“Energy balls”, Disney blockbusters and extremist videos all feature in this week’s round-up of stories from the world of supply chain and procurement.
The price of a women’s silk jacket, with a blue bow, created by British designer Christopher Kane as part of the merchandising range for Disney’s new blockbuster Beauty And The Beast. Other products include a tie-in with Twinings tea bags, a $500 Invicta watch and a $120 programmatic Belle doll that Hasbro will launch this autumn. The movie, which cost $160m to make, has already earned $350m in global ticket sales, three times what Alice In Wonderland, the studio’s biggest previous live action smash, made at its opening. A storyline about an openly gay character has led to the film being pulled from Malaysia after Disney refused to make cuts requested by the state censor.
The proportion of Kenya’s national budget spent on its two-chamber parliament. President Uhuru Kenyatta has decided this is far too high and deprives the government of money it could more productively invest in social and physical infrastructure. (According to a UN study, the average proportion of budget spent on the legislature for countries comparable to Kenya is 0.57%.) The expense of parliaments is also an issue in Ghana and Nigeria. Senegal has taken decisive action to cut costs, abolishing its senate in 2012 to free up money to spend on flood defences.
The amount of Germany’s trade surplus in 2016. The surplus is a new world record and is even bigger than China’s ($245bn) last year. Sensitive to criticism from US president Donald Trump that the country is unfairly exploiting global trade, the Bundesbank pointed out that the surplus would only account for 7.1% of Germany’s GDP by the end of this year (compared to 8.75% in the first quarter of 2016). In part, the surplus reflects the fact that Germany’s ageing population is saving for the future, though the central bank has called for policy changes to encourage more private investment. German economist Jochen Andritzky said that surpluses and deficits could both pose problems if they persist for the long term, remarking: “The US has been running a deficit for several decades now.”
The number of airlines that have stopped flying from the US to Cuba. Frontier Airlines and Silver Airways are discontinuing their service because the market hasn’t proved as lucrative as expected when the routes started last summer. American Airlines has also cut its daily service by a quarter. JetBlue is keeping its routes open but trying to save money by using smaller aircraft.
The number of advertisers media buyer Havas UK has pulled from Google after content from its clients, including O2, EDF and Royal Mail, appeared alongside extremist material. The agency, which spends £175m on digital advertising in the UK, acted after talks to resolve the problem with Google collapsed, saying it had to act to protect its clients’ brands. Part of the problem is caused by programmatic trading, which automates the buying and selling of online ads. After being criticised by Havas, WPP and Yvette Cooper, who chairs the select committee on home affairs, Google has instituted a “thorough review” of its policies. Last year, it removed nearly 2bn ‘bad ads’ on Google and prevented other ads from serving on more than 300m YouTube videos.
The last year Mars launched a chocolate brand in its home market, the US. In a fierce battle for market share with Hershey, Mars has now decided to unleash Maltesers, hitherto not available in America. The launch was facilitated by a 2015 out of court settlement with Hershey, which Mars had accused of trying to pass off its products as Maltesers. Mars believes the brand will help it make inroads into the bite-sized chocolate market, which is growing ten times faster than the broader chocolate market. Maltesers were invented in England in 1936 by Forrest Mars Sr, son of the group’s founder. Aimed at women who wanted to slim, they were initially marketed as “energy balls”. The last major Mars launch in America was Twix.
The number of farms on which the National Trust plans to reduce food production to end a “dramatic slump” in wildlife. By 2025, the organisation aims to create 25,000ha of nature-friendly habitats, equivalent to one tenth of its land. Peter Nixon, NT director, said: “Nature has been squeezed out to the margins for far too long. We want to bring it back to the heart of our countryside.”