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PR news this week, with thanks to Early Morning Media
Advertising growth and post-Brexit ‘Brand Britain’
The Evening Standard noted that in the first full year after the Brexit referendum, advertising exports grew faster than the wider services sector, which increased exports by 7% in 2017, according to ONS data, which was compiled by the Advertising Association for its first Exports Report. James Murphy, who is the AA’s exports champion and the group chief executive of Adam & Eve/DDB, commented: “It shows exports are more important than ever for the UK ad industry and growth has continued despite Brexit”. The AA report was timed to coincide with Advertising Week Europe, a four-day festival taking place this week. Mr Murphy believes that the fact that ad exports have been growing is proof that London has a “critical mass” compared with rival cities such as Amsterdam and Paris, and that there are grounds to believe London can retain its position as the “European capital of creativity”. The article concludes that “Rebuilding Brand Britain’s reputation will require a lot more than advertising, but it can still send a powerful signal that the UK’s drawbridge remains open to the world.”
Difference of opinion at Advertising Week Europe
Michael Roth, chairman of Interpublic, and Mark Read, CEO of WPP, were amongst the opening speakers at Advertising Week Europe, with Mr Roth calling on his peers to do more good in the world, and Mr Read required to defend working for tobacco companies. Both were asked questions about the issue of brand purpose, and the advertising industry’s wider responsibilities to society. Mr Roth commented: “When you think of purpose-driven advertising, it’s pretty clear that companies that participate on particular issues, and part of their communications and advertising have component of that, perform better. In order to build your brand you have to stand for certain things. Investors are looking for companies that stand for something and have value in the market place.” Asked whether WPP would work with a tobacco company, Mr Read replied: “Our people have to be able to decide what clients they want to work on and what clients they don’t want to work on and they should be absolutely free to make their own decisions. And clearly there are clients we would and wouldn’t work for.”
Sorrell to earn £2m bonus from WPP
WPP said it will pay former CEO Sir Martin Sorrell shares worth more than £2m, as part of his long-term bonus, despite having threatened to withhold the payment following his departure from the firm. Meanwhile, Sir Martin claimed his new digital-only business was in the “sweet spot” of the advertising world as the companies he has bought reported surging revenues. After leaving WPP, he launched a start-up focusing solely on online ads, buying content producer MediaMonks and automated “programmatic” ad-space buying firm MightyHive. Revenues from the businesses are up 58% at £135.9 million for the year to 31 December, with underlying profit of £21 million in what were the first set of figures for the new firm. Sir Martin said the digital market was growing at 20-30% while the market for the big holding companies such as WPP, Publicis and others was only growing at 2-3%.
The Daily Telegraph Financial Times The Times Evening Standard
Sara Latham was recruited as a communications director for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. She has been described as “very smart and very good at dealing with difficult characters” and “very diplomatically adept”. Miss Latham had recently rejoined London PR firm, freuds, as its managing partner, and is said to have close connections to the highest levels of business and politics, having worked for Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, among others.
Smart speaker ads present 'paradigm shift'
Nat Ives profiled Pandora Media's launch of a path for advertisers to target people as they use voice-activated assistants. Selling commercial time in streams, playing just on Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers, Pandora provides brands with a voice to tell consumers that they’re "ready to talk," he suggested. Dan Granger, chief executive at Oxford Road, an ad agency specializing in audio, acknowledged that without interactivity or shopping capabilities in the ads themselves, targeting smart speakers is an “incremental step” for marketers, though adds: “But it’s a signal that we’re moving toward a paradigm shift.” The number of smart-speaker users in the U.S. will increase by 15% this year, to 74.2m people, according to eMarketer, which estimates that U.S. e-commerce conducted by smart speaker will rise more than 50% this year - to $2.54bn.
Wall Street Journal
EU fines Google €1.5bn for blocking ad rivals
Google was fined €1.49bn (£1.28bn) by EU regulators, its third such penalty in two years. The case accused Google of abusing its market dominance by restricting third-party rivals from displaying search ads between 2006 and 2016. “Advertisers and website owners…had less choice and likely faced higher prices that would be passed on to consumers”, Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, said. Google had argued that it changed its AdSense contracts with large third parties, giving them more leeway to display competing search ads. Google executive Kent Walker, senior vice president for global affairs, said: “We’ve already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the Commission’s concerns. Over the next few months, we’ll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe.”
BBC News The Independent
Changing product launch landscape
A Forbes article examined whether there are new lessons in how to bring products to market, with CES announcements, press releases and TV ads less important than in the 1990s. It noted that in an era of marketing and sales transformation, approaches such as Announce, Push, Intercept and Cultivate all have fundamental parts to play in a product launch in 2019. It noted that YouTube Red, for example, mixes "Announce" and "Cultivate," letting people sample a few free episodes of shows in what is described as “an evolution from supermarket tastings because you're already halfway locked in with your customer data”. Josh Boaz, managing director of Direct Agents, said: “We’re seeing clients invest in channels outside of search… closer to where consumers are discovering and researching new brands.” Instagram Stories is also noted, “which has become both an awareness and conversion driver, especially with shoppable ads.”
Cadbury digs a legal hole with treasure plan
Cadburywas criticised over an advertising campaign urging children to take part in treasure hunts, with archaeologists warning that digging within a set distance of an archaeological monument is a criminal offence.
The Daily Telegraph BBC News New York Times
Boeing crash response criticised
Boeing lost $25bn of market capitalisation and took a severe hit to its reputation in the wake of the second crash involving its 737 MAX 8 model. Industry experts described the firm’s efforts to deal with the crisis variously as "terrible" and "rough", with Matt Yemma, a crisis communication specialist at Peaks Strategies, saying the airline could have announced it was voluntarily grounding the planes on Sunday to restore confidence. He went on: "Typically in a situation like this, you want to give as much information as you possibly can", which Boeing failed to do. Michael Priem of communications firm Modern Impact said the public expected "very quick responses and I think Boeing didn't engage in the conversation soon enough”. A Daily Mail article concluded that Boeing “may have to roll out a public relations campaign to try to restore confidence in its aircraft.”
Execs unprepared for crises
A recent report from technology PR specialist Hotwire, based on a poll of business decision makers, company marketing leaders and consumers, found that many company leaders are unprepared to deal with a crisis, and some don’t currently have a communication plan in place to deal with a high-stakes event. Sixty-one per cent of the marketing leaders probed for the High-Stakes Leadership in a Post B2B World report said their organization should take a more proactive stance on tackling key high-stakes issues. Furthermore, 45% said they don’t currently have a crisis communication plan in place, while only 33% said they work with a PR agency offering crisis management services.
Royal biographer Penny Junor’s book: Prince William: Born To Be King: An Intimate Portrait, claimed that he was part of an "engineered" plan to get Camilla Parker Bowles accepted by the British public. She noted that one occasion in particular was choreographed “to have Charles, William and Camilla together in the same room with every editor of Fleet Street there to witness it”. Ms Junor claims Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles “could have married” sooner, adding that “most of the public would have been supportive”.
This briefing has been prepared by Early Morning Media. If you are interested in a customised bespoke news briefing for you or your client across any vertical, please contact Charles.Webster@earlymorningmedia.co.uk