Google, Aldi, Boots: Everything that matters this morning

Good morning and welcome to Marketing Week’s round-up of the news that matters in the marketing world today.

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ASA bans ads from Google and Lidl

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints against both Google and Lidl today.

Two ads for Google, running in the Channel 4 Taskmaster ad break, have been banned as complainants challenged whether they were obviously distinguishable from editorial content.

The ads were “reminiscent” of the Taskmaster show, and the ASA suggests viewers may not have been able to distinguish them from the programme’s own content.

Google says ‘#ad’ was displayed on screen during the ads for three seconds, exceeding the 2.2 seconds in the BCAP guidance for superimposed text in TV advertising, while Channel 4 says it used a range of devices to show the content was advertorial, and that there are “no specific rules” for the length of time #ad should appear.

However, the ASA has determined the ads didn’t properly indicate, from the Google logo and link to YouTube alone, that viewers were watching an ad, despite the inclusion of #ad for the opening three seconds.

Meanwhile, two Lidl adverts have also been banned for misleading customers on price comparisons with Tesco, following a complaint from rival store Aldi.

One ad suggested customers could save 35% and the second suggested they could save 30% compared with the same basket at Tesco.

The watchdog determined Lidl did not make the ads, which ran in Scotland, “sufficiently clear” that savings only related to the specific products highlighted.

Lidl said it was not its intention to make a general savings claim against Tesco with the copy, and that it “did not believe that the average consumer could reasonably reach that conclusion” when viewing the ads in context.

ISBA and IPA ‘disappointed’ by decision to privatise Channel 4 

News that the government is set to sell Channel 4 before the next general election has sparked a backlash from both the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), which both expressed their disappointment with the move.

The sale could raise more than £1bn, reports the Financial Times, as government officials said the broadcaster was expected to be put up for bids by the end of 2023.

ISBA’s director general, Phil Smith, has expressed his disappointment in the decision.

He details the “substantial risk” Channel 4 could face outside of public ownership if “diluted and challenged over time by a new private owner” that “naturally would be pursuing profit and returns to shareholders as a priority”.

Smith adds: “Another key concern of our members is the undue dominance in the TV advertising market that may result. At present, there are three TV saleshouses – owned by Channel 4, ITV, and Sky – involved in the buying and selling of advertising space. Were these to be consolidated, it would create undue dominance in the TV advertising market and reduce competition.”

“For the market to be effective for both advertisers and consumers there needs to be competition.”

The IPA has also expressed its disappointment.

Citing the channel’s innovative approach and commitment to diversity and inclusion, IPA director general Paul Bainsfair says advertisers “now face the risks privatisation could bring regarding competition and media plurality”.  

He adds: “As we said back in our response to the consultation in September 2021, Channel 4 is a success. Its purpose-driven programming is good for society and it’s good for culture, and crucially, to the IPA, our members and their advertiser clients, it’s good for business. We see no upside but significant downside to privatisation.”

READ MORE: Channel 4 to be sold off by government for up to £1bn (£)

Large restaurants must now show calorie count on menus

From today, restaurant goers will see calories displayed on menus when eating out as the government plans to tackle obesity by encouraging healthier choices.

Under the new rules, food and drink businesses in England with 250 or more employees must now display calorie information on non-prepared food and soft drinks. It’s a practice the likes of Wetherspoons and McDonalds have been already been carrying out, but consumers will now see it more widely.

Wahaca’s co-founder Mark Selby said the focus on counting calories is a problem, reports the BBC.

“It tells part of the story but I think it slightly misses out some quite important fundamentals around food – be it nutrition, fibre, all those things – which potentially we feel might be more relevant or certainly need to be considered,” he said.

The Department of Heath and Social Care said it was taking “decisive action” to help people live “longer lives”, as obesity is one of the “biggest” health issues in the country.

“Displaying calorie information on menus can help people consume fewer calories when eating out or getting a takeaway, as well as encouraging businesses to provide lower calorie options for their customers,” it said.

The new rules have provoked a backlash. Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, has suggested the move will worsen harmful eating disorder thoughts and behaviours.

The charity’s director of external affairs, Tom Quinn, said there was evidence calorie information causes anxiety and distress for people affected by eating disorders.

“It can increase a fixation on restricting calories for those with anorexia or bulimia, or increase feelings of guilt for those with binge eating disorder,” he told the BBC.

“There is also very limited evidence that the legislation will lead to changed eating habits among the general population.”

READ MORE: Calories now appear on menus in large restaurant chains

Aldi to donate 250,000 meals over Easter as cost of living crisis deepens

Almost all food banks (99%) have seen a surge in demand since the start of the year, according to research from Aldi and community giving platform Neighbourly.

The survey polled more than 700 food banks and community causes nationwide and found that a third of the people (33%) using the services in recent months are new to food banks.

The research highlights that food banks have seen an average rise in demand of around 31% so far this year, and expect this to increase in the next three months as the cost of living crisis worsens.

Aldi will be supporting food banks, along with charities and community groups, throughout the UK by donating almost 250,000 meals to people in need during the Easter school holidays.

Given food banks estimated that demand for help rises by around a third during school breaks, with 89% saying they have capacity to take more donations of food with the Easter school holidays approaching, Aldi is set to donate almost 105 tonnes of food to alleviate the struggle, with 187,000 meals expected to be donated to causes focused on helping families and children.

Corporate responsibility director at Aldi UK, Liz Fox, detailed how busy the school holidays are for organisations, but especially “in the current climate, it is likely these organisations will soon see greater demand than ever before”. 

“We’re proud to support good causes across the country, helping them to provide meals to those in need all year round. Customers can also donate in store if they wish, with donation points located by the packing benches in all our stores,” she added.

Boots adds to loyalty proposition by taking its advantage prices online

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From today, Boots customers will be able to shop Boots Price Advantage offers online, after the retailer first launched the scheme in 150 stores in January.

Boots Advantage Card holders will be able to access lower prices on a range of products online, with “even more” products now being included in the scheme, “offering customers more savings than ever before”.

The scheme now extends to more than 300 additional products across the retailer’s categories including beauty, health and baby.

Shoppers who take part in the scheme will see an average saving of £2.65 per product, with some products having up to 50% off and savings as big as £17.

Boots CMO Pete Markey said the move was born out of customer feedback, with many customers saying they wanted “immediate benefits” through the loyalty program, “as well as being able to save up points and treat themselves in the future”.

“The response from the store launch has been really positive which is why we are now making it more accessible by rolling out online and adding in more products,” he added.

The Boots Advantage Card remains one of the UK’s biggest loyalty programs with new research from Mando-Connect and YouGov showing it to be third most appealing amongst customers after Tesco Clubcard and Nectar.

Last month, Marketing Week reported how the loyalty space is hotting up, with brands increasingly hoping that a “new generation of revitalised loyalty schemes will be a game changer when it comes to understanding consumers and driving sales”.

READ MORE: Who will win the battle for loyalty?

Tuesday, 5 April

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Walkers to invest £35m in shifting entire portfolio away from HFSS

Walkers is aiming for 50% of its sales to come from healthier products by 2025, as it redevelops its entire snacks portfolio.

With an initial investment of £35m over the next three years, the company will reformulate or launch new products that do not classify as high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), hoping to generate 30% of sales with these snacks. It is also aiming for an additional 20% of sales to come from snacks with 100 calories or less per packet.

Earlier this month, the company launched its first non-HFSS crisp range, Walkers 45% Less Salt, with plans for more reformulated snacks to feature on supermarket shelves in the near future. These include Doritos Dippers, Popworks and Walkers Baked – a brand containing 50% less fat than its regular crisps and already worth £64m in retail sales value (RSV) according to Nielsen.

Walkers will also launch a new healthier non-HFSS crisp range in the future. The brand will look to develop methods to reduce saturated fat and salt without changing the taste and flavour of products.

Parent company PepsiCo’s general manager of UK & Ireland, Jason Richards, says: “This is a significant milestone in our long-term commitment to provide smart, snacking choices, without compromising the taste. We’ve been making changes to our portfolio over many years, but now is the time for even bolder action.

“We have set ourselves the ambitious goal of a 50% sales target for non-HFSS or low calorie snacks. We’ve got a long way to go from where we are now, but we’re determined to make this happen.”

The move comes as part of PepsiCo’s strategic health and sustainability plan, PepsiCo Positive.

A proposed HFSS ‘ad ban’ by the government looks to limit the in-store and online promotion and advertisement of HFSS foods, including a ban from advertising before the 9pm watershed. The legislation has now been delayed until 2023, however.

Morrisons warns on the impact of inflation and the Ukraine war on profits

MorrisonsMorrisons has warned that its sales and core profits for the year could be negatively impacted by inflation and the war in Ukraine unless the situation improves. The retailer says consumer spending, and therefore its sales and core profits, have dropped since February.

“We are taking steps to mitigate the impact of these developments on our EBITDA (core earnings) for the remainder of the year,” the retailer said.

It added that “developments in the geopolitical environment” and “ongoing and increasing inflationary pressure” could see a “material adverse effect” on its sales and earnings.

Morrisons appears to be trailing its supermarket rivals. In the latest data from Kantar, the retailer’s sales fell 11.5% in the three months to 20 March, more than any other major chain. Aldi and Lidl have been the only grocers to see sales increase, as cash-strapped consumers seek cheaper groceries.

Morrisons generates less annual revenue than rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda. However, it is the only major supermarket with its own abattoir and meat-processing operations.

In October, the supermarket chain was taken into private ownership when it was bought by US firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice for £7bn.

READ MORE: Morrisons warns sales and profits could be hit by inflation and war in Ukraine

UK government to go ahead with privatisation of Channel 4

channel 4The government is to proceed with privatising public broadcaster Channel 4. Digital, culture, media and sport minister Nadine Dorries tweeted that she has “come to the conclusion that government ownership is holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon”.

Channel 4 is publicly owned but privately funded, around 90% of its funding currently comes from ads. It reinvests its profits into new programming.

A public consultation on Channel 4’s privatisation was launched last year and saw over 60,000 responses. The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) were among those to express opposition to Channel 4’s privatisation.

ISBA, which represents brands advertising in the UK, said that Channel 4 provided access to “hard to reach audiences”, and that no new private owner “could be guaranteed to maintain all the facets of the current offering”.

Despite opposition to the sale from sectors including advertising professionals and independent production companies, the government has decided to proceed with the sale. It reportedly hopes to raise £1bn from the privatisation of the broadcaster. Dorries said this money will be reinvested into “levelling up the creative sector”.

Channel 4 says the news is “disappointing” and pointed out there will be “a lengthy legislative process and political debate” before it can be privatised. In July 2021, the broadcaster launched its ‘Altogether Different’ campaign aimed at reminding the public what it stood for and celebrating its “unique public service remit”.

READ MORE: Nadine Dorries presses ahead with plan to privatise Channel 4

World Federation of Advertisers issues guidelines to help brands avoid ‘greenwashing’

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has issued guidelines to help brands make credible environmental claims and avoid “greenwashing”.

The ‘Global Guidance on Environmental Claims’ identifies six principles that marketers need to follow to ensure the environmental claims they make can be backed up by evidence. The guidance is to help brands avoid being accused of greenwashing by consumers or regulators.

In February, smoothie brand Innocent Drinks saw its ad banned by the UK regulator the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ASA found the ad was “misleading” consumers by implying Innocent’s products were good for the environment. The brand was accused of greenwashing by campaign groups.

The WFA’s guidance aims to help brands falling into a similar trap by only making environmental claims that are fully contextualised and can be backed up by evidence. The six principles include stipulations that environmental claims made by marketers must not be misleading or include omissions of important information.

The guidance was developed alongside the International Council for Advertising Self-Regulation (ICAS) and the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) with the support of environmental experts from the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA

The WFA says that 64% of its Planet Pledge signatories have ethical standards in place to ensure green claims are credible. Dairy company, Arla is a new member, and takes the number of companies involved to 27. The signatories of the Planet Pledge represent close to $50bn in cumulative global marketing spend.

Anouschka Elliott appointed as Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s global head of marketing

Goldman Sachs Asset Management has appointed Anouschka Elliott as its global head of marketing. Elliott joins from UBS Asset Management, where she also held the role of global head of marketing.

Elliott has developed her career over 25 years and is experienced in B2B financial marketing. She started her career at Citi, where she joined as a graduate trainee. She held the role of director, client strategy and management there, before joining The Ingenious Group. She also spent time at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), where she rose to global head of marketing and brand at the bank’s investor and treasury services.

In January 2020, Elliott joined UBS Asset Management, part of the UBS Group. In October 2021, she spoke about the process of transforming the role of the marketing team at the company. She said at B2B brands, there is a tendency to view marketing as a “sales service”, rather than a “business driver”.

She warned that this process of transformation was “not for the faint-hearted”.

Elliott also holds a role as part of the Effectiveness Leadership Group at the IPA. For two years, between January 2018 and January 2020 she was also vice-chair of The Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Elliott says she was “thrilled” to be joining the team at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, during what she calls an “exciting time” for the company.

Monday, 4 April

EasyJetEasyJet blames Covid absences for cancellation of 100 flights

EasyJet has cancelled around 100 flights due to Covid-related staff absences, including 62 from the UK, causing disruption to Easter holidays.

The airline told the BBC it had attempted to offset the issues with standby crew, but was forced to make cancellations in advance. EasyJet described the cancellations as representing a “small part” of the 1,645 flights it planned to operate today.

“As a result of the current high rates of Covid infections across Europe, like all businesses, EasyJet is experiencing higher than usual levels of employee sickness,” says a spokesman.

Affected customers have been asked to rebook alternative flights, or alternatively will receive a voucher or refund.

As the Easter holidays kick off, both Manchester Airport and Heathrow have seen passengers hit by long queues at check-in and baggage claim, caused in part by staff shortages.

Manchester Airport blamed staff shortages and recruitment challenges, following the “most damaging two years in its history”. The airport told the BBC a combination of the lifting of Covid restrictions and the start of the summer travel season had caused a “rapid increase” in passengers, putting strain on its operations.

However, despite the delays and cancellations, other airlines are hoping to cash in on the surging demand for foreign travel. Jet2 said last week plans to “consolidate” its position as the UK’s leading airline and tour operator to Greece, announcing a “massive expansion” for the summer of an extra 500,000 seats, an 86% increase in capacity compared to summer 2019.

READ MORE: EasyJet cancels 100 flights due to Covid absences

1.5 million still unable to use Trump’s Truth Social app

A waiting list of almost 1.5 million people are still unable to use Donald Trump’s Truth Social, as the social media app is beset by technical issues.

Truth Social was launched in February in response to the former US president’s lifetime ban from Twitter on 8 January 2021, following the attack on the US Capitol. The app is not yet available on Android or web, or to most people living outside the US.

In February, Truth Social chief executive Devin Nunes said the app would be “fully operational” by the end of March.

The BBC reports when it launched on 21 February Truth Social was one of App Store’s most downloaded apps, but following tech issues studies now suggest it is outside the top 100 most downloaded apps and downloads have dropped by up to 95%.

Despite having 750,000 followers on the platform, Trump has reportedly not posted on the site for well over a month, while prominent voices in the former President’s orbit appear to have stayed clear of the app.

There are also suggestions that the integration of video-sharing platform Rumble is causing technical issues. Pitched as an alternative to YouTube, Rumble has proved popular with conservatives and the far right.

Director of NYU’s Center for Social Media and Politics, Joshua Tucker, branded the rollout of Truth Social “a disaster”, while Republican sources told the BBC they were confused about why the technical issues were taking so long to be resolved.

READ MORE: Trump’s Truth Social app branded a disaster

Lush promises to revamp stores amid return to profitability

Lush TBH365 bath bombLush is planning to refit its UK stores, focusing on opening larger outlets with services such as spas and hairdressers, amid a return to profitability.

According to the Financial Times, the ethical beauty business recorded a pre-tax profit of £29m in its latest financial year, recovering from a loss of £45m the year prior. That said, turnover fell from £437.8m to £408.7m during the period.

Pre-Christmas Lush raised prices by 7%, with co-founder Mark Constantine pledging not to raise prices any further in the UK.

As of 30 June, Lush operated 919 stores across 48 countries. The brand has written off its business in Russia, which spanned 48 locations, while its shops in the Ukrainian cities of Lviv and Dnipro remain open. The Financial Times also reports Lush paid $180m in Canadian dollars to take over its North American partner, a move which will add 80% to the company’s revenues.

Forced to close under lockdown when rivals like Boots were classed as essential retail, Lush reportedly saw sales fall by 25% during the pandemic, leading the beauty business to cut employee levels by a similar amount. During 2020 and 2021, the company received £38.7m in furlough payments and further emergency support.

Maintaining its focus on charitable giving, Lush raised £6.3m for charity and donated £3.9m to good causes during its latest financial year.

READ MORE: Lush pledges to invest in UK stores after return to profit (£)

M&S pledges ‘year-round style’ as fashion business continues to ‘reshape’

Marks & Spencer is pledging to “reshape” to offer “more relevant product” all year-round, in the first spring campaign under its ‘Anything but Ordinary’ brand platform.

Uniting men’s, women’s and childrenswear, the ‘Anything but Ordinary, Spring Style’ campaign is described as the “next exciting iteration” of the platform initially launched for the autumn/winter season and carried through to the Christmas campaign.

The new campaign, devised by creative agency ODD, will run across print ads, Instagram reels and a 30-second TV advert. The concept is described as a continuation of the “playful and energetic style” the agency has been creating for M&S Clothing and Home over the past few months, following a “strong customer response” to the Anything but Ordinary platform to date.

“We’re reshaping the future of M&S Clothing with relevant product for how our customers are living and working in 2022,” says M&S Clothing and Home marketing director Anna Braithwaite.

“This spring our new products are all about offering our customers the very best everyday style, quality and value for a season of socialising – whatever the weather – and all made with quality at the heart of their design – from fabric to fit. Our campaign aims to show this off with a confident, playful and fun campaign set to an incredibly iconic and feel-good track.”

Looking to position itself as the destination for shoppers all year round, M&S wants to demonstrate its product strength beyond the staples such as coats, knitwear and boots it is known for. The campaign is designed to show “versatile transitional products”, including denim and casual T-shirts, with the retailer seeing an opportunity to grow in “key categories” such as casual dresses.

M&S says it is responding to customer demand, with the company’s research suggesting 65% of customers are planning a holiday before August and 80% are planning to buy new clothes for the occasion.

According to M&S, customer searches for holidays are higher than pre-pandemic levels and swimwear has been the third most searched term on the website since January. Last month the retailer launched its holiday shop in-store, online and on the app, earlier than pre-Covid.

A further 40% of customers surveyed have a special occasion coming up, with 70% planning to buy a new outfit.

Tesco Mobile pitches itself as ‘super helpful’ answer to cost of living crisis

Tesco Mobile is pitching itself as “the super helpful network” during the cost of living crisis, with a campaign drawing ever closer to its supermarket masterbrand.

It is the latest iteration of the network’s ‘Supermarket Mobile’ creative platform, and the nationwide campaign spans TV, radio, print, outdoor, social and digital video. Describing the concept as leaning into the “helpfulness of Tesco”, the Tesco Mobile campaign shows the different ways the network aims to be on the customer’s side with three outdoor food-inspired creatives.

The TV ad, developed by creative agency BBH, is the first outing of the “helpful Tesco Mobile trolley”, on its mission to save a customer from an imminent price hike. The trolley tries to assist people along the way – from scaring away a fox rifling in a bin, to helping a boy who’s struggling to get up a hill on his bike – before finally saving a distressed customer from their mid-contract price increase.

The idea is to position Tesco Mobile as a “customer champion”, playing into the network’s “underdog spirit” as it seeks to right the industry’s wrongs.

“We know how hard it is this year with the rising cost of living, so it’s important now more than ever, to provide Tesco shoppers with an unrivalled mobile experience that they can’t get from other networks – like being truly helpful and offering exclusive rewards,” says Tesco Mobile CMO, Rachel Swift.



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