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The communications briefing: UK festive ad spend set to hit £6.8bn

PR news this week, with thanks to Early Morning Media 


Tories' shaky election start 'a PR masterclass'
Parliamentary sketchwriter Michael Deacon suggested that the Conservatives' shaky start to the election campaign, in which a Cabinet minister resigned an hour before the Prime Minister’s first campaign speech, Andrew Bridgen gave a disastrous interview on Radio 4, as did Jacob Rees-Mogg about Grenfell, is actually "a PR masterclass." Whenever a political party is in trouble, he says, Australian campaigns guru Sir Lynton Crosby – a long-term ally of Boris Johnson – offers a simple piece of advice: “Chuck a dead cat on the table, mate,” which translates as "do something so shocking it makes everyone forget what you were in trouble for."
The Daily Telegraph

Lord Puttnam: UK can't rely on US platforms to regulate political ads
Lord Puttnam, chair of a parliamentary inquiry into democracy and digital campaigning, told the Advertising Standards Authority that the UK cannot simply continue to rely on the goodwill of US digital platforms such as Facebook and Google for regulating political adverts online. “We cannot sit around waiting for the west coast of the USA to decide they want to behave like human beings,” Lord Puttnam told Lord Currie and Guy Parker, respectively the chair and chief executive of the ASA, in the House of Lords on Tuesday, adding: “We don’t have a system that can accommodate with that”. The ASA stopped regulating political advertising in the 1990s, in part, Mr Parker said, due to the fact that “you have to tread lightly when regulating political speech”. He told the committee that his personal view now is that political advertising should be regulated in the UK, but that the ASA did not have an official position on the matter, apart from to say that it was not the right body to handle the task.
The Guardian


UK festive ad spend set to hit £6.8bn
Businesses in the UK are expected to spend £6.8bn on seasonal advertising during the final quarter of this year, 4.7% up on last year’s record, according to figures from the Advertising Association and WARC. In the final quarter of 2010 advertisers spent £4.3bn, with that figuring rising to more than £5bn by Q4 2015 and reaching £6.45bn by 2018. "This year looks set to be a ground-breaking year for ad spend and, at £6.8bn, the figure would be an increase on last-year’s, which was itself a record”, said Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford. “We’re hopefully looking forward to a season of goodwill for British advertising and the national economy as brands and retailers invest in festive adverts like never before".

Ogilvy promotes Oosthuizen to global role
Ogilvy South Africa announced the promotion of chief operations officer Joanna Oosthuizen to director of public relations & influence for Ogilvy’s Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Ms Oosthuizen has been with the group for 15 years; in 2015 she received an Ogilvy Giant Award as one of the top-performing senior people at Ogilvy worldwide and, in 2016, was named in the PR Powerbook as one of the top PR practitioners globally.
Mark Lives

French group builds rival to Sorrell’s S4 with UK deal
Fimalac, the holding company owned by French billionaire Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, has bought a majority stake in digital marketer Jellyfish, into which it will merge its data-driven marketing specialist Tradelab. “We want to create this new kind of agency that Martin Sorrell started”, said Véronique Morali, president of Webedia, Fimalac’s digital media subsidiary. “Now we are in very good shape to be a real competitor”.
Financial TimesBusiness Cloud  

Michael Stewart joins PwC
Following six years in senior roles with global firm Edelman, Michael Stewart joined PwC as its new Global Leader for Corporate Affairs and Communications in London. The world’s big audit and advisory firms, suffering amid a raft of scandals and increasing regulation, are launching similar roles to help them take back control of the narrative. KPMG last month named Jane Lawrie as its first Global Head of Corporate Affairs.


Retailers roll out Christmas adverts
Marks & Spencer’s traditional festive advert launched has now gone live, with Paddy McGuinness and Emma Willis hitting a Christmas market for the “The Perfect Turkey”. The launch of the advert brings an end to a year-long social media campaign that saw the presenters taste M&S products each month, picking out their favourites. Kevin the Carrot, who has starred in adverts for the German supermarket since 2016, squares up against the menacing “Leafy Blinders” in Aldi‘s 2019 Christmas advert. The spot also features bad boy Russell Sprout and a tomato called Tiny Tom, named after Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. John Lewis' Christmas ad, which has come to be the heavyweight among them all, typically launches in the second week of November so could arrive any day now. Sir Elton John starred in last year's video, which ended him as a young boy being gifted a piano from his mother and grandmother.
Evening Standard  The Independent  Evening Standard  

Big firms advertising on Pornhub
Some of the world’s biggest consumer goods retailers have run advertisements on porn website Pornhub, which has 110m daily visits and a 71% male audience. Unilever, behind brands such as Dove, Marmite and Hellman’s mayonnaise, ran a campaign on the site for male grooming company Dollar Shave Club and one ad read: “If you use our bathroom products you won’t have to visit this site as much.” Matt Knapp, creative director of Dollar Shave Club, told marketing magazine Mi3: “It’s not expensive, but interestingly, the exposure that you can get and the impressions are huge.” Though it's not illegal for firms to advertise on such sites, Unilever has insisted that it will no longer use them for marketing.
City AM  Birmingham Mail

Humanists launch Northern Ireland’s first billboards advertising legal same-sex marriages
The first billboards advertising legal same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland were erected across Belfast this week by Northern Ireland Humanists. The organisation, which conducts humanist marriages, funerals, and naming ceremonies and has a long history of campaigning for human rights, put up eight billboards in the city centre.


Combine high-tech software with high-touch service to better serve clients
Charlie Terenzio, director of, explained why PR distribution and monitoring solutions fail to earn media coverage for clients. He contended that the solution is to combine high-tech software with more high-touch service and strategy that would enable PR Clouds and platforms to better serve their clients and open the door to better opportunities for businesses of all sizes who are primed to disrupt their respective industries.

Casual inference helping marketers
Adam Kinney, head of machine learning and automated analysis at Mixpanel, looked at how casual inference – a new trend within machine learning – is helping marketers and business decisions makers understand causes and impacts. He explained that there are two key scenarios where companies can use causal inference to help with innovation and growth. Firstly, Mr Kinney said it can be used to help with the planning side of setting goals or objectives and secondly it can be used to help understand the impact of new features.
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