While summer is often derided as the silly season, 2015 proved far from it with charites continuing to feel the full force of a marketing backlash, data breaches continuing unabated and fresh fears emerging about the effectiveness of digital advertising. DecisionMarketing looks back at the past six weeks…what did you miss?
The holiday season kicked off with a small crumb of comfort for the not-for-profit sector with news that a coroner’s report into the death of Britain’s oldest poppy seller, Olive Cooke, rejected claims that she was driven to suicide by aggressive charity marketing, after it emerged she had suffered from depression for years.
However, the news came too late for some as two telephone fundraising firms – R Fundraising and GoGen – closed in less than a week, with the combined loss of nearly 600 jobs.
Meanwhile it was revealed that charity telemarketers will no longer be allowed to call existing donors without first checking that they are registered on the Telephone Preference Service, after the data regulator demanded a change of Institute of Fundraising rules.
And the Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross threw a spanner in the works of the Fundraising Standards Board by saying his organisation should have the power to fine firms and oversee all charity marketing regulation, from direct mail and telemarketing to street and door-to-door fundraising.
Digital marketing is also facing a crisis of confidence, according to WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell, who used his company’s results announcement to warn of a growing backlash against online ads.
His warning follows an indepth study which claimed that ad blockers are expected to wipe out nearly £50bn worth of global online advertising next year, as take-up of the services will rocket over the next 12 months. Meanwhile another study claimed half of all ads bought programmatically are never even seen.
The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK tried to calm the waters by mounting a major defence of the digital industry with a week-long campaign clarifying its position on each of the five biggest concerns facing the sector.
However, there are no such issues for direct mail, it seems. Figures released by the Advertising Association and Warc showed direct mail spend is likely to be breaking through the £2bn-mark for at least the next two years and will remain third behind only online and TV in terms of budget.
Whistl UK chief executive Nick Wells seems to think there is plenty of scope for growth, too, after it was revealed he will spearhead a management buyout of the business from its Dutch parent PostNL, following a strategic review of its UK operations.
Impressive for a medium which some have written off for years, and testament to the staying power of the humble mailshot.
Not that Royal Mail’s MarketReach division is resting on its laurels; it is looking to appoint a roster agency to handle the next phase of its Mailmen campaign, two years after Publicis Chemistry first devised the activity.
Talking of Publicis Chemistry, no sooner had Emma Rush been confirmed as the agency’s new managing director than executive creative director David Prideaux left, after over eight years with the Publicis-owned business. A week later it hired Jason Fletcher and Marcus Iles from TBWA London to succeed him.
In other agency news, Kitcatt Nohr managing director Vonnie Alexander and chief strategy officer Richard Madden both quit after a combined 21 years at the business, in a move which is likely to see one of the most recognised brands in the UK agency world disappear.
Over at Stack, new boss Ben Stephens started to build his senior team by bringing on board his former data planning chief at VCCP me, Caroline Kimber, as data strategy director.
And Rapp London is hunting its first chief executive for over four years, as it prepares to move out of its Hammersmith HQ – its home for over two decades.
One of the biggest data stories of the summer spelt trouble for millions of married cheaters after a hacking group published the entire database of illicit dating site Ashley Madison including sexual fantasies, nude pictures, and real names and addresses. It claims it is still growing though.
And Experian has it own issues too after being hit by legal action for allegedly selling highly sensitive personal data to a convicted identity thief, in what has been branded “one of the largest security lapses in history”.
Over in Brussels, there is growing evidence that the EU regulators will need to overhaul the proposed data protection reforms virtually as soon as they are passed due to the unrelenting march of new technology.
They are unlikely to be passed until December this year at the earliest and then put in place a year later, a snail-like pace which even the UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has said means the EU threatens “to make a fool of itself”.
But the good news is that the UK direct marketing industry is growing nearly three times faster than the UK economy, according to a detailed study by Key Note which showed the sector has increased in value from £16.5bn to £17.5bn in the past year alone.
The UK’s economy grew by 2.6% last year, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show, but inched up by only 0.5% in the final three months.
The DM sector, however, is enjoying a period of strong and sustained growth, with the overall value of the market estimated to have increased by a further 6% in 2014.
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