Amazon makes big move into sports content with Man City documentary
Amazon has made a big move into original content with plans for a behind-the-scenes exclusive series following Manchester City through the current 2017/18 Premier League season. The series will offer fans a chance to see manager Pep Guardiola and his team as they prepare for games and in the aftermath, as wel as interviews with players and the manager. They are currently top of the league.
“This new Amazon Prime Original series will give Prime members extraordinary insight into Manchester City, the top English Premier League Football team and one of the most exciting and respected teams globally,” says Heather Schuster, head of unscripted at Amazon Originals. “The story behind the coaches and players is fascinating and we are very excited to work with the Manchester City team to deliver an exclusive all access experience to our Prime members.”
The series is expected to air in late 2018.
Disney turns to Star Wars as profits drop
The Walt Disney Company reporter weaker-than-expected earnings for the third quarter as its ABC business struggled and its film ‘Cars 3’ failed to take off commercially. Profits and revenues at three out of four of its divisions were down, with only theme parks showing growth although this was again slower-than-expected after Hurricane Irma forced Disney World to close.
However, Star Wars provided a bright point as Disney unveiled plans for a new trilogy of Star Wars films that will introduce “new characters from a corner of the galaxy that has never before been explored”. Disney also revealed plans for exclusive content for its streaming service that will include a live-action Star Wars series, a show based on Monsters Inc and a new installment in the High School Musical franchise.
Burberry moves upmarket
Burberry is to move further upmarket as part of a strategy shake-up aimed at positioning the brand firmly in the luxury space. New boss Marco Gobbetti revealed plans to invest millions in its stores and stop selling trench coats and handbags in some department stores – denting sales in the short term. Investors did not like the idea, however, with shares falling 10%.
The move comes less than two weeks after Christoper Bailey, the group’s design chief unexpectedly announced he was to leave after 17 years with the brand. Burberry has admitted it will take some time to find his replacement.
Bailey helped to transform Burberry from a small UK brand to a global luxury fashion player. He became CEO in 2014, but concerns were raised about the creative boss also running the business.Gobbetti believes the changes are necessary to ensure Burberry’s future in a world where consumers are after “more fashion and newness”.
Twitter halts ‘broken’ verification system
We should’ve communicated faster on this (yesterday): our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realized some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered. And we failed by not doing anything about it. Working now to fix faster. https://t.co/wVbfYJntHj
Twitter has suspended its verification system, describing it as “broken” after complaints surfaced over the types of accounts being verified. When it was first set up, the system was aimed at providing reassurance that accounts for prominent people – including musicians, company executives, actors and journalists – were real.
However, the remit has since been widened and some far-right and white-supremacist accounts have also been verified. In a tweet, Twitter explained that while verification was meant to “authenticate identity and voice” it is interpreted as an “endorsement or indicator of importance”. The company goes on to say it recognises it has “created this confusion” and is now working to resolve it.
Twitter boss Jack Dorsey tweeted that the scheme would now be “reconsidered”.
Britain’s economic growth to trail eurozone
Britain’s economy will grow at a slower rate than the rest of Europe over the next three years, according to forecasts from the European Commission. It estimates that the economy will grow by 1.5% this year, with that falling to 1.1% in 2019, assuming there is no change to Britain’s trading status.
In the eurozone, in contrast, the Commission has upgraded its growth forecasts from 1.7% to 2.2% this year, although this wall fall to 1.9% in 2019. Even Greece is expected to outperform the UK. Up until now, UK growth after the financial crash of 2008/9 has been ahead of Europe.
EU commissioner Pierre Moscovici says: “After five years of moderate recovery, European growth has now accelerated. We had several major elections; they are now behind us and political uncertainty …. has continued to decrease from the high levels experienced a year ago.”
Thursday, 9 November
Bake Off helps Channel 4 win biggest audience for 32 years
Any concerns Channel 4 might have had about people tuning in to watch the latest series of Great British Bake Off following its move from the BBC have been firmly put to bed given the final episode attracted 11 million viewers, Channel 4’s second highest audience ever, and its biggest for 32 years.
The figure combines people who watched Sophie Faldo take home the prize live last Tuesday, as well as those who viewed it via recordings or repeats. It will come as a relief to judge Prue Leith who inadvertently revealed the winner on Twitter before the show had aired.
Overall audiences per episode were smaller for Channel 4 compared to the last series on BBC1 though, which attracted an average of 10.7 million viewers per show. But Channel 4 did expect this and budgeted to break even with 3.5 million viewers each episode.
40% of senior roles must go to women for UK to hit gender diversity target
Over the past six years, the UK’s 100 biggest publicly listed companies have collectively more than doubled the proportion of women on boards. Nearly 28% of board positions at FTSE 100 companies are now occupied by women, up from 12.5% in 2011.
But much more must be done to promote gender diversity in British business, according to the Government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review.
Sir Philip Hampton, who chaired the review, wants the voluntary 33% target for women in senior roles at FTSE 100 companies by 2020 to be extended to firms across the FTSE 350. He has therefore called for 40% of all senior hires to go to women over the next three years in order to hit this target.
Tencent ups its a stake in Snapchat
Chinese internet giant Tencent now holds a more than $2bn stake in Snap Inc, the parent company of messaging app Snapchat. The owner of China’s popular WeChat platform now has around a 12% share in the business, in a move that could see the companies collaborate on gaming and news.
Tencent has long been an investor in Snap, taking a stake in the business several years before Snap went public in March.
“It’s an innovative company with a huge user base in western markets and we saw an opportunity between the two [companies] with news feed and mobile game publishing,” said a Tencent spokesman told the Financial Times.
Snap posted disappointing results on Tuesday (7 November) and CEO Evan Spiegel has since vowed to redesign the “hard to use” app.
Twitter launches ad subscription tool for SMEs
Twitter has launched a new ad tool for small businesses to help them build their presence on the network.
Promote Mode, which is described as an “always-on, amplification engine” costs $99 per month and is designed to help brands attract new followers and additional reach by automatically promoting their tweets and updates, without the need for ad campaign management.
In a blog post about the launch Twitter said: “Small businesses and individuals using Promote Mode can expect to gain followers and reach a broader influence each month, as long as they are actively tweeting.”
The number of UK startups rockets over 5 years
Twitter is tapping into a growing market in the UK given the number of small business has risen by almost a quarter over the past five years.
The study, by Hampshire Trust Bank and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), shows the office admin and business support sector has been most ripe for growth, with a 76% rise in new firms operating in this category between 2011 and 2016.
This is followed by companies offering human health services and those within the motion picture, video, TV, sound recording and music area, both of which saw a 50% increase in SMEs.
Wednesday, 8 November
Snapchat results disappoint as CEO admits ‘it’s too difficult to use’
Snapchat’s parent company Snap reported disastrous third quarter results last night (7 November).
Snapchat users only grew 3% (or 4.5 million users) compared to the previous quarter, and faced a hefty $40m charge as a result of misjudging demand for its hardware product Snapchat Spectacles. Its stock sank more than 16% as a result.
In response to slowing user growth, its CEO Evan Spiegel is looking to redesign the app, after its users told him the app is “difficult to understand” and “hard to use.”
“One thing that we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback,” Spiegel said on the conference call with analysts on Tuesday, “As a result, we are currently redesigning our application to make it easier to use. ”
He admitted the redesign could initially have a negative impact on Snap’s business.
“We don’t yet know how the behaviour of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application,” Spiegel said. “We’re willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial longterm benefits to our business.”
Biggest ever Christmas ad spend expected
With consumer confidence in the doldrums and inflation on the rise, advertisers are facing a difficult Christmas. But they are putting a lot of money into convincing consumers to do so regardless.
Expenditure forecast data from the Advertising Association shows this Christmas is expected to see the largest ever seasonal advertising spend, with advertisers investing close to £6bn during the final quarter of 2017.
This year-on-year increase in spend of 37% since 2010 comes as businesses compete to be top of mind with consumers during the Christmas period.
“Christmas is a key time for advertisers large and small. In recent years, marketers of businesses using emotive Christmas advertising have won some of the industry’s biggest awards. Businesses delivering advertising with emotional resonance can be rewarded with powerful, long-term effects into the new year and beyond,” Karen Fraser, director at think tank Credos, said.
Energy rivals SSE and Npower in merger talks
Two of the UK’s ‘Big Six’ energy companies, SSE and Npower, are in talks of merging and exiting the household energy market.
SSE revealed it is in talks with Innogy, the German owner of Npower, about spinning off their retail arms and combining them into a separate company. The move, if successful, would reduce the so-called “Big Six” energy providers in the UK to just five, in one of the biggest shake-ups of the sector in more than a decade.
The move could backfire against the Government, which has been attempting to crackdown on “rip-off” energy prices and promote competition in the sector. Its plan to legislate a price cap for standard energy tariffs could wipe as much as £1bn in profits from the industry.
SSE confirmed the plans just days after The Sunday Telegraph revealed the group wanted to turn its back on supplying gas and power to British homes as threats about political interference in the sector come to a head.
Sky threatens to shut down Sky News amid Fox takeover
Sky has threatened to shut down Sky News if the news channel proves to be a major obstacle in its takeover bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.
Regulators are investigating the deal amid concerns that Murdoch’s media empire could become too powerful.
Sky told the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that the regulator should not assume “the continued provision” of Sky News.
In a submission made to the CMA last month, but published by the regulator on Tuesday, Sky said it “would likely be prompted to review” its position if “the continued provision of Sky News in its current form unduly impeded merger and/or other corporate opportunities available in relation to Sky’s broader business”.
The BBC understands that closing Sky News would only be an option of last resort, and that Sky would try to find a buyer for the media company before that eventuality. Its media editor believes, however, that Sky could go through with the closure due to “the sheer amount of time this proposed merger is taking to go through” – it is six years since Fox first put in a bid.
Condé Nast ad banned for making model look ‘uhealthily thin’
An ad by Condé Nast Traveller magazine has been banned by the ASA for making the model look “unhealthily thin”.
The ad, placed in Glamour magazine in June this year, featured a model posing on a beach and stretching towards the sun. It was investigated after a complainant believed the ad was socially irresponsible.
Condé Nast said that particular image was chosen for this ad as it evoked a mood of escapism. It acknowledged the model’s stance accentuated her height and slender legs but claimed there were no protruding bones and that the model was naturally slim and in proportion.
The ASA considered that while the model appeared to be in proportion, the angle of the image drew attention to her slimness, particularly her legs which looked very long and thin.
While it acknowledged the ad was for a travel magazine and that its focus was not supposed to be on the model or her clothes, it believed the ad made her look unhealthily thin and was banned for being irresponsible.
Tuesday 7 November
Non-food retail sales hit record low
UK non-food retail sales fell to a record low in the three-months to October, according the BRC–KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, decreasing 0.4% on a like-for-like basis and 0.1% on a total basis below the 12 month total average. The monthly decline is the deepest since BRC-KPMG records began in January 2011.
In-store sales of non-food items declined 2.2% on a total basis and 2.9% on a like-for-like basis, during the three month period. Compared to October 2016, the total decline of 2.1% was the deepest since BRC-KPMG records began January 2012.
Online the situation was no better. Sales of non-food products grew 4% in October, below both the three month and 12 month averages of 8.7% and 8.3% respectively, which is the lowest growth online since records began in December 2012.
Overall UK retail sales decreased by 1% on a like-for-like basis compared to October 2016, rising 0.2% on a total basis in October against a growth of 2.4% during the same period last year. This is the lowest growth since May and below the three month and 12 month averages of 1.7% and 1.5%, respectively.
While the picture remains gloomy for total retail, over the three months to October food sales increased 2.4% on a like-for-like basis and 3.7% on a total basis. This is above the 12 month total average growth of 3.2%, the highest since July 2013.
The pressure of falling non-food sales will have retailers concerned in the run up to Black Friday and Christmas, says Paul Martin, head of retail at KPMG.
“After a brief uptick, fashion sales reverted back to the dreary theme we have seen for a number of months this year. Unseasonably warm weather last month will not have helped, but this is unlikely to be the only reason the new ranges are proving unpopular,” Martin explains.
“Overall growth online was lacklustre at best, although health and beauty products continued to stand out as a strong performer. The burning questions for retailers will be whether shoppers are holding off their purchases until Black Friday, and whether retailers can recover from this month’s poor performance to end the year on a high.”
Facebook launches payments via Messenger
Facebook is launching person-to-person payments service via its Messenger app in the UK.
Users will be able to instantly send funds back and forth on their mobile phones or computers after linking their Facebook accounts to their debit cards. The service, which launched in the US in 2015, allows users to send up to £2,500 in a single transaction, up to a maximum of £10,000 every 30 days.
Head of Facebook messenger, David Marcus, said the company was not introducing the feature to make money from users as there is a small cost for Facebook attached to each transaction. Rather, the plan is to “increase the utility of Messenger”.
All transactions will be encrypted and protected by PIN to prevent fraud.
Fox in talks to sell “most” of its business to Disney
21st Century Fox is in talks to sell most of its company to Disney in a bid to focus on its news and sports programming.
According to reports by CNBC, the Fox senior management team believe that rather than focusing on entertainment, a more “tightly focused group of properties around news and sports could compete more effectively in the current marketplace.”
Disney, it is believed, would benefit from Fox’s exposure to international markets such as the UK, Germany and Italy, through its network coverage and 39% ownership of Sky. It is also thought Disney would acquire entertainment networks such as FX and National Geographic.
According to CNBC sources, Disney would also benefit from taking control of 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV production assets as it looks to pursue its own direct to consumer streaming service after pulling its content off Netflix in August.
Amazon to close two UK Whole Foods stores
Amazon is shutting two UK Whole Foods shops in Cheltenham and Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, putting 150 jobs at risk.
Coming just two months after Amazon completed its £10.7bn takeover of the premium grocery chain, the closures take the number of Whole Foods stores in the UK to seven, all located in London. This is compared to the 440 Whole Food stores in the US.
According to reports in The Telegraph, these closures were likely made because neither store can be serviced by Amazon’s online grocery service, Amazon Fresh, which has only recently expanded beyond London to Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. It is thought Amazon’s strategy in the UK is to use the Whole Foods store estate to broaden the range of upmarket and organic groceries available on Amazon Fresh.
Adidas unveils new personalised app
Adidas has unveiled its new personalised app for the millennial generation in search of “instant gratification”.
The app hosts products from the complete Adidas online store, features a personalised newsfeed and a chatbot for customer inquiries powered by Salesforce’s AI Einstein technology.
The brand’s online store grew 60% this year, through which it currently sells 1.2 million pairs of shoes a day. Speaking at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted explained that “sub-par performance in digital has gone”, meaning brands have had to evolve.
During the session, Rorsted also stated that Adidas now sees digital media as its “primary interface”, in a significant move away from TV advertising.
Monday 6 November
Nando’s launches home delivery service
Nando’s is trialling home delivery in the UK for the first time after partnering with Deliveroo.
The service, which launched over the weekend, was praised by people on social media, with one customer describing it as a “game-changer”.
The restaurant chain famous for its Portuguese-style chicken joins a growing number of fast-food outlets now offering home delivery. McDonald’s and Burger King both launched delivery services earlier this year, while KFC teamed up with Just Eat to allow customers to order online from the comfort of their homes.
M&S clothing under fire again – from its own chairman
Marks & Spencer’s well documented struggles in general merchandise appear as far as ever from being solved, with new chairman Archie Norman telling managers that the brand’s clothing range is too expensive and not targeted enough at younger consumers, the Guardian reports. He also apparently criticised M&S Food for running too many confusing promotions.
Norman’s credentials would suggest he knows what he’s talking about, having been Asda CEO in the 1990s when it launched its George own-brand of apparel, although it wouldn’t be the first time the high-street giant has attempted to tailor its designs more towards shoppers in their 30s than M&S’s average consumer in her 50s.
M&S is currently in the process of closing 30 of its 300 combined food and clothing stores, while converting others to food only. In its results for the 13 weeks to July, clothing and home sales dropped 0.5% year on year, while food sales grew 4.5%, although like-for-like sales were down 1.2% and 0.1% respectively. The retailer is expected to announce a profit drop in its six-month trading statement this week.
Ford gears up to launch London minibuses
For all Uber’s recent travails in the capital, where Transport for London recently refused to renew its licence to operate private-hire cars – a decision being contested in court – Ford wouldn’t be the first company you would expect to benefit, but the car manufacturer looks set to launch an app-based minibus service in the capital to rival other taxi apps like Gett and Mytaxi.
Ford has applied for a licence to run its Chariot service along fixed routes in London, extending it from its current US markets of San Francisco, New York, Seattle and Austin. Ford says it is still awaiting a response from TfL. Travel app Citymapper also has a similar ride-sharing service in London.
EasyJet sees 10% boost to passenger numbers in October
EasyJet increased passenger numbers by 9.9% during October, despite being forced to make a number of cancellations during the month as a result of French strikes.
The airline confirmed it had transported around 7.5 million passengers during October, up from just over 6.8 million throughout the same month in 2016.
EasyJet’s load factor, meanwhile, which is the number of passengers as a proportion of the number of seats available, also increased by 2.3 percentage points to 92.5%.
The budget airline transported more than 80.9 million passengers during the rolling 12-month period to the end of October, up from 73.6 million in the equivalent period to the end of October 2016. That’s despite it having to cancel 434 flights, due to strikes and adverse weather conditions.
O2 launches ‘Yo-yo’ ad campaign for new flexible tarrifs
Mobile operator O2 has marked its launch of new contracts that allow users to increase and decrease their data allowance from month to month with a new ad campaign. It uses yo-yos as a “fun, visual way to demonstrate the flexibility and sense of control that our flexible tariffs provide”, according to chief marketing officer Nina Bibby.
The campaign has rolled out today, and will feature ads in broadcast, outdoor, Spotify, press, mobile and social media channels. The creative for ads on Channel 4’s All4 video-on-demand service has been designed to show viewers how much mobile data it would consume to watch the programme they select.
Ads on Spotify, meanwhile, will be tailored to the type of playlist users are listening to.