News

Iconic photography brand Polaroid has teamed up with Ridley Scott Creative Group’s European office on a film series to mark the next chapter in its brand story.

The campaign celebrates our human experiences and the magic of capturing them on a tangible Polaroid photo in the digital age.
 
“We were delighted to be contacted by Polaroid—the level of collaboration and trust has been profound. From strategy to creative ideation and execution, there has been a shared sense of purpose. We’re super excited about the campaign we’ve created and our next steps together as partners,” said Ross Plummer, Europe MD for Ridley Scott Creative Group.
 
With creative direction through the Ridley Scott Creative Group, and production through RSA Films Amsterdam, the Forever Now film series looks to celebrate the little moments. Now more than ever it is easy to get lost in a world of digital distractions. The essence of Polaroid is an appreciation for what we have here and now. It’s the magic of capturing those simple moments and making them meaningful. With the world slowly reemerging, the values in this film have only crystallized, making it even more important to celebrate our human connections.
 
The film, directed by RSA film’s John Filipe, asks what it takes to capture this moment, drawing a parallel between human chemistry and the Polaroid film chemistry that occurs after each shot—and the magic that happens at the intersection of art and science.
 
“As the world continues to change around us, we’re still drawn to the experiences that make us human. It’s in our DNA. The extremely complex chemistry in our factories all leads to the simplicity of a photo magically developing in the palm of our hands. Celebrating these two worlds of real and human chemistry is what we sought out to do with this film, and we love the result. RSA were a pleasure to work with - we aligned on the shared mission early on and worked towards the goal of telling this story” Oskar Smolokowski, CEO of Polaroid, said.

Costcutter has seen its profits rise in what the convenience retailer described as “one of its best-ever years”.
 
EBITDA increased by over £9 million in the 52 weeks to December 31, to finish at £5.1 million for the financial year.
 
Costcutter, which has over 1500 independent stores across the UK, said the growth was thanks to a surge in total sales, which rose by 10% to £426 million.
 
Costcutter said that fresh produce sales grew at “a faster rate than any other category” during the period.
 
Across its ranges, Costcutter reported a 22% increase in non-tobacco sales across the first four months of 2020.
 
“Since lockdown, we’ve responded even more to what consumer’s needs and demands are: much less food to go, much less single impulse purchases and we’re seeing significant increases in fresh food; edible grocery and frozen,” Costcutter chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer said.
 
“We’ve been emphasising less range in one area and more in another, and constantly updating our advice for our partners”.
 
She added that since the pandemic struck the UK, Costcutter had seen a rise in customers using its home delivery service with Uber Eats.
 
The retailer had launched its own delivery service location from some 200 locations since October 2019.
 
“We’ve got 100 stores on the platform but because that’s not available everywhere, we’ve learned about home delivery and now have 200 stores offering some other form of home delivery in various ways – be that telephone, working with local authorities to get food to the vulnerable.”
 
She said 2019 had been an “outstanding year” for the retailer, and added that over the last year Costcutter had “accelerated our investments in our overall retail offer” – namely its Shopper First programme.
 
When Covid-19 UK death rates were soaring in April, Costcutter installed 20 pop-up stores in NHS hospitals to serve doctors and nurses who were unable to travel to stores.
 
The retailer said it worked in partnership with food service giant Compass to launch the stores.
 
It added that the new shops would fill units left by the temporary closure of some non-essential retail spaces across the hospital sites.
Tandem's bicycle sales have surged 77% ahead of the prior year because of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
 
The Castle Bromwich-based business added that the forward order book is significantly higher than last year to date.
 
Online sales, both direct to the consumer and with its national retail partners, have also been "strong".
 
However, the national retailer order book is about 21% behind the previous year because shops have remained closed since the lockdown began.
 
A statement said: "Year to date group revenue is slightly ahead of the prior year, although the overall group order book is approximately 3% behind last year.
 
"We therefore expect group revenue to fall behind the prior year during the summer period as a result of the lack of national retailer FOB orders and a limited supply of bicycles.
 
"At this stage it remains difficult to ascertain the overall impact on the full year but we will make a further update at the AGM and continue to update the market as and when we have greater visibility."
Lactalis UK & Ireland, the UK subsidiary of the French Lactalis Group, has appointed Mike Chatters, formerly the company’s Sales Director, as its new Group Managing Director.
 
Mike Chatters will take responsibility for all the Lactalis UK & Ireland businesses from 1st June 2020. He replaces Hugues Meaudre is taking on a new position as Managing Director of Lactalis AOC France based in Roquefort.
 
Mike Chatters joined the group in June 2015 and has extensive experience from a career working with major FMCG brands such as Colgate Palmolive, Coca-Cola, Guinness & Birds Eye.
 
Mike Chatters says: “This is an exciting time for our business at a time of growth, and I’m thrilled to be taking on this new opportunity. We have a dynamic brand portfolio, a growing private label business, a dedicated and committed team, and we’re seeing sales growth in all trade channels. I’m looking forward to working with the team, our customers and business partners to ensure we continue to meet our ambitious growth objectives by responding to the ‘new normal’ and beyond for our industry.”
 

 
“Almost overnight” the British Heart Foundation experienced a huge increase in demand for its services.
 
While it is primarily a medical research charity, it offers patient services such as a nurse helpline that had a tenfold increase in calls, while more than 1 million people have visited its website looking for information about Covid-19.
 
Yet the BHF estimates it is losing around £10m a month during the pandemic. It has faced the twin impacts of its network of 750 stores being shut and physical fundraising events cancelled. Regular contributors are still donating but as the impact of the coronavirus recession is increasingly felt, this source of money is likely to decline too.
 
One of the challenges, according to director of marketing and engagement Carolan Davidge, is that many people didn’t see the BHF as relevant during coronavirus. This despite the fact that people with heart disease, who have had a stroke or have an underlying risk factor – such as diabetes – are more at risk of developing a more serious form of coronavirus.
 
“The BHF is a very well-known and well-loved charity but we are not top of mind at the moment,” she tells Marketing Week. “We want to make sure we remain top of mind and relevant at this time because we are. We are here for the 7 million people with heart and circulatory diseases and they probably need us now more than ever.
 
“[There has been a focus on NHS charities] which is great – we work in close partnership with the NHS. We just want to make sure people don’t forget about us too at this time.”
 
The charity’s initial reaction to the pandemic was to ensure its services reached as many people as possible. It ramped up its nurse helpline – extending its hours and bringing in more nurses – and turned its customer service centre into a triage system so it could manage the volume of calls.
 
It also created a coronavirus support hub for people looking online for information.
 
Having got those changes in place, it then wanted to communicate they were available to people who might need them because “we are not reaching them all”, and boost donations both for its services and its medical research. And so the BHF launched a marketing campaign aiming to address those two needs.
 
The campaign, ‘Coronavirus on their minds’, follows a number of people taking part in hobbies such as baking, playing a video game and doing a crossword that while providing a distraction don’t stop them worrying about Covid-19. Created by MullenLowe, it ends with a voiceover explaining how those in need can contact BHF’s helpline while those who want to support the charity can donate.
 
“That was part of the brief – it had to be about helping patients but also reminding people that during this time charities like us need funding,” explains Davidge.
 
She adds: “Our reason for wanting to get back out there with an ad campaign was in part to reach more of those patients and ensure they know the BHF is here for them at this time. But also, the charity sector has been massively hit financially.”
 
Rather than using user-generated content as many brands have done, the BHF brought in director Simon Rattigan to film the campaign. And instead of having a crew, he shot the whole ad himself following social distancing guidelines and wearing PPE with members of his household and his neighbours playing the parts of people in the ad.
 
Davidge admits the process of creating the campaign was very different to normal, with some parts of the process “truncated down to literally days”. It also told a very different story to BHF’s more recent marketing campaigns, which have focused on why the charity believes research is so important.
 
“We had literally just finished [our ‘traditional’ campaign] and hadn’t been planning to go out again until the autumn. But we felt we had to do something at this time,” she says.
 
“We certainly haven’t got more budget, we are repurposing budget, feeling it was the right thing to do. Like any marketing director I have a strategy but a strategy has to adapt to the need and this was the need right now. It was absolutely the right thing to do.”
 
The BHF is also using the pandemic to think about how to make itself fit for the future. Moving more of its retail sales online will be key, as will finding ways to raise money through virtual events.
 
As an example of that, the BHF has launched ‘My marathon’ that has called on people to challenge themselves online and get sponsored for example by doing 10 runs of 2.6 miles.
 
It is also thinking about how it can deliver some of its services online, for example its cardiac rehabilitation programme which is now available digitally for people to do in their homes rather than having to attended classes in-person.
 
“The lesson here is if we can’t be such a physical charity, how can we be more of a virtual one and that is going to be the challenge going forward but one that we are embracing with product development in fundraising and retail.. and the patient piece,” says Davidge.
Boohoo has acquired the minority 34% stake to own PrettyLittleThing in its entirety after defending its ownership of the brand against a recent short-seller attack.
 
The online fashion retailer said the acquisition, which will be made for an initial consideration of £269.8 million, will drive further growth.
 
Boohoo added that it would retain a strong balance sheet “in order to take advantage of numerous M&A opportunities that are likely to emerge in the global fashion industry over the coming months”.
 
Boohoo’s share price dropped by 12% on Wednesday after a 53-page report by activist investor ShadowFall alleged that the retailer had overstated its free cash flow by 65%.
 
Boohoo said that it “strongly refutes the allegations made in the research note” by the hedge fund.
 
ShadowFall’s note also claimed that the cost of buying out PrettyLittleThing could reach £1 billion – which Boohoo dismissed.
 
Despite raising £200 million in a share placing earlier this month to fuel takeover bids of other fashion retailers, Boohoo said its upfront cash payment for PrettyLittleThing is being funded from the £240.7 million of net cash it had on its balance sheet in February.
 
Meanwhile, no changes will be made to PrettyLittleThing’s senior management team following the acquisition.
 
Booohoo chief executive John Lyttle said: “We are delighted to be acquiring the remaining 34% stake in PrettyLittleThing. It has been a brand that has delivered strong growth as part of the Boohoo group’s platform, and has a great future ahead of it in the UK and overseas.”
 
“I look forward to building on the great working relationship with Umar and the senior team at PrettyLittleThing as the group continues to move forwards with its multi-brand strategy as part of its vision to lead the fashion ecommerce market globally.”
 
PrettyLittleThing founder Umar Kamani said: “This deal represents another milestone in our journey. Since being a disruptive start-up in 2012 to a global fashion brand that generates over half a billion pounds in sales today, I am incredibly proud of what my team and I have achieved in such a short period of time.”
 
“The team and myself have big ambitions for the brand, and I’m incredibly excited about what the future holds for PrettyLittleThing as it embarks on the next stage of its global journey as a fully-owned part of the Boohoo group.”
AI tech startup Greyparrot has raised £1.825m to tackle the growing waste crisis by introducing digitisation and automation to recycling.
 
The round was led by Speedinvest, a leading early-stage industrial tech investor, with participation from Force Over Mass.
 
Greyparrot provides waste recognition software to monitor and sort waste at scale. Their first product, an Automated Waste Monitoring System, is currently deployed on moving conveyor belts in sorting facilities to measure large waste flows.
 
The system automatically identifies different types of waste, providing composition information and analytics to help facilities increase recycling rates.
The company launched in 2019, at a time when the waste management industry was on the cusp of its biggest transformation. Regulation banning waste exports to China and the introduction of strict recycling targets caused an urgent need to recycle locally and much more efficiently. The company’s goal is to become the most accurate and widely used waste recognition software to unlock the financial value of waste, which will, in turn, keep our planet clean for generations to come.
 
Mikela Druckman, Co-founder & CEO of Greyparrot said, “One of the key problems we are solving is the lack of data. We see increasing demand from consumers, brands, governments and waste managers for better insights to transition to a more circular economy.
 
“There is an urgent opportunity to optimise waste management with further digitisation and automation using deep learning.”
 
The company’s focus on building cutting-edge software while adopting affordable hardware makes its solution ideal for large-scale deployment even in emerging markets.
 
Greyparrot also has an advantage in being hardware agnostic, providing intelligent software which can be customised and integrated with hardware across multiple use cases. This model gives further flexibility and scalability to its customers. The company is already collaborating with suppliers of next-gen systems such as smart bins and sorting robots.
 
Wayne Hubbard, CEO of the London Waste and Recycling Board said, “We are thrilled to see that Greyparrot, a start-up business supported by LWARB’s Advance London programme, has been able to secure significant private investment to scale their ground-breaking technology.
 
“AI, robotics and other innovative technologies in the waste industry will be key to ensure the transition to a low-carbon, circular economy.” LWARB is a partnership of the Mayor of London and the London boroughs to improve waste and resource management in the city.
 
Marie-Hélène Ametsreiter, Lead Partner at Speedinvest Industry, added: “Waste is not only a massive market – it builds up to a global crisis.
 
“Greyparrot’s solution has proven to bring down recycling costs and help plants recover more waste. Ultimately it unlocks the value of waste and creates a measurable impact for the environment.”
 
The additional funding will be used to further develop and scale Greyparrot’s solution across global markets, setting the company up to revolutionise the recycling industry with artificial intelligence.
Digital optimization platform Decibel has closed an extension to its Series B investment round at $40 million.
 
The latest infusion was funded by Perwyn, an entrepreneurial, family-funded investment firm based in the UK. It includes the initial $17 million investment from Draper Esprit, Eight Roads Ventures and John Simon, via his Ventureforgood investment entity.
 
This brings the company’s total funding to date to $54 million.
 
Because of the effects of COVID-19, now more than ever companies are prioritising the optimisation of digital experiences.
 
To optimise digital experiences, organisations need to look beyond traditional analytics such as page views, click-through and bounce rates, which show brands what customers do. Instead, Decibel shows brands why customers make certain decisions online by measuring and understanding customer experiences. Only then can brands increase conversions.
 
Powered by AI and enriched by machine learning, Decibel’s digital experience analytics solution captures and quantifies unique experience data to pinpoint problem areas on brands’ websites and apps. With this intelligence, brands can alleviate user frustrations at scale and capitalise on conversion opportunities.
 
Decibel’s technology is used by 250 of the world’s largest brands spanning the retail, financial services, travel and hospitality and media industries, including Toyota, CVS and Fidelity.
 
Decibel, though headquartered in Europe, has seized this opportunity and already sees nearly 50% of its business coming from North America over the last three years. This new infusion of capital will enable Decibel to continue growing its presence on the continent and building on its sophisticated product.
 
Andrew Wynn, Partner at Perwyn said, “Decibel is the market leader in the digital experience space. Its best-in-class technology and strong customer success team makes the company an easy win for enterprise organisations wanting more from their digital channels.
 
“It’s an incredible company, and we’re thrilled to partner with them as they propel through the next wave of growth.”
 
Ben Harris, CEO and Co-founder, Decibel added, “One significant, long-term impact of the current health pandemic is the pace at which businesses engage with their customers digitally. Decibel provides a window into the digital customer experience through its ability to automatically identify and prioritise critical conversion opportunities.
 
“I’m honoured by the support of our new and existing investors, customers and partners, and the hard work of our growing team. Partnering with Perwyn is further validation that with our unique data set, we’re positioned to become a very large organisation.”
Total technology industry deals for April 2020 worth $34.4bn were announced globally, according to GlobalData’s deals database.
 
The value marked an increase of 33.8% over the previous month and a drop of 21.2% when compared with the last 12-month average of $43.65bn.
 
In terms of number of deals, the sector saw a drop of 11.8% over the last 12-month average with 1308 deals against the average of 1483 deals.
 
In value terms, Asia-Pacific led the activity with deals worth $26.56bn.
 
The top five technology deals accounted for 65.3% of the overall value during April 2020.
 
The combined value of the top five technology deals stood at $22.47bn, against the overall value of $34.4bn recorded for the month.
 
The top five technology industry deals of April 2020 tracked by GlobalData were:
 
  • General Atlantic Singapore Fund, Jinbo Yao, Ocean Link and Warburg Pincus Asia’s $13.99bn private equity deal with 58.com
  • The $5.7bn acquisition of Jio Platforms by Facebook
  • Macquarie Group’s $1.85bn acquisition of AirTrunk Operating
  • The $600.77m asset transaction with NOS SGPS by Cellnex Telecom
  • Aprogen KIC’s acquisition of Locojoy International for $336.9m.
Reports have emerged that Marks & Spencer’s HR chief Harriet Hounsell has left the retailer after less than eight months in the role.
 
Hounsell left M&S earlier this month after the retailer carried out another corporate restructuring, according to an internal memo from chief executive Steve Rowe.
 
Hounsell’s role was reportedly made redundant due to Rowe’s decision to devolve M&S’s HR responsibilities to its individual business units.
 
Hounsell first joined the high street street stalwart last October to help transform its internal culture.
 
A former John Lewis Partnership executive, Hounsell was hired after a stint with McDonald’s UK as chief people officer.
 
Her exit comes after M&S unveiled a sharp fall in annual profit last week, and follows a series of recent executive hires for chief financial officer, head of strategy and property director.

PREVIEW
If this is news to you, we can help
SEARCH THE UK'S MOST COMPREHENSIVE DATABASE
OF COMPANY AND MARKETING INDUSTRY INFORMATION
CLICK TO CONTINUE
THIS IS THE NEWS, COMPANY DATA, PEOPLE MOVES, TENDERS AND INSIGHTS FROM THE INDUSTRY 7 DAYS AGO