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The communications briefing: ASA says anyone with more than 30,000 followers is a celebrity

PR news this week, with thanks to Early Morning Media 


Sorrell on the new reality of advertising
Speaking at a recent business lunch organised by Euronews and the International Advertising Association, Sir Martin Sorrell held forth on the changing face of the advertising industry. The three fastest-growing sections of the industry, he said, are first party-data, digital advertising content and programmatic advertising. Sir Martin, who now runs S4 Capital, also said that the correlation between advertising, marketing spending, and overall GDP growth has broken down in recent times, especially in more developed markets. Elsewhere, Sir Martin, who has an estimated net worth of £625m, was profiled in the New York Times. “I know clients of WPP who were afraid of him,” said Jon Bond, the chairman of Sito Mobile, a mobile data company, and an ad industry veteran. “They would tell me that they couldn’t fire him because he knew everybody and they figured that one day, he could get them another job. Or he could get them blackballed.” Conversely, Kantar chief executive Eric Salama says “He was the best person you could imagine when something was not right in your personal life. People who had cancer, who were ill, whose partner had died — Martin was amazing to those people”.
Euronews  New York Times

How Bezos stage-managed $38bn split
The Telegraph looked at how Amazon founder Jeff Bezos used social media to announce that he and wife MacKenzie were separating after 25 years of marriage. He initially announced it on Twitter, in a joint statement with MacKenzie, who later sent her own tweet on the split. Both tweets received tens of thousands of Likes. “It was perfect”, a New York-based celebrity crisis communications consultant said. While usually recommending that clients stay away from social media, the consultant added, “he handled it well... he knows the media, he owns a paper. He knows his audience – his customers are of a certain generation… he got ahead of the story”. The following day, the National Enquirer revealed Mr Bezos had been in a secret relationship with TV host Lauren Sanchez; days later, he published a Medium essay accusing the tabloid of blackmail. "He couldn’t have been more transparent,” Stu Zakim, president of Bridge Strategic Communications, said.
The Daily Telegraph

WPP sells stake in Chime for £54m
WPP sold its 25% stake in Chime to majority owner Providence Equity Capital for an initial £54.4m, valuing the unit at nearly £220m. WPP Chairman Mark Read has made a number of disposals in recent months, including its 25% stake in The Farm to US-based Picture House; the firm is also looking to sell a majority stake in research business Kantar with the whole valued at £3.5bn.
More About Advertising

Pagoda strengthens senior team
Edinburgh-based agency Pagoda appointed Colin McFarlane as a director, overseeing the public affairs division of the business. Mr McFarlane, who has ten years’ experience within the Scottish Parliament and House of Commons, is currently Secretary of the Association for Scottish Public Affairs. His appointment follows on from the recent promotion of PR practitioner, Holly Russell, to director to boost its senior team.
The Scotsman


Trump’s whirlwind diplomacy creates great photos, unclear results
President Donald Trump’s recent weekend in China, that saw the resurrection of trade talks with Beijing, and with North Korea on nuclear weapons, was criticised as a public relations stunt that offered no concrete path to resolving issues with either country. The President’s historic stroll in North Korea with Kim Jong Un has been seen as PR coup for each leader. With his 2020 re-election campaign already kicking into high gear, Trump can point to gestures such as those made over the weekend as signs of diplomatic prowess – even if the ultimate deal in either case remains out of reach and far from certain. “Trump wants to make history,” Ian Bremmer, head of the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said of the impromptu Trump-Kim meeting, “even if it didn’t move the needle at all on denuclearization.”

Reputational Risk 

Ikea risks boycott after firing anti-LGBT employee
Poland's ruling-party is weighing a boycott of Ikea after the world’s largest furniture retailer reportedly dismissed an employee who refused to withdraw a critical comment he posted on the company intranet about a corporate event showing solidarity with LGBT interests. “I’ve been hired to sell furniture but I’m a Catholic and these aren’t my values,” said the former employee identified by local media as 'Tomasz K.' Ikea said in a statement that many employees contacted its HR department about the tone of the intranet posting. Katarzyna Broniarek, head of corporate communications at Ikea Retail, said the corporate culture is based on the “freedom of ideas, tolerance and respect for each employee but the company has to react when it sees risk of breach of dignity of other employees.”

BBC pay rises deemed ‘unjustifiable’
The BBC was under fire after its annual report revealed pay rises for its top stars and managers, bringing the Corporation’s salary bill to £1.5bn, up 6%. Criticism mounted after the broadcaster decided to strip most over-75s of their free TV licences. The BBC’s gender pay gap comes in at 6.7% – better than its nearest television rivals – ITV and Channel 4. Elsewhere, it was reported that Guardian News & Media's gender pay gap has fallen to 4.9% – down from 8.4% a year ago.
Daily Mail  The Independent  The Guardian  The Daily Telegraph

Nivea and FCB part ways
Nivea’s relationship with FCB, its long-standing advertising agency, is coming to an end, after a senior Nivea executive allegedly said: “We don’t do gay at Nivea” on a conference call. The decision not to renew the contract at the end of the year was announced in a staff memo from Carter Murray, the agency’s chief executive. It did not explicitly refer to the alleged incident but hinted that the client partnership had become strained. Its German owner, Beiersdorf AG, released a statement that did not confirm or deny the “we don’t do gay at Nivea” allegation but stressed the company’s commitment to diversity. Nivea previously faced criticism over a deodorant advertising campaign that featured the strapline “White is purity”, which was picked up by right-wing social media accounts. 
The Times


Football kit ad caught offside
The campaign around the launch of Manchester City’s new kit – the first to be produced in its new £650m deal with Puma – saw adverts pop up across Greater Manchester – including outside Old Trafford, home of arch-rivals Manchester United. It is not the first time City has attempted to mock the Red Devils; in 2009 it displayed a “Welcome to Manchester” poster at Deansgate in the city centre, following the transfer of Carlos Tevez from Old Trafford to the Etihad. That ad angered Sir Alex Ferguson, leading to his famous dig at City as “the noisy neighbours”.
Manchester Evening News


GDPR is showing clear promise as a modern law fit for the digital age
Writing in the FT, UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham claimed that, whilst GDPR is still finding its feet, it has so far “appeared adaptable to digital innovation.”
Financial Times

And finally… 

Celebrity status!
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that anyone with more than 30,000 social media followers should be considered a celebrity. The judgment came in a case regarding “mummy blogger” Sarah Willox Knox, who was found to have breached its rules when she promoted an over-the-counter sedative. The post was marked as an ad and the company behind it, Sanofi, said it had cleared the promotion with the healthcare trade body, the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, beforehand. Nevertheless, the ASA rejected Sanofi’s arguments that Ms Willox Knott's then 32,000 followers on Instagram did not class her as a celebrity. The ruling is the first of its kind where a social media influencer has fallen foul of regulations banning celebrities or health professionals from endorsing medical products.
The Daily Telegraph

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