Gap CEO Art Peck steps down as shares fall
Art Peck became the latest high-profile CEO to clear his desk after announcing he is leaving Gap after 15 years with the retailer and nearly five in the chief exec role.
The news comes as the company has cut its outlook for the third quarter, claiming difficulties with products and operations. Sales at the Gap brand were down 7% during the latest quarter, down 3% at Banana Republic and 4% at Old Navy.
Formerly Gap’s digital chief, Peck had done much to overhaul the group’s ecommerce offers, but the Gap and Banana Republic brands have struggled to keep up with changes in the retail landscape, causing a number of stores to close on both sides of the Atlantic.
A former Walmart CEO, Peck will be replaced, for the time being at least, by non-executive chairman Robert J Fisher, son of the Gap founder. Shares have fallen by around 30% this year and dropped 7% shortly after the news was announced.
“As the board evaluates potential successors, our focus will be on strong leadership candidates with operational excellence to drive greater efficiency, speed and profitability,” said Fisher.
Unilever launches new Dove charitable ad campaign
Unilever deodorant brand Dove is partnering with advertising platform Good-Loop on a series of Instagram video ads, designed to trigger a charitable donation each time a user swipes up to watch the content.
The first short video from the ‘#ARMSUP’ campaign comes after research showed that eight out of 10 women believe that society imposes very set notions of an ideal underarm, which affects individual self-esteem.
For every dollar spent on the ad campaign, an equivalent dollar will go to one of two charities. Users can choose between the United Nations’ UN Women charity or opt for a local Dove Self-Esteem Project.
The ads will be part of Instagram Stories and when swiped up will include detailed Dove content alongside more information about the two charities.
Launched in 2016, image-sharing social network Good-Loop donates on users’ behalf each time they choose to watch an ad on its platform. Previous Unilever brands that have used the technology include Knorr and Lynx.
ISBA introduces cross-media measurement programme
Advertising body ISBA has announced the launch of a UK cross-media measurement programme. Known as Origin, the project will introduce audience measurement approaches currently being developed by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).
The new programme will look to improve public trust in advertising, focusing on measurement, privacy and governance.
Phil Smith, ISBA’s director general, says that Origin will see the UK take a significant leading role in ushering the WFA’s principles onto a global stage.
“We want to work with advertisers, publishers, broadcasters, digital platforms and agencies to develop a comprehensive solution, ultimately to plan investment across all media,” Smith adds.
“It will be critical that the UK approach is consistent with global principles, especially in respecting consumer privacy. We look forward to further discussions with broadcasters, publishers and UK JICs to establish how this can support and enhance existing media currencies.”
The IPA has applauded the move. “We will be working closely with ISBA to ensure that any development in measurement adheres to JIC standards of accountability, transparency, quality and independence,” says director of media research, Belinda Beeftink.
BT and Greene King raise a glass to promote women’s football
BT Sport and Greene King are teaming up to tempt more of us to watch women’s football in the pub.
Greene King has committed to show live BT broadcasts of matches from FA Women’s Super League (WSL) domestic fixtures and internationals across 750 of its pubs as part of the Red Lioness Pledge.
The Pledge takes its name from Red Lion pub in Moorgate, London, which will trade as the Red Lioness for the duration of the campaign, lasting 10 days and centred around the FA’s Women’s Football Weekend (16-17 November).
The pub will be decked out in memorabilia from WSL clubs and the international team, and there will be a focus on making all 750 venues more welcoming and inclusive environments for female supporters.
BT will be broadcasting 30 women’s games this season, including the north London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal Women, to be played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 17 November.
Hellmann’s to introduce eco-friendly sachets made from seaweed
Hellmann’s and Just Eat are joining forces on the roll-out of sauce sachets made from eco-friendly seaweed, as they look to tackle takeaway-food plastic pollution and cut down on single-use plastic.
A total of 65 London-based Just Eat partners are taking part in the trial, which will see traditional sachets for Hellmann’s ketchup, BBQ, tartare and garlic sauces swapped with seaweed sachets.
The Notpla packaging uses a seaweed-based material that is naturally biodegradable within six weeks. The sachets are flavourless and colourless.
In tests last year, 92% of customers approved the measure and said that they would like to see more of the sachets used, while 91% found them just as easy, or even easier, to use than regular packaging.
“This trial is a great example of collaboration driving game-changing innovation,” said managing director of Unilever Food Solutions, Hazel Detsiny.
“In partnership with Just Eat and Notpla we’re creating a new and exciting experience for Just Eat customers who can enjoy the same great tasting Hellmann’s – but with zero plastic waste. Squeezing sauce out of a seaweed sachet will be a first for many, but it’s one small change with potential for big impact.”
Thursday, 7 November
Channel 4 signs to join BritBox
Channel 4 has signed up to join streaming service BritBox, which will unite all the UK’s main TV channels in a single location for the first time.
The Guardian reports that Channel 4 will provide a series of programmes to the service, including content from its Film4 arm and recently broadcast shows when it joins BritBox early next year. This means that the streaming service will now include archive shows from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
BritBox, a joint venture between ITV and the BBC, has pitched itself as a way to watch classic British TV boxsets and films, rather than as a rival to streaming giant Netflix. Currently running in test mode with a range of archive comedy shows, BritBox will cost £5.99 a month making it cheaper than a standard £8.99 Netflix subscription.
While the streaming service will offer ‘BritBox exclusives’ not available elsewhere, the member channels will continue to operate their own catch-up services. The BBC, for example, plans to keep most of its shows on iPlayer for up to a year before many are transferred to BritBox.
Sainsbury’s profits slump amid ‘higher marketing costs’
Sainsbury’s underlying profits slumped by 15% to £238m during the first half of 2019 due to the “phasing of cost savings, higher marketing costs and tough weather”.
Group sales fell by 0.2% to £16.9bn during the 28 weeks to 21 September, compared to the same period last year, with retail sales (excluding fuel) down 0.6% and like-for-like sales (excluding fuel) down 1%.
Noting that retail markets remain “highly competitive” and the consumer outlook is uncertain, Sainsbury’s said it expects its second-half profits to benefit from a “normalisation of marketing costs”.
According to chief executive, Mike Coupe, the company has created “positive momentum across the business through strategic investments in the customer offer”.
He added that Sainsbury’s is the most competitive on price it has ever been after lowering prices on everyday products and expanding its range of value brands. Sainsbury’s has launched 123 new value brand products, which is expected to increase to 200 by the end of the financial year.
The supermarket highlighted the successful roll-out of the digital Nectar loyalty app, which is being used by 2.1 million customers nationwide.
The retailer also pointed to investments in its store estate, including improvements across 172 supermarkets and 158 convenience stores made during the first half of the year. The aim is to improve 450 supermarkets and 200 convenience stores by the end of the financial year.
During the first half of the year, 176 Argos stores were converted to a new digital format and the aim is to convert the majority of the remaining stores by the end of the year, as the retailer looks to bring Sainsbury’s and Argos closer together.
“We are investing in hundreds of Sainsbury’s and Argos stores, introducing new products and services and continually improving service and availability. As a result, customer satisfaction has increased significantly year on year,” says Coupe.
“We have set out our plan to create one multi-brand, multi-channel business. This will make the combined Sainsbury’s and Argos offer much more accessible for customers and gives us the opportunity to make our business more efficient.”
Airbnb seeks to improve user safety with verified listings
Airbnb has pledged to verify every home listed on its platform as part of a package of measures aimed at improving user safety.
In a series of tweets, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky introduced the company’s new Airbnb Guest Guarantee, which includes tighter checks on homes and hosts, and a new hotline so anyone can call the rentals site anywhere in the world and reach a real person.
The move comes less than a week after five people were killed in a mass shooting at a Halloween party in a California Airbnb. The company said it will ban “party houses” following the tragedy.
Airbnb’s security policies also came under scrutiny last month when a report by Vice News revealed a pattern of false or misleading property listings on the site.
Chesky said that by December 2020, the company will have reviewed every home and host on the platform with the aim of verifying 100% of listings.
He added that if a guest checks into a listing that doesn’t meet Airbnb’s accuracy standards, it will rebook them into a listing that is “just as nice” – or they will receive a full refund.
“Airbnb is in the business of trust. We are making the most significant steps in designing trust on our platform since our original design in 2008,” says Chesky.
Monzo fails in bid to trademark signature shade
Monzo has failed in a bid to trademark its signature “hot coral” shade after the company’s request was turned down by the intellectual property office.
The fast-growing fintech had wanted to protect its brand image against a number of global companies opting to use a similar shade. It is thought Monzo will launch a second trademark application, although probably not before the end of this year, CityAm reports.
Monzo currently accounts for more than half of the UK’s digital challenger bank market, up from 35% in April 2018, and has in excess of 3 million customers.
Papa John’s CMO departs after eight months
Papa John’s global CMO Karlin Linhardt is leaving after eight months amid wider leadership struggles at the US pizza chain.
Linhardt, who has held numerous marketing roles across Subway, McDonald’s and AB InBev, took on the role after his predecessor Brandon Rhoten departed after just a year. Papa John’s chief operating and growth officer Mike Nettles is also leaving, as is its CFO Joe Smith.
Linhardt will be replaced by vice-president of consumer brands at PPG Industries, Mike Wetzel, who will become Papa John’s chief commercial and marketing officer on 18 November. Wetzel will oversee marketing, menu strategy, product innovation, customer experience and the company’s new project management office.
Papa John’s has been accused of having a toxic leadership culture since its founder and CEO, John Schnatter, was exposed as having made a racist slur in a training call with the company’s marketing agency in 2018.
Current CEO Rob Lynch, who has only been in the role two months, describes the management reshuffle as an opportunity to create a “streamlined senior management team” that aligns with the company’s “new strategy and priorities”.
He adds: “I’m very excited to welcome Max Wetzel to the Papa John’s team. A transformational leader, Max earned a reputation as a strategic and growth-oriented consumer marketer during his career at H.J. Heinz and most recently, PPG.
“Now, as our new chief commercial and marketing officer, he will lead the company’s efforts to re-establish the superiority of our pizza with consumers across our various customer platforms.”
Wednesday, 6 November
M&S profit down 17% after poor clothing sales
Profits at Marks & Spencer slumped 17.1% in the first half of the financial year following a weak performance from clothing & home.
In the 26 weeks to the end of September, group profit-before-tax fell from £213m in 2018 to £176.5m this year.
Like-for-like clothing & home sales were down 5.5%, which M&S says was a result of buy and supply chain issues, while food like-for-like sales were up 0.9%.
Chief executive Steve Rowe says M&S’s clothing & home arm is still “making up for lost time” but the retailer is seeing “positive” results in the second half.
“We are still in the early stages, but we are clear on the issues we need to fix and, after a challenging first half, we are seeing a positive response to this season’s contemporary styling and better value product,” Rowe says.
“We have taken decisive action to trade the ranges with improved availability and shorter clearance periods. In some instances dramatic sales uplifts in categories where we have restored value, style and availability illustrate the latent potential and enduring broad appeal of our brand. Our cost reduction and store technology programmes are on track.”
Online revenue at M&S.com increased at a slower-than-planned 0.2%, which M&S has blamed on issues with availability and product mix in a slower online market.
Traffic to the website, meanwhile, grew by 8%, reflecting strong growth in mobile traffic and paid search. However, M&S says conversion was lower. M&S.com is trialling 11pm cut-off for free next day to store delivery, enhanced search and personalisation tools are being implemented and an instalment payment facility has been launched.
YouTube debuts shopping ads
Google is introducing shopping ads to YouTube’s home feed and within search results in a bid to become “more shoppable” for consumers and extend the reach of advertisers’s shopping campaigns on the platform.
In addition, YouTube viewers will now be able to see visual shopping ads, based on their interests. These will also be more interactive and give viewers “useful and actionable information”, such as store location, interest forms and additional call-to-actions in order to help brands drive more conversations.
According to YouTube, a beta test of this with 30 advertisers showed a 23% increase in conversions. Puma is among the first bands to test the new feature.
Puma vice-president of ecommerce Rick Almeida says: “Consumers are continuing to watch more content on the YouTube platform and we want to be where they are, to reach and engage them. This new opportunity will enable Puma to extend our shopping strategy into a new property and inspire consumers.”
Ford hires former Zipcar boss for marketing role
Ford has hired the former CEO of Zipcar, Scott Griffith, as director of AV product, marketing and operations of its autonomous vehicles unit.
Griffith, who was at Zipcar for more than a decade until 2013, will lead the development and execution of Ford’s go-to-market strategy.
This will include further developing the carmaker’s autonomous vehicle brand and marketing, focusing on the customer experience and product attributes of self-driving cars, and building out the company’s fleet management and regional operations.
Announcing the hire, Ford’s president of new business, technology and strategy, Jim Farley, says focusing on the customer experience is “critical because the opportunities for Ford and the self-driving industry are massive”.
“As we look to the initial launch of a commercial self-driving service in 2021, Ford is focused on what it will take for customers to embrace the technology, trust us enough to take a ride, and keep coming back.”
Government calls for urgent action to safeguard future of public service broadcasters
The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee has warned that public service broadcasters (PSBs) need to be better supported to ensure they can continue to produce content that reflects and examines UK culture. In return, the broadcasters are being told they need to adapt to ensure that they serve and reflect all audiences.
The committee concludes in its report, Public service broadcasting: as vital as ever, that public service broadcasting remains essential to the UK media and losing it would leave UK society and democracy worse off.
However, in contrast to the likes of Netflix, Amazon and other subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) players, the report highlights that PSBs are failing to appeal to certain groups, including 16– to 34-year-olds and BAME viewers.
According to the committee, PSBs have not been as successful as SVODs in championing BAME representation behind the camera and in the creative process, especially at the BBC.
The committee raises further concerns about the integrity of the licence fee as the guarantor of the BBC’s financial independence and says a new, independent and transparent process for setting the licence fee is necessary.
“At a time of polarisation, public service broadcasters play a role in unifying the country through shared experiences,” says the chairman of the committee, Lord Gilbert of Panteg.
“Our recommendations will ensure that public service broadcasters are able to continue to serve us and afford to make world-class programmes. If we fail to support our public service broadcasters, audiences would miss them when they’re gone.”
Canterbury Cathedral pledges to support ethical advertising
Canterbury Cathedral has become the first religious institution to pledge its support to the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN).
The church joins a coalition of more than 70 organisations – ranging from advertisers and agencies, to publishers and tech providers – that are working to ensure that industry ethics keeps pace with the technology of modern advertising.
“Canterbury Cathedral has been a place of welcome for over 1,400 years and continues to attract visitors from across the world,” says the cathedral’s head of marketing and communications, Nathan Crouch.
“It’s essential that we make ethically-informed choices about our advertising to ensure that we don’t inadvertently fund outlets or platforms that spread misinformation or promote division, discrimination and intolerance. We’re proud to support CAN in order to help create a safer media and online community.”
Tuesday, 5 November
Uber losses mount despite revenue rise
Uber is still posting huge losses even as revenues ride, as the ride hailing company struggles to prove it can turn a profit.
The company posted a net loss of $1.2bn in the third quarter, a bigger loss than the $986m it posted in the same quarter a year ago but less than the $5.2bn loss in the previous quarter. Revenue was up 30% year on year to $3.8bn, above analyst expectations of $3.6bn
Its ‘trips’ business saw revenues rise 35% year on year, while gross booking were up 37%. In July, the company reached the 100 million active monthly user mark for the first time, which CEO Dara Khosrowshahi claims shows Uber is becoming a “more integral part of everyday life in cities around the world”.
Uber is now targeting profitability in 2021.
Mothercare brand could disappear as company calls in the administrators
Mothercare could become the latest retail brand to disappear from the UK high street after the business called in administrators after failing to find a buyer.
The move puts up to 2,500 jobs at its 79 shops at risk. The company lost £36.3m last year and says it is now clear it cannot return to profitability. The administration doesn’t include its overseas operations, which remain profitable.
Just 12 years ago, Mothercare had more than 400 UK stores after it acquired the Early Learning Centre joy business. However, the chain has been forced to downsize and last year closed 60 stores as part of a company voluntary agreement (CVA), as well as selling ELC.
Richard Lim, chief executive of the Retail Economics consultancy, says: “Years of underinvestment in the online business and its inability to differentiate itself as a specialist for young families and expectant parents has been the root of its seemingly inevitable downfall. As competition has become fiercer they have been beaten on price, convenience and the overall customer experience.”
Marie Curie tries to get people talking about death
Marie Curie is launching a marketing campaign that aims to get people talking about death by highlighting the ways people currently avoid talking about it.
The ‘Whatever you call it’ campaign, created by Saatchi & Saatchi London, uses a series of animations to highlights the euphemism people use instead of talking about death. This includes phrases such as ‘kick the bucket’, ‘pop your clogs’ and ‘meet your maker’.
The activity will run across TV, radio, social and PR.
Marie Curie CEO Matthew Reed says: “While most of us say we are comfortable having these conversations, the reality is that many of us are not making any preparations as it feels a long way off or something that will cause unnecessary upset both for us and the people around us.
“But we need to plan more for the end of life, while there is still time to do so. Having these conversations early can be easier than having them when we, or someone we love, is dying.”
Smart Energy GB CMO Gavin Sheppard to step down
Smart Energy GB’s CMO Gavin Sheppard is to step down after six years in the role. Sheppard joined the venture at the start of 2014 as it was set up by the government and energy industry to drive adoption of smart meters.
He has been responsible for establishing its marketing function, hiring agencies including AMV BBDO and launching the smart meter campaign in the UK. His work has helped raise awareness and understand of smart meters, with 14.9 million households and businesses adopting the tech and a further 32% saying they plan to get one installed in the next six months.
Sheppard says: “It has been an enormous privilege to lead a team of such talented people and agencies in bringing this important new tech into British homes. Given the rollout is now planned to extend into the mid-2020s, now is the right time to stand down and let my successors shape and lead that second phase.
“I am extremely proud of all we have achieved together and I look forward to seeing more brilliant work from Smart Energy GB in the coming months and years.”
Secret Deodorant to only use ‘women-made’ music in future marketing campaigns
Procter & Gamble-owned deodorant brand Secret is upping its push for women’s equality with a pledge to feature only “100% women-made” music in future marketing campaigns.
Starting next year, the brand will only use female singers and songwriters to create tracks for its marketing efforts. And through a partnership with non-profit Women in Music, it will offer 250 aspiring female musicians access to female mentors.
“As a brand for women, we consistently strive to elevate other women in all we do. But when it comes to the production of music for our campaigns, it has frankly been a struggle to do so, as women are so significantly underrepresented in the music industry,” says Sara Saunders, associate brand director for Secret at P&G.
“We want to change that. We’ve heard from women that there’s one thing that can make all the difference in their careers, and that’s access to other women in the industry. Secret is proud to team up with Women in Music – the music industry’s leading non-profit working toward gender equality – to enable to just that. And we’ll continue to support those women by exclusively enlisting all-female music teams in the production of Secret campaigns.”
The push kicks off with a talent search, with Secret looking for musicians to share their take on its brand anthem All Strength, No Sweat on Instagram. It is also asking women to share their stories and career aspirations.
Monday, 4 November
Unilever and Kraft Heinz face criticism over Pornhub advertising
Unilever and Kraft Heinz are facing criticism after running advertisements on Pornhub, the world’s biggest porn website.
A Sunday Times investigation revealed that earlier this year Unilever, which is behind brands such as Dove, Marmite and Hellman’s, ran a campaign on the site for male grooming company Dollar Shave Club.
Unilever has denied knowledge of the campaign, saying that Dollar Shave Club had operational independence. The company also said it would not advertise on the site again.
A spokesperson for the brand says: “This type of content is deeply troubling and we will ensure that none of our brands advertise on Pornhub again, or on any other porn sites.”
In February last year, Unilever pledged that it wouldn’t advertise on platforms that do not “make a positive contribution to society”. The company’s CMO at the time Keith Weed said it will not invest in platforms that “do not protect children or which create division in society”.
Kraft Heinz, the owner of Capri-Sun and HP Sauce, took over the porn site’s homepage in January for a one-day #FoodPorn campaign to promote Devour, a frozen food brand. A spokesman said: “The brand was explicitly talking about #Foodporn, which has become a cultural phenomenon on Instagram.”
Lavazza launches compostable coffee pods
Lavazza is launching the first compostable one-cup coffee pods from a major manufacturer as it looks to be more sustainable.
The Italian espresso giant is aiming to replace its entire range of home use capsules with new eco-friendly ones – at the same retail price – by the end of the year.
David Rogers, managing director of Lavazza UK, says: “This major investment confirms our commitment to excellence and sustainable development.”
Lavazza says its new biopolymer-based Eco Caps break down into compost in as little as six months when combined with food waste for council collection.
However, where this is unavailable, Lavazza has teamed up with TerraCycle so consumers can drop off the capsules to be industrially composted.
It’s thought that 95 million cups of coffee are drunk in the UK every day, but the single-serve pods typically end up in landfill where they can take take up to 500 years to break down.
Ryanair cuts growth plans amid Boeing delays
Ryanair is looking to cut costs after it faces delays in receiving its new planes.
The budget airline is due to take delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX in March at the earliest, two months later than it originally forecast, pushing its passenger growth for next year to its lowest level in years. It now expects to fly 157 million passengers in the year to March 31 2021, down from its July forecast of 162 million.
Ryanair says its outlook for average fares for the remainder of the year is “cautious”.
The airline reported post-tax profit of £993m, in line with last year, for the six months from April to September, its most profitable part of the year.
The budget airline narrowed full year profit guidance to between £647.5m and £820.2m, down from its previous range of £690.8m to £820.3m. However, preferred boarding and the option to select a seat helped revenue at Ryanair rise 11%.
Smash Hits returns to promote new musical
Bauer Media is bringing back Smash Hits magazine for a one-off special in partnership with the new West End musical & Juliet.
The one-time edition of the pop title will be distributed to select London Underground stations to mark the launch of the musical- which features a number of pop hits – and will celebrate some of the biggest pop anthems ever.
Approximately 50,000 issues of the one-off special of Smash Hits will be distributed to a selection of central London Underground stations and features a ‘5 minutes with’ interview with N’Sync and poster, song lyrics and Britney Spears trivia. Jessie J takes on the Biscuit Tin interview.
The mini issue will include a feature on super producer Max Martin and more about & Juliet in order to drive awareness of the West End show, which is making its London debut this November. The show features the music of Martin, including songs from Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Katy Perry.
Abby Carvosso, group managing director at Bauer Media Advertising, says: “Magazines have the power to deliver high quality attention at exceptional value for advertisers and what better way to capture attention than bringing the iconic Smash Hits back for a one-off special. This unique partnership has seen us connect with pop fanatics through the pioneering voice in pop culture to drive audiences to & Juliet.”