News in the Ads #6

Making your life easier- I give to you my latest summary of 5 key happenings in the wonderful world of advertising that took place last week. Drum roll please..

1) Phones4U slammed for ‘mocking’ Christians
Phones4U has been criticised by the ad watchdog for “mocking and belittling” Christianity in a national press campaign that featured a winking Jesus and the headline “miraculous deals”.

-> The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has banned the advert after 98 people complained about the imagery used, the use of the word ‘miraculous’ and because it was published in the Easter Period. Phones4U have since withdrawn the advert and apologised, but declared that the advert was meant to be taken light-heartedly and as a positive and contemporary reflection of Christianity. I personally have a number of other issues with the advert- such as the bizarre link between Jesus and phones, and the whole hippy/Shakespearean look of the ‘Jesus’ himself.

2) Costa overtakes McDonald’s to become number 3 chain in the UK.
Costa Coffee has overtaken McDonald’s as the nation’s third-biggest food and drink chain based on number of branches, according to the Whitbread-owned chain.

-> Costa has become third, behind Greggs and Subway, for having the most number of branches in the UK after its owner Whitbread opened 145 outlets in the past 6 months. There are now 1,295 Costa Coffee outlets in the UK, eclipsing McDonald’s 1,200 branches. I think this marks growth in the UK’s coffee shop culture, but also a sign of a wane in the UK’s junkfood market, as public awareness grows around the repercussions of unhealthy eating.

3) Google buys Zagat and turns 13.
Google has confirmed the purchase of popular dining ratings company Zagat for an undisclosed sum. The restaurant review company will add a valuable asset to Google’s existing portfolio of services as they push further into the local commerce market.

The now Google-owned Zagat application on the iphone


-> Just signifying what a household name Google has become, the search giant has just bought the restaurant review service Zagat, which it hopes to incorporate with Google Places in a push to adapt its online mapping and local commerce services. This is a shrewd move by the company to corner the market by handling everything from searches, reviews, offers and payments all integrated into its Android mobile OS. Who would have thought that a search engine, initially launched as ‘BackRub’ in 1995, would have gone so far?

4) News International to sell UK headquarters, while cutting 110 jobs.
News International, Rupert Murdoch’s embattled UK media arm, has put its 15-acre site in Wapping, east London, up for sale in a transaction that will herald the end of an era for British journalism. Meanwhile, 110 jobs are to be lost over the next 10 months as it ‘evolves’ how it operates in the current industry climate.

-> It is all downhill for New International employees as they face being moved to Thomas More Square, or worse fired. The media group, which owns The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, has had a difficult year after being engulfed in a very public phone hacking scandal that culminated with the closure of tabloid paper The News of the World. The Wapping site, which News International moved to in 1986 (to break away from the grip of the unions- sounds dubious today..) is expected to sell for up to £150million.

5) Twitter tops 100 million active users, expands in the UK and has two Mexicans facing jail.

-> In a big week for Twitter, two ‘Twitter terrorists’ face jail 30 years in jail after being accused of spreading false reports that gunmen were attacking schools in Veracruz, Mexico. At the same time, Twitter announced on 8th September that the site now has 100 million active users- with over half signing in everyday, but only 40% tweeting. Twitter is also expanding its offices in the UK ahead of the launch of advertisements on the British version of the site in October. This service will enable advertisers to pay Twitter for a tweet to appear in timelines of users who aren’t following them, to promote accounts and also pay for topics to appear in the trending topics list. All sounds rather annoying, although perfect for brands as ads are targeted to users via their followers’ list.

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