Coronavirus live blog: 25-31 July

New NHS campaign encourages people to get tested.

Coronavirus: latest news (Getty Images)
Coronavirus: latest news (Getty Images)

Friday 31 July

2.15pm: New NHS campaign encourages people to get tested

The NHS has launched a new ad campaign encouraging people to get tested for coronavirus. "Let's get back" was created by MullenLowe and is set to the track of the same name by London-based artist Rainman.

Focusing on the activities and pastimes that have been on hold since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the campaign stresses that a key step in helping us resume normal life is for people to get tested when they experience any symptoms – which include a high temperature, new continuous cough, or the loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

The TV ad aired for the first time last night and will be supported by radio, print, out of home, social and digital display throughout August, with a phased focus on different sectors that people want to "get back" to, such as holidays, sport, retail and hair and beauty.

10.30am: P&G enjoys boost to sales and profit from increased demand for hygiene products

Procter & Gamble grew organic sales 6% between April and June – the final quarter of its financial year – thanks to increased demand for fabric and home-care products, as consumers in many countries were confined to their homes and keen to reduce the chance of infection.

That segment of the business saw organic sales grow 14%, while organic volumes were up 8% – meaning almost half the sales growth came from consumers upgrading to more premium products.

Over the whole financial year, P&G’s sales were up 5% to $71bn (£54.1bn), while net earnings more than tripled from $3.9bn to $13bn – although last year’s figure was suppressed by the company writing down the “goodwill” value of its Gillette business by $8bn.

Commenting on the performance, P&G chief executive David Taylor said its advertising and retail marketing approaches had played a key role in driving sales.

“We step changed consumer communication, leveraging educational TV advertising, which delivered an immediate lift to the category in our brands by showing consumers more ways to use our products,” he said. “We elevated in-store execution, with additional navigational and educational signage, to help the consumer choose the product that was right for them.”

8.45am: Sky suffers 41% ad revenue fall

Sky’s ad revenue declined 41.2% to $321m (£240m) over the three months ended 30 June, in what its chief executive Jeremy Darroch described as a “tough macro environment for advertising”.

The business, which is owned by Comcast, said that the fall was “primarily due to overall market weakness”, which was “worsened” by the coronavirus outbreak and an “unfavorable impact” from the changes in gambling ads in the UK and Italy.

Darroch added: “We continue to face near-term Covid-related challenges as the linear TV advertising market remains depressed.”

Sky reported revenues down 12.9% to $4bn with operating expenses and costs falling 15.5% to $3.3bn.

Thursday 30 July

10.30am: Spotify posts fall in Q2 ad revenue

Spotify has reported a 21% drop in ad revenue over the second quarter of the year to €131m (£117m) – something that the music-streaming platform said was "slightly above our expectations".

It added: "The quarter started off particularly slow but improved steadily with momentum in June, overcoming the weakness early on."

Total revenue for the three months grew 13% year on year to €1.9bn and Spotify said this was "roughly" in line with expectations.

Paid subscriptions rose 27% year on year to 138 million, while total monthly active users grew by 29% to 299 million.

9.30am: Rajar will not publish Q2 listening figures

Rajar's quarterly listening figures will not be published for the past three months after face-to-face fieldwork had to be suspended in March because of the coronavirus crisis.

Instead, the body will base its second-quarter data on this year's first-quarter figures and apply updated 2020 population statistics to it.

9am: Uber ties up with Unilever for hygiene push

Uber has partnered Unilever to bring disinfecting supplies to its cars across the UK.

Applicable vehicles will be supplied with Lifebuoy hand gel and Cif Power & Shine wipes, which can be used by passengers to clean surfaces such as their seat belt and door.

Passengers are also encouraged to wipe their hands as they leave their ride, while drivers have been asked to wipe down frequently touched surfaces after every trip.

The move follows Uber's decision to make it compulsory for passengers to wear face coverings during journeys.

Wednesday 29 July

4.15pm: Gumtree partners Bauer Media for radio campaign hailing local areas

Buying and selling platform Gumtree has paired-up with Bauer media for a radio campaign celebrating local communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Created as a follow-up to Gumtree’s Covid-centric “Thanks” ad, the campaign focuses on the joy of supporting local businesses and services.

It will run across Bauer’s radio stations including Magic, Absolute and Kiss, and will include social and on-air promotions. Media is handled by Mediacom.

It comes after data from Gumtree found a 24% increase in searches for second-hand cars during lockdown, compared to the beginning of 2020.

Hannah Rouch, chief marketing officer for Gumtree, said: “Community has always been at the heart of Gumtree and for the past 20 years we’ve been helping communities around the country to buy, sell and share. Now more than ever, we're proud to support small businesses as they get back up and running and to help people around the UK save more when they’re looking for the things they need most."

10.45am: McDonald's to start using 'sizeable marketing war chest'

McDonald's is to utilise a "sizeable marketing war chest" for the rest of this year in an attempt to hedge the impact of the pandemic on its revenue.

The brand's second-quarter results showed a 23.9% drop in global comparable sales versus the same period last year, largely due to closures across markets such as the UK.

The US saw a 8.7% fall in comparable sales as the pandemic shut down Drive-Thru and delivery services.

Global revenue for the quarter was down 30% to $3.76bn (£2.9bn).

McDonald's reported that about 96% of restaurants have now reopened, with the brand set to adopt a "laser-like focus" on "the three Ds: Drive-Thru, delivery and digital".

Drive-Thru accounted for roughly 90% of McDonald's sales in the quarter, as consumers moved towards a "more contactless experience".

"We've amassed a sizeable marketing war chest to invest in the back half of 2020," Chris Kempczinski, president and chief executive of McDonald's, said.

This "war chest" largely comprises leftover budget from the second quarter, during which time most major markets "significantly reduced" their marketing spend, Kempczinski added.

In addition, Kempczinski said McDonald's would invest an incremental $200m in marketing spend across the US and the international markets it operates directly – something that he said was "roughly equivalent to one additional month of media in every owned market".

Kempczinski continued: "We have done a great job and credit to franchisees across the globe around grabbing the opportunity to improve how our restaurants are running."

Earlier this month, McDonald's launched a campaign to celebrate its return to the high street.

9am: WPP admits challenge in ensuring staff feel safe returning to office

Mark Read, chief executive of WPP, has said that it is "a challenge ensuring our people feel safe commuting into work and being in an office", according to a report in The Times.

Currently, just 1% of WPP's employees are back in the office. Read added: "We don't expect significant numbers back any time soon."

Tuesday 28 July

4pm: Corona celebrates the great outdoors

Corona has launched a campaign in partnership with Culture Trip that encourages Brits to reconnect with the outside as lockdown measures ease.

Created by Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam, "Rediscover paradise" shows a group of people as they explore a desolate beach before enjoying a bottle of Corona. It was written by Bern Hunter, art directed by Kia Heinnen and directed by Camille Herren through Park Pictures.

The campaign features an online travel hub that provides inspiration and guidance on 30 outdoor destinations in the UK. Corona will also be offering staycations in independent hotels to beer fans.

It follows a YouGov report that found two-thirds of Brits still feel unsafe boarding a plane.

Liz Hemus, marketing manager at Corona, said: "Corona was born on the beach and believes that it's the outdoors where our best side shines through. So after months of lockdown, we want to inspire people to get out, disconnect and explore – safely and with care."

3.15pm: Selfridges to cut 450 jobs

Selfridges is to cut 14% of its overall staff, equating to 450 jobs, following what managing director Anne Pitcher has described as "the toughest decision we have ever had to take".

In a message to staff, Pitcher said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has forced change and caused us to rethink so many aspects of our lives, and will continue to do so as we adapt and respond to a new and evolving reality."

Although it is not clear where these job cuts will take place, the company is set to undergo a consultation process to ensure Selfridges is "fit for purpose and the future", ahead of what Pitcher called "the toughest year we have experienced in our recent history".

The department store was forced to close its four outposts in London, Birmingham and Manchester at the beginning of the pandemic, before reopening on 15 June.

10.15am: Google staff to work from home until next summer

All Google staff have been given the option to work from home until at least next summer because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The tech giant closed its offices in mid-March when the outbreak began to take hold. In the UK, Google has 4,400 staff working at its King's Cross office.

A Google spokesperson said: "To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021 for roles that don't need to be in the office. CEO Sundar Pichai made the announcement today in an email to employees."

Monday 27 July

3pm: Time Out begins staff consultation process

Time Out Group has become the latest publisher to enter staff into a consultation over redundancies following the financial impact that the pandemic has had on its business. It is unclear how many staff are being impacted and in which divisions.

The business temporarily ceased print in the UK and plans for this to return on 11 August. It launched a series of digital events and offered ideas on things to do while at home as part of an initiative called Time In.

Five of its Time Out Markets, which bring together food and drinks stalls under one roof, also had to close around the world but are now beginning to reopen as lockdown measures ease. As a result, Time Out Group is bringing employees back from furlough.

Julio Bruno, chief executive of Time Out Group, said: "We are making some fundamental changes to our overall organisation to focus on areas of opportunity for the present and future growth. These changes will impact some of our colleagues and we are currently in the midst of the consultation process.

"With Covid-19, events and partnership programmes evolved from IRL to digital platforms and we quickly adapted to this new reality. We will continue to focus on virtual/digital opportunities until the time when we are able to safely gather together in person."

See the previous week's developments