A week in which the UK passed a green energy milestone (coal is currently generating 0% of UK energy), we saw Republic Records drop the word ‘urban’ from its description of music by black artists, debate continued over the removal of UK statues and Marmite shortages were revealed as an unexpected consequence of a brewery production slowdown.
Here’s Ingenuity’s round-up of the week’s industry news and trends.
It’s been a busy week in sport as Premier League football is set to return on Wednesday 17th June. Clubs have been gearing up for kick-off with a number of new initiatives. Following protests against the death of George Floyd, Premier League teams will make a gesture of solidarity with protestors as they commit to: “a global society of inclusion, respect, and equal opportunities for all, regardless of their colour or creed.” For the first twelve matches of the restarted season, Premier League players’ names will be replaced with ‘Black Lives Matter’ and – for the remainder of the season – a BLM badge and tribute to NHS staff will feature on all playing shirts.
In the absence of crowds, Clubs and broadcasters have been tasked with replicating a traditional atmosphere as best they can. Sky Sports have announced that interactive crowd noise will be a key feature of its live coverage when football returns to screens this week.
Meanwhile, taking a less technologically advanced approach, Brighton & Hove Albion have confirmed that fans can have cardboard cut outs of themselves placed in the upper tier of the Amex Stadium’s East Stand for the final five home games of the season. Cardboard attendance isn’t cheap, though. It will still cost ‘attendees’ £20!
It’s said that it takes 66 days to form a habit. With the UK now into its 84th day of restrictions, it seems some are now well and truly formed. As anyone who has tried to find flour or sugar in their local supermarket in recent weeks can attest – there has been a considerable uptick in the popularity of home-baking. Ovens and Insta feeds have been full of sourdough and biscuits since lockdown began. Tapping into the trend, Whitworths Sugar have launched a new 5kg bag in a bid to satisfy ‘growing demand’.
Other FMCG trends that we have witnessed in recent weeks include heightened demand for ‘free from’ categories. Plant-based brand – The Meatless Farm Co – is now stocked across the big four supermarkets, after securing a listing for its products in Tesco. The latest figures show demand for meat alternatives have risen by more than a quarter when compared with figures from 2019.
Another booming category is that of hard seltzers, with Smirnoff the latest brand to tap into the trend with a duo of flavours. Speaking of the launch, Smirnoff said it was “an exciting time for the category” as it capitalises on “consumer demand for spritz-style drinks”.
There is some demand that simply can’t be kept up with, though. Love it or hate it, Unilever has been forced to stop production of all but its 250g jars of Marmite. Yeast by-product, generated when brewers make beer, is a key ingredient in the spread and is currently in short supply. As if we needed another reason to open up the pubs!
Commission for Diversity:
The toppling of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol last weekend has certainly sparked debate. As the statue is hauled from Bristol Harbour and others – across the country – are protected ahead of further protests, it is certain that monuments, street signs and buildings’ names will be under review in the coming weeks and months.
As part of a review led by London’s Mayor – Sadiq Khan – the names of “certain institutions” will be up for review. The Tate galleries and Guys’ Hospital, to name just two – are likely to be among them. The Tate’s story is particularly interesting. Whilst Henry Tate was neither a slave-owner of trader, the sugar industry – on which both the Tate and Lyle firms were built in the 19th century – were constructed by the foundation of slavery in the 17th and 18th centuries. It will be interesting to see how discussion develop on the topic.
There certainly looks to be an opportunity for agencies that specialise in advising on diversity and inclusion to assist brands and institutions that may be questioning their links to the past.
It’s not just a return to the Premier League that we’re looking forward to this week. From today – Monday 15th June – non-essential shops in England will be able to re-open and, for those starved of (offline) retail therapy in recent weeks, this is exciting news.
Expect experiences to be very different, though. As Selfridges announced last week, there will be clothing quarantines, an ‘only touch if you can buy’ policy and queues. Lots of queuing. On the plus side, many retailers will be using the queue as an opportunity to entertain consumers as they wait. If it works for Wimbledon, perhaps it will for the High Street…
Pubs are set to open in the not-too-distant future, too, and it will be interesting to see what learnings England will take from its continental European counterparts. Much seems to hinge on the reduction of the controversial two-metre rule. Chancellor – Rishi Sunak – has suggested that the government will “actively review” the restriction that is said to be the difference between one third and three-quarters of pubs and restaurants being able to open.