Ikea, P&G, Johnston Press: 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.

Ikea opens first high street store

Ikea has opened its first high street stores in a bid to boost profits. Dubbed the Ikea Planning Studio marks a change from its iconic large warehouses located on the outskirts of cities. 

The first of the new stores opened in central London on Tottenham Court Road yesterday (11 October) and provides shoppers with a smaller space but one-to-one advice sessions.

The move is an interesting one given recent high street store closures but the shops are designed as showrooms which will then encourage shoppers to buy online.

Javier Quiñones, Ikea’s UK and Ireland country retail manager explains: “This is part of the transformation of Ikea… This is only the tip of the iceberg. We are looking for other city centre stores… we expect to open more like this but also other formats [with] home furnishing accessories and a food offer.”

Ikea sales grew by 2% last year, well below the 7% average of the previous five years.

READ MORE: Mini Ikea spin-off store opens in central London

Johnston Press up for sale


Publisher Johnston Press has put itself up for sale in an attempt to attract a rescuer before it is forced into insolvency.

Johnston Press, which owns national newspaper the i and dozens of regional titles including The Scotsman is due to repay £220m next summer.

After exploring restructuring options since it began its strategic review in 2017 it will now run a formal sale process. 

A decline in traditional and digital advertising revenues has seen the value of the company’s newspaper titles fall. Johnston Press said it was not currently in talks with any potential buyers.

READ MORE: Newspapers up for sale as Johnston presses exit £

P&G creates first inclusive bottle for people affected by sight loss

P&G has stepped up its commitment to inclusivity by launching shampoo bottles for those affected by sight loss.

From January 2019, Herbal Essences’ Bio Renew shampoo bottles will feature four line indentations near the bottom of the container, while conditioners will feature two rows of small dots to help consumers tell the difference between the two bottles when using them in the shower.

P&G claims the new designs make its Herbal Essences brand the first mass hair care label to cater to those who are visually impaired in North America – the only country the design will be available. 

Shane Mays, Herbal Essences packaging engineer said: “In my 15 years working at P&G, I have never worked on a project with as much personal passion as this one.

“I am so incredibly proud of what we are doing and the impact we will have. This pride and passion was contagious across the entire manufacturing team who worked together to make this possible on the fast manufacturing lines.”

Patisserie Valerie is teetering close to collapse after admitting it needed “an immediate injection of capital” to survive.

The warning came a day after the company said it had found a multimillion-pound black hole in its finances amid “significant, potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities”. It has been hit with a petition by HM Revenue & Customs over an unpaid £1.14m tax bill and had suspended Chris Marsh, its chief financial officer.

Patisserie Holdings has 206 outlets, and nearly 3,000 staff, with 60 branded counters at Sainsbury’s stores. The company has not confirmed if it will be able to pay staff wages this week.

Patisserie Valerie says it is “assessing all options available to the business to keep it trading and will update the market in due course”.

The cake and pastry company will be hoping for an emergency loan or a white knight bidder who may prefer the business to go into administration to get rid of its debts.

READ MORE: Patisserie Valerie faces closure without immediate cash injection £

300 jobs at risk as fashion chain Coast collapses

Fashion chain Coast has collapsed into administration putting 300 jobs at risk. Rival retailer Karen Millen has bought the brand’s website and UK department store concessions, but all Coast’s 24 stores and European concessions will close.

Staff were informed of the collapse yesterday (11 October).

Karen Millen chief executive Beth Butterwick says: “We are excited to be welcoming over 600 Coast employees to the Karen Millen family.

“With its beautiful fabrics, stunning colours and signature designs, Coast is a much-loved fashion brand that has dressed women for all occasions since 1996. Our expertise and infrastructure puts us in a unique position to create a lean and profitable business, ensuring it remains a thriving destination in department stores and online.”

READ MORE: Karen Millen buys Coast after collapse but 300 jobs still at risk

Thursday 11 October

amazon prime

Amazon reveals first campaign for its Prime Video service

Amazon has unveiled its first campaign for its Prime Video service, featuring a series of films that aim to tap into the nature of modern TV viewing habits.

The campaign, produced by Droga5, highlights how consumers often binge watch box sets becoming totally immersed in the characters and storyline. It consists of four 60-second films that help bring to life the stories of individuals who experience “unexpected benefits” of engaging in Prime content.

According to the online retail giant, the tagline ‘Great shows stay with you’ intends to reflect the variety of programmes, such as Vikings, Lucifer, Outlander and Jack Ryan, that are available on Amazon Prime Video.

The Guardian unveils new-look international weekly magazine

News organisation The Guardian has relaunched its magazine, revealing a new look for Guardian Weekly and a redesign that aims to showcase the company’s “in-depth journalism”.

The revamped Guardian Weekly encompasses both opinion pieces, features and photography from both The Guardian and its weekend paper, The Observer, across three editions — Australia, the US and a global edition for the UK and the rest of the world.

It will also pull stories from its digital platforms.

The new magazine format also has more pages, in order to “bring to life” more of what The Guardian has to offer in a quality, high-impact magazine format.

It has a £4.50 cover price, and will be sold on news stands separately from the daily Guardian newspaper.

Asos customers can now shop using Google Assistant


Asos is the first fashion retailer in the UK to launch on Google Assistant, meaning shoppers can now search for products across popular categories using their voice.

To do so, customers in the UK and US can initiate conversation with the Asos shopping guide named Enki by saying, “hey Google, talk to Asos” to their smart speaker or Google Assistant app.

Using their voice or text, Enki will help them quickly discover and shop the latest products across six of Asos’ womenswear and menswear categories, which are all viewable via their smartphone devices.

“With 85,000 products on site at any one time, and on average 5,000 new items added each week, it’s more important than ever to make it easy for our customers to stay on top of what’s new on ASOS,” Jason Gregory, senior product manager at Asos, says.

“With the launch of Enki on Facebook Messenger and now Google Assistant, we’re exploring ways that conversational commerce can help us make the Asos shopping experience as easy and intuitive as possible.”

The move marks Asos’ first step into voice apps as the relationship between technology with voice shopping is expected to be worth $40bn (£30bn) by 2022.

Asos was also named Marketing Week’s ‘Brand of The Year’ at the Masters Awards earlier this week.

GDPR may have boosted Google’s ad business by hampering competition

GDPR was widely expected to have a negative impact for the tech giants such as Google because it would change how they handle users’ personal information while offering more transparency about how digital advertising works.

However, according to new research, Google and a number of other larger advertising tech companies might be benefitting from the new laws.

Research from privacy software company, Cliqz, reveals the laws may have unintentionally boosted Google’s advertising business by squashing competition.

Figures from Cliqz reveal the number of overall ‘trackers’ decreased for most brands aside from Google, which hash grown its reach by 1% since GDPR kicked in on 25 May. Facebook’s trackers declined by just 7% compared to the average of between 18% and 31% for small trackers (which include cookies and pixels).

READ MORE: Google increases tracking of web users under GDPR

BMW to inject billions into Chinese venture

BMW is set to raise its stake in its Chinese joint venture with Brilliance Automotive by paying $4.2bn to take control of the business.

This marks the first time an international carmaker has revealed this type of deal since the Chinese government relaxed its ownership restrictions earlier this year.

As part of the new deal with Brilliance Automotive, BMW will increase its stake in the joint venture from 50% to 75%.

The deal isn’t likely to close until 2022 and is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

READ MORE: BMW is paying $4bn to take control of its China business

Wednesday, 11 October


ASA calls time on ‘misleading’ Vodafone ad

Vodafone’s TV ad featuring Martin Freeman has been banned for ‘misleadingly’ implying it was possible for consumers to leave a phone contract beyond a 30-day period.

The ad, seen in July 2018, began with the suggestion of a break-up between Freeman’s character and his partner, who was sat in the passenger seat of the car, before revealing he was actually attempting to leave his mobile phone contract.

The ASA said it noted the difficulty shown by Martin Freeman through use of the words “I haven’t got the strength to keep arguing with you”, before stating “I’m leaving”.

“We considered that difficulty, in context of the ad, implied that issues he had been experiencing with his current service had resulted in him wanting to leave a contract that had been in place for some time, an impression which was furthered by the words “You can’t leave, you’re still within your contract” and “breaking up’s never easy”,” the regulator said.

“Alongside the voice-over which stated ‘Vodafone has a 30-day service guarantee, so if you don’t love us you can leave us’, we considered that consumers would infer that those difficulties would not be experienced when leaving a contract with Vodafone.”

Nasty Gal ads banned for using ‘unhealthily thin’ model

Three TV ads from online retailer Nasty Gal have been banned for featuring a model that looked too thin.

The UK’s ad regulator ruled the ads were “socially irresponsible” after receiving 22 complaints that the model, posing in various outfits including swimwear, looked unhealthily thin.

Nasty Gal said the model was a UK size eight with a body mass index within the ‘healthy’ weight range, according to NHS guidelines.

While the ASA agreed that the female model in the ads generally appeared to be in proportion, it argued there were specific scenes which drew attention to her slimness.

“For instance, the ads showed the model lying on a sun lounger stretching her arms, which emphasised their slimness and length,” the ASA’s ruling said.

“Furthermore, towards the end of the ads were scenes showing the model spraying mist on herself, which placed focus on her chest where her rib cage was visible and appeared prominent.

“We considered that the model appeared unhealthily underweight in those scenes and concluded that the ads were therefore irresponsible.”

Mondelēz unveils plans to empower women


Mondelēz International has unveiled new action plans to accelerate women’s empowerment in four of the countries it sources cocoa from.

Part of Cocoa Life, the company’s sustainability programme, the plan will reach 100,000 women in 1,000 communities across Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Indonesia and the Dominican Republic.

The focus is on promoting women’s empowerment across five areas: farming, community, youth, livelihoods and environment.

The plans are supported by Oxfam and have been developed with input from Cocoa Life’s partners including UNDP and Save the Children.

“As a company, we’re committed to offering snacks that are made the right way and that includes transforming our cocoa supply chain to grow opportunities for farmers and communities,” says Cathy Pieters, Cocoa Life director.

“Based on our experience, in communities where women’s voices are heard and treated equally, we see rising incomes, better management of family finances and increased school attendance. This translates to greater economic success and more sustainable cocoa farming. Women’s empowerment grows opportunities for all.”

Facebook loses hold in world’s most powerful brands index


Facebook has fallen 37 places in FutureBrand’s 2018 ranking for the world’s most powerful brands as trust in tech companies takes a serious hit.

The social media giant’s score declined in areas including trust, admiration, passion, innovation and thought leadership.

Meanwhile, IBM dropped 17 places and Google’s parent company Alphabet and Microsoft both fell 10 places.

Richard Curtis, CEO of FutureBrand APAC, says while there’s a growing sense technology may bring new and exciting experiences, the point of these can sometimes get lost and consequently lack meaning.

“You only have to look to the healthcare sector to find good examples of brands applying technology with meaning – and in ways that are now taking those brands from the labs into people’s lives,” Curtis says.

“To succeed in the future, you need to do more than come up with the latest technology – you have to use it to create better products, services and experiences that improve the lives of customers. It sounds simple, but it can make a significant difference.”

READ MORE: Facebook falls 37 places in the 2018 FutureBrand Index as tech trust scores suffer

Marketers struggling with integrated campaigns

Marketers across the globe continue to struggle with measuring and proving return-on-investment, with fewer than one in five confident in their ability to integrate data for insights.

According to research from Kantar, 40% of marketers are still using ROI measurement approaches that are primarily focused on short term-sales – despite 85% agreeing that the most important approach to ROI is a blend of both short and long-term measures.

Meanwhile, 78% strongly or somewhat agree that it is difficult to assess how well brands perform across channels, while 45% are still not confident that their organisation has the optimal media mix.

“Marketers should aim for the best of all worlds,” says Jane Ostler, global head of media, Insights Division, at Kantar. “They need to create a framework to monitor impact on business and brand metrics while harmonising measurement tools and insights to improve performance across all channels.”

Tuesday, 9 October

Google to shut down Google+ social network after data breach revealed

Google is shutting down its Google+ social network after a bug was discovered in its API that allowed third-party developers to access the data of users, as well as their friends who may not have granted permission.

The issue is very similar to the problems found at Facebook during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. That scenario saw Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called to appear in front of the US Congress over data security concerns.

Google has known about the issue since March but failed to tell users, developers or data officials. According to a memo seen by the Wall Street Journal, the company chose not to disclose the leak to avoid a PR headache and possible regulatory enforcement.

The memo said disclosure would likely result in Google “coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal”. The decision to shut down Google+ came after details of the memo were leaked.

In a blog post about the shutdown, Google said the leak affected up to 500,000 accounts and that 438 third-party developers may have had access to users’ data due to the bug. Google has no way of knowing whether the developers actually accessed the data because it deletes API logs after two weeks.

“We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any profile data was misused,” says Ben Smith, Google’s vice-president of engineering. “Whenever user data may have been affected, we go beyond our legal requirements and apply several criteria focused on our users in determining whether to provide notice.”

According to Google, none of this criteria was met in this instance.

READ MORE: Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public (£)

Consumer spending slows to weakest level in almost a year

Consumer spending slowed sharply in September, falling to the weakest level in almost a year (excluding Easter distortions) as shoppers cut back after a summer that saw a World Cup and heatwave-inspire spending spree.

Total sales were up 0.7% year on year in September, down from the 2.3% growth seen the prior month and marking the slowest growth since October 2017, according to data from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG. Like-for-like sales were down 0.2% year on year, compared to a 1.9% increase the year before.

Sales of non-food items were hardest hit, declining 2.7% on a total basis and 4% like-for-like. Food was up 2.3% like-for-like and 3.4% in total.

Helen Dickinson, the BRC’s CEO, says: “These figures lay bare the difficult operating environment for the retail industry. After a challenging August, constrained consumer spending in September has resulted in the weakest sales growth for five months.”

Facebook launches Portal, it’s answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home

Facebook Portal

Facebook is launching a voice-activated video call machine, called Portal, that it hopes will compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home to become a staple of people’s homes.

The devices use Facebook Messenger to make calls and Amazon Alexa to make voice queries. However, concerns have already been raised about the privacy implications, particularly in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Portal is a device that contains Facebook’s own hardware, microphone and a camera that it is positioning as a “better” way to make video calls. However, to allay customers’ concerns, it is stressing privacy features such as the ability to disable the microphone and the fact it won’t store video and audio on its servers.

“Facebook doesn’t listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,” says the company.”Your Portal conversations stay between you and the people you’re calling. In addition, video calls on Portal are encrypted, so your calls are always secure.”

Aviva CEO steps down

Aviva’s CEO Mark Wilson is stepping down as head of the insurance company after six years in charge in which he has overseen a sweeping restructure of the firm and put marketing at the heart of the company.

Wilson is a former marketer who previously worked at National Mutual and AXA in global roles before taking over at Aviva. During his time at Aviva he oversaw the acquisition of Friends Life in 2016, the biggest deal in the sector for almost a decade.

Wilson will remain at Aviva until April to help with the transition but his day-to-day role will be temporarily taken on by chairman Adrian Montague until a permanent successor is appointed. The company will look both internally and externally for a new CEO and aims to complete the process within four months.

The departure has surprised many, but Aviva says it believes it is “time for new leadership”.

“Mark was brought in to deliver the turnaround of Aviva. The board and Mark believe that given the turnaround has been successfully completed, it is time for new leadership to take the group to the next phase of its development,” the company adds.

Brand Britain grows 20% but Brexit hits standing

The value of brand Britain has grown 20% over the past year to $3.8trn, moving it past Japan to become the fourth most valuable nation brand, according to Brand Finance’s annual report.

While “perceived vulnerability” is undermining perceptions, Britian is showing resilience in the face of Brexit with a health economy and positive growth forecasts, says the report. The value figure takes into accounts GDP data, as well as information on goods and services, tourism, talent and investment.

David Haigh, Brand Finance CEO, says: “Britain’s performance in this year’s study of the world’s nation brands show that perceptions of Brexit go against the economic reality.

“What the exact scenario and consequences of exiting the EU will be still remains to be seen, but both current market conditions and economic forecasts for the coming years reaffirm Britain’s ability to make the most of its post-Brexit future.”

Monday, 8 October

RBS mulls name change to repair reputation

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) name is “under review” as it looks to shake off the damage caused to the brand after being bailed out by the government during the financial crisis 10 years ago. The bank has also been plagued by a series of other issues over the past decade, including a major technical meltdown, which impacted customers’ ability to access their money.

The bank’s chairman Sir Howard Davies told The Times that as it has resolved most of these historical problems and has largely finished a painful restructuring process, it is now planning to invest in its other brands: Natwest, Coutts and Ulster Bank.

He admits that the reputational damage to RBS from the bailout and its aftermath has been “very serious” and that its corporate identity is under review.

RBS is currently on a mission to turnaround its customer experience, taking inspiration from brands including Amazon, Uber and SkyScanner as it looks to “keep up” with consumer expectations of “one-click” digital experiences.

But in order to do that, the bank told Marketing Week it first had to foster the “biggest turnaround in corporate history”.

READ MORE: RBS could change name to repair battered image (£)

Topshop under fire for ditching feminist pop-up


Topshop has removed a feminist pop-up it was hosting in partnership with Penguin to promote the launch of the book Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies) and sell products to support the UN charity Girl Up.

The pop-up was reportedly dismantled after just 20 minutes, with the retailer claiming its decision was made from “a production and creative standpoint”. However, the Guardian understands the stall was removed without warning shortly after the fashion retailer’s chairman, Sir Philip Green, viewed it.

The book is a collection of ideas on feminism compiled by author Scarlett Curtis, daughter of director Richard Curtis. She said: “It was a heartbreaking and shocking act from a powerful man and a true example of why the words in our book are still so needed. The patriarchy is alive and kicking and our entire team was really shaken by what happened. The fact they clothe entire nation of teenage girls but won’t support something that fights for their equality is awful and heartbreaking.”

Topshop later apologised and made a £25,000 donation to charity.

READ MORE: Topshop’s Philip Green under fire over axing of feminist book display

Amazon accused of supporting Islamic extremists

Amazon is reportedly funding a British charity known to support child marriage, female genital mutilation and stoning people to death for adultery.

As part of its charitable programme, the ecommerce giant will make donations to the Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF) whenever its supporters buy products.

The government’s counter-extremism commissioner, Sara Khan, has described the group as “the main Salafist organisation in the UK”.

READ MORE: Amazon scheme supports Islamic extremists (£)

French Connection founder to sell his stake in the business

French Connection has become the latest victim of the high street as its owner puts his stake in the brand up for sale.

Chairman, chief executive and founder Stephen Marks is reportedly looking to find a buyer for his controlling 42% stake in the business, after running the brand for 49 years.

He is currently looking into purchase options from private equity firms and other fashion retailers, being advised by investment bank Numis Securities, and the process is currently thought to be in the preliminary stage.

The retailer saw its losses nearly treble to £15.1m for the six months to 31 July, nearly £10m of which was provisions for bad debts from the collapse of House of Fraser.

READ MORE: French Connection founder ‘looking to sell stake’ after 49 years

Burberry launches in-school arts and culture programme

The Burberry Foundation, working alongside the Ideas Foundation, Kings College London and four other creative institutes, is launching an initiative to increase creativity in the classroom to see how this impacts young people on a wider level.

Over the next four years, Burberry Inspire will send painters, sculptors, dancers and filmmakers into eight schools in Yorkshire to help young people develop their own creative events for the local community.

Kings College will be looking to asses whether a focus on creativity and culture improves students’ grades in other subjects, boosts self esteem and encourages students to be more aspirational.

Leanne Wood, a trustee of the Burberry Foundation and chief people, strategy and corporate affairs officer at Burberry, says: “We believe that creativity should be nurtured, and we are passionate about championing the benefits of making arts and culture available to all. We want to inspire young people across the country to explore the wide variety of ways they can be involved in the creative industries, and help to create a wealth of talent for one of Britain’s most important sectors.”

Northern Ballet, The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Young Film and Leeds Playhouse are also involved in Burberry Inspire.

Talk Talk launches campaign for ‘fairer’ broadband

Talk Talk

Talk Talk is launching a campaign advertising ‘Fairer broadband for everyone’ as it again uses real people in its advertising to illustrate all the different way people in the UK use the internet.

Created by The&Partnership, the campaign is an evolution of the brand’s 2016 ‘This stuff matters’ activity, which focused on real-life families and their TV viewing habits.

The latest campaign aims to show all the ways British households use broadband, including gamers, young families, flat-sharers and box set bingers.

It will launch on key out of home sites across the UK before being rolling out on direct response TV, video-on-demand, digital and social – targeting audiences at an individual level with platform-relevant, individually tailored messages. The campaign will roll into 2019, supported by more above-the-line work in the new year.

David Parslow, group marketing director at TalkTalk, says: “We know consumers feel cheated when their bill goes up mid-contract, or when their provider doesn’t deliver the connectivity they were promised and continue to pay for. We’re challenging the rest of the industry to follow our lead and put an end to these unfair practices. Fairness lies at the heart of everything we do as a business, and it’s our mission to provide fairer broadband for everyone with a campaign that reflects and celebrates the many varied tribes of Britain.”