News Exchange: New recruits, new openings & a new service
- 08 March 2019
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A weekly update on the latest headlines and highlights from the marketing sector
New Balance resets the bar
US-based sportswear giant New Balance has had its eye on the London market for a while. Having become official shoe and kit sponsor of the London Marathon in 2017, it now wants to connect with runners well before they gather at the start line on the day itself. That’s why it’s joined forces with training app Strava to open… a pub.
In the heart of the West End, the Runaway won’t sell you a pint. It gives you one (or two or three) for free each time you reach one of its marathon training milestones. Be careful when you drop by to collect your booze: there’s a fully functioning bar upstairs but, down below, there’s a gym and weights area for strength training sessions.
Will the pop-up be a Runaway success? “It’s a very nice integration with the Marathon sponsorship,” says CIM’s Ally Lee-Boone. “And nothing says London like pubs and pints, so this is a really interesting experiment.”
CIM marketing director Gemma Butler agrees: “It looks well positioned. Beer and athletic activities might not naturally go together, but this is aimed at adults and focused on creating a community of like-minded individuals. However, as with all experience-based ventures, New Balance just needs to be careful that its own brand doesn’t get lost in the day-to-day running of a pub.”
It turns out London pubs are a bit like London buses. At the same time that New Balance has opened the doors to the Runaway, The Drum has chosen the Drum Arms in Piccadilly for its next ad industry event, and the Linked Inn has just popped up in Shoreditch. For two days this week, business networking site LinkedIn gave out free careers advice from its East End hostelry. “This also looks like a great idea because pubs are all about making connections. And it’s a lot less intimidating walking into a bar to do some networking than a conference room,” says Butler.
There’s probably not anything the real landlords of London can learn about running a pub from a sportswear giant or a business networking site but, at a time when pubs continue to close all too frequently, they might be cheered to see that the community-building value of the London pub is still widely recognised.
Figures from the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) have revealed that 4% of the sector’s latest batch of graduate recruits came from Oxbridge. In 2011, that figure was 13%. Similarly, 54% of new consultants came from the 24-strong Russell Group of universities – against 73% in 2011.
The MCA’s positive spin is that this sharp fall in recruits from top universities shows that consultancies have made themselves more accessible to those from outside elite institutions. CIM marketing director Gemma Butler says there are “too many factors at play” for the sector to rest on its laurels. “There are more jobs than candidates out there at the moment, which means recruitment is still a buyer’s market.”
It’s possible that consultancies have, to some extent, been forced to look beyond their traditional recruitment channels. The MCA survey showed that the most in-demand skills for new recruits are “data science, technological expertise and analytical and digital skills”. As Butler points out, “These are exactly the skills that every sector is looking for right now. Whatever their background, young people who possess them can choose where they want to work and they’ve got options that weren’t there a few years ago – to work for exciting tech start-ups, for example.”
Whatever the driving forces behind the MCA survey results, the upshot is that a wider range of high-quality candidates are getting a shot at the high-quality jobs their talents deserve. “The management consultancy sector had a bit of work to do to make itself less elitist,” says Butler. “By hook or by crook, that’s what it is now doing, and that’s definitely a good thing.”
Looking ahead, CIM research from last year suggested the latest batch of school leavers were making job security and a good salary their top priorities when entering the job market. In contrast, the millennials who preceded them preferred to find employers who focused on delivering social good. That these upcoming graduates want to work for large, successful firms once again is certainly good news for management consultants as they continue to fight for the finest digital talent.
Britbox takes on the world
Finally, an underdog story of some plucky Brits joining forces to take on an American giant. The BBC and ITV teamed up recently to launch Britbox on the other side of the Atlantic. Now they’re preparing to bring this online portal for strictly British TV boxsets and original programming onto their home market, before taking it worldwide.
At first glance, a couple of old-school TV broadcasters pooling resources to take on the streaming services at their own game makes sense. Content is set to include new episodes of soaps such as Coronation Street and EastEnders but, here in the UK, our ability to still watch those on our televisions will surely temper excitement. Moreover, the overlap between what’s already available on the BBC and what’s on BritBox might make the subscription fee hard to stomach for anyone already paying the BBC licence fee.
For those who no longer watch terrestrial channels, an unconfirmed monthly cost of around £6.99 would be easier to bear, but BritBox will still be in direct competition with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and similar soon-to-land services from Apple and Disney+. As Butler says, “Netflix is still way out in front, but this is becoming a very crowded market. Netflix used original content to move to the next level. Its budget now dwarfs what BritBox can call on and it has its own Brit-focused series such as The Crown. It will be interesting to see if Britbox’s alleged position as ‘complementary’, rather than rivalling Netflix, will pay off.”
BritBox will have some money for original content but, at least initially, it clearly hopes to win domestic subscribers on the strength of its legacy content from both broadcasters. Classic shows including Doctor Who, Miss Marple, The Office and Fawlty Towers are all lined up, but is that not-so-new content shiny enough to catch eyes in a busy market? Butler is not so sure: “With content such as this widely available on Freeview channels, Britbox will need to work hard to find a competitive edge.”
Despite the buzz around its impending arrival on home turf, it seems BritBox’s brightest future might lie overseas. It has already attracted over half a million users in America. “That’s where the gap in the market might be,” says CIM’s Ally Lee-Boone. “The UK has a reputation for making great TV, and rightly so. If BritBox is the only way people abroad can access it, then it becomes a service worth paying for. It might also mean the BBC and ITV can stop relying on Netflix to promote their shows.”
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