Tesco to ditch plastic packaging on multipack tins
Tesco is removing the plastic wrapping from multipack tins as part of its latest effort to cut down on waste.
The supermarket is working with suppliers including Heinz and Green Giant to replace the plastic-wrapped multipacks in a move it claims is the first of its kind by a major UK retailer. Tesco aims to remove 350 tonnes of plastic a year from the environment.
More than 40% of Tesco customer buy multipacks in products from baked beans to tuna, tinned tomatoes to soup. The changes will start from 4 March.
“We are removing all unnecessary and non-recyclable plastic from Tesco,” says chief executive, Dave Lewis.
The eight biggest UK supermarkets produced 58.3 billion pieces of plastic packaging last year, according to a report by Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency. The new initiative from Tesco currently only applies to tins and not other products that might be wrapped in plastic such as drinks or fruit and vegetables.
“While we know we have more to do, this initiative is good news for the environment,” says Kraft Heinz’s Northern Europe president Georgiana de Noronha.
Just Eat and Takeaway.com face competition investigation into merger
Just Eat and Takeaway.com have delayed plans to list the combine company on the London Stock Exchange after the UK competition authority launched an investigation into the £6bn merger.
Trading in the stock had expected to begin on Monday, but the two now say they will list on the stock exchange as ‘Just East Takeaway.com’ on 31 January and begin trading in its shares on 3 February.
The move by the Competition and Markets Authority has thrown the future of the deal into doubt. The regulator recently halted Amazon’s plans to take a minority stake in Deliveroo after a months-long investigation.
The regulator says it is assessing whether the deal would prevent a new player entering the market. Interested parties have until 6 February to comment.
Google criticised over search redesign that makes ads look like organic links
Google has been widely criticised for a change to how search results are displayed that make ads look like organic links.
The redesign, which started being rolled out last week, makes ads and search results appear very similar. Their formatting is the same except ads have a black-and-white ‘Ad’ icon while search results have a new favicon.
Early data collected by Digiday suggests the changes are already causing people to click on more ads. Meanwhile, commentators including The Guardian’s tech editor Alex Hern have highlighted there now virtually no distinction between ads and search results.
“There is still, technically, *labelling*, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that it is supposed to be difficult to spot at a glance where the adverts end,” he tweeted.
The redesign rolled out on mobile last year, when Google said the changes would put a website’s branding “front and centre” by introducing favicons. However, it also makes it harder to spot ads, according to critics.
Uber shakes up European marketing leadership team
Uber’s top UK marketer Rachael Pettit has left the company as part of its plans to cut 400 marketing jobs.
Pettit is not the only top European marketer to go, with Uber’s head of EMEA marketing Patrick Stal also leaving. He has been replaced by Google’s former northern Europe marketing boss David Mogensen.
Pettit joined Uber in 2015, intitially as head of marketing and business development in the UK before being promoted in December 2018 to director of marketing for the UK, Northern and Eastern Europe.
She had previously held marketing tops at companies including YPlan, GetTaxi and healthcare company Vielife (which has since rebranded to Cigna).
Old Spice brings back the Old Spice guy for campaign’s 10th anniversary
Old Spice is bringing back the Old Spice guy for a 10th anniversary special of the campaign that features the character sharing grooming tips with his son.
The latest in the ‘Smell Like Your Own Man, Man’ series features Old Spice guy Isaiah Mustafa balancing on a log, riding a dolphin and playing the sax. However, this time he appears alongside his slightly embarrassed son, played by Keith Powers.
The campaign, created by Wieden+Kennedy, promotes Old Spice’s new Ultra Smooth grooming range.
“When it comes to grooming, we know that Old Spice users today are looking for their own signature scents and products and have differing tastes and needs,” says Matt Krehbiel, Old Spice associate brand director at Procter & Gamble.
“The return of Isaiah Mustafa along with his new ‘low key’ TV son Keith Powers shows that Old Spice continues to evolve and offer our best-performing anti-perspirant/deodorants and body washes in a variety of scent profiles and benefit offerings for today’s differing preferences.”
Thursday, 23 January
Asos ‘rebuilds customer momentum’ as sales growth hits double figures
Asos has credited a consistent operational execution for helping rebuild customer momentum as sales growth hit double figures.
In the four months to the end of December, Asos’s group revenues increased 20% year on year to £1.1bn. In the UK, retail sales were up 18% to £408.9m, with the EU up 22%, US 20% and rest of the world 22%.
Total orders grew by 20% to 27.7 million, visits by 23% and Asos experienced a 1.4 million increase in active customers during the period. Asos says the strong performance was boosted by Black Friday, as well as improvements in product choice and stock availability, social media engagement and optimised customer acquisition.
“Asos has delivered an encouraging start to the year. Strong customer acquisition activity supported by robust operational performance has driven good momentum in all our markets,” says CEO Nick Beighton.
“As we said in October, the focus for this year is to further enhance our capabilities and leverage the investments we have made. It is still early in the year and much remains to be done, but we are encouraged by the progress we have made so far. We remain confident in our ability to capture the substantial opportunity ahead of us.”
IAB introduces third-party auditing for industry ‘gold standard’
The Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) is updating its industry ‘gold standard’, bolstering the process by requiring third-party auditing.
Set to be launched in the fourth quarter, the new standard will incorporate IAB Europe’s Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF). The aim is to tackle mounting concerns about privacy in the digital media supply chain.
The current gold standard brings together industry programmes that aim to combat ad fraud, increase brand safety and improve the digital ad experience for users. Currently, 93 media owners, media agencies and ad tech companies are certified, with a further 11 registered to certify.
However, it has been criticised for not adequately ensuring user consent is gained in programmatic advertising. And the Information Commissioner’s Office has warned that many companies in the ad tech industry are likely in breach of GDPR.
The IAB’s chief digital officer Tim Elkington says: “The gold standard only remains relevant if it evolves to keep pace with challenges our industry faces. As we seek to improve transparency and build trust in digital advertising, addressing privacy concerns is a key part of that.
“We will now be embarking on a process of consultation with IAB UK members to agree how to effectively incorporate the TCF into the Gold standard – a key step as we seek to build a responsible and sustainable future for the digital ad industry.”
Gap CMO exits after just 11 months in the role
Gap’s CMO Alegra O’Hare has left less than a year after she joined as the retailer struggles amid weak sales and an over-reliance on discounting.
Gap has confirmed her departure, saying it will be “redefining the role of the CMO” as it looks for a replacement. Gap brand CEO Neil Fiske is also leaving, following the departure of Gap Inc boss Art Peck last autumn.
“Alegra is no longer with Gap, we thank her for her time with the brand and wish her the best. As we look ahead, we will be redefining the role of the Chief Marketing Officer,” says a spokesperson
Before joining Gap, O’Hare worked at Adidas as senior vice-president of global brand communications for its Originals and Styles brands. She has previously worked at companies including Sara Lee, Bang & Olufsen and VF Corporation (which owns brands such as Vans).
Gap has struggled for growth in recent years. While it claims trading over Christmas was better than expected, like-for-like sales are expected to decline by mid-single digits.
New ICO code aims to protect children online
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is introducing a privacy code that aims to better protect children’s privacy online.
The Age Appropriate Design Code is a new code of conduct for digital services. It comes in the wake of mounting concerns about the content children are viewing online, most notably the suicide of 14-year-old Molly Russell after she viewed inappropriate content on Instagram.
The code includes 15 standards that digital services should adhere to including switching off location sharing by default for children’s accounts, ensuring privacy settings are set at an “appropriate” level for children, banning ‘nudge’ techniques that convince children to give up privacy rights and offering easy to use online privacy tools.
While GDPR already requires companies to give special treatment to children, it is hoped the standards will “bring about greater consistency and a base level of protection in the design and implementation of games and apps and websites and social media”.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham says: “I believe that it will be transformational. In a generation from now when my grandchildren have children they will be astonished to think that we ever didn’t protect kids online.”
The Advertising Association has welcomed the new code, in particular its recognition of the role of the advertising regulator – CAP – in ensuring care is taken when children are feature in or addressed in marketing communications. However, it warns against any changes that might risk freedom of expression, access to news media or have a negative impact on the ad industry.
A spokesperson says: “The Advertising Association supports balanced and risk-based initiatives that help to make the internet a safer place for children. At the same it is important that freedom of expression and access to news media is not disproportionately restricted.
“Advertising plays a crucial role in brand competition, drives product innovation and fuels economic growth. It also provides revenues to fund a diverse and pluralistic media enjoyed by all.”
Amazon becomes first brand to pass $200bn valuation
Amazon has become the first brand to be worth more than $200bn according to analysis by brand valuation company Brand Finance.
Amazon’s brand value increased by 18% last year to $220.8bn, $60bn more than second placed Google and $80bn more than Apple, which is in third place. Tech companies made up the entire top five, with Microsoft’s brand value coming in at $117.bn and Samsung’s at $94.5bn.
Brand Finance CEO David Haigh says: “The disrupter of the entire retail ecosystem, the brand that boasts the highest brand value ever, Amazon continues to impress across imperishable consumer truths: value, convenience, and choice. Today, Amazon’s situation seems more than comfortable, but what will the roaring twenties hold in store?”
Brand Finance releases a global list of the 500 biggest brands. The combined value of all 500 was up by less than 2% this year, with 244 increasing their value and another 212 experiencing a decrease – 95 of those by 10% or more.
Being a tech brand is not a sure way to success, with both eBay and Baidu experiencing falls in their brand value.
Haigh adds: “Twenty years on from the dot-com bubble, as we witness global slowdown and the failure of hyped IPOs from WeWork to Uber, we may be only months away from the startup bubble bursting right in our faces. When expectation and reality do not match, the truth will out and the results can be devastating. The cost of capital is increasing, putting breaks on indefinite brand value growth, and a shift from a startup bidding war towards appraising real value is necessary.”
Wednesday, 22 January
Netflix growth slows as Disney dents performance
Netflix has blamed recent price rises and increased competition in the US for its “low membership growth” during the fourth quarter of 2019.
The streaming giant added 550,000 subscribers across North America during the fourth quarter of 2019, down from 1.75 million during the same period in 2018, as the roll out of Apple TV+ and Disney+ dented its performance.
Netflix claims it has seen a “more muted impact” from competitive launches outside the US, such as in Australia and the Netherlands, and is “working hard” to improve its service to combat these factors.
Netflix says: “Many media companies and tech giants are launching streaming services, reinforcing the major trend of the transition from linear to streaming entertainment. This is happening all over the world and is still in its early stages, leaving ample room for many services to grow as linear TV wanes.
“We have a big headstart in streaming and will work to build on that by focusing on the same thing we have focused on for the past 22 years – pleasing members. We believe if we do that well, Netflix will continue to prosper.”
Despite the drop in US subscribers, the streaming service ended the fourth quarter with more than 167 million paying customers globally, up 21% year on year, with the average revenue per user rising by 9% year on year. Netflix says the fact it surpassed 100 million paid memberships outside the US during the quarter shows streaming is a “global phenomenon”.
The company’s fourth quarter revenue also grew by 31% year on year, bringing its full year 2019 revenue to more than $20bn (£15.3bn). During the three months to 31 December, Netflix spent $878.9m on marketing (£674.2m), up from £730.3m (£560.2m) during the same period in 2018. In the year to 31 December, the streaming giant splashed out $2.65bn (£2.03bn) on marketing.
Netflix also pointed to the success of its original content. During its first four weeks, over 21 million households watched season three of The Crown, up over 40% from season two, meaning that in total 73 million households worldwide have watched the series since it began.
Launched December, fantasy drama The Witcher became Netflix’s biggest season one TV series ever, with 76 million households watching the series during its first four weeks of release.
Sainsbury’s slashes management roles as Coupe steps down
Sainsbury’s is to cut hundreds of jobs in line with a “new management structure” as the retailer looks to cut costs and avoid any duplication of roles following the integration of Argos.
The news comes as CEO Mike Coupe reveals he is set to retire on 1 June after 15 years at the supermarket and will be succeeded by retail and operations director, Simon Roberts.
Coupe says he feels “very privileged” to have spent almost six years running Sainsbury’s during a period he described as the “most challenging and competitive” of his 35-year career in retail.
“Adding Argos and Nectar to the business improves our ability to make shopping increasingly convenient for customers and to reward them for their loyalty. We have also been focused on investing in value so that customers feel confident they are getting quality food at great prices when they shop with us,” Coupe states.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me personally. There is never a good time to move on, but as we and the industry continue to evolve, I believe now is the right time for me to hand over to my successor.”
Coupe has refused to confirm how many management roles will be axed, saying that the supermarket needs to adapt to meet the needs of its customers both now and in the future, adding that “while change can be hard, it’s also necessary”.
According to the BBC, Sainsbury’s has cut one in five senior leadership roles since March 2019. It has also been closing stores – shutting 60 to 70 Argos shops and moving them into Sainsbury’s stores, as well as closing 15 supermarkets and 40 convenience stores in a bid to save £500m over five years.
It has been a tough year for Sainsbury’s, which in April 2019 was forced to call off its proposed merger with Asda after the deal was blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on the basis that shoppers would be worse off.
Vodafone pulls support of Facebook’s cryptocurrency
Vodafone has joined PayPal and eBay in withdrawing its support for Facebook’s digital currency Libra.
The telecoms company was one of the original members of the Libra Association, a group of independent companies set up to oversee the running of the Libra cryptocurrency in partnership with Facebook, first announced in June 2019.
Vodafone says: “We have said from the outset that Vodafone’s desire is to make a genuine contribution to extending financial inclusion. We remain fully committed to that goal and feel we can make the most contribution by focusing our efforts on [mobile payments platform] M-Pesa.”
Mastercard and Visa had already pulled out of the Libra project in October, with the latter stating it would continue to evaluate the situation and its “ultimate decision” would be determined by the association’s “ability to fully satisfy all requisite regulatory expectations.”
US lawmakers have also expressed serious concerns about the transparency of the project and the risk Facebook’s cryptocurrency would pose to the global financial system.
Despite the departure of a big name supporter like Vodafone, Facebook remained upbeat about the project, which is still backed by ride hailing companies Uber and Lyft.
The Libra Association’s head of policy and communications Dante Disparte says: “Although the makeup of the Association members may change over time, the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient.”
Global alliance unveils plan to eliminate harmful online content
The Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) has devised a strategy to eliminate harmful online content and ensure “bad actors” have no access to advertiser funding.
GARM, which was launched in June 2019 by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) in partnership with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) in the US, has developed a three-pronged plan pitched as a major step towards improving safety across the media supply chain.
The alliance will adopt common definitions to ensure that the advertising industry is categorising harmful content in the same way. The 11 key definitions – covering areas such as explicit content, drugs, spam and terrorism – are intended to help platforms, agencies and advertisers develop a shared understanding of what is harmful content and how to protect vulnerable audiences.
GARM will create common tools to forge better links between the work being done by advertisers, media agencies and the various platforms. It is hoped these links will improve transparency and accuracy in how media investments are steered towards “safer consumer experiences” across images, videos and editorial comments.
Lastly, the alliance will establish shared measurement standards, meaning the industry can fairly assess its ability to block, de-monetise and remove harmful content. The plans are set to roll into action in June.
The long-term vision behind GARM is to drive growth and connectivity on ad-supported media platforms. Going forward the alliance says it will commit to taking “further bold steps” that complement the approaches being taken by governments and online platforms.
Starbucks commits to become ‘resource positive’ by 2030
Starbucks has outlined a number of sustainability commitments in its bid to become a “resource positive” company – one which gives more than it takes from the planet – by 2030.
The coffee shop giant plans to expand its range of plant-based options and migrate to a “more environmentally friendly menu”, as well as shift from single-use to reusable packaging and develop more eco-friendly stores, operations, manufacturing and delivery.
Starbucks proposes to invest in “innovative and regenerative” agricultural practices, reforestation, forest conservation and water replenishment across its supply chain, as well as invest in better waste management both in its stores and communities in a bid to reduce food waste.
Furthermore, the coffee chain has committed to reduce carbon emissions across Starbucks’ operations and supply chain by 50%, cut the amount of water it uses for direct operations and coffee production by 50%, and reduce waste sent to landfill from its stores and manufacturing by 50% – all by 2030.
Starbucks ultimate aspiration is to become resource positive – storing more carbon than it emits, eliminating waste and providing more clean, freshwater than it uses.
“As we approach the 50th anniversary of Starbucks in 2021, we are looking ahead with a heightened sense of urgency and conviction that we must challenge ourselves, think bigger and do much more in partnership with others to take care of the planet we share,” says Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson.
Tuesday, 21 January
Facebook to create 1,000 London jobs
Facebook is creating 1,000 new jobs in London this year, mainly in the software engineering and data science sectors.
The company is looking to develop the English capital as the biggest engineering centre outside the US.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will announce the new jobs later today, as the company looks to rebuild trust in the UK following the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The news means that Facebook will soon have 4,000 employees spread around the country.
“The UK is a world leader in both innovation and creativity,” says Sandberg.
“That’s why I’m excited that we plan to hire an additional 1,000 people in London this year alone.
“London is home to Facebook’s biggest engineering hub outside the US and we’re committed to investing here for the long-term.”
StockX announces $1bn in gross merchandise value
Resale platform StockX’s gross merchandise value (ie retail sales including VAT) passed $1bn (£760m) for the first time last year.
Launched in 2016, the ecommerce marketplace says it also increased international buyer and seller registrations by 100%, primarily in Europe and Asia.
International markets now make up 30% of its business, with European gross merchandise value growing by 200% last year.
New offices opened in Tokyo and New York, with authentication centres opening in the Netherlands and Atlanta.
Uber and Transport for London in private talks
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has met with Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Mike Brown in an attempt to solve an ongoing dispute about the ride-hailing app’s licence.
The talks were held two months after Uber was described by London’s mayor Sadiq Khan as “not fit and proper” and the company banned by the regulators for the second time in two years.
Regulators at TfL were particularly concerned about a security lapse that allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photographs on Uber driver accounts.
Khosrowshahi denounced the ban as “extraordinary and wrong”.
“We are appealing TfL’s decision,” an Uber spokesperson says.
“Safety is our top priority which is why we have robust systems and processes in place.”
The company’s appeal against the ban is expected to go before the courts later this year.
Friends of the Earth releases new short film
Friends of the Earth has produced a 90-second short to be released across Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, as part of the climate campaign #TakeBackTomorrow.
Produced with creative agency Don’t Panic, ‘We’ve All Been There’ features Jasmine Jobson, one of the stars of the Netflix drama Top Boy, and is aimed primarily at 18- to 24-year-olds.
With over 70% of that particular age demographic admitting to anxiety over climate change, the campaign and accompanying film looks to assure people that real steps can be (and are being) made to implement change.
Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Aaron Kiely says: “What we do in the next few years will determine the future of our world.
“We know the solutions to climate chaos and there’s still time to act… just.”
Dune Group CEO to step down
Dune’s CEO James Cox is to leave the high street shoe specialist after 10 years.
Cox took on the CEO role in 2017, having served four years as COO after being promoted from finance director.
The Dune Group was hit hard by House of Fraser going into administration in 2018, with operating profits falling 21% to £3.5m for the year to 26 January 2019.
Cox will leave the group on 9 March.
Monday, 20 January
Fever-Tree loses its fizz as Christmas sales disappoint
Fever-Tree’s full-year revenues are set to miss expectations after “subdued Christmas trading”.
The tonic maker says revenues in the UK, its largest market, fell by 1% in 2019 to £132.6m.
Chief executive Tim Warrillow says the brand in the UK was not “immune from the consumer belt tightening seen in recent months”. The brand had expected shoppers to spend more over Christmas, but instead saw soft sales in pubs and bars as well as supermarkets.
However, the company’s US growth was “particularly encouraging” and it plans to invest further in the brand during 2020.
Overall, Fever-Tree saw revenues increase by 9.7% year on year globally, with the US, Australia and Canada growing particularly strongly.
Pret launches biggest vegetarian menu
Veggie Pret is launching its largest ever menu, including 15 new vegan recipes.
The launch includes three new categories – Poké Bowls, Smoothie Bowls and Buddha Bowls – all of which aim to give customers more choice throughout the day.
Pret’s global head of food innovation, Hannah Dolan, says: “This launch is an opportunity for us to establish Veggie Pret’s menu, offering customers something different to what they have seen so far. We wanted to put a real focus on creating new vegan dishes, so looked at where we could use vegetables and fruits to deliver flavour, rather than mock meat or fish.”
All the new items will be exclusive to Veggie Pret and launch in shops in London and Manchester on 21 January 2020.
The vegetarian-only Pret stores were first opened in 2016 and have since grown to seven shops, with three further openings planned for early 2020.
BT launches Halo brand campaign to highlight the importance of connections
BT is launching a new ad to promote its quad-play offering BT Halo.
The 90-second TV ad, created by Saatchi & Saatchi, shows how the Halo plan, which consolidates TV, broadband, mobile and landline phones into one package, makes peoples lives better.
The film shows gamers, musicians, students, parents and athletes benefiting from connecting via the phone and internet while a spoken-word poet uses numbers to highlight the importance of making connections.
BT’s director of marketing communications Pete Jeavons says: “This campaign shows the power of connections between us all, and the amazing things we can do together. BT Halo keeps people connected with the best from BT – offering unlimited, reliable 4G, 5G and fibre, as well as dedicated home tech experts to help customers make the most out of their technology and stay connected to the people and experiences that matter most to them.”
The multi-channel campaign also includes out-of-home, online video, press, and social media.
Shopping centre chain seeks up to £1bn investment
The shopping centre chain Intu Properties is seeking to raise as much as £1bn as it looks to minimise its debt.
The company behind shopping centres including the Trafford Centre in Manchester and Lakeside in Essex has suffered as a number of high street chains have been forced to close stores and/or restructure.
The company responded to rumours it was launching a cash call by admitting it would be “targeting an equity raise alongside its full-year results at the end of February”.
Intu chief executive Matthew Roberts says: “We are making good progress with fixing the balance sheet, our number one priority, and are confident we have the right strategy in place to enable us to prosper as we see continued polarisation between the best destinations and the rest.”
The group has nearly £5bn in debt, which it is attempting to minimise by selling off properties. Last month, the sale of one of its Spanish shopping centres raised £203m.
Comme Des Garçons faces cultural appropriation accusations
Japanese fashion brand Comme Des Garçons has been accused of cultural appropriation after white models wore cornrow wigs on its runway.
The wigs were part of the company’s men’s Paris Fashion Week catwalk but critics on social media called the styling for Friday’s show offensive
Industry insider Instagram account diet_prada stated that “the avant-garde Japanese label seemed to have taken a step back with their men’s show, this time putting white models in cornrow wigs”. There were also black models in the show, some of whom wore the wigs, while others kept their own hair.
However, hair stylist Julien d’Ys said he had been inspired by an “Egyptian prince” look, and had not intended to hurt or offend anyone.
D’Ys wrote on his Instagram page: “My inspiration for the Comme Des Garçons show was Egyptian prince, a look I found truly beautiful and inspirational. A look that was an hommage. Never was it my intention to hurt or offend anyone, ever. If I did I deeply apologise.”
It is not the first time the fashion industry has been accused of racism. Last year, Gucci was accused of creating blackface jumpers while Dolce & Gabbana released an advert featuring a Chinese woman struggling to eat pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks.