Uber hit by $1.1bn loss in Q4
Uber made a loss of $1.1bn (£851m) in the fourth quarter of 2019, taking its total loss for the year to $8.5bn (£6.6bn).
This is in spite of strong growth elsewhere in the business in the final three months of the year. Revenue was up 37% year on year in Q4 to $4.1bn (£3.2bn), while gross booking rides grew 28% year on year to $18.1bn (£14bn) and the number of active users was up 22% year on year to 111 million.
Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi says Uber aims to reach profitability in the final quarter of 2020 and that India remains an “exceptionally important” market.
“We recognise that the era of growth at all costs is over,” he says. “2019 was a transformational year for Uber and I’m gratified by our progress.”
Khosrowshahi adds: “In a world where investors increasingly demand not just growth, but profitable growth, we are well-positioned to win.”
Dunelm to sponsor First Dates
British home furnishings retailer Dunelm is sponsoring Channel 4’s 2020 series of First Dates, First Dates Hotel and First Dates Abroad, which returns to screens on 13 February.
Marking the first time Dunelm has sponsored Channel 4 content, the idents show home products experiencing “relatable” dating moments, similar to those that people do.
“The warmth, optimism and inclusivity of First Dates felt like a great match with out brand,” says Dunelm’s chief customer and digital officer, Leonie Foster. “Our aim at Dunelm is to help everyone create a home they love – and through First Dates, we will be able to introduce a new audience to our ranges in a fun and accessible way.”
The retailer has also acquired licensing rights for the programme as part of the deal. That will allow brand activation in-store, and the use of First Dates’s assets within sponsorship idents, online and social video content on the broadcaster’s social pages.
First Dates and First Dates Hotel was Channel 4’s second-biggest 10pm show in 2019, attracting an average audience of almost 2 million viewers per episode. This year First Dates is predicted to reach over 23 million adults and approximately 45% of 16- to 34-year-old female viewers.
Paramount partners with Snapchat for Sonic the Hedgehog
Paramount Pictures has partnered with Snapchat to create a Sonic The Hedgehog augmented reality lens ahead of the upcoming release of the film.
London’s Tower Bridge has been transformed into a Snapchat Landmarker for the first time, with the gamified lens setting Snapchat users the task of gathering as many golden rings as possible before Sonic appears on the bridge.
Sonic will also make an appearance at London’s Natural History Museum, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, The Flatiron Building in New York and the Chinese Theatre in LA.
Snapchat users outside of these cities will also have access to a Sonic-themed, gamified lens, which will allow them to swipe up to book tickets or watch a video.
“This collaboration really captures the theme of friendship that is at the heart of this movie, and we are thrilled this campaign marks the first time that Tower Bridge has been transformed into a Snapchat Landmarker,” says Mary Daily, Paramount’s co-president of worldwide marketing and distribution.
“As a platform, Snapchat is founded on the idea of creating and sharing with your friends, and it’s exciting that Sonic is able to share his global adventures directly with Snapchatters around the world”.
Dr. Martens focuses on self-expression in Tough As You campaign
Dr. Martens has launched the next iteration of its Tough as You campaign and is asking its community to share their own interpretation of toughness in 2020.
The campaign, created by creative agency We Are Social, launches with a one-minute film featuring four contributors – grime punk musician Bob Vylan, body-positive activist Lotte Van Eijk, rock band Naked Giants and model Avie Acosta – who have all been chosen because of the “powerful message of resilience” Dr. Martens believes they spread every day.
To help bring Dr. Martens’s consumers to the forefront of the campaign, each digital element will contain a call-to-action posing the question: ‘what does tough mean to you?’
“Looking back on six decades of Dr. Martens and youth culture, we identified four stories which are manifesting themselves in new ways in 2020,” explains Dr. Martens’s global marketing director, Andrea Moore.
“Our contributors, all of whom are already Docs wearers, inspire others to be resilient every day. Posing the question of ‘what does tough mean to you?’ we’re aiming to show the commonalities across our global communities and inspire people to have the courage to do what they want to do.”
The film will be supported by digital display and out-of-home advertising, as well as cut down film assets of the individual contributors’s stories on social.
Eurostar’s ostrich returns to TV
Eurostar has launched the next phase of its ‘You see more when you don’t fly’ campaign, which aims to reinforce the benefits of travelling by train while encouraging travellers to choose Eurostar destinations.
The campaign includes two 30-second spots. The UK version shows the ostrich ambling through a Parisian market. For French, Belgium and Dutch audiences, the advert is set in a punk exhibition at a London gallery.
“The latest phase of our campaign reinforces the benefits of travelling by Eurostar – taking customers to the city centre and allowing them to see more on the journey and see more when they arrive,” says Eurostar’s customer engagement director, Richard Sherwood.
“The new TVCs have a bold and refreshing feel which reflects a return to our challenger brand routes as we remind audiences that high-speed rail is a fast and relaxing way to travel.”
The campaign, created by Engine, will run across TV and cinema in the UK and France throughout February. In the UK, the ad will be shown across ITV, Channel 4 and Sky on broadcast channels and on-demand.
Thursday, 6 February
Fox makes $600m from Super Bowl advertising
The Fox Corporation made $600m (£461m) in advertising revenue during its coverage of Super Bowl 2020 last weekend (2 February), including pre-game and post-game activities.
The media giant’s chief executive, Lachlan Murdoch, described the Super Bowl as a record day for the company, with coverage averaging 99.9 million viewers across the Fox TV network and 3 million watching online or via its Spanish-language channel.
Murdoch described Fox’s Super Bowl coverage as providing an “unmatched platform” for more than 100 advertisers.
Speaking on a second quarter earnings call, Murdoch also discussed plans to experiment with new ad formats across its news output, which would enable Fox to show adverts while still covering breaking news. He suggested a form of “back advertising” and showing a split screen of news and advertising in a bid to gather “as much of that revenue as possible.”
NSPCC urges Facebook to rethink app encryption plans
Facebook is being urged to reconsider plans to encrypt messages on Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct amid concerns for child safety.
The NSPCC, joined by 100 other organisations, signed an open letter arguing that plans for end-to-end encryption on Messenger and Instagram should not be rolled out until “sufficient safeguards” are in place. Such encryption is already in use on WhatsApp, which means the app’s owner Facebook cannot see the content of messages.
The letter of objection states: “At a time when we could be looking to build upon years of sophisticated initiatives, Facebook instead seems inclined to blindfold itself.
“We urge you to recognise and accept that an increased risk of child abuse being facilitated on or by Facebook is not a reasonable trade-off to make.”
In response, Facebook says it is working with child-safety experts to keep young people safe online, including the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to which it made 16.8 million reports of child sexual exploitation and abuse content in 2018, according to the BBC.
NCMEC estimates, however, that if Facebook implements end-to-end encryption on Messenger and Instagram, around 70% of these child abuse reports could be lost.
Online targeting must be more transparent, says government-backed report
Online ad targeting fails to operate with “sufficient transparency and accountability”, according to a government-commissioned study by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI).
The report argues that digital targeting has helped put a handful of global online platforms in positions of “enormous power to predict and influence behaviour” and yet the current mechanisms holding them to account are “inadequate”. The report says the use of online targeting systems falls short of the OECD human-centred principles on AI, to which the UK has subscribed and which set standards for the ethical use of technology.
Having reviewed the powers of the existing regulators, the CDEI concludes that existing legislation and self-regulation “cannot be relied on” to meet public expectations of greater accountability.
The body’s own research into public attitudes towards online targeting finds that people welcome the convenience these systems offer, but express concern when they learn about the systems’ prevalence, sophistication and impact, particularly when it comes to the targeting of vulnerable people.
Arguing that the status quo is “unsustainable”, the CDEI says the time has come for regulatory action to increase accountability, transparency and user empowerment.
The report recommends that the government’s new online harms regulator should provide regulatory oversight of targeting and set up a code of practice that requires online platforms to assess and explain the impact of their systems.
The report further suggests platforms should be required to host publicly accessible archives for online political advertising, “opportunity” advertising (jobs, credit and housing) and adverts for age-restricted products.
The CDEI also endorses the government’s plan to put labels on online electoral adverts to make paid-for content easy to identify and provide users with basic information to indicate why specific content has been targeted at them.
Marriott appoints chief sales and marketing officer
Hotel group Marriott International has appointed company veteran Neal Jones as its chief sales and marketing officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Based in London, Jones will be responsible for driving demand across Marriott’s portfolio of 24 brands in EMEA, expanding the reach of its loyalty programme Marriott Bonvoy and developing strategies to enhance the customer experience.
He joined Marriott 24 years ago and has risen through the ranks from vice-president of global sales to chief sales and marketing officer for the Middle East and Africa, based in Dubai. Over the past seven years, Jones provided strategic leadership across brand management, marketing, digital, sales, revenue management, loyalty, communications and consumer insight.
Coalition for Better Ads rolls out standard for short-form video
The Coalition for Better Ads has developed a new standard for short-form video on desktop, mobile web and in-app environments to improve the online experience for consumers.
The standard will apply to ads that appear in short-from video content of eight minutes or less in duration, seen in online environments. The framework will cover mid-roll ads; pre-roll ads or pods longer than 31 seconds that cannot be skipped in the first five seconds; and non-linear display ads that are in the middle third of a playing video or are more than 20% of the video content.
“The Coalition for Better Ads is pleased to add this new standard to our tools to help the online ad industry improve the experience for consumers,” says director of the Coalition for Better Ads, Neal Thurman. “Broadening the environments covered by our Better Ads Standards will benefit consumers and provide additional guidance for businesses to respond to consumer preferences.”
Describing the new standard as a “positive step forward”, CEO of the World Federation of Advertisers, Stephan Loerke, says the industry still has a long way to go to ensure that the ads it serves are “relevant and enhance consumers’ online experience”.
Wednesday, 5 February
Disney attracts 26 million subscribers to new streaming service
Disney+, Disneys’s new streaming service, has already attracted more than 26 million subscribers just three months since it launch in November. That is more than double the 10 million figure it announced post-launch, suggesting subscribers are remaining with the service.
“The launch of Disney+ has been enormously successful, exceeding even our greatest expectations,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said on a conference call to discuss its quarterly financial results.
The combination of older programming, including classic Disney films and shows such as The Simpsons, and original content, such as The Mandalorian, has proved a winnng won. Iger says around 65% of users that watched The Mandalorian watched 10 other films or shows on the service.
The figures suggest Disney could be well positioned to compete in the streaming wars, as companies including Amazon, Apple, ITV and the BBC jump on the success of Netflix, which has 167 million subscribers globally.
Overall, Disney’s revenues increased 36% year on year to $20.9bn in its first quarter, while net income was $2.1bn, down from a year earlier. The company’s film division saw revenue and profit more than double due to a strong slate of films including Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Snap ad revenues disappoint as it struggles to compete with Facebook and Google
Snap’s ad revenues disappointed in the fourth quarter, increasing 44% year on year to $560.9m but missing analyst estimates of £563m.
The slower than expected growth came despite the social network increasing user numbers by 17% to 218 million. Its net loss also widened to $241m, $49m more than in the same period a year ago.
“In 2019 we saw momentum across the board,” says CEO said Evan Spiegel. “The strength in our core business gives us confidence in our long-term growth and profitability and we’re excited to build on these results in 2020 and beyond.”
While Snap’s revenues are increasing it is struggling to compete with Facebook and Google, which dominate the global digital ad market. Snapchat accounts for just 0.5% of the global total spent on digital ads, according to eMarketer, compared to Facebook on 21.1% and Google on more than 30%.
Premier Inn appoints marketing boss as it hunts for new agency
Premier Inn has brought in Tamara Strauss as its new brand marketing director and is on the hunt for a new creative agency as it looks to the “next stage of its brand journey” following its owner Whitbread’s sale of Costa Coffee.
Strauss has previously held roles at Royal Caribbean International, where she launched its ‘Where Extraordinary Happens’ campaign, and InterContinental Hotels where she led the repositioning of Holiday Inn. At Premier Inn she will be responsible for the brand, with one of her first jobs to hire a successor to its creative agency Lucky Generals, which has worked with the company since 2016.
The move comes as Premier Inn looks to expand internationally, as well as rethink its offering in the UK where it has launched Premier Plus rooms and signed partnerships with companies including Amazon and online fitness provider Hussle. Owner Whitbread is focused on the brand following its sale of Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola a couple of years ago.
Strauss says: “Premier Inn is a truly iconic British brand and I couldn’t be more delighted to join them at this exciting stage in their journey. As the business grows its strengths internationally this is an ideal opportunity to bring a new agency onboard and we are really looking forward to meeting with the agencies we approach directly with this exciting brief”.
PrettyLittleThing ad banned for objectifying women
An ad from online retailer Prettylittlething.com that featured a women wearing just knickers and a bra and dragging a neon bar behind us while looking over her shoulder has been banned by the ad regulator after complaints it overly objectified and sexualised women.
The ad, which ran on YouTube, shows a woman in black vinyl, high-waisted chaps-style knickers and a cut-out orange bra. It proceeded to show women in seductive poses wearing various lingerie-style clothing and holding neon bars.
Prettylittlething.com said the ad was meant to highlight how it supports and promotes diversity through bold and distinctive fashion. The brand also claimed it had worked hard to promote a positive and healthy body image, not create an ad that was deemed offensive and irresponsible.
However, the Advertising Standards Authority rules that the “cumulative effect” of scenes in which women wore transparent mesh suits and lay with neon bars between their legs, or wore bikini tops and held the neon bar behind her shoulders to accentuate their breasts, or crouched down with legs apart to reveal string bikini bottoms was “overly-sexualised”.
It concluded that ad was likely to cause offence and was irresponsible, and therefore banned. Prettylittlething.com has been told not to produce such advertising again.
Royal Ascot launches brand campaign
Royal Ascot is launching its first major brand campaign as it looks to position as the ‘must-attend event’ of the British Summer.
Created by Isobel, the campaign has been created as if it were the launch of a drama on Netflix to showcase flat racing. It tells the story of two racegoers who meet at the event and goes on to invite viewers to ‘Be Part Of The Drama’.
To support the video content, photographs of different aspects of the day – from the racing to the fashion and dining – will appear across traditional media. The campaign will also celebrate jockey Hayley Turner, who last year was only the second female to ride a Royal Ascot winner.
Ascot’s chief commercial officer Juliet Slot comments: “We wanted to launch a very different campaign for Royal Ascot 2020 to appeal to an audience that is increasingly turning to online platforms, such as Netflix, to enjoy the latest drama series and cinematography.
“I hope that people agree we have delivered a campaign that embodies the excitement and atmosphere that Royal Ascot has been delivering to racegoers for some 250 years. We look forward to welcoming regulars of the Royal Meeting again this year, alongside newcomers who are yet to experience the spectacle in person.”
Tuesday, 4 February
Mike Ashley buys Mulberry stake
Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has bought a 12.5% stake in the luxury brand Mulberry.
The deal is part of an ongoing focus by Ashley on moving his retail empire upmarket.
A spokesperson says: “A key strategic priority for Frasers Group is the elevation of our retail proposition and building stronger relationships with premium third-party brands.
“Frasers Group looks forward to working more closely with Mulberry for the benefit of shareholders of both companies.”
No information was given on the price paid by the group, but the stake is reportedly worth more than £19m.
O2 brings back Wear The Rose campaign
Players from the England Rugby Men and Women’s teams are taking part in O2’s Wear The Rose initiative, promoting support for grassroots programmes.
With an equal split between male and female stars, including Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Sarah Bern and Zoe Harrison, the campaign also aims to drum up support for both teams.
The O2 Touch tournament, with 32,000 players taking part across the country, and James Haskell and Vernon Kay will host the series O2 Inside Line live on England Rugby’s Facebook page each week.
“We’ve been side by side with England Rugby for 25 years and we’re proud to continue our unwavering support and love for the game with more experiences than ever in Priority for O2 customers,” says head O2 of sponsorship Gareth Griffiths.
“With our new campaign we hope to excite fans, whether they’re new to the sport or a lifelong supporter, to get together and Wear the Rose.”
IPA report finds generation gap in commercial media consumption
A report from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) highlights a growing gulf in how different age groups use commercial media.
Published in partnership with Facebook, the report concludes that a one-size-fits-all media strategy is going to be a lot less effective than was previously thought.
The need for diverse media plans to maximise campaign performance is underlined by findings such as OOH and social media being the two primary channels for those aged 16 to 34 and a 59% increase in users from the same age group using digital media.
“Different age groups now have very different patterns of media consumption, and this is likely to persist,” says Les Binet, group head of effectiveness at adam&eveDDB, who provided analysis for the report.
“Indeed, the great Digital Transformation probably won’t be complete until the pre-internet generation is dead and buried.
“This makes life more complex for marketers, but it also makes it more interesting.”
Müller appoints strategy director
Müller Yogurt & Desserts has appointed Michael Inpong as strategy director, to sit alongside his current responsibilities as CMO.
The new role follows the recent appointments of Jonathan Piper as commercial director, brand and David Hollins as commercial director, private label and food service.
Müller CEO Bergen Mersey says: “Müller customers will continue to benefit from our first-class marketing campaigns, capabilities and product innovation, and Michael will also add weight to long term consumer and customer-centric thinking.
“Alongside making great-tasting products that are made in Britain with milk from British farms, we will focus on developing and executing a number of strategic initiatives that are not only designed to add taste to life, but will deliver both medium and long term profitable and sustainable growth.”
Chewits updates its brand
Confectionary company Cloetta UK is relaunching its popular Chewits brand across packaging, online and social channels.
The new look includes a facelift for brand ambassador Chewie the dinosaur, who first appeared in 1976.
A range of giveaways will take place on various social platforms this week, with the rebranded product available in stores.
Cloetta UK brand manager Sarah McDermott explains: “We are excited to be relaunching Chewits with a new look and upcoming products that are set to explore bold new flavour combinations and formats.”
Monday, 3 February
Ofgem launches manifesto to tackle climate crisis
Ofgem is launching a plan to decarbonise the UK’s energy system in order to meet emissions targets by 2050.
The ‘Decarbonisation Action Plan’ sets out nine actions the energy industry must put into practice in order to ensure the UK’s energy networks can deliver net zero carbon emissions.
Central to the plan is building an energy sector that supports the growth of renewable energy sources by setting up a special fund for investment into innovative solutions for tackling climate change.
Ofgem’s chief executive, Jonathan Brearley, says: “Britain has come a long way. It has decarbonised faster than any other major economy, but we must go further, particularly on heat and transport. We are taking an approach that recognises that our role protecting consumers includes achieving net zero.”
The manifesto also includes plans to support low-carbon home heating, tariffs that encourage homes to help balance the energy system, and a crackdown on ‘greenwash’ energy deals. It will also support development of an offshore grid to enable a four-fold increase in offshore wind generation by 2030, as well as supporting the rollout of electric vehicles across the UK.
The watchdog will also work closely with the government on its plans to decarbonise heat through new technologies such as hydrogen boilers or electric heat pumps.
NatWest promotes financial education programme
NatWest is promoting its financial education programme, MoneySense, in its new campaign.
‘This is How We Do’, created by The & Partnership, shows a girl swaggering through a supermarket after collecting a pound from an abandoned trolley while a narrator declares: “We want everyone to feel confident with money so we can all look after the pennies – that’s why at NatWest we do money lessons in schools.”
It ends as the girl rejoins her family and her dad asks for his pound back.
NatWest’s brand marketing director Emma Isaac says: “We know it’s important for people to learn these skills from an early age as it helps them make the right financial choices in later life. That’s why our MoneySense programme has been helping young people, like the incredible little girl in our ad, build a better financial future for over 25 years.”
MoneySense provided financial skills to more than 1 million children in the UK last year. The ad will be supported by social media, out-of-home, press and radio activity.
Ryanair sees profit rise despite missing 200 million passenger milestone
Ryanair’s passenger numbers and profits jumped in its most recent quarter despite admitting it will fail to meet its 200 million passenger target.
The budget airline earned £74.2m profit in the three months ended 31 December 2019, a turnaround from a £55.6m loss in the same period in 2018.
It flew 35.9 million passengers in the three-month period – the third quarter of its financial year – 6% more than during the same period in 2018.
Ryanair now expects to make around £842.5m profit in its current financial year, which ends on March 31.
However, despite the rise in passengers the airline noted that it will not reach its 200 million passengers milestone in the year to March 2024 as expected. It now expects that to take at least until 2025 or 2026 due to Boeing 737 Max delays.
The no-frills airline has 135 of the planes on order from Boeing, with an option to buy another 75. The first plane was supposed to be delivered in spring last year, but has been repeatedly delayed.
The aircraft will not begin flying until September or October this year after European and US air travel safety regulators grounded the craft last year following two crashes blamed on a software failure. The delay in getting the craft approved and delivered forced Ryanair to cut growth plans last year.
Toyota invests in electric batteries and emergency safety features
Toyota is investing in electric batteries and emergency safety features as it looks to become a car maker fit for the future.
The car brand is setting up a joint venture with Panasonic specialising in prismatic electric vehicle batteries.
The new company will develop batteries that will be available to any automaker, not limited to Toyota vehicles and will begin operation on 1 April, with Toyota owning 51% and Panasonic holding the remainder.
Toyota is also looking to improve features for an ageing population. For example, it has unveiled an emergency safety system that uses big data to ignore the accelerator if it determines the driver used the pedal unintentionally.
It will roll out what it calls an “accelerator suppression function” in new cars from this summer, beginning in Japan, as the brand attempts to solve the common driving mistake. Accidentally pressing the accelerator is an increasingly common cause of traffic accident in ageing Japan where the driver, often elderly, mistakes the accelerator for the brake.
Toyota’s announcement comes as automakers globally invest heavily in so-called active safety features as they work to develop fully autonomous cars.
Co-op Bank applauds The Guardian’s fossil fuel ban
Co-op Bank has applauded The Guardian’s decision to not let fossil fuel companies advertise in its paper.
The ethical bank placed the ad in the Saturday edition of the paper in which it highlighted its own ethical policies.
The Co-operative Bank is the only UK high street bank that does not offer business banking services to any energy companies and businesses involved in fossil fuel production or extraction.
Brand Director at The Co-operative Bank, Deborah Darlington, says: “The Co-operative Bank has held a long-term position on not working with any businesses working in fossil fuels, our customers have consistently told us that this was something that they don’t want us to support which is why it is one of our Ethical Policy commitments.
“This campaign aims to highlight our support of The Guardian for taking an important stance on driving real change for our environment.”
The Guardian announced last Wednesday that it will no longer accept advertising from oil and gas companies, becoming the first major global news organisation to do so.