they see on the web, while the ‘Privacy Sandbox’, an open standards initiative that will explore more privacy-forward ways for Chrome to support digital ads.
The aim is to eventually phase out support for third-party cookies on the browser.
In a blog post statement outlining the updates, Google says that, “The future state of digital advertising promises new technologies, new standards, and better, more sustainable approaches, but it will take some time to get there.
“We recognise the unease that many in the industry feel during this period of transition.
“While there is certainly more change on the horizon, it’s critical that marketers and publishers do not wait to take action.”
US sports dominate annual list of world’s most valuable teams
Forbes Magazine has released its annual rundown of the 50 most valuable teams in the world, with a list dominated by US sports.
The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys retained the top spot for the fifth year in a row, now worth an estimated $5bn, despite not winning a Super Bowl since 1996.
Only three European football teams claimed a place in the top 10, and only seven made the top 50.
Baseball’s New York Yankees are in second place, followed by three NBA teams: the New York Knicks, LA Lakers and Golden State Warriors.
Real Madrid is at number six, the highest-ranking non-US team, valued at $4.24bn, followed by the New England Patriots, Barcelona and the New York Giants. Manchester United round out the top 10, with a valuation of $3.81bn.
The next non-US sports team is Bayern Munich (24), followed by Manchester City (34) and Chelsea (37). Arsenal (47) are the last to appear in the top 50, with Liverpool failing to make the cut.
Two-thirds of UK companies now ‘fully operational’ after lockdown
A survey carried out by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has found that two-thirds of businesses say they are “fully operational”, up from half of those polled in June.
A further 21% of companies said that they were partly operational, with some premises still closed.
“With businesses gradually reopening, this month’s data seems to indicate a turning point for the economy,” says CBI economist Alpesh Paleja, before warning that many, especially in consumer-facing sectors, were still in “acute financial distress”.
Businesses said that on average they were operating at 85% of usual capacity due to social distancing, compared with 72% when stricter rulings were in place in June.
Plusnet launches savings campaign with former England goalie
Former Arsenal and England goalkeeper David Seaman is the face of a Plusnet campaign created with Karmarama that aims to help people to save money by adopting a more ‘Yorkshire’ attitude to life.
Launched over the weekend to coincide with Yorkshire Day, the ‘Save it Like Safe Hands’ guide features Seaman giving various tips and tricks on looking after money, based on his experiences growing up in the county.
Chapters include ‘The Savvy Speaker: How to talk your way to a good deal the friendly Yorkshire Way’, ‘Bagging a Bargain’ and ‘Turning Pennies to Pounds’.
Plusnet marketing director Sam Calvert says: “Being from Yorkshire, we’re obsessed with giving our customers the best value – and what better day to celebrate this money-saving attitude than on Yorkshire Day, with one of Yorkshire’s most famous savers.
“We hope people can be inspired by David’s tips and use them to bag a bargain the Yorkshire way.”