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Swedish fashion brand H&M has debuted its annual Christmas campaign – an extravagant 6-part series, starring Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza.

The ads are shot around the fictitious and rather bleak looking ‘Hotel Mauritz’.
 
Despite Plaza’s comic stylings, the spots don’t play for laughs and aren’t particularly festive either, preferring to showcase H&M’s latest clobber than promote Christmas cheer.
 
The retailer has debuted the first three ads in the series, with more to be released up until Christmas.

 

Peel Land and Property (Peel L&P) has appointed a new marketing director to lead brand and marketing strategies across its £2.6 billion portfolio.
 
Ian Wilson brings more than 20 years’ of agency and in-house experience, having worked at companies including Urban Splash and Bruntwood.
 
He’ll oversee the implementation of multi-channel marketing strategies across Peel L&P’s businesses including its strategic waters sites, the land and planning division, waterways, nature reserves, airports, TraffordCity, leisure, logistics and industrial space, retail and business parks, energy and environmental.
 
On behalf of Peel L&P, Neil Lees, deputy chairman of the Peel Group, says: “As well as overseeing the marketing for our various businesses, Ian will be looking at how we better articulate the brand value proposition for what Peel L&P represents, both internally and to our broad range of external stakeholders.
 
“Ian brings a wealth of expertise and experience to Peel L&P and has a solid in-house team supporting him.”
Potato company Branston appointed a new sales and marketing director - Sharon Affleck, who will be responsible for commercial insights, sales and product development.
 
She has more than 20 years’ experience in fresh produce. Affleck began her career in technical and account management looking after avocados, apples and pears at Worldwide Fruit and prior to joining Branston, worked her way through the ranks at fresh food supplier G’s Fresh from commercial manager, through to managing director of G’s Fresh Vegetables.
 
Commenting on her appointment, she said: “I’m really excited about my new role at Branston. I was attracted to the company because of its great reputation in the industry and its ambitious plans for growth. The business has made some significant investments in technology and factory processes across its three sites and is continuing to evolve – I look forward to helping shape the company through this important next phase and developing even stronger relationships with customers.”
 
Managing director James Truscott said: “We’re thrilled to have Sharon on board – she is vastly experienced and joins us at an important time for the business: her ideas, fresh perspective and knowledge will be of great benefit to Branston and our valued customers."
Panasonic Energy has launched a new premium battery, called EVOLTA NEO.
 
The battery is Panasonic’s longest ever lasting alkaline battery, due to revolutionary new design features including the addition of silver to the manufacturing process.
 
EVOLTA NEO delivers excellent performance in a wide range of appliances from low drain applications such as remote controls to high drain applications like digital cameras.
 
Lasting longer both during and in between usage, Panasonic’s new battery continues to set standards for battery performance and represents the ongoing development that is at the heart of the Panasonic brand.
 
In addition to setting standards for endurance, the battery is more durable and less likely to leak.
 
EVOLTA NEO is available in luxury premium packaging in both AA and AAA sizes (4-, 8-, or 12-pack) and will be supported by a marketing campaign entitled ‘Unlock the power of silver’ to showcase the range’s versatility and durability.
 
The battery will command a premium price and launched on Amazon Germany this week.
GSK has said that it aims to behave like a smaller, more agile business to take on the DTC brands by making bets in lots of areas and “pouring gasoline” on the ones that work.
 
Direct-to-consumer brands have claimed the headlines in 2018, credited for their ability to establish personal relationships with consumers and operate at speed compared to big businesses tied up in complex retail contracts.
 
While agility and ‘fail fast’ may be words most often associated with this startup world, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is experimenting with new ways of working across its consumer healthcare arm focused on forgetting the fear of failure.
 
This push is being led by Tamara Rogers, who joined GSK in January 2018 as senior vice president and region head for GSK consumer healthcare in EMEA. The marketing function for GSK consumer healthcare in EMEA reports directly to Rogers.
 
She joined during a period of digital transformation for GSK, which in 2017 became the first consumer healthcare business to partner with Google on its own tech stack. GSK reports that owning the data first hand has helped the business significantly improve its ROI and transparency.
 
Rogers describes digital as a massive enabler for everything from running more efficient programmatic and improving media efficiency, to exploring AI recognition and enhancing content creation. Based on this approach, she wants her teams to be more agile and work in beta on minimum viable products, encouraging them to become comfortable killing off ideas that don’t work without seeing it as a failure.
 
Within the digital innovation hub, for example, GSK works on the premise that if the company only had digital media to work with, and nothing else, how would it create engaging, connected brands. The organisation has also changed the way its teams are set up, so instead of giving a project team a task and then having a classic pipeline review at certain decision points, there has been a shift towards short sprints.
 
The teams start with a hypothesis, a small budget and a short amount of time, with progress being assessed at the end of the sprint. The teams are asked to assess what they have learnt and whether it is worth exploring the next stage of the project.
 
Rogers explains that the teams working in this way understand those are the rules of the game and so are not completely wedded to each new idea, meaning their energy easily leaps to the next project. This, she says, is one of the big differences between a startup and a classic consumer packaged goods company.
 
“There is a huge amount of risk for a startup. Whereas we have some resources that we can invest into all sorts of ideas and we are learning how you call time on them if they’re not going to work, because we know that 95% of new ideas fail,” she adds.
 
“You have to set yourself up to not invest the whole business in those experiments, but instead have lots of experiments and pour gasoline on the ones that work.”
 
Rogers admits, however, that GSK is unable to understand a consumer’s lifetime value in the same way as a direct-to-consumer business, which is why the organisation is exploring a number of different business models.
“We are continuing to work with all sorts of routes to the consumer because they’re all reinventing and making sure that we’re becoming more efficient and productive in the different routes, whether it’s bricks and mortar, whether it’s pure-play or whether it’s brick and mortar.com,” she explains.
 
Passionate about being an empathetic leader, Rogers believes it is important to have diversity of thought in teams and making that visible across the business, so employees feel like they can be fully themselves at work.
 
GSK has 100 diversity champions sitting across all levels of the EMEA consumer healthcare business who are tasked with feeding back on how things are progressing and what could be done differently. Rogers also ensures that, whichever market she is in, she speaks to a diverse cross-section of 20 people from the team to get a sense of what they’re proud of, what GSK does well and what it could do better.
 
She takes a cue from GSK CEO Emma Walmsley, who rather than solely talking about being a female leader, is more interested in the broad spectrum of diversity. This attitude is important, says Rogers, as it shows a leader who is thinking beyond self.
 
The company has now moved away from rating people on a one to five system and instead bonuses are tied to the global business results to ensure the performance of the company feels like a team effort.
 
GSK has also introduced 180, a form of feedback that delves into a number of measures from how much your manager understands what motivates you to whether you have an unconscious bias that is preventing you from connecting to your direct report.
The team also have check-ins throughout the year to assess how the work is progressing not just in terms of performance, but also where they are in their development and ability to close the “opportunity gaps”.
 
GSK is looking for leaders who are consistently developing top talent and Rogers encourages her team to leave a positive legacy.
 
“In the check-ins we have with I’m wanting to know about the talent they’re developing and we will often talk about how many people somebody has had promoted so that it’s very visible the progression that individuals are making and how they’re contributing to the legacy of the organisation,” she explains.
 
“You want to leave something stronger than you found it and it also opens conversations around ‘this leader seems to be developing top talent regularly, what is it about them?’”
 
Speaking on the topic of self-limiting beliefs at the LEAD network event 2018 in London (15-16 November), Rogers recounted how she started her career at Unilever as a management trainee in 1993. She went on to work in the UK as a brand manager for Persil before moving into leadership positions in key account management.
 
Appointed senior vice president of Unilever’s global deodorants category in 2012, Rogers then moved to the US in 2015 to become the executive vice president for the North American personal care division, before joining GSK this year.
 
Drawing on her own experiences, Rogers expects the marketers in her business to own their careers and not wait to be “picked like a flower” if they want to explore a new opportunity. She argues that women, in particular, can be held back in their careers by a “self-limiting mindset” which stops them seizing opportunities.
 
“That’s a role for your line manager and the team around you, if you know them well. They can help you spot when you’re ready for something new and knowing that, in the world we’re in today, the roles are changing so fast that you’re never going to be 100% baked,” Rogers adds.
 
The self-limiting mindset needs to change fast, she claims, as over the past 25 years business culture has moved away from companies telling its employees where they are going in their careers, to a millennial generation who want to collect experiences and have no intention of staying in one company to do so.
YouTube has announced a new ad format called ad pods, which are served on longer form content and stack two skippable ads back-to-back.
 
YouTube said that it is testing a format that stacks ads in order to cut down on the number of interruptions that occur for viewers. Through its research, the platform said, “we learned that fewer interruptions is correlated with better user metrics, including less abandonment of content and higher rates of ad viewing.”
 
Ad Pods can take several different forms, such as: two skippable ads, a skippable ad followed by a six-second unskippable spot (known as a Bumper Ad), a Bumper followeed by a skippable ad, or two consecutive Bumpers.
 
The new format will launch on desktop devices this year, and will subsequently roll out to mobile and TV screens.
 
When users engage with those two ads – either two skippable in-stream ads or a skippable in-stream ad and a 6-second bumper ad – in a break, they will experience fewer interruptions in the session.
 
YouTube will include notifications in the UI to indicate to users that by watching multiple ads at once, they will experience fewer ad breaks later on in their session
 
In early experiments, ad pods increased TrV Views our voluntary ad views by up to 10%, and reduced site abandon rates by 3-5%.
 
Ad pods are ad breaks designed for the YouTube’s digital audience, because they are relevant and offer users choice, while limiting the number of interruptions.
 
For viewers who do not want to watch multiple ads at once, they can still skip TrueView ads and go directly to their selected content.
 
That means if a user skips the first skippable ad in an ad pod, the second ad is not served and they go directly to their selected content.
 
This new experience accommodates viewer preferences while continuing to help creators monetize their content and advertisers connect with their most relevant audiences on YouTube.
 
How Ad pods work:
• Not 100% of users will see ad pods every time they want to watch a video.
• If the user skips during the 1st ad, they will go directly to their content, and no additional ad will be served.
• The 2nd ad will only serve if the user watches the 1st ad to completion.
• Users who experience an ad pod with a bumper in the first slot and skippable in second slot will be able to skip directly to their content during the skippable ad in second slot.
• When uses are served two six-second bumper ads, they will not have the option to skip either.
• Reservation and non skips are not included in Ad pods at this time.
 
Key things to note
• Ad pods have two ads.
• Ad pods are only served for longer form content of at least 5 mins.
• Ad pods will be available globally on desktop first, before expanding to mobile and living room screens. 
US mobile telecoms operator Sprint has joined forces with HTC to launch a 5G device to ‘deliver multimedia and connected data capabilities’ in the first half of 2019.
 
The 5G mobile smart hub, which is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem with gigabit LTE and 5G capabilities, doesn’t yet have a specific name and the feature specifications have not been announced.
 
“We’re excited to continue building our 5G device portfolio and announce another way our customers can be among the first to experience Sprint 5G next year,” said John Saw, chief technology officer at Sprint. “This innovative product will allow customers on the go, at work or at home to enjoy Sprint 5G on multiple devices with incredibly fast connectivity for content sharing, mobile gaming, entertainment and so much more.”
 
Sprint has plans to launch its mobile 5G network in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington D.C in the first half of 2019. Alongside this, Sprint is working with LG to release a 5G smartphone next year.
Children’s publisher DK has partnered with Jack Arts to create a poster installation celebrating the publication of its new humour titles with Nickelodeon.
 
The marketing campaign, promising “an immersive experience, with Nickelodeon branding at its heart”, will promote the range of titles including the Rugrats Guide to Adulting and the Hey Arnold! Guide to Relationships, both of which published in October.
 
As part of stunt, 10 “visually striking” posters were installed at 10 sites across Camden, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Islington, Southwark, and Tower Hamlets London sites, each to be accompanied by iconic Nick ‘90s shows theme tunes via a motion sensor. The installations are available to view and experience until 6th December.
 
The books themselves take direct quotes and stills from the popular TV shows to offer advice on the themes of adulthood and relationships. With “bold and colourful” design, they are described as evoking “playful nostalgia”, packed with throwbacks to the original animated series.
 
Simon Beecroft, publishing director of DK’s licensing division, said: “We're excited to be supporting our millennial-inspired, 90s throwback Nickelodeon books with a promotion to match. DK strives to do things differently and reach readers in new ways, and these interactive posters around London will turn heads and should inspire the odd post on Instagram.”
Travel company On the Beach posted a 24% rise in full-year profit after riding out a slump in demand caused by hot UK summer weather by cutting its marketing spend.
 
Pre-tax profit for the year through September rose to £26.1m, as revenue climbed 25% to £104.1m.
 
The company declared total dividend payments for the year of 3.3p, up 18% on-year.
 
Chief executive Simon Cooper (pictured) said the profit improvement came despite the exceptionally hot weather in the UK and the Nordics combing with the World Cup to suppress holiday demand.
 
'Whilst this impacted our headline revenue growth during the period, the weaker demand also drove a significant reduction in the group's marketing spend, ensuring growth in revenue after marketing costs remained strong,' Cooper said.
 
'This is further testament to On the Beach's resilient and flexible business model.'
 
Cooper said that although the first quarter of its financial year was historically its quietest period, the company could report a 'strong' early trading performance, supported by a slightly earlier release of summer capacity by budget airlines and lower winter seat prices.
 
'This current performance is in line with our expectations and the board believes the business is well positioned for the key trading period that commences in late December and continues into the first quarter of 2019,' he said.
 
'Whilst the consumer environment continues to be challenging, we remain confident in the resilience and flexibility of our business model.'
 
'The board will also continue to evaluate acquisition opportunities that will both increase scale and deliver value for shareholders.'
The true measure of a civilised country is how well it looks after its own citizens and for all the overseas work that charities get involved in, there’s still a huge wealth gap on our own doorstep.

To illustrate the point, children’s welfare charity Childhood Trust has launched a short advert that points out there are certain areas where families are living in such extreme poverty that children won’t get a single Christmas present this year.

The Childhood Trust has discovered almost 40% of disadvantaged children in London won’t receive a gift this year, and of those that do, the average amount spent on them will be £16.79. That is eight times less than the national average of £145 that will be spent per child on Christmas presents across the UK before December 25.
 
Researchers surveyed 33 charities supporting 63,000 young people, using answers collected from social workers and the children themselves.
 
They found low wages and benefits payments not meeting the cost of living in the capital meant 67% of the children surveyed found Christmas a difficult time of the year. Almost all of those who took part in the study blamed material deprivation, with 82% of the children saying they felt left out at Christmas time.
 
The Childhood Trust’s Big Give Christmas Challenge campaign calls on people to donate cash for it to be able to fund the charities that support disadvantaged children in London throughout 2019. Last year’s campaign raised £1,550,000 which spread across 56 charities.
 
Childhood Trust chief executive Laurence Guinness, said: ‘It is heart-breaking to meet children who are suffering at Christmas and beyond through want of a hot meal or warm clothes, let alone presents and other festive treats. ‘I appeal to all Londoners to generously support their local children’s charity via our Big Give Christmas Challenge and help to ensure that all disadvantaged children in London can receive the support they need.’


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