Coronavirus live blog: 4-10 April

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

Channel 4 talent self-shoot mundane tasks to encourage people to stay at home.

Thursday 9 April

7pm: Channel 4 talent self-shoot mundane tasks to encourage people to stay at home

Channel 4 has created a series of fly-on-the-wall films featuring its talent carrying out mundane tasks during the current lockdown. Jon Snow is shown ironing his ties, Big Narstie is mowing the lawn, Scarlett Moffatt is pairing her socks and Krishnan Guru-Murphy is sharpening pencils.

The 10-second ads were self-shot and are part of the broadcaster’s "#StayAtHome" campaign. They aim to engage young male viewers and launch on Friday night during Gogglebox, which Channel 4 said had its biggest ever live audience last week at 4.3 million average viewers.

The broadcaster’s in-house agency 4Creative has also tapped comedian Matt Berry to voice a brand campaign. He says: "Britain! When was the last time you did something that really mattered, with your arse? We need your buttocks. No ifs. Just butts. Because we’ll beat this faster, clenched together, on the sofa."

5pm: Bauer Media partners Asos for Easter radio rave

Bauer Media’s Kiss Network, made up of Kiss, Kisstory and Kiss Fresh, has partnered with online fashion retailer Asos to host a radio rave over the Easter weekend.

The stations will air 30 hours of mixes from DJs including David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Hannah Wants and Jaguar Skills. At the same time Asos will highlight the best "at home" festival looks.

Bauer Media said that the Kiss Network’s streaming figures have increased 22% since the lockdown came into force.

12pm: ITV and NHS partner for donation plea

ITV has paired up with NHS Charities Together for an appeal urging viewers to donate and support the NHS through the coronavirus pandemic.

Created by Open and launched live on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the appeal encourages viewers to make a £5 donation and write a personalised message to NHS staff through texting "CLAP" to 70507.

A TV ad will make its debut at 7:28pm tonight (ahead of the channel’s second #ClapForOurCarers moment) across all ITV channels, with the hope of generating at least a million claps and £5m to help support NHS staff.

11.15am: Morrisons launches immediate home delivery via Deliveroo

Morrisons is launching a service on Deliveroo that will allow shoppers to order from 70 essential household items for delivery in as little as 30 minutes. The service will be available from 130 stores, covering a quarter of UK households. Prices will be the same as in store, while there is a flat delivery fee of £4.99. Items available through the service include fresh vegetables, meat, bread and chopped tomatoes.

10.30am: Yorkshire Tea livens up WFH with tea-rific Zoom backgrounds

As life in lockdown continues, Yorkshire Tea is adding some light-hearted fun to working from home with a series of Zoom backgrounds.

The backgrounds include picturesque Yorkshire landscapes, a conference room (with the brand’s logo on a TV screen) and an avalanche of teabags.

Unveiled on the brand’s social media accounts, Yorkshire Tea said: "Pimp your video calls with Yorkshire Tea Zoom backgrounds! The essential tool for modern, home-based folk who love a brew and want everyone to know it."

Wednesday 8 April

7pm: Jewish Chronicle facing liquidation

The board of the Jewish Chronicle is planning to put the newspaper into liquidation. "Despite the heroic efforts of the editorial and production team at the newspaper, it has become clear that the Jewish Chronicle will not be able to survive the impact of the current coronavirus epidemic in its current form," a message on its website said.

"The liquidation is expected to be finalised in the coming two to three weeks and every effort will be made to ensure that the paper continues to be published over this period and the website continues to provide regular updates."

5pm: Channel 4 slashes costs as TV ad market slumps

Channel 4 has warned the TV ad market will be down "in excess of 50%" in April and May and outlined a raft of cuts, including slashing its content budget by £150m and furloughing 10% of staff, as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The state-owned commercial broadcaster has around 950 staff and relies heavily on ad sales for the vast majority of its revenues – upwards of £900m a year of its near-£1bn turnover. 

Two months of ad sales could equate to nearly £150m in revenue and a 50% plunge would mean potentially losing in the region of £75m.

Channel 4 will cut its annual content budget by £150m, with £95m of "further savings targeted across the organisation". The board of directors is also taking a 20% pay cut.

4.30pm: Kinetic partners OOH owners to thank individual 'heroes' on digital screens

Kinetic has launched a campaign, kicking off tomorrow (9 April), that will run across digital out-of-home screens across the UK and enables members of the public to say thank you to individual key workers on the front line of the coronavirus crisis. Anyone wanting to share a message of thanks can post a tweet tagged #MyHeroes. Additional social functionality will be added as the campaign progresses.

The work was created with, the creative production studio co-owned by Kinetic, and is being supported by Boomerang Media, Clear Channel UK, Hi! Street Digital Media, Ocean Outdoor and Open Media.

Ali MacCallum, chief executive of Kinetic UK, said: "The #MyHeroes campaign is another brilliant demonstration of the OOH industry coming together to deliver a public message of support for key workers. OOH’s ability to amplify social media content in public in real time, while at the same time generating striking dynamic visual content for social sharing, is something unique to OOH as a channel."

11.30am: Queen appears on London’s Piccadilly Lights 

Queen Elizabeth II will be gracing London’s Piccadilly Lights out-of-home site over the coming days in an attempt to show support to people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Images of the Queen from her speech at Windsor Castle are set to appear alongside uplifting messages, including support for the NHS and a reference to Dame Vera Lynn’s We'll Meet Again. These images will run until 19 April and will not appear alongside any other advertising.

This marks the first time Piccadilly Lights has carried a direct message from the Queen.

10.30am: Hearst UK pulls together editors, influencers and photographers to run branded content

Hearst UK has created a network of editors, influencers, photographers and video producers to create branded content working remotely. The company, which publishes Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Red, has set up the Creator Network with influencers including Monikh Dale, Tess Ward, Em Furey, Callie Thorpe, Scola Dondo, Louise Boyce and Tom Kemp.

Jane Wolfson, chief commercial officer at Hearst UK, said: "As a business, we have a commitment to creativity and innovation. During these challenging times, we have been flexing and adapting our Hearst Solutions offering to ensure we remain in a position to deliver outstanding creative solutions which solve our commercial partners’ needs. Ali and her team have worked tirelessly along with the wider commercial function to create a branded content offering which our clients value and our audiences will love."

10.15am: Tesco sales rise 30% thanks to stockpiling

Tesco expects full-year group pre-tax operating profit to rise 12% year on year to £3bn, the supermarket revealed in its preliminary results this morning.

It reported a 30% uplift in sales during 1-28 March, thanks to people stockpiling food and essential items ahead of the coronavirus lockdown. However, this has now stabalised and Tesco noted that "more normal sales volumes are being experienced".

Chief executive Dave Lewis said: "Initial panic-buying has subsided and service levels are returning to normal. There are significant extra costs in feeding the nation at the moment, but these are partially offset by the UK business rates relief."

Meanwhile, Kraft Heinz is also reaping the benefits of people staying indoors as it expects net sales to rise about 3% year on year and organic net sales to increase 6%. It has previously forecast this to be a low single-digit decline.

10.15am: Asos group sales drop 20-25%

Online retailer Asos has reported a "significant impact" on demand amid the coronavirus pandemic, with a decline in group sales of between 20% and 25% in recent weeks. 

Chief executive Nick Beighton said the business has been working to strengthen its financial position, including "reaching agreement with our lenders to provide us with additional short-term financial flexibility".

The company also reported that it had raised £240m from shareholders using a share-placing deal, whereby listed companies offer new shares. 

Asos reportedsales growth of 21% for the six months to 29 February.  

10am: Jack Dorsey donates $1bn for Covid-19 relief 

Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey says he will donate $1bn (£800m) for coronavirus relief. Dorsey tweeted last night that he is donating $1bn in shares of Square, the payments company he also founded and leads, to charitable fund Start Small. 

Dorsey endured a corporate humiliation last month after activist fund Elliott Management strong-armed Twitter into accepting a board shake-up and the creation of a committee that would oversee a succession plan for Dorsey's departure. He had been criticised for splitting his leadership duties between Twitter and Square, as well as deciding last year to take a months-long sabbatical to Namibia. 

9am: FT offers free access to coronavirus email briefing

The Financial Times is offering 30 days of free access to its coronavirus email briefing as part of a platform called "The agenda is being rewritten daily", which brings together its coverage as a guide for business leaders to navigate the crisis. The initiative continues the brand's "New agenda" campaign, which launched last year and aims to start a debate about responsible capitalism. 

Tuesday 7 April

3pm: Stylist launches WFH podcast and plans two-day virtual fitness event

Stylist has launched a podcast series designed for a virtual office. Working from Home with Stylist will have practical and reassuring advice, as well as "vibrand watercooler chat" – topics that the magazine says are in high demand. 

The podcast is part of a digital franchise that Stylist set up at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis in the UK. It includes a private community Facebook group that serves as a support network and has 1,600 members. 

Stylist is also planning to host its first virtual event, the Strong Weekender, on 18 April. The two-day initiative is described as a "workout marathon" and will take place in partnership with fitness studios including Blok and Third Space. 

1pm: Lucozade supports indoor fitness push with £100,000 fund

Lucozade Sport has unveiled a £100,000 fund fronted by two-time boxing world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua that aims to support fitness coaches across the nation.

Launching today, the "Keep us moving" campaign will see trainers – many of whom are losing income as a result of gym and leisure centre closures – host free online classes via the brand’s social channels. All trainers will be paid for their content, which will comprise accessible home workout routines.

Tom Bell, head of marketing at Lucozade Sport, said: "We wanted to show our support for the people that keep our nation active and we hope our new 'Keep us moving' initiative will offer trainers and instructors some welcome support during the crisis, while giving the UK access to a diverse range of free home workouts for a variety of abilities."

11.30am: Elvis leans in to dystopia with Big Brother-style ‘diary room’

Elvis has launched a Big Brother-inspired room on Google Chat in an attempt to raise office morale as staff continue to work from home. 

The room, deemed "Elvisolation", allows people to share short clips from their working day to keep each other in the loop. It will be home to all-agency meetings on Tuesdays and a much-appreciated drink on Friday afternoons.

11.15am: Led By Donkeys holds brands to account

Led By Donkeys launched an out-of-home ad holding brands responsible for their behaviour surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Located in Poole, the billboard compares one mum’s efforts as a nurse amid disruption caused by Covid-19 with easyJet’s pleas for state loans, despite distributing a £174m handout to shareholders. 

Each side of the billboard is labelled "hero" and "zero", and was posted by the activist group alongside the caption: "When all this is over let’s remember who looked out for us. And who didn’t."

10.45am: Bacardi launches virtual bar with Deliveroo

Bacardi has partnered Deliveroo Editions to launch a virtual bar to give more than 120 outlets a platform to sell cocktails to locals. The #RaiseYourSpirits initiative aims to help bars and restaurants that have had to close during the lockdown. The brand is investing £1.5m into the initiative.

Amanda Almond, managing director at Bacardi UK and Ireland, said: "Our strong relationships with bars and bartenders in the UK is incredibly important to us and, as we face the current challenges together, we’re doing all we can to provide the support they need.

"We have 158 years’ experience of overcoming crises and coming out fighting, and through our #RaiseYourSpirits initiative, we intend to do exactly that for our on-trade partners."

10.30am: WhatsApp limits forwarding of messages

Facebook messaging service WhatsApp has announced new limits on the forwarding of messages in an attempt to curb the spread of misinformation during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Starting today, messages that have been identified as "highly forwarded" (those sent through a chain of five or more people) can only be forwarded to a single person. In the UK, MPs have begun investigating the role of social media companies in enabling conspiracy theories to spread relating to the coronavirus. 

Monday 6 April

4.30pm: Ocean Outdoor secures £10m advertising fund for SMEs

Ocean Outdoor, the out-of-home media owner, is supporting retailers and small businesses most severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic with an advertising fund worth a media value of £10m.

It will give businesses access to advertising space across Ocean's sites in 12 cities in the UK as it aims to help the local economies where it operates.

Ocean UK joint managing directors Phil Hall and Steve George said: "Brands, retailers and SMEs need to continue to market themselves, so our message is: do not go dark. Previous crises have seen a reasonably rapid return to ‘normality’ for strong brands – and research from Kantar shows that stronger brands recover nine times faster.

"However, for many SMEs, income streams and operating costs are under incredible strain. Ocean hopes to alleviate some of that stress through this fund. If we can leverage our network to help keep businesses and local economies going, or kick-start them even, then that can only be a good thing."

3.45pm: MPs ask public for help in identifying conspiracy theories

A senior group of MPs are urging the public to send them examples of coronavirus disinformation as part of an investigation into social media's role in enabling conspiracy theories to spread.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is supporting actions by the government to hold social media companies to account after a conspiracy about 5G spreading coronavirus apparently led people to vandalise phone masts in Birmingham and Liverpool over the weekend.

Julian Knight, the committee chair, said: "To hear that crackpot theories are leading to people attacking phone masts or threatening telecom workers is sickening and it’s clearly time to act."

3pm: Acast campaign encourages people to stay at home

Podcast publisher Acast has launched "Staycast", a new campaign that urges people to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic as well as show recommendations. Listeners will hear messages of support (or "Staycasts") across thousands of the network’s shows, including Watch What Crappens and Hollywood Crime Scene. There will also be reminders of local government advice around staying at home and isolating. This will be accompanied by social media activity on Instagram – takeovers of the platform's Live, IGTV and Story formats – including Q&As with podcasters and tutorials.

12.45pm: ITV encourages kids to get involved in ident artwork

ITV has introduced a project for children to get creative at home by coming up with artwork that can be projected on to its logo during the channel's idents. "ITV kids create" builds on the broadcaster's existing ident approach, ITV Creates, which showcases new idents each week. Paul Ridsdale, director of viewer marketing, said: "We know that keeping children entertained at home can be a challenge in the current climate, so we thought this project was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the nation's budding artists, whilst also hopefully offering parents some support."  

12.30pm: Amazon postpones Prime Day

Amazon is set to postpone Prime Day, its summer promotional event, from mid-July until at least August, according to Reuters. The news service obtained internal meeting notes that showed the ecommerce giant was anticipating a $100m (£81m) hit delaying Prime Day, as it will have five million extra devices such as Echo speakers that it would have expected to sell sooner. Prime Day took place during 15-16 July last year.

10.45am: Businesses lack confidence they can survive, DMA finds

Only a quarter of businesses are confident they can last longer than six months under the current circumstances, according to research from the Data & Marketing Association.

The DMA’s Coronavirus Survey found that just over half of companies that responded said they were operating "business as usual" (53.6%). Two in five (40%) said they believed they could continue to operate for six months or less, with half of those saying they could do so for no more than three months. Another third (34%) were unsure how long they could continue. 

Meanwhile, the majority of participants (63%) said they were definitely applying or were likely to apply to a government scheme for help, with deferring VAT payments (54%), the job retention scheme (46%) and time-to-pay service (40%) the most common.

The study polled 90 UK data and marketing industry professionals, predominantly senior staff representing a spread of small, medium and large businesses across business-to-consumer and business-to-business sectors.

10.30am: VaynerMedia restructures

VaynerMedia has laid off some of its global workforce in a restructure that is "part of the normal course of business", the company said in a statement.

The digital media company said the lay-offs were not directly related to the coronavirus pandemic. Adweek reported that VaynerMedia shed just under 5% of its global headcount of about 900 people.

9.45am: B-Reel decides to stay open

Last week, Campaign reported in this blog that B-Reel London had become one of the first businesses to collapse because of coronavirus, after managing director John Wilson wrote on LinkedIn that the agency was closing its doors.

However, the subsequent announcement of government support for businesses and employees appears to have thrown B-Reel a lifeline.

Anders Wahlquist, co-founder and chief executive, shared the following statement: "Last week, we believed we had no alternative but to close our London office, due to a slow business period and real concern over Covid-19. It could have been too big of a risk to the other commercially functional offices to support the UK office through this very challenging time.

"However, a few days later, the possibility of receiving financial support was presented by UK authorities. After having explored these possibilities, we have decided to furlough the UK team and work to get the company back on its feet, in the interest of our employees, clients and sister companies."

7.30am: Daily Mirror publisher to furlough 20% of staff

Reach, one of the UK's biggest national and regional newspaper publishers, is to furlough 20% of staff under the UK government's Coronavirus Job Protection Scheme. The owner of the Daily Mirror and Manchester Evening News warned of "uncertainty around the severity and length of the crisis and the resulting impact on Reach in terms of advertising, print circulation and events".

All Reach employees will have a 10% pay reduction, while ensuring no employee falls below the Living Wage. Board directors and "some members of our most senior editorial and management team" will take a pay cut of 20%. Reach has also cancelled its planned dividend payout to shareholders.

00.01am: IPA makes courses, qualifications and exams free

The IPA is making all courses, qualifications and exams free until 2 October, in light of the financial, emotional and physical impact of coronavirus on agencies and their employees.

The courses are available for all IPA member agencies, their employees and individual members for six months, and any members who have already paid for these services will be reimbursed by the IPA.

"The impact of Covid-19 has meant agencies are having to make some incredibly tough decisions – whether that’s budget tightening or furloughing or redundancies," Paul Bainsfair, director-general of the IPA, said. "While investing in professional development provides long-term financial gain, contemplating any additional discretionary costs may simply not be possible for agencies or individuals at this present time.

"By making our full range of training free for our members until 2 October, we will ensure agency staff, including any furloughed individuals, have access to stimulating, relevant and purposeful materials that will contribute to their ongoing well-being in a time of mental stress. We also want to help IPA member agencies stand themselves in the best professional stead throughout the downturn and in its aftermath."

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