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The communications briefing: M&C Saatchi to merge PR agencies

PR news this week, with thanks to Early Morning Media

M&C Saatchi to merge PR agencies
M&C Saatchi Public Relations and Talk.Global are to reportedly set to merge. The new firm, M&C Saatchi Talk, will have a near-90-strong workforce and annual revenue of about £8m. Talk.Global chief executive Jane Boardman will be chief executive, with Chris Hides, global managing director and co-founder of M&C Saatchi Public Relations, named managing director. Talk.Global chief operating officer Ryan Woor will have the same title at M&C Saatchi Talk. It is understood that the merger will take place over the course of the next three months and will be completed in April. Separately, the FT considered whether M&C Saatchi can survive after Maurice Saatchi quit the agency alongside non-executives Lord Dobb, Sir Michael Peat and Lorna Tilbian.
Campaign   Financial Times
Tremor acquires video advertising platform
Video ad tech company Tremor is set to acquire outstream video advertising platform Unruly from News Corp. In exchange, News Corp will receive a 6.9% equity stake in Tremor, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, giving News Corp about $20m worth of Tremor stock. News Corp will remain Tremor’s flagship client, having signed a three-year contract to use Unruly exclusively to traffic its outstream video supply.
Business CloudHollywood Reporter

S4 Capital strengthens Latin America presence
S4 Capital agreed to buy Mexico City-based data-driven content agency Circus Marketing, merging it with content arm MediaMonks. The advertising and marketing firm did not provide financial terms for the acquisition. However, it said the consideration for Circus Marketing will be just over half in cash and the remainder in S4 Capital shares. S4 Capital, whose executive chair, Martin Sorrell, former head of WPP, said with the merger it will further strengthen its content expertise and position in the Latin America region.
Sky NewsShareCast

Optimum expands team
International strategic healthcare communications firm Optimum Strategic Communications appointed Shabnam Bashir to help build and strengthen its integrated PR and investor relations offering to clients across the global healthcare industry. Ms Bashir joins from Citigate Dewe Rogerson, where she supported the life sciences and healthcare team.
PR Newswire
Meghan and Harry update media relations policy
An updated media relations policy has been released by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex amid their plans to step down as “senior” members of the royal family. On Wednesday, the royal couple shared a post on Instagram detailing their decision to become “financially independent” from the royal family and to split their time between North America and the UK as they raise their son. The amended policy stated that Meghan and Prince Harry wish to “provide access to credible media outlets”, while preventing the “frequent misreporting” that occurs across the globe. Meanwhile, US PR guru Ronn Torossian, CEO of New York-based 5WPR, said the couple could now get “any endorsement deals in the world they may want”.
The Independent   Daily Mirror


News Corp wins VAT dispute with HMRC
Rupert Murdoch's newspaper group News Corp won a landmark legal case against HMRC over whether the Times' digital edition should be subject to VAT. The Upper Tribunal agreed that online editions of the Times and the Sunday Times should not be subject to a 20% VAT charge because their websites are only updated four times a day – meaning they met the legal definition of a newspaper. Philip Munn, a tax partner at RSM, said the ruling could have far-reaching effects for other parts of the economy: “Over the last few years people have been switching from printed matter to digital, so this ruling could have quite profound effects on a number of other products which enjoy zero-rating when they are provided in hard copy, such as books and maps.”
The Guardian  City AM


Tourism Australia pauses ad campaign
Tourism Australia has paused its new $15m ad campaign in the UK as the bushfire crisis across the nation continues. The three-minute 'Matesong' ad starring Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue was pulled from television screens less than a fortnight after it aired for the first time on Christmas Day. “The number one priority right now continues to be the emergency response to these devastating bushfires and the safety of communities and tourists in affected areas,” a Tourism Australia spokeswoman said. “In light of the current situation in Australia, we have reduced some of our campaign activity in the UK.”
Daily Mail

BrewDog ad muzzled
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a controversial advert for BrewDog’s alcohol-free beer after it was deemed to be offensive. The outdoor poster advert, seen in October 2019, included the words “sober as a motherfu” next to the image of a beer can with the text “BrewDog”, “punk AF” and “alcohol-free IPA” written on it. ASA received 26 complaints about the advert, all of which challenged whether it was likely to cause “serious or widespread” offence. A total of 16 complaints also challenged whether the ad was inappropriate for a medium that could be seen by children.
Food For Thought

Three cheers for Sky
The opportunity to create a TV advert and have an advertising campaign made exclusively for their business is being offered by Sky free of charge to its licensed trade customers. Tracy Harrison, director of marketing at Sky Business, said: “Imagine if you had Sky’s creative team at your disposal to make a TV advert promoting your pub and creating a campaign that targets audiences in your local postcode area? “That’s exactly what we are offering one lucky Sky Business customer – along with thousands of pounds worth of free, targeted advertising space across Sky’s channels – all of which has been designed to help drive footfall.”
Bar Magazine

Reputational Risk

Online reputation is everything

The Daily Telegraph looked at the growing business of online reputation management. Reputation management practitioners said their clients include lawyers, dentists, porn stars and even schools. Simon Leigh, a director of Pure Reputation, said: “I had a client who was in a club and he said something to a woman and then she got very offended by this and called the police.” In court, his lawyer said it was like 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and because his lawyer said that, it got latched into all the newspapers and now it's haunting him for the rest of his life.” For a monthly fee, which ranges from £1,500 up to £5,000 per month, these companies monitor the internet for negative posts and ask Google to stop surfacing them. Mr Leigh said that negative news articles are the most common issue. If a news website refuses to delete the article, then his business searches for any factual inaccuracies. “Sometimes a newspaper says 'their wife did this' and it wasn't even their wife,” Leigh said. Asking to change the article’s web address to remove the word “wife” can mean that the articles plummets in Google’s rankings.
The Daily Telegraph

And finally…

British TV ads – 10 of the best
Anglotopia Magazine looked back at 10 of the most memorable TV ads to have aired in the UK over the past 65 years, including Cadbury’s drumming gorilla ad of 2007, Moneysupermarket’s He-Man and Skeletor spot, designed to appeal to millennials, and the Boy on the Bike, the promotion directed by Ridley Scott for Hovis Bread that was voted Britain’s favourite ad of all time.

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

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