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Nov 13, 2022 #Matters, #Morning
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Elon Musk bans remote working at Twitter amid talk of bankruptcy

Twitter employees will no longer be able to work remotely unless arrangements are personally approved by new owner Elon Musk, who is reported to have told staff “bankruptcy isn’t out of the question”.

Warning teams to prepare for “difficult times ahead”, Musk told employees they must be in the office at least 40 hours a week – effective immediately – Bloomberg reports. The decree is in direct opposition to the company’s permanent “work-from-anywhere” policy adopted in 2020.

According to Bloomberg, Musk has already eliminated “days of rest” from staff calendars, a monthly, company-wide day off introduced during the pandemic.

The new Twitter owner is reported to have told staff the “road ahead is arduous and will require intense work to succeed”, stating in a separate message that suspending bots and trolls is an “absolute top priority”.

Musk is also wrestling with several high-profile departures, including head of trust and safety Yoel Roth. Reports also suggest Twitter’s chief privacy officer Damien Kieran, chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty and chief security officer Lea Kissner have resigned, alongside head of ad sales Robin Wheeler.

The ban on remote working and exec departures comes just days after Twitter cut half its workforce, with Musk claiming he had “no choice” but to make the redundancies as the social media giant continues to lose more than $4m (£3.5m) a day. Twitter co-founder and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey apologised to affected staff for the mass sackings, claiming he was at fault for growing the company “too quickly”.

Musk appears fundamentally opposed to the remote working culture that sprung up under lockdown. Tesla employees have been banned from working remotely since June, with the Musk tweeting at the time that anyone unwilling to comply could “pretend to work somewhere else”.

In an email, the Tesla CEO told staff they must spend a minimum of 40 hours a week in the office and if they don’t the company will “assume” they have resigned.

READ MORE: Musk tells Twitter staff remote working will end

BrewDog defies backlash by ramping up anti-World Cup stance

BrewDog is ramping up its ‘anti-sponsorship’ of the World Cup in Qatar, despite consumers and unions accusing the brewer of being “disingenuous” and seeking to “distract customers” with the stunt.

CEO James Watt confirmed all revenue from the sale of special World F*Cup Lost Lager cans will go to human rights charities fighting injustice in Qatar, on top of the profits the brand will donate from sales of the beer in bars and supermarkets during the tournament.

Describing the company as “anti-corruption” and “anti-human rights abuse”, Watt refuted claims the brewer sells direct to Qatar. BrewDog plans to donate the profits from one shipment sold in the country via a third party to human rights charities.

“In our view, taking a stand is always better than not saying anything, even when that means your position might be criticised,” said Watt in a LinkedIn post. “If we never take a stance then we are all giving tacit approval for things that are just plainly wrong in the world. At BrewDog we always take a stand for the things we believe in.”

He explained the company had thought “long and hard” before deciding to show Word Cup games in its bars, arguing it gives customers the opportunity to raise awareness and money. The BrewDog CEO claims the brand will raise more funds if it shows the matches and plans to follow up its anti-sponsorship with a “sizeable” charitable donation.

BrewDog’s stance on the World Cup has faced a backlash, with detractors highlighting allegations last year from hundreds of former employees accusing the firm of having a “toxic attitude” and operating a “culture of fear”.

The union for workers in bars and restaurants, Unite Hospitality, described the stunt as “yet another disingenuous advertising campaign designed to distract customers from the fact BrewDog is one of the worst employers in the brewing industry when it comes to doing the right thing by its workers”. Watt dismissed the backlash as the “usual Twitter hate”.

Analysis from research firm System1 does suggest, however, the ‘Anti-Sponsor’ poster ads rank poorly for effectiveness.

The two executions of the campaign scored low on System1’s Test Your Ad platform, which uses the emotional response of real people to award ads a star rating between one and five. The ‘Eat, Sleep, Bribe’ execution scored 2.3 stars on System1’s ranking, while ‘First Russia’ scored just 1.8 stars.

Amazon examines viability of Alexa in review of lossmaking businesses

Amazon is reportedly conducting a review of its lossmaking divisions in a bid to cut costs, after revealing losses across its North America and international businesses last month.

According to the Financial Times, chief executive Andy Jassy is conducting the review, which includes an analysis of the Alexa voice assistant division. The ecommerce giant has seen the value of its shares fall by more than 40% this year due to a combination of macroeconomic pressures and the cost of running logistics.

In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Brad Glasser told the FT the senior leadership team “regularly reviews” the investment outlook and financial performance, adding the company will take into account the current macro-environment and is “considering opportunities to optimise costs.”

Amazon posted a $400m (£347m) operating loss for its North America division during the three months to 30 September, while losses in its international business widened to $2.5bn (£2.2bn).

Speaking on the release of the results last month, Jassy claimed the business was making “steady progress” on lowering costs across its fulfilment network and noted the “positive” customer response to Amazon’s continued focus on “value and convenience”.

“There is obviously a lot happening in the macroeconomic environment and we’ll balance our investments to be more streamlined without compromising our key long-term, strategic bets,” Jassy added.

“What won’t change is our maniacal focus on the customer experience and we feel confident that we’re ready to deliver a great experience for customers this holiday shopping season.”

While the company is yet to introduce the sweeping job cuts seen at Twitter and Meta, which on Wednesday confirmed it would sack 13% of its workforce amid soaring costs, Amazon announced last week it would “pause” hiring.

Head of HR Beth Galetti told staff the hiring freeze would stay in place for the next few months as the firm monitors the economy and business performance.

READ MORE: Amazon scrutinises lossmaking units in search of savings (£)

KFC blames ‘fault’ for promotion celebrating Kristallnacht anniversary

KFCKFC has blamed a “fault” in its system for a message encouraging German customers to commemorate the Nazi Kristallnacht pogrom by treating themselves to fried chicken.

The restaurant chain’s German arm apologised for the push notification sent out via its app, which read: ‘Commemorate Kristallnacht – treat yourself to more soft cheese and crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!’

In a message KFC said it was “very sorry” for the notification encouraging consumers to mark the 84th anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass, during which Nazi gangs vandalised and ransacked the homes and businesses of Jewish citizens, and desecrated synagogues across Germany.

The fast food chain promised to check its internal processes immediately to ensure the “error” doesn’t happen again. However, it appears KFC was not aware of the issue until it was reported by outraged customers.

In statement to Newsweek magazine, KFC Germany blamed the message on an automated push notification “linked to calendars that include national observances”, adding the brand “sincerely” apologised for the “unplanned, insensitive and unacceptable message”. App communications were suspended while an examination took place.

“We understand and respect the gravity and history of this day, and remain committed to equity, inclusion and belonging for all,” KFC Germany concluded.

READ MORE: KFC apologises after German Kristallnacht promotion

VW appoints Google brand boss as CMO

Volkswagen has named Google brand boss Nelly Kennedy as its new CMO with responsibility for international marketing.

Tasked with turning the car marque “back into a true people’s brand”, Kennedy will join the business in mid-February from her current role as senior global brand marketing director at Google. She takes over from Jochen Sengpiehl, who has been appointed CMO at Volkswagen Group China.

According to VW CEO Thomas Schäfer, the team are “turning Volkswagen back into a love brand – approachable, customer-centric and authentic”, which means marketing “plays a key role”.

“As the new chief marketing officer Nelly Kennedy, together with her team, will help turn Volkswagen back into a true people’s brand,” says Schäfer.

Describing Kennedy as a “digital and marketing expert with decades-long international experience”, marketing and sales board member Imelda Labbé says they will work together to “systematically forge ahead” with the realignment of VW’s brand and marketing activities.

Labbé claims Kennedy will make a “decisive contribution” to giving Volkswagen a clear brand profile in all regions and turning VW “back into a genuine love brand.”

Joining Google in 2015, Kennedy assumed responsibility for global brand campaigns, brand editorial and brand experiences. Prior to that she led the digital transformation strategy at Condé Nast International in her role as executive director of digital, a role she assumed after six years at Adidas.

Her roles at the German sportswear giant included as global vice-president of digital and relationship marketing, leading the global digital transformation strategy, partnerships, CRM and data.

BrewDog’s ‘Anti-Sponsor’ ads test low on effectiveness

BrewDog’s ‘Anti-Sponsor’ poster ads, designed to protest against Qatar hosting the World Cup, rank poorly for effectiveness, according to analysis from System1.

The two executions of the campaign scored low on System1’s Test Your Ad platform, which uses the emotional response of real people to award ads a star rating between one and five. ‘Eat, Sleep, Bribe’ scored 2.3 stars, while ‘First Russia’ scored just 1.8 stars.

System1’s editor in chief Tom Ewing notes that “for an angry, awareness-raising billboard, that’s not a terrible score”, but that both ads are doing little on their own to raise brand awareness. Ewing states the discussion around the ad, including the controversy surrounding it, will be doing more for the brand’s mental availability than the ads themselves.

The brand says the campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the issues surrounding Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup but comments from System1’s representative sample demonstrate the mention of Russia in the ‘First Russia’ ad, triggered an angry response around the Ukraine war, not of the issue at hand. The message did come through for the ‘Eat, Sleep, Bribe’ execution, however.

System1 also finds criticism of the brand’s hypocrisy around the campaign has not filtered through to the general public. Many of its viewers were neutral; however, those who did mention BrewDog were largely positive.

READ MORE: Is BrewDog’s War on the World Cup a Win or a Miss?

Next acquires Made.com brand for £3.4m

NextNext has acquired the brand, intellectual property and domain names of Made.com, a company once valued at £775m, for just £3.4m.

The business appointed PwC to sell its other assets and pay off its debt after collapsing into administration. Even with the Next acquisition, it is understood that all 573 jobs at the brand will be lost.

Made.com was established by Lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman and Chinese entrepreneur, Ning Li.

The furniture brand was only floated last year and was valued at £775m in June 2021. By the time the brand stopped trading, its market value had slumped to just £2.1m.

The online furniture retailer paused its orders at the end of October following a difficult period as big-ticket items dropped in sales and supply chain issues impacting delivery times.

Next has acquired majority stakes in other smaller brands in recent years; for example, in 2020 it agreed a joint venture deal for lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret, and earlier this year it upped its stake in fashion chain Reiss.

READ MORE: Made.com collapses with loss of all 573 jobs leaving thousands of orders in doubt

Sports Direct and Everlast launch boxing content series

Retailer Sports Direct and apparel brand Everlast have joined forces to launch a content series, aimed at getting beginners into boxing.

The content series, ‘Coached’, follows two social media influencers, Olamide Grace and Eman Kellam, as they take up the sport and prepare to enter the ring. The series also stars renowned boxing coach and gym owner Marcus Luther, who trains the two.

Grace and Kellam are also mentored in the series by heavyweight boxer Johnny Fisher and Bianca Haynes, coach at Ramla Ali’s Sisters Club. The content series is designed to show a different side of boxing, which has been stereotyped as a rugged and rough sport in the past. It is instead aimed at showing the inclusivity and accessibility of boxing to encourage beginners to take it up.

The content series will be released through Sports Direct’s YouTube channel weekly. There will be five parts in total, with the finale being released on 7 December.

“Coached provides viewers the chance to experience boxing through the eyes of two beginners who, with the help of fantastic trainers and mentors, are shown the ropes of the sport, realising the physical and mental benefits it can offer,” says Everlast head of marketing Sam Harris.

“Everlast (and Sports Direct) are all about making sport more accessible and championing the legend in everyone.”

The Marketing Academy makes appointments to lead alumni programmes

The Marketing Academy has announced a series of key appointments designed to increase its impact on the global marketing industry.

Syl Saller CBE has been appointed to the role of chair of global alumni programmes. Saller spent seven years as global chief marketing and innovation officer at drinks giant Diageo, until departing the role in 2020. In her new role, she will be responsible for guiding the Academy’s regional chairs in the support of the organisation’s scholars and fellows in the UK, EMEA, USA and Australia.

The Marketing Academy has also appointed Mark Evans, who recently stepped down as managing director for digital and marketing at Direct Line Group, as its chair of the EMEA Alumni Council. Meanwhile, Kyndrl’s vice-president of brand, sponsorship and content, Lisa Gilbert, has taken on the US role.

Saller says she is motivated by the potential of the alumni. “The talented alumni of the Marketing Academy are an incredible force for positive change in business – stronger leaders, better growth, more contributions to their communities. Connecting these vibrant leaders around the world enables the Academy to have global impact,” she says.

The Marketing Academy CMO Fellowship Programme has more than 200 global alumni. The organisation is aiming to create better learning and events catered to the needs of its alumni by enhancing its regional approach.

Last week, the Marketing Academy appointed Myriam Coupard as UK and EMEA managing director, as the talent development organisation pursues growth in new regions.

ITV sees ad revenues drop in the third quarter

itvITV’s ad revenues dropped by 14% year over year in the third quarter of this year, with the broadcaster expecting to see a total decline in 2022.

The third quarter last year saw the Euro 2020 tournament provide a boost to ad revenue. July declined 9% compared to the same period last year. August declined by over a fifth (21%) year over year, while the pausing of advertising following the Queen’s death will have contributed to a 14% drop in September compared to 2021.

Across the nine months to the end of September, ad revenue is down 2% at £1.33m compared to £1.36m at the same point last year. Across the year, the broadcaster is predicting its ad revenue to be down 1-1.5%. October is expected to be down 9% compared to the same period in 2021.

ITV will be boosted by the festive season and the World Cup, which is kicking off later this month. However, the broadcaster only predicts a modest impact on ad revenue from the tournament. It has forecast a 3% rise in ad revenue in November compared to the same period in 2021. In December it expects to see a 5-10% year-over-year increase.

While total advertising revenue so far this year is down, digital advertising remains “strong” says the broadcaster. Digital ad revenues were at £227m at the end of September, up 13% compared to the same period in 2021.

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Vanish wins Channel 4’s £1m diversity award

Stain removal brand Vanish has been awarded £1m worth of commercial advertising airtime across Channel 4’s properties, having won the broadcaster’s annual Diversity in Advertising Award.

This year Channel 4 challenged brands to create an idea which tackles the lack of authentic representation of people with visible and non-visible disabilities in UK advertising. In partnership with charity Ambitious with Autism, Vanish and creative agency Havas London delivered an idea which aims to help girls be seen as part of a broader public understanding of autism.

The prize includes airtime on linear TV, Channel 4’s on-demand service, and for the first time, Channel 4’s YouTube channel. The broadcaster’s social content arm 4Studio will also create a bespoke media campaign for Vanish’s idea worth £100,000.

Cigdem Yildiz Kurtulus, marketing director at the brand’s parent company Reckitt Hygiene UK and Ireland, says the business has a “responsibility to accurately portray overlooked and excluded communities in advertising”, including people who are neurodiverse.

“We’re so happy to lead this mission with one of our loved brands, Vanish, with a positive and authentic campaign born out of our brand purpose to make clothes live longer,” he says. “However, we’re very conscious our work needs to go much further and make a real difference beyond our screens, so we’re committed to making this happen at all levels.”

According to Channel 4’s chief revenue officer Verica Djurdjevic, this year’s award had “one of the most competitive” shortlisting and pitch processes it has ever had. Seven brands were shortlisted for the first time, including LinkedIn, M&S, Limitless Travel, Sure, Moonpig, and George at Asda. Each will be offered match-funding advertising airtime worth between £250,000 and £350,000.

Vanish’s campaign will launch in spring next year.

M&S takes hit to profit from investment in value

Marks & Spencer’s ongoing investment in value across its food business has helped to drive top-line sales growth over the half year to 1 October, but short-term profitability has taken a hit.

Food sales were up 5.6% compared to the same period last year, but operating profit before adjusting items dropped from £124m to £71.8m. A reduction in gross margin of 110 basis points (bps) reflects “continued investment in quality and price”, the supermarket says.

Investment in value over the period includes the relaunch of the ‘Remarksable’ value range and campaign at the start of the year, as well as an acceleration in the pace of innovation. Around 900 new products launched over the half year, up 4% year on year (YoY).

“The strategy for M&S Food is always to provide high quality, sustainably-sourced food at outstanding prices. At a time when family budgets are under stress it is a priority for us to sustain ‘trusted value’ and provide assurance for our customers,” the business says.

Meanwhile, the clothing and home business reports a 14% uplift in sales, with store sales up 18.8% and online sales up 4.9%. According to Kantar data, the M&S division grew its market share by 50bps, as it continues to drive “steadily increasing” value and style perceptions.

Overall, the company reached a profit before tax and adjusting items of £205.5m over the six months, down from £269.4m last year.

However, CEO Stuart Machin says the results reflect “the beginnings of a reshaped M&S”.

“In Food, investment in trusted value has driven top-line growth but short-term profit has been reduced… Clothing has delivered a stand-out performance from a market leading position in value with improving style credentials,” he says.

“This progress means we face into the current market headwinds with an increased resilience and level of confidence. Looking beyond the current stormy weather, much is in our control and our mandate is clear – to step up the pace, accelerate change, drive a simpler, leaner business and invest in growth opportunities to build a reshaped M&S.”

As the business enters what is typically its strongest quarter, trading for the first four weeks is currently in line with forecasts, with clothing and home sales up 4.3% and food sales up 3%.

Primark to ‘stand by customers’ by holding prices steady

Primark has promised not to increase its prices any further before next autumn, despite parent company Associate British Foods (ABF) anticipating a combined £2bn rise in business costs this year and next.

The budget clothing and homeware retailer put its prices up by around 8% in the autumn of this year to offset some cost inflation, which Primark expects to continue driving sales growth into next year.

“We have decided to hold prices for the new financial year at the levels already implemented and planned and to stand by our customers, rather than set pricing against these highly volatile input costs and exchange rates,” says ABF CEO George Weston.

“We believe this decision is in the best interests of Primark, supporting our core proposition of everyday affordability and price leadership and supporting market share growth over the longer term.”

In its results for the year ending 17 September, Primark reports total sales of £7.7bn, 43% ahead of last year. UK like-for-like sales and market shares are now “broadly in line” with pre-Covid levels, the business claims.

Primark’s adjusted operating profit margin next year is expected to drop lower than 8% as costs rise, but the retailer believes it can return to a margin of around 10% as commodity prices moderate and consumer confidence improves.

The retailer has continued to invest in building out its digital capability, which it believes to be a “key element” in its future development. Its new UK website launched in April on a new digital platform, with “enhanced” functionality and a “much-improved” customer experience.

Earlier indicators suggest the site is helping to drive additional sales to UK stores, the retailer says, with traffic up 83% compared to last year and customers viewing on average nearly twice as many pages per session. Approximately 15% of visitors are using the new store stock checker functionality. Primark’s remaining markets will transition to the new site by the end of the first half of 2023.

Meanwhile, a UK Click and Collect trial will launch in 25 stores in the north of England and Wales before Christmas. “We believe this has the potential to satisfy unfulfilled demand from both existing and new customers, driving footfall into stores and delivering incremental sales,” the business said.

Demand for products within Primark’s collaborative range with bakery chain Greggs has also been “strong”, creating “real excitement around the Primark brand this year”. A third range of clothing and gifting is due to launch this Christmas season.

Disney expects streaming service to become profitable by 2024

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Disney gained a further 12 million subscribers to its streaming service Disney+ over the three months to September, taking its global subscriber count to over 164 million.

The platform’s growth beat the expectations of analysts, who had forecast a less significant rise to 160.5 million subscribers. In comparison, Netflix claims around 223 million.

However, losses from the venture continue to mount. Disney’s direct-to-consumer division – which includes streaming platforms Disney+, Hulu and sports-focused ESPN+, lost $1.5bn (£1.3bn) over the quarter. Combined across the three platforms, the business counts more than 235 million subscriptions in total.

Nevertheless, CEO Bob Chapek said Disney+ had reached a “turning point” and would reach profitability by 2024. The platform will be introducing an ad-supported version of Disney+ later this year, alongside price rises across its subscription tiers.

“We believe we are on a path to a profitable streaming business, assuming that we do not see a meaningful shift in the economic climate,” he told investors on a call discussing the results.

Overall, Disney’s total revenues for the final quarter of its financial year jumped 9% to $20.15bn (£17.46bn), falling short of analyst expectations of $21.3bn (£18.46bn). Revenues were up 23% for the year to $80.7bn (£69.9bn).

The business reported profits of $162m (£140.4m), up from $159m (£137.8m) last year.

ISBA appoints new director of agency services

ISBA has hired Sky’s Nick Louisson as director of agency services, replacing Andrew Lowdon as he becomes a consultant for the industry body.

Louisson was previously senior procurement manager (category lead) for media across Europe at Sky, a position he held for almost four years. Between 2017 and 2019 he was a marketing procurement manager at telecoms brand TalkTalk, following two years in marketing procurement at FMCG company Kimberly-Clark in Australia.

At ISBA, Louisson will take on responsibility for providing marketing and procurement members with advice, guidance and best practice so they can make the right decisions around agency management.

He will lead on developing the Marketing Services Framework contract, the Pitch Positive Pledge, and running the marketing procurement working group COMPAG.

“ISBA has played an important role in my learning and development over the years. I’m excited to have the opportunity to do the same for our many members,” Louisson says. He takes on the role with immediate effect.


Aldi named fastest-growing supermarket

Aldi was the fastest growing grocer in the 12 weeks to 30 October, with sales up 22.7% year on year over the period, as consumers look to save money amid the cost of living crisis.

Fellow discounter Lidl also performed well, with its sales increasing by 21.5%. The two supermarkets now hold a 9.2% and 7.2% market share, respectively.

Aldi and Lidl’s combined market share is now 16.4%, nearly four times what it was 14 years ago (4.4%), according to data from Kantar.

Of the traditional ‘big four’ supermarkets, Asda was the fastest growing over the period, with a 5.3% sales boost meaning it maintains its market share of 14.3%. Sainsbury’s increased sales by 3.3% taking its market share to 14.9%, while Tesco boosted sales by 3.1%, with its place as the UK’s biggest supermarket in tact at 27%.

Morrisons again saw its sales decline, down 4.6% over the period, meaning its market share sits at 9% – just below Aldi.

Overall, grocery price inflation for October hit 14.7%, another record high since Kantar began tracking prices in 2008.

Own label again saw a boost over the period as consumers trade down, up 10.3% over the last four weeks. Meanwhile branded good grew at 0.4%.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, says: “Food and drink spending is generally non-discretionary so it’s not easy for shoppers to cut back the amount they buy. Many are looking to reduce costs in other ways and the big shift to own label is still accelerating.

“While some of the rise will be down to price inflation, we can clearly see the trend in sales of the very cheapest value own label ranges, which are up by a whopping 42%. These items currently represent just under 3% of the market, although retailers have been adding new products in recent months, so it will be interesting to see if this continues.”

PizzaExpress brings back CMO title with latest appointment

PizzaExpress has named Stephen Taylor as CMO, taking over from chief customer officer Shadi Halliwell who departed in September.

Taylor joins from his role as global CMO of Nokia, prior to which he led marketing across Europe for PayPal and Samsung. Prior to moving into tech and telecoms, he spent the first 14 years of of his career at Gillette, moving to Procter & Gamble following its acquisition of the brand, before then joining Findus Group.

At PizzaExpress, which overhauled its brand identity last year under Halliwell’s watch, Taylor will be responsible for driving the restaurant chain’s digital transformation following the recent roll out of partnerships with Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats.

He will head up the brand’s digital and loyalty, brand and marketing communications, strategy and insight, food and beverage and live music teams.

Taylor joins the PizzaExpress leadership team and will report directly to CEO Paula MacKenzie.

She says: “We need a dynamic CMO to lead a creative marketing strategy that combines our heritage with fresh, distinctive brand building. Stephen brings diverse experience with a proven track record of honing a brand identity and resurrecting nostalgic brands. Leading a talented team, he will ensure that we show up in both an authentic and relevant way to loyal and new customers across our omnichannel business, a key part of fuelling our future growth.”

ITVX set to replace ITV Hub on 8 December

itvITV is set to launch its free streaming platform, ITVX, on 8 December with more than 250 films and 200 series, including some new and exclusive programmes thanks to “a significant, streaming-first commissioning budget”.

ITVX replaces ITV Hub, with the broadcaster promising an “improved product experience”.

It will launch across devices and platforms next month. In addition to the more than 10,000 hours of content, all ITV channels will be available to live stream through ITVX, alongside additional themed channels, known as FAST channels, and a dedicated news section.

ITV’s CEO, Carolyn McCall, says: “ITVX is powered by a significant, streaming-first commissioning budget, and an integrated technology and data platform providing a high quality, and more personalised viewing and advertising experience, that will continue to evolve in 2023 and beyond.”

ITV-backed Woo launches marketplace

ITV-backed youth-focused media business, Woo, has launched a marketplace offering personalised shopping centred on wellness.

Shop.planetwoo.co is described as a “physical manifestation” of the editorial brand, which launched in April and has so far attracted 78 million viewers.

The platform is designed so people can shop by mood, and is categorised by “real-world conversations with Gen Z”. These categories include ‘main character’, ‘chill’, ‘horny’, ‘reset’ and ‘trippy’.

The platform sells both products and services including gender-neutral skincare and make-up, supplements, sex toys, homeware and fashion, with prices ranging from nothing to £1,950.

Stephen Mai, CEO and founder of Woo, says: “The Woo marketplace is a new way to find stuff that makes you feel good – with products, services and solutions curated through a cultural lens. It’s a mood-enhancing marketplace for inspiration, not just buying things. Our mission is to normalise wellbeing the way people think about music and fashion. We want people to think about shopping in a different way – as an enlightening feel-good experience not a fleeting transaction.”

Uber partners with Avios

Uber has teamed up with Avios to offer British Airways Executive Club member the chance to collect points when using the ride-hailing app.

Members will be able to start collecting one Avios point for every £1 spent on Uber across its car, coach or train services.

Avios, which is operated by IAG Loyalty, can be redeemed against floghts, travel, leisure, shopping and financial services. Existing partners include American Express, Nectar, Avis Budget Group and Marriott.


Twitter users can now buy blue tick verification for $8 a month

Following speculation after Elon Musk tweeted plans to make users pay for their blue tick verification status on Twitter, the company has confirmed it plans to charge for the service.

An Apple update from the company says users in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will be able to sign up, at a cost of $7.99 (£7). The blue tick has previously only been available to “authentic and individual” users, such as news organisations and celebrities, but will now be rolled out to any users signing up to the “premium” service.

The service is also expected to come with other features, such as fewer ads and the option to post longer videos and rank higher for uploaded content.

The news comes following swathes of job cuts at the company, which started on Friday (4 November) and has seen entire teams lose their jobs.

READ MORE: Twitter launches $8 blue tick subscription service

Made.com expected to enter administration this week following rescue failure

Made.com is expected to go into administration either today or tomorrow, as attempts to find a buyer have allegedly failed.

The company announced it was planning to bring in the administrators last week, with PwC expected to oversee the process. Next is reportedly the frontrunner to take on the Made.com brand, according to the BBC.

The online furniture retailer paused its orders at the end of October following a difficult period as big-ticket items dropped in sales and supply chain issues impacted delivery times.

Administration will cause around 500 jobs to be lost, and leave thousands of customers waiting on refunds too. It was only in summer 2021 that the company was valued at £800m and listed on the stock exchange, after profits boomed in lockdown.

READ MORE: Made.com expected to go into administration this week

Napolina refreshes brand identity to move away from ‘humble’ perception

The British-Italian brand Napolina has launched a refreshed brand identity and campaign as the brand highlights its “good, quality” ingredients and tries to move away from the perception that tomatoes, olive oil and pasta are “humble ingredients”.

The ‘Not so humble ingredients’ campaign, the first for the brand with agency Lucky Generals, is leaning on “hyperbole and humour” across out of home, digital out of home and social media.

“With economic pressure seeing people cutting back on eating out, consumers are looking for high-quality food when they eat in,” says brand marketing director at parent company Princes, Jeremy Gibson, who adds that right now is “no time to be humble” for the brand.

“With this campaign, Lucky Generals has given Napolina a distinctive brand message and enabled the brand to stand out from the rest of the sector,” he adds.

Meta expected to announce large-scale job cuts

Meta is reportedly set the cut thousands of roles, after taking an $80bn (£69m) hit to its market value in October.

The news of job cuts, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, is expected to impact thousands of employees at Facebook’s parent company, amid the current global economic downturn.

Declining to confirm the job cuts, a spokesperson for the company highlighted a statement by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg last month, where he said: “In 2023, we’re going to focus our investments on a small number of high-priority growth areas”. This means “some teams will grow meaningfully, but most other teams will stay flat or shrink over the next year”.

He added that the company expected to see out 2023 either “roughly the same size, or even a slightly smaller” organisation than this year.

READ MORE: Facebook’s parent Meta prepares to slash thousands of jobs – reports

New EE ad sees Kevin Bacon surrounded by snakes as the network highlights its ‘Full Fibre’ broadband

‘Snakes’, the new ad campaign from EE, enlists the help of snakes in an attempt to echo how “uncomfortable” slow broadband can feel, when it “just slithers along”.

Created with Saatchi & Saatchi UK, the campaign aims to show customers that the network’s internet speeds remain fast at peak times.

“We all know just how frustrating it can be when you don’t get what you pay for. With our new broadband campaign, we wanted to remind our customers that they can count on EE and with our Full Fibre Broadband, they will always get the peak time speeds they pay for,” says EE marketing communications director Pete Jeavons.

The campaign is running across out of home, video on demand and social, in 30- and 60-seconds spots.


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