Coca-Cola, Sky, junk food ad ban: 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.

Junk food

Government faces backlash over ‘disgraceful’ delay to pre-watershed ad ban for junk food

The government is facing a fresh wave of criticism as it again pushes back the plan for a ban on junk food advertising ahead of the 9pm watershed.

The ad ban for foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) will now not come into effect until 2025. It was originally slated to come into force from January 2023 but was delayed by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in May. It has now been pushed back further by current PM Rishi Sunak.

Katharine Jenner, director of the Obesity Health Alliance, says: “Delaying junk food advertising restrictions is a shocking move by the government, with no valid justification to do so, other than giving a flimsy excuse that businesses need more time to prepare and reformulate.”

She points to a study published yesterday that shows cases of type 2 diabetes in young adults have risen faster in Britain than anywhere else in the world.

“What other evidence does our Prime Minister need not to delay implementing key obesity policies? Research shows restricting junk food adverts on TV and online would significantly reduce the number of children with excess weight,” she adds.

“This is the action of a government that seems to care more about its own short-term political health than the longer-term health of children. We urge Rishi Sunak to reverse this attack on child health and to shorten the delay to 2024, to at least give children a better chance to grow up healthy.”

Meanwhile, the CEO of Diabetes UK describes the delay at “disgraceful”.

“This measure is part of a vital toolkit to rebalance health inequalities, and these delays directly undermine the government’s own commitments to halving childhood obesity by 2030 and improving the nation’s health,” says Chris Askew, the charity’s boss.

“The environment around us heavily influences our food choices, and in delaying the junk food marketing ban, the government is giving companies the green light to continue to bombard children with adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar, making it needlessly difficult to choose healthy options.”

He believes the delay will “disproportionately impact” households on the lowest income, who he says are targeted by a greater amount of advertising for unhealthy food.

“The government’s shameful decision to delay these vital measures means that people living in the most deprived areas will continue to be pushed towards unhealthy options, further entrenching the health inequalities that exist in rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity in England,” he adds.

Professor David Strain, chair of the BMA’s board of science, agrees the delay could be detrimental to the health of young people, adding the decision shows a “lack of political will and courage that is difficult to fathom”.

“For years we have set out the evidence as clearly as we can that the current advertising restrictions are not fit for purpose, and are not protecting children and young people from excessive marketing influence. Moreover the public agree with us, with 74% of people supporting a watershed to stop junk food adverts being shown before 9pm on TV and online.”

In September, Liz Truss had said she would be reviewing the ad ban, a move that was welcomed by marketing bodies at the time. They which urged her to “take a step back, take stock and review the evidence as to whether the 9pm watershed and online ban on HFSS products would work”.

Eco toilet paper brand wins Sky’s £1m environmental ad prize

Carbon neutral toilet roll brand Serious Tissues has won the Sky Zero Footprint Fund, taking home the £1m media value prize.

The winning ad was selected thanks to its “category changing product” and the “compelling” way the brand’s mission was presented.

It fought off competition from four other finalists – Ecosia, Homethings, Royal Mail, and WUKA – which have all been awarded £250,000 of media space, taking the total prize fund up to £2m.

Each of the five shortlisted ads have been produced following best practice advice and recommendations from the Advertising Association’s AdGreen programme, with all planned to roll-out in early 2023.

Chris Baker, co-founder of Serious Tissues, describes winning the award as “absolutely game-changing”.

“It’s tough starting a business, going up against huge players. So many brands are looking to disrupt and would benefit from the power of TV to reach mass audiences,” he adds. “We are so grateful to have been given this opportunity by Sky to access TV advertising in such an early stage of our business, something we never thought was possible.”

Sky says the aim of the fund is to encourage people in the UK to “make changes to help the planet, using the power of TV”.

Judges included Sir John Hegarty, Stephen Woodford, chair of the Advertising Association), Fiona Ball (Group Director of Bigger Picture at Sky) and Tara Chandra co-founder and CEO of Here We Flo.

Coke looks to drive ‘deeper engagement’ with film series on Amazon Prime

Coca-Cola has launched a film series on Amazon Prime as it looks to find new ways to drive “deeper engagement” with consumers across more channels.

Launched under the ‘Real Magic Presents’ creative platform, each film aims to tell stories of “human connection”.

The first work, ‘Christmas Always Finds Its Way’, consists of three short films, produced by filmmakers, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment.

The soft drinks giant, which is working alongside Grey and OpenX on the project, says the initiative is an extension of its ‘Real Magic’ brand platform launched last year.

“Through Real Magic Presents, Coca-Cola is continuing the promise of the Real Magic platform that we launched in 2021, creating more innovative experiences and deeper engagement with fans, across multiple channels,” says Selman Careaga, category president at Coca-Cola.

“Christmas has always been a special time for our brand. This year, with our anthology series, we are excited to be breaking new ground, ensuring we are recognising not just its iconic past but also – in finding new ways to connect with new audiences – its future too.”

ITVX launches with broadcaster’s ‘biggest’ marketing push

ITVX officially launched yesterday, with the broadcaster building on its plan to drive awareness, consideration and trial of the new streaming service.

On top of the TV ads starring Helena Bonham Carter, Matthew Macfadyen and John Boyega that started airing during I’m A Celebrity, ITV launched a branded metaverse experience in Fortnite Creative, devised by ITV-backed Metaverse studio and agency Metavision.

It also unveiled an outdoor build in Victoria yesterday, a collaboration between ITV Creative and Taylor Herring, and a series of bus wraps across a number of major UK cities.

The key message across all executions is the fact ITVX claims to have “more new shows for free than anywhere else”.

Using research and first-party data, ITV has identified a target audience of ‘mainstreamers’, who watch more of their TV content via streaming services.

Jane Stiller, ITV’s CMO, says: “Across the board we have really focused on high impact creative in media channels which reach our ‘mainstreamer’ audience – viewers who are warm to ITV, and increasingly consuming content through streaming.

“The campaign is informed by extensive work with our research and data teams to really understand what viewers want – which is new exciting content, as well as depth and breadth in titles. Those insights lead our marketing messages across the creative work, emphasising the thousands of shows and films on offer on ITVX, and that the service has more new shows for free than anywhere else.”

The campaign will run across TV, cinema and digital video platforms, and out of home. ITV worked with Uncommon Creative Studio on the TV campaign.

Earlier this year, ITV CEO Carolyn McCall said she is confident the platform will cut through the noise.

Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal could be blocked over competition concerns

Moves have been made to block Microsoft’s $68.7bn (£56.1bn) acquisition of games giant Activision Blizzard, with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) raising concerns over competition.

Microsoft owns the Xbox games console while Activision makes popular games including Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, with regulators citing concerns over access to games for rival console makers.

The FTC voted yesterday, with three to one voting against the merger.

“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” said Holly Vedova, director of the FTC’s bureau of competition. “Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”

The UK’s competition regulator has previously raised similar concerns over access for competitors.

Microsoft has said it will fight the FTC’s decision, with president Brad Smith saying the company has “complete confidence” in its case and welcomes the “opportunity” to present it in court.

READ MORE: US agency moves to block landmark merger of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard

Thursday, 8 December

Purplebricks hails marketing effectiveness after campaign rethink

Purplebricks is hailing the effectiveness of its marketing strategy just four months after new CEO Helena Marston blamed the company’s poor financial results on marketing “missteps”.

Early indications following the launch of the brand’s ‘Commisery’ campaign in October are said to be “very encouraging”. Brand awareness of the online estate agent has “remained strong”, while the company’s consideration score has increased by six percentage points, both described by Purplebricks as key measures of effectiveness.

The business says it is “confident” its new marketing campaign will highlight the benefits of its low-cost proposition, which fits with the current cost of living pressures.

The brand claims having a “clearer understanding” of where it can play has helped the team start to “aggressively” market out-of-home and on social channels in key cities. Purplebricks is confident targeting consumers within its core segments will drive organic growth and attract customers beyond its “typical segments.”

Over the six months to 31 October, the company cut marketing spend by 28% to £10.4m, which includes investment in new creative and compares to a “high above-the-line” investment during the same period last year.

Purplebricks claims its “more effective and targeted marketing” has resulted in a cost per instruction (marketing costs divided by the number of instructions in the year) of £490, 29% down from £686 during the same period last year.

The business also noted the “marketing expertise” it now has on the board following the appointment of former McDonald’s CMO Gareth Helm as a non-executive director on 1 October.

“Our relevant, low-cost proposition, effectively communicated via our new marketing campaign, supports our customers and is especially attractive in these economically challenging times,” says Marston.

In August, the CEO blamed the brand’s financial results over the past year on “missteps” in its marketing strategy. Marston described the ‘Let’s get you sold’ campaign, which saw Purplebricks shift focus from its low fixed fee, as having “missed the opportunity” to communicate the company’s key differentiator in the market.

Marston claims the company’s turnaround plan is now being delivered “at pace”, despite revenue falling 16% to £34.5m during the six months to 31 October and gross profit down 38% to £16.2m compared to the same period last year.

On the Beach credits marketing for rise in premium bookings

On the Beach claims its “truly differentiated customer proposition” has helped the brand capture a greater share of the premium market amid a year of “strategic progress”.

The holiday company says “customer-focused initiatives”, such as free airport lounge access and fast track security, have enhanced the customer experience and set On the Beach apart from its peers.

The brand attributes its investments in brand, tech and the customer proposition during 2022 for an 82% rise in 5* holiday sales in the year to 30 September, compared to pre-Covid levels. As a result, the company’s total average booking value is up 31% versus 2019.

On the Beach invested £27m in online marketing and £11.9m in offline marketing in the year to 30 September. The main components of the £11.9m investment were ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ brand campaign – which scooped the Marketing Week Award for Travel, Tourism and Hospitality in November – combined with sponsorship of the Magic Breakfast radio show.

Online marketing investment represented 31% of adjusted revenue compared to 33% in 2019. On the Beach intends to continue investing in brand and expects its online marketing costs to become more efficient as a greater volume of traffic is attracted through brand and direct channels, reducing reliance on non-brand PPC.

Revenue rose to £87.1m over the year period, up from the £13m generated in 2021 and a rise of 5% on revenue of £83.3m in 2019. This performance was achieved despite the peak booking month of January 2022 being impacted by the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Average booking values have increased by 31% compared to 2019 levels due to an increase in the mix of customers spending more than £700 per person on their holidays. This figure includes an increase in bookings into more premium products across both short and long-haul destinations.

CEO Simon Cooper describes 2022 as a year of “strategic progress” for the group.

“Despite a number of well-documented headwinds faced by the entire industry, including the disruption caused by Omicron in the key booking period of January, the group reported double digit growth in group sales, returned to profitability and exited the year in a strong cash position,” he adds.

“This success is largely as a result of the investments we have made in the last 12 months across our brand, technology and customer proposition.”

Cooper also announced he will step down over the next 12 months to be replaced by current CFO Shaun Morton.

Twitter offices turned into ‘hotels’ following ‘hardcore’ work edict

Source: Shutterstock

San Francisco authorities are investigating reports office space at Twitter is being converted into bedrooms.

Photos shared with the BBC show offices and conference rooms revamped to become bedrooms with double beds, while sofas appear to be doubling up as beds. Former workers told the BBC wardrobes have been moved into Twitter headquarters to sit alongside the beds.

According to Bloomberg, the bedrooms are also used to accommodate staff from Tesla and Elon Musk’s other businesses who “travel to Twitter for work meetings”. The beds are said to be an upgrade from pictures, posted by a former employee, showing sleeping bags on the floor.

It is reported the brand’s new owner Musk has been staying in the office since he took over the company. The Twitter CEO appeared to confirm this in a now deleted tweet, which said he would sleep in the office “until the org is fixed”. Musk claims San Francisco authorities are going after companies on building code violations for providing beds to “tired employees”.

Last month he told Twitter staff they must commit to work “long hours at high intensity” to stay at the business. An email warned employees the social media company “will need to be extremely hardcore” to succeed, which will mean “working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade”.

Staff were given a choice to sign up to be part of the “new Twitter” or receive three months’ severance pay.

California state senator Scott Wiener told the BBC Musk is making employees “sleep at Twitter”, adding: “It’s clear that he doesn’t really care about people. He doesn’t care about the people who work for him.”

READ MORE: Elon Musk turns Twitter into ‘hotel’ for staff

BBC preps for online only future amid ‘period of real jeopardy’

The BBC is preparing to provide fewer linear broadcast services and a “more tailored joined up online offer” by the 2030s, as director-general Tim Davie warns the UK media is in a “period of real jeopardy.”

In a speech to the Royal Television Society yesterday (7 December), Davie imagined an internet only world, where broadcast TV and radio are switched off and live linear viewing is delivered online. He argued internet only distribution presents an opportunity for the BBC to connect “more deeply” with audiences and provide better choice. Given this change will happen over time, he claimed the broadcaster should already be actively planning.

“Digital offers a huge opportunity to unlock more audience value, but it requires big organisational change: a radical overhaul of how we use data, a heavyweight world-class tech team, new operating models, new creative solutions and ideas,” said Davie.

“Imagine news re-imagined for the iPlayer or increased functionality when watching the game online.”

The BBC director-general said this would mean “significant change” for the broadcaster, including fewer brands overall and consolidating more activity behind a “simple, single brand in the UK”.

“And you’ll see this globally as well. We will also simplify sub-brands such as BBC News. You can see a first step in our bringing together of the BBC News Channel and BBC World News as one brand: BBC News,” he added.

The broadcaster intends to move to an “internet future” with greater urgency, the aim being to provide the BBC with a “clear, market leading role in the digital age”.

The UK is facing a “period of real jeopardy” in terms of the media landscape and scope of choice, said Davie, who insisted the BBC is focused on transformation rather than managing decline. In May, the broadcaster announced CBBC, BBC Four and Radio 4 Extra will shut down and become online-only services as the BBC turns towards streaming.

Looking ahead to the 2030s, the director-general admitted the BBC must be “open minded” about future funding mechanics. While the licence fee is in place until 2027/2028, the broadcaster estimates its core funding will fall by 30% from 2010 to 2028.

Describing the BBC as “one of the most powerful and well recognised brands on the planet”, Davie also called for a proactive and agile regulatory framework.

More than 40 million people watched women’s sport in 2022

Some 43 million people watched three minutes or more of women’s sport on linear TV in 2022 – notching up a record total of 325 million hours viewed – according to new data from the Women’s Sport Trust (WST).

This level of viewership is a significant improvement on the 20.1 million people who watched women’s sport in 2012 when the charity was founded, then amounting to just 19.1 million viewing hours.

According to the WST, 2022 has generated the most engaged audience for women’s sport, with people watching an average of 7 hours and 50 minutes, seven times more than the 1 hour and 22 minutes figure in 2012.

Some 17% of sports coverage on key channels so far in 2022 has been for women’s sport, compared to 3% a decade ago. This year to date, there have been 7,450 hours of coverage for women’s sport on linear TV – the highest on record – versus 673 hours just a decade earlier.

Over a third (38%) of women’s sport viewers in 2022 were female, versus 32% in 2012 and 36% for all sport this year.

Whereas 10 years ago golf was the most watched women’s sport with more than 8 million viewing hours, football dominates in 2022 at 250.16 million hours – up 3,538% on 2012 figures. This year football took up 77% of viewing hours of women’s sport. Even without the Euros, football accounted for 50% of all viewing hours of women’s sport in 2022.

Viewership of women’s cricket is up 1,244% on a decade prior, while viewership of rugby union has seen the biggest increase at 5,072%.

WST co-founder and CEO Tammy Parlour explains the charity deliberately chose to concentrate on making changes at the elite level to feed down to the grassroots.

“We focused on elite athletes, media coverage and research which shows the commercial potential of women’s sport. And we’ve galvanised different organisations including broadcasters, rights-holders and media to ensure the sports industry reflects the best version of society,” she adds.

“We’ve seen a lot of progress over the last 10 years and the stats for the past year are particularly impressive. We hope this trend continues and more investment is made into women’s sport, at all levels, to safeguard its move from worthy to irresistible.”

Wednesday, 7 December

BrewDog shop

ASA bans ‘misleading’ BrewDog ad

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a Brewdog marketing email for misleading customers. The email claimed the brand’s fruit infused beers were “one of your five a day”.

Responding to the complaint, BrewDog acknowledged the beers did not count towards consumers’ five a day, however they believed consumers would “generally understand” that the beers were not equivalent to a portion of fruit or veg and claimed the email wasn’t intended as a “factual claim”.

BrewDog also claimed, given the email recipients were signed up to marketing emails, that they would understand the brand’s “playful” marketing style.

However, the ASA said consumers would not have entirely known that when receiving the email. The ad watchdog ruled the ad cannot appear again, and warned BrewDog against repeating the mistake.

The ruling comes amid a difficult period for the beer brand, following backlash from its ‘Anti-World Cup’ campaign, and the brand losing its B Corp status last week.

Young marketers fear burning out in 2023

How will the current economic climate impact marketers? According to new research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), almost half (49%) are demanding changes to their working patterns to mitigate stress, while 52% say they fear burning out.

Younger marketers are fearing burnout the most, with 59% saying it’s a concern. That percentage drops to 38% of 45-54 year old marketers.

60% of marketers fear brands are likely to spend less money on marketing due to economic pressures in 2023. The survey features a mix of 500 in-house and agency marketing professionals. Meanwhile, 63% say they’d like to see higher salaries, and 43% are worried that the UK marketing industry will drop behind international competitors.

When it comes to mental health, 74% of surveyed marketers believe their employers now take mental health concerns more seriously since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As we head into a tough year, it is clear the marketing sector is driving change to boost the mental resilience of its workforce,” says CIM marketing director Natalie Spearing.

“The cost of living crisis and inflationary pressure will undoubtedly require many of us to tighten our belts, so marketing leaders must prioritise the well-being of their teams providing them with head-space to focus on customer needs.”

Fenwick to close 130 year old London store

Fenwick is set to close its 130 year old central London department store. The building, and its adjoining property, has been sold to Lazari Investments, and will close in 2024.

The company says it is going ahead with the sale of its retail space to help fund investment in its online business and other stores. Without the New Bond Street London store, Fenwick will have eight sites across the UK, including York, Colchester and Newcastle.

In a company statement, the department store said “Amid the turbulent economic environment, fresh capital investment is required in order to return the business to profitable growth.”

In October, the company reported an increase in sales, up to £240m compared with £141m in the previous year as customers returned post-pandemic. Fenwick also cut its operating losses by 59% to £18.3m, down from £45m.

At the time, Fenwick chief executive John Edgar said “We are cementing Fenwick’s position as the UK’s leading multi-channel premium department store – driving innovation across our edit and delivering unique experiences through Fenwick’s trademark hospitality.”

READ MORE: Fenwick to shut 130-year-old New Bond Street department store

Jameson Irish Whiskey launches latest instalment of its ‘Widen the Circle’ campaign

Jameson Irish Whiskey is adding to its ‘Widen the Circle’ brand campaign with a new addition, ‘The Drop’, as the brand focuses on how life can be enriched by human connection.

The campaign, featuring comedian Aisling Bea and created with TBWA Dublin, focuses on a drop of Irish rainwater that travels across the world before making it to a bottle of the brand’s product.

“With this new addition to the campaign, we wanted to highlight the interconnectedness of our environment, our ingredients, our craftspeople and ultimately those who enjoy our whiskey,” says global marketing director at Irish Distillers, Brendan Buckley.

He adds that Jameson is a “storytelling brand from a country of storytellers,” and therefore Bea is the “perfect partner” to bring the brand’s philosophy “to life”.

The campaign comes as parent company Pernod Ricard told Marketing Week earlier this year it would be making its largest ever Christmas investment in its marketing spend.

Five companies fined more than £400,000 for illegal marketing calls to over-60s

Five companies have been fined a cumulative £435,000 after targeting adults over 60 with almost half a million marketing calls that broke the law, reports Sky News.

The call recipients were signed up to the Telephone Preference Service, a service that rejects marketing calls from companies. However, thousands of calls made it through to recipients.

The Information Commissioner’s Office says pressure tactics were used to push products, such as insurance for white goods items, alongside “false or misleading statements”.

The companies in question are Allapplianceservices UK Ltd, Boiler Cover Breakdown Limited, Boiler Breakdown Limited, Repair Plans UK Limited and Utility Guard Limited.

“The pressure tactics, and sometimes false or misleading statements these companies used were completely unacceptable,” says head of ICO investigations, Andy Curry. The ICO has so far issued more than £2m in fines against companies for breaking rules when it comes to contacting consumers with calls, texts and emails.

READ MORE: Five companies fined over £400,000 for targeting over-60s with illegal marketing calls

Tuesday, 6 December


TikTok’s ad revenue to have doubled in 2022 while rivals stall

TikTok’s advertising revenue is expected to have doubled in 2022, while its social media rivals have reported decreasing demand from advertisers this year.

A report from media agency GroupM, which looks at media trends across 2022 and predicts what these will look like going into next year, estimates the short-form video sharing platform has doubled its advertising revenue over the past 12 months.

The report adds TikTok’s success is likely one of the factors driving less advertiser demand for companies such as Meta and Snap, particularly since there isn’t as much of a notable drop at businesses where TikTok is less of a direct competitor, such as Microsoft.

The report says Twitter “remains an open question for many marketers because of the erratic product updates at the company and mercurial nature of new owner Elon Musk”. While advertising will likely be crucial for the success of Twitter going forward, it actually represents a very small slice of the digital advertising ecosystem. According to GroupM, the platform represented just 1.2% of all global digital ad revenue, excluding China, in 2021.

GroupM expects overall global advertising growth of 6.5% in 2022, a significant downgrade from its June forecast of 8.4%. However, it says this downgrade is largely due to a worsened economic situation in China. In 2023, it forecasts global advertising growth will achieve 5.9% growth.

Vodafone CEO to step down after failing to halt falling share price

Vodafone CEO Nick Read, who has led the group since 2018, is to step down from the role after failing to reverse a decline in share price.

Shares have fallen by over 40% since Read took over the top job and he has faced challenges from shareholders who want to see greater returns.

Last month, Vodafone cut its annual profit forecast and announced an over €1bn (£879m) cost-saving plan.

Read will depart at the end of December having joined the Vodafone Group in 2001, but will remain as an advisor to the board until March.

“I agreed with the board that now is the right moment to hand over to a new leader who can build on Vodafone’s strengths and capture the significant opportunities ahead,” he says.

During his time in charge of the organisation Read has been focused on mergers and acquisitions. The telecoms business is currently in talks with Three UK to combine the companies to create the UK’s largest mobile operator.

The group’s chief financial officer Margherita Della Valle will take over as interim CEO until the business can find a permanent replacement.

READ MORE: Vodafone group CEO Nick Read to step down within weeks

Grocery inflation drops for the first time in almost two years

Grocery price inflation has fallen for the first time in 21 months, but still remains at near record highs, according to figures from Kantar.

Four week inflation now stands at 14.6%, representing a small 0.1% dip. While this slight drop may provide small relief for consumers, the 14.7% inflation seen over the previous four weeks was the highest since Kantar began tracking prices in 2008.

Despite these still eye-watering inflation levels, take-home grocery sales increased by 5.9% year-over-year in the 12 weeks to 27 November, which represents the fastest level of growth since March 2021.

The discount retailers continued to see strong growth across the 12 weeks. Lidl achieved record market share of 7.4%, with sales increasing 22% year-over-year, while Aldi’s sales grew by 24.4% to give it a 9.3% market share.

Tesco, the retailer with the largest share of the market, saw its share decline slightly compared to last year, dropping from 27.7% in the 12 weeks to 28 November 2021 to 27.2% in the 12 weeks to 27 November 2022. However, its sales did grow by 3.9%.

Across the same period, Sainsbury’s also saw its market share fall slightly from 15.4% to 15.2%, but grew sales by 4.3%. Asda saw sales growth of 6% and managed to keep its share of 14% constant.

Shoppers are looking to supermarket’s own-label goods amid the cost of living crisis, says Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt.

“We’re seeing yet more evidence of the coping strategies shoppers are adopting to mitigate rising costs, and in particular own label sales are growing at pace, now up 11.7% year-on-year,” he says.

“The cheapest value own label lines have soared by 46.3%, but people still want to find room for treats at this time of year and this is driving growth at the other end of the spectrum too.  Premium own label sales are up by 6.1% to £461m in November.”

Ticketmaster sued by Taylor Swift fans

A group of Taylor Swift fans are suing Ticketmaster in the US, alleging it is guilty of fraud, price fixing and anti-trust violations.

Ticketmaster experienced website outages and access code issues during the sale of tickets for Swift’s US Eras tour. It also cancelled the main sale of tickets after seeing “extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory” due to pre-sales.

Fans also reported that tickets were being re-sold at higher prices online while the sale was still going on.  The tickets were being resold for $22,000 (£17,950) on resale websites, just hours after the sale began.

The group of 26 fans allege in the lawsuit that Ticketmaster imposed artificially high prices on fans. The lawsuit also alleges an “intentional deception” which allowed third-party ticket touts to buy the vast majority of tickets.

The lawsuit also alleges artists “have no choice” but to work with the platform, which is owned by parent-company Live Nation.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster are yet to publicly respond to the lawsuit. Last month Live Nation posted a statement after Ticketmaster cancelled its Swift main sale saying it “takes its responsibilities under the anti-trust laws seriously” and doesn’t “engage in behaviours that could justify anti-trust litigation, let alone orders that would require it to alter fundamental business practices”.

READ MORE: Taylor Swift: ‘Swifties’ sue Ticketmaster over tour sale problems

Shein admits staff are working illegal hours at factories

Shein has admitted staff at two of its supplier factories were working long hours with few days off, which breached local regulations.

Online fashion brand Shein commissioned an independent investigation into working conditions at its supplier factories after a documentary by Channel 4 alleged employees were working up to 18 hours a day, throughout weekends, with only one day off a month.

The investigation launched by the online retailer found workers at one factory were working up to 13-and-a-half-hour days, with two to three days off a month, while those at the second site were working up to 12-and-a-half hours per day and had no fixed structure for days off.

“While these are significantly less than claimed in the documentary, they are still higher than local regulations permit,” Shein says.

Shein has committed to investing £12.2m to improve conditions at the sites. It has also taken action by cutting orders from the manufacturers which run the sites by three quarters, with the threat of further action if they do not improve their working standards by the end of the year.

READ MORE: Shein admits working hour breaches and pledges £12m to improve sites

Monday, 5 December

Source: Shutterstock

Musk welcomes return of advertisers to Twitter

Tech giants Amazon and Apple are reportedly planning to resume full advertising on Twitter as the platform’s owner, Elon Musk, welcomed the return of brands over the weekend.

Advertising revenues at Twitter took a hit following Musk’s $44bn (£36bn) takeover in October, amid concerns around a rise in hate speech on the social media platform, as well as his own provocative tweets.

Twitter has since been attempting to encourage advertisers to return, with Reuters reporting last week on an email sent from the social media company to advertising agencies offering incentives to increase their spending on the platform.

According to a source who spoke to Reuters, Amazon never stopped advertising on Twitter despite the controversies around Musk’s ownership.

On Saturday, Musk also announced on a live Twitter Spaces conversation that Apple is the largest advertiser on Twitter and has “fully resumed” its advertising, according to Bloomberg.

The reports follow a series of tweets last week in which Musk accused Apple of using its market power against Twitter, including by cutting ad spend and threatening to remove the Twitter app from the App Store.

However, following a meeting between Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Twitter boss announced the dispute had been resolved.

On Sunday, Musk tweeted: “Just a note to thank advertisers for returning to Twitter.”

READ MORE: Big advertisers including Amazon returning to Twitter, says report

Labour calls for fast track ad protections to make telecoms pricing ‘more transparent’

Labour is calling on the advertising watchdog to “expedite” rules protecting consumers from being pressured into signing up for mobile and broadband deals with hidden costs, such as mid-contract price rises.

Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell says proposals to make telecoms pricing “more transparent and easily understood are essential”, adding that as inflation continues to soar consumers must be protected from mid-contract price rises “they did not expect and can ill afford.”

“The advertising authorities should expedite action before Christmas, so consumers aren’t caught unawares,” she adds.

The party has promised to crack down on mid-contract price increases if elected at the next general election.

According to the Guardian, signing a two-year contract offered over the festive period could cost consumers up to £240 more than they thought thanks to surging inflation. BT and Vodafone have already confirmed they will continue to apply mid-contract price rises according to the rate of inflation as measured by the consumer prices index (CPI) in January, plus 3.9%.

Labour’s call for stricter consumer protections follows the closure of a CAP consultation investigating whether telecoms companies are clearly informing consumers about price rises in their campaigns.

The consultation will analyse whether telecoms operators are explaining terminology relating to rises, including measures of inflation, as well as clearly informing consumers that introductory prices differ from the amount they will pay when their contract ends. CAP is also looking into promotions launched just before annual price increases each April, meaning consumers only receive offers for a limited time.

Last week Ofcom kicked off its own investigation into the UK telecoms market, following complaints phone and broadband firms have not been upfront about in-contract price hikes.

The regulator is concerned consumers who took out contracts between 1 March 2021 and 16 June 2022 may not have been provided with sufficiently clear information about in-contract price rises usually applied in March or April each year.

READ MORE: Labour calls for crackdown on rip-off UK Christmas broadband and mobile ads

UK workers given right to request flexible working from day one

UK workers are being given the right to request flexible working from their first day in a new job, under government proposals to make flexibility the default.

Spanning everything from hybrid working, job-sharing and flexitime to working compressed, annualised or staggered hours, the new measures are intended to give employees greater flexibility over where, when and how they work.

Previously, employees had to wait for 26 weeks before being able to request flexible working. The government will also allow employees to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period

Under the proposals, if an employer cannot accommodate a request to work flexibly it must discuss alternative options before rejecting the request. The requirement is also being removed for employees to set out the effects of their flexible working requests to employers. Furthermore, the time employers have to respond to requests will drop from three months to two.

The government also plans to remove exclusivity clause restrictions, currently preventing an estimated 1.5 million low paid workers from working for multiple employers.

“Giving staff more say over their working pattern makes for happier employees and more productive businesses,” says Minister for Small Business Kevin Hollinrake.

“Put simply, it’s a no-brainer. Greater flexibility over where, when and how people work is an integral part of our plan to make the UK the best place in the world to work.”

Warnings UK headed for ‘year-long’ recession

InflationThe UK could be headed for a “year-long” recession according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which is calling on the government to prevent a “lost decade of growth”.

CBI director general Tony Danker claims Britain is languishing in “stagflation” due to rocketing inflation, negative growth, falling productivity and business investment.

The lobby group warns the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) will fall by 0.4% next year, a downgrade on its forecast for 1% growth published in June. The CBI also claims productivity will be 2% below pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024, with business investment forecast to be 9% below pre-Covid levels and a year-long fall in consumer spending expected to continue into 2023.

While The Sunday Times reports inflation will peak before the end of the year, prices rose at their fastest rate for 41 years in October, putting the inflation rate at 11.1%.

The CBI is calling on the government to act swiftly, including addressing skills and worker shortages, and embarking on “co-ordinated action” to enable upskilling. The group claims a mix of “prolonged weakness” in productivity and investment, coupled with recession, will leave UK GDP at 8% below pre-Covid levels (running from 2010 to 2019) and 27% below the pre-financial crisis trend.

“We will see a lost decade of growth if action isn’t taken. GDP is a simple multiplier of two factors: people and their productivity. But we don’t have people we need, nor the productivity,” says Danker.

“There is no time to waste. The Prime Minister and Chancellor must use levers of growth to ensure this downturn is as short and shallow as possible, but also to address the persistent weakness in investment and productivity. We cannot afford to have another decade where both are stagnant.”

READ MORE: CBI warns that UK is about to fall into year-long recession (£)

Currys looks to challenge stereotypes within gaming

Source: Currys

Currys has launched a month-long content series designed to challenge “pervasive stereotypes” about the gaming community.

The retailer teamed up with agency Jungle Creations and Publicis Play on new research, which finds 46% of gamers are female, 29% identify as disabled and 15% are from minority ethnic groups. The research also observed a “significant increase” in older age groups getting into gaming, up 32% year on year among players aged 55 to 64.

Designed to celebrate the “diverse modern gaming community”, the campaign seeks to remove anonymity from gaming forums and show the faces of real gamers through a three-part content series featuring a major gaming brand – Xbox: Squad Goals, Nintendo: Switch it up and Intel: Guess the Gamer.

Running across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, the campaign will also include interactive Instagram Stories shot in store, featuring a Currys expert advising on how to identify the right console and set up for different types of gamers.

“We love that this campaign challenges the gaming stereotype and reveals the many different types of people that make the community so rich and varied,” says Curry senior advertising and digital manager, Ernest Osafo.

“Contrary to what is still the typical image of a male teenager sitting in a basement, our research shows that almost half of gamers are female with significant proportions who identify as disabled or from minority ethnic groups.”



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