Disney, YouTube, Topshop: 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.


Disney+ expansion ramps up as subscriber numbers ‘exceed wildest expectations’

Disney is ramping up the expansion of its Disney+ streaming service as subscriber numbers hit 86.8 million as of 2 December.

Describing Disney+ as a “one of a kind service”, Disney CEO Bob Chapek says subscriber numbers had exceeded the company’s “wildest expectations” and gave the business the impetus to accelerate its direct-to-consumer business model.

Together with the 38.8 million subscribers to Hulu and 11.5 million ESPN subscribers, Disney can boast 137 million subscribers globally, figures that prompted Chapek to predict the company’s streaming services could reach 300million to 350 million subscribers by 2024.

This commitment to streaming means the entertainment giant will now launch its films Peter Pan & Wendy and Pinocchio directly onto Disney+, skipping a cinema release. The company is planning 10 new TV series in its Star Wars and Marvel franchises over the next few years, including new series of The Mandalorian and the release of Andor, based on the 2016 Star Wars film Rogue One.

Additional Star Wars animations are on the way, while Disney+ will also stream 15 live-action Disney and Pixar shows, and 15 Disney and Pixar films. Executives are promising customers new content every week.

READ MORE: Disney ramps up Star Wars and Marvel franchises

YouTube to allow users to opt out of alcohol and gambling ads

Google will allow UK users to opt out of most gambling and alcohol adverts on YouTube from next year, amid concern over the amount of such content users are being exposed to on the platform.

It will become easier for users to avoid gambling and alcohol ads via the Ad Settings function. While Google cannot guarantee the feature will filter out 100% of the content, the vast majority seen on YouTube and sites using Google Ads will be excluded, The Guardian reports.

Currently it is possible to adjust personalised ads based on the user’s browsing history via Ad Settings, but ads remain “contextual” and are therefore linked to the content being viewed. The current situation has, therefore, led to casino ads appearing next to articles on gambling addiction.

Gambling lobby group the Betting and Gaming Council says it welcomes the move to give consumers the option to stop seeing gambling adverts. Chief executive of the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, Henry Ashworth, also told The Guardian his members want to give people greater control over whether they see alcohol-related marketing online and hoped this decision by Google would turn into a “bigger movement”.

READ MORE: Google to let YouTube users opt out of gambling and alcohol ads

Topshop seeks £200m bids as Frasers Group shows interest

TopShopAdministrators are seeking bids of £200m for Topshop as they attempt to secure a deal ahead of Christmas, amid interest in the fashion chain from Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Frasers’s finance director Chris Wootton said the company tends to look at “almost everything on the high street”, but there was still a long way to go to ascertain what a deal might involve. Frasers Group is already attempting to finalise a deal to buy department store chain Debenhams, which went into liquidation last week.

Despite the interest from Frasers, The Guardian reports that Boohoo is the most likely buyer for Topshop, given Philip Green is said to support a deal with the online fast fashion retailer.

Next, Marks & Spencer and several private equity groups are reportedly interested in the other Arcadia brands, such as Miss Selfridge, Evans and Burtons. It is also thought that Tesco, which houses 30 Dorothy Perkins concessions, may take an interest.

READ MORE: Topshop administrators seek bids of up to £200m for fashion chain

Just 9% of marketers believe businesses will meet diversity and inclusion goals

Despite 69% of marketers believing their organisations have ramped up diversity and inclusion activity in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, just 9% are confident their business will meet its goals, according to NABS data.

The organisation’s latest wellbeing survey, conducted in November, also reveals 43% of marketers are feeling overloaded with work, while 73% feel disconnected from colleagues and 58% are feeling anxious, up six points from May.

Some 83% of marketers surveyed by NABS say they most miss spontaneous work-related conversations, while 78% are craving the social aspect of office life. The pandemic has also caused 70% of respondents to spend more time reflecting on what is important to them in life.

NABS president Kerry Glazer, whose tenure ends this month, urged the industry to continue to prioritise wellbeing as we move into 2021.

“The pandemic has had a profound impact on people’s wellbeing. The increasing responsibility for team wellbeing that is falling on leaders is very real,” says Glazer.

“It’s never been more important for leaders in our industry to be empathetic, emotionally intelligent role models who can work to build resilient teams, particularly with a hybrid style of working.”

McVitie’s inks Britain’s Got Talent deal

McVitie's Biscuit brand McVitie’s has signed a deal to become the headline sponsor of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent show in 2021, a month on from the launch of its ‘Too Good Not to Share’ campaign.

The sponsorship package, negotiated by Manning Gottlieb OMD, will span broadcast, ITV Hub, social media, the Britain’s Got Talent app and online, alongside licensing rights and bespoke digital content.

McVitie’s, the UK’s third largest food brand, will use the sponsorship to promote its longstanding family favourite products, as well as new additions, supporting the “sharing and connecting” concept behind the £3m ‘Too Good Not to Share’ campaign. The snacking company will be looking to tap into Britain’s Got Talent’s mass mainstream audience, which for the 2020 series reached a peak of 10.9 million viewers.

“We’re so excited to be partnering with such an iconic British show,” says Caroline Hipperson, CMO at McVitie’s owner Pladis UK&I.

“It’s the perfect partnership, two much-loved British brands that bring people together every week over great tasting biscuits and great entertainment. Through this partnership we will be showcasing McVitie’s delicious range of biscuits, including some new and exciting additions that will be hitting the shelves soon. It’s going to be a big year for McVitie’s in 2021.”

Thursday, 10 December

Facbook could be forced to sell Whatsapp and Instagram

Facebook may be forced to sell Whatsapp and Instagram as it faces two separate lawsuits in the US that accuse it of abusing its power.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a coalition of US states are suing the social network firm on the grounds it has employed a “systematic strategy” to eliminate its competition.

Facebook is accused of breaking competition law by suppressing innovation, cutting privacy protections for users of its platforms and monetising data, according to New York’s attorney general, Letitia James.

The company bought Instagram in 2012 for $1bn and WhatsApp two years later for $19bn.

In response, Facebook said it was reviewing the complaints but added it was clear that there was “no regard for the impact that precedent would have on the broader business community or the people who choose our products every day”.

Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, Ian Conner, says: “Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition. Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”

The suits come roughly 14 months after New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office was leading a group of attorneys general in investigating Facebook for potential anti-competitive practices.

READ MORE: Facebook’s ‘monopoly’ must be split up, US and states say in major lawsuits

UK economy grows by just 0.4% in October

The UK economy grew by just 0.4% in October as the recovery from coronavirus continued to slow.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) warns the UK has seen “a loss in momentum across all main sectors” of the economy.

The services sector only grew by 0.2% in October, reflecting the new restrictions imposed on hospitality. Manufacturing did perform better, with growth of 1.7%, and construction grew by 1.0%.

However, all three sectors are much smaller than they were at the start of the year. And the figures are the weakest monthly expansion since the UK returned to growth in May after the first Covid-19 lockdown.

The Office for National Statistics says: “With a backdrop of further national measures being introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic, monthly GDP grew by 0.4% in October 2020. This is the sixth consecutive monthly increase following a record fall of 19.5% in April 2020.”

October 2020 GDP is now 23.4% higher than its April 2020 low. However, it remains 7.9% below the levels seen in February 2020, before the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: UK growth slows again in October as rebound stalls

Asda to shut on Boxing Day to thank staff

Asda has become the latest retailer to decide to close its stores on Boxing Day to thank staff for their hard work during Covid-19.

The supermarket’s chief executive, Roger Burnley, says the decision came as the government’s strict coronavirus guidelines means households will only be able to meet between 23 and 27 December – making this time more precious for workers.

He thanked employees for the “incredible job” they have done under challenging circumstances.

“It was important for us to give as many of you as possible the opportunity to spend this time with those loved ones that you may not have seen for many months so, uniquely for this year, we will not reopen our stores until 27 December,” he says.

Asda staff who were meant to be working on Boxing Day will still be paid.

Asda join Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, John Lewis, Aldi, Wickes, Home Bargains, Homebase, Pets at Home and The Entertainer who will all remain shut on Boxing Day.

READ MORE: Supermarket Boxing Day closures pressure mounts

BBC helps teach Black British history with Small Axe

BBC Creative is supporting Steve McQueen’s BBC One anthology series with a set of educational resources for BBC Teach that will help teach Black British history.

Starting with five-minute classroom videos, the resources are based on the five Small Axe films and include footage from the programme, as well as featuring some of its stars.

The classroom videos will be available as a downloadable resource on the BBC Teach website to aid teaching students about Black British history. The videos will be accompanied by suggested activities for teachers to engage the class further and assist in lesson planning.

Head of BBC Education, Helen Foulkes, says: “We know that teachers are hungry for more diverse classroom resources, so we’re excited to be collaborating with BBC Creative to make these films based on Steve McQueen’s landmark Small Axe series, which will support the teaching of Black British social history in secondary schools.

“We couldn’t be starting this work on a higher note than working with such a high-profile and important series as Small Axe.”

Captain Morgan Launches ‘Better Than Gold’ campaign

Captain Morgan is launching a campaign to “reenergise” its core audience.

‘Better Than Gold’ includes a new ad and immersive gaming experience that aims to capitalise on the rising popularity of rum.

The ad shows a female protagonist racing against the clock to successfully open a safe that contains Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold. To accompany the TV advert, Captain Morgan is initiating an Instagram challenge that lets consumers take part in a treasure hunt where they work through a series of Instagram levels and find the “real gold” to unlock prizes.

Captain Morgan’s global marketing director, Annalisa Tedeschi, says: “Through our fun and bold Better than Gold campaign we’re looking forward to building energy and excitement around Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold and we’re thrilled to be creating a series of memorable experiences for consumers this festive season.”

The campaign also includes a real-life rewards card that, through a tiered membership system, will give participating consumers and their loved ones access to a range of rewards including home-delivered Captain Morgan recipe kits, discounts off takeaways, exclusive merchandise. To access these rewards and become an exclusive member, individuals will need to tell Captain Morgan what they and their ‘crew’ would be willing to do or trade in order to get their hands on a Better Than Gold card by using the hashtag #ThatsBetterThanGold.

Wednesday, 9 December


Asda’s marketing boss steps down

Supermarket brand Asda’s chief customer officer Anna-Maree Shaw will be leaving the company at the end of this month and returning to her native Australia, after a year in the job.

Asda’s chief strategy officer Preyash Thakrar will work with vice-president of creative and marketing Eilidh Macaskill while a search for Shaw’s replacement begins.

In a statement to staff, Asda CEO Roger Burnley thanked Shaw for her work over the past 12 months.

“Anna joined in January this year, before Covid disrupted our lives, both professional and personally and for Anna this has meant that she has not been able to see her family in Australia for many months,” he says.

“Anna has led the customer division throughout this incredibly challenging year and developed our new customer strategy, a strategy which will transform the way we engage with our customers and support the delivery of our discount platform ambition.”

Digital news platforms show strong growth during the pandemic

The websites of national news brands have experienced “incredibly strong” growth this year as people turn to trusted sources for information about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Data from Pamco reveals that 3 million more people used national news websites every day in September – at 21.5 million – compared to the same month in 2019. Overall, the digital news sector (which includes regionals) was up 30% year on year to 32 million daily readers.

In total, 94% of British adults consume magazine and news-brand content across a month. Pamco, which audits magazine and newspaper readership, has used estimates that combine comScore digital data for September with print data from April 2019 to March 2020 as print data has not been available during the pandemic.

The figures show that women’s interest titles remain the most popular magazine brands, with Hello! comfortably outperforming its weekly rivals across print and digital editions. It boasts a total brand reach (TBR) of 11,616 compared with OK!, in second place, with 4,630.

BBC Good Food leads the monthly women’s glossies with a TBR of 13,910. Vogue, by comparison, reached 2,442. The Radio Times dominated the weekly general interest sector, with a TBR of 8,745, while for monthlies BBC Gardner’s World led with 2,321, ahead of GQ on 1,592.

Newspapers were led by the Guardian in the ‘Qualities’, with a TBR of 24,165, the Mail in ‘Mid-Market’ with 33,536 and the Sun in ‘Popular’ with 38,217.

Phones remain the most popular way of consuming content, ahead of print and desktop computers.

Bumble and Helena Bonham Carter salute pandemic daters

BumbleAdBAFTA winner Helena Bonham Carter stars in women-first social app Bumble’s new campaign, ‘When Dating Met 2020’, detailing the highs and lows of going out on dates in this most challenging of years.

Bumble research has found that 71% of its users feel that their dating live has been significantly impacted over the past 12 months. Just 49%, were confident about how to date this year.

The 90-second slot follows one woman’s dating journey as she looks back at the hurdles she has faced and overcome, from video dates to socially-distanced walks.

“2020 turned dating upside down and we admire the creativity with which people have been connecting on Bumble over the last year,” says Bumble’s director of marketing for EMEA Naomi Walkland.

“This campaign celebrates the imperfect moments and the many ways single people have learnt to navigate a new world of dating, both virtually and in real life. As we wrap up the year, this is a reminder that we’ve all done our best and it’s not too late to make a first move.”

Westfield and YouTube celebrate Black British talent


Westfield London and YouTube Music are teaming up to present a showcase of Black British music and fashion at a live experience to be held at the shopping centre this month.

The streaming platform will stage a virtual live streamed event, hosted by presenter and DJ Henrie Kwushue, on 17 December, showcasing six Black British designers and their collections through runway shows shot at Westfield London and live performances from UK artists.

Westfield London is celebrating the event with designer pop-up stores where consumers can shop the collections every weekend (Friday-Sunday) until 20 December. Designers showcasing their collections in the concept store include Tokyo James, luxury jumpsuit designer Ms Banks and rapper Pa Salieu. Afrobeats six-piece NSG will also be taking to the stage alongside rapper Unknown T.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with YouTube to hero the very best in Black British fashion and music,” says Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s director of brand, creative, media, comms and events Harita Shah.

“This partnership is a great example of our ongoing commitment to create diverse experiences that connect with our shoppers when they visit our centres. We look forward to bringing the latest and greatest emerging talent from online to offline and into a physical space”.

StockX wants $250m in next round of private funding

StockX, the increasingly popular online platform for trading rare and second-hand trainers, is reportedly seeking $250m (£187m) in a forthcoming round of private funding ahead of an expected stock market flotation next year.

According to the New York Post, the brand, based in Detroit but with an ever-expanding global reach, has began contacting existing investors, many of whom helped it reach a valuation of $1bn in June 2019.

Earlier this week a bid of £4,300 (£3,291) was made on the site for a pair of 2016 Nike Air Force 1 Craig Sagers, with the seller refusing to budge on a $5,000 asking price.

Last week, Forbes reported that StockX’s business surged 500% from a year earlier during the third quarter, with the company recently opening three new “authentication centres”, including one in Hong Kong, providing a crucial gateway into Asian markets.

READ MORE: Sneaker site StockX seeking a $2.5 billion valuation

Tuesday, 8 December

KY Jelly rebrands to Kynect

KY Jelly has rebranded to Kynect in the UK as it looks to create a “new and distinct brand positioning”.

New packaging with the message ‘KY Jelly soon to be Kynect’ will begin hitting shelves this week.

KY Jelly, which was founded in 1904 and is owned by manufacturer Thornton & Ross, is often used as the generic term for lubricants and has a has 13.9% market share UK lubricant market by value.

The brand says it will use its new identity, which was developed with agency Brandon, to communicate intimacy and connection.

Thornton & Ross UK executive vice-president Roger Scarlett-Smith says: “KY Jelly has built up a highly loyal customer base going back several generations… By rebranding to Kynect, we will create a new and distinct brand positioning.

“Our marketing investment will focus on ‘Kynection’, the positive feel good effect from both the physical and emotional sides of relationships, reinforcing our position with loyal customers as well as attracting and engaging a new audience.”

The KY Jelly brand will continue to be used in other markets.

Gambling ads and online bets set for review

The UK government has called for a “major and wide-ranging” review of gambling laws as more betting becomes digital, with a particular focus on advertising and online betting stakes.

It will also look to provide extra protection for young people and assess the level of power given to regulators, says the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden called the 2005 Gambling Act “an analogue law in a digital age” and said it will take evidence to inform the review until 31 March next year.

Over the past two years, the UK has banned the use of credit cards in gambling, tightened age verification checks and capped stakes for in-store fixed odds betting.

At the same time, the government has also raised the minimum age for playing the National Lottery from 16 to 18, which will come into effect no later than October 2021.

Ikea ditches catalogue after 70 years

Ikea is scrapping its catalogue after 70 years and increasing its investment in digital alternatives as consumer habits change.

At its peak in 2016, the Swedish retailer was printing around 200 million copies a year for more than 50 markets, and it was once the most printed book in the world ahead of the Bible and Koran.

Ikea calls the catalogue “an important success factor” for the brand over the years, but admitted times are changing.

Inter Ikea Systems managing director Konrad Grüss says: “Turning the page with our beloved catalogue is emotional but rational. Media consumption and customer behaviours have changed, and Ikea is already increasing digital investments while volumes and interest in the catalogue have decreased.”

The move comes as the business continues to invest in becoming more digital and accessible. Online retail sales increased by 45% worldwide last year and its website generated more than four billion visits.

Study finds connection between inspiration and brand growth

Brands that inspire their customers are more likely to drive significant growth, according to a new study.

However, while three quarters of consumers (72%) say they want brands to be inspirational, just 53% of customers experience brand inspiration, the report by Wunderman Thompson finds.

The Inspiring Growth study reveals two ways in which inspiration can drive brand growth, by growing market share faster and charging a premium for products and services. Inspiration predicts 63% of a brand’s ability to drive demand, 52% of a brand’s ability to command higher prices and 48% of a brand’s ability to convert customers at the point of purchase, it claims.

The study was compiled using academic research, a proprietary BrandZ data set studying more than 33,000 brands in 183 categories across 45 markets over the past six years, and a survey of 4,000 respondents. It used this analysis to identify the qualities a brand should possess, the stories it should tell and the experiences it can design in order to inspire people.

As part of the research, Wunderman Thompson has also developed a tool to rank the top 100 inspiring brands in the world today, with Amazon being crowned the winner this year followed by Samsung and Apple.

Consumer spending declined 1.9% in November

Consumer spending dropped by 1.9% in November as lockdown came into force, but spending on essentials grew by 4.9% year on year, according to data from Barclaycard.

Supermarkets saw a 17.9% rise in spend, up from 13.9% in October, helping to offset a 23.8% decline in fuel sales. Online grocery shopping also saw a steep rise of 97.4% as consumers started stocking up on Christmas supplies.

Overall spend on non-essential items declined by 4.6% though, with department stores seeing an 18% drop and clothing retailers a 13% fall, the largest declines in both categories since June.

Consumers spent more on non-essential items online during lockdown, with general retailers seeing a 73.8% rise and those selling clothes up 35.6%.

With much of the hospitality sector closed, restaurants (56.7%), and pubs and bars (56.3%) experienced steep year-on-year declines. By contrast, with many people staying home, electronics sales rose by 28.9% year on year, helped by the launch of new games consoles, while digital subscriptions had a 43.1% boost in November.

Going into 2021, a third of Brits say they are feeling more positive about their finances and job security as a result of news about vaccines. However, confidence in the UK economy remains low at 23%, down from 31% in November last year.

Monday, 7 December


Coca-Cola brings in first chief data officer

Coca-Cola has hired a chief data officer, a new role for the company, as it looks to improve its capabilities in data management, consumer analytics, digital commerce and social media.

Priya Raman will take on the role, which will sit in Coca-Cola’s ‘platform services’ division, created as part of its recent restructure, according to a memo seen by Just-Drinks. Previously, data functions were managed at a regional level.

Raman is making a return to Coca-Cola having worked at the company between 2006 and 2008 when she headed up analytics for Coca-Cola India. She has recently worked at Microsoft leading its data intelligence strategy.

Speaking at Morgan Stanley’s global consumer and retail conference, CFO John Murphy said the creation of a chief data officer roll will be a “tremendous catalyst for the opportunity we have ahead in that space”.

Raman will report into Coca-Cola’s chief information and integrated services officer Barry Simpson and be responsible for its data services hub.

READ MORE: The Coca-Cola Co names Priya Raman as chief data officer

Frasers Group working on a deal that could save Debenhams brand

Frasers Groups, which owns Sports Direct, is working on a deal that could rescue Debenhams from administration.

The department store chain is currently set to shut all its stores by the end of March, after administrators failed to find a buyer for the business. Frasers Group, which is owned by Mike Ashley, has rescued other struggling retail businesses and previously owned part of Debenhams.

Frasers, however, says there is “no certainty” it can save the chain, with concerns remaining over the collapse of Arcadia – one of its biggest suppliers.

Frasers says: “The company confirms that it is in negotiations with the administrators of Debenhams’ UK business regarding a potential rescue transaction for Debenhams’ UK operations.

“While Frasers Group hopes that a rescue package can be put in place and jobs saved, time is short and the position is further complicated by the recent administration of the Arcadia Group. There is no certainty that any transaction will take place, particularly if discussions cannot be concluded swiftly.”

Lidl and Pets at Home join retailers repaying business rates relief

Lidl and Pets at Home have joined the growing list of retailers repaying business rates relief after Tesco’s decision to do so triggered a domino effect among businesses able to stay open during the pandemic.

Eight high street names including grocers Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and Aldi, as well as discounter B&M have said they will repay the relief after mounting criticism. The decision should result in the Treasury having close to £2bn in business rates voluntarily repaid.

However, some retailers that were able to remain open during the pandemic have said they will not repay the relief. These include the John Lewis Partnership, which owns Waitrose, and Mark & Spencer. Both have benefitted from strong food sales but have seen hits to their clothing and homewares businesses.

Lidl CEO Christian Härtnagel said: “We are now in a position to confirm that we will be refunding this money as we believe it is the right thing to do.”

Primark sales take a £430m hit due to Covid

Primark has raised its estimate of the Covid-19 pandemic on its business, saying the forced closure of stores in its major markets this autumn means it lost £430m in sales.

That is up from a previous forecast of £375m. The retailer nevertheless made a profit of £362m in its 2019/20 financial year, which ended 12 September, and still expects 2020/21 sales and profit to be higher.

Primark stores have reopened in a number of markets, including the UK, Belgium and France, in the past week. Associated British Foods, which owns the brand, says sales have been “very strong”. It still has stores closed in countries including Austria and Northern Ireland.

READ MORE: Primark Pegs Sales Lost to Fall Lockdowns at £430M

Retail footfall soars as Covid restrictions ease

Retail footfall increased by 193% on Saturday compared to the previous week as shops reopened following November’s lockdown restrictions.

Data from ShopperTrak’s shows high street footfall was up 115%, while shopping centres experienced an 87% rise. Retail parks, which were less impacted by restrictions, saw footfall increase by 36%.

Despite the rises, footfall was still down 29% year on year. Nevertheless, there were concerns about crowds in busy shopping areas such as Regent’s Street and Covent Garden in London.

ShopperTrak EMEA retail consultant Andy Sumpter says: “Saturday saw a festive flurry of footfall on the high street.  While this will bring some welcome cheer to retail businesses – many still keenly feeling the impact of lockdown – retailers will be hoping this pent-up demand will continue through Super Saturday (19 December) and beyond; that’s the real test.”



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