Twitter set to investigate Russian ad activity during US election
Social media giant Twitter is preparing a report for US Congress around Russia activity on its platform during last year’s Presidential election. It is expected to show Russian ad dollars funding misinformation campaigns during the campaign.
Earlier this week, Facebook revealed it had found evidence of multiple fake accounts that were “likely operated out of Russia” using the US elections.
It said roughly $100,000 in ad buys was spent between June 2015 and May 2017, with the ad’s subject matter largely Pro-Kremlin in its messaging.
Senator Mark Warner said Facebook’s report and the upcoming Twitter report into Russian advertising interference to sway the election could “just be the tip of the iceberg.”
Amazon expected to spend $5bn on new headquarters
The growth story of Amazon looks set to continue, with its chief executive Jeff Bezos currently searching for a location to make up its second headquarters.
He said: “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”
Amazon estimated that its investments in Seattle, where its first head quarters is based, between 2010 and 2016 has resulted in an additional $38bn generated for the city’s economy.
It isn’t yet known where Bezos is planning to open the second headquarters, but he says the ecommerce giant is thinking “big” about possible locations, with reports suggesting construction of the project will cost around $5bn.
Ikea places sofas at bus stops for new campaign
Swedish furniture giant Ikea has taken the unusual step of placing full size sofas and cabinets at bus stops for its latest campaign.
In Australia, full size ‘street furniture’ living rooms will appear across Sydney and Perth, with Ikea handing out travel cards and copies of its catalogues to commuters.
“An emphasis of this year’s catalogue related to life in and around the living room, working with Adshel on these special-build activations allowed us to convey this theme in an engaging and fun way, whilst providing commuters with a comfortable and functional space,” says Peter Moore, external communications and media manager at Ikea.
Facebook ups activity for World Suicide Prevention Day
This Sunday (10 September) is World Suicide Prevention Day, with Facebook using its news feed to spread awareness through ads that highlight support groups and suicide-prevention tools.
The social media giant has also added a new online well-being section to its safety centre, which provides tools aimed at helping users resolve online conflicts and tips on how to help friends are who depressed. And it says it has teamed up with suicide prevention groups to “more closely” monitor dangerous hashtags that could encourage suicidal behavior.
According to Facebook’s head of global safety Antigone Davis it has teams working worldwide, 24/7 to monitor reports of potentially suicidal behavior.
She says: “For those who reach out to us, we provide suggested text to make it easier for people to start a conversation with their friend in need and also provide information and resources for how to best handle the situation. We provide the friend who has expressed suicidal thoughts information about local help lines, along with other tips and resources.”
South Park uses controversial race gimmick to promote new game
The upcoming South Park: The Fractured but Whole video game has an unusual feature relating to race.
When creating your character in the make-believe superhero game, Eurogamer has discovered that the darker the skin tone you choose, the more the game’s difficulty level ramps up.
“Don’t worry, this doesn’t affect combat, just every other aspect of your life,” perpetual jerk Eric Cartman says in voiceover.
It’s a cutting piece of social commentary, which has been used to create a big buzz around the game. However, some Twitter users have labeled the feature “insensitive” and claimed it is making a joke out of a serious issue: racial inequality.
South Park writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone have never shied away from issues of race, with the show’s only black character called ‘Token’.
Thursday 7th September
Diesel celebrates imperfection with new ad
Diesel says it is challenging conformity and the chase for perfection with its new ad campaign ‘Go with the Flaw’, directed by François Rousselet.
Rather than looking at social channels for the perfect holiday, perfect pictures, perfect life, the fashion brand says it is now time to ‘go with the flaw’ and to embrace what you cannot control.
“I was 15 years old when I made my first pair of jeans by hand. Of course they weren’t perfect. But that made them special – and unique, like everything we have done so far”, says Diesel founder Renzo Rosso. “I have always been more interested in imperfection, because it stands out from the crowd.”
Ad industry reiterates need for a flexible system for immigration
A leaked document suggests the UK plans to curb EU migration. The document, obtained by The Guardian, suggests free movement will end upon exit in March 2019 and the UK will adopt a “more selective approach” based on the UK’s economic and social needs.
Access to labour in industries without shortages may be curbed, it suggests. That has worried Advertising Association CEO Stephen Woodford, who reiterated the need for a flexible system for immigration.
“UK advertising is a world leader in part thanks to the wealth of talent we attract from all four corners of the globe. A continued flow of highly skilled people is necessary for us to maintain our edge as the world’s leading exporter of advertising,” he says.
“The calibre and diversity of the talent in the UK is a significant reason international clients pick UK-based agencies, research and production companies over others. Of course it’s vital we nurture home-grown talent, but it’s the diversity of nationalities and the creative and cultural stimulus that has been key to our success. Whatever the final proposal is, we support a flexible system that keeps the UK as an attractive place for exceptional people to grow their careers.”
French fashion firms pledge to stop using underage and size zero models
Top French fashion houses including Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton have pledged to stop using underage and size zero fashion models in catwalk shows and fashion campaigns, and they want to persuade others to follow suit.
The move was announced by French luxury groups LVMH and Kering, owners of some of the biggest labels in haute couture including Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Gucci.
Kering and LVMH said the rules would apply to all companies in their groups.
“The two groups are placing respect for and the dignity of women at the heart of their values: that’s why we’ve always had, in particular, the wellbeing of the models we work with in mind,” it said.
Love or hate Marmite? It’s all down to the genes
Marmite says it has discovered the reason why people love or hate its product, claiming that the answer is all down to genes.
In a study conducted over the last 12 months, coined ‘The Marmite Gene Project’, the brand says it has scientifically shown that people are born genetically more likely to be lovers or more likely to be haters of Marmite, cementing its reputation as the most loved and hated product of our generation.
“For over a century we too have been questioning why the nation are so clearly divided between love or hate for Marmite. Finally, we have the answers. The DNA data provides a glimpse into our taste preferences,” says Philippa Atkinson, Marmite brand manager.
Pinterest launches second UK advertising campaign
Pinterest has launched its second UK advertising campaign called ‘What if’.
The ads will run over the coming year with a media mix that includes more than 10 TV ads aired exclusively on Channel 4, through shows such as Great British Bake Off, Grand Designs and Gogglebox. These will come in the form of paid social and Pinterest editorial components.
Jonathan Allan, Sales Director at Channel 4 said: “Our new strategic partnership with Pinterest continues to closely align their communications within our editorial to deliver impactful TV ads, which drive awareness of the platform’s possibilities by creatively engaging our viewers through their favourite TV shows.”
Wednesday 6th September
Lego Group vows to ‘reset’ the company after profit declines
After reporting a 6% drop in profit for the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year, chairman Jørgen Vig Knudstorp says the business has “pressed the reset-button for the entire group”, a move that will result in an 8% cut to its workforce.
In pushing to grow the business over the past five years he says complexity had been added into the organisation, which is preventing it from growing further.
The brand is now looking to build “a smaller and less complex organisation” thereby simplifying its business model and reducing costs.
“In some markets the reset entails addressing a clean-up of inventories across the entire value chain. The work is well under way,” adds Knudstorp.
By doing so he says he is confident the brand will be able to reach more children in its well-established markets in Europe and the United States in the long term, as well as grow in newer markets like China.
However, the proposed changes will result in the loss of 1,400 positions, the majority before the end of 2017.
BBC outlines plan to tackle the gender pay gap
BBC chief Tony Hall is understood to be launching a review into pay disparity between its male and female staff, including high profile presenters such as Chris Evans and Claudia Winkleman, the extent of which came to light in the summer.
Lord Hall, who has pledged previously to level the pay gap by 2020, has called in consultants from PwC and lawyers from Eversheds to conduct an “equal pay audit” of all BBC staff.
A senior source told The Telegraph that the review could lead to pay cuts for some staff and rises for others, adding “nothing is off the table”.
The source added: “Tony and the executive team are keen to do something pretty big and dramatic. It’s going to be open, transparent and independent.”
A list of the BBC’s highest earning stars published earlier this year revealed just a third of the 96 people listed as earning more than £150,000 were woman, with the top seven earners all men.
Tesco relaunches digital wallet as Tesco Pay+
Tesco has rebranded its digital wallet app as Tesco Pay+, scrapping the current PayQwiq name.
The app, which launched in 2015, allows users to pay for shopping up to the value of £250 with one swipe at the checkout, while also collecting Clubcard points.
Mark Loch, Tesco digital wallets and group payments strategy director, says the brand has “learned a great deal about [its] customers and how they shop” since launching.
“We believe that Tesco Pay+ is going to help the customer journey, offering greater little helps, and we’re looking forward to revealing more in a few weeks’ time.”
The supermarket giant will announce further details about Tesco Pay+ later in September.
KLM becomes first airline to launch WhatsApp service
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has launched a trial on WhatsApp offering customers booking confirmations, check-in notification, boarding passes and flight status updates, as well as customer service in 10 different languages via the official WhatsApp Business app.
The service is available now in a number of countries and will be rolled out further as the trial progresses.
KLM president & CEO Pieter Elbers says the move is a “major next step in our social media strategy”.
He adds: “We want to be where our customers are and, given the 1 billion users, you have to be on WhatsApp. With an account verified by WhatsApp, we offer our customers worldwide a reliable way to receive their flight information and ask questions 24/7.”
Customers will be asked to opt-in to receive information via WhatsApp when booking tickets or via the KLM website.
Messages can only be read by the customer and KLM.
Ultimo CEO to sell luxury flats using bitcoin
Michelle Mone, the entrepreneur behind the Ultimo lingerie brand, is to sell luxury apartments in Dubai for bitcoins.
As part of a £250m property venture, Mone and her billionaire boyfriend Douglas Barrowman are developing two apartment blocks and a shopping centre in Dubai, with plans to sell 150 of the flats using the digital currency.
The average price of a one bedroom apartment is around £183,000, or approximately 58 bitcoins.
Mone claims: “This is the first major development selling to the bitcoin community.
“There has been one apartment here and there, one house here and there, but never a development. I think it is exciting for that world that two well-known successful business people are backing it in a major development.”
Barrowman adds: “We are the early adopters of the cryptocurrency to date and serious business people and the institutions are now looking at it.
“The next 5-20% movement and adoption will take it mainstream, and then it becomes part of everyday life.”
Tuesday, 5 September
Heineken pushes its responsible drinking message with new research into drink driving
Heineken its pushing its commitment to responsible drinking with new research and a targeted campaign that aims to “nudge” people to behave differently and not drive under the influence. The study finds that while drivers “set out with good intentions”, 77% find at least one situation where it is acceptable to drink and drive.
For example, 64% find it acceptable if they have eaten a lot, alternated between alcoholic drinks or taken a nap. And others say social pressure takes over, with 49% of drink drivers getting caught up in having fun.
Heineken says the study will help the company better understand the issues around drink driving and create more effective campaigns. It has partnered with nudge and behavioural design expert Sille Krukow to test nudge theory.
Gianluca Di Tondo, senior director of the global Heineken brand, says: “Our ‘When You Drive, Never Drink’ programme gives us an unprecedented opportunity to help change attitudes and behaviours and reduce drink driving around the world. For our campaign to be effective, we really need to dig deep in order to understand the causes of the problem.”
“We will develop responsible drinking campaigns in selected markets to test and measure drink driving reduction initiatives based on nudge theory.”
RB’s top marketer leaves amid management reshuffle
Reckitt Benkiser’s marketing boss is set to leave as part of the company’s biggest management shake-up since boss Rakesh Kapoor took over in 2011. Roberto Funari departs after a swathe of product launches under the Scholl footcare brand failed to bring in sales.
Funair has been with RB since 1998 in a variety of roles in markets including Africa, Latin America and Europe. He took on his most recent role as executive vice president of category development organisation in 2015 and joined the executive committee.
His departure is one of a number from the executive team, with Darrell Stein, who headed up IT, Frederic Larmuseau, head of developing markets and HR boss Deborah Yates also leaving. RB was forced to cut its full-year sales in July after a cyber attack caused disruptions to its manufacturing and distribution.
TalkTalk could drop its mobile business
TalkTalk is reportedly exploring a sale of its mobile business as it looks to return to its roots as a budget internet providor. According to the Financial Times, the company is in talks with mobile operators including Vodafone, O2 and Virgin Media about offloading the unit, which has almost 1 million customers.
The move is part of TalkTalk’s new strategy to overhaul its operations to focus on its internet business. However, any such move would be complicated because around 12% of its customer base has a so-called quadplay deal – with TalkTalk providing internet, home phone, TV and mobile.
Belstaff joins growing list of retailers to launch unisex kids clothing collection
Belstaff has joined retailers including John Lewis in launching a unisex kids collection as part of its ‘back to school’ offering. The range, which includes outwear and jerseys, is for ages six to 12 with key features including a hand-painted motorbike print, the Belstaff Phoenix and new logo design.
Delpine Ninous, Belstaff creative director, says: ‘It was great fun working on this first kids collection. Being a first-time mother I know the importance of having practical but fun clothing for kids and considered this throughout the design. We are pleased to showcase the first collection with more to follow in 2018.”
John Lewis became one of the first major retailers to unveil a unisex clothes line for children over the weekend. While it has been lauded by many parents and children’s charities, there has been some criticism of the decision.
Yell reveals digital plans after decision to stop printing Yellow Pages
Yell has revealed details of its new digital strategy after revealing it is to become a purely digital business and stop printing Yellow Pages. The company has launched a new pledge to help a million businesses be found, chosen and trusted by more customers online by 2020.
Richard Hanscott, CEO of Yell says: ‘’We’re proud of the transformation we’ve made from print to digital. Like many businesses, Yell has found that succeeding in digital demands constant change and innovation. We’re well placed to continue to help local businesses and consumers be successful online, both now and in the future.’’
Yell published Yellow Pages for more than 50 years since starting up in 1966. The first of the 104 final editions will be distributed in Kingston in January 2018, with the final edition distributed in Brighton in January 2019.
Two new taxi apps to take on Uber in London
Two new tax apps are set to launch in London as they look to take on Uber in the increasingly competitive market. Taxify is going live in the capital today (5 September) with more than 3,000 drivers and the offer of half price fares throughout September. The Romanian company is looking to expand rapidly on the bank of investment from Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing company.
Meanwhile, US firm Via has also revealed expansion plans after getting backing from car giant Daimler, which will provide Mercedes-Benz vans for its carpooling service. Daimler also owns a stake in taxi app MyTaxi.
Monday, 4 September
John Lewis removes ‘boys’ and girls’ labels from its children’s clothing
John Lewis has launched a range of gender neutral children’s clothes, becoming the first retailer in the UK to remove ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ labels.
The department store says the decision came about because it does not want to “reinforce gender stereotypes” with its childrenswear, which now has unisex labels on all clothing for children aged from 0 to 14 years.
School uniforms are still in gender categories but are expected to switch to unisex soon.
Caroline Bettis, head of childrenswear at John Lewis, says: “We do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes within our John Lewis collections and instead want to provide greater choice and variety to our customers, so that the parent or child can choose what they would like to wear.”
The line includes items such as blue and white striped trousers and a jumper with dinosaurs on it.
Campaign group Let Clothes Be Clothes, which highlights gender stereotyping in children’s clothing, is thought to have been consulted by the store before the change, which it says is “fantastic news”.
McDonald’s faces first UK strike
McDonald’s is facing its first ever industrial action in the UK in a dispute over zero-hour contracts and working conditions.
Workers at stores in Cambridge and Crayford, south-east London, began the 24-hour action at midnight. A union called it a “brave” move by low-paid staff.
The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) says staff want a wage of at least £10 an hour and more secure jobs. The strike also comes in response to poor working conditions and workplace bullying.
McDonald’s claims the action relates to internal grievance procedures, not pay.
A company spokesman adds: “We can confirm that, following a ballot process, the BFAWU has indicated that a small number of our people representing less than 0.01% of our workforce are intending to strike in two of our 1,270 UK restaurants.
“McDonald’s UK and its franchisees have delivered three pay rises since April 2016, this has increased the average hourly pay rate by 15%.”
British businesses are growing but facing tougher conditions
British businesses grew steadily over the last three months, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)’s latest survey.
Output was +14% in the three months to August, according to the CBI’s survey of 716 companies in the manufacturing, distribution, and services sectors. The result is similar to the three months to July, when the CBI’s growth survey recorded a reading of +16%.
However, Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s chief economist, warns: “While it’s encouraging that growth in the economy as a whole remains steady, it’s also clear that firms in consumer-facing sectors are facing choppier conditions, as rising inflation squeezes household incomes.”
Apple pushes into Hollywood production with potential studio move
Apple is eyeing the studio where films from Gone With The Wind to The Matrix were shot as the base for its big push into Hollywood production.
The Financial Times claims the iPhone maker is in discussions to move its original content division to The Culver Studios, which comes amid an intensifying Silicon Valley battle for the best movie scripts and television projects.
Google’s YouTube is producing original television series, as is Amazon, which recently won Oscars for Manchester by the Sea.
The Culver Studios would give Apple room to expand as it hires top Hollywood talent, according to three people familiar with the discussions. Apple intends to spend more than $1bn a year on original content and recently hired Sony duo Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg to lead its push.
Starbucks tackles food waste by cutting prices
Starbucks is looking to tackle food waste by discounting some of its food as it nears its expiry date.
Some 350 stores will slash prices by 50% in their last hour of trading, with all profits donated to charity, according to The Grocer.
The coffee giant trialled the initiative in 16 of its Manchester stores earlier this year, raising 1,500 from food sales over an 11-week period for charity Action Against Hunger.
“We’re proud to have developed a programme that will delver for the long term,” says Starbucks Europe’s head of communications Simon Redfern. “Off the back of the success of our Manchester trial, we’re pleased to roll out this programme to the rest of our company-owned British stores, and will be working with our franchise partners to see where else this programme could work.”