Slow news week ahoy. If a couple of our online lead stories this week were marginally less than scintillating, that can perhaps be blamed on the news cycle rather than our news radar.
There is, however, one big piece of news to report, which is that Disney will be accepting advertising on its channels for the first time ever in the UK, starting in July. Given the fact that Disney has been commercialising its channels across Europe for some time, the move had been widely anticipated in the media community. It will be fascinating to see what impact it has on the UK children’s TV advertising sector going forward.
Elsewhere, Toys R Us has announced a crucial $400 million debt restructure deal in America, which will come as a huge relief to American toy suppliers, while Argos has shut down its essentially pointless TV shopping channel and its Chinese operation. I guess they have reached the inescapable conclusion that they have far more important things to focus on. As an outside observer, this does not strike me as rocket science.
Also vying for this week’s ‘no sh*t Sherlock’ award (nothing to do with Lin by the way), it turns out that the Mary Portas-fronted government scheme to – and I quote – “save the high street” has descended into farce. Frankly, this strikes me as the least surprising piece of news ever. Getting a celebrity to front a media campaign was surely never anything more than giving the appearance of doing something, as opposed to actually doing something. Online sales will inevitably continue to grow in the UK, and I suspect it will take more than Mary Portas wagging a finger on TV to arrest that trend. Despite that, I do hear that retail is showing distinct signs of fighting back; several suppliers have suggested to me that the ‘click and collect’ schemes put in place by many bricks and mortar retailers are beginning to have a significant impact on pure online sales. If anyone else has a view on that, I’d be interested to hear it.
It’s been a good week for Flair, who must have been delighted to see the Turtles range claim top spot in the Action Figure Super Category for January; KSG’s Ed Marcus, who recently completed his MBA and Clive Jones, whose week-long campaigning in Eastleigh obviously made the difference for the Lib Dems.
We also thought it was time to give the Toy World website a little spruce up, so we hope you like the gentle tweaks we’ve made across the site. Of course, it still has all the old favourite sections, as well as a rather imposing picture of me on the blog box: I just wanted to say that this was not actually my idea, but I guess it does rather clarify who you need to complain to if there is anything you don’t like in the blog (form an orderly queue please…).
Finally, respect to Groupon’s CEO Andrew Mason, who had this to say on leaving the company this week: “After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention.” Brilliant – and so refreshing. It seems to have gone down particularly well in the media (which is hardly a surprise, considering how much ‘PR speak’ we’re usually fed in these situations). If anyone else would like to be refreshingly honest with us – not just when they are leaving a job, but in general – feel free.
You can follow John on Twitter here: @Baulchtweet.