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The communications briefing: Forbes analyses S4 Capital's strategy and the trend towards moving work in-house

PR news this week, with thanks to Early Morning Media 


PRCA Board of Management appoints Instinctif deputy chair
Deputy chairman of InstinctifPartners Richard Nichols has been appointed to the Board of Management of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA). Mr Nichols said: “I am naturally delighted to be joining the Board of Management and to be working alongside industry peers as the PRCA celebrates its 50th anniversary, and to be playing a role as part of the PRCA championing best practice as our industry continues to grow and evolve.”

S4 Capital: The future of advertising?
Forbes looked at the history of Sir Martin Sorrell’s involvement with WPP, from his purchase of the company in 1985, his acquisition of hundreds of marketing and advertising agencies, through to his departure as chief executive last April. Within a month of leaving, he formed a new investment vehicle, S4 Capital, which rather than target earn-out based acquisitions, acts more like a private equity firm. Avi Dan, chief executive of agency search consultants Avidan Strategies, said S4’s focus on content, data and technology and a more nimble, flexible approach, is “the sweet spot of what clients want from their agencies”, adding that it represents the answer to complaints “that the traditional ad agencies are too complex and too expensive”.

Gideon Spanier: don’t overplay trend towards in-housing
Gideon Spanier said in the Evening Standard, that although David Jones, the founder of You & Mr Jones, a marketing tech group, is “overly pessimistic” in warning that agency holding companies such as WPP risk ending up “like Kodak” – which went bankrupt after failing to keep up with industry trends – he is correct in identifying in-housing as a threat. Companies such as Unilever, Vodafone, Barclays, TSB and GoCompare are bringing digital marketing services in-house, giving them greater control and reducing costs and complexity. Despite this trend, Mr Spanier also noted that such teams are unlikely to become magnets for the best creative talent in the industry; he quotes BBH co-founder Sir John Hegarty, who recently explained why he couldn’t imagine working in-house on one brand: “You will spend your whole life working on f***ing baked beans.”
Evening Standard

Stars pledge transparency on Instagram endorsement rules
Former Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh is one of 16 celebrities and influencers who have pledged to be more transparent about their promotional posts on Instagram, following a crackdown from the Competition and Markets Authority. Under consumer protection law, influencers are required to state clearly if they have received payment for products they endorse, either in gifts, money, or loan of the products. Others who have promised to follow the rules are along with Chung, Ora and Mackintosh are: Mario Falcone, Alexandra "Binky" Felstead, Goulding, Holly Hagan, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Michelle Keegan, Iskra Lawrence, Megan McKenna, Chloe Sims, Louise Thompson, Dina Torkia, and James Chapman. Separately, the FT’s Andrew Hill writes that the marketing of the Fyre Festival, whose collapse is detailed in two documentaries on Netflix and Hulu, serves to highlight the unchecked power of online stars to generate a buzz around a project.   Financial Times

Media companies shed workers
BuzzFeed is laying off 15% of its staff, or more than 200 jobs, amid a deteriorating climate for online publishers who have struggled to sustain fast growth in digital advertising sales in a tough battle with Alphabet’s Google and Facebook. BuzzFeed founder and chief executive Jonah Peretti said restructuring “will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our own destiny, without ever needing to raise funding again.” Meanwhile, Verizon Media Group, the portfolio of media brands that includes Yahoo, AOL and The Huffington Post, is laying off 7% of its workforce, a person familiar with the move has told CNBC. The layoffs affect around 800 employees of the Verizon division, and follow company-wide buyouts in December. A spokesperson for Verizon described the restructuring as a "strategic step toward better execution of our plans for growth and innovation into the future."
Financial Times   Wall Street Journal   CNBC   CNN   The Times 


Men still given prominence over women in adverts
Men are almost 40% more likely than women to be featured prominently in adverts, new research from Kantarreveals. After conducting a study titled 'AdReaction: Getting Gender Right', the company concluded that women appear in 67% more adverts than men; but that when women appear in adverts alongside men, the men are 38% more likely to be displayed in a prominent manner. "Women may feature more often because many brands attempt to target women as the main household purchaser. But as we have learnt, sometimes this may be misguided," the company stated. "What is clear is that greater prominence of men in advertising is likely a marker of historical precedent”. Kantar also found that, globally, 76% of female consumers and 71% of male consumers believing the way they are portrayed in advertising is completely out of touch.
The Independent   Marketing Interactive

Big guns get ready for Superbowl 2019
In the lead up to the 2019 Super Bowl, one of the world's most-watched sporting events, Katie O'Malley profiled some of the best adverts of the year so far. Pepsi has released its long-awaited Super Bowl LIII commercial, starring Cardi B, Steve Carell and Lil Jon, she noted, whilst crooner Michael Bublé has returned to star in PepsiCo’s debut Super Bowl advert and actors Sarah Jessica Parker and Jeff Bridges have teamed up to star in Stella Artois’ Super Bowl advert. The cost of a 30-second advert during the game climbed above £3.7m ($5.05m) last year, according to research, with spending on the night soaring 87% over the last decade. Meanwhile, More About Advertising praises DDB’s ad for Skittles for Super Bowl LIII on 3 February, which features Michael C. Hall, noting that it fits into a tradition of self-referential ad spots for the big game, including P&G’s “It’s a Tide ad” from last year.
The Independent More About Advertising


Brits angrier since Brexit vote, Edelman says
Britons have become "angrier about politics and society" since the 2016 EU referendum, according to a new survey by PR agency Edelman, leaving the UK feel "deeply divided and uneasy with itself." With one in six Britons found to have fallen out with relatives or friends over the issue of leaving the EU, Ed Williams, Edelman's UK and Ireland chief executive and EMEA vice chairman, commented: "Brexit has exposed fractures that have split families and divided friends, made us meaner and angrier as a society, and stoked fears of violent protest and civil disorder."

Labour wants to cage Tony the Tiger
Cartoon characters such as Tony the Tiger and Coco the Monkey would be removed from children’s breakfast cereal box fronts under a Labour government, the party’s deputy leader has said. Speaking at an Advertising Association conference, Tom Watson, who is also shadow secretary for digital, culture, media and sport, said refined sugar is “every bit as deadly” as tobacco, and that the advertising industry’s tactic of using playful characters to appeal to children is “grossly irresponsible”. A third of children are leaving primary school obese or overweight, and 23% of five-year-olds have one or more decaying, missing or filled tooth. A Kellogg’s spokesman said: 'We think people know that we’ve been working hard to offer healthier choices in the morning – we’ve slashed sugar in Coco Pops by 40%, removed high-sugar Ricicles from sale and dropped the sugar in Rice Krispies too.”
The Independent   Daily Mail

Reputational risk

Facebook launches lobbying spree
Facebook is advertising over 50 jobs related to public policy, from counter-terrorism specialists to "crisis communications" staff. Duties will include providing "input" into "regulation policy," shaping public opinion, and influencing "the next generation of data protection legislation." Successful applicants will also help define Facebook's own rules and policies. The company is seeking to hire lobbyists, policy experts and spin doctors as it prepares for a regulatory onslaught from global governments. Meanwhile, in some of his first public comments since joining the social media network as vice president of global affairs and communications, Sir Nick Clegg has asserted that Facebook should pay more tax in Europe. The former deputy prime minister said it was "unbalanced" that most of Facebook's tax bill is paid in the US "even though the vast majority of Facebook's users are outside the United States".
The Daily Telegraph   BBC NewsFinancial Times    The Guardian

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