Tesco gets Tony Blair on board to aid Middle East plans

November 3, 2009

British supermarket Tesco has held talks with former prime minister and current Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair to help smooth its expansion into the region, reported Brand Republic yesterday.

According to reports in a UK newspaper, Blair was offered a fee in the region of 6 million AED to act as a “figurehead” for the brand, which  is the world’s third largest retailer.

It is believed Tesco hoped Blair would be able to use his diplomatic clout to aid its plans in the region. However, the paper said talks broke down over an “unknown reason” unconnected with money.

Blair’s talks with Tesco has led to questions over whether it is appropriate for a peace envoy to represent a supermarket’s interest in the region. Blair gives economic and political advice through his company Tony Blair Associates.

Tesco is behind Wal-Mart and French supermarket Carrefour in the race for world supermarket share. Limited opportunities to expand in its saturated UK base and has seen it look overseas in recent years.

The most notable opening for Tesco has been its Fresh & Easy chain on the west coast of the US. However its international chain spreads over Thailand, the Czech Republic, South Korea and Poland.

In response to the Blair story Tesco said: “We wouldn’t comment on which advisers we may or may not talk to, or speculation about potential markets for Tesco.”

Tony Blair Associates denied Blair had any commercial relationship with Tesco.


Do lingerie, nudity and the burqa mix?

November 2, 2009

Lingerie, nudity and a burqa. Now there’s a combination you don’t hear of too often.

But that’s exactly what German online lingerie store Liaison Dangereuse has opted for in its latest TVC, which is the work of Berlin-based agency Glow.

liaisonsThe commercial shows a woman getting out of the shower, applying her make-up, walking to her dresser and putting on her underwear. So far so Western, but then the final scene shows her placing a burqa over her head and moving to the window, with the tagline reading: “Sexiness for everyone. Everywhere.”

Created for a European audience, the ad has triggered debate online, with Muslimah Media Watch stating that “it seems pretty hard to argue that this ad is something positive or empowering, if it would probably be rather offensive and disrespectful to most of those who would presumably be the ones it attempts to empower”.

Although opinion is split on Adsoftheworld, Muslimah Media Watch also states that the ad is simply playing on men’s “fascination about Muslim women’s bodies, and the curiosity about what’s ‘behind the veil’”.

Take a look for yourselves. Caution: contains nudity.

WPP Group suffers 8.7% organic revenue drop

November 1, 2009

WPP Group, which encompasses Ogilvy Advertising, Y&R, Mediaedge:cia, Wunderman, Grey and many more, has suffered an organic revenue fall of 8.7% but has declared that “less worse” economic conditions mean there has been “no Armageddon” for the industry.

Like-for-like gross margin, which WPP said was a better measure of competitive performance, fell by 8.3% — a smaller decline than in previous quarters.

Overall revenues, taking into account acquisitions and currency fluctuations, rose by 16.7% to around $3.3 billion.

In a trading statement, the company said: “There is little doubt that consumer and corporate confidence has recovered somewhat from the panic levels of the fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009.

“Confidence, however, remains fragile amongst consumers, because of the shadow of high unemployment levels and amongst corporates, because Armageddon and Apocalypse were barely avoided in September 2008.”

WPP said that UK revenues for the third quarter had fallen again when compared to the second quarter, reflecting the fact that while France, Germany and the US are now officially out of recession, the UK  is not.

In the US, the fall in revenues stood at 6.1%, compared with 9.4% in the first quarter. Other areas to see improvement were Western Europe and Asia Pacific.

LBC Sat to rebrand in wake of ‘sex braggart’ scandal

November 1, 2009

LBC Sat is to rebrand and launch a completely new programme grid in the wake of the ‘sex braggart’ case in Saudi Arabia.

The channel, which is part of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Rotana Group, is due to rollout the new image before the end of the year, although it is not yet known whether the rebranding is for LBC Sat only, or will include the domestic LBC station in Lebanon.

gladiatorsThe changed grid will include three new shows – Perfect Bride, an Arabic version of Gladiator, and Celebrity Duet.

Hassan Suleiman, vice president of Rotana Media Services (RMS), the Rotana Group’s sales and promotions arm, said: “The identity – the corporate image of the station – will be totally different and we will launch a completely new grid that will include Arabic series, Arabic movies, international movies and talk shows, so viewers will watch a completely new station.”

The rebrand follows a public outcry in Saudi Arabia caused by LBC Sat’s broadcasting of an interview with a Jeddah man Mazen Abdul-Jawad, who boasted of his sexual conquests on the programme Ahmar Bil Khat Al Arid.

The programme led to LBC Sat’s offices in Jeddah and Riyadh being closed by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information, and to Abdullah al-Jasser, undersecretary for media affairs at the ministry, warning Saudi investors in satellite TV stations not to cause offence to their country by allowing material which violates Islamic teachings to be aired.

Abdul-Jawad has since been sentenced to five years in jail and 1,000 lashes, while female journalist Rozanna al-Yami was sentenced to 60 lashes for her involvement in the organisation of the show. She was later pardoned.

LBC Sat has faced a significant advertising boycott as a result of the scandal, admitted Suleiman.

Eurosport Arabia to launch online in partnership with du

November 1, 2009

Pan-European sports and entertainment group Eurosport is to launch Eurosport Arabia in a tie-up with UAE telecommunications provider du.

eurosportThe partnership with du’s Media Lab will develop Eurosport’s digital information services for the Middle East and North Africa, giving the region’s sports fans access to its sports news and data in Arabic for the first time.

Laurent-Eric Le Lay , chairman & CEO, Eurosport Group, said: “We are delighted to have signed this agreement with du. This partnership enables us to extend our Eurosport brand and bring our unique sports offer to this dynamic region where sports are key to development. We already have a significant online audience in the region and we believe it’s time to leverage this momentum.”

This year sees Eurosport celebrate 20 years as an international sports data provider, with its exisiting network of websites already produced in nine languages across Europe and China.

Osman Sultan, CEO of du, said: ” It is only natural for du to partner with a leading sports entertainment and information group to develop the next generation of information and sports entertainment for the Arab world.”