The communications briefing: Week ending 18 January 2019

Here’s what has been stirring up communications professionals in the news this week. With thanks for the help of Early Morning Media

Campaigns

Billboards are out of this world!
A project named Orbital Display is working towards bringing billboard advertisements to low-Earth orbit with a grid of "tissue box-sized satellites." Orbiting around 280 miles above ground, Russian startup StartRocket's satellites will unfurl "sails" emblazoned with text and graphics, to catch and reflect sunlight, to create advertising opportunities as well as enabling governments to flash urgent notifications during emergencies. Vladilen Sitnikov, StartRocket’s CEO, said: “It’s human nature to advertise everything … Brands [are] a beautiful part of humankind.” He compared his efforts to Elon Musk and SpaceX, who last year launched a Tesla into space.
Astronomy

Backlash for Gillette as '#MeToo advert' released
A new advertisement for razor company Gillette which makes references to bullying, the #MeToo movement and ‘toxic masculinity’, has received a largely negative response online. The firm says it wants men to hold each other "accountable" and is delivering this message through its short film, called ‘Believe’. The advert has been called "feminist propaganda" by internet users, with some calling for the Procter & Gamble-owned brand to post an apology video. However, president Gary Coombe stated: "By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behaviour, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal 'best,' we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come". Despite the criticism, Rob Saunders, an account manager at UK advertising company the Media Agency Group, said: "Their next steps are very important but it shouldn't necessarily be widespread panic yet… Their ad is getting them good publicity and good numbers and causing a debate – which they must have known when they put out this ad.”
BBC News   Wall Street Journal

Greggs: How its vegan sausage roll stormed social media
Shares in Greggs have hit an all-time high as solid trading figures follow a lauded marketing campaign, marking a turnaround for the chain after last spring saw a profit warning issued. Its latest success has been built around the launch of a vegan sausage roll, with PRmoment’s Good and Bad columnist Shannon Haigh saying that the campaign: “was all absolutely genius”. The chain’s profile was boosted by a tweet from TV presenter Piers Morgan criticising the product launch, with other celebrities then posting their own views on the matter. A Guardian article even suggested that the vegan sausage represented "a chance for a divided country to heal itself". Greggs digital brand communications manager Neil Knowles commented: "You can never plan how the public will react. Whilst we always anticipated it to be huge news we never expected the reaction to gain as much momentum as it has done.” John Brown of communications agency Don't Cry Wolf said the campaign was a "blueprint" for anyone involved in marketing, while Diane Wherle, marketing and insights director at consultancy Springboard noted: "The store does two things well – its prices are really good and the quality is reliable. There's nowhere else you can get a good sandwich at that price."  
BBC News

 Effect of biometrics on viral marketing campaigns
The Harvard Business Review features an article on how researchers can utilise physiological markers to measure emotional responses to content, thereby coming closer to understanding what makes people click on the ‘share’ button when they read articles online. In a recent study, participants were asked follow-up questions including: “Were you engaged in this content? Do you think you would share this?”, whilst an electrophysiological signal called galvanic skin response was measured, later used to predict the viral outcome of a piece of content. The writers concluded from further analysis that “whether or not someone actually told us they were interested in a type of content, their body’s response still predicted how that piece of content eventually performed on the internet.” Separately, Facebook is to extend some of its political advertising rules and tools for preventing election interference to India, Nigeria, Ukraine and the European Union ahead of significant votes in coming months. Rob Leathern, a director of product management at the firm, said: “We’re learning from every country… We know we’re not going to be perfect, but our goal is continuing, ongoing improvement.”
Harvard Business Review   The Daily Telegraph

Industry 

Marketing trends for 2019
Forbes Agency Council members share their insights on what marketing trends to expect in 2019, from the growth of artificial intelligence in personalisation and automation to the spread of micro-influencers. Also, making audiences part of the brand story is predicted to have a huge impact this year, with Bernard May of National Positions stating: “Brands that are more willing to interact with customers publicly will have a strong impact – and brands that can show how this engagement influences their products and services will make an even bigger impact.” Daniela Pavan of The Ad Store New York, meanwhile, expected: “Transparency to be the key to winning the hearts of consumers, who will reward those brands that share their values in an authentic and transparent way.”
Forbes

IPRN growth ‘reflective of growing trend of global collaborations’
The International Public Relations Network (IPRN) has announced that it has expanded its global reach with the addition of eight new member agencies from various countries. Nicole Capper, MD of MANGO-OMC, the South African PR agency which forms part of the network, commented: “The massive shift in the nature of PR due to changing technologies, coupled with growing globalisation and a undoubtable need to remain ahead of the skills game has meant that as an agency, we’ve had to find ways to remain relevant. Partnering with the IPRN was one of our strategies in 2018 – one that has definitely shown value.”
Biz Community

UK advertising faces no-deal Brexit recession
A no-deal Brexit could push the UK advertising sector to its first recession since 2009, according to research by Enders Analysis, which warns that ad spend in 2019 could fall 3% if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement. Display advertising would be hardest hit, Ender said, falling 5.3% to wipe £1.36bn off the market overall.
City AM

IPRN growth ‘reflective of growing trend of global collaborations’
The International Public Relations Network (IPRN) has announced that it has expanded its global reach with the addition of eight new member agencies from various countries. Nicole Capper, MD of MANGO-OMC, the South African PR agency which forms part of the network, commented: “The massive shift in the nature of PR due to changing technologies, coupled with growing globalisation and a undoubtable need to remain ahead of the skills game has meant that as an agency, we’ve had to find ways to remain relevant. Partnering with the IPRN was one of our strategies in 2018 – one that has definitely shown value.”
Biz Community

Digital advertising firm floats on LSE
Ocean Outdoor, operator of major advertising spaces such as the iconic Piccadilly Circus screen, has begun trading on the LSE. Chief executive Tim Bleakley commented: “The team is excited to have completed this process and to now be fully focused on the future. We believe that our quoted status provides an ideal platform from which to accelerate our growth ambitions.” This comes as concerns over Brexit ended six years of rising marketing spending in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to data from the IPA Bellwether Report. Paul Bainsfair, director-general of the organisation, remarked: “In uncertain times, the understandable reaction for some advertisers is to lose confidence in brand-building advertising”.
City AM   The Times

Political

PR guru's message to Davos
Ahead of next week's World Economic Forum in Davos, where this year's theme is Globalisation 4.0, Robert Phillips, visiting professor at Cass Business School, City, University of London and author of Trust Me, PR is Dead, writes that one of the "tragedies" of Trumpism and the excesses of Brexit is the extent to which falsehoods are deployed to support "winning" stories. He champions the "activist CEO," who behaves like a social activist to address global challenges, injustices and divisions, and rubbishes business leaders who claim to be in control of anything – from reputation to employees to customers – as indulging in "control fakery". Phillips suggests that we must all fight harder to support "truthful storytelling" through expertise, evidence and fact-checking, adding: "This demands public scrutiny alongside radical transparency – both friends of public leadership and essential in Globalisation 4.0."
Management Today

Government’s PR strategy ‘incompetent’ 
Tom Harris, writing in the Daily Telegraph, criticises the government’s communications strategy as Brexit approaches, particularly its using “opposing arguments to try to woo opposite sides.” He describes this as “possibly the most incompetent and foolish ‘strategy’ that could possibly be devised at this crucial and politically sensitive time.” It is also noted that the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement looks likely to be rejected next week by a Commons majority of 228, according to BBC analysis.
The Daily Telegraph

Reputational Risk

Google hopeful of regulatory win in Europe~An adviser to the European Union’s Luxembourg-based Court of Justice, the EU's top court, has said Google and other search engines should not be forced to apply the EU’s “right to be forgotten” principle beyond the bloc’s borders. Maciej Szpunar, an advocate general for the court, said in his non-binding opinion that mandatory removal of content from websites accessed outside the EU could see other jurisdictions using their laws to block information from being accessible within the EU. “There is a real risk of reducing freedom of expression to the lowest common denominator across Europe and the world,” Mr Szpunar wrote in his recommendation. The Wall Street Journal notes that if Mr Szpunar's argument is taken up by the court it would be a major victory for Google in its three-year battle against an order from France’s privacy regulator to apply "right to be forgotten" globally.
Wall Street Journal

Tiffany to reveal diamonds' origins
Tiffany & Co.is launching a transparency drive, with plans to inform customers about the provenance of its diamonds. Chief executive officer Alessandro Bogliolo commented: “This is a topic that has become more and more relevant for new generations”, adding “This is our duty, as a leader in diamonds, to provide customers with this information.” The move is seen as part of a wider program of revitalisation and modernisation. The firm plans to share the entire journeys of diamonds through the supply chain by 2020.
Bloomberg

Denham: Time for tech firms to rebuild trust
Writing in the Telegraph, Elizabeth Denham, the UK information commissioner, said 2019 must be the year that technology firms rebuild public trust after a slew of data misuse cases. Tech companies are part of the solution to concerns over private data security and it is in their interests to address the challenges, said Denham. “However, they must not be left to mark their own homework. The tech giants have to step up and demonstrate that they can be transparent and accountable.”
The Daily Telegraph

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